A Bee for Every Flower?

Like all sunflowers, balsam roots bloom in rings, from the outside in, like this.P1740124


Here’s a bumblebee showing her technique for working this kind of flower.



Here’s the brown bee that has been out for the last couple days. You won’t see them later in the season.



That got me to thinking. Perhaps there are specific bees that appear as each ring matures?

P1740398 Or could it be that there used to be a dozen species of flowers blooming at this time, each with its own specific bee, and now only the balsam roots have resisted cattle grazing, sagebrush, drought and cheatgrass, so the bees are all using them.antbee


And ants, as you can see above. Not to mention the crab spider hiding under the stamens, waiting for one of them to come close.  It would all make an elegant and exciting experiment.

Note: If the hypothesis were proven true, a secondary question would be: How many species of bee have we lost, the ones that were unable to adapt? It haunts me.

I Am Never Alone

The ravens make a point of flying overhead and saying “Kalook!”, the flickers make a point of keeping me in sight, as they flit from tree to tree up the slope and then slalom back down, the blackbirds let everyone know I’m around, Kareeeeeeeeee!, and the magpie, oh my. Look at him circling around me this afternoon!magpiezooms


And what was I doing? Aha!



Not leaving the bees alone, that’s what!

Bad UFO Landing Sites

Weaver Ant Hill. Danger of death by nibbling.P1730122 Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Extreme warning: sturgeon fishermen.sturgeon Highway 97. Splat.P1680811 Bonneville Dam. Too many hooks.bonnevilleBlack Hole. Too scary.P1710446Chinese Elm Flowers. Danger of tangling the interstellar drive…

… and choking the methane intake with pollen.


Kalamalka Lake Bench: Danger of ripping out the undercarriage on the seat back. Plus, a basic requirement for a butt. Do you have a butt?P1710496 Orchard Hill Power Pole: the proverbial interstellar spider’s web. Don’t risk it.P1720121 Intermontane Grassland: no flat bits!tilt

Hat Rock: already occupied.

P1080015 Gallagher Lake Garlic Field: sawdust allergy issues. You could blow a nostril gasket.garlicChoke Cherry Thicket: there’s a porcupine.
P1710106 Ponderosa Pine Forest: Unstable footing.P1710324 Kalamalka Lake Park: Teenagers! Extreme Warning!P1710347 The Commonage: sharp bits.P1650628

Bella Vista Garden: Extreme bush whacking.

P1640324 Weeping Willow: already occupied with visitors from Betelgeuse-4.P1640149

Maybe you should bring the Dodge.


Living on a Sphere

If the earth were flat, she would be half as much fun. The grassy slope would always have the same orientation to the sun, for one thing. With a tilted earth, sometimes it faces the sun directly and sometimes it’s almost flat and the sun flashes over it like a wind, barely rustling the tips of its grasses.



And what about that cliff, eh! Because this spherical earth is spinning on its axis, sometimes during a day it faces the sun directly, and sometimes is in various degrees of shadow or illumination. The edges between these effects create the wind, or the tension between gravity (our point of view) and wind (our other point of view) that we live in. How cool is that!

Of Mice and Men

Under the snowdrifts, mice ate between the thorns.chew


On the Columbia River, men try to catch their salmon in the same way.



In the second image, however, you can see the wall of industrialization that attempts to write an end to life on earth, and the resilience of people to it. But let’s not romanticize the Yakama fishers. Here in the industrial West, all humans are weeds, like the cheatgrass in the retaining wall below.



This is the place left for us to inhabit now. The following image shows the same place:



The Vernon Heron Rookery in Light Industrial Hell

The following image, too:



The Okanogan River (left) Enters the Impounded Columbia

It is all industrial. Any of us who wish to live on our own planet now, must live in the weedy spaces between the constructions of the technological elite, but that’s nothing: the earth and its other creatures must live there every minute of every day. I showed you a giant Douglas Fir the other day…


This Quinault tree is one of what were once millions like it in Washington. They rose on the bones and bodies of salmon. Now it’s one of a couple dozen. The rest were turned into cities, which have already been torn down. Because the salmon are gone, trees like this will not come on again. What are left are the weeds we must live among, as the weeds we are. What is left to us is to make a new world. We have the ability to choose that world. These men, for instance, pulling one of the last White Sturgeon, the ancient ones, out of the Columbia in front of the mothballed military reactors of the Hanford Reservation, have that ability.


Why Do Some Fire Hydrants Play Cowboys and Mexicans?

Russian thistle was one of the first weeds from the Russian steppes to destroy the grasslands of the North American West. It became one of the dominant characters in Country & Western music, when it was still the music of this place and hadn’t gone commercial. To set the scene, here’s Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers crooning away.

And here’s some tumbleweeds doing their Russian thing in the Mojave Desert:

I’ve seen them do this trick many a time, including down Main Street in the resort city of Penticton in the winter snow. On the Hanford Nuclear Reservation a few Junes back, with the plutonium dust blinding me, they came up over the hill like a hiya moosmoos* of mustangs, galloping away, and I had to wait it out. They were on me about two seconds after I took the shot below. I’d pulled off to give them space. (*’herd’ in the Chinook Jargon trade language of the Hudson’s Bay Company, the language of this place)

moosmoosHere they are hanging out in Vernon. Now, what I want to know is … why this fire hydrant?
P1720334Why does all this history stop here and refuse to budge? Why, could it be because Roy and friends were playing at being Mexican vaqueros, in celebration of the absorption of Mexican Texas and California into the United States, in the way other white boy groups played Black music as if it were their own?

It sure looks like it. A good number of the first ranchers in the grasslands of what became the Canadian Northwest were Mexican vagueros dispossessed by legal sleight-of-hand in California, who drove cattle north to the gold fields in 1858. They never went back. Now the tumbleweeds, symbol of restless wandering in the Old West, have their hidden stories to tell, still. As Roy Rogers said…

See them tumbling down
Pledging their love to the ground
Lonely but free I’ll be found
Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds.

But there’s beauty still.



And usefulness…



Please, let’s tumble no more.