If you're looking for a few moments of relief from BP oil disaster depression, check out this article in Alternet by Joshua Frank:
Currently 25 schools around NYC are taking part in a unique program where kids will have a chance, not only to eat whole, organic foods, but also to work in the soil and see little seedlings mature into healthy, edible plants. It's not the first time school gardens have become the flavor of the month, but it's the first time it's happened on a significant scale in the country's largest and most diverse city.
Read the whole article here. Read more about Green Thumbs at work in the Big Apple here.
Oh, how I love it! No nets, no binoculars, not even a high-powered digital SLR. Just me, my little 8 MP Canon and the butterflies! Captcha, baby, captcha!
The first butterfly I saw in the holler this year was an Eastern Comma, followed within a week or so by a Mourning Cloak that I included in my March 19th post. Then the Eastern Tiger Swallowtails started showing up.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus). [Photo by Cathie Bird.]
I found this one while photographing violets right outside my back door, and later got images of one in a cherry tree and a flowering crabapple:
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail [Photo by Cathie Bird]
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail [Photo by Cathie Bird]
The next flybys I noticed were the smaller duskywings. I think this one is a Horace's Duskywing (Erynnis horatius), my first one ever to photograph:
[Photo by Cathie Bird]
Yesterday, I caught this Spicebush Swallowtail on my quince bush. I've seen these many times in the holler, but this is the first one I've photographed:
Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus) [Photo by Cathie Bird]
If I have a good butterfly hunting story, it's this one. Last year I spent much time, energy and spur-of--the-moment dashes outside to photograph the fast flying and skittish sulphurs. Finally, on the 30th of October, after most of the flowering plants had ceased to bloom and were shriveling toward winter, I did get a picture of one. I had to take it while leaning out of a window and stretching my Canon's zoom to the max, so it wasn't that sharp. I posted the photo and the story here, and made it a priority for this season to bag a good sulphur image.
For the past week or so I've seen a few sulphurs around, but have learned better than to chase them. Yesterday, while I was photographing the Spicebush and Tiger Swallowtails around my quince bush, a sulphur zoomed in. After flitting around, landing and taking off again if I moved very much, I was able to get these shots off:
Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae). [Photo by Cathie Bird]
[Photo by Cathie Bird]
So that's been my first big week of the 2010 butterfly season. I've seen some little Blues and a white butterfly of some kind, and maybe a Sleepy Duskywing as well, but no decent photos yet. The plant life in the holler is having a great year after our wet winter, so I'm guessing the butterfly bounty may continue as well. Within the past hour I've seen several butterflies near the window, even as I'm writing this.
By the way, I usually don't include a species designator unless I'm more than 95% sure my identification is accurate. If I decide later that another identification is more accurate, I edit the post to reflect that. I use Jeffrey Glassberg's Butterflies Through Binoculars series as my primary hard-copy field guide, and have made use of some excellent online sources, too.
If anyone reading my blogs ever has a better idea on what species we're looking at, or if you know of good online guides, feel free to leave a comment. I'll be posting these and other photos on my Flickr account and my Earthbytes blog soon.
Wilma Mankiller, the first woman elected chief of the Cherokee Nation, passed away yesterday [Tuesday, April 6th] at the age of 64.
Mankiller served as principal chief from 1985 to 1995, and is credited with revitalizing the Cherokee community by prioritizing strong social programs that created housing, schools and children’s centers in Oklahoma. She built an $8 million job-training center, and the largest Cherokee health clinic in Stilwell, Oklahoma, that today is named after her. The Muskogee Phoenix reported that under her leadership, Cherokee membership more than doubled, from 55,000 people to more than 170,000. Employment rates also doubled and infant mortality rates declined, all during her tenure.
I think I first heard about Wilma Mankiller when she became Chief of the Cherokee Nation in 1985. At the time, I was serving as Chief of the Allenspark Fire Protection District in Colorado, a position from which I guess I naturally began to think of woman-chiefs of anything as kindred spirits.
I heard Chief Mankiller speak briefly when she came to Albuquerque on a book tour (in 1999 or early 2000) for her autobiography, Mankiller: A Chief and Her People. I remember asking her to sign my copy of her book in Cherokee, which she did.
I asked for this because I had been impressed by some comments she had made in her book about her Native language. That discovery had marked a new leap of my interest in language and what it means to the development of one's sense of self, of who we are as a human beings.
This idea has evolved in my own consciousness to include an understanding that to deny a person or group of people the right of access to the language of the nation into which they are born is an extreme act of violence. Psychologically, it's a self-killer.
I've done much thinking about this, and I've come to believe that one of the reasons that the world is in ecological trouble today is very intimately connected to the fact that dominant cultures have systematically separated Indigenous nations from their Indigenous languages. Literally and symbollically, this has separated all of us from language that is needed to understand nature and thus be able to interact with natural systems in a healthy way.
That's why I think it would be truly life-giving to all citizens of Earth to support preservation and restoration of these ancient languages to all of the First Nations as a way of restoring the planet. Such an act will truly be a hallmark, I think, of a sincere desire to eliminate -- once and for all -- the exploitation and oppression of people and nature.
Since this is how I now choose to frame my understanding of my life's work, I guess I have Chief Mankiller to thank for lighting the tinder under the language connection.
Maybe that's why -- when I looked into the eyes of her image in the article I quoted above -- I felt such a heartful gratitude. In it I experienced an other-worldly uplift for a few moments, just long enough to thank her again in person, and to wish her well.
It's felt like spring up here for several weeks, and now I can report some actual happenings beyond that energy's emergence. Shadow was especially rowdy today when we all went out for a walk. I'm guessing he was born about this time last year, and I'm planning a party of some kind for him this weekend.
Before I went out, I noticed an assassin bug crawling around my phone, so I took his picture first:
Two days ago I saw my first butterfly of the season -- an Eastern Comma -- but didn't have my camera with me. Today, though, I came across a Mourning Cloak feeding on something in the grass:
I saw a couple of frogs today but wasn't fast enough to get a photo. They started doing their spring peeping thing on Monday or Tuesday.
No flowers here yet but I've got some pregnant daffodils,
and the blackberry bushes are leafing out:
Woohoo! Before I go to change the Daily R-r-r-ibbit's banner to something more springlike, I just want to say that I hope everyone has a great day tomorrow, celebrating the 2010 vernal equinox with Earth and all of its sentient beings!
Due to unprecedented levels of mining activity in the Far North on lands associated with what is known as the Ring of Fire, four Far North First Nations have determined the need to form a collaborative relationship to ensure that future generations inherit a safe and healthy environment.
Today the Ontario Minister of Northern Development Mines and Forestry, along with the Minister of Natural Resources, witnessed the Chiefs of Eabametoong First Nation, Neskantaga First Nation, Nibinamik First Nation and Webequie First Nation sign a Statement of Relationship. The Chiefs from the four communities have recognized the need for a coordinated approach and to work collaboratively.
The loss of wetlands in the prairie pothole region of central North America due to a warmer and drier climate will negatively affect millions of waterfowl that depend on the region for food, shelter and raising young, according to research published today in the journal BioScience.
The new research shows that the region appears to be much more sensitive to climate warming and drying than previously thought.
“The impact to the millions of wetlands that attract countless ducks to these breeding grounds in spring makes it difficult to imagine how to maintain today’s level of waterfowl populations in altered climate conditions,” said Dr. Glenn Guntenspergen, a U.S. Geological Survey researcher and one of the report authors. “Parents may not have time to raise their young to where they can fly because of wetlands drying up too quickly in the warming climate of the future,” he added.
When a dam broke at a holding pond at the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston coal-fired power plant in eastern Tennessee, dumping more than a billion gallons of toxic coal ash onto a neighboring community, Facing South was well-prepared to cover the disaster.
The staff at the Institute for Southern Studies looked at more than 700 stories they published in their online journal, Facing South, in 2009 and ranked coverage of TVA's coal ash eco-disaster in Tennessee at the top of the list.
I've become a huge fan of Facing South over the past few years, and have plenty of articles by Editorial Director Sue Sturgis in my electronic library archives. According to Chris Kromm, Sturgis grew up in a Pennsylvania mining town where coal ash dumping had created environmental concerns. Thus she'd cultivated an interest in coal ash hazards even before the pond blew out at Kingston last December.
Sturgis has also written about problems at other points in the coal cycle, such as mountaintop removal mining, aging coal plants and energy policy.