Sunday, September 13, 2009

Nom de Plume

Yesterday I felt sort of obligated to do my bit and canvas for the Democrats for the election this fall. I'm not too excited or optimistic about the candidates but I feel that President Obama needs a strong message of support. So off I went to Hunterdon County HQ, and was then sent to go door-to-door in Lambertville.

I have always thought of Lambertville as a sleepy little town on the Jersey side of the Delaware, across from the heavily touristed Pennsylvania artists' colony of New Hope, to be a reasonably comfortable dwelling place of old historic brick homes which line several blocks adjacent to the river. There are rows of antique shops, clothing boutiques, and some rather nice restaurants.
So my first surprise was to be sent to this neighborhood, on the outskirts, which looked more like a Georgia backwater than a plausible commute to exurban Manhattan.

And they had their share of bare trees.

Once I worked my way into the center of town I was enjoying the afternoon, with clear blue sparkling skies, and the opportunity to visit people in their back yards. They are postage-stamp sized, but often crammed chock full of wonderful trees, shrubs, and potted plants, lovingly tended.

Close inspection yielded the usual miseries.

These huechera leaves are the perfect emblem of a loss of green chlorophyl.

This garden was bigger than most, large enough to include this magnificent oak.

Unfortunately, many of its leaves cluttered the sidewalk and road, indicative of terminal despair.

And of course, so many of the trees were thin as well.

On the way home, I saw this hot-air balloon. When my kids were young, I took them every year to a 6 a.m. launch of a race in Bloomsbury, years before it turned into an overcrowded mash of spectators. Many times at dusk we would see them land in the field across the street. What a lovely magical sight!

Coming home, I checked in at the garden and though the cherry tomatos are sweet, I was quite horrified to see how the raspberries are turning a vile black, their leaves mottled.

And another tree came down. Last month one landed on the deer fence and had to be removed at great expense.

This one will just have to sit and rot. It has the nasty lichen that is rampant.

And the leaves are dreadful.
Oh and I have a confession to make! I do not write this blog. It is Simon, in the dead of night who, with beak and claw, taps out these missives.

He has a new analogy for you!!!! Don't you love them? Simon is so so smart...
Imagine you, in some sort of unexplainable desperation, clamber into your car in a closed garage, and start the engine. As the garage starts to fill with carbon monoxide, and you breathe in ever greater concentrations of the poison, you become first sleepy, and then comatose and ultimately, you die.
Let us think of the earth as a gigantic garage. Of course, it is after all a finite place, with limits, like walls. Suppose we, the drivers, start releasing ton after millions of tons of invisible, toxic gasses from burning gasoline, coal, and biofuels, into the atmosphere.
Sooner or later, as the level of poisonous gasses increases, the trees that need to breathe are going to get drowsy, and then collapse in a wilt, and then shrivel up and eventually die. Basically, they will and must suffocate, unless we stop filling the air with toxic emissions.
Guess what? The trees are now all comatose, many if not most, or all, of them already quite beyond any attempts to resuscitate.

Okay, I'm stealing this from commenter Dion, even though he hasn't said I could cause 1. I don't think he'll mind 2. It's a youtube video and 3. Even though I thought it was silly and sort of lame at the beginning, it perfectly expresses what I am doing. Thank you Dion for bringing it to my attention.


  1. Hi Gail.....Take a look at Professor Doug Tallamy. He is from a Newark, Delaware college. He is speaking here near Chicago at the Morton arboretum. He is quoted in the Chicago Tribune saying, "Portland is a beautiful city, but it is dead. There's nothing living in Portland because of the tremendous load of non-native plants. You go to see green, but it's a green that doesn't work. I saw no insects, and that's incredible. They've built a landsccccape that isn't supporting a food web."

  2. I'll do that, Paul, thanks. He sounds like a fella who understands how ecosystems actually function and isn't distracted by maudlin sentimentality.

  3. Thanks for the shout-out, Gail. I must mention the creator of the video, "Flight of the Hummingbird", is Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas. He deserves the credit.


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