Sunday, June 26, 2016

Let there be light #phenology

Local daylilies that erupted from bud to bloom during the past few days, brightening roadsides throughout the township and county, seem largely unaffected by yesterday's storms. Unfortunately, so do the local deerfly populations, that also exploded since mid-week last. Although last night's storms successfully downed limbs and trees, triggering power failures throughout the area, they failed to reduce the numbers of annoying, biting insects that cause our border collie cross-breed to hallucinate that he's being harassed by bugs that only he can see or hear, even after he's safely in the house. Wouldn't you think something as large as a tree should be able to swat several hundred (thousand?) deer flies? I suppose if it weren't for deer flies, mosquitoes and ticks, we'd have more human neighbors than we could stand.

roadside daylilies
road side daylilies
Photo by J. Harrington

Since even some former climate change skeptics are agreeing that our weather has become more volatile, I'm wondering what, if anything utilities and others responsible for infrastructure are doing to design more resilient systems. We were without power from about 6:30 last night to about 11:00 am this morning, an inconvenience. But, if we had our own solar panels and an electrical storage unit, we'd be spared the inconvenience of no cooking, no water, no TV or internet. Convenience has been one of the underlying drivers of "new and improved" products. Look at how much better the internet has made your life with all the time saved by microwaves and prepared foods! Right? But, if we had a functional cooking fire and a real coffee pot, I could have had coffee this morning shortly after I awoke. What can phenology, and the responses of nature to our new normal, teach us about designing and building better, more resilient systems? Any thoughts?

Cosmogony


By Caki Wilkinson


A yarn ball and a hill
maintain an equipoise until
         their neatness starts to bore the gods
                   of potential and energy
         who hedge bets, reckoning the odds
                   of when the rest will be

set in motion, and who,
first stumbling upon this clew,
          constructed both the incline and
                   the inclination to unwind.
          Like most gods, though, they haven’t planned
                   to stay; they mastermind

the scheme, ex nihilio,
then slip behind the shadow show
          and designate an agent, chief
                   remaker of their mischief made.
          Each time, disguised, this leitmotif
                   gets salvaged and replayed,

a universe begins,
for orogens and origins
          suppose a Way Things Were before
                   some volatile, untimely That—
          sweetness perverted by the core
                   or belfry by the bat,

or here, a hilly green,
whose still life, eerily serene,
          completes their best contrivance yet:
                   from high above, a williwaw,
          a hiss, and then the silhouette
                   of one terrific paw.


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