Better for the Planet?

Apparently, because of not living on the Coasts or in a major city, I missed the memo that 1. waffle cones will save the planet from the evil polluting effects of cardboard bowls and plastic spoons, and 2. that plant-based ice-cream has a smaller effect on the environment than does Ye Olde cow-milk sort. Since I’m a fan of waffle cones, I see no problem with people eating the serving dish rather than throwing it away, although some of the bright colors (hot pink, kelly green, electric blue) are a touch disconcerting.

I’m not certain about the plant-based ice-cream being better for the planet, though. Continue reading


Two Mighty Days: August 17-18, 1969

I grew up around people who took hurricanes very seriously. They’d all lived on the Gulf Coast when Hurricane Camille struck in 1969. Not since 1935 had such a powerful storm swept onto the low-lying areas around the Gulf of Mexico, and in part because of that, some people didn’t take the storm that seriously. After all, it was just another hurricane, so there’s be wind, and rain, and water in the usual places, but nothing really out of Gulf-Coast ordinary.

I’ve ridden out Category one and two hurricanes, on what was then the far northern side of Houston. “The rains fell and the wind blew,” but that was all the excitement at my grandparents’ house. But those were weak, and further weakened by coming ashore and moving 50 or so miles inland. Not a Category Five storm riding a plume of unusually warm water. Warm water is hurricane fuel, and the Gulf was warm in the summer of 1969. Continue reading

The Bird Walk

Thursday night-Friday morning, Redquarters got over half an inch of rain in a rather loud and dramatic fashion. We’re in that season where, if the forces of weather cooperate, rain from the southwest monsoon continues southeast down the high plains and sweeps over the area. We’d had a really big storm pop up Thursday afternoon and drench one part of town, but Redquarters remained low and dry. Then along comes the 0200 light show.

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Sweet Summer Sunrise

A cool front came through two weeks ago, knocking down temperatures and changing the sky.

We’d had clear, hazy white skies, the sort I remember very well from spending summers in Houston. The sky would be pale blue in the morning, then grow white-blue. The sun just set, without any color. Cicadas rasped their songs all day long, a sound I associate with heat. High pressure had settled in, and the best thing to do was stay out of the sun and fan. And drink cold stuff.

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A Spring of Soft Skies

Anyone who travels a great deal, or who lives in places where weather systems occasionally scour the moisture out of the air, has seen hard and soft skies. There are places and days when the edges of the clouds look sharp enough to cut, when the sky deepens to a hard, pure blue like lapis lazuli. And days of soft, hazy shadows, when the horizon blurs into the sky and cream clouds drift through pale blue heavens, their edges fading into each other. Continue reading

You Don’t Need the Whole Tree…

Medieval Europeans would have been flabbergasted by modern forestry practices. We cut down the entire tree, every time. People in the ancient world, Late Antiquity/ Dark Ages, and on until the early 1900s (in some places) tended to cut down whole trees on far fewer occasions. Instead they coppiced the trees, trimming the trunk down and letting it regrow. Or they pollarded, cutting off branches on a regular basis but not touching the lower trunk. They also took entire trees, but not as often as we do today.

A pollarded tree in southwest Poland.  Author photo.

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