Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Anyway, back to the photos. I've started off with primary colors. EAch is more beautiful when seen alongside the others, but these were seen at widely separated stops along the Squirrel Creek Road. The red is Crimson Columbine (Buttercup Family), the yellow is a species of Cinquefoil (Rose Family), and the blue is Delphinium, AKA Larkspur (Buttercup Family).
Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Meanwhile, a decision by our county planning department has come to my attention. The decision seems to me absurd. First it amounts to denying the fact that a "heliport" is a class of "airport." I have found no definition of "airport" that indicates heliports are not included. Second, the claim of certain wealthy parties in Genessee Valley, separated from Quincy by a mountain range, are trying to get permitted to establish a base for helicopters for agricultural use. The Genessee Valley has been loved by residents and visitors alike for many many years specifically because of its beauty and quietude. The people applying for helicopter use in this valley obviously have no respect for the wishes or explanations of the residents. The permission has been granted, but I hope the fight is not over. Among other things, the relationship of this issue to my usual musings in natural history has to do with the practice of naming things. What's in a name? How broad is the definition of "agricultural use"? Is it important that a distinction is made between "heliport" and "airport" and by extension the rules governing each? In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, did it matter whether one was a Montague or a Capulet? Has my life in the USA been different due to inheriting my father's last name, Willis, rather than my mother's, which was Scalabroni? Does it matter when a certain plant is called Bindweed rather than Orchard Morning Glory? Does it matter whether various raptors are called by their specific AOU names as types of hawks, eagles, and owls, or called buzzards - along with the vultures? Genessee Valley, R. I. P.
7/26 - I'm back, and will try to make sense of this collection.
First, our recent visit to Fort Bragg which definitely included nostalgic impulses. We wanted to visit the Headlands Coffee House on a Friday night when there always used to be live music and the usually great pastries, pizza, coffees, teas, and great service. It worked out fine, and as a bonus we ran into an old friend from Ukaih whom we hadn't seen in over 15 years! Second, we wanted to get up early and beat the crowd to have breakfast at Egghead's, a place with a Wizard of Oz theme, and a painted "yellow brick road" leading to the outdoor bathroom. The walls were covered with photos from the movie and book. We expected to hear Judy Garland singing as we ordered, and that our omelettes would arrive with heaps of home-fried potatoes all arranged on a large, oval-shaped, ceramic plate.
Well, there was no crowd waiting. We were greeted by a friendly Mexican gentleman and escorted to our table to the sounds of Mariachi music that transported us to our experiences many years ago visiting Tecate and Tiajuana. We loved those visits and enjoy greatly what we know of Mexican history and culture and the Spanish language. However, when our meal arrived on square, styrofoam plates (above photo), and all the music, personnel, and much of the menu were no longer Oz-themed, it was quite disconcerting. We may go back, because it was good, but first we'll need to adjust our expectations.
Now, for the natural history link. The Tabasco bottles on each table brought back great memories. When I was a zoology major at Tulane, I took many field trips to Avery Island in Louisiana where Tabasco sauces are made. The "island" is a salt dome rising like a small mountain from a vast expanse of tidal marsh. The island includes a wildlife refuge. When I was in college, the Tabasco plant was run by a grandson of the founder, E. I. McIlhenny who happened to be a zoology graduate of Tulane. Thanks to him, we were granted permission to do certain biological field studies in and around the refuge. During those visits we learned a lot of history of the place, including the story of the original McIlhenny introducing the Nutria, a very large, water-loving rodent, to the area with the European market for furs in mind. That experiment turned out badly. Among many other problems, the Nutria multiplied very rapidly and almost eliminated the native Muskrat and brought many other environmental problems that remain to this day. But, my zoology field experience there was wonderful, and the association of Tabasco with pleasure is probably permanent.
So, this photo and brief comment opens a can of worms. Maybe even a Twitter storm. I wonder if it could also launch a calm discussion of issues around guns, hunting, safety and violence.