Shangri La


Throughout the ice ages, the northern hemisphere local climates have apparently vacillated incredibly quickly, which is one reason that its flora and fauna are so quickly adaptable.  Some claim those rapid variations are responsible for human culture and our present civilization _ all forced on us because one year and decade and century was often totally different from the last and the next.  When I listen to the news, that seems to be playing out everywhere except around here right now.

There are droughts, floods, storms, tornadoes, damaging winds, hail, fire, whatever.  Except here, where it has been a little cool but otherwise fair with adequate rainfall.  That all calls into question how accurate the reporting is _ the Earth is vast and news by definition concentrates on the tiny.  For the moment, we seem to be in a protected little bubble of normality, with flowers blooming and insects humming as the have _ or seem to have _ since time immemorial.  A lovely illusion, which I shall inhabit while I can.

Berries for the birds in Mill Dam park.  Not all that long ago, our ancestors would happily gather these for lunch and dinner, preserving what they could.  Now, I suppose, my children hardly know where their produce comes from.  Supermarkets are a convenience, but perhaps something is lost by having them easily accessible.

On the other hand, it’s obvious that there was always keen competition as they ripened.  Strawberries get attacked by birds as soon as they ripen, and most of these fruits have already fed birds, raccoons, and who knows what else in this little corner.  We think of nature as a big open bonanza, but it’s a sometime bonanza, you may have to work hard for your food, and a bunch of creatures are rushing around at all times of day and night to beat you to it.

Seems like the week for bindweed.  Another ordinary picture of another ordinary day in a strange, infinite, miraculous universe. 

Sometimes it is best to just let the mind go blank, and simply appreciate existence.



Quiet pond at Hechsher, with geese and swans and leafy reflections and even the algae starting to scum the surface, is also part of summertime here.  In the evenings there are free music concerts.  In the days, when it is not too hot, children cavort in the new playground.  All year, old people in various happy or grim moods stride and stroll on the path going around. 

A park like this is one reason I am not happy with those who believe we should be totally back to nature.  I enjoy manicured grounds, cultivated flowers, and the company of fellow cit
izens quite as much as I do vast woodlands or even wide expanses of water.  We are people, after all, and pretending we are deer is just as ridiculous as claiming that deer have no place in our world.


Around the world temperatures are at record highs, but here it’s been one of the coolest years I can remember, from a blustery blizzard winter to a wet miserable spring to a summer that has only really arrived a few days at a time, and then in a kind of half-hearted way.  The weather forecasters keep using words like “delightful” but I find it too out of whack _ I like my heat when it should be hot.

None of the vegetation or animals seem to care in the least.  Oh, the ducklings just hatched last week, which is a bit late, and the flowers seem to be trailing a bit as well, but not my much, and in full power like these when they arrive.  Everywhere is beautiful now, fully green or fully flowered or almost brightly fruited.  If there ever is a benign moment in the relentless selective pressure of nature, surely these brilliant days contain it.

As explained, I normally don’t bother to capture wildlife with my old digital camera, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t all around, nor that I am not interested.  There are always hawks and gulls and crows and warblers and cardinals, always at this time of summer fish jumping and swimming, sometimes turtles, never snakes. Not counting the other animate species _ rats, raccoons, dogs, cats, people.  But usually, I prefer the imagined solitude of reflections and vistas.

Anyway, here are a couple of swans preening, as they so often do.  When they want solitude they simply demand it of everything else, chasing away anything up to and including people.  Children are often quite frightened when they are in an aggressive mood.  No question however, that although they are imported and possibly invasive, swans add elements of grace and beauty to aquatic scenes.  I suppose there are lessons in there somewhere, I leave them to you “as an exercise …”


Marsh grasses making their best effort against the encroachments of a highly populated modern environment.  Nothing wrong, really, with docks and boats, and beautiful houses along the shore.  It’s the transportation and support such as sewage disposal that civilization requires that causes most of the problems.  Pollution was a lot worse locally decades ago, when people took everything more or less for granted.

Now attention has shifted, responsibly, to the global environment, for which amelioration may unfortunately be too late.  But at least for a while, localities can fight the good fight and seek to save what makes them special for a while as forces beyond their control raise the water level and increase the damage of the more frequent storms.  Perhaps we should be sad, but there is, after all, today, and nature in the raw with its ice ages and asteroids is hardly a benign force.




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