Packera Pursuit

Packera Pursuit

I am being followed.  Or, rather, I am following.  I keep glancing over my shoulder to see if it is still there.  Not because I feel threatened, but because it is cheering me along, whether on foot or bicycle.  The subject is Packera aurea, known commonly as golden ragwort or golden groundsel.  Packera is unflinchingly cheerful.  If you are following Packera, you are likely in a wooded setting on a rocky ridge or a floodplain or maybe a rain garden, and it may be early or late Spring.  How fortunate for you!

The 25 Cent Part That Breaks the Million Dollar Machine

The $0.25 Part That Breaks the Million Dollar Machine

Recently, two seemingly incongruous things happened on the same day. The first was that I turned on my kitchen faucet and water sprayed all over the kitchen. The second was an online presentation that included an academic review of the deficiencies of stormwater practice inlets. Ah ha, I said, the 25 cent part that breaks the million dollar machine!

The Damming of America’s Rivers: Reflections on the Age of the Technocrat

The Damming of America’s River: Reflections on the Age of the Technocrat

Most of the nation’s rivers and tributaries had. . .been dammed by the late 1960s. . .The mainstreams of the Columbia, Missouri, Mississippi, Colorado, Tennessee, Ohio, and Rio Grande had been nearly fully developed (NRC, 1999, p. 18).  To our modern sensibilities, this seems like a crazy fact.  What societal forces were in play to allow this to happen?

Giving Back to Your Ecoregion

Giving Back to Your Ecoregion

I live in Central Virginia, but also the Northern Piedmont/Piedmont Uplands ecoregion.  As much as political boundaries, our ecoregions are responsible for the landscapes, livelihoods, cuisine, recreation, industries, cultures, and storytelling of the places where we live.  As such, our ecoregions provide for us and sustain our communities.

The Wisdom of Doctor Dish

One of my first jobs out of college in the early 1980s was working as a dishwasher and line cook in a vegetarian restaurant in Durham, NC.  The name of the restaurant was SomeThyme.  The place was quite a fixture within Durham’s cultural vibe at the time.

Little Bobby & Big Bobby: An Erosion Control Drama

Little Bobby & Big Bobby: An Erosion Control Drama

Little Bobby and Big Bobby were standing about four feet apart, work boots rooted in the construction mud. Excavation contractor Big Bobby, a mountain of a man, was swinging a shovel above his head like a helicopter blade in motion, cursing loudly as he swung. The County erosion control inspector Little Bobby, small of stature but stiff of spine, was holding his ground, growling his reaction to the shovel blade spinning just above head level. What was the argument about? Inlet protection.

Hackberry: Very Small Persons’ Climbing Wall

Hackberry: Very Small Persons’ Climbing Wall

The Hackberry tree (Celtis occidentalis) is also known as sugarberry, beaverwood, nettetree, or false elm.  The spreading canopy of the Hackberry has been compared to Einstein’s hair.  It derives its name from the Scottish “hag” (witch) or hagberry tree, and some refer to the drooping bushy branches as “witches’ brooms.” However, rather than creepy, the Hackberry is hard-working and has an uncomplaining nature. This blog will explain why and also reveal a little secret about this corky-barked floodplain friend.

Environmentalism & White Supremacy

Environmentalism & White Supremacy

The connection between environmentalism and white supremacy hadn’t crossed my mind, and I’m sure that holds true to many of you.  However, a couple of months ago – before George Floyd’s murder and the current national outcry – I stumbled across an astonishing passage in a book that my son gave to me: Charles Mann’s The Wizard and the Prophet (Mann, 2018).

A Good Walk Unspoiled

A Good Walk Unspoiled

The game of golf has been described as a good walk spoiled, with the quote attributed, likely incorrectly, to Mark Twain.  The implication is that, without having to worry over the trajectory of the little white ball, it would be a most pleasant experience.  The main ingredient of that experience is the landscape through which one traverses.  Our local municipal golf course has been closed to golfers during COVID, but somewhat mysteriously available for walkers, most of whom, present company included, have been seeking places to walk that are not crowded cheek to jowl with others seeking a similar experience.