Fragments from Floyd Photos and Front Porch Musing from Floyd County Virginia Thu, 16 Apr 2015 12:39:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 To Eat is to Drink Thu, 16 Apr 2015 12:39:04 +0000 Continue reading To Eat is to Drink ]]> When we import food from California, we are also importing what’s left of their water.

Use this “water footprint” calculator to see how much water is required for every bit of food you eat.  Look especially at the water footprint of protein.

Of course not the full volume of water listed as the “cost” of any particular meal is wasted as some goes back into the atmosphere as water vapor or into the ground water or local stream from irrigation or animal urine.

Even so, the water has to be there for growth, washing and other processing. And so I have stopped my grumbling about all the outdoor things I cannot do today because it is raining on Goose Creek.

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Their Tomorrow: It’s All Up in the Air Wed, 15 Apr 2015 12:13:37 +0000 Continue reading Their Tomorrow: It’s All Up in the Air ]]> 2015-04-15-061321-WorldBall480Our eldest grandchild, Abby, is in the 8th grade now. I was in the same grade in 1962. I marvel at how much life on Earth has changed since then–not just human lives but the state of all life on the planet.

Amazing, the degree of change our one species has caused in the geological blink of an eye is comparable in magnitude only to the shifts between eras caused by colliding continents, super-volcanic millennia or massive meteors slamming into Earth.

My generation has created profound ecological distress on multiple fronts–air, soil, forest, ocean–that we leave for these girls, our grandchildren.  Is there much hope for them to have hope in the future when they are my age now, past mid-century?

I have to believe that there is not if we continue with business as usual. There is little reason to hope for a stable, predictable future for them if today’s adults allow the Anthropocene to become the new geological epoch where no interests are served but mankind’s.

Thomas Berry, featured personality at the Saturday night movie at the Country Story in Floyd, proposes that we must hope for, plan for, and think towards  a much larger chunk of geological future than the Anthropocene (which is only a geological “epoch” lasting a few thousand years.)

Berry’s proposed Ecozoic is of a much grander scale–an era in geology-speak, lasting millions or hundreds of millions of years. And it is a prescriptive, not a descriptive, term. It implies a purposeful direction we must go, and that direction is not a choice, really, because failure to reach the Ecozoic will be terminal for countless species that might include a large portion of our own kind.

We begin to move towards the Ecozoic by reordering our relationships; by telling the New Story and seeing the future biologically; by replacing hubris with humility; by caring for people and planet and not just profit; and by acting as if we really understood that none of us are wholes. We are all part of necessary community, one species among many, and all together part of a much greater story than we’ve let ourselves comprehend.

Berry is a theologian, and ultimately, his Great Story (the title of the short movie we will see this weekend) brings the physical creation back into the Christian story. Matter is not evil. It matters to God, from the sub-atomic to the super-novae.  Nature is not God nor does it contain him any more than a building contains the architect who designed it. But the natural world from microcosm to macrocosm displays, in all of its myriad manifestations, the nature of the builder.

Berry’s message is not quickly or simply unpacked and I’m certain I’ve trivialized it here in this short post. It contains theological, ecological and psychological weight. And it helps us move forward towards a future I can hope for when I watch my grand daughters playing in a present that will move to quickly to their uncertain tomorrow.

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Yellow Adders Tongue, or… Tue, 14 Apr 2015 12:30:53 +0000 Continue reading Yellow Adders Tongue, or… ]]> 2015-04-14-082026-1speckledTrout450…Trout Lily. And there are other common names as well for this familiar if short-lived flower of spring we find along Nameless Creek.

It blooms about the time trout season opens; its leaves have a speckled pattern like native trout (if there were any of those left in Nameless or Goose Creek.) So those facts might have contributed to the common name.

It does have edible tubers–if you’re willing to dig way way deep in the black and often rocky soil where they grow–often besides trout streams–like Goose Creek used to be before the deep scour holes filled with silt from roads, fields and construction sites upstream.

This is tough plant to get a good image of. It grows very close to the ground, is often facing same, and has enough depth that something is always going to be out of focus unless you have a good macro lens and maybe a small tripod.

Also, only the plants that have been around long enough to acquire two leaves will produce a flower. One-leaved (far more common) are only vegetative for a year or more.

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BloodRoot: Getting Antsy Mon, 13 Apr 2015 11:02:01 +0000 Continue reading BloodRoot: Getting Antsy ]]> 2015-04-10-100851-1Bloodroot480Bloodroot is one of the first to bloom among the spring wildflowers that emerge in April along our walking path. It appears too in patches on the way to the hardtop. And yet I have few images of it that do it justice.

I was whining about the fact that almost always, this lovely plant grows up through the visual clutter of leaf litter. No matter how showy the flower is, the background is busy and plain in shades of gray and brown.

No sooner had I offered my lament than I spotted these two specimens growing out of an expanse of moss right at eye level on the road bank above the pasture. CLICK to view larger image.

And as I worked on the image back at the house, I thought (from some far recess of an increasingly overstuffed mind) that I remembered this was one of the plants (like trillium) that offered seeds with tasty bits attractive for ants.

And yes, not only bloodroot but most of the early spring plants we see along our walk have this ant-attracting tactic. The phenomenon is called myrmecochory and the tasty bits you can easily see (google images link here) are called elaiosomes [literally “oil bodies.”]

Why have these earliest spring wildflowers (list below from a great piece in Eye on Nature) “discovered” this seed dispersal method and not later flowering plants? Because it works when ants are active and hungry, early in the season before they find their usual diet of dead insects and at a cold-ish time when there are not enough live and active insects like beetles available to do the work for the plants.

Lastly–don’t lick the roots.

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)
Dutchman’s breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)
Hepaticas (Hepatica species)
Trailing arbutus (Epigaea repens)
Trilliums (Trillium species)
Trout lily (Erythronium americanum)
Twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla)
Violets (Viola species)
Wild bleeding heart (Dicentra eximia)
Wild ginger (Asarum canadense)

Other mentions or images of bloodroot at Fragments…

Bloodroot:Another Five Months Fragments 2008
Bloodroot Fragments 2007
Harbingers of Spring Fragments 2010

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Entering the Ecozoic: The Work of Thomas Berry Fri, 10 Apr 2015 11:07:17 +0000 Continue reading Entering the Ecozoic: The Work of Thomas Berry ]]> I knew of Father Thomas Berry of course, and bought Dream of Earth back when it was a new book in 1988. Frankly, I had not read it. I will now.

I have used one of this man’s quotes as part of my “visual essay” media presentations. It states that…

“The universe is not a collection of objects but a community of subjects.” That is one not easily unpacked, but worth the effort another time.

His wider message, as an “eco-theologian” as he has been called, is that we have not fully appreciated the Christian story by our indifference to the vitality of the story’s cosmic extent in the physical realm–from the sub-atomic to the super-novae.  All of this is part of the Story. Matter matters to God.

We have desecrated forests and coral reefs; soil and ground water; amphibians and fish–as if the world was made for man alone. We have abrogated the role of stewardship and deprived our selves and our children of the wisdom, solace and wonder that could come with a restored relationship with creation in all its forms.

Berry long ago used the term Ecozoic for the coming era he saw as the only viable alternative to the Anthropocene.

I think you can look forward to an interesting discussion following the film about Berry’s life and work called The Great Story. And the food’s not bad either!

April 18th at The Floyd Country Store
SustainFloyd Movie Series

Doors open 6:30pm

The thinking of Catholic monk and author, Thomas Berry, describes the big picture behind the activities of SustainFloyd. In relation to the natural world he believed that ‘the mountains, rivers, birds, fish, all living organisms are not there for our use but for a union which is needed for us to become who we are’. This film about Berry’s life and work is a reminder that we need to focus on creating an economy that honors the bountiful planet–a work that for us includes developing healthy food systems, non destructive energy systems and an increased awareness of the impact of our individual lives.

The film will be preceded by a beans and rice dinner and followed by a discussion led by Fred First, Joe Klein and Alwyn Moss.

Tickets: $5 at the door. Beans & Rice available for a further $5 donation.

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Forest, Undressing Thu, 09 Apr 2015 17:19:59 +0000 Continue reading Forest, Undressing ]]> 2015-04-09-120730-1_fungi450The bark from this dead and rotting tree sagged down around the tree’s base like an overstretched sock around an Entling’s ankles. Long ago were gone its branches, leaves and twigs, so that not much was left to show for a long life but a few mushrooms.

Even so, the forest decomposers are not without their own art and grace, returning dust to dust.

Click the image to see larger.

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Blue By You? Colored Contrails Conundrum Mon, 06 Apr 2015 11:43:10 +0000 Continue reading Blue By You? Colored Contrails Conundrum ]]> IMG_4030blueContrail480
This picture with my iPhone was taken outside Schoolhouse Fabrics in Floyd.

The first time I saw a metallic blue contrail I thought it was just some odd play of light at that particular angle and time of day.

The second time I saw blue razor-thin lines across the sky they existed alongside of the usual white contrails, with the two planes at similar altitudes, normal-looking passenger jets I supposed, visible as they created their tracks across an otherwise cloudless deep-blue sky.

Over the past few months, I’ve seen this maybe a half-dozen times. Ann was with me the last time when we were gathering firewood along the creek. She had no trouble telling that we were looking at distinctly blue contrails.

I have not been able to find out anything to explain if this is a new type of engine, a new type of fuel or if the chemistry of these non-white vapors has changed in other ways.

I’m surprised not to find the chemtrails conspiracy folks all over this. Surely it’s not just the two of us on Goose Creek that see these blue streaks. Anybody else seen them? Any clues as to why they have appeared in the last few months?

Related: contrails matter to climate.

Re-routing flights could reduce climate impact of contrails | MNN – Mother Nature Network

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Easter Visitor Sun, 05 Apr 2015 11:48:13 +0000 Continue reading Easter Visitor ]]> jesusknockingI was remembering an Easter post from a few years back, and intended to repost it but never found it: an image of brilliant white bloodroot (which began blooming up the New Road just a few days ago) across the words were written: He is risen!

I wasn’t able to find it, but did in my search find this blog post about the “real Jesus” of Warner Sallman–the painted face and form that most Christians and non-Christians alike SEE in their mind when they need an image for the name.

You can read the 2008 Easter post and the story of the  familiar painting here:

Face of the Real Jesus


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And LongLeggedy Beasties Fri, 03 Apr 2015 11:17:17 +0000 Continue reading And LongLeggedy Beasties ]]> IMG_4046CreatureSkull480Ann returned from the fourth or eighth sanity walk of the day, of course in the company of the dog and her playmate.

“You’ve got to come see what the dogs were chewing on back across from the fire pit. I don’t know what kind of animal it could be but there’s part of the backbone and it’s human-sized at least.”

I harrumphed, familiar with the way new sightings can take on larger-than-life dimensions here in the outback of Floyd County. I said I’d take a look at it eventually.

“No! If we don’t go soon other animals could drag it off.”

She was right. And her description did make me suspicious that I’d find what I did indeed find, skull still connected to a half-dozen uneaten vertebrae: the skull of an adult black bear. Impressive canines, Past Beast.

It remains high in the crotch of a tree along Nameless Creek where the dogs can’t reach it. I will fetch it home and secure it in a high dry place where the sun and various carrion beetles can continue their defleshing, and in about six months it will find a place on or near my desk–a symbol of life in this valley–and death. And so it goes.

Alas, poor Yorik.

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Doggy Delegation: I Come in Peace Wed, 01 Apr 2015 12:39:57 +0000 Continue reading Doggy Delegation: I Come in Peace ]]> A year ago, every time the neighbors shaggy white dog Feather would appear at the margins of our property, Gandy would bristle and charge and invariably run Feather back across enemy lines.

About three months ago, something changed between them. The two dogs, about the same age and size, came to some kind of an agreement. In one of the clauses it must have stated the terms:

1) Feather comes and goes as she pleases but Gandy agrees to remain close enough to home to hear us calling, and NEVER goes to visit at Feather’s house.

2) Feather will arrive not later than 8:00 a.m. (adjusted earlier as the days get longer) and will obediently “go home” upon the command, although if it is too early of an afternoon, she did not sign the agreement to stay home.


3) Each new greeting (upon a human arriving home in a car or upon exiting the back door for any reason) will result in a token offering of any kind (stick, rock, leaf) as act of appeasement.

Yesterday’s offering as I crossed the footbridge fresh home from town struck me as Feather’s Olive Branch of peace. It is a fragment from a privet bush.

IMG_4045feather2I came in and put up groceries, only to come to back door and see that I had failed to adequately accept the dog’s symbolic  indication of her peaceful intentions on our household and our resident dog. The latter was let out the door, promptly to begin the mock-combat they so dearly love, to heck with Feather’s silly gift.

I retrieved the Olive branch to a safe place indoors. It was the diplomatic thing to do.

And even as we speak, four thrashing dog paws are stripping away any remaining grass that once grew in what once was a yard before it became a Saturday Nite Wrastlin’ Rink.

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