Observe the wonders as they occur around you. Don't claim them. Feel the artistry moving through and be silent. ~ Rumi

Monday, April 26, 2010

Rediscovering Aldo Leopold

"We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect."

Aldo Leopold

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Watersheds; a unit of study for survival
Think of all of your experiences with water.

Write them down.

Read them out loud.

Write down the water categories from your topics; rain, sleet, snow, hail, spring, reservoir, lake, canal, river, creek, ocean, gulf, etc.

Pick the category that has the most meaning to you and write it down.


A list of words that describe the experience.

A list of sentences that describe the experience.

A poem about that experience of water.

A short story.


Share your story, poem and/or picture with a child or with an adult who is in a child-like state of mind.

What is a watershed? Why is it important to know about watersheds?

Water on the Brain

Water…where does it come from? Where is it going? How do I live with it?
Before beginning any study of it is important to first recall what you already know about the subject and in the case of water I think it’s important to recall your memories of your experiences with water first. For me my experiences are many. Here are a few that stand out. What are yours?

DiscoveryMy first recollection of water was when I was about six years old and discovered a spring at Battery Kemble Park in Washington DC. I thought it was alive. I also thought it was magic that it could run under the road and appear as a creek on the other side. I became fascinated with its’ powers of erosion and spent hours watching its journey. Our favorite climbing rock had been uncovered by that magic and years later covered it up again.

I remember climbing a wild cherry tree in our side yard just before a thunderstorm and smelling the water in the air before the downpour began.

I remember the canals in DC and the Potomac River they took their water from. I remember the moraine that was scattered by the glacier on the river’s edge ions ago. Those were the best climbing rocks!

Lessons…My elementary school was also across the street from the reservoir where our drinking water came from. My questions were many and my father explained everything to my satisfaction. We moved to a house on a hill when I was ten and I was awed by the fact that the builders had tried to cover the stream that had run down the back yard. It was only diverted though into our neighbor’s basement. Later, when someone bought our house I heard that they had opened our old basement up by installing a door to the backyard where the creek had been and now wondered why their basement was flooded.
My father also told us that we would never buy a house in a flood plain. Come to find out that many builders and developers built there with dire consequences. I often wondered if they had paid attention in geography class or were they trying to rewrite our perceptions?

Sustenance…I remember drinking water to quench my thirst instead of juice.

As an adult living in the mountains of North Carolina I learned to fish in the fresh water streams. I heard tales of valleys being covered by water to bring electricity. With pipes frozen in the winter I remember cracking through the ice in the river to retrieve water.

Powerful…Living in San Francisco Bay on our sailboat I remember how hard it was to sail through the tumultuous Raccoon Straits where the incoming tide met the outgoing Sacramento River.

Florida brings loud and heavy rain. On Tuesday we measured 4.5 inches for the day!

Disaster…While living in Davis (floodplain) I remember many floods in the neighboring towns.

Renewal…In the hills above Davis I remember farmers and ranchers installing ponds to recharge the aquifer. I remember helping farmers plant drought tolerant plants along the banks of the canals to hold the soil along the banks. I followed their efforts to repair the riparian areas along the creeks that ran through their fields, bringing back beneficial insects and other wildlife.

Magic…While helping friends homestead in northern California, I remember when they had their property witched and found a spot to dig their well. They also looked for the trees that looked for the water and found it…the California Bay Laurel!

When we moved to an isolated property, we became very sensitive to the origin of our water, its purity, and its’ availability. Managing an organic farm, we also became very aware about our sewage and where it was going. We discovered marshes that helped to clean the water.

Living in Florida is quite an eye opener. With water all around us it is essential to learn about the ecosystems if we want to continue to have clean water, good fishing, and surround our homes with plants and animals.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lullibies, Arias and Conversation

Sometimes when you experience an illness or you are caring for someone else who is sick, time as you know it stops and you find yourself dancing to an unfamiliar pace and rhythm. But you also find yourself with more opportunities to stop, rest, notice your surroundings and get your bearings. Sometimes it’s just a matter of finding the right music station.

Last night, I found one of those opportunities and it was nothing short of magical for me. It was one of those rare nights in Fl where the nights are cooler than the days so our windows were flung open. With the windows open the night came in. The moon was sweet. I mean that its light tasted sweet to me. No longer full the glow still filled the yard and spilled into our room. The first sound of the evening that came forward from the crickets and occasional frog was the Chuck wills widow, from the Nighthawks and Nightjar family (Caprimulgidae) …strange name with a strange, haunting and almost lonely sound. The bird calls its name over and over. Distant at first and soft, growing to a very loud call as it flew and landed closer to our window. After awhile the call stopped and picked up again farther and farther away. When we could no longer make it out I thought I heard the distinct call of an Eastern Screech-Owl, a whistled trill on one pitch…very romantic and soothing. I wonder if it was a call to a mate. Like the bird before, the call faded and for a moment I thought I heard the wind. Then an old resident spoke up, our Great Horned Owl. I could tell from the volume that this bird was in the distance and not in his usual roost in the slash pine behind our house. This bird was also alone. At dusk we are accustomed to hearing them call to one another.

Sleeping is so over rated when you have an opportunity to experience the night. Take someone you love on a moon walk some evening. Or stay up all night on a full moon. Children especially enjoy this adventure, as do I. Chances are you will be just as eager to see who wakes up first; although this morning there was such a flurry of activity it was hard to tell.

Just before the sun came up a murder of fish crows flew NW across the face of the moon that was just beginning to set. Herons and egrets rose from their sleep and set off toward the beach. I spotted the jay on her nest right away with its mate close by. As always our mockingbird got to work right away with his collection of songs. Then, I tried to follow a downy woodpecker on her breakfast rounds in the oak.

In the flowering oaks I heard the songs of warblers including a northern parula, a black and white and a palm warbler. Across the yard catbirds enjoying the berries on the firebush and cardinals were flying through the brush. Can you imagine the nest building going on? An incredible explosion of activity compared to those cooler, darker days just a few weeks ago. What a beautiful day to be alive! I wonder what music I will hear tonight.