Mid June Mosaic

Sometimes pictures are worth more than words…

1. Cardinal Flower, 2. Wildflower, 3. Mexican Fritillary, 4. Onions, 5. Two Days Old, 6. The Corn Is As High…, 7. Red Chard, 8. Chick, 9. Farm Sign, 10. Cauliflower, 11. Wildflowers and Barn, 12. Yellow Hollyhocks, 13. Pink Hollyhocks, 14. Blackberries, 15. Patty Pan, 16. Fennel, 17. Orange Chard, 18. Black Eyed Susan, 19. Yucca, 20. The Silo Area, 21. Trumpet Vine, 22. Yarrow, 23. Chard and Barn, 24. The Harvest, 25. Sweet Potatoes

Dear Mother Nature

I am SO sorry about Spot!  He really is a good dog who takes his job of protecting me and the farm very seriously.  Well, maybe a little too seriously.  But how was I supposed to know that when he dove into the bush this morning, he was going to come up with a baby rabbit?  It was early, I was under-caffeinated, and it took me a split second too long to realize what was going on.  It was over quickly with nary a sound from the bunny.

Two days ago, it was a mole.  Really.  Those little denizens of the deep that most dogs find infuriating as they dig up the tunnels.  Not Spot.  He sat for a moment, cocked his head at the ground, dug–once, twice–and there was a big fat mole with it little light brown paws rolling out onto the ground.  I was more aware that time and able to pull him off before he did any damage.  And, of course, he has a track record.  Even before we adopted him, when he was just the new dog next door, he killed my pretty little Silver Spangled Hamburg when she dared to venture over the fence.  And his first night at the farm, despite being tied, he was close enough to grab Dotty, our silver Wyandotte, but all he got was a mouth full of feathers before Bob wrestled him to the ground.

Right now, he is tied out front watching the corn field across the drive way as it is full of furry creatures.  And I’m remembering reading Gary Paulsen’s Woodsong when I taught middle school.  It is book full of the sudden, brutal violence of nature.  Not my usual book–I haven’t ever made it through Old Yeller or The Red Pony–but the kids liked Paulsen and I was determined to try. Paulsen talks about how we are raised on a somewhat sanitized view of nature, that of Marlin Perkins’ Wild Kingdom, one of my favorite shows as a kid.  The lions stalk the gazelle, we see them running and then we see the lions eating something that might have been a gazelle. The actual death took place off camera so we didn’t have to watch the struggles, see the blood, experience the violence.  Spot killing a bunny was certainly not that graphic but it was brutal and unexpected and a reminder that, for all his domesticated qualities, he harbors the soul of a hunter and killer and no amount of human intervention will ever train that out of him.

And then he is also a big baby who is afraid of thunder storms.  The wind is kicking up, and he has retired to the front porch to be near me.  I don’t think this storm will hit us but there are some cells out to the west.  At least the breeze has brought some relief to the humid day we had.  I am planning to head upstairs to do some organizing now that we’ve got some more furniture in place.

And, Mother Nature, I promise I will be more vigilant.


I am sitting in the shade of the oak tree in my back yard where I get three bars on the wifi connection.  (Unfortunately, my battery is in the red and I have no power nearby but that’s another story…) I am realizing the joys of working from home for yourself.  My nose has been to the programming grindstone all week, first in Flash and then in php/sql.  The projects are basically completed so I’m treating myself to a morning of getting caught up.  I love the fact that I was able to schedule a meeting from my laptop in the backyard and who knows, if the weather is nice on Monday, I may conduct it from here, too.

I’ve been reading away but I don’t have enough battery power for that kind of blogging.  I put together a mosaic instead.  A little of everything from the past month: flowers, WM, Denver.  Enjoy!

May Mosaic

1. 113/365 for 2010 The Greenhouse in Spring, 2. 114/365 for 2010 Purple Columbine, 3. 115/365 for 2010 Early Rose, 4. 116/365 for 2010 Still Life with Wygelia, 5. 117/365 for 2010 House, Field, Sky, 6. 118/365 for 2010 Lily of the Valley, 7. 119/365 for 2010 What time is it?, 8. 120/365 for 2010 The Big Blue Bear, 9. 121/365 for 2010 Immigration Protest in Denver, 10. 122/365 The Molly Brown House, 11. 123/365 Along the Street, 12. 124/365 for 2010 Worth The Wait, 13. 125/365 for 2010 Foxglove, 14. 126/365 for 2010 Spring, 15. 127/365 for 2010 Roses!, 16. 128/365 for 2010 Strawberries!

The Science of Not Knowing

There are moments when reading and real life come together. Not to be too dramatic: but now is one of those times. As oil spews into the Gulf of Mexico, my companions for the journey are Annie Dillard and Wendell Berry. And, both of them make the same essential point about science: the real power and terror of science is that neither doesn’t nor can know everything.

For Dillard, the not-knowing can be seen in the natural world, in something as seemingly simple as an elm leaf:

Or again, there are, as I have said, six million leaves on a big elm. All right…but they are toothed, and the teeth themselves are toothed. How many notches and barbs is that to the world. In and out go the intricate leaf edges, and “don’t nobody know why.” All the theories botanists have devised to explain the functions of various leaf shapes tumble under an avalanche of inconsistencies. They simply don’t know, can’t imagine.

Berry’s comments are in response to Edward O. Wilson, who in his book Consilience, celebrates science and discounts the possibilities of learning in and from mystery:

He understands mystery as attributable entirely to human ignorance, and thereby appropriates it for the future of human science; in his formula, the unknown = the-to-be-known…If modern science is a religion, then one of its presiding deities must be Sherlock Holmes. To the modern scientist as to the great detective, every mystery is a problem, and every problem can be solved. A mystery can exist only because of human ignorance, and human ignorance is always redeemable. the appropriate response is not deference or respect, let alone reverence, but pursuit of “the answer”.

Don’t nobody know why…and yet we teach students that there are answers. I am outraged that BP was not required to have a solution to what was clearly a potential problem. I suppose we can blame it on a failure of the imagination but the cynic in me can’t help but blame it on a desire for profit. And an unwavering belief in science to solve any problem. I, of course, am hoping along with everyone else that this IS a problem science can solve, and quickly, but at what cost?

BP, with its string of abuses, clearly has not real concern for the world community other than as a market for its oil. Berry points out that science is often conducted with economics rather than community in mind and quotes Wilson’s description of the “cardinal principle in the conduct of scientific research: Find a paradigm for which you can raise money and attack with every method of anaylsis at your disposal.” Berry goes on:

This principle, in effect, makes the patron the prescriber of the work to be done. It would seem to eliminate the scientist as a person or community member who would judge whether or not the work ought to be done. It removes the scientist from the human and ecological circumstances in which the work will have its effect and which should provide one of the standards by which the work is to be judged; the scientist is thus isolated, by this principle of following patronage, in a career with a budget.

Hmmm…as I typed those last words, I realized how hard I was being on scientists, even if I was only channeling Berry. I’m blaming scientists for the flaws in a system that is much larger than them just as teachers often get blamed for failed reforms for which they had no responsibility. I imagine some scientist, in a planning meeting for the platform, quietly suggesting that this could be a problem. His solution, however, did not meet the cost analysis: what was the chance of this happening and how much would it cost? What the number crunchers failed to consider, however, was the cost if it DID happen! This could ruin BP. I don’t think anyone has the heart to bail them out.