Nearly a month went by without any new posts, despite my recent statements about blogging in earnest. I found that teaching writing classes not only involved lots of time grading papers but also focused my interest on writing. I'm actually writing a lot in various journals and notebooks, but was not focusing in the short run on material I wanted to post here. Finally, in the month of July, I managed to resume my average of one post per day for the month. I plan to surpass that volume from here on out. What I post here, combined with my daily writing in journals, is mostly fine-tuning what I hope to publish in a memoir about my experiences in education as student, parent, teacher, supporter and critic.
Meanwhile, I am still available for guiding local nature hikes. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about rates and parameters of time, distance, and personal needs regarding matters of health and fitness.
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.
Sometimes when I set out on a nature walk, I have specific goals and expectations. For instance, on a recent hike on the Keddie Cascades Trail, I wanted to visit a particular spring to see if a particular Helgrammite I had seen there two summers in a row was still there. It wasn't. But a new, younger one was there. I was happy to see it. However, the season of spring wildflowers was barely getting started, so I did have a mild sense of disappointment over the lack of flowers. However, when the hike was over, I felt happy that I had noticed, photographed, and thought about a number of other items along the way that would have been easy to overlook. Things like tree bark, bicycle tire prints, slugs...a pretty long list of things. So, I tried to bring that attitude of open-mindedness and a lack of specific goals with me on my recent hike around the Feather River College Nature Trail. I already posted twice about my hike last Sunday. This post one might call the leftovers. Things that didn't jump out at me like blooming flowers do, but which ended up being very fascinating and lead to more research and thinking at home. The first case in point is the rock on the above photo. It was a beautiful piece of mostly quartz with some other inclusions that I don't know about, but which would undoubtedly thrill a geologist. Then there was the nice patch of moss. When I got home and reviewed my photos, I couldn't help but think of the phrase "a rolling stone gathers no moss" and my need to research it. The phrase, like so many things we might see in nature, has both positive and negative connotations. There seems to be some debate about the intentions or even the identity of its author. I invite the visitor to type the phrase into a search engine to see what you find. You might find it hard to quit. As Robert Frost once put into a poem, "knowing how way leads on to way...."
Some people look at a scene like this and think "this would be a beautiful spot if it was just cleaned up a bit" as in remove the downed wood and maybe rake. I immediately think "I hope they don't clean up this place." I always visualize the great variety of bugs, fungi, young plants, etc., that are growing beneath and inside the decomposing logs. I have spent all day in places like this, never wandering more than 100 feet, taking notes, sketching, photographing, and promising myself to research various items when I get home or to a library. I love rolling over certain logs and rocks to see what I can see, then replacing them so I can visit often throughout the seasons and record the changes. Right now the centipedes, ants, termites, and certain ground beetles are becoming active.
At this spot I saw several clumps of Stellar's Jay feathers still connected by cartilage which suggested the bird had fallen victim to a predator. This one appealed to my photographer's sense because the blue feather complemented the reddish orange in the rock. I invite you to click on the photo for a closer look.
These newly-emerging Corn Lilies have a look of power. When they're at this stage, it's easy for me to imagine a time-lapse video of the process. And imagining is sufficient. Spares the expense and skill set required to make a good video. And this is one plant that will be around all summer and well into the fall, showing off the many stages of its life cycle and playing host to a sequence of invertebrates.
My last image from this walk was a cluster of ants beneath a rock, still immobile from the cold. I cannot look at a group of ants without thinking of the work of one of my biologist heroes, E. O. Wilson. His writings continually fuel my biophilia. I think it's about time Spell Check recognized that word. I get a bit irritated every time the red line appears beneath it. That's because it reminds me of the prevalence of biophobia.