Posted by: greentangle | August 6, 2018

Flowers and Falls and All

Hung around the zoo today for a tiger feeding. I’m not allowed to post photos from that (no loss, I didn’t get any great ones anyway), but here are some from the hour I spent walking around while I was waiting.

This first group of flower shots are very similar but I like something different about each of them.

OK, time for some variety of flora and fauna.

Green tree python


And down the creek I go.


Posted by: greentangle | June 23, 2018

Nature Fest

I was scheduled to work today but I got a reprieve on the eve, so I decided to go to a couple outdoor events instead. I wound up passing through them quickly; the Rhubarb Fest where the coop was making drinks with pedal power, and the Park Point Art Fest which was crowded. But they were a good reason to do more walking and photographing than I’ve done lately.

Sections of the Lakewalk are still closed because of erosion as a result of storms in October and April. Latest estimate for repairs and improvements to cope with our new climate storms is $9 million, and because the work involves lots of regulations and funding and permits, the best case scenario is that the work won’t be complete until late next year. And we’ll hope for no more major Lake storms before then.

Meanwhile, the Lake is still brown from last weekend’s storm which killed a few people and washed out many roads in the UP and Wisconsin. According to the website of the bus company I use for my visits to the UP, I still can’t get there from here, as we used to say in New England.

And you may have heard Trump came to town. If you’re interested in my experiences with that, check in a few days (I haven’t written it yet).



Posted by: greentangle | May 20, 2018

Natural Hero and Ecocentrists

Here’s a 25 minute video about Edward Abbey, featuring a lot of his friends.

And notice of a scholarly book coming out in a couple weeks–The Ecocentrists: A History of Radical Environmentalism. Don’t know what the attitude will be or if it will add anything we don’t already know, but here’s what Publishers Weekly wrote about it.

Posted by: greentangle | May 2, 2018

More Old Photos

This was my favorite tree in Boston.

A few more favorite plants. I don’t have a good photo of Indian Pipe.

It makes me a bit sad that I spent so little of my life in fox squirrel range. I love their coloring. This one was rehabbing on a wine box.

Howling wolf.

How can you not love this face?

This is definitely the Porkies!

I always loved this juxtaposition. Neither of them is there now; I’m sorry only one is in prison.

Looking to sea.


Posted by: greentangle | April 28, 2018


So, Thursday, the oil refinery blew up. Then, Friday, it snowed. Someone said it looked like the end of the world. The smoke, not the snow.

I could see the mushroom cloud from my house. As the day wore on and evacuation zones of 3 miles in all directions and 10 miles in the direction the smoke was traveling were announced, I wondered how far away I was. It took a while to figure out because online maps want to tell you how far it is to drive from place to place. Turns out that’s not the route clouds of toxic gas take. I am 7 ½ miles away, so if the wind had been blowing in a different direction, I would have been in the zone, and neither the state line nor the Lake would have saved me. In fact, that night, residents on the other end of my long town were told to stay indoors with windows closed in anticipation of a change in wind direction.

Along with the visible danger of the smoke, the primary reason for the evacuation was that the refinery is one of about fifty in the country which still use hydrogen fluoride to make gasoline. That tank was only about 150 feet away from the fire according to a Minneapolis Star Tribune article. You can read about hydrogen fluoride on the Center for Disease Control page. I especially like the section titled “How hydrogen fluoride works”, which really describes how it works to kill you. You can find out if you’re near one of the refineries by checking Appendix C of this report. A quick search will find more reports of similar explosions (including one in Texas just a week earlier) and the dangers associated with using the chemical.

The early indication is that this was caused by human error. By that, I don’t mean an individual human, but hey, in this country corporations are people too, right? The refinery was in the process of shutting down for maintenance, reportedly a dangerous time, when the explosions and fires occurred.

I thought of all the oil disasters of my lifetime, the Exxon Valdez (with those horrible memories, it’s shocking that it’s only the 36th worst spill in history by volume), the Deepwater Horizon, the tankers and trains, the drilling platforms and wars, the spills and leaks and pipelines.

I thought of The Oil Song by Steve Forbert, first released almost forty years ago, now updated with additional verses when he performs it live.

I thought of the new Line 3 replacement pipeline (which will double the amount of crude oil coming here from Canada) which Enbridge, also located in Superior, wants to relocate and rebuild across Minnesota while leaving the old one in the ground. I thought of the same company’s Line 5 pipeline, underwater between Lakes Michigan and Huron, near the other end of the Superior Lake, recently damaged by an anchor but still operating because we value oil more than water.

Evacuees from Superior were told they could come to Duluth’s convention center for shelter, so I thought of New Orleans’ convention center and superdome, Katrina and failed levees and constructed channels and disappearing wetlands and a doomed city.

I thought of the recent issue of Yankee magazine I read with articles about the New England shores and cities which are being damaged by storms and rising water, and the declining number of moose due to the increasing number of ticks due to warmer winters due to climate change due to our extravagances.

I thought of Puerto Rico and our indifference to its destruction by hurricanes. I thought of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl and Fukushima. I thought of mining disasters and the Superfund copper mine site near Butte and the copper sulfide mine most of our so-called leaders want built near the Boundary Waters because they value a few jobs more than water.

As a civilization and as individuals, we live always close to the edge of disaster, closer than we like to acknowledge. Pushing species to extinction, we are the biggest disaster in thousands of years.


“If things don’t get better well they’ll probably get worse

If you can’t drink the oil oh you might die of thirst.

–Steve Forbert

Posted by: greentangle | April 22, 2018

The Overstory

The Overstory by Richard Powers is my favorite new novel in years. It’s well-written, but I have to admit that the main reason for my enjoyment is simply its subject matter and viewpoint. That is the increasingly rare and increasingly needed attitude that life beyond humans matters and that the real real world is not economics and politics. The only time you might find more references to trees in a book is if you’re reading a field guide.

The first third of the book is a series of chapters which introduce the main characters, some of whom will later interact directly while others will affect lives indirectly. Each of these chapters stands alone as a fine short story.

The novel is set primarily in the US of recent decades with parallels to actual events and movements. A sign reads “Earth First! We’ll log the other planets later,” and as one of the novel’s main threads emerged, I imagined a blurb along the lines of “The Thinking Man’s Monkey Wrench Gang”. But this version is more realistic and more serious.

There is a thread about computer games and their creator which, though made relevant to the book’s main subject, didn’t interest me that much. And I wasn’t wild about the ending, but I can’t really imagine a satisfying one to a book such as this. (Happy ending? As I’ve written many times here over the years, it depends on the time frame and the goal one has in mind.) I still intend to buy it and reread it more closely to track the connections I noticed in passing and now would expect.

From comments by the author:

“I happen to believe that collectively, we humans are deeply, dangerously deranged, and that only a profound shift in consciousness and institutions regarding the significance and standing of nonhumans will keep us viable in this place and lift our awful sense of moral abandonment and species loneliness.” Contains plot spoilers, so although there are many good thoughts there making it clear why the book appealed to me, you might want to wait and read the book first.

Posted by: greentangle | April 12, 2018

Glory Days, Part One

Over the years and moves, I’ve thrown out most of the pre-digital photos I had, including some that I can remember very clearly but couldn’t find recently. I decided to put copies of some of the survivors on my computer so I’ve been photographing old photographs and thought I’d share some.

I had some experience with wolves long before I ever moved to Minnesota or Yellowstone. These were taken at an education center in Massachusetts. It still exists but according to their website, contact with the wolves is no longer allowed. Maybe the friendlier wolves died, or someone didn’t have eyes in the back of his head. Even back then, we weren’t allowed in alone, and were told to be alert and ready to follow instructions immediately.

I was also lucky enough to have some experience with raccoons. Not only was I surrounded by this gaze of finger-sucking kits, but my own gaping gaze at a couple getting a taste of the world prior to their release led the photographer to refer to me as the missing Kratt brother.

I’ve always loved fog and mist which was probably one of the reasons I was drawn to Duluth and still mourn the loss of its majestic foghorn. Duluth isn’t in these two old favorites though; instead it’s a black dog walking at Arnold Arboretum in Boston, and the since fallen arch at Tettegouche State Park in Minnesota (I think that may also be the location of an unheated lodge where our book club once had a winter discussion of Walden after hiking in). Seeing the arch reminds me of the many times I saw New Hampshire’s also fallen Old Man of the Mountain, but I have no photos of him.

Laphroaig, Breakfast of Champions. For a little while.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in the oft-traveled UP of Michigan, we think, where a barred owl called above our tent. If not, it’s Duluth, and either way, one of my favorite places in the Midwest.

My two dear late companions; Hijack on one of the many moving days he endured during 19 years with me, and young Walden asking for a few more copies of Wild Earth so he could get a better view.

Oh, these things are supposed to go in the water? We thought they were for balance! In western Massachusetts on one of several trips I paid to take with a Boston area group which got people with various disabilities out into the natural world. I wanted more freedom than I would have had as an actual volunteer, but helped out a lot on my own terms.

I have no idea how many trips I made to Concord, but I recently bought the new book The Guide to Walden Pond to relive one aspect of them. Here’s some of the Thoreau Society on top of something. Mount Wachusett, I believe.



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