Sunday, June 25, 2017

A mythical phoenix of the brush pile #phenology

For various reasons, mostly weather related, the Solstice bonfire was delayed for a few days. It happened Saturday night, in the midst of scattered showers and occasional gusts of breezes. The brush pile burned. Long live the brush pile, much like the mythical phoenix.

a belated bonfire celebrating Solstice
a belated bonfire celebrating Solstice

The reborn brush pile that awaits burning is the remains of the tree that came down half-way across the road during the storms we had a week or ten days ago, minus a bunch of firewood that a friend will use to help heat his pole barn this coming Winter or next. All this is part of the ongoing carbon cycle. I need to talk to the Daughter Person (who took the picture of the Solstice fire) and the Son-In-Law about incorporating some or all of the ashes and cinders into the compost and thence into the soil. At least some of the carbon will then be transferred from one sink (the tree) to another (the soil).

firewood, and a brush pile reborn
firewood, and a brush pile reborning
Photo by J. Harrington

Despite the unseasonable weather, this is berry season, especially strawberry season. Last night the aforementioned Daughter Person made one of, or perhaps even, the best strawberry shortcakes I ever remember eating. The berries were from the CSA share I picked up Thursday. It made that whole trip worthwhile and there's more to come. Tonight, probably due to the unseasonable weather, we're having French onion soup, courtesy of the Better Half. I really like French onion soup, but rarely at the end of June.

like a phoenix, the brush pile reborn
like a phoenix, the brush pile reborn
Photo by J. Harrington

Today's poem sort of fits with carbon cycles and seasonal variations and phenological events. I first found it in Camille Dungy's new poetry volume. It's the title poem. I know some of the readers of this blog enjoy poetry, especially "nature poetry." I'm only about half way through the volume but I cannot recommend it highly enough. Dungy has written some of the best poetry I've read, ever. Consider dropping what you're doing and hieing thyself to the nearest poetry bookstore. I got my copy yesterday at Common Good Books. Actually, don't just consider, do it. I bet you'll thank me.


Trophic Cascade


Camille T. Dungy


After the reintroduction of gray wolves
to Yellowstone and, as anticipated, their culling
of deer, trees grew beyond the deer stunt
of the midcentury. In their up reach
songbirds nested, who scattered
seed for underbrush, and in that cover
warrened snowshoe hare. Weasel and water shrew
returned, also vole, and so came soon hawk
and falcon, bald eagle, kestrel, and with them
hawk shadow, falcon shadow. Eagle shade
and kestrel shade haunted newly berried
runnels where deer no longer rummaged, cautious
as they were, now, of being surprised by wolves.
Berries brought bear, while undergrowth and willows,
growing now right down to the river, brought beavers,
who dam. Muskrats came to the dams, and tadpoles.
Came, too, the night song of the fathers
of tadpoles. With water striders, the dark
gray American dipper bobbed in fresh pools
of the river, and fish stayed, and the bear, who
fished, also culled deer fawns and to their kill scraps
came vulture and coyote, long gone in the region
until now, and their scat scattered seed, and more
trees, brush, and berries grew up along the river
that had run straight and so flooded but thus dammed,
compelled to meander, is less prone to overrun. Don’t
you tell me this is not the same as my story. All this
life born from one hungry animal, this whole,
new landscape, the course of the river changed,
I know this. I reintroduced myself to myself, this time
a mother. After which, nothing was ever the same.


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