The world is a busy place, sucking you dry. Newspapers are filled with news, from bombing Syria and worries about being bombed in return, to disgust that Congress has allowed the killing of hibernating bears and wolf cubs in their dens. It makes me wonder what the world is coming to . . . and what people think. Yes, I live in an isolated part of the world, one which is relatively safe, but it doesn’t keep me isolated unless I turn off the news. This is where the walk in the woods, in the fields, and exploring the natural world outside the artifice of man beckons. As California is now in the midst of a bloom unseen in years, I am out there nearly every day, taking in the blooms, the colors of the hillsides, and listening to the birdsong and buzz of bees. It brings a peace.
As someone who is getting older, I frequently think of death. People – friends, colleagues, family – have died in the recent years. All my earliest childhood friends are gone. Death is something to be considered in this day and age of every baby must be born, regardless, and everyone must be put on life support, regardless. There is something disrespectful about the quality of life all this means. Keeping people alive by artificial means reaches a point, an ethical point, where it is ridiculous. Killing wolf cubs and hibernating bears for sport is equally unethical. Our destruction of the natural world boggles the mind, and the immediacy of pleasure or self-righteousness fails to address a longer viewpoint: what are we leaving behind? Plundered resources, extinct animals, and warehouses of people on life support. Equally, we kill others with impunity. In 40 to 50 years, the earth’s population will double, and we will be in even more dire straits than we are in now. Even within our own lifetimes we see the destruction, but deny it.
And so, flowers. One part of the natural world, fragrant, beautiful, evanescent. If they disappear? What next?
Spring Break ends today. I go back to work tomorrow. Friday, a friend came over around sunrise, and we headed out to the local open space, Wildwood, which encircles the city where I live. It’s a wonderful place, especially in spring when the flowers bloom. As I have said before, California has had a drought for the past 6 years, but this year our rainy season was phenomenal (by desert standards). The result is that things are green and growing, instead of the dreary brown, brown, brown. The fields and hills are covered with a lot of wildflowers, in yellow and purples primarily, with so many different ones it is hard to remember all their names. Some, though, include wild morning glory, mountain sunflower, allium, fiddleneck, red stem filaree, lupine, lacey phacelia, and blue dicks.
Well, probably officially the second day of Spring Break! I spent Friday doing all the things I usually do on Friday mornings – cleaning, organizing, grocery shopping, and so on.
Today, I got up early, determined to finish up a couple of rolls of film. When I ran out of film, I was sort of cursing the fact I hadn’t another roll with me, or a decent digital camera. All I had was my phone, but it did an okay job. In general, I don’t really like the pictures from cell phones – mine is a Galaxy S5 – but you can get a decent shot or two. I think they tend to overdo the sharpening or whatever they do.
I headed out around 7:00 to a local open space, Wildwood. I took the Moonrise Trail, but veered to the right rather than the left as the path was crazy muddy. It was definitely a delight! Sunflowers, lupine, morning glory, mustard, allium, and others I recognize but don’t know the names. In particular, the image “Tiny Pink Flowers” was a bit of a favorite – these flowers are about 1/4 inch across – less than .5 cm, I am sure.
So many people these days cannot write cursive, much less read it, thanks to the insistence on “new technology” in classrooms. Keyboarding takes place of learning how to write using a pencil or pen. Printing seems to be the only thing taught, and mastering it is not even encouraged. It’s funny to think that the hours I spent in the classroom learning to print, to write cursive, and to touch type are now returning to being recognized as skills more valuable than just being able to communicate. Eye-hand coordination, fine motor control, neurological benefits. I probably could do some research and list a thousand things. All this automation and such makes life easier – no doubt! I love my dishwasher! – but the satisfaction of working with your hands is completely lacking.
Cursive has become a foreign language to students born in the last 30 years. They cannot read it. It’s not just U.S. students who should learn cursive, but students coming in from other countries could also benefit from it. Other languages have other alphabets, and their beauty is certainly something to be appreciated. Good handwriting is really an unfancy form of calligraphy. The practicality of good cursive is just as it was advertised years ago – it is clear and readable.
I’m revisiting what I learned ages ago, and it is a lot of fun. I’m using a fountain pen, and I am using a dip pen. A dip pen is not so hard to master, once you learn how to hold it and adapt to holding it at the right angle and tilt. Once there, it is smooth sailing. Repeating letters and practicing strokes, curves, and circles is very soothing. Like coloring, there is something that simply refreshes, like a deep meditation.
Anyway, because I was blundering around on YouTube, I came upon the above video, which I totally enjoyed. It’s informative, classic, and if you like fountain pens, wait until the end – you will learn a few things you may not have known!
Over the last 24 hours, we got 4 inches / 10 cm. of rain. Here, the soil is clay, and drainage is very poor. As well, the infrastructure for handling massive amounts of water is not the best because we don’t get rain.
Rain? What’s that?
We haven’t seen much in the past 6 years! In our own back yard, we were flooded, literally, with inches of water creeping ever closer to the back patio doors. Finally, Josh took a submersible pump and hooked it up; we pumped out about 1800 gallons based on a 2-hour run with 900 gallons / hour (about 3600 l. / hour). He ran a hose from the back yard to the corner of the sidewalk, and the water poured into the street. And this was in the dark of the night . . .
So, what do we get out of massive rain besides mudslides, flood damage, fallen trees, tipped-over fire trucks, and general chaos? Greenery! New flowers! Mossy rocks! Mud!
And to celebrate – and explore – I returned to the park I went to last weekend, different cameras in hand. Just in a week’s time, new growth is more than evident – buds are now tiny, bright leaves; the water in the creek is a bit higher. There were little changes, too, such as the mossy rocks are greener than before, more palm trees are dead(ish) – for which I say, “Hooray!” – and little mushrooms coming up from under the fallen leaves.
And more rain is on the way!