Saturday, June 25, 2016

Many Moons

Full moons during the year have many different names in many different cultures.
Most people want something in the sky to be special and unique to their lifetime on Earth. An Earth that has been here for four and a half billion years.
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Traditional Native American names for the moons:
JanuaryDifficulty, Black Smoke
FebruaryRaccoon, Bare Spots on the Ground
MarchWind, Little Grass, Sore-Eye
AprilDucks, Goose-Eggs
MayGreen Grass, Root-Food
JuneCorn-Planting, Strawberry
JulyBuffalo (Bull), Hot Sun
AugustHarvest, Cow Buffalo
SeptemberWild Rice, Red Plum
OctoberLeaf-Falling, Nuts
NovemberDeer-Mating, Fur-Pelts
DecemberWolves, Big Moon

From Earth, the full moon appears fully illuminated because it is positioned directly opposite the Sun.

Strawberry Moon
Park Point, Duluth, Minnesota, 20 June 2016
Photograph: Grant Johnson

The June full moon is called the Strawberry Moon. Because the June full moon never gets comparatively high above the horizon, nor does the Sun get comparatively low below the horizon, the Strawberry moon is characterized by its reddish to honey-colored tint from sunlight filtered through our atmosphere.

This year the Strawberry Moon coincided with the June Solstice in the northern hemisphere. A Strawberry Moon on the summer solstice hasn't happened since 1948.


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Journey to a Lake

Yellowstone Lake Map, 1870
The forests, peaks, and valleys surrounding Yellowstone Lake have been inhabited by humans for more than 11,000 years.

John Colter, a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, is believed the first non-native to see Yellowstone Lake circa 1807-08.

Fur trading brought trappers to the lake. Mountain man Osborne Russell wrote:
"The lake is about 100 miles in circumference, bordered on the east by high ranges of mountains whose spurs terminate at the shore and on the west by a low bed of piney mountains. Its greatest width is about fifteen miles, lying in an oblong form south to north, or rather in the shape of a crescent. Near where we encamped were several hot springs which boiled perpetually."
— journal entry, 1836

The U.S. Congress appropriated $40,000 in 1871 to underwrite a survey led by geologist Ferdinand Hayden to explore and document the northwestern region of the Territory of Wyoming.

Yellowstone Lake, Hayden Geological Survey
Original painting by William H Jackson, 1871

A year later in 1872, Congress passed legislation that was signed into law by President Ulysses Grant to create Yellowstone National Park.

From Hayden's correspondence to Spencer Baird, of the Smithsonian Institution, regarding the survey of Yellowstone Lake:
Dear Professor Baird,

Your letters of June 6th and July 3rd were brought us from Fort Ellis by Lt. Doane who has just arrived to take command of our escort and accompany my party the remainder of the season.

We arrived at the banks of the Yellow Stone Lake July 26th and pitched our camp near the point where the river leaves the Lake. Hence we brought the first pair of wheels that ever came to the Lake with our Odometer. We launched the first Boat on the Lake, 4.5 feet wide and 11 feet long, with sails and oars.

A chart of this soundings will be made. Points have been located with a prismatic compass all around the Lake. A man stands on the shore with a compass and takes a bearing to the man in the Boat as he drops the lead, giving a signal at the time. Then a man in the Boat takes a bearing to the fixed point on the shore where the first man is located and thus the soundings will be located on the chart. Henry Elliot and Mr. Carrington have just left in our little boat, the Annie. [They] will make a systematic sketch of the shore with all its indentations, with the banks down, indeed, making a complete topographical as well as pictorial sketch of the shores as seen from the water, for a circuit--of at least 130 miles.

One of the islands has been explored. We have called it Stevenson's Island as he was undoubtedly the first human that ever set foot upon it.

We found everything in the Geyser region even more wonderful than it has been represented.

I send this back to you by James [Stevenson] who returns to our permanent camp for supplies.

We hope to reach Fort Ellis about the 1st or 5th of September. Schönborn does splendid Topographical work. Write at once.

Yours Truly,
F. V. Hayden

I will send you some Photographs soon.
Accompanying Hayden on the expedition was American painter, Civil War veteran, and geological survey photographer William H. Jackson, and mineralogist Albert C. Peale.

The "Annie", an early and perhaps first boat on Yellowstone Lake
Photograph by William H Jackson, 1871

At nearly a mile and a half above sea level Yellowstone Lake is the largest freshwater lake above 7,000 ft in North America.
As I write now, the moon is shining brightly and is reflected from the surface of the water, which is now considerably quieter, the wind having gone down. The lake is 7,000 feet above the sea.
Albert C. Peale, journal entry 28 July 1871
Ice Out, Yellowstone Lake
Bob MacNeal, May 2012

Ice, nearly 3 ft thick in some areas, covers most of Yellowstone Lake between December and May, except in shallow water near hot springs. Freeze over typically occurs in early December. Ice out typically occurs in late May or early June.
"One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things."
Henry Miller


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Creative & Destructive Forces

Violin Glacier, Greenland
photo by NASA's IceBridge
19 May 2016
Melancholia caused by the unprecedented human-induced environmental degradation is called solastalgia. Solastalgia is a compound word made from the Latin solacium meaning comfort, and -algia, the Greek root for pain.

Coined by transdisciplinary philosopher Glenn Albrecht, solastalgia is our emotional response (e.g., distress, angst, unhappiness, weltschmerz) to rapid changes to our habitat at all scales — from observing perennial flowers blooming earlier and earlier over successive years to the accelerated warming of the biosphere — by forces beyond our control.
weltschmerz is German for world pain. It describes the weariness felt from a perceived mismatch between an ideal image of how the world should be with how it is.
The forces beyond our control range from our neighbors spreading fertilizer and weedkiller on their lawns, to large-scale extraction, transformation, and fouling of natural resources, upward to biospheric-scale climate change from human activities.

Degradation from oil spills, open pit mining, clear cut forests, plastic waste in the oceans, or garbage littered landscapes evoke a similar kind of grief.

Albrecht describes an age-old human drama between the forces attempting to create and the forces attempting to destroy.
The Scream (1893)
Edvard Munch
"In the past, as a patch disturbing species, we've been able to disturb a patch and move on...
Now the patch is the whole planet."

Glenn Albrecht, TEDxSydney talk
The tension between creation and destruction are themes represented in art and literature.

"One evening I was walking along a path, the city was on one side and the fjord below. I felt tired and ill. I stopped and looked out over the fjord—the sun was setting, and the clouds turning blood red. I sensed a scream passing through nature; it seemed to me that I heard the scream. I painted this picture, painted the clouds as actual blood. The color shrieked. This became The Scream."
Edvard Munch

Albrecht studies the relationship between humans and the built and natural environment focusing on our psychological well-being. Albrecht has introduced the opposing term solophilia which is the love and responsibility for place and planet.


Saturday, June 4, 2016

Connection and Reverie

Our forebears had a more immediate and abiding connection with the natural world than we do. Mary Hunter Austin (1868–1934), a nature writer from the American Southwest wrote:
Man is not himself only. ...He is all that he sees; all that flows to him from a thousand sources, half noted, or noted not at all except by some sense that lies too deep for naming. He is the land, the lift of its mountain lines, the reach of its valleys; his is the rhythm of its seasonal processions, the involution and variation of its vegetal patterns.
Psychologist Peter Kahn coined the term environmental generational amnesia to describe the narrative construct formed by each generation during childhood around what's environmentally normal. Kahn argues that each generation's experience of the natural world becomes successively mediated and augmented by technology — much to the detriment of our mental and physical well-being (cf. Technological Nature: Adaptation and the Future of Human Life).

Outdoor Reveries, published in 1920, is a compilation of pleasant thoughts and daydreams in the form of meditative poems by father E. Parker Jaques accompanied by illustrations made by his son Francis Lee Jaques. The elder Jaques' poems are interspersed with his progeny's exquisite illustrations of the natural world encountered.

Opening poem from Outdoor Reveries
by E. Parker Jaques

Illustration page 25
Francis Lee Jaques
Outdoor Reveries exemplifies the sensual grace of first-hand experience, observation, and reflection. The poems and illustrations are inspired by an immediacy with nature.

The Jaqueses' poems and illustrations remind us of the time and space necessary to observe and absorb nature with sensual acuity.

In the opening poem, Birth of Poetry, E. Parker Jaques writes of the rhythm of nature in the wind. Jaques has the time and inclination to watch prairie blue stem grasses bending to and fro from the passing breezes.

Indeed the elder Jaques muses that the poem itself must have been born by the margin of a river.

A direct and abiding connection with the natural world characterizes the experiences of many our of forebears a few generations past. The natural world effected many in profound and visceral ways.

Nature has long been a wellspring of well-being.
"As we build bigger cities, we're not aware how much and how fast we're undermining our connection to nature, and more wild nature—the wellspring of our existence."
Peter Kahn
As we are drawn to population centers, it becomes critical for urban dwellers to escape their anthropogenic cocoons to experience the natural world in reverie.
"Only spread a fern-frond over a man's head and worldly cares are cast out, and freedom and beauty and peace come in."
John Muir