Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Key Moment

The reports out of the Gulf are conflicting. BP succeeded in sealing the well or they didn't. It's about as clear as the video feed of the gusher a mile down in the steamy waters. When I worked on the shrimp boat, the Trey B, we used to dive off the bridge in the morning to wash the stink of the night work and the rotting off and see the schools of fish coming up from the deep blue and then fishing for ling which was about as easy as I've ever fished for anything. I don't like to read the news reports of the oil spill because it's too depressing. It reminds me of the sinking feeling I used to get when reading of the Exxon Valdez. That sent my wife and I up to Scotland on a two week vacation from our jobs in London to find a way to get back some balance in our lives. We stayed at a place called Erraid which was allied with the Findhorn community. That Exxon Valdez spill was the beginning of a cultural shift which revived the environmental movement for a time in the early nineties. This accident will have the same effect on our consciousness. If the Democrats can go on the offensive and use this midterm election as a referendum on laissez faire capitalism it would be good. Push the people who believe America was built for the get rich quick scheme into a corner. Or to paraphrase a bumper sticker that quotes Sarah Palin I've seen around town. "How's that deregulatory, no government thing working out for ya?" It couldn't be clearer than the black gunk washing up onto the Gulf coast's beaches.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Stain on Us All

Reading Psalm 104 tonight:

"How many are your works, O Lord!
In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
There is the sea, vast and spacious..."

Nobody knows the purpose of creation, but the joy and exuberance of it are hinted at in the words of this song of praise. All of us must be feeling shame at what's happening tonight in the Gulf of Mexico. A month now, and the oil continues to gush from the well a mile below the surface, now the New York Times is saying at a rate far greater than originally estimated, hundreds of thousands of gallons a day, collecting in thick vertical plumes below the surface, sucking the oxygen out of the water and creating vast dead zones.

I worked after college on a Gulf shrimp boat out of Galveston. I remember the nets coming up out of the water bulging with sea life scraped from the sea bed. I thought that was rape, but this beggars the imagination. Drill, baby, drill. Yeah, right. Think again on that one maybe. It's only fair that this should happen in our waters as we suck up 25 percent of the world's fossil fuels to run everything we do. Even the food we eat is oil. I hope Kerry is able to ram home the climate change bill through the Senate, given the timing. We need to begin to shift now away from fossil fuel dependency. Everything is linked to that, even our soaring health care costs on the back of the obesity epidemic, fed by corn syrup which is again, oil. Junk in, junk out. And the GDP reflects expenditures that are really the death throes of a culture that is only now beginning to realize the extremity of the situation. And there's Rush saying that it's only natural, what's to worry about a few slicked bird feathers.

The brain dead, too, have their place, I suppose, but I'll admit if it had been my creation I would have left the Limbaughs of this world and their followers on the drafting floor.

Photo by Associated Press (Dave Martin)

Monday, May 10, 2010

This is the Day as the Grass has Made

We're into the deeper green of a well-watered spring now. The grass is growing inches a day and the sheep are down in the lower field. They can hardly keep up with the rotation. It's taken me a good amount of time to get the mower going. I use it around the house and the blueberries. It's a real work horse, but the ethanol in gasoline gunks it up, and it takes awhile to get the kinks out in the spring. I still need to look at the manual and see what needs to be tightened to improve the traction of the wheels. The engine is working fine now, but there is a belt loose running to the wheels. On the apple front, have finally figured out this year the little pest that wreaks havoc right at petal fall, the tarnished plant bug it's called, and I finally identified the tell-tale browning at the midrib of the leaves and frizzling of the flower buds. One spray of pyrethrum and it looks like it's taken care of. I can take a look at my first Northern Spy. If if it gives off a healthy vibration from the back door I know things are good. Today I gave the trees with substantial blossoms a spray of Surround, which is a fine clay that coats the fruit buds to protect against plum curculio. The curculio lays eggs in the small fruitlets and it has been a problem these last few years. The Surround spray is the only organic option, and it has been only partially effective, due I think to the small numbers of fruit bearing trees we have so far. This year we have double the number, which should reduce the pest pressure. Also I am leaving a trap tree unsprayed to see if that works.
There is no question that apples are a labor intensive crop in this part of the world. In the old days, they used to handle curculio, all hands on deck, going out at dawn and placing a sheet around a tree, then thumping it with a club hammer. The vibrations would send the bug to ground, where they could be rolled up and dispensed with before moving on to the next tree in the row. That might be us if the Surround doesn't fly and I can convince the kids that bushels of apples are worth getting up early for.
But forget the musings on future harvests. The fresh faced trees and the bright sun and cool days, the promise of renewal and future bliss, this is the best of New England -- aside from the bounty of falling leaves in the fall.