Neither of these words in the title are likely too familiar, and less so in these parts the tree that sometimes goes by that common name. Balm of course is a soothing ointment, and Gilead is in Israel. There is a haunting African American Spiritual that centers on this “universal healing” that arose from that piece of geography long ago. See and hear the video at the end of this post. It is quite well done. “SO what is this tree?” a friend asked …

Balm of Gilead Read more »

Scroll to the end for how to get rid of flocking birds. Better living through technology… But first, a remembered gathering of blackbirds in autumn, more than a decade ago… Vox Populi The house was chilly when I got home–cooler inside than out. A somber October sun only a few shades paler than sky offered little light, and less heat. I stepped into my rubber boots–a country-dweller’s slippers–for the short walk to the woodpile for an armload of kindling. A small fire through the …

Birds of A Feather: The Flocking Part Read more »

They look awful, and seem to threaten the forest with ultimate consumption–the fall web worms whose unsightly tents of silk tatter the margins of roadways and fields in autumn. What many people don’t realize is that, in the end, the caterpillars generally don’t kill the trees they make their webs in; and second, that there are predators whose numbers rise in relationship to the numbers of caterpillars. And if you pay attention, you can hear them–the black-billed cuckoos who eat them by the thousands. …

Cuckoo for Caterpillars Read more »

I am reading the NYT special called “Losing Earth. The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change.” If you want a video summary, here is an interview with the author, Nathaniel Rich, on Democracy Now. It portrays the choices we once almost made to act on the facts we agreed on  back then that humanity was fouling its own nest. We had the body of evidence; many had the will. But the currents heading us towards a safer future were soon diverted during the time …

Seventeen Years Not Wanting to Know Read more »

I was alerted of a low tire by the pressure sensor dashboard light before I reached the hardtop one day last week. So I pulled off at the next wide place along our gravel road and plugged in the small pump we keep in the car for just such a purpose. And while waiting for the few minutes it would take the pump to make the warning light go off, I wandered the edge of the woods in thick shade of Rhododendrons and failing …

Not New To Science But To Me: Spikenard Read more »