Practicing to be Ferocious

Grizzly sow and cubs by the side of the roadhappy family

 grizzly cub from car-2

The only times I have seen a grizzly sow with cubs have been from the car. That’s probably a good thing. Apparently if she chooses the time and place of an encounter, it’s OK to be around humans. grizzly cub (from car)Surprising her in the backcountry is a different story.grizzly tush (from car)

Then she doesn’t really want to kill you – just to neutralize you, i.e. to ensure you are not a threat to the family. Just what that entails depends upon the circumstances. Over the years I have developed some theories about bears. Men may be more at risk than women. Bears know the difference (just like my collies do when I walk at night), and the attacks, while always isolated and infrequent, seem to involve men more often. Also, if you are hiking on a trail, bears expect you. The trail must smell like humans, so your being there is probably no surprise. Bears can hear and smell really well, so seeing one on the trail is highly unlikely. They are eager to avoid an encounter.

Off trail is different. Madame Grizzly may attack first and ask questions never. Bear spray will be of no use, since bears move like greased lightning. We choose to be quiet on the trail and hope for the best. We do go to Yellowstone to see wildlife. Others wear bells, which we don’t hear until the wearer is in plain view; carry spray; or even blow a whistle or carry a radio. The National Park Service makes people frantic with their bear attack warnings.

On our last trip to Yellowstone, a fellow was hiking down the trail with an unsheathed ax. I wondered on what life form he planned to use this weapon and was quite relieved to get back to the car. How can we worry about grizzlies when humans are so unpredictable?

This poem was written about another trail…


Bear convention down the trail
round toes, pointed nails,
big tracks, little tracks,
grizzly bear, black.
Native woodsmen won’t be seen,
not, at least, today,
scent of human signals them
to simply melt away.

from Songs for a Beloved Friend, Poems and Essays for the Planet

 Back to Yellowstone tomorrow!

Posted in national parks, Poems, wilderness, Yellowstone | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sights and Sounds of Yellowstone in Late Spring/Western Meadowlark

Western meadowlark

Western meadowlark


Western Meadowlark, Yellowstone, May 2014
Posted in Birds, national parks, wilderness, Yellowstone | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Recovery Uncovered

I can’t get this right, so I’m posting two poems.  Feel free to leave me feedback about which one you prefer or don’t.

Recovery Uncovered

 Shards of rage and jealousy
pierce the soul
shatter friendship
wound family

pain’s disposition a lasting bequest
recovery uncovered – life’s unwelcome guest

Edvard Munch’s The Scream
The Scream - Edvard Munch

(Recovered) Alcoholic’s Lament


 Rage and jealousy lie buried together
in a shallow grave
scrape the surface and find them
companions fit to shatter any structure
crumbling all foundations
undermining friendship
destroying family

 Recovery uncovered
cracks exposed
wounds festering


Shards may pierce your soul

Some of you will worry, so I feel compelled to add that this is not about me or my family.
The Scream is in the public domain.
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Backpacking at Wolf Lake in Yellowstone

This July we backpacked into Wolf Lake in Yellowstone National Park.  Wolf Lake ranks as one of my most special places.  Its beauty is wild and calm; the Gibbon River babbles through the meadow here.  In a short while, the river’s flow and drop become ferocious. But at Wolf Lake, the world is gentle.

The bugs were wicked, but the chance to spend time in the park and on the water made them bearable.  Comfortable in the backcountry now, in a way I never was as a young adult, I can relax and enjoy my surroundings. 

Time changes when one backpacks.  There is no need to mind the clock, to rush along and be back to the car before dark.  Distance is halved; there’s plenty of time to sit by lakes and streams, to watch birds and waterfowl, to contemplate the clouds, and to swim if one chooses.  We did choose. 

morning mist at Wolf LakeThe first time we swam in Wolf Lake, loons and geese came out of nowhere to greet us.  I thought this was a coincidence, until it happened every time we got in the water.  Loons were nesting in our favorite spot, so we camped farther afield.
moon risingLoon voices are varied and magical. Visit this Cornell Lab of Ornithology website to hear them. Here’s our audio file with one of their calls.

In the evenings, we heard another loon call sounding much more like a wolf than a bird.

On the return trip, we stopped at Ice Lake for lunch and a swim.  The swans, normally so aloof, started moving toward us the moment we got in the water.  So did the loon.  (The same or a different one?)  Who were these strange water creatures?

Yellowstone Lake
Yellowstone LakeYellowstone Lake



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Honey Moon, Keep A-Shining in June…*

Honey Moon over Mountains, June 13, 2014

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* from By the Light of the Silvery Moon by Gus Edwards and Edward Madden
I tried hard to locate public domain audio of this song, but can find it only at the end of a Turner Classic Movie trailer for the movie of the same name.  Thirty seconds of advertising may precede the video – apologies! Listen to Doris Day and Gordon MacRae.

The night before wasn’t bad, either:

night before HM-1 night before HM-2

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Brooklyn in Blue

Winter biking to hydroponic spring gardens, Brooklyn looks good in blue

Brooklyn spring garden

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Earth Hour – 29 March 2014


I can’t wait to see the stars!

Originally posted on Mungai and the Goa Constrictor:

Today, Saturday 29th March 2014, billions of peoplein over one hundred and fifty countries (that means over seven thousand cities) will turn out the lights. A World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) initiative, dating back to 2007, has once again united the world in an effort to bring attention to energy consumption, sustainability and climate change issues.

This remarkable annual global occurrence takes place between 8.30 pm and 9.30 pm (YOUR) local time.  Starting in New Zealand and ending in Tahiti, lights of some of the world’s most iconic monuments, landmarks and skylines will be switched off. Many will also turn off their televisions, computers, Xboxes and PlayStations, and any other power-driven gadgets they have.  

This is undoubtedly the largest ever collaboration to help safeguard the planet, and numbers of participants are growing every year. The hour has, in many places, evolved into something much longer. Environmental projects are taking…

View original 213 more words

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Gray Wolf Protection/ U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Extends Comment Period

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is the federal agency charged with administering the Endangered Species Act (ESA) on land. wikipedia/Endangered Species Act  The ESA was enacted by Congress in 1973 and has been called “the Magna Carta” of the environmental movement”. –Historian Kevin Starr, quoted in Wikipedia above.

USFWS is required to use fact and science to decide which wild creatures will be added to or removed from ESA protections.  This is a tall order for a politically-impassioned reality that encompasses wolves.  It seems fair to say that USFWS has not yet lived up to its mandate.

The currently-proposed USFWS rule would remove wolves from the ESA in the remaining 45 states where they continue to enjoy federal protection.  USFWS recently extended the comment period on this proposed rule until March 27, 2014.  The comment period was extended to give those interested an opportunity to speak about a recently-issued independent scientific peer review report on USFWS’s proposal.

This report was prepared by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at the University of California, Santa Barbara (NCEAS).  It discusses the benefits wolves bring to ecosystems they inhabit and NCEAS’ conclusions that the present state of wolf recovery does not justify removing them from ESA protection.

It is important to understand what the proposed USFWS rule will and will not do.  Wolves in three states – Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana – have already been removed from federal protection.  This was accomplished a few years ago by congressional action on a “must-pass-or-the-government-will-cease-to-function” budget bill.   This bill included the wolf de-listing proviso; many voted for it who might otherwise have opted to continue wolf recovery.  The legislation stipulated that each of the three states submit to the USFWS a plan for the management of wolves within their state.  When USFWS approved the plan, as it has done in all three states, hunting could begin.  Wyoming’s “shoot on sight” management plan was approved and is in effect.  Wolf numbers are down by huge percentages in these states. 

Sadly, nothing about the proposed rule will change this.  Wolf hunting in these three states will continue whether or not the proposed rule is promulgated.  The only fix for Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, where most wolves in the lower 48 are located, will be either congressional action or a wholesale change in attitude.  The proposed rule anticipates removing federal protections for wolves elsewhere in the lower 48 states. 

Nevertheless, opposing this rule is important.  Wolves have not recovered; removing them from ESA protection throughout the U.S. would insure they never will.

Please raise your voices for those without a voice:

Submit your comment to USFWS by March 27 by following this link:!submitComment;D=FWS-HQ-ES-2013-0073-43030

and sign the petition circulated by Congressman Peter DeFazio of Oregon and directed to USFWS Director Dan Ashe:

Thank you!

Posted in Department of the Interior, ecology, Nature, politics, science, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, wolves | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Wolves Give Life

This gorgeous video comes courtesy of Shelley Coldiron, executive director of W.O.L.F.,  and Amelia Curzon, who blogs at Mungai and the Goa Constrictor  The video explores the ways in which wolves are regenerating the ecosystem in Yellowstone National Park and even changing the course of rivers!

As regular visitors for years to Yellowstone, we have noticed the change in elk and even buffalo behavior.  More wary and alert, elk do not graze, heads down, for long periods in one location.  They watch and move.  We assumed this was a learned response to wolf re-introduction.  And now the beneficial effect on vegetation, streams and rivers, and the animals who congregate there is becoming clear.

Wolves renew, taking the weak and the sick, who might otherwise die of starvation; leaving the strong to procreate, returning balance to the areas they inhabit.  Like fire, like wolves.  The fire that cleanses, purifies, makes room, restores, renews, regenerates, gives life.  Like fire, like wolves.

Wolves give life!  Let us raise our voices in praise!

A note to my special blogging friends on WordPress, whose work I adore:

Please forgive me for being less responsive of late.  I have begun two projects, potentially major.  Both involve wolves.  These projects are in the thinking, planning, and researching stages.  In order to get them off the ground, I will have to join with other people – Yikes!!  I have always preferred to work alone, and that will have to change!  I must be more like a wolf in cooperative effort – my survival is at stake, too.

When the project is something more than an idea, I want to share it with you and get your feedback.  In the meantime, I am thinking of you and hoping what is dear to your hearts is also bearing fruit.  Blessings to you, dear Bloggers!

The “deer” in the video are really elk, but this has no effect on the point made.
Posted in blogging, Department of the Interior, ecology, national parks, Nature, politics, science, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, wilderness, wolves, Yellowstone | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Belly Laughs for Breakfast

I have a TV screen in the kitchen, where I often indulge my addiction to Turner Classic Movies (TCM) while I cook.  Today I saw a few snippets from the middle of Tugboat Annie, a 1933 classic with Marie Dressler and Wallace Beery.  Both Dressler and Beery have the most expressive voices and faces – faces which could launch a thousand tugboats.
Here’s what I heard:

Wallace Beery dancing with Marie Dressler:

 You seem to have more feet than most people!

And she to him earlier in the movie when talking about his uncomfortable new shoes:

 I told you to wear the box they came in!

A drunken Wallace Beery talking about his erstwhile employer:

I wouldn’t spit on him if he was on fire!

Marie Dressler to her son (Robert Young) about Beery:

Your father never struck me in his life!!! … except in self defense!

Maybe you had to be there!  Cheers and good belly laughing!

Posted in humor, Movies | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments