You may not be aware of it, but you are longing to spend time in nature. Previous generations could take this for granted and not even notice they were in it. We don’t have that luxury.
Ben Franklin sought to examine and understand it. Ernest Hemingway sought to contend with it with a rifle and a fishing pole. Edmund Hillary sought to conquer it when he assaulted Mt. Everest. Industry has exploited it for its resources, pushing every other interest out of the way as it goes. As it turns out, nature has withstood the examinations, contentions, assaults and exploitation, and has become worse for the wear, to the point that we’re concerned that it soon won’t be there for us.
But it’s where we want to be. We crave fresh air over the odors we emit, sunshine over the incandescent/halogen/LED/neon lighting we create for ourselves, and the gentle sound of wind, water and wildlife over the cacophony of construction, destruction, and entertainment. The problem is, until you’re there, you probably don’t realize it.
A friend once said to me, “Even if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.” Don’t you want to be human? What does it mean to human? That doesn’t have to be a rhetorical question. There are answers. One part of that answer can be found in a forest or by the ocean. Look out the window. If you’re lucky, nature may still be there.
This is the first chance I’ve had to see how bad the fire damage is in Oak Creek Canyon near Sedona. The Slide Fire swept through some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet. It’s one of those oddities of nature that when an event such as a fire or a tornado sweeps through a place, it will destroy one tree or one house, and leave its next door neighbor untouched, and such was the case here. Though there are large patches of destruction, there are other areas where one tree went up in flames, sparing the surrounding forest. Many thanks go out to the firefighters who worked so hard to contain the fire and protect the buildings in the area.
The fire traveled for more than a mile along the west wall of the canyon. All the state parks and campsites in Oak Creek are closed and will remain so until they’ve had enough rain to tell if there will be mudslides. They put mulch down where they could to lessen the effect of that. The drive along 89a is still pleasant, but there are a few places where I wanted to shut my eyes. I’m sure that nature will restore much of the green in the next year or so, though with fewer ponderosa pines. The West Fork Trail, my favorite fall hike, looks badly damaged, though I was told that they managed to save the trees along the trail. The canyon walls look like they were burned in an oven. I don’t know how the wildlife fared, but I did hear some ravens cawing in the trees. I’ll take that as a good sign for the future. –R
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One of the great advantages of not knowing anything is that you can experience the excitement of learning things over and over. Such was my experience today, July 3, when I did something I’ve never done before. I actually read the Declaration of Independence. I wonder if Thomas Jefferson realized that he was essentially ending an abusive relationship with England with a classy breakup letter.
One particular sentence struck me. After he makes a list of abuses that the King was guilty of (the “bill of particulars”), Jefferson says this about him:
“A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”
All of a sudden, I realized that Jefferson was not only rebuking King George, but also repudiating Machiavelli, and in doing so, he was rejecting the concept of the divine right of kings and all that it entails: the consolidation of power, the use of war in the acquisition of new territories, and the cold manipulation of the people you’re in charge of. Jefferson was a superhero, whose power was to give you and I power. Happy 4th.
Yesterday marks the one anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting that took the lives of twenty grade school children. As a teacher and a parent, I am doubly horrified by the events that occurred in that small elementary school, as I‘m sure you are, too. Others have gone into great detail on the events of that day, and I won’t. But I do want to share something that I found of great interest to me.
To the people of Newtown, Connecticut, still reeling in shock and sadness from this event, a group of kind-hearted Minnesotans donated 30 fruit trees. The residents recently planted them in their community victory garden.
Bill Tooney, an employee of the Nature Conservancy in Newtown, wrote a thoughtful article about this event, and how working with baby trees brought these people one step closer to healing. But don’t take my word for it. You can read his article at care2.com. I hope you do.
(Image credit: Newtown Parks and Recreation)
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The BTA has a thriving, ongoing music program that serves the east valley and Globe area with high quality entertainment. One of those fine performers is Jim Pipkin. He is an established folk musician, story teller, and historian who occasionally shares his talents around town. On October 27, he’ll be performing under the trees at Boyce Thompson, and you are invited to attend. You can learn more about him here and here.
If you weren’t already planning to drive over to Boyce Thompson Arboretum this Saturday for the big Fall Plant Sale annual event — here’s more incentive to go: you’ll want to hear the Valley’s own “Mrs. Lincoln” live with an outdoor concert at BTA from 3:30 5:30 p.m. The music is included with daily admission of $10; of course, though, its free to BTA annual members who help support the Arboretum – and also free if you have an AZ State Parks annual pass. Mrs. Lincoln is a self-described eclectic attack of acoustic folk music, down-home country rock & original singer-songwriting, featuring Annrenee Jones, Marconias, Gram Benike, Chad Standlea & David Wells. Check ’em out on fb
Thursday, October 10, 2013 will be a special night at Urban Beans. Everyone is invited to celebrate with me the completion of my new CD, “Red Rock Recesses” We’ll have live music, hors d’ouvres, and a good time. If you are in the area, you are invited to stop in and celebrate. You can click on the event in the calendar tab more information.
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The founding member of TCM, Scott is a guitarist, composer, educator, hiker, and now (!) a blogger. He believes that nature has a profound influence over us, and hopes that his work will point people in the direction of the natural world that is all around us. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Just take out the hyphens so I know you're a human (trying to avoid s-p-a-m in my inbox!!).