This week in birds - #543

  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : White Pelicans enjoying a rest by Galveston Bay. *~*~*~* The Gulf of Mexico is abnormally warm which could mean a very active tornado season . *~*~*~* Freshwater biodiversity does not always get the respect it deserves in discussions about conservation but we rely on it for many essentials. *~*~*~* The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is considering sanctions on Mexico for failing to provide sufficient protection  for the vaquita marina, a small porpoise that is the world's most endangered marine mammal. *~*~*~* DDT has been found in high concentrations on the ocean floor along the California seacoast that once served as a dumping ground for the material. *~*~*~* Former governor of California Jerry Brown can now rest on his laurels; a beetle has been named for him ! *~*~*~* Do you suffer from a brown thumb as a gardener? Never fear; here are some plants that e

Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson: A review

  Are you ready for a tale of New York one-percenters who live in a world so far removed from mine that it might as well be a kids' fairy tale? Well, here ya go! Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson. It's the story of the Stockton family, headed by matriarch Tilda and patriarch Chip. Tilda is obsessed with tennis and tablescapes and she has perfected the art of ignoring anything she finds unpleasant.  We see events primarily through the eyes of the female characters, especially Sasha who has become a part of this powerhouse family through her marriage to son Cord. She is from much humbler origins and she is finding it very hard to find a place to fit in the family unit.   Sasha and Cord live in the four-storey limestone building on Pineapple Street in Brooklyn Heights that is owned by Tilda and Chip. Sasha and Cord are not allowed to change anything about their apartment. The Stocktons' older daughter, Darley, has given up her rights to inheritance for the sake of love. She i

Poetry Sunday: The Trees by Philip Larkin

The new leaves on the trees look pristine, unmarked. They are the paler green of the recently unfurled. They will get darker as the season advances and they will not remain long unmarked. But for now, they are the very essence of this new season and they invite us to breathe deep and appreciate Nature's beauty that surrounds us. Forget the past, they seem to say, "begin afresh, afresh, afresh." The Trees by Philip Larkin The trees are coming into leaf Like something almost being said; The recent buds relax and spread, Their greenness is a kind of grief. Is it that they are born again And we grow old? No, they die too, Their yearly trick of looking new Is written down in rings of grain. Yet still the unresting castles thresh In fullgrown thickness every May. Last year is dead, they seem to say, Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

This week in birds - #542

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment :  A Redwing Blackbird balances on a stalk in a field. *~*~*~* The IPCC's climate assessment report issued this week did not hold much good news for the planet; nevertheless, one of the lead authors of that report still believes there is room for hope . *~*~*~* The annual Great Backyard Bird Count takes place in February. Here is one participant's report of this year's count. *~*~*~* President Biden this week designated two new national monuments in the West - one in Nevada and the other in Texas. *~*~*~* Jackson, Mississippi, a city where I once lived, is experiencing a crisis in its water system , basically due to neglect. And like so many of the problems in Jackson, this one has a racial component. *~*~*~* This is an artist's concept of an interstellar object named Oumuamua that visited our solar system and exited it in 2017 . There's been some disagreement over just what it was but scientists now

Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton: A review

  Guerrilla gardening? Is that really a thing? Well, in this book it is. And maybe if it isn't it should be. Guerrilla gardeners essentially invade land that is not being used and they plant things on it. Mostly vegetables. And then they distribute the produce from their plantings. Moreover, these guerrilla gardeners steal things other than the use of land that doesn't belong to them: "They took cuttings from suburban gardens, leaf litter out of public parks and manure from farmland. Mira had stolen scions from commercial apple orchards — budding whips of Braeburn and Royal Gala that she grafted to the stocks of sour crab-apple trees — and equipment out of unlocked garden sheds, though only, she insisted, in wealthy neighborhoods, and only those tools that did not seem to be in frequent use." So this guerrilla gardening collective cultivates disused land wherever they can find it. It might be along road verges or motorway offramps, demolition sites, or junkyards. Any

Not Bloom Day - March 2023

I didn't do a Bloom Day post on March 15, because, well, I lack blooms. There is just not much going on in my yard bloom-wise at the moment. That just makes the few blossoms that I do have much more appreciated. The redbud has been in bloom. Full disclosure: This picture was taken a few days ago. The blooms have now faded and the tree is beginning to leaf out.   By my little goldfish pond, the trout lilies have been blooming. Carolina jessamine is always a dependable spring bloomer. This antique rose decorates the side of our garden shed. And this is 'Julia Child,' my favorite yellow rose. Isn't she pretty? I hope by the time April Bloom Day rolls around I will have a bit more color to share with you.

Poetry Sunday: Today by Billy Collins

Spring may not have quite officially sprung yet but it always arrives a bit early in these parts, and so it has again this year. And already we enjoy the perfect days so well described by Billy Collins in his poem. Our springs are brief, soon to be spoiled by summer's oppressive heat, but while they last, these days are glorious! Today by Billy Collins If ever there were a spring day so perfect, so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze that it made you want to throw open all the windows in the house and unlatch the door to the canary's cage, indeed, rip the little door from its jamb, a day when the cool brick paths and the garden bursting with peonies seemed so etched in sunlight that you felt like taking a hammer to the glass paperweight on the living room end table, releasing the inhabitants from their snow-covered cottage so they could walk out, holding hands and squinting into this larger dome of blue and white, well, today is just that kind of day.