Sunday, December 3, 2017

December 3, 2017

Pete Mangiaricini inspired my life long interest in the arts generally and specifically the visual arts when I was in grade school and he was my art teacher. Today is his birthday; Thank you Mr. M.

This morning showed us a great view of a "super moon" - it's brighter (16%) and appears larger (7%) now than at any time in the last 68 years. The moon's orbit is not a perfect circle; it's more oval. It's now both closer to the earth by about 30,000 miles and it's also a full moon. Clicking on images enlarges them.

This morning looking west out my kitchen window towards my West Woods the moon looked like this: -

And a few minutes later look east towards Canada over Lake Huron before the sun rose, I marveled again at "first light" views: -

The soft pastel colors of first lights are amazing.

I've been working for a few weeks in West Woods trimming the dead branches of the evergreens, mostly several kinds of spruce but also some Scots pines, Austrian pines, red pines, white pines, balsams, and even a few enormous birch bark trees, maples, and even one red oak tree. Yesterday I managed to clear a path from the western part of the forest almost to Sans Souci, aka the pole barn. The goal is to be able to walk all the way from Sans Souci to the largest and oldest part of West Wood. I've been leaving all the branches where they fell with the hope that as they decompose they will enrich the soil. Time will tell.

Usually I have one or two feral cats; this year's feline I've named "Tom" as in tomcat! Not very creative but it's an easy to remember name. He, although it could just as easily be she, routinely scouts along the road in for small mammals and probably birds. Although he doesn't come when called, he isn't shy. I'm afraid a car coming in fast could recycle him.

Working in West Wood I found this deer skull half-buried in the soil at the base of a large spruce tree. A few years ago before I had moved here permanently a son of one of my former neighbors here, an erstwhile hunter, shot at but only wounded a deer that escaped. They looked for it extensively on my property before giving up. I didn't really consider him a hunter because they had been feeding deer about 50 yards from their cottage and that's where the deer was wounded as soon as hunting season opened.

I wonder if that deer had found refuge in my forest and hidden in the forest floor hugging branches of that spruce to die. The skull was all I found. Perhaps the rest of the bones were scattered by foxes, raccoons, mice, opossums, feral cats, etc.

Years ago, decades now really, this moose skull was also discovered in situ in a field - not hunted at least by me. As you can no doubt see they are close relatives.

To be perfectly clear. I am not opposed to hunting especially when the normal predator populations have already been decimated by humans. I'm deeply saddened and angered when "hunters" kill animals like African elephants, rhinos, giraffes, lions, bears, wolves, snow leopards, etc. The list unfortunately goes on and on. Of course we have too many deer and Canada geese. Their predators have been removed or severely reduced in number. Many of our problems like the  spread of Lyme and related diseases by tick infested small rodents and deer are, in my opinion, caused by reducing or virtually eliminating predator populations which in turn results in the overpopulation of prey populations. (Increasing the frequency and length of hunting seasons could perhaps reduce the incidence of disease caused by those vector species - one wonders.) Why on earth don't we have vaccinations for those horrific diseases?

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