Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Notes from Mid September

1. Next week is the time of equinox ( Sept. 23 ) –the sun will appear directly overhead the equator for one day - and we in out northern latitude see it rise in the true East and set in the true West. Sunrise will be, for that day, 6AM and sunset 6PM (adjusting for daylight savings). Ancient people the world over recognized it as a auspicious day - often making it a special ritual day…

First Light

For us in Northern California seasonal changes are subtle – With the light coming later each day, and night comes a bit more quickly … there is noticeably less warmth in our mornings – At dawn today, our hills were wreathed in clouds hanging at 1000 ft. But by midday the sun was back in full glory.

Morning over Quarry Lakes

And it is dry – so dry – 88 days since any rain– The soil turns to powder when I dig . But this is the normal way of things. Life here has adapted over eons of time– Natural selection has equipped some plants with deep tap roots, other plants have thick resinous sap that can attract a bit of moisture from dry soil (enough to stay alive). But most plants simply dry up and hang on to the next generation in the form of their seeds.

Garin Park -Late summer

A nice little shower will not be enough to stimulate germination in most seeds. For that we need a good soaking rain – and even then each plant variety has its own requirements.

With fall the permanent summer high pressure system that sits off the N. California shore will dissipate – and this will open up California for the parade of storms that come to us when Cold Alaska air sweeps in and encounters moist Tropical air sweeping up from the Southwest Pacific…

Quarry Lakes - "Walking the dogs" view

So the shifting sun, the changing light, the reduced heat - all of these will eventually contribute to the return of our rain!

It no longer feels like summer - In the last hours before darkness I walked the dogs. The air was cool. A flock of geese flew over my head - so close I could hear the wind "swish" in their feathers. There is great beauty in the dryness - the golden fields of wild oats on the hill sides. Even now some plants are blooming and forming seeds...

2. Have you ever seen an old Charley Chaplain movie where someone steps on a rake and it flies up and whacks him in the head? The audience always loves it! Everyone has a good laugh…

Charlie Chaplain -Google Images

I want to tell you there is nothing funny about getting whacked in the head – I was putting away my garden tools – and dummy me I stepped wrong on a garden tool and wham – I got it!. I had a prize winning marble shaped “owwie” form immediately an inch outside my eye.

(Are you up-to-date on your first aid? )

After it stopped bleeding (head wounds really bleed!) I visited the Kaiser drop-in clinic to see in I needed stitches – they glued me back together with something like superglue. Then I went looking for my glasses in the tool shed where it happened (where they fell when I got the bump) – the ear pieces had gotten really tweaked and so today I had to take them in for repairs.

While the woman fixed my glasses I told her the story of being in the Maasai village last summer. We were examining livestock – mostly camels and goats.

"Don't eat my hat!" -North Central Tanzania

Afterward the village cooked a young goat for us over a brush fire and the people gathered –clapping, singing, and started their famous jumping games – they jump straight up in the air – the higher the better… and of course they drug me over to join in – so here I was jumping up and down along with the others –

Maasai jumping

I was on my way up when this Maasai guy next to me was coming down – he brushed off by glasses and landed right on them. (He was of course very concerned.) Here I was in the middle of nowhere with my best glasses broken – One of the village people said “ Oh that’s no trouble – we can fix that – so we went over to a nearby hut and a woman came out and we explained the problem –

Maasai village hut entrance

she entered her hut and returned with some very fine steel wire and sharp needle nose pliers used for making elaborate jewelry – Sure enough she very dexterously wired my glasses back together – ‘Good as new” – and the lenses weren’t even scratched.

Maasai men

By this time my Kaiser technician was finished with my glasses – fully functional – all with a few adjustment with her pliers. Why is it every time I try to adjust my own glasses I make matters worse – but Maasai women and Kaiser technicians just need good pliers?

US Capital - Washington DC

3. I want to direct your attention to an open letter published by the The Dallas Area Christian Progressive Alliance that examines the responses of Texas under Rick Perry in light of the requirements stated in the Bible:

Supreme Court - Washington DC