After a slow first five months, I'm back to blogging in earnest. In the forthcoming few months I plan to keep on tracking the blooming of wildflowers, the activities of bugs and reptiles and any other critters I'm quick enough or lucky enough to photograph, and to comment on ecological relationships. Since there is an increasing sense of ecological crisis among many people and more vigorous denial of such on the part of others, I will inevitably comment on the social and political dimensions of survival as I see them.
I am still an adjunct instructor in the English Department at Feather River College, but time permitting, I am available for hire as a nature guide in the region in and around Plumas County. A brochure describing my usual kinds of natural history adventures is in development. Email me c/o firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing address and a statement of interests, and I'll send you a rough draft.
I have been teaching since 1965 and have recently joined the English Department as an Associate Faculty member at Feather River College. Recently taught Nature Literature in America and am currently teaching Interpersonal Communication and Basic Reading and Writing.
I was sitting on the lawn, chatting with my wife, when I noticed pine needles lying about. They were from the Ponderosa Pines surrounding our neighborhood. For some reason they brought back a memory of a passage from one of my field guides that said the needles of Pinus ponderosa occur in bundles of three and are from 5 to 10 inches long. These looked bigger, so a I gathered a few, 11 bundles to be exact, and brought them inside to measure. As serious taxonomy goes, 11 is a pretty small sample, far too small for generalizations. Yet, out of 11 bundles, 4 of them exceeded 11 inches in length! The two champions at 11 9/16 inches are above the ruler in the photo. This little episode brought back memories of my formal study of biology years ago and the emphasis on gathering data. I realize how useful data gathering is, but I also realize how the practice can narrow one's relationship with the natural world and possibly warp it, especially when the politics of funding research enters the picture. In recent years, I've chosen to call myself a naturalist. To me, a naturalist is part scientist, but also somewhat of an artist and philosopher. I wouldn't complain if someone called me a "jack of all trades and master of none." I am just incredibly fascinated by natural history and love to share what I find out. Data are just one small part of what my senses gather. Yet, for the next little while, I'll be looking for a bundle of pine needles longer than 11 9/16 inches.