Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"Nature designed a forest as an experiment in unpredictability; we are trying to design a regulated forest. Nature designed a forest over a landscape; we are trying to design a forest on each hectare. Nature designed a forest with diversity; we are trying to deign a forest with simplistic uniformity. Nature designed a forest of interrelated processes; we are trying to design a forest based on isolated products. Nature designed a forest in which all elements are neutral; we are trying to design a forest in which we perceive some elements to be good and others bad. Nature designed a forest to be a flexible, timeless continuum of species; we are trying design a forest to be a rigid, time-constrained monoculture. Nature designed a forest of long-term absolutes. Nature designed a forest to be self-sustaining and self-repairing; we are designing a forest to require increasing external subsidies-fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. Nature designed forests of the Pacific Northwest to live 500 to 1200 years; we are designing a forest that my live 100 years. Nature designed Pacific Northwest forests to be unique in the world, with twenty-five species of conifers, the longest lived and largest of their genera anywhere; we are designing a forest that is largely a single-species on a short rotation. Everything we humans have been doing to the forest is an attempt to push nature to a higher sustained yield. We fail to recognize, however, that we must have a sustainable forest before we can have a sustainable yield (harvest). In other words, we cannot have a sustainable yield until we have a sustainable forest. We must have a sustainable forest to have a sustainable yield; we must have a sustainable yield to have a sustainable industry; we must have a sustainable industry to have a sustainable economy; we must have a sustainable economy to have a sustainable society."

Chris Maser

Sunday, June 14, 2009

June 14th and I finally feel like summer is on my door step. I can tell because of the sweet warmth that radiates off the of the ground when I am in the woods and there is the smell of dirt, vegetation and pine needles baking in the sun. This smell is a summer trigger for me just as thawing frost is a sure smell of Easter and Spring. Another sign of summer is the fact that I was on the water! I floated the Bitterroot River yesterday in borrowed kayaks with Mike. We did short run from Bell Crossing to Stevensville. We stopped for a picnic on a gravel bar and did some shore line exploration. There were a lot of snags, debris and log jams but none of them were particularly threatening. We were able to float leisurely without having to worry for our lives and it was almost hot enough for a swim!

Garage sales are another summer indicator and they were out in full force on Saturday. I bought a skimpy, sexy black dress at the one right across the street from my house. The women at the garage sale helped me pin it up so that it fit better. The guys next store tried to sell me home made burritos. I love summer and I am so excited to be spending it in the Bitterroot Valley. I am starting to really like Stevensville. It is a bit small for my taste(but much bigger than Moose Pass or Skykomish), but the local brewery and its brewer keep me well entertained. The brewery has live music every Wednesday night and I look forward to meeting up with a crew of regulars: Chance and Reese operate bulldozers and are always good for a laugh, Bill used to be a Forest Service brat and always has a story that goes nowhere, Sandra and her friends are very entertaining, and there are several others who I see and chat with regularily. Everyone seems to be connected to everyone else. It seems as though many people know of me even before I meet them because one of thier friends knows me. I can sit down at the bar or the library and meet several new people who I will probably see in a different context the next day, or at least meet someone who knows them. I really like the ease with wich I meet new people in Stevensville. But small works both ways and I am often alone. However, I appreciate this solitaryness because I know that it will not last.
I wore my skimpy, sexy, second-hand black dress on a double date to a fancy restaurant that requires reservations and has a dress code. I was a little self-conscious but the look on my date's face was worth it. The food and wine was excellent. I had a vegetarian sampler with spinach gnocci. However, the company and the music made the experience unforgettable. The roaming guitar player, Sergio, played compassionate love songs in foreign languages such as the theme from the Godfather. The couple that we went with was really fun as well!

It is warm enough to sit on lawn chairs outside on the deck and grill late into the evening and to watch the stars and the moon. This is exactly what I have been doing. Summer is in the air! The mountains and rivers are waiting and romance is afoot!
The west side canyons of the Bitterroot Mountains as seen from Sawmill Pass

National Trails Day volunteer day turnpike project

National Trails Day Volunteers

Guitar-playing photo shoot
Kayaking the Bitterroot River

Monday, June 08, 2009

I was spouting off about salmon to a co-worker about how much I like and admire the salmon species. She brought me this 20 page short story by a woman from Moscow Idaho about looking for salmon in the Selway River. The opening paragraph was stunning. It went like this:

I keep thinking about salmon. About how their lives are all about going home. Home to a patch of upturned gravel on the upper Selway River. About how their river home is chosen for them by previous generations of spawning ancestors. They don't choose it. I keep thinking about spawning females. I've never seen a spawning salmon but her image shimmers in my mind. The way she roughs the gravel and drops a hundred eggs for the male to milt. The way she flips her tail over the gravel to cover those eggs. I'd love to see this and capture it in a photograph. He leopard spotted tailfin working violently. The water riffling above her gravel nest and downstream, those riffles disappearing in the Selway.

I do keep thinking about salmon. They are running in Alaska right now. I was trying to put my affinity for them into words and I think that their lives seem to be mirroring my own...born in a small town, lived there for a few years before moving to the big city and subsequently traveling, growing and expanding their world view. Now I am swimming back home. I don't know exactly why I have this desire to be in Montana. I have some general reasons such as wanting to be closer to friends and family and wanting to explore and take ownership of the place where I was raised. However, there seems to be some deeper intangible pull and the fact that the salmon are doing the same thing make me feel better. I read that salmon are considered to be the wisest of animals in Celtic tradition. The standard depiction of the salmon's journey to the spawning grounds shows this animal struggling but when it jumps upstream, it doesn't fight the current. It simply jumps over it, or finds the reverse current which flows beneath the surface. I also read that this form of leaping inspired the word somersault, which is actually derived from the Celtic term salmon-sault, whatever that means. I think that I am trying to understand my history and reconnect and/or create roots. I want to be a part of something bigger then myself. I think that I can make the most difference here. I need to return in thought and feeling to my childhood and my old stomping ground for that understanding. I guess that wherever we are, we are always going home and life is about the journey not the destination. I just like salmon, it's as simple as that. I also really like polar bears but I'll save that for next time...