Monday, December 3, 2007


Crescent 'Goddess' & Coast Redwood Crown
7:30 AM - Shapiro Courtyard

Mud Nest Under Arch
Moore Hall

6:30 AM

Venus presented herself as a fiery goddess this morning, her body standing out brightly against the pre-dawn sky, whose own form was feeling the first kiss of dawn on its horizon. I look for her every morning and have watched her transit across the sky from my kitchen’s greenhouse window. She began low in the SE in October, when she changes from the evening star to the morning, and is now higher and to the south.

The moon goddess meanwhile, not quite ready to hide behind her dark phase veil—and not to be outdone—shone as brightly as her crescent would allow. This dawn pair will drift further apart each morning until Venus remains for a time as the ruling goddess of the dawn sky.

Speaking of the sky, I went from waxing poetic on astronomy to being slapped in the face with an LA Times article (while eating my oatmeal) that says The Kyoto Protocol is not working quite as they hoped and that certain facts (statistics, actually, which to my mind aren’t really facts but rather manipulated numbers and a sort of propaganda) relating to the supposed reduction in greenhouse emissions from certain former eastern bloc countries actually occurred due to the fall of communism (and the shut down of factories) rather than anything proactive being done:

“Its (the Protocol’s) restrictions have been so gerrymandered that only 36 countries are required to limit their pollution. Just over a third of those—members of the former Easter bloc—can pollute at will because their limits were set so far above their actual emissions.”

“China and India, whose fast-rising emissions easily cancel out any cuts elsewhere, are allowed to keep polluting.”

“And the biggest polluter of all, the United States, has simply refused to join the treaty.”

[LA Times, p. A-1 & A6, Monday, 12/03/07]

I don’t know about you, but if the whole world doesn’t get on board with this and really show some determination to stop polluting, we will be sunk (quite literally it appears) before too much longer. I daresay I may even live to see it and that, my friends is something that will be very sad indeed. So I say to you:


Meanwhile, up on the UC Berkeley campus, protestors continue to tree-sit to oppose the university’s plan to cut down numerous old oak trees to make way for its $125-million sports training facility. Just what we need—more sports. Methinks it’s more trees and more oxygen that we need right now, not the promotion of sports, which only benefits the media, while a nation of couch potatoes stuff their faces while watching football.

7:30 AM - 8:00 AM

On a lighter note, I took a lovely, albeit abbreviated walk this morning before work and was treated with a plethora of bird sightings:

  • A flock of Oregon juncos in the law patio foraging on the grass.

  • I heard before I saw a Bewick’s wren, who was then spotted around the bushes of the Powell Library—a lovely song!

  • A flock of Bushtits in a small pine tree.

  • And the treetops are just alive today with warblers, their characteristic ‘chit-chit-chit’ call very raucous when there are so many of them.

I also spied a mud nest up under the eaves of Moore Hall (see photo). It was no doubt built by swallows, but it must have been vacant because I saw a finch making repeated forays to it. Just renting?

There were also two squirrels up in one of the Coast redwood trees on the law patio, chowing down the small cones of this tree. The debris they were dropping down sure was making an ungodly mess!

Ah Nature! It’s just the thing to make me forget about the crap going on in the world, if only for a little while. I love to watch the birds especially, and have been doing it since I was a little sprite just barely able to say ‘bird.’ I never cease to be fascinated by their beauty. I have been watching them for so long now that I can identify most in my area by ear and even by their flight patterns. My friends are constantly amazed at this skill of mine, and it’s really only from being a life-long birder that I am able to do so. That and always caring enough to look and observe. I am the richer for it, that I know.

And yet always in the back of my mind I cannot help but think that these poor creatures know not what is being done to their world by humans like me, that their world and existence is increasingly threatened by careless and irresponsible human activities. They neither reap nor sew, but go about their small, difficult lives being made more difficult by the likes of me.

The older I get the more aware I am becoming of my tread on Mother Earth. When I was young I was reckless; not only with my life but with Nature’s as well. I have done little recycling, I always driven a car, I buy products without regard to their origins, and I eat food that is perhaps not produced in an ethical manner. Now, however, I am less willing to throw out that plastic bottle (or even buy something that comes in one); I am considering taking the bus a few days per week, and I am taking a serious inventory of my dietary habits. I have even given up flyfishing because I just can’t see the point in harassing the poor unsuspecting trout anymore. I don’t want to go to zoos anymore and I try to consider every thing I do outdoors as traveling in a natural environment where other creatures live.

It’s difficult to change a lifetime of marginal to bad behaviors towards the environment and the ‘better late than never’ excuse seems like a cop-out. But I am determined to do what I can to have less of an impact. It’s the very least I can do for my feathered friends, who give me so much pleasure every morning on my walks and have given me a lifetime of enjoyment.

[This post was composed while listening to Alexander Michel Desplat’s soundtrack for “The Painted Veil,” with piano solos by Lang-Lang—lovely and haunting melodies, and a wonderful movie, too.]

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