Thursday, December 30, 2010

NOTES: 12/30/10

Last Ginko Leaves of the Season

1. Pruning

Blunt ended apple twigs form a filigree

Against the frozen sky

The last mummified fruits hold tight

My fingers lose their feeling

As I grasp the cutters

Each cut is a decision

Crossing branches must be cut away to limit

damage from winter wind

Long ungainly sprouts – careless growth

...they must go

Center twigs are snipped away to allow sun to enter

Twigs broken by too much fruit are trimmed back

Summer growth thinks anything is possible -

Winter is a time of making judicious choices

Each cut is calculated to stimulate new growth

( JZ 1988)

Cedar waxwings resting during their migration

2. When we first moved into our house 35 years ago the gravel quarry behind our house was fenced and patrolled – NO Trespassing!. In 1997 construction began to transform the quarry into part of the East Bay Regional Park system.The topography was reshaped, it became a classic case of ecological restoration with both native and specimen plants reintroduced. The gravel pits were flooded as part of a system to percolate ground water into the water table aquifers to push back salt water intruding from the bay. It became part of my daily ritual to hike one of several routes through the park with our dogs. We walk for an hour and a half – my most usual route is about 3.5 miles (5.6 km). I could do it in less time but I have to stop and talk to many "trail friends" as I make my rounds.

Wind Gusts coming across one of 5 ponds that make up the park

3. Adventures come in all sizes and flavors. Yesterday morning we started off with clear skies and a fierce cold wind… I was bundled up and the pups have good winter fur. I love being out there in all seasons, all weather conditions... it is amazing to see the slow regular progression of changes – as the plants and animals respond to seasonal changes in light, rainfall, and temperature. I learn when it is time to look for migrating birds...animals and birds are selective about their habitat and I learn where to find each species. The seasonal responses of plants are written into their DNA. When conditions are right they sprout and grow, When conditions are right - they flower... fruit... produce seeds. Only when its time will the life stage be expressed... and that is passed on within the inheritance.

My quickly arising dark clouds

4. Just at the furthest point in our walk – a cloud came out of “nowhere” and suddenly the wind hit us with icy needles of cold rain… The pups looked at me pleadingly … We took shelter for a time in the lee of a a thick pine tree and then pushed on… (The wind howling through that pine was fine music!) The shower was short lived – and we did see a supurb rainbow…

Birds gathering - mostly gulls and pelicans

5. I recently identified 23 different species of birds in one morning walk. Many are migratory birds making their passage – some are winter visitors, some are permanent residents. It is in fact the season with the highest species count – more than spring or summer. Yesterday I saw only the water birds… makes me wonder where do birds go to get out of the wind and rain? I’m quite sure they seek out thick cover - but they become invisible during a storm.

Great White Heron

6. I will remember 2010 as a good year – Judy and I have much to be thankful for … we have enjoyed many good times together this year, it has been a year with satisfying work, a fine year for travel, we have been healthy…

It has been a rollercoaster year in national politics. We support and agree with several major pieces of legislation this year – The much needed health care plan while not perfect is an important move forward. We support the end to “don’t ask don’t tell” in the military. It is right that unemployment compensation be continued, also the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. I am concerned that the tax cuts on the very rich have been continued. The wealth of the top 1 percent of the richest Americans is equal to the wealth of the bottom 90 percent. (UNICEF Socio Economic Report 2011). It seems obvious that those with the bulk of the money be expected to pay their share. I don't understand our national phobia on taxes - we have to pay for what we get –(Our founding fathers were opposed to paying taxes to England - but had no problem taxing themselves...) Taxes are necessary if we want quality services and infrastructure.

Capital Building - Washington DC

I am concerned for the gradual disappearance of the middle class in America.... the growing disparity between rich and poor. Judy and I have seen third world conditions abroad and we don’t have to look far to begin to see such conditions here. We are concerned that the Dream Act bill was blocked. We live in a multicultural world here in the Bay Area – and we see bright young people with much to offer America who have been deprived of an education. I hope for a revision of the filibuster rule ( which was not part of the original constitution- first used in the 1890's ) … this past year one political party adopted the policy of attempting to block all legislation introduced by the opposing party… it appeared they were doing so for political reasons rather than the good of the American people. This is not what our founding fathers had in mind. We live in a time of world wide economic restructuring - its not just the US economy that is "challenged"... I hope for new vision in job creation in the year ahead... I hope for new vision in Iraq and Afghanistan... that we can find new ways to deal with the root causes of the conflict.