Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Photography is one of the many things I wish I could do better. However, I suspect that what I need is not just more patience, skill and practice, but also some fancy, and maybe expensive, equipment.

While I work on those things, I'll direct you to the fabulous San Francisco Citizen, who posts regularly about all kinds of SF related stuff, including some truly fabulous pictures. Lately they've covered foxes, damselflies and some pretty graphic bird poops.

Please, pay them a visit.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

a miner forest

Miner's lettuce
(Claytonia perfoliata)

Native to the western mountain and coastal regions of North America, Miner's lettuce is found from Alaska to Central America. It's common in the spring, and prefers cool, damp conditions., often appearing in sunlit areas after the first heavy rains. As days get hotter and the leaves dry out, they turn from green to a deep red color.

The common name "Miner's lettuce" refers the plant's use by California gold rush miners who ate it to get their vitamin C to prevent scurvy. People still eat miner's lettuce as a leaf vegetable, most commonly raw in salads, sometimes boiled like spinach.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Birding at the End of Nature

The Life of the Skies: Birding at the End of Nature"

Locations: Main Library Koret Auditorium
Address: 100 Larkin St. (at Grove)
Library Sponsored Public Program

Event Time: 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m., Tuesday February 3
Author Jonathan Rosen discusses his book, "The Life of the Skies". Copies of the book will be available to purchase for the author to sign. Cosponsored by the Stegner Environmental Center.

Twelve years ago, at age 30, Rosen (Joy Comes in the Morning, 2004, etc.) took a class in bird-watching and found a new way of seeing. Through the "sanctioned voyeurism" of his new passion, he began noticing everything in Central Park, just two blocks from his Manhattan apartment: the birds, to be sure, but also connections between humans and the wild, the pleasure of lists and classifications, his own unexpected hungers and urges. In these pages Rosen mingles accounts of his own experiences in the field with those of others from Henry David Thoreau and Alfred Russel Wallace to the Yiddish journalist Abraham Cahan to convey the lure of a pastime pursued by 47.8 million Americans. Bird-watching, he declares, is "simultaneously marginal and utterly central to the business of being human." Looking at the feathered creatures that are the dinosaurs' closest living relatives satisfies his craving for wildness and makes him feel whole. Rosen's text covers wide ground. Interesting facts include the bleak statistic that half of all migrating birds die on the journey. Among the famous birders profiled are John James Audubon, who killed and impaled hundreds of birds in order to resurrect them in paintings, and President Theodore Roosevelt, who burst into a cabinet meeting declaring he had just seen a chestnut-sided warbler. The author recounts pursuits of rare birds, from Wallace's search for the bird of paradise to his own unsuccessful quest to spot the ivory-billed woodpecker in the Big Woods of Arkansas. Readers will close the book understanding the magic he feels at his favorite spring in Central Park during the day's last hour of light, when birds come to drink.Combining memoir, history and science, Rosen's gracefully written chapters form an exquisitely crafted meditation on life and nature, as well as a splendid introduction to bird-watching.

( Kirkus Reviews 2007 November #2)