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Chippy the Squirrel

Posted 2013.11.29 9.55 in Pointless Blather

Chippy

He’s had his fill of the leftover pasta, and now he’s nibbling on… some blue plastic? I have no idea what that is.

All the stale bread and uneaten pasta and limp vegetables tend to go out into the backyard. It’s got to the point now where just opening the backdoor frequently attracts 3 or 4 squirrels into the yard.

This one is chilling out on a shelving unit that’s temporarily stored on the back porch – here, he can enjoy his pasta (or plastic) in the shade, out of the elements.

I just can’t tell…

Is he cute?

Or is he plotting?

Plotting

D’oh! A Deer!

Posted 2012.10.21 12.51 in Uncategorized

Filed under Things You Don’t Expect To Encounter While Walking Downtown.

Halfway around the block from my house, in a little parkette, was this doe munching quietly on some leaves.¬†She didn’t seem to mind the handful of us who stopped to watch and snap some pictures.

Remarkable.

Nothing but Flowers

Posted 2011.05.23 23.53 in Pointless Blather

It’s not a great stitch-up job, but here’s a pseudo-panorama of half my backyard. It’s all been overrun with wildflowers. Some people call them weeds, but in truth they are all wildflowers.

They smell nice, too.

Barefoot in the Forest

Posted 2009.09.30 16.55 in Pointless Blather

I was walking through a parking lot today and stepped on a really hard, really pointy, somewhat large rock. It was big and hard and pointy enough that it really hurt, even through the sole of my sandal. Granted, these aren’t exactly steel-toe industrial-grade sandals. They’re fairly cheap. What is the point of footwear though, if not to protect the feet? (Everyone who said ‘fashion’ gets detention.) Stepping on a rock in a parking lot shouldn’t hurt. Then it struck me – what if I was barefoot? How much would that have hurt?

The answer – probably not so much.

Why? When you walk barefoot, you tend to be a bit more careful. And when you walk barefoot over uncertain ground, you tend to walk a bit lighter too.

Have you ever walked barefoot in a forest? I mean in the wild, not a carefully manicured park with trees.

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I believe it is a special experience. Those first few steps are tentative and uncertain, right after you take the shoes off. There is strange crud underfoot, a layer of chunky organic matter between your feet and the dirt. For a while you take it slow, worried that you’ll step on something pointy or icky. Gradually though, you grow accustomed to it. And realize just how good it feels. To have the wild Earth against your naked sole.

Barefoot in the grass is ok, don’t get me wrong. A nicely manicured lawn where the grass is all evenly decapitated at just the perfect length can feel great. Barefoot in a forest is less ‘safe’ and in some ways, less… tender I suppose is the word I want. However, barefoot in the forest is more tactile, more ‘real’.

I bet being barefoot in other wild terrain is the same – not just forests. I haven’t had the luxury of being barefoot in a desert, or barefoot in the mountains, or on the plains, jungles, et cetera. But barefoot in a forest.. barefoot in a wild remote area of the Great White North, is very, very nice.

Take your shoes off and bare your soles to the Earth.

New Species?

Posted 2009.08.06 18.30 in Pointless Blather

How many new species have come along in the last, say, 10,000 years? Versus the number of species that have gone extinct in the same time period?

I mean, I think it’s sort of somewhat common knowledge that lots of things have gone extinct in the last few millenia – we’ve all heard of wooly mammoths, mastadons, dodo birds, sabre-toothed tigers, elephant birds, and so on and so on.

But how many new species have sprung up in the same timeframe? I don’t mean the genetically modified man-made ones, I mean like in nature?

One of the quirky things is how you define the word Species, of course. My understanding is that for a critter to be a distinct and separate species, it is capable of breeding with its own kind and producing viable (fertile) offspring. So you can tell two critters are not of the same species if either a) they can’t interbreed or b) they can breed but their offspring are themselves incapable of doing the same. (A good example would be Mules – a cross between a horse and a donkey. Aside from a few very rare exceptions, mules are not able to reproduce.)

This poses an interesting dillema though. How does a new species occur, if by (our) definition it cannot successfully mate with any other species? Like, if one animal were to mutate/evolve into something new, that would only work if there were other critters mutating/evolving in exactly the same way and exactly the same time, so that there was a breeding population that was always in sync and able to carry on. And this is actually probably what happens – there’s got to be some time of crossover where the ‘new’ species is still able to interbreed with the ‘old’ version, and during that time we might call them a sub-species or a variant, but not say it’s a truly new and separate species. At least, not till the variant had gotten so far from its original version that the two were no longer compatible.

And I’m babbling again, when really the question is simple. In the last 10,000 years, how many new species have come into being, verus how many species have gone extinct in the same time?

Is the world in a net-gain or net-loss of diversity at the moment?

Go Stick Your Head In A Tree

Posted 2006.06.29 0.00 in Photography

My folks have this maple tree in their backyard, which is shaped like a big green tootsie-roll pop. It’s short enough that if I stand next to the trunk, my head and shoulders are inside the sphere of foliage.

Inside the foliage, it’s like another world, all dark and green and interconnected with wooden walkways and gantries and support structures.

I could just picture the ants and bugs and birds and little critters, all going to and fro as they rush about carrying on their Important Business. “Meet you for lunch on the second twig from branch 37, Bill?” “Sorry Charles, not today, I’ve got a big meeting down by Trunk Junction. Tell you what though, have your ladybug call my ladybug and we’ll work something out.” “Right-o then!”

Or maybe it was the wine.

Embrace Your Inner Tree