"I closed my eyes and imagined I was there tramping through the woods with a band of knowledgeable and passionate field observers," we wrote blogfriend Greenman Tim of Walking the Berkshires in the comments of his post announcing the first two of a new series of freelance articles (available online with free registration) for the The Lakeville [Connecticut] Journal, "Of seeds and serpents" and "Great Mountain Forest: 99 years of innovation, education." A few excerpts first from "Seeds" and then from "Forest" for a taste of Tim's richly-layered brand of nature writing:
This appears to be a mast year for oak trees, a time when there is a dramatic increase in acorn production. More small rodents will survive the winter after a mast year when food is plentiful, and that in turn could mean a bonanza for their predators in the coming spring.
I was musing along these lines while hiking in the mountains recently when I came upon two timber rattlesnakes [Crotalus horridus] …
They breed on approximately three-year cycles, and gravid females do not eat at all in the seasons before giving birth. Their young are born alive in late summer and have a very small window of opportunity to catch a meal before hibernation.
One might assume that approximately a third of the female timber rattlesnakes of reproductive age would be gravid in any given year. However, researchers consistently observe that they find very little evidence of reproduction in some years, followed by a “pile up” year when most of the female snakes in a population give birth. This corresponds rather well to the availability of prey following a mast year for oaks.
"Saving Great Mountain Forest [in Norfolk, CT] for the benefit of future generations and the regional ecology is a tremendous conservation success story and a remarkable family achievement," writes Tim in the second Lakeville Journal article:
Next year will make a full century since the core of Great Mountain Forest in Norfolk was acquired by U.S. Sen. Frederick C. Walcott and Starling W. Childs. These visionaries were conservation leaders in their day, and where others saw burned-over scrubland and hardscrabble farms, they saw hope for restoring wildlife that had all but vanished from the Connecticut landscape.
Back in 1909, white-tailed deer had been driven from the state, and water birds were in deep decline. Together, Walcott and Childs laid the foundation for the recovery of these species and a healthier reforested landscape …
In 2003, 5,383 acres of the forest were protected through a Forest Legacy working forest easement. The entire property is now owned and managed by the non-profit Great Mountain Forest Corporation, with a mission to conserve forest areas and serve as a living laboratory for environmental research …
Starling W. Childs II, representing the third generation of his family associated with these lands, recalled that his father Edward used to say that “there was no point in having all this if it could not be shared with others.”
Good stuff. Especially Edward Childs's “no point in having all this if it could not be shared with others," a perfect opportunity for the Queen of the Segueway to segue to the question of the hour and contrast Childs's all-American sentiment of individual civic responsibility with Barack Obama's socialistic notion that he and other self-appointed elites know best how to spend others' wealth, as told to a disgusted "Joe the Plumber" yesterday:
My attitude is that if the economy's good for folks from the bottom up, it's gonna be good for everybody ... I think when you spread [other people's] wealth around, it's good for everybody.
This just in: Right out of the gate at tonight's sit-down presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY, John McCain puts the case of Joe the Plumber front and center [rough transcript]:
He looked at your tax plan, and he saw that you were going to put him in a much higher tax bracket, which was going to make it impossible for him to hire more people for his plumbing business and not able to realize the American Dream. I will not stand for a tax increase on small-business income. Senator Obama's plan would take Joe's money, give it to Obama and let HIM spread it around. The whole premise behind Obama's plan is class warfare. Why would you want to increase anybody's taxes at such a tough time?
We aren't live blogging the debate but will say two things before signing off for the night:
1. Every time McCain mentions an inconvenient truth about his opponent, seated inches away across the desk, Obama shakes his signature thoughtfully tilted head (more in sorrow than in anger), a creepy, smirky smile transmogrifying his human face into a bizarre theatrical comedy mask. Will Obamaniacs notice or be unnerved by it? Probably not, but maybe our fellow citizens who haven't yet made up their minds will.
2. The format is excellent. Our hats off to Bob Schieffer and CBS for a most professional presentation.
Update: Good thoughts from Greenman Tim in the comments:
I continue to believe that while nothing excites our political passions quite so much as people or governments telling us what to do with our land, nothing unites us quite like a shared love of place, even if my particular place and yours are different.
Are you listening, Barack Obama?
Update: Nothing excites our furry, feathery and scaly passions quite so much as a visit to Modulator's Friday Ark #213.