Who Loves Green Peppers Now?


The new landscaping staff stealing a bite at work on the front yard while I was up on the hill and teaching me again that an interface works both ways.

Doe and her still-suckling twins.

Note to self: plant more peppers next year. Expect company to stop by.

Should I put out milk?

It’s Getting Crowded Out There!

Welcome to the wavy leafed thistle, the bunchgrass thistle.P1950194Beloved of insects.

P1950055Often because it’s the only native flower left.

P1950051But also because it provides a solid landing pad. Very kind.


And it’s a great place to hang out and look for beetle love.


Most of the thistles are gone, mistaken for invasive scott thistles, which are more like artichokes gone mad, but when you find one, ah …


… drama is soon to follow.


There’s really nowhere else to go.

redbugsThistle: the earth on a stem, raised up to the sun.

Beetles: sky travellers and star dwellers.


Photos in McLaughlin Canyon, Washington and (the last 2) John Day Fossil Beds, Oregon. Note the colour variation!


And Then Comes the Hawk

So, you’re gushing over the watercress of springtime …


… and who should come but some old friends you knew on the plateau years back …


The Bohemian Waxwings Are Here!

As usual, they take turns feeding.



Doing it in a group is best.



Some keep watch on photographers.


Or do weird stuff.



Or just hang out.

P1670194And then they’re gone. Look at them streaming out of this poplar …


Look at them go …

P1670242And this is why.

P1670252And due north they go…


… to the plateau. And I go back to the watercress.


Spiders at Work (Not for the Squeamish)

Spiders! An interlude of pure predation, while I work on my next post about science and language. This one is inspired by sticking my head into this asparagus to get some photos of berries this morning and getting a start, I tell you. See her?

P1490424How about now?

spider1Note the size of lunch up to the left.



Compare her to the queen of spiders, the black widow. Her home is not so nice:

widowYeah, my garage. If you want a non-blurry pic, you’re welcome to come and sweep her web aside and get your camera in right close. But, I warn you. She’s quick! And poisonous. Here’s what her grandmother and great aunt looked like, for reference:


Yeah, still my house, but less webbing in the way. But that’s not the thing. Look again:


But even that’s not the thing. She’s not the queen of this grassland for nothing. Here’s what came in the garage door and tried to eat her about four days ago.



Battle of the titans, or what! Two top predators in my garage. It’s getting cold out. Time’s running out on niceties. Would you like that insect unfolded? Sure…


Praying Mantis

This one’s a female and the eaten one is probably a male, but I think you get the idea.

So, that’s what it’s like out there. It’s getting cold. The pressure is mounting. Survival is in the air. Now, back to my work on science and language with the big old September moon peeking in my window. Sleep tight, now.


What is Wild?

Is this smoke bush wild?

P1370953No. It was planted to give some red colour to a lot of green shrubs. Is the fact that it is growing a “wild” characteristic? Perhaps, but wouldn’t it be sad to say that life on earth is “wild” if not controlled by human intent? Wouldn’t it be at least as accurate to say that humans are wild, i.e. they have escaped the boundaries of balance that make stretches of land into living, mutually-enabling or mutually-supporting communities? Is this apple tree, then, wild, because it has been freed from human care?

P1370194Or was it wild before it was cut down? Yeah, the one on the top is the Golden Delicious apple tree I was nursing from a stump (i.e. wild, you see, as in not-intended) into a tree for a friend. We were one year away from a crop of lovely golden apples when someone got through or over or around the fence and chopped it down. Humans are terrible predators; most human laws and arrangements are set up to keep humans from preying on each other. Few are set to keep them from preying on the earth. Perhaps it’s all that humans can manage. Species-specific behaviour, however, is self-destructive behaviour if it doesn’t recognize its kinship with the life around it. The image below shows a non-human social group at work. These ants could easily be called “people”, with no loss to human social identity. In fact, we’d all be richer for it.


Ants Feeding in the Cottonwoods

In any event, what to my friend and I had been made domestic, i.e. household, a Golden Delicious, was to some other man “wild”, and thus presumably of no value. Against that big ethical error, there was that moment at which we brought the tree in from the wild and accorded it human care. After that point, the human act against the tree was an act of predation of one human against another. Now, let’s look at that another way: what happens when “wild”ness invades human social space? This, perhaps:


Scotch Thistle: a Noxious Weed

It is against the law to harbour weeds like this, yet this vineyard owner can do it with impunity… yet, what is the point of the law? To protect grazing land. And what is grazing land? The right of other men to set their (domestic) cattle to graze off the last of (wild) indigenous flowers and grasses from either private land or public land to which they have purchased private grazing rights. Is it ethical to ignore such laws? 

Tough questions. At any rate, If we had not accorded our apple tree care, the ethical transgression against the earth might not have been noticed, or at least might be viewable as the same act as climbing over a fence to chop a bunch of scotch thistles down. A man’s land is an extension of his realm of care. “Wild”-ness is, like “wilderness” or “nature” or “rogue state” is an infinitely moveable line. It is just a word, which contains a knot of contrary energies, which it poorly modulates or contains. “Law” (or hand saws) is not going to untie that knot. Talk is. And the earth needs a voice at those talks.