"Men and nature must work hand in hand. The throwing out of balance of the resources of nature throws out of balance also the lives of men."
FDR, at the FDR Memorial in Washington, D.C.
1. Gone West, by Dan Liberthson
2. Earth and its Moon, as seen from Saturn
3. 2013 Summer Gardening Fair Saturday 3 at SFBG
4. It’s easy to do sidewalk plantings in San Francisco
5. Become a Dragonfly Pond Watcher
6. Herman Melville, born 1 August 1819
7. Jepson Curator Bruce Baldwin wins prestigious Asa Gray Award
8. Feedback: birds in Mt Sutro
9. SFPUC wants your ideas for Sunset Blvd
10. Notes & Queries
Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words. -Robert Frost
Having sought in many places I've found,
far west, this rocky, fog-bound coast
and let it become home.
Heir to the ease and discontents
of one who has settled, I soak in peace
and regret (solemn duty of middle age)
lost raptures, shed husks of a creature
left behind, its meat no longer mine.
Now I'm as domestic as my dog,
his greatest joy the evening walk
and second best, back home to eat
and rest: the full bowl, the warm bed.
Yet he still insists we set out every day
to find the world and make it ours,
as if we've never come this way before,
may not again, and so must leave our mark.
A late October chill sharpens colors.
The last roses burn brightest of all,
red and yellow flares so intense
they spark my eyes to brimming.
In the dusk sky a frothy pink layer
barely holds up a steel blue anvil
crushing down across the horizon.
Urgently the dog pulls away, escapes
to root and riot by a hedgerow,
in his hermetic world of scent
immune to my seeping loss of sight.
I step aside and watch him come to life.
The great lung of night breathes out darkness.
Colors settle deeper, shapes dissolve.
Looking up, I lose my feet and fall into the sky,
nothing to grab hold of but the evening star.
A smiling crescent moon cups blackness.
My head spins with vertigo and fright:
the cup will tip and pour dark syrup down,
light and life submerge and all go out.
The dog finds me, leans solid against my leg.
I may hold the leash, but he's the guide,
the dolphin who will save this failing swimmer.
He knows the way, each day, out and back.
© Dan Liberthson, from his book "Animal Songs"
2. Earth and its Moon, as seen from Saturn
Jul 27th 2013 The Economist
This is a picture of Earth (on the left) and the Moon, as viewed from orbit around Saturn by NASA’s space probe Cassini. It is only the third image of Earth taken from the outer solar system. Normally, the planet is lost in the sun’s glare when viewed from this distance but Cassini used Saturn to obscure the sun. The earlier images, in 2006, also by Cassini, and in 1990, by Voyager 1, similarly showed the Earth as what Carl Sagan, an American astronomer, memorably described as a Pale Blue Dot. This once-in-a-blue-moon shot shows, though, that the Moon isn’t.
2013 Summer Gardening Fair
Saturday, August 3, 2013 | 10 am to 3 pm
SF Botanical Garden, Golden Gate Park
Come learn more about plants and gardening by talking to representatives of local horticultural and conservation organizations, joining a local plant club, buying plants and plant products, or simply enjoying a day full of great activities and demonstrations.
4. Easy to do San Francisco sidewalk plantings
A lady from Department of Public Works talked to my neighborhood association this week about removing concrete for sidewalk plantings. I grabbed the opportunity to talk about a problem bothering me: strangulation of street trees by brick, other paving, or metal grates. (Ahem, DPW, that includes the sycamores on Market Street, as well as other city-maintained trees.) I told her that sidewalk plantings are an opportunity to free some of these trees, and cited two stellar examples in my neighborhood where two scarlet flowering eucalyptus of particularly good brilliant red hues were being choked by concrete. I asked if DPW could bring these instances to homeowner's attention. She said yes, that I could report these instances to sfdpw.org/ (pulldown menu under Services, then Trees), and it would notify the owner.
I ask your help. I am reporting several in my neighborhood. Trees approaching strangulation are common in the city, and it would help if people would report them to DPW.
Following that, I had a conversation with a neighbor:
On Aug 1, 2013, at 10:17 AM, a neighbor wrote, regarding my skepticism about ways of deterring dogs from pooping in tree basins:
A neighbor removed several concrete squares that were around the root of their tree. And filled the area with round rocks. They have 2 golden retrievers.
When I asked the neighbor why did they decide to use round rocks, they said dogs do not like to stand on uneven surfaces. And hopefully won't be using the area as a bathroom. Haven't seen dogs go near their tree. Here is a photo.
JS: I’ve seen that tree and in my mind I was grateful to the owner for doing something imaginative and aesthetically pleasing. Most tree basins don’t have dog poop in them anyway, so its absence doesn’t indicate anything. Nevertheless, even if it is another urban legend, if it results in more pleasing tree basins I’m all for it.
DRAGONFLY POND WATCH
Become a Pond Watch monitor!
Dragonfly Pond Watch is a volunteer-based program of the Migratory Dragonfly Partnership (MDP), an international partnership chaired and coordinated by the Xerces Society. Pond Watch investigates the annual movements of two major migratory dragonfly species in North America: common green darner (Anax junius) and black saddlebags (Tramea lacerata). No prior experience with dragonflies is needed to participate!
By visiting the same wetland or pond site on a regular basis, participants will be able to note the arrival of migrant dragonflies moving south in the fall or north in the spring, as well as to record when the first resident adults of these species emerge in the spring.
Why monitor ponds?
Collecting seasonal information at local ponds will increase our knowledge of the timing and location of dragonfly migration across North America, and expand our understanding of the relationship between migrant and resident populations within the same species.
Who can participate?
Anyone with regular access to a large pond or wetland who has an interest in dragonflies and would like to contribute to our growing knowledge about dragonfly migration in North America.
For those new to citizen monitoring, recognizing these two species is easy to learn! Visit the photo gallery at OdonataCentral to see an array of photos of common green darner and black saddlebags.
How can I get involved?
Please visit the Pond Watch homepage for information on how to register a pond of your choice and for detailed monitoring protocol instructions.
We will provide regular feedback and reports to participants, so you can see how you are making a difference!
To learn more about Xerces' other citizen science opportunities, visit our citizen science webpage.
Today is the birthday of Herman Melville, born in New York City, (1819). When he was 20, he worked as a cabin boy on a ship that went to Liverpool and back, the first of his many voyages. In 1841, he joined the crew of the whaler Acushnet. Inspired by his adventures at sea, Melville returned to New York and settled down to write about his travels.
After Melville got married, had four children, and moved to a farm in Massachusetts, he became friends with Nathaniel Hawthorne and went to work on Moby-Dick. Hawthorne encouraged him to make the novel an allegory, not just another adventure story. Melville became consumed with writing Moby-Dick. When he finished the novel he wrote to Hawthorne (to whom he also dedicated the book), "I have written a wicked book and feel as spotless as the lamb." He thought it was his best book yet.
But when Moby-Dick came out in 1851, the public did not agree. It was too psychological. His American publisher only printed a few thousand copies, and most of those never even sold. After his next novel, Pierre (1852), got terrible reviews, publishers stopped wanting to publish Melville's work. The manuscript of his final work, Billy Budd, was found in his desk after he died, by which time he had become so obscure that The New York Times called him "Henry Melville" in his obituary.
Jepson curator Bruce Baldwin honored for lifetime contributions to botany
Published Jul 31, 2013 08:30 am
Bruce Baldwin, the W.L. Jepson Professor and Curator of the Jepson Herbarium, was awarded the 2013 Asa Gray Award of The American Society of Plant Taxonomists in honor of his outstanding lifetime achievement in the field of plant systematics. The award is named for Asa Gray, the most important American botanist of the 19th century.
On Jul 29, 2013, at 3:26 PM, Patricia Greene wrote:
What is remarkable is the birdlife .. Mt. Sutro seems to be relatively bereft compared to that observed on El Cerrito Hill.
Mt Sutro neighbor and a birder. I have walked in Sutro Forest for many, many years. This year because of the big planned changes, I was finally motivated to keep a record of the birds I see/hear as I walk, and I have to respond to the above comment from your July 26 'NatureNews'. Mt Sutro may not have the diversity of El Cerrito Hill, I have never birded there so I can't make a comparison, but Sutro Forest is definitely not devoid of birds: this season from early February until mid-July, the forest absolutely reverberated with bird song--now that breeding is winding down, the forest seems very quiet, with mainly softer bird calls. During this summer, I observed successful breeding by understory nesting birds, Pacific Wrens, Song Sparrows and Wilson's Warblers, and cavity nesting Chestnut-backed Chickadees plus American Robins and Dark-eyed Juncos. I believe that House and Purple Finches, Anna's and Allen's Hummingbirds and Bushtits also bred in the forest because I observed singing territories, probable pairs, breeding displays, and/or family groups with young birds. In Woodland Canyon, Swainson's Thrush sang from mid-March till mid-July, and Olive-sided Flycatcher is one of the few birds still singing, but I could never tell whether these latter two had mates. I have seen/heard ~50 species since I started keeping track in Feb. The list includes additional probable breeders (eg. Steller's Jay, Downy Woodpecker, Pygmy Nuthatch) and migrants. It would probably be longer if I was better at birding by ear--and covered the whole forest instead of just a segment.
As I walk in the forest, I observe the English Ivy smothering trees (including the poor struggling Redwoods that were planted some time ago along Farnsworth trail), and the crown doesn't seem as lush as a few years ago, so I believe that careful management is needed and will improve the forest--I hope it will also improve bird habitat and increase diversity. The trails have been very muddy during the last few weeks, but come the hot, dry days of Sep/Oct, I'll be thinking about fire hazard reduction too. I do look forward to the results of forest management (and maybe a longer bird list (;-), but I fervently hope that those managing the forest will consider the existing breeding populations and leave significantly large patches of understory for the understory nesters and leave some nice snags for the cavity nesters. I also hope they leave the non-native plum trees that have gone feral from the neighborhood--probably planted by the birds. These make ethereal clouds of almost white blossoms in Feb and early March, and they have been great bird feeders for a few weeks in early July.
Patricia: Thank you for your feedback. I’m glad to know that many birds still find the Sutro plantation useful, and I’m glad there are people like you who keep track of them. I have passed on your comments to Rob Bakewell, who wrote the comments to which you are responding.
Yes, there are birds in the parts of Mt Sutro covered by trees. I have written about them in the past, such as the (to me) dramatic incident of the nesting great horned owl harassed by a huge flock of crows and finally driven from its nest, where its babies or eggs were eaten by the crows; this was about 3-4 years ago.
Your observations are important. They leave unanswered whether the mountain supports as many birds as if it were well managed. My experience tells me clearly not. Owls and crows, as you know, use tall trees to nest in, but they don't earn their living in the eucalyptus plantation; raptors need open foraging grounds. Eucalyptus are not as supportive of local wildlife as indigenous plants, but that is not the problem. The problem is mainly the understory. Smothering blankets of English ivy and blackberry support very little besides rats. A great variety of plants leads to a great variety of animals that depend on those plants; I'm telling you things you already know. So the University’s proposed management will increase wildlife values. I see no downside, only improvement to rejuvenating the forest.
This is a complex subject, but this is all the time I can afford. Thanks for your comments. More, please.
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) wants to know how Sunset Boulevard can work better for you. Take this quick survey to tell us what you think should be done to enhance Sunset Boulevard (between Lincoln and Sloat) while improving stormwater management.
Wide streets with large landscaped areas provide many opportunities for improving stormwater management in the area. We need your help to identify the community’s priorities for improving the local landscape, such as habitat enhancement, trail and transit access, educational opportunities, and pedestrian amenities.
We want to know what community uses you would like to see along Sunset Blvd. Give us your ideas today at www.sunset.metroquest.com and be sure to share this interactive survey with others. The survey will be available until September 6, 2013.
Thank you for your input and for helping us get more voices involved in this process! We’ll share the results from this survey and our open house held on July 25 at an upcoming public meeting this Fall. Stay tuned!
10. Notes & Queries, Guardian Weekly
In England there are permissive footpaths. What is going on there?
To find out, just walk along and take a look – you've got permission.
Lawrie Bradly, Surrey Hills, Victoria, Australia
• Don't ask! Don't tell!
Philip Stigger, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
• Are these the proverbial "garden paths" we were warned about in childhood, where liberties are taken and devilment occurs?
Rusty Hanna, Batchelor, Northern Territory, Australia
• Permissive footpaths are for ramblers who don't want to put a foot wrong.
David Tucker, Halle, Germany
• They're there to bypass the bridle paths.
John Grinter, Katoomba, NSW, Australia
• I can only assume that these permissive paths are an updated version of the lovers' lanes that I so enjoyed in England in my somewhat younger days. I suspect, however, that nowadays there is much more licence for hands to rove.
Ursula Nixon, Bodalla, NSW, Australia
• We natives keep quiet about it.
Bernard Burgess, Tenterden, UK
• Hanky-panky! In France, where the paths are even more permissive, it is called mouchoir-pouchoir.
Stewart Patrick, Walnut Creek, California, US
• I dread to think, but dread carefully...
Peter Stebbing, Schwaebisch Gmuend, Germany
• Things that a respectable family newspaper doesn't need to know about.
Joan Dawson, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
[JS: Regarding a parallel situation, in the Sierra Club Yodeler about 40 years ago, a member wrote in about couples departing from a hike and disappearing into the woods, with the final sentence: “Just what IS going on?” To which Herb Caen responded: “I dunno, but look out for the poison oak.”]
There's no lack of interest
Why do banks sleep at weekends?
Probably for the same reason vampires sleep in the daytime.
John Ralston, Mountain View, California, US
• Because they can't bank on a bank holiday Monday.
Jenny Dodd, Bayswater, Western Australia
• Banker's hours. It's not just an expression.
James Carroll, Geneva, Switzerland
• To gain two days' interest on the money you are transferring.
Edward Black, Church Point, NSW, Australia
• Because Australian and New Zealand banks use weekends to count the sheep.
Pete Murphy, Adelaide, South Australia
• "To sleep, perchance to dream" of ways to make more money from their customers.
Art Hunter, Napanee, Ontario, Canada
It's well and truly over with
What will be the end of civilisation?
What do you mean, "will be"? Look around you, man. Read your Guardian. It's here and now.
Daan Zwick, Rochester, New York, US
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