tree trimming

Today, we had a tree service come and trim the large trees in our backyard. They are all at least seventy years old and some of them had some dead branches that threatened to get blown down during storms. There are two maples, an oak, and a cherry.

The company we hired was recommended by the landscapers who are going to give our yard a major makeover this fall. They have certified arborists and we were impressed with their work and their observance of safety protocols. T’s environmental science background informed her appreciation of the helmets, rigging, ropes, chaps, etc. involved. Bonus: They did a great job with cleaning up after they were done.

It’s nice to have a bit more sunlight making it down into our yard, especially where we have my mom’s heirloom rosebush, while, at the same time, still having these big shade trees on the south side of our house.

It’s also nice not to have to worry so much about being impaled by javelin-sticks when it gets windy.

attack of the woodpeckers

We have an ash tree in our backyard. When we looked out the window the other day, some of the bark on either side was badly scraped. At first, we thought maybe a bear had been climbing it.

Then, a piece of bark dropped down from higher up the trunk and we saw a pileated woodpecker, pecking assiduously and creating more places with almost no bark left. Although the pileated woodpeckers are far and away the largest, there are hairy and downy woodpeckers joining the party, too, creating an ever-growing patch of stripped bark on the ground.

Obviously, the tree is very sick. The wood underneath is spongy instead of hard and woodpeckers generally can’t strip bark like they have been here. We have called a tree service to evaluate, but it seems to fit the signs of infestation by emerald ash borer.

ash tree
the base of the tree with bark shards on the ground

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Close-up of the damage

We had hoped the tree would be spared because the immediately surrounding trees are not ash, but adult insects can travel about half a mile from their source, so it was probably inevitable.

Ironically, we were getting ready to call the tree service to look at one of our maples, which seems to be dying back and may have verticillium wilt, which is caused by a soil fungus. There is a second maple that is very close to the ash tree which may need to be removed as well. It’s possible that all three of the mature trees closest to our house on the south side may be cut down, which is not good news on the air conditioning front, although our new heat pump will decrease our cooling costs a lot compared to our old central air unit. It may mean though, that we can get enough sun to grow small trees, shrubs, and flowers. We used to have a vegetable garden in the backyard, but it became too shaded. (It also got eaten by groundhogs who could easily climb the fence around the garden, but that is another story.) We may also have less moss in the yard, although I prefer more wildflowers instead of more grass.

It could also mean that we have to re-landscape on all sides of our house, given that our front and side yards are torn up from the drilling and burying of the outdoor part of our geothermal system. Given that we have had cold weather earlier than usual this year, we may have to wait for spring.

Fire in the Amazon

Large swaths of the Amazon rainforest are on fire. Media tends to call these wildfires, but the vast majority of them are intentionally set. I think of wildfires as being caused by lightning strike or an accidental spark. When fires are set intentionally, they should be called arson.

While the current scale of the fires is new, the problem is not. For years, farmers and ranchers have burned parts of the Amazon rainforest to clear land for themselves. They have been opposed by indigenous people and their allies, some of whom have been killed trying to defend the forest.

The fires are devastating for the plants, animals, and people who live there, but the scale of the destruction now threatens the very mechanism that makes the rainforest possible. The vegetation, especially the large, tall trees, transpire large quantities of water, which form clouds and help to keep the rainforest green. If too much land is burned, the amount of rainfall will decrease so much that it would be impossible to sustain a rainforest ecosystem.

Plants also take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. It is estimated that 20% of the world’s atmospheric oxygen is produced in the Amazon. As more and more of the rainforest is destroyed, the level of oxygen in the air that all people and animals need to breathe could diminish, while the level of carbon dioxide, already at record highs, could become even higher, accelerating global warming and increasing drought, which diminishes plant growth and causes a downward spiral.

The government of Brazil is making only half-hearted measures to control the fires and has refused the assistance of other nations. President Bolsonaro is a climate change denier, who sees this issue as being solely about the economic development of Brazil. His short-sighted actions may cause world-wide suffering for decades.

It highlights to me how interconnected we are as a planet. At this point in human history, we can’t afford countries being isolationist and concerned only with making their rich citizens even richer.

Money can’t buy oxygen or make more rainfall or change the temperature.

Earth Day

Another in the string of catch-up posts from this spring…

Earth Day was remarkable for us here in New York State for two reasons this year.

First, the vast majority of the countries of the world signed the Paris climate agreement that day at United Nations headquarters in New York City. Of course, this was a remarkable event for the whole world and we all hope that we finally have the political will to follow through on what the science tells us we must do to avert the most catastrophic consequences of global warming while assisting people everywhere to adapt to the effects that are unavoidable and already underway.

Second, just days before a final deadline, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation rejected the water quality certificate application that would have permitted the construction of the Constitution methane pipeline.

Those of us in the environmental community have been battling against the further expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure as part of the fight against global warming. Building pipelines for fossil fuels is akin to building whaling ships as whale oil was being displaced by other lighting sources. It doesn’t make sense to prop up a dying technology.

Unfortunately, the decision in New York came too late to save forests in a 22-mile swath of Pennsylvania, where some land was taken by eminent domain and cleared despite the owners’ objection and the fact that the whole project did not have all the permits needed to move forward. We were especially heartbroken for the Holleran family, who lost the majority of their producing sugar maples.

The pipeline company is trying to challenge the DEC’s decision in court. I sincerely hope that the court upholds the DEC’s action to protect our environment and health.

SoCS: this and that

This post is going to bounce around a lot because it is about this and that.

Someone I know is running for the US Congress!  Kim Myers, with whom I served on committees in our school district, is going to run for a seat in the New York 22nd district. She is running for the Democratic nomination; our current Representative is retiring. He is a Republican and considered a moderate – which is what used to be considered very conservative. Kim has served on the school board in our town for 18 years. Recently she has been sitting on the Broome County legislature, where she is the only woman and the minority leader.  I’m so hoping Kim will be elected. She is well-known in our part of the district also because she is from the Stack family, who founded Dick’s Sporting Goods. Their original location in Binghamton is still open. She has been involved in philanthropy for years, too.

Unfortunately, this brings to mind presidential election stuff…  More primaries and caucuses this weekend. The Republican race has descended further into name-calling and ridicule. At least, the Democratic side talks about issues.

Last night, we got to see a livestream of T’s concert. Her choir, the Hendrick’s Chapel Choir, sang in a choral showcase with all the other Syracuse University choirs. Each group sang a couple of their own pieces and then joined together to sing two spirituals arranged by their guest conductor who had been vising for the week from Temple University. T is a graduate student, not at Syracuse, but at SUNY – Environmental Science and Forestry, which is directly adjacent to Syracuse. ESF students are eligible for courses and extracurricular activities at Syracuse U, so it has meant that T gets to sing in a great choir program, which she loves.

This has been tax prep week. I helped my parents with their taxes earlier in the week and yesterday I plowed through ours and T’s. I am very grateful for TurboTax! I’d hate to have to do them all long-hand, as I used to years ago.

It’s chilly here today, but a big warm-up is in store. By mid-week, it is supposed to get up to 60 F (15 C) which is tremendously warm for early March.

The maple sap has been running early, but there was a maple syrup related tragedy this week. The Holleran family owns a sugarbush in New Milford PA, not that far from here. There is a proposal for a new methane pipeline, the Constitution, that starts in PA, then continues into NY. New York has not yet approved it, but FERC gave permission for tree-felling to begin in PA. The Holleran’s did not want to have their trees cut down; the pipeline route is taking out 90% of their maple trees. The courts allowed the company to take the land by eminent domain, which many of us think is unconstitutional because the land is being taken for private profit rather than public use. At first, the work crews turned away because the trees were tapped and the family and other tree defenders were on the property, which is their land still, even with the court order. The company went to court and then they came back with tree crews accompanied by armed officers and cut down all the trees. The Holleran’s and others had painted American flags on the trees. It was so jarring to see these trees with flags painted on them stacked up. We are all just sick about it. If New York does not approve it, the pipeline will not go in and they will have killed all those trees and taken away part of the family’s farm income for no reason at all.

A happier part of this past week is that I sent in my paperwork and deposit for the Boiler House Poets reunion at Mass MoCA this fall. I am thrilled because one of my poet-friends here is going to come with me. We had a couple of spaces because some of our original group is unable to make the reunion. We are going to be in North Adams for the Fall Foliage Festival and for my birthday. It will be so great!

Well, I could go on writing about this and that for a lot longer, but I think I had better stop before your eyes glaze over. So, that’s that!
*****
This post is part of Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturdays. The prompt this week was “this and that” – a post about this and that, beginning and possibly ending with “this” or “that.” Come join the fun!  Find out how here:    http://lindaghill.com/2016/03/04/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-march-516/

SoCS badge 2015

 

Tymczasem 1000m wyżej / Meanwhile, 1000m above

Some snow photos for all my local friends who are missing having snow this winter.

365 dni w obiektywie LG/Samsunga

Cel / Objective

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Połowa drogi / Half way

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Na samej górze / On the very top

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Nadejście chmur / The advent of cloud

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Śnieżyca jaka mnie dopadła / Storm which caught me

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Dziś po południu musiałem sprawdzić czy jest coś śniegu po wyżej 1000m i co się okazało, oczywiście że jest a w dodatku zaatakował mnie śnieg i to tak intensywnie. Wszystkie ujęcia wykonane moim LG G4.

(English version)
This afternoon I had to see if there is something on the snow above 1000m and as it turned out, of course it is and in addition attacked me and the snow is so hard. All shots made my LG G4.

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poet-tree

my poem on the poet-tree

When I was visiting Beth in Honolulu this summer, we would walk up the hill in Kaimuki to go to the big Saturday morning farmers’ market at Kapi’olani Community College. There is always a huge array of fruits, vegetables, baked goods, jams, pickles, etc., as well as lots of prepared foods and beverages to enjoy there.  (Also, lots and lots of people, as it is listed in the tour guides and some of the bus tours bring people there.)

We would walk home through campus and pass by their poet-tree, which is a world community poetry project. Visitors are invited to write a poem and leave it in a jar. Then, the poems are sorted into geographic regions, sealed in plastic, and affixed to the poet-tree, which has pegs for different countries or regions.

On the last weekend of my visit, I brought a poem to contribute to the project. E sent me this photo over the weekend, showing it on display! The poem itself is one I wrote several years ago. and, as often happens, there is a bit of poetic license. I realize it is a hard to read in the photo, so here it is:

Two Trees

A pair of gum trees
Reaching tall in the courtyard
Bark flashing streaks:
       grey, red-brown, green, vibrant orange
A paint-by-number from childhood come to life.
Transplanted into Hawaiian soil
You grow at a prodigious rate
As do my own daughters
Also transplanted there.

(Note:  The trees are rainbow eucalyptus.)

Flowering trees near Waikiki

There are always flowers of some sort here in Honolulu. One of the things about coming at different times of year is that you catch different plants flowering.
non-native tree
I am not sure what these trees are, other than I know they are no longer planting them as they are not native. (If my younger daughter were here, I’m sure she would be able to tell us what they are and how they are being managed.) It’s interesting that the blossoms develop along the branch but not at the tip. There are clusters of blossoms and then more leaves beyond.
hibiscus
Some yellow hibiscus in Kapiolani Park, adjacent to Waikiki beach.
plumeria
We have often seen plumeria blooming on other visits, but not nearly so prolifically as this June.

While I’m at it, let’s throw in another couple of photos!
trees from Lulu's
Looking out from lunch at Lulu’s near Waikiki. We were sitting at the edge of the second floor, which, like many restaurants and hotel lobbies, is open rather than walled off.
bird of paradise
A pair of bird of paradise blossoms outside our hotel.