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 headed up to the FRC office to pick up my paycheck when I was distracted by a small patch of Gumplant at the edge of Golden Eagle Avenue. I got out of my car with my camera and started noticing other things that wouldn't be noticed while driving. Maybe I was daydreaming about lots of things, but all I can remember is that I was startled to find a dead fawn in the tall grass (above) just past the mowed zone along the edge of the road. I just took one photo and hurried to the parking lot and started walking up the paved path. Right in the middle of the paved path was a dead Grey Fox (below). This fox had been lying in tall grass about 10' off the pavement for over a week, but something or someone had moved it onto the path. Two carcasses in a matter of a few minutes set my mind racing. For several days, I have been grading papers in my correspondence class, Nature Literature in America. Among other literary pieces that came to mind was Emily Dickinson's poem, "Because I Could not Stop for Death" which inspired the title of this post. I was also reminded of Mary Austin's little book of essays, The Land of Little Rain, and the essay "The Scavangers" and an essay by the late Ed Abbey titled "Death Valley."
To top it off, just before choosing the photos for this post, I read Jon Carroll's column in today's S. F. Chronicle, titled "Nasty, brutish and short - and so very confusing," I hadn't really thought about Hobbes' Leviathan since my freshman year in college, but Carroll's column brought back those memories and yet another view of death. It seems to me that all the writers mentioned here except for Hobbes had come to see death as a natural part of life and were reconciled to its inevitability. My heart was pounding as I hurried the rest of the way up the hill to get my paycheck while wrestling with the images of these two dead animals. What is not apparent in these photos are nature's cleanup crews - the ants, earwigs, and various beetles that have already begun the work of feeding their families and returning these two dead animals to the soil.
on my way down the hill, I stopped by the little patch of daisies I've been watching for a couple of weeks. When I saw my two "adopted" Ambush Bugs till embracing, a feeling of peace came over me. I urge you to click on this last photo and look at the amazing architecture of these two bugs in love and think about them as you get out the house and hike in a beautiful place this weekend. That's what I'm going to do.