Posted by: greentangle | August 8, 2017

Your Choice

Take a look at these two recent videos and ask yourself which you would prefer.

A brown bear with two cubs walking toward you:

Or a mountain lion staring at you from above:


Posted by: greentangle | July 29, 2017


I decided last night to go looking for thimbleberries this morning. This morning came the more difficult decision–should I wear the too small shoes with good support, or the roomy shoes with no support left, or the new ones I don’t think I like? It was going to be a three mile walk, my longest in months, and since it was early in the morning, my feet were as small as they get anymore so I went for the support.

I took a bus to my starting point and then had to wait for this train.

We walked along on opposite sides of the tracks. Mine was obviously the wrong side.

This cat was watching them too until I gave a whistle.

Many chipmunks quickly crossed my path, but this was my only proof. :-)

I saw many thimbleberry plants but no sign of berries and had decided I was too late. Then I spotted these in a relatively inaccessible spot.

If my feet don’t explode overnight, I’ll look in a nearer, shadier, less popular location early tomorrow morning and see if I can find any to actually eat.

“I was framed!”



Posted by: greentangle | July 12, 2017

Letter to Henry

Happy 200th birthday, Henry. A few days ago I read a new essay about your influence on conservationists and writers. It was a good article, but very conspicuously didn’t mention Edward Abbey in a long list of authors despite the article’s author having written the introduction to an edition of The Monkey Wrench Gang and Ed’s own long essay Down the River with Henry Thoreau. Henry, there have been more books written about you than you had in your large library, including a long new highly praised biography which I’ll start reading in a few days.

As Abbey wrote, “Henry thou should be with us now”. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the buffoons running the federal government (the linked article refers to the need to protect a couple areas you loved from profiteers and bandits). I suspect you and Ed might each be writing from a jail cell if you were both around today. You might not recognize much of Concord and New England. Despite more people and highways, there are a lot more forests and wildlife than in your day. It’s warmer, though. People have used the phenology records you kept to show how much earlier many plant species are blooming, and that others have disappeared from Concord.

That rewilding of New England is one of the topics mentioned in Witness Tree, a fine short book which features a century-old red oak in the Harvard Forest in western Massachusetts as its central character in a look at climate change, but explores a wide variety of subjects. There is pleasure in living there through a very snowy winter, interacting with cows, and climbing the tree, but one of the sad topics is the tree species we’ve lost since your time, Henry. You’d want to know what happened to the chestnuts, the elms, and now the hemlocks. I heartbreakingly witnessed that last one happening myself in the Arnold Arboretum a few blocks from my former home.

There’s something new called a podcast, Henry. You could listen to a good interview about this book with its author here. She even mentions you in the book.

I’m living in Minnesota, which you visited near the end of your life. I was on a boat on Lake Superior recently and it made me long for the whale watches I used to go on when I lived in Boston. How I’d love to see you seeing a humpback whale for the first time, Henry!

Oh, and there’s another quirky book you might enjoy for its attitude toward wildlife. It’s a mix of natural history and neuroscience and psychology titled Carnivore Minds.

There’s going to be a big crowd at Walden Pond today. Thanks for trying to make this a better society.

Posted by: greentangle | July 4, 2017

Accepting Tender Resignation

I started greentangle ten years ago today and added Hard Wood to Whittle almost seven years ago. There have been many changes since in my life and the blogs, and there are now a lot fewer posts, readers, and comments, and I expect that to continue as I lead a more inward life and write with less frequency and less ability. Emotionally, my favorite period remains the early years’ frequent focus on animal rights issues with a couple regular commenters with whom I felt a strong connection. The creative quality of my blog writing probably peaked a couple years later, and certainly the opportunity to include four years of photos from Yellowstone made for an interesting period.

I used to do an annual post listing my favorite posts of the year, and back in 2014, after I had finished my Yellowstone period, I created a document on my computer of all my favorite posts from both blogs, perhaps wondering if some sort of book could come from it all. When I saw today how long ago that was compiled, I decided that I will go through the past few years’ posts and update the document. Off the top of my head, I couldn’t think of anything I’ve written since which would be included except possibly some of the Autobobography series, and then I read the last paragraph of the last post already in the document, which mentioned that I’d made a rough outline for that very series. So that will be a short new project for me.

I don’t feel that any drastic change has led me to spend less time adventuring or writing, just age and a continuation of the path I’ve been on all along. I am in the early stage of a possible new round of plantar fasciitis and since I can’t avoid being on my feet about five hours a day for my two part time jobs, I’m certainly avoiding any extra walking, but I’d already mostly stopped hiking before this foot flare-up.

I’m sixty years old and have never owned a car; I’ve already done a lot more walking than most modern people will do in their lifetimes, including over 700 miles in Yellowstone alone. The pleasure I got from hiking came from two main sources—first, the combination of getting away from the hectic human world and slowing into the rhythms of the natural world, and second, seeing wildlife. Here in Duluth, the wildlife which provided the strongest encounters for me were deer and bald eagles, but they were rare sightings, not like the everyday elk and bison and much more of Yellowstone. I’m certainly less connected to the natural world than I used to be, but I don’t feel any regret that I’m no longer capable of doing everything I once did.

These days I mostly get away from the human world by staying in my apartment, which has always been a needed strategy for me at times. Although I’ve seldom disliked anyone as an individual and even enjoyed the company of many people in small doses, being around people has generally been an experience I felt I needed to recover from via solitude. No doubt there are many factors contributing to that, including being an only child and the type of childhood I had, but I also think the major factor is simply that I chose to live differently from most people and felt I had very little in common with them. The company of nonhumans always gave me more satisfaction and pleasure than that of humans.

I still appreciate the creative output of humans and I probably should have developed my own artistic side more deeply in my life. I feel content these days to stay home and listen to music, watch films and television programs (though I haven’t owned a tv since it went digital), and read books. At times, I also read my old journals; I’m currently on 1990, almost half my lifetime ago, and honestly enjoy reading my words more than most books, though I don’t think that would be a widely shared experience.

At that time, I had started working for the college in Boston which would become the longest employer of my life (ten years) but still hadn’t moved to the immediate Boston area. I was taking the commuter train but had already become actively involved in city life, seeing a Boston counselor, taking writing and other classes at adult education centers in Boston, Brookline, and Cambridge, as well as at Harvard Extension. I was talking with the manager of my favorite Harvard Square bookstore about a job there and to city residents looking for a roommate. It was the time of the Robert Bly version of the men’s movement and I went to some of those classes as well. I had just discovered a new New Orleans restaurant in Boston–Dixie Kitchen, run by future great singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier.  I’d often take a midnight train home from the city. That sort of questing is still part of who I am even in my physical inactivity—I bought a couple translations of the Tao Te Ching, important to me long ago, a few months ago.

Reading my own long ago words today provides a warm mix of memory and anticipation, knowing what was still to come during that fertile Boston decade of my life—moves and relationships, exploring more natural areas around the city, a new period of running, time spent with a group which got disabled people out for experiences in the natural world.  I’m very glad I lived that life, and glad that I wrote about it so I can recall it more clearly, but I have no desire to be living it now. I’ve reached that point with my Yellowstone memories as well. I think it would take a lottery win for me to ever take a distant vacation again, but if that happens, I’d much rather see Boston or New Orleans again than Yellowstone.

Regardless of where I spend my time, I still care more about the natural world than the manmade one, and of course am disgusted by the current government’s contemptuous attitude toward nature and other species. But the only thing that surprises me is that it’s happening already. I’ve never had any doubt that this civilization would destroy everything else to continue, but it doesn’t even need to be happening yet–this is just evil and childish greed. Wildlife’s salvation still lies not in an election but in collapse.

I recently had a physical with no major problems. One test result estimated that I have a 13.5% chance of having a heart attack in the next 10 years, which frankly seemed low to me—I would have guessed at a higher risk. So we’ll wait and see if any of this is still around for the 20th anniversary.


Posted by: greentangle | June 30, 2017

On the Lake

Between a sore foot, age, and attitude, I don’t get out much anymore. This month, as a job perk, I could have done more than a dozen tourist activities for free. I only went to one of them, and didn’t enjoy that one because of all the kids there. More about the attitude in a 10th anniversary post next week, but last night there was  an opportunity I couldn’t ignore.

As I was walking to it, I thought I saw a loon in the harbor. Turned out to be a double crested cormorant.

Oh, look, it’s Duluth’s iconic lift bridge lifting.

I arrived at my destination.

Or at least the means to my destination. This retired icebreaker was purchased by someone on the board of one of the organizations I work for, and we were having a staff party there.

A different view, passing under the lift bridge.

Another Duluth icon, Glensheen. A few days ago was the 40th anniversary of the murders committed there.

It was nice to get out on the water, and we went farther than the tourist boats do. We were never far from land, and I didn’t see any whales like I used to do off Boston, but this time it really was a loon.

Coming back in through the canal, we had this multilayered view of Duluth–tourists, tourist hotels, downtown, hillside houses, antenna farm.

We cruised around the harbor. A couple more bridges, these connecting Minnesota to the red cheeseheads of Wisconsin.

Here’s the island where the gulls hang out when the tourists aren’t feeding them popcorn.

We pulled up next to one of the ore loading docks. Admittedly not as exciting as the bear warning signs in Yellowstone, but still good advice.

I got home after dark, and when I looked out my window before going to work this morning, I discovered that a drunk had decided to park in our back yard.

She came down this hill, and did damage in the yards on either side of us as well as destroying a small tree of ours.

Posted by: greentangle | May 25, 2017

Forgotten but not Gone: The Pacific Fisher

An eight minute video with some pretty scenes.
Posted by: greentangle | May 21, 2017

Wolf Wars

A moment of unnatural history: watched a gull carrying a rectangular piece of red and white cardboard, maybe part of a pizza box, fly up to rooftop. It looked like airmail.


Finished reading a new book a couple days ago—Wolf Nation: The Life, Death, and Return of Wild American Wolves by Brenda Peterson. It’s a good look at the overall picture, a mix of history and anecdote not limited to Yellowstone as many wolf books are.


It includes a focus on wolf hatred and the fact that giving control of wolf populations to the states amounts to giving that control to the ranchers and hunters whose opinions control state wildlife boards despite the opposition of the majority of the public.


That’s really what this post is about, inspired by a visit to a Facebook page of Gardiner (MT) and Mammoth Hot Springs (YNP/WY). Someone posted there about the reward for catching the recent killer of a well-known Yellowstone (since that post, various groups have listed rewards and donations which now have the total up to almost $30,000).


Many of the local Gardiner residents proceeded to attack the idea of caring about the wolf and mentioned a Montana cop who’d recently been shot. This is standard practice anytime someone expresses concern over an animal issue—denigrate the concern by bringing up all the issues someone else considers more important, which is almost always some human issue.


Outliers like St. Francis aside, this often comes from a Christian background. Create a god, declare yourself made in its image, and give yourself dominion over all other forms of life. It’s hard to imagine a more arrogant, negative philosophy for interacting with the natural world. This is a major reason I have such a low opinion of people—because they consider themselves more important than anything else.


The other result of that thinking which struck me is that all those Gardiner residents think there’s some big difference between the person who shot the wolf and the person who shot the cop. I think they’re both products of the gun-happy, let’s shoot something culture of this country as a whole and of the states surrounding Yellowstone in particular—a culture which puts those states, along with other pro-gun areas such as the south and Alaska, at or near the top of the list of states in both death by gun and suicide by gun rates. The blue states are generally at the bottom.


During the years I lived in Yellowstone, I spent a lot of money in Gardiner and elsewhere in Montana. This event and these comments have finalized a decision which had largely already been made—I won’t be returning to Yellowstone. Not only because of the negative effects of overcrowding on the park experience, but because I don’t want to contribute another penny to the states which surround it.


Adding this link to a post by a local with a description of a Gardiner meeting about wolves and poaching.


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