Friday, November 26, 2010

We can live well in its light

One last excerpt from Crow Planet before I bring it back to the library today.

"But here we are, intricate human animals capable of feeling despair over the state of the earth and, simultaneously, joy in its unfolding wildness, no matter how hampered. What are we to do with such a confounding vision? The choices appear to be few. We can deny it, ignore it, go insane with its weight, structure it into a stony ethos with which we beat our friends and ourselves to death- or we can live well in its light."

Image Source

Friday, November 19, 2010

Of Composts

"Of composts shall the Muse descend to sing,
Nor soil her heavenly plumes? The sacred Muse
Naught sordid deems, but what is base; naught fair
Unless true Virtue stamp it with her seal.
Then, planter, wouldst thou double thy estate
Never, ah, never, be asham'd to tread
Thy dung-heaps."

~James Grainger

The moon is up, the crows have passed and in the autumn gloaming I carry two buckets across the back yard. One bucket comes from the bathroom, the other from under the kitchen sink. Both get emptied into the compost bin. I reach for the pitch fork and give the mass a turn or two. There is just enough light left to make out a few cabbage leaves and a bit of pumpkin on the top of the pile. Steam rises. I hover my hand a few inches above the top and feel the heat there. I am satisfied. With the addition of extra nitrogen from my urine, I don't think the compost will freeze this winter as it has in years past. The buckets get a quick rinse and are returned to their place in the house.

There are a million things a person could do when they get home from work on a Friday night. I like to tread my dung-heaps.

Image Source

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Coming Home to Roost

After posting about losing my camera a while back, a friend got in touch with me letting me know that there was an extra camera in his household that wasn't being used, and I could have it if I wanted to. Yes I did! I was thrilled.

And I had the camera with me on my way home from work yesterday and managed to catch a few shots of the crows heading to their roost.

Keep in mind, that this is just a couple of sections of the sky and one portion of the flock. It usually takes about a half hour for all the crows to fly overhead at any given point. This flock is coming from the north west. I've also seen them flying in from the east and the north. So that should give you an idea of the numbers of birds we're talking about here. I'm guessing it's about an 1/8 of the human population of Ottawa.

These crows will probably hang out in a few 'staging areas' near the roost, before they make their way to the actual roost to settle in for the night.

If I can I'll try and snap some pics of the roost soon.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Yes, another post about crows...

I don't quite know what it is about crows, but I'm becoming increasingly fascinated by them. From their twilight flights and massive roosts to their highly intelligent ways, the more I learn about crows the more I want to learn. I also find them very visually striking against the urban landscape, especially at this time of year when the tree branches are bare.

This video gives a really good idea of what the roost near my home is like at night.

And this one is really cool too.

And here are some examples of crow art that I'm enjoying very much.




Finally, after watching this TedTalk, there'll be no doubt in your mind just how smart crows are!

Incidentally, I'm not super impressed with Joshua Klein's take on 'developing mutually beneficial relationships' with crows. Using crows to pick up our garbage or to find our lost iPhones sounds a little demeaning to me and I also thinks he hugely misses the point between the connection of large crow populations and the health of our ecosystems. Still it's a pretty neat look at crow behaviour.

We Walk Around Like Poems

Another lovely excerpt from Crow Planet:

"We are incapable of isolation. Every time we sip wine, feed the cat, order pizza, watch Survivor, every time we do anything, anything at all, we are brushing, however surreptitiously, however beneath our awareness- however, even, against our will- a wilder, natural world. Such awareness is simultaneously daunting and beautiful. It means that everything we do matters, and matters more than we can even know. Yes, of course we must do all of the things we now know by rote: we must replace our incandescent lightbulbs with compact fluorescents, and recycle, and compost and ride our bikes, and buy organic, local, biointensive, fair-trade. All of it. And if we can manage these things with a joyful heart, then all the better. But this is not about checklists, is it? About the reduction our planetary relationships to a mean tally of resources used, saved and available? It is about a habit of being, a way of knowing, a way of dwelling. It is about attentive recognition of our constant, inevitable continuity with life on earth, and the gorgeous knowledge this entails. There is a crow's nest in the neighbor's yard, and there are feathers at our feet. We walk around like poems- our lives infused with meaning beyond themselves."

I think about this passage a lot as I observe the crows in my neighbourhood. There is a roost close to my home that I've taken to visiting. Every night at dusk the crows fly overhead and easily 100,000 or more of them roost in a small patch of woods, to fly away again at dawn. It is both an incredible and disturbing sight. Disturbing because there is a connection between crow populations and habitat destruction and biodiversity loss. As the environment becomes less hospitable to other species, crows become one of the few species resilient enough to survive. Growing crow populations are an indication of how much we have already lost. This is a sobering thought as I search for a way of being, knowing and dwelling in the world with a joyful heart. It's a tricky balance to achieve to be sure, but one that I am bound by my beliefs and values to strive for every way that I can, with every breath I take on this crow planet.

Image Source

Saturday, November 13, 2010

300 Years of Fossil-Fueled Addiction in 5 Minutes

Here's an interesting and fast paced perspective of the issues, narrated by Richard Heinberg.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Reading Crow

Just got this book out of the library yesterday. I'm only a few dozen pages in, but I'm loving it. The author had me at her first Wendell Berry quote.

And then I read this:
"...but it remains our daily lives, in the places we live, that make us ecosystemic creatures; these are the seat of our most meaningful interactions with, and impact upon, the wider, wilder earth. We are connected by the ways that we choose, consume, and share water, food, shelter, and air- just like all the other animals. We cherish the few, sweet days we manage to escape to places we consider true wilderness, but the most essential things we can do for the deeply wild earth have to do with how we eat, how we drive, where we walk, and how we choose every moment of our quotidian urban lives."

Amen sister. Amen.

Fellow nature lovers, get thee to your nearest library and check out this book! Oh and have a look at her blog too. It's delightful.