CVNP Swamp

White water lilies bloom, small pads that lay flat. The blooms close up at night. Purple and white clovers, crown vetch, fleabane and daisies all blooming. Garlic mustard sprouting up, a nasty invasive. In the swamp, we watch a redwing blackbird attack a blue heron. Duckweed taking over pond areas. Corn stands knee high.

The next day, after the Derecho blew through, the damselflies and dragonflies were everywhere. Ebony Jewelwinged Damselfly. Orange Bluet. Dot-tailed whiteface dragonfly. Snakes out basking.

Damselfly

Garlic mustard

Yellow water lily

Water lily

Orange Bluet

CVNP Swamp

Great blue heron

Buttonbush

Water snakes

duckweed

Cottonwood

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Early summer on the Beaver Marsh

Huge rain. Muddy trails. Bugs rising up out of the earth, tiny things that cling to my eyeballs, suck up into my nostrils.

Spiny softshell turtles pile up on a far bank, couple hundred yards away from the trail. The view was hidden by the trees, but I caught a glimpse of them through a small clearing. They seemed bigger than painted turtles, flatter than snappers. Shy turtles.

Chipmunks barking on the trunks of trees, chirring at passersby, to each other. They ran all over the trails, always seemed to have their cheeks full.

The next day, dry and windy, cottonwoods blowing in drifts. Cardinals are everywhere. Crows creeping in the newly plowed fields.

Beaver Marsh

CVNP Swamp

CVNP Beaver Marsh

Tree swallows

Bull Frog

Tadpole

Lily pad

Buckeyes

Blue Heron

CVNP

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Riding the Tuscarawas

Riding my bike south of Barberton today on a little used section of the Towpath, along the Tuscarawas River. The bike path runs along the backlots of abandoned industries, and you can see the creeping noxious invasive species really taking over the weedlots. Saw some new birds. Osprey, I think a cowbird, and a bunch of Northern Rough-winged Swallows. Kind of interesting to try to identify birds. Trees are easier. Green Ash, sassafras and oak.

Barberton Towpath

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Week by week on two watersheds: Rocky and Cuyahoga

Spring in Ohio continues, and I’m watching the progression of species closely for the first time in my life.

Beetle on a log

Seeing when the Dogwood tree blooms drop off, noting which wildflowers come up when, seeing spawning fish in the rivers. It’ll take a few years to build up an interesting record to gauge the timing of the seasons. The kinds of animals and plants I’m spotting now are totally different every time I go out.

Ohio Wildflowers

Ohio Wildflowers

Snapper

Hermit Thrush

Ohio wildflowers

Elderberry Tree

Mushrooms

In the Cuyahoga River Valley, bluegills are spawning. Lilacs and locust are blossoming. Iris and phlox are up, trout lily and trillium are gone. Turtles that were on every log just a couple weeks ago, are now gone — I’m guessing mating and building nests. Wood ducks have babies.

Violets

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Ants

Locust tree

Phlox

On the Rocky River, water snakes are on the hunt. Carp and river chub are schooling up and spawning. Smallmouth bass are holing up on spawning beds, chasing after baby Canada Geese. Trying to figure out still what plants are native, what aren’t. Two non-natives are in bloom. Camas and Amur Honeysuckle.

River Chub

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Bluegill Spawning

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Bluegill

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On Lake Erie, smallmouth bass are gearing up for spawning and walleye have started biting.

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Booya

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Engaging with the opposition

I had a somewhat entertaining conversation last night with my aunt’s neighbors and good friends, who happen to be Fox News programmed conservatives. I don’t go around picking fights with people with differing political views, and most of the time I won’t even be baited into it. But these guys were pretty relentless.

As best I can tell from the talking points they were throwing at me, they’re small business owners who are pissed about increased insurance premiums due to Obamacare (or at least that’s their perception, which may or may not be accurate).

They proceeded to quiz me on how much I really knew about what happened in Libya. Did I know 20% of the population is on food stamps and the U.S. government is funding radio ads in Mexico encouraging people to come to the United States and go on welfare. Oh, and my favorite, Obama and Jay-Z used Twitter to steal the election.

I told them, as a father of two boys under 4 and primary breadwinner of my household, I didn’t have time to really gather all of my liberal talking points, and that I wouldn’t be a very fun sparring partner. I could gather up all the zingers and comebacks, but essentially I don’t have time or interest.

You’re actors, reading a script. You’re repeating the nonsense you’re being fed. That’s not thinking, and I don’t really want to learn my lines representing the other side, which are also occasionally unsubstantiated bullshit as well.

Eventually they stumbled into environmental issues, and I had to chuckle a little. They’d made some statements earlier about how they’re worried about the world their children and grandchildren would inherit — what kind of world will be left when gays can marry and the government can limit our rights to assault rifles?

Instead, I’d worry about what kind of world our grandchildren will inherit if there are no more intact native ecosystems. I worry about the lonely world we’ll be left with as habitat destruction collapses species diversity. Extinction is a one-way street, and wildlife management without habitat is a fools errand.

Please view exhibit A: A time lapse animation of logging on Oregon’s Siletz River basin since 1984. You can’t create more old growth habitat. When it’s gone, it’s gone.

Here is exhibit B: My friend with a beautiful wild chinook salmon, caught in a small river drainage that depends on big mature trees in that rainforest.

Nate and Nic salmon Trip

My aunt had given me a birthday present, a copy of the Gary Snyder Reader, and in the forward Jim Dodge wrote “Nature bats last.” Eventually we’ll do something stupid and wipe ourselves off the map and nature will eventually rebound in some kind of new form.

But until then, I want to protect and honor what we have and try to pass some of it down to my sons.

Barry Lopez (paraphrasing here, as I don’t have it in front of me…) had written that in indigenous Arctic cultures, the state of happiness was defined as being in the presence of an abundance of animals. I can get with that.

My youngest son and I recently visited a friend and poet Maj Ragain, and we talked a bit about an environmental project I’m working on and he talked about the Buddhist concept of katannu-katavedi. Katannu is a debt, and katavedi is how you pay that debt. Gratitude for everything we’ve been given, all these animals and diversity of beautiful living things.

I guess I’ll spend the next several months with that Gary Snyder reader, and have something wiser to say next time they want to play act and read from their scripts.

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Ohio spring wildlife photos continued…

Getting warmer out… spending more time outdoors with a camera. Stay tuned for more:

Fuzzy Bumble

Ohio Wildflowers

Crappie Eye

Crappie Hawg Time

Barberton Bassmaster

Red ear panfish

Ohio Wildflowers

Buds!

Turtles and trash

Stink!

Ohio Wildflowers

Log Turnin'

Ohio wilfdflowers

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Springtime in Ohio

in the middle of launching a new conservation and publishing project, spending a lot of time out in the wilds of Ohio, looking for wild animals. Here are some new photos.

Eastern Red-backed Salamander

Eastern Red-backed Salamander

Water Snake

Snapping Turtle

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Towpath Trail Beaver March

Cuyahoga sucka

Rocky River Mouth Lake Erie

Ohio wildflowers CVNP

Johnson's Woods

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Paws: Johnson's Woods

Dirt Beetle

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