Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The National Bird

Photo courtesy Flickr user sfbaywalk

The in-house field scientist recently came back from Eastern Washington saying, “I almost ran over a flock of turkeys, but they stood their ground, me and a couple of other cars.” Benjamin Franklin wanted the wild turkey to be the national bird. Oddly enough, the birds are classified as an invasive species in Washington state.

Family oral history recounts the year my grandparents and good friends celebrated Thanksgiving together. The bird was still alive and awaiting its fate in the back yard when three basketball buddies went out to dispatch it. Hunters all, they’d been at the bourbon bottle. The bird had not. The big tom got the drop on its predators, stared them down, and the party happily ate hot dogs that day.

More after the jump.

Monday, November 24, 2014

"Earth Holds All We Need. Better We Be Content With What We Have"

Photo courtesy Flickr user josefhacek

Marie Huelsdonk Lewis was the last surviving daughter of a legendary homesteader who settled on the far edge of the Olympic peninsula. She spent her life at the Hoh River entrance to Olympic National Park, once describing a family member who had married as living far away-thirty miles. Around 1976, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer sent a reporter to interview her. At the time, local weather reporters were discussing the El Nino climate pattern for the first time as the science community began public discussion of global warming.

As a child, I heard the story of woodsmen encountering her father, Johnny Huelsdonk, on a soggy rain forest trail carrying a cast-iron wood stove to his homestead cabin. They wondered if the load was not a heavy one for him, and Huelsdonk replied, more or less, “The stove’s OK, but the hundred pound sack of flour in the oven is a little much.” One of the Huelsdonks commented that the year the tribal canoe that was carrying Johnny up the coast with the year’s provisions tipped over, the family had to light with bear grease all winter rather than with kerosene. Hardship is all relative, as any family knows. 

That first local publicly identified El Nino year was spooky warm, and Mrs. Lewis nailed the description when she said, “I don’t recall another year when I’ve been able to go to the barn in tennis shoes.” Things have not been the same since.


More after the jump.