Posts Tagged 'flowers'

Sweetbay

Sweetbay Magnolia has such a delightful perfume.Magnolia virginiana.
A native of the southeast that stretches up the Atlantic to New York.

You know what doesn’t smell so good: 53-year old Brett Kavanaugh, and Kennedy’s negotiations to have his former law clerk replace him while his (Kennedy’s) sons are complicit in Trump’s corruptions.

On Young Kavanaugh, a stunningly mediocre but ideological jurist: environmentalists call him Lord Voldemort. He’s a pro-corporate plutocratic toady dedicated to a (Republican only, please) authoritarian presidency. Horrible on civil rights, gun laws, women’s health, presidential power…. He wouldn’t even be on the Federalist Society list if he wasn’t dedicated to overturning Roe. (Curiously, for such a reactionary Catholic, over 13 years of marriage he has somehow only produced two children). And he is partisan to the core: he was a big leaker to the press when he was ejaculate-investigator (sorry, but we’re talking Republicans here) for Ken Starr. His shameless sucking up to Trump the other night tells you all you need to know about his personality.

Call your state’s U.S. Senators even if they’ve stopped taking your calls.

Recent Sightings

A President under investigation shouldn’t be allowed to appoint judges who will decide cases involving him. The Republican corruption of justice continues. And on top of that, this Kavanaugh character is already lying by saying “No president has ever consulted more widely or talked to more people from more backgrounds to seek input for a Supreme Court nomination.” We knows he doesn’t believe a sitting President can be indicted, and he starts by shamelessly sucking up to one who is extremely indictable.

Asclepias

Butterfly weed (A. tuberosa). My favorite.Purple (A. purpurascens). Other people’s favorite.

“It would be naive to depend on the Supreme Court to defend the rights of poor people, women, people of color, dissenters of all kinds. Those rights only come alive when citizens organize, protest, demonstrate, strike, boycott, rebel, and violate the law in order to uphold justice.” […] The rights of working people, of women, of black people have not depended on decisions of the courts. Like the other branches of the political system, the courts have recognized these rights only after citizens have engaged in direct action powerful enough to win these rights for themselves.”  ~ Howard Zinn

Birds, Flowers, Castle

Winding down with the reports from our trip to Sweden. Here’s Buskskvätta. Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra).These white flowers were everywhere.Anemone. It was a very good year for them, people said.My first ever cranes in the wild! Here’s Grus grus, the European Crane, known as Trana in Swedish. There was a pair nesting in the distance. One also flew across our bow as we rode on Lake Vänern in the good ship Jim.While on the water, we also saw an enormous Osprey nest, which has obviously been used for generations. It has to be protected in breeding season from egg collecting assholes, still evidently a problem there. And here’s a Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava), Gulärla, one the far side of Läkkö Slott.The said slott.

Trilliums and Trout Lilies



Spring Purples

Look how purple these Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) start out!And flowers, ready to open.

*

Still, spring is having a hard time soothing us. A year+ into Trumpism: a sizable percentage of the American population is militantly ignorant, authoritarian-minded, anti-rational, resentful, racist to the bone, and eagerly yearning for the alleged renewal that fascism promises. And the party weaponizing this 25-30% for the benefit of the one percent, the Republicans, have models for what they want to reduce America to. There’s the illiberal state of Hungary and the quasi-mystical organized crime syndicate called Russia, for two.

Tree Omnibus

The trees are singing. If only we would listen. Tolkien suggested it might be quite hard to hear them, since they sing on a whole different time scale. David George Haskell is listening with microphones and an acute biologist’s senses. The Songs of Trees was one of last year’s best naturalist books, beautifully written and globe-spanning in reach. If you missed it, go get it.

The fig is absolutely remarkable. Of course, there isn’t just one fig; the Ficus genus has 750 plus members, from the house plant standard to the edible fig to the strangler species which dominate tropical forests. Each one of these species has at least one tiny fig wasp species that specializes in pollinating the “fruits” — which actually aren’t fruits but rather collections of inward growing flowers — in what are essentially suicide missions. I’ve written about figs before. Mike Shanahan has written a short, engaging book on the genus, and the vital role figs play in vast life webs around the world. Go exploring Ficus with Shanahan from the bodhi tree to Wallace to the Rhinoceros Hornbill to the Mau Mau rebellion, with a dozen or so creation myths thrown in. Was the fig the forbidden fruit of Eden? It sure is sexier than the apple, which definitely wasn’t the verboten fruit.

Shanahan notes that a 100 meter by 100 meter piece of old growth rainforest in Borneo (what’s left of it, anyway) can harbor 600 tree species. In Britain, by contrast, there are 36 native tree species. There, in 1664, John Evelyn’s Sylva was published by the Royal Society. This famed work, one of the first English language books about the cultivation of trees, was inspired by the Royal Navy’s worries about the shortage of timber for its boats. An example: the Mary Rose, launched in 1511, required 1,200 trees, mostly oaks but some elms as well; later and larger ships gobbled up 2,000 oaks each. The white pines of North America were a major draw for the journey across the Atlantic.

Now comes The New Sylva by Gabriel Hemery and Sarah Simblet to update things. There are certainly more than 36 tree species in Britain today. Actually, Hemery and Simblet say there are 60 native species, subspecies, or hybrids in Britain. They note that the native cut-off (1492 for us) stretches back circa 8,200 years for Britain, to when the land connection to continental Europe was submerged by the rising ocean. American readers, meanwhile, will recognize quite a few of the species in the transatlantic botanical exchange, species we gave them/species they gave us. Note that this book is primarily about silviculture, or timber-hunger, not the complex ecosystems known as forests, but then the un-human touched woodlands is non-existent today. Which reminds me: shouldn’t we date the Anthropocene back to the killing of Huwawa/Humbaba, the guardian of the sacred cedars, by Gilgamesh?

Simblet’s black and white drawings, from microscopic to landscape in detail, are wonderful. This book certainly works on a coffee table.

Off the subject, but Mike Wallace’s Greater Gotham, which I’m still reading, is majestic. It covers just two decades of NYC’s history, but these were the years the city became a world capital of capitalism. More than a century later, we still live there.

And the new edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein “Annotated for Scientists, Engineers, and Creators of All Kinds” turns out to be quite a course in ethics.


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