City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

July 10, 2017

July 2nd

Filed under: Foxglove beardtongue, Smells — canopus56 @ 8:32 pm

Talking Plants – Part II – Disappearance fragrances

7:00 p.m. A summer heat wave is coming and today temperatures almost reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Today, I only do a short jog to the pond above picnic site 5. The Foxglove beardtongues, one of the only remaining flowering plants, have lost their hint of fragrance smelled earlier in the summer season. In late spring and early summer, Purple vetch, Wood’s rose, and wild mint all emitted strong scents.

* * * *

Per Thoreau’s “Journal” on July 2nd, 1852, he notes that “Nature is reported not by him who goes forth consciously as an observer, but in the fullness of life.” On July 2nd, 1851, he notes a bluish tinge on meadows and that milk weeds are blossoming. He sees that distant objects have a bluish tinge. On July 2nd, 1852, he finds a wild rose grouped white elder blossoms and pink meadow-sweet. He describes the rising of a full moon. On July 2nd, 1854, he notes robins and chip-birds singing in the morning, and he records that meadow red lilies are at their peak. On July 2nd, 1855, he sees bobolinks and notes that they make nests in fields. He again measures the temperature of air (93 degrees) and various water bodies (83.5 to 88 degrees). On July 2nd, 1858, he hears many wood-thrushes.

* * * *

Plants emit fragrances early in season to attract the fewer pollinators that available in spring. But during the summer, when pollinators are more numerous, they do not need to attract pollinating insects, and then plants stop making perfumes. (Dudareva 2005, Filella et al 2013). Since it is expensive to produce either perfumes or nectar to attract insects or birds, examples of plants, not necessarily in the canyon, show how tricky and efficient plants can be at husbanding their limited resources. Some plants produce attractive perfumes but short change insects by not producing nectar (Kessler et al 2015). In a meta-review of 18 studies, Junker and Blüthgen at University of Wurzburg found that many plants produce fragrances that concurrently attract pollinators and repel damaging herbivores (Junker and Blüthgen 2010).

* * * *

On July 2nd 1994, a Jewish Chavurah B’Yachad’s Sabbath evening service was planned to be held in City Creek Canyon. In a July 2nd, 1991 letter the Salt Lake Editor, J. N. Pugh argues that City Creek should be returned a nature reservation by excluding cars from the canyon. On July 2nd, 1954, a forest fire “covering a wide area” raged in City Creek Canyon three to four miles above the Salt Capitol building (Salt Lake Telegram). On July 2nd, 1947, the north benches between Dry Fork and Ensign Peak were closed to entry due to the risk of fire (Salt Lake Telegram). On July 2nd, 1916, the Salt Lake Telegram recommended City Creek Canyon for automobile touring. On July 2, 1916, the Salt Lake Telegram jokingly reported that an angler caught a trout from City Creek in the sewer gutters along Main Street.


May 22, 2017

May 22nd (Revised)

Continental Scale Bird Population Trends – Part I

(Science Section Revised May 28th.)

1:30 p.m. It will be a good day. As I ready to leave for the canyon and before even starting the car, a brilliant red House finch lands on a nearby telephone wire and sings happily for five minutes. Bright sunlight floods the canyon, and spring life explodes. There is too much to see, and I am overwhelmed. The roadside heats up with smells of fresh growth, and it mixes with the crisp cool air that rises from the transparent, chilled water of the swift stream. In the first mile, fifty birds are active, all singing in cacophony. The red ozier dogwood bushes are covered with small one-half inch bees with yellow and black abdomens and similarly miniature wasps with black and white striped abdomens. The first Western Yellowjacket wasp of the season lands. Nine Yellow swallowtail butterflies line the first mile with Mourning cloak, White cabbage, Painted Lady, and Spring Azure butterflies. Two Blue-eyed darner dragonflies fly above the road, and one unceremoniously defecates as it passes.

Immediately past Guardhouse Gate, three Warbling vireos exchange calls from the surrounding trees. Along the road to mile 0.3, I can distinguish about fifteen bird songs and calls, but by sound, I can identify the American robin, a Mountain chickadee, the Black-headed grosbeak, and the Song sparrow. A small Blue-gray gnatcatcher (Polioptilidae Polioptila caerulea) jumps parallel to the road along oak branches. Black-chinned hummingbird wings beat loudly.

At the bend in the road above picnic site 3, there is another riot of bird songs in a small cluster. Songs of the House finch, Mountain chickadee and others blend together. Then a blazing Yellow warbler comes of the screen of trees and lands in a nearby branch. The warbler leaves and finally, a Western scrub jay lands on a another branch. I play a recording of one of its kind squawking, the blue shouldered bird replies. This way we have an odd conversation. There is more, but this is enough.

This is the green explosion that the vernal season (February 16th) has been building to since the first of May.

* * * *

Parrish, Norvell and Howe’s Utah bird study covers one state – Utah (Parrish et al. 2007; Novell, Howe and Parrish 2005), but birds are international travellers. Olsen’s Pacific Flyway data is international but regional (Olsen 2017). Because of their dispersal, bird trends also need analysis on the continental scale. In 1966 in response to DDT’s impact on birds, the U.S.G.S. and the Canadian Wildlife Service began the first North American continental Breeding Bird Survey (BBS). However, design of the BBS did not cover weighted areas of differing habitat types (Bart 2005; Parrish et al. 2007 at 11). All survey sites were along roads, and this introduced a bias that would not allow for the study of how changes in habitat affects bird populations (id). Acknowledgement of the need to have coordinated continental scale non-game, longitudinal bird population data led to the establishment of the Partner-in-Fight Working Group (Bart 2005) to supplement the Breeding Bird Survey, and Parrish, Norvell and Howe’s work on Utah riparian habitats was part of the Partners’ system. Governmental agencies, including Utah, consolidate results into the national Breeding Bird Survey database (Sauer 2017; Pardieck 2016). Both the BBS and the Partners-in-Flight programs focus on professionally trained biologists working for or associated with many governmental agencies collecting high quality data by conducting transect surveys over time at the same sites.

Through 2015, the Breeding Bird Survey shows a declining population at 1.4 percent per year in its Western region (Sauer 2017). Plumbeous vireos decline at 2.3 percent per year.

Since the 1990s, concerns grew over what impact climate warming might have on bird populations and a need was perceived to develop management tools to early identify adversely effected bird species, and a management tool, the Partners-in-Flight the Conservation Concern Index was develop to provide guidance under the conditions of uncertainty in estimating local and global bird populations and their trends. The Partners-in-Flight methodology rates stresses on bird populations for 1,154 bird North American bird species (Panjabi et al 2012) based on five non-dimensional, ascending scales ranging from 1 (least concern) to 5 (most concern). The five indices are global population size, breeding geographical distribution, non-breeding geographical distribution, threats to surviving the summer breeding season, threats to surviving the non-breeding season, and population trends, and the combined indices yield a maximum total score of at most 25 denoted as the “Conservation Concern Index”.

Of the five indices, the global breeding population size is the most sensitive. It varies by a geometric growth rate of 10 denoted by a logarithmic index:

5 – World breeding population is less than 50,000 or 5 x 10^4.

4 – World breeding population greater or equal to 50,000 (5 x 10^4) and is less than 500,000 (5 x 10^5).

3 – World breeding population greater or equal to 500,000 (5 x 10^5) and is less than 5,000,000 (5 x 10^6).

2 – World breeding population greater or equal to 5,000,000 (5 x 10^6) and is less than 50,000,000 (5 x 10^7).

1 – World breeding population greater or equal to 500,000,000 (5 x 10^8) (Panjabi et al 2012).

The global breeding distribution index is the second most sensitive. It varies by a geometric growth rate of 3 denoted by a logarithmic index. An index of “5”, or highest concern, corresponds to 80,000 square kilometers or a U.S. state size of about 300 kilometers square. A breeding distribution index of “1”, or least concern, corresponds to 4,000,000 square kilometers, or a continent-sized 2,000 kilometer square(Panjabi et al 2012).

The Populations growth index is the least sensitive. An annual growth decline rate between 0 and 15 percent is rated “3”. Only crashing populations with a growth rate of greater than 50 percent are have an index of “5”.

Logarithmic risk indices are intended to overcome human compression bias, i.e. – our tendency to misinterpret risk over a large range of outcomes (Adams and Smith). Humans overestimate the risk of rare events, like botulism, and under estimate the risk of common events, like heart attack (id) and many natural processes, for example from our hearing and sight, increase sensitivity by a geometric scale. Thus, a logarithm index is a useful abstraction, but it is still often misperceived. If a risk level is expressed in terms of raw data, e.g. a world population breeding size of 50,000 to 500,000,000, this lends to unwarranted accusations of overstating for conservation. Conversely, when confronted with a logarithmic index, the natural human tendency is to erroneously interpret risk as an arithmetic sum. The earthquake Richter scale is a useful, common analogy. An earthquake of 5.0 on the Richter scale will shake the picture frames on your walls, but an earthquake of 7.5, will turn your home into a pile of sticks. The effects are perceived as additive, but in reality the effects are exponential.

To supplement the governmental North American Breeding Bird Survey by applying the Panjabi et al criteria on a global scale, private groups and industry from the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI). NABCI analyses are reported in annual glossy “North American State of the Bird” reports, – e.g. North American Bird Conservation Initiative (2009) and North American Bird Conservation Initiative (2016a). Another useful form of the their results is the annual NABCI Assessment Database, a spreadsheet that allows the user to sort and select birds by risk and habitat North American Bird Conservation Initiative (2016b). The mean of the index is 11.5, and a Conservation Concern Index higher than 13.5 suggests a high level of concern for which further study and action should be taken. A Conservation Concern Index (CCI) of 8.5 to 13.5 denotes moderate concern. This continental scale study provides insights into future threats that might change the currently stable bird diversity and populations totals seen in the canyon. But again, the CCI is a management tool and it does not report additive risk. Because its two key component scales, global breeding size and global breeding area, are logarithmic, the CCI scale conveys an expert opinion of a geometrically or exponentially increasing risk.

Two spring species that are regularly seen in the canyon (May 6th, May 20th) have CCI’s of 13 at the borderline of high concern: Virginia’s warbler and Plumbeous vireo. Others in the moderate concern category and their concern indices are: Broad-tailed Hummingbird (12), Steller’s Jay (11), Dusky Flycatcher (10), American Dipper (10), Black-chinned Hummingbird (10), Mountain Chickadee (10), Townsend’s Solitaire (10), Lazuli Bunting (9), Northwestern Crow (9), Orange-crowned Warbler (9), Western Scrub-Jay (9), and the Western Tanager (9). One commonality between these 13 species of 149 known to visit the canyon are that their non-breeding season ranges are in the southern Mexican highlands or the Pacific Coast lowlands. In short, land development in distant places might reduce their annual appearance in the canyon. But these results should be read in context. The NABCI indices for species found in the canyon generally indicate there is low concern of immediate threats to most species. The diversity of bird species in the canyon is stable. The NABCI “State of Birds” reports are not a trend-based forecast, although their short annual narrative report incorporates conclusions from Christmas Bird Count trend studies by the Audubon Society and governmental Breeding Bird Surveys.

* * * *

On May 22nd, 1914, the newly completed scenic automobile drive up City Creek and along 11th Avenue to be called Wasatch Boulevard will be opened to the public (Salt Lake Tribune). Other park improvements include the new Thirteenth Street Reservoir Park and adding lawn areas to Liberty Park (id).

March 15, 2017

March 15th

Filed under: Ants, People, picnic site 4, Pollution, Smells, spiders, Stream, Water Skimmer — canopus56 @ 7:47 pm

A Day for the Senses

2:00 p.m. Record high temperature – 73 degrees Fahrenheit, and twenty degrees above average. Warm sun beats down. Insects continue to respond to these record highs. Box Elder bugs pass their R reproduction explosion yesterday and are diminished, but now the spiders respond. I stop counting at fifty small spiders scurrying across the road. They are oblivious to the larger world around them, and in places, I have to jump from side to side to avoid crushing them. Ants become active and run onto the round. At the pond at picnic site 4, three Water striders, the first of the new year, return. Butterflies sparsely float along the road. As yesterday, the warmth brings out numerous people and on another workday, many families with strollers are out. The stream still runs high with the early snowpack melt, and at rock pours, City Creek begins to look like its high mountain relatives. The water cascades over rocks and falls into agitated white pools. The stream is usually brown colored from the milky dust in the runoff that is only slightly opaque, but the water is set off against the brown of the creek bottom. This contrasts with the water of the boiling white, agitating eddies that creek into blue-green wedges. The silver ribbon returns for some stream sections (Dec. 26th).

At picnic site 4, I stop to do a chore. There is plastic child’s bucket that has been tangled in the low-hanging bushes on the far bank of the stream. I have grown tired of this piece of trash, and today, I have brought my river sandals. I change shoes and then wade across the two foot deep pond to remove the trash. The runoff is only slightly cold and afterward I am refreshed. As I wade across, a great plume of silt is raised, and the pond turns light brown for about five minutes. I now understand Salt Lake’s 1894 Mayor Baskin’s February 6th, 1895 comment that the City’s “inhabitants have been compelled to drink and use for culinary purposes very muddy, unwholesome and unpalatable water,” and why the City prohibited fishing in the stream beginning in 1895 (Salt Lake Tribune, June 19, 1895). Although the stream bed is made of rocks, the rocks are not natural. In 1896, this section of stream was lined with rip-rapp in order to reduce both sediment and to keep stream water from seeping into the true silt base hidden below the rocks (Salt Lake Herald, May 20 and July 26, 1896). Over the last one-hundred and ten years, the rip-rap has been covered with silt.

At milepost 1.5, a fresh katabatic wind blows up canyon, and between wind, the warm sun, and relaxing wade in the cool mountain stream, I mind cannot help to wander and just enjoy this feast for the senses.

In Thoreau’s “Journal” on March 15th, 1857, he observes trout swimming in a zig-zag pattern. On March 15th, 1860, he admires a circling hen-hawk.

January 12, 2017

January 11th

Filed under: Colors, mile 1.2, Owl, River birch, Smells, Weather — canopus56 @ 1:52 am

Water Birch Bark

3:00 p.m. Temperatures remain in the high forties, and in the morning there is heavy rain shower. Eighty-percent o the snow has been stripped from both canyon walls, and even in the shaded road, the snow is half gone. The air is smells heavy with moisture and the earth. The bark of the river or water birch trees have changed to a light silver color. I compare today’s color with a photograph taken on September 23rd, and during the summer and autumn, the bark of the same tree at picnic site 3 was dark gray.

7:00 p.m. During a second jog in the dark, at mile 1.2 two owls are having a call and response session. I cannot locate them by sound other than to obtain a general direction. Their low-pitched calls travel great distances.

In Thoreau’s “Journal” on January 11th, 1852, he sees green patches of light in overcast sky at sunset. On January 11th, 1859, he records a -22 degree Fahrenheit temperature and hears the frozen ground loudly cracking open. On January 11th, 1861, Thoreau examines the contents of a crow shot by a neighbor in order to during the crow’s diet. He finds apples, berries, acorns, the bones of small animals and a pebble.

January 9, 2017

January 9th

Filed under: Geology, Smells, Weather — canopus56 @ 10:09 pm

External Link to Image

Wasatch Mountain Range Front in Salt Lake Valley, Utah: Schematic of  Gross Geologic Structure. Not to scale. Looking east. After Stokes (1999) and Maebius (1999). T=Tertiary, J=Jurassic, Tr=Triassic, P=Permian, Pn=Pennsylvanian, M=Mississippian, C=Cambrian. Dotted line: Tertiary formation at south-west end of City Creek and Paleozoic Layers starting at north-east end of the canyon.

A Geologic “U”

4:00 p.m. It has rained heavily overnight with temperatures reaching into the fifties and in this unusual weather event, much of the snow in the lower canyon has been washed away. During my short jog in the canyon, the air during is pungent with new earth smells.

In addition to Pleasant Valley and Cemetery faults forming in the shape of a giant question mark (January 2nd), Van Horn and Crittenden’s 1987 geologic map also show how geologic layers in Salt Lake City are bent and tilted into a massive “U”-shaped synclinial structure (Stokes, 150; Van Horn and Crittenden 1987; Maebius 1999). Looking edge on to the Wasatch Front Mountain Range between Ensign Peak and City Creek to the north and Lone Peak to the south, flat layers of sediment are pinched by the up-ward push of East Canyon Fault and the Pre-Cambrian Farmington clayers on the north and the upward force of the intrusive granite of Little Cottonwood Canyon and Lone Peak on the south. A helpful visualization is to bend a few pieces of paper by holding the narrow ends of the sheets, and then look edge on at the long side. The north end of the valley is City Creek in your left hand and the south end of the valley is in your right hand. You are looking east towards Park City and Denver. Looking east at the Wasatch Front Mountain Range between Ensign Peak and City Creek to the north and Lone Peak to the south, flat layers of sediment are pinched by the up-ward push of East Canyon Fault and the Pre-Cambrian Farmington Complex layers on the north (Yonkee and Eaton 1999) and the upward force of the intrusive granite of Little Cottonwood Canyon and Lone Peak on the south (Stokes, 151, Fig. 15-14). The low point of this U-shaped bend is under the ridge between Emigration Canyon and Parley’s Canyon (id).

Originally, these layers where flat. In the 1600’s, Danish geologist Nicholas Steno first postulated the principle of original horizontality and the law of geologic superposition. The principle of horizontality assumes that geologic layers were originally deposited in flat layers, and the law of superposition assumes that newer geologic layers are laid down on top of older layers in the style of a tiramisu dessert. Other forces of nature then distort the original flat layers into the forms that we see today. Hintze and Kowallis and Yonkee and Easton summarize the total depth of the deposition layer below City Creek Canyon and the Wasatch Front. Adding the maximal depths for each of thirty-nine layers in Hintze, I find a maximum deposition of about 64,500 feet or about 12.1 miles (Hintze, 184, Stratigraphic Chart 34). This is about eleven times the height of Lone Peak above the Salt Lake Valley floor. Stokes roughly sketches the bottom of this great “U” shaped syncline at 10 miles beneath Parley’s canyon (Stokes, 151).

A consequence of this “U” shaped syncline is that the rocks of the same geologic age are expressed at the surface at each end of the “U”. Thus, six hundred and fifty million year old pre-Cambrian layers are found in both on the north in Farmington Canyon, Utah and again on the south end of the valley at the prominent north flank of Mt. Olympus and at the top of Big Cottonwood Twin Peaks at the south end of the valley (Yonkee and Eaton; Stokes, 151). These are followed by five-hundred and fifty year old Cambrian layers on the north side of City Creek Canyon (Sept. 1st; Stokes, 151; Van Horn and Crittenden; Maebius). Three-hundred and fifty million year-old Mississippian limestones are found on the north end of the valley at the south side of City Creek Canyon near Black Mountain and again on the south end of the valley at the north side of Neff’s Canyon. Two-hundred and twenty year old Triassic Thaynes Canyon Formation limestone can be found on the north end of the valley on the south side of Dry Fork Canyon and again on the south end of the valley beneath Grandeur Peak (Van Horn and Crittenden; Maebius). Two-hundred million year old Jurassic sandstone layers are found on the north at south massive of the Red Butte in Red Butte Canyon and on the south at the north side of Parley’s Canyon (Maebius).

At about 10 miles (15-16 kilometers) below the surface of the Front, the bottom of these “U” shaped brittle layers and the Wasatch Fault scrape along a ductile transition layer between supracrustal rocks and the North American continental plate (Hintze, 120, Fig. 155; Hintze, 125, Fig. 164); Stokes, 151, Fig. 15-14; Hintze, 68, Figs. 95-96). The North American Plate continues its expansion and drift to the east at the rate of 1-2 millmeters per year (Hintze, 120, Fig. 155). As a simple model, take a spoon in one-hand, and its curved bottom represents the faults along the Wasatch fault the merge under the western half of the valley. Represent the force of the continental plate by pushing with your index finger on the tip of the spoon. This forces the spoon up and toward the vertical. The same occurs with along the Wasatch Front, and the eastward force of the expanding continental plate generates a magnitude 7.0 earthquakes about every 6,000 years (Hintze, 126, Fig. 164). At one to two millimeters per year, 6 to 12 thousand millimeters represents about 20 to 40 feet of horizontal movement at the ductile transition layer 10 miles below the surface.

As a final model demonstration, fold your paper sheet representing the Wasatch Front along the long edge in four places, grab the ends and tilt the far long-edge of the paper above the front end. The left most fold, similar to the ruffle of a skirt, represents City Creek Canyon, one of the eight Wasatch Front Canyons in Salt Lake County. While thirty-five million year old Tertiary rocks are eroded away south of City Creek, in the canyon, a small “U”-shaped cup holds a remnant of Utah’s volcanic Tertiary past, the volcanic breccia found at canyon mile 1.1 near picnic site 7 (Jan. 7th). The right most edge of the sheets represents Lone Peak, the subsurface igneous intrusion also formed during the Tertiary (Ut. Geo. Survey, Pub. Info. 87; Hintze, 151).

In Thoreau’s “Journal” on January 9th, 1852, he again notes light blue shadows in snow hollows, and he notes that such shadows occur when falling snow filters out other colors of light. On January 9th, 1858, he comments on the various paths that falling snowflakes take to the ground.

On January 9th, 1918, City Water Commission C. Clarence Nelsen, who was later mayor of Salt Lake City from 1920 to 1928, proposed a reforestation plan for City Creek Canyon and the conversion of the canyon into a giant park (Salt Lake Telegram). Nelson proposed reforesting several thousand acres in Salt Lake City watershed canyons. Born in 1879, Nelson reminisced,

I can remember when in my boyhood days, City Creek canyon and other watersheds of the city were well timbered. The streams then delivered more water than they do now or at least their flow was more uniform. Since then however the trees have been burnt or cut away. Now is our opportunity to repair that damage. This generation may profit little from the reforestation but the next one will profit immensely and even a small tree will conserve some water. The reforestation will in time add much to the beauty of City creek (id).

See also, same, January 10th, 1918 (Salt Tribune and Salt Lake Herald). (See May 10th, 1918, Salt Lake Tribune, regarding the planting of 2,000 trees.) On January 9, 1913, the Commercial Club urged, due to a recent freeze that cut off all water to the City, that the City build a 5,000,000 gallon reservoir at Pleasant Valley in City Creek Canyon (Salt Lake Telegram). On January 9th, 1927, the 375 member Wasatch Mountain Club described its hikes sponsored during 1927, including a hike along the west ridge of City Creek Canyon (Salt Lake Telegram).

September 23, 2016

September 22nd, Fall

Filed under: Bicyclist, Light, Meadow Mile 1.3, People, Pleasant Valley, Runners, Smells, Weather — canopus56 @ 10:31 am

I am Happy that I am Happy Jogging in the Dark

7:30 p.m. First day of Fall. It’s been raining on and off for most of the day and evening in the Canyon, the storm clouds are formed solid layer about 1,500 feet above the valley floor. This just touches the ridge lines on either side of the canyon at the meadow at Mile 1.3, and beneath the cloud bottoms, a light dusting of snow can be seen on Little Twin Peaks.

This is a typical storm for the last week of September. After a dry summer, a low cloud layer backs up against Wasatch Front mountains , and great bolts of lightening travel horizontally between clouds. Generally, the lightning is silent but occasionally, the flash is followed by loud “crack”. It is not uncommon for these storms to begin in the evening and to last all night. Lightning in the early hours of the morning often wakes the city up or when lightening hits an electrical line, it plunges portions of the city Into darkness for a few hours.

These early fall storms are a harbinger of the winter to come. In a wet year, these storms can last up to 10 days. In a wet year, these heavy early storms blanket the high Wasatch mountains with snow, and young hard-core backcountry skiers, eager to prove their manhood by putting themselves against nature, race to the highest peaks in order to claim the informal prize of laying “first tracks” in this season’s snow. But in a drought year, and this is a drought year, these storms last one or two days, and then are followed by a couple of days of sunshine. By the first week of October, the storms end, and the weather again becomes warm. But around the first day of November, an early winter grips northern Utah. Then over two or three-days, temperatures will drop 30 degrees, and overnight sub-freezing temperatures will be the norm until next March.

Tonight it has become dark, and while I jog through the storm protected by my rain poncho, after a lightning flash, a very heavy downfall ensues. The air is tinged with a sharp clean scent of winter. Under the running poncho, I am dry but my shoes are wet. Although dark, the road is still well lit. The city lights reflect off below clouds, and the road is covered in a mirror like surface of rain. This surface reflects the light coming off the bottom of the clouds, and so seeing is not difficult. This is a special form of light known to most Salt Lake City residents: light reflected off the streets at night during and just after a storm where the air is thick with moisture. The effect is caught in the Salt Lake Cityscapes of a local artist, Kathryn Horne. The sound of raindrops hitting my poncho and the ebb and flow of the wind through the trees makes for a meditative and relaxing jog, notwithstanding the cold and wet. Last night at this same spot in Pleasant Valley of the canyon, crickets roared in unison with a loud song, but with tonight’s pounding rain, all insect and animal life huddle in silence under the woodland canopy.

Lest you think that I’m crazy, I am not alone. Another runner zips by. He in his seventies and although he is more than ten years my senior, he still runs two or three times faster than I can ever hope to ever jog. A mountain biker also passes. At the mouth of the canyon, three runners stand next to their cars, who are dressed in light running clothes, talk to one another as if the downpour does not exist. Their clothes are drenched, but they are grinning.

I mean the following with no sense of animus or superiority over my fellow members of our modern consumer society, but I am happy that I am happy jogging in the dark and in the rain. Although I am dry under my poncho, my shoes are wet. I am happy that I am happy not doing what I would otherwise be doing: sitting in the steel white light of a computer or television screen watching the just released season of new entertainment shows. A marketing t-shirt currently popular among young people expresses a similar sentiment: “Just shut up and run.”

It is 11 o’clock p.m. when I finally get around to a dinner of hot stew, and it is still raining heavily outside. The earlier wet run and the continuing rain makes the stew taste all that much better. Tonight, fierce Winter made its first assault on gentle Summer, and for a time it seemed like Winter would overwhelm Summer’s defenses. But just and kind Autumn intervenes, she raises her sword, and she deters Winter for another month. But Winter will return and will prevail. By jogging in the dark, I will be ready for his return already adapted for the cold and with a strong , welcoming heart.


September 21, 2016

September 14th

Filed under: Astronomy, Gambel's Oak, Moon, Plants, Smells, Weather — canopus56 @ 1:22 am

Cricket Song by Moonlight

9:30 p.m. I do not reach the canyon until late. It is night and overcast, but a full Moon is above the clouds, and thus, the canyon is well lit. Last night and today the canyon has received substantial rainfall, and the roadside dry brush gives off a pungent nutty smell. It has become so cold, that tonight I must wear two undershirts, a wind-breaker, and gloves to jog, and my breath is visible. At mile 1.3, the meadow crickets are silent, but the crickets under the Gambel’s oaks continue their singing. There is a break in the clouds between storm fronts, and the full Moon shines through. Its light casts shadows and the undersides of clouds have a yellow-brown ting. The air is sufficiently clear that I can see the bright spots of craters Aristarchus and Tycho on the Moon’s disk.

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