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Category: Environment

Taking inventory

Taking inventory

I have learned to talk nice to our lawn mower. My spouse tells me if I am friendly to the machine, it will work better, or at least longer. It makes sense, sort of. The thing is, I’m not a lawn mowing kind of guy. Grass has been growing and dying and growing back for a very long time, with no human help necessary. In the world according to Sam Emery, every time we mow a lawn some Arabian princess…

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Sky sponsored by Exxon

Sky sponsored by Exxon

It’s early morning in Rivendell, a smoke-cloaked fantasyland outside my back door. Hobbits and dwarfs sit with their morning coffee around kitchen tables in stone huts along pathways pressed by millions of footfalls through the forest on the far side of the glen. This close to July, the morning sun should have the air warmed to near-80 but this morning it is only about 60, reflecting the reason the sun is a hazy gray over the land as smoke from…

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The first letter in STEM

The first letter in STEM

The trial is over in the case of Held v. The State of Montana. The lawyers have performed their roles on the judicial stage. Now we wait, a few weeks probably, several months possibly, for the lone critic to review the material and render a ruling. The question? Is Montana, one of three states in the Union to have added so-called “green” amendments to their constitutions— the others being New York and Pennsylvania—keeping its constitutional promise to provide and protect…

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Youth seek future in court

Youth seek future in court

For the past several years, I have been among those predicting our youth would have to resolve the problems we oldsters have wrought upon our home. It turns out, they’re already at it – and doing more than merely crying out, “OK, Boomer!” when they detect a problem. Monday, a group of young people—ages from early teens to mid-20s— became first in the nation to present their case in a state courtroom as they sued the state of Montana for…

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Profits over science mark SCOTUS decision

Profits over science mark SCOTUS decision

Wetlands— those swampy areas we sometimes encounter as we wander through our forests and other undeveloped acres—may seem like wasted land, but they are hard at work reducing flood risk during heavy rain events and filtering to provide safe drinking water for plants and other critters, including us humans.

540 feet

540 feet

From my front yard, I watch the sun creep over the hill behind my shoulder lighting the street in front of me, beginning from the far end and slowly illuminating the blackness before me like a Mother peeling the blanket from her child’s sleepy head. I live at approximately 540 feet above sea level. Some forecasters occasionally bemoan melting glaciers and rising sea levels, but I know it will be a long time before the Atlantic Ocean laps at my…

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When the GPS isn’t helping

When the GPS isn’t helping

In an online video the other day, a fellow wanderer was making his way through an area with which I am fairly familiar. As I watched him follow his camera along the path, I noticed places I recognized, places I had, in my own wanderings, passed by. I was reminded of an experience several years ago, while driving through Jacksonville, Florida.

Road trip through my mind

Road trip through my mind

A recent car-shopping trip with a young friend got me thinking about my history with motor vehicles. My first was an English Ford convertible. It was white and cost me $75, which, even in 1967, was not bad. I don’t remember the year or model, but it was old. It had character, which meant some things did not work, but it had a manually operated convertible top that did not leak.

(Not totally) unique among critters

(Not totally) unique among critters

Anatomically, we are similar to lots of other critters. We have hearts and livers in more or less relatively the same positions in our bodies, though some of us carry ourselves horizontally and others vertically. We walk on our hind legs, but so do birds — most of them, anyway. We use tools, but so do some birds; some species of crows will poke a stick into a hole to extract food it cannot reach with its beak.

“Monarch Crusader” to speak at G’burg Rec Park

“Monarch Crusader” to speak at G’burg Rec Park

A few years ago, Granddaughter went wandering with a friend in the woods behind our home. Suddenly she burst in the door, excitedly proclaiming, “Come on, Papa John! We found something!” “What did you find?” I asked. “C’mon. We’ll show you!” And off we went to see what turned out to be an Imperial Moth, a huge thing — especially to a pair of little humans — clad in a yellow cape with purple markings, spread regally across several oak…

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What a boring world this would be

What a boring world this would be

Several years ago, when granddaughter was still of an age that she enjoyed going hiking with her Grampa, she came back one day to sort of complain that Papa John had spent a lot of time talking about how the trees had leaves of different sizes and shapes. Some of it must have stuck with her, though, because she has traded the old guy for a Chosen One more her age, and together they enjoy hiking the woods and trails…

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Springtime symphony

Springtime symphony

I can hear them tuning up. So can my spouse, whose cabin fever I’ll put up against any New Englander who thinks winter has been too darn long. My best friend, bless her, has impatiently awaited the assembly of the “garden corral” in the parking lot of the nearby Wal-Mart. As the first concrete blocks are placed to mark its boundaries, her heart begins to pitty-pat with an excitement I’m certain can be felt in the farm fields that surround…

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Never Ending Story

Never Ending Story

Through rain, sleet, snow and drought, Silverstone the Younger watches over the South Mountains, as she has done for at least hundreds of thousands of years — before, certainly, humans arrived in what one day would be called south-central Pennsylvania. We met one day as I wandered in Michaux State Forest, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, poking her nose into the warmth of the afternoon sun.

The paradox

The paradox

I sit looking out my upstairs window at four trees poking through mostly lawn. Last year, we planted a 4×16-foot wildflower plot on a piece of that lawn. This year the strip will be 4×100, roughly — a divider between our suburban lot and the one next to ours and, we hope, a larger magnet for butterflies. It might seem as though I’m bragging, but …

The trouble with green

The trouble with green

March wind waves the blossoming red leaves of the maple, bluebirds and cardinals clinging to the branches as they try to overpower the blossoming red leaves with their own raiment. It’s not yet Easter, but many critters are eager to show off their colors. Grabbing seeds from the grass, diminutive Dark-eyed Juncos in their white vests and dark gray waistcoats, weave across the yard, among the sparrows and dove, like tiny preachers chasing down sinners in need of salvation. A…

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Every body gotta eat

Every body gotta eat

Outside my window, birds and squirrels and a presumable variety of other critters are pairing up in my backyard — bluebirds and house sparrows have commenced their annual fight over the bluebird houses that, if history is prognosticator, will soon be home to a clutch of sparrow chicks.

Happy hiking

Happy hiking

Cabin Fever is that ailment that forces one, eventually, to either leave the house or kill everyone too slow to escape. I opted for the former action. “Where are you going?” She Who Must Be Loved queried. “Up on the mountain,” I replied.

Welcome to Emanon

Welcome to Emanon

The thing about development is it never seems to work out as well as it was planned – except for the developers. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not opposed to growth. I enjoy, for instance, trees large enough to make shade on a summer afternoon, and creeks wide enough to have pools for swimming. My favorite growth is the fish that grow larger each time I remember them. Human population growth, on the other hand, has some drawbacks. Life was…

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Only the past is pristine

Only the past is pristine

There is much discussion in conservation circles about, on the one hand, species disappearing from sight, sound and memory and, on the other, species newly rooting in places they have not always been. As I wandered along a deer trail through a section of otherwise pristine woodland and discovered a rock wall with no apparent historical connection, I remembered an experience when I was a daily news reporter covering the machinations of a county planning board.