Friday, October 26, 2007

Naked Cottonwoods

I just love the big old cottonwoods (populus deltoides) down by the river. I wonder how old they are. I googled on it and I don't know how old these cottonwoods are, but I found out that some of the cottonwoods in what's called Smith Grove near Sanger, North Dakota (North of Mandan, ND) date back to before Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1806.

Twelve of the big cottonwoods at Smith Grove are
over 15 feet in circumference,
90 to 100 feet tall and
are estimated to be from 250 to 300 years of age.
(Cottonwoods only live about that long.)

The biggest of these monarchs was
22.8 feet in circumference,
108 feet tall with
an average crown spread of 73.5 feet.
But it blew down in Sep 86. The stump is 35 feet tall.

Info from:
Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Natural Areas of North Dakota
Smith Grove Wildlife Management Area

Another reference said explorers Lewis and Clark camped near Smith Grove Wildlife Management Area on 24 Oct 1804 and 17 Aug 1806.

Look for: Giant Loss - Cottonwoods - Aug 2004 - (191Kb PDF)

In yet another reference, it talked about how the cottonwoods helped Lewis and Clark survive their journey. Of interest to me was that people can eat the inner bark of the tree for its nutritive value and sweetness. Also the inner bark contains salicin which was used as an anti-rheumatic drug, a disinfectant, and antiseptic and for eczemas.

Lewis and Clark Cottonwood (PDF 3.31MB)

That article said the biggest cottonwood in North Dakota belonged to Tim Spiekermeier of Sheldon in Ransom County (near Fargo area.)

However, the North Dakota Champion Tree Register (See 2006 pdf.) says same area, but different people, for the biggest cottonwood in ND. So must be some big trees over there near Sheldon, ND.

Gee, I'll have to go on some field trips!

Well, that's my little research project for the day.

Just never ya know what interesting factoids a person can dig up on the Net.

Joseph Campbell Quote

When I was googling for tree quotes I came across one attributed to Joseph Campbell.

God is the experience of looking at a tree and saying, "Ah!"
—Joseph Campbell

Hmmm. I wonder if Campbell really said that and if he did, what the reference would be. I couldn't find anything on the Net, so...

I went digging in my Campbell books and found this:
Anyone who has had an experience of mystery knows that there is a dimension of the universe that is not that which is available to his senses. There is a pertinent saying in one of the Upanishads: "When before the beauty of a sunset or a mountain you pause and exclaim, 'Ah,' you are participating in divinity." Such a moment of participation involves a realization of the wonder and sheer beauty of existence. People living in the world of nature experience such moments every day. They live in the recognition of something there that is much greater than the human dimension. Man's tendency, however, is to personify such experiences, to anthropomorphize natural forces.

Our way of thinking in the West sees God as the final source or cause of the energies and wonder of the universe. But in most Oriental thinking, and in primal thinking, also, the gods are rather manifestations and purveyors of an energy that if finally impersonal. They are not its source. The god is the vehicle of its energy.

There's a bit more to the last paragraph, but I think the above gives enough to convey the meaning. And some of the above quote is online, if you google it.

I got it from my Power of Myth paperback on page 258 beginning of chapter 8 Masks of Eternity which is towards the end of the book.

Upanishads - Hindu
I didn't dig up that reference.

I guess Campbell said something similar, but I wouldn't say he made that direct reference to a tree, as far as I could dig up anyway.

BTW, when I first started digging into Joseph Campbell stuff I found out that he went to live in a log cabin out in the boonies for 5 years and did nothing but read. I loved him for that! (Ref: A Joseph Campbell Companion, pg 62, by Osbon.)


I got my "light box" back. Hallelujah!
Sunshine, clear blue skies, crispy 40's temp—perfect for an autumn day on Wed 24 Oct 07.

Thur 25 Oct 07 it actually got hot for this time of year--in the 70's. Lots of insects buzzing around hyperactive and got a wasp in the house, but that's another story I won't get into here.

And today? It's overcast again. Sigh.

I was googling tree quotes, can't vouch for their authenticity, but I liked these:

The beauty of the trees,
the softness of the air,
the fragrance of the grass,
speaks to me.
The summit of the mountain,
the thunder of the sky,
speaks to me.
The faintness of the stars,
the trail of the sun,
the strength of fire,
and the life that never goes away,
they speak to me.
And my heart soars.
—Chief Dan George
(NOTE: I've heard this one before? I think I have it written down from a library book maybe?)

Soak up the sun
Affirm life's magic
Be graceful in the wind
Stand tall after a storm
Feel refreshed after it rains
Grow strong without notice
Be prepared for each season
Provide shelter to strangers
Hang tough through a cold spell
Emerge renewed at the first signs of spring
Stay deeply rooted while reaching for the sky
Be still long enough to
hear your own leaves rustling.
—Karen Shragg, Think Like a Tree

Plant trees. They give us two of the most crucial elements for our survival: oxygen and books.
—A Whitney Brown

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Rainy Gray Days

Boy, if I don't see some sunshine soon, I'll have to buy a light box. This is at least the 2nd week of gray overcast days. If the sun comes out it's usually late in the day right before sunset.

Just to shoot some pics, I took some in the car thru the windows. From the inside looking out on the rainy day. Gives me kind of a cozy feeling. I'll have to try taking some photos thru a frosty window on a winter day. That would be cozy too.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Signs of Autumn11 - The Great Blue, Migrant

The Great Blue Heron is back!

Haven't seen him all summer. He likes to hang out at this one spot down by the river in the spring and autumn. I hope to get more opportunities to take his picture and hopefully get an even better sharper picture of him. He just stands there real still, never moving, never saying anything, you almost think he's a statue instead of the real thing!

NOTE: Boy, I'm glad he never says anything. His sound is pretty awful. LOL

My ND bird book says they migrate out of here in the winter? I'll see how long he sticks around this autumn.

Listen to the Great Blue at:

A migrant!

White-crowned sparrow.
Movin on thru from Canada or Alaska to Southern or Western US, I think.
Only see this bird during migration here in North Dakota.


Both pictures taken 5 Oct 07.
I've taken almost 4,000 pictures as of 7 Oct 07 with my Canon S3 IS I bought in July 2007.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Signs of Autumn10 - Road, Trail

I love photos of roads and trails, especially in the autumn season.

(The dirt trail above is near where the hornets nest was.)

Hornets Nest

From reading online, I think this is a baldfaced hornets nest?

It looked empty to me, but I sure wasn't going to get any closer to find out! Love my camera zoom.

Sounds like the nests are built in the spring and by autumn or after hard frost they are abandoned.

Has Differences between Yellowjackets and Hornets pdf file link.
PDF says: nest made out of wood pulp, because the nest was in the tree it's probably a baldfaced hornets nest

See also edu site.

wiki again
Says not a true hornet genus but a yellowjacket?
Build nest in spring and by winter is abandoned and probably won't be reused.
Chew up wood that mixes with a starch in their saliva, which they spread with their mandibles and legs to dry into paper.
Has a pic of a dissected nest so you can see what the inside looks like.

unexco site
The paper-like covering of the nest is made from chewed up wood, cardboard or paper that the workers will form into the outside nest covering. Nests can also be colorful as wasps will gather nest materials from different sources.