Friday, January 24, 2014

Rapists Do Not Wear Snowshoes

Vortex be damned, I went out skiing tonight.  It has warmed up quite a bit, but we are headed towards another cold snap in two days, and I have spent the last 7 standing at my desk, stressing out about work.  I needed this, particularly after my platelet donation went badly last Saturday, and I ended up with a sore, bruised arm that hasn’t served me well since.  But last night I caved and took some Advil, which braked the pain, and I woke with a better outlook on my capabilities.  Long stressful day of working on a couple transactions my clients want to close next week.  I have pushed off as much administrative work to other firms and my client as possible, and now the remaining drudgery falls to me.  So while tomorrow I’ll be scrivening again, tonight I was skiing.

Layers of wool, and synthetics and silk, and I trekked down to the lake.  I tried skiing around the edge tonight - I would normally strike out into the middle first thing, but I resisted, and followed the less windy edge for a quarter of the circumference, then headed in to ski the Roberts Bird Sanctuary.  It’s only a half moon, but the clouds were low enough to catch al the city lights and make it bright as a full moon night.  No lights in the sanctuary, but I could see well enough.  It has been a long time since I was out at night like this.  I have gotten more fearful, and Lake Harriet is quieter in general than Lake Calhoun, where I am used to walking.  I’ll have to get comfortable with Lake Harriet again, particularly those long portions of he path that are far down from the road and dark.  But tonight all was bright, and I could see that snowshoers had passed through before me in the fresh snow.  I wondered if I should be concerned about passing through the Sanctuary, which was not likely to be heavily trafficked tonight.  Dog walkers and runners were keeping to the lake, where the walking path is plowed.  I wondered who else might be out at this time of night, going through the Sanctuary, and decided that it would be other people like me.  People who wanted to seethe scrawl of snow etching along the tree branches, and listen to the wind toss the high up branches of the cottonwoods, from the quite stillness below.

The tree branches snapped against each other like a crowd listening to slow jazz, and occasional squeaks of tortured wood reminded me of an anguished sax.  The snow in the Sanctuary was drier and I could glide much better than on the lakeside, but once I got out, the snow was wetter, sticker.  I learned that in sticky snow, I should ski wider, to guard against a fall.  I had the center of the lake to myself.  Stopping there, I looked up and felt vertiginous - there are a broad gap in the clouds, and a might night blue sky was rich and deep - the moving scudding clouds in the south, and the trailing layers of clouds moving in resembled reef contours falling away into inky darkness.  It looked like a sea-shelf, and I felt ready to fall down along the face of it - or dive.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Since you’ve been gone…..

All that’s left is a band of gold.  I’m singing that song in my head to the bygone bees of the last 10+ years since I started beekeeping.  When I started back then, a lot of old timers were getting out.  It wasn’t the same, they said.  I chalked it up to old-timer resistance to change.  They didn’t like all the chemicals, and honey harvests were poor.  I didn’t know what they were talking about - in my first year beekeeping, I harvested 240 pounds from two first-year colonies with enough left over to successfully overwinter both hives.  I didn’t use chemicals on my bees, never have since and never will.

It was never so fine again.  I came to understand what was different over the years, witnessing greater pest and disease loads, vanishing forage and heart-breaking contortions of bees dying en masse.  On the plus side, I’ve seen the resurgence of urban agriculture, including bee-keeping.  I’m pleased to begin writing about my efforts to establish bee hives at our new home just East of Lake Harriet, a neighborhood where people are gardening, GHOs court boisterously at night, and coyotes and bunnies share the streets with dog walkers, skiers, bikers and school children.

Wedding Photo: Dancing with Dad
And that band of gold?  Well, after 28 years as a couple, Carolyn and I got married this year, a happier occurrence than the song would indicate.  But the band of gold I’m thinking of as I write this post is the circle of pollen left in the crown of a composite ray-flower, with too few pollinators left to harvest it.  I’m a little sheepish to admit it, but one of the reasons I am excited about out new house is the giant old crabapple in the front yard, and the oddly pollarded lindens all along the side of the house.  Bee trees galore.  I hope to have two hives, if the neighbors all allow.  Our backyard neighbors have a highly allergic family member, but will gladly consent anyway.  That bodes well for the others, I hope.

A friend sent me a link to a great article about how Australian researchers are using technology to study the problems plaguing bees.  It was great for the research description as well as for the fun of seeing technology employed with such delicacy and skill:

http://qz.com/167730

So there is hope, even though in China people are conscripted to go out into the fields and hand-pollinate crops with small brushes because the pollinators are too few.  Sadly, some think this is an improvement, because they do a better job than the insects.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2013/12/04/248795791/how-important-is-a-bee

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Freaky and Flaky and Spacey

I wonder if maybe the whole process of individuation isn't so much more difficult now than when I was trying to "find myself." 

All the black-clad, hyper sexual, vampirish, cupcaking baking polymaths out there are texting, posting, blogging, publishing, so that every black-clad, hyper sexual cupcake baking polymath can publicize her uniqueness across multiple media.  The Unique are legion, legion, legion. 

When I was doing my black Victorian mourning-dress lesbian beach-waltzing blackberry jam-making law school  schtick, I really was the only one I knew.  Even in Portland.  But I don't kid myself that there weren't others who were driving down many of the same roads, even if none of them ended up with me at the U-Catch-Em Trout Farm.  Or following the Red Ridge Runner with me off the mountain after post holing through the mossy faux floor of the old growth forest.  I just didn't know about the others like me because in those days were were isolated and technologically mute.

Whatever will today's children do to differentiate themselves from their parents' generation?  I mean, just consider Burning Man.  Lots and lots of unique...  Right out there in in the open.

It occurs to me that being unique isn't really the point any more, perhaps?  Maybe what is wanted is a flotilla of zombies, a cadre of vampires, a flock of footballers or just to be special to some one who matters, after all.  Maybe I don't get it.  Maybe I never did.   Maybe the tribe's the thing.  And who says different is that good?  Camouflage evolved for good reason.  This donning of splendid plumage by those of a certain age or life-stage reflects an evolutionary development, too.  Like a red-assed ape or booming prairie chicken.

Maybe the counter culture trend I'm missing is the birth of community values in the US.  We have always prided ourselves on being rugged individualists, and link human rights with individual rights.  Another world views value well-being at the communal level.   Nothing could be more threatening and rebellious in this country than that.  Spittle-flecked epithets of "Socialist" were hurled with Thor-like force in the last presidential election.  The same critique is leveled at attempts to extend medical services in as equitable a fashion to all.  The critics fall back on the notion that each individual should be responsible only for herself and any one else she chooses to support.  They want to roll back any social contract that suggests otherwise. They won't succeed.  The writing is on the wall.  United we stand, baby.  Each freaky zombie one of us.