Monday, April 21, 2014

More Fracking in PA?...and Ultrarunning

Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett continues to be an anti-environmental corporate stooge for the natural gas industry (AKA Fracking Central):

A recent quote from him in the Sierra Club newsletter:

When reporter Matt Paul asked for a response to the Sierra Club's statement that we should be protecting public lands and not exploiting them, Corbett responded: "...there is a huge source of natural gas underneath the state parks, that is the state's.  I don't believe in just leaving it there."

Fervently hoping that he will be only a one-term train wreck instead of getting reelected this year and continuing the damage.

The link to Ultrarunning comes of course from the risks of despoiling our beloved backcountry.  It would be wise to remember the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964 which established the National Wilderness Preservation System.

The bill passed the House with only 1 Nay vote, and the Senate 78-8, and was signed by President Johnson.  The first few words of the Act--even more true today than 50 years ago--read:

In order to assure that an increasing population, accompanied by expanding settlement and growing mechanization, does not occupy and modify all areas within the United States and its possessions, leaving no lands designated for preservation and protection in their natural condition, it is hereby declared to be the policy of the Congress to secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness.

Enough said.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Cats in Art: Two Wild Cats (Marc)

Happy Easter!

From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art. I'm using some ideas from the coffee table book, The Cat in Art, by Stefano Zuffi.

This is my sixteenth and probably final post on Franz Marc (1880-1916), a key German painter whose life tragically ended early on the Western Front in 1916. Maybe he even knew my great-grandfather. 

Image credit The Atheneum, hereTwo Wild CatsFranz Marc, 1913, watercolor and pencil on postcard,  5.5" x  3.5", held in a private collection.

As we saw the past two weeks, here's a third tiny image--again postcard sized--this time of a couple of spotted kitties.  Are they lynx?  Leopards?  Or does "wild" in the title merely mean that they are feral domestic kitties?

In any case, working from a smaller image, I initially had trouble figuring out how the cat on the right is posed.  Turns out its head is pointed straight down (its face actually pointing into its own belly) so as to be quite close to the head of the kitty on the left.  And what's not to like about a cat with blue spots?

Marc gets it completely right here in capturing the essence of catness: they seem relaxed, comfortable with each other, and seeming saying, "Today is a fine day to be a cat!"

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Henry David Thoreau...and Ultrarunning

The Quote of the Day on 16 April, from REFDESK:

I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. - Henry David Thoreau

Yeah, I'd say on the trail one certainly should "...advance confidently in the direction of his dreams..."  In so doing you are likely to meet with success.

The Thoreau quote--while not written about Ultrarunning but appropriate nevertheless--reminded me of an Ayn Rand quote from Atlas Shrugged that I once used as part of my signature block:

He knew that he felt an odd, joyous, light-hearted self confidence.  He knew that these were the right steps down the trail he had glimpsed.

This was a great novel from the standpoint of the craft of writing....though Rand's political and economic philosophies are totally abhorrent to me.  But under the concept that even a blind squirrel will occasionally find an acorn, even Rand can turn a phrase that will resonate with someone for a totally different reason than the original intent.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Bloodroot is Blooming

[Bloodroot, image credit Gary]

Today I had the bride drop me off a few miles to the east, from which point I ran home, taking full advantage of a nice tailwind.

Along the way I passed a farmer's woodlot, a rocky knob that can't be cultivated, as the forest floor was just covered with clumps of bloodroot.  I have a bunch in my own yard in similar habitat, but mine are lagging this area by a few days due to its differing sun exposure.

The plant gets its name from its deep red roots, and is one of the early wildflowers here in south-central PA.  The leaves are deeply lobed and kinda reminiscent of watermelon leaves.  When I see it I know that spring is truly here.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Cats in Art: Two Reclining Black Cats (Marc)

From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art. I'm using some ideas from the coffee table book, The Cat in Art, by Stefano Zuffi.

This is my fifteenth post on Franz Marc (1880-1916), a key German painter whose life tragically ended early on the Western Front in 1916. Maybe he even knew my great-grandfather. This will be a multi-week series (I am still uncovering his cat works)

Image credit The Atheneum, hereTwo Reclining Black CatsFranz Marc, 1913, India ink and opaque colors on postcard,  3.5" x  5.5", held in a private collection.

As we saw last week, here's another tiny image--postcard sized--this time of a couple of black kitties.  And covered with gray triangles that to me resemble nothing so much as cat ears (or shark's teeth, if you prefer).

These guys are alert and ready for whatever the painter may have in mind...but for now, just laying there is good enough.

Friday, April 11, 2014

DC's Cherry Blossoms...and Ultrarunning

Finally--after living within 100 miles of Washington DC for some 40 years now--the bride and I made it to see the legendary cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin:

[image credits Gary]

We had a great time being tourists, and the floral display was indeed stunningly beautiful.

The link to Ultrarunning, of course, is seeing posies on the trail.  The flat-out best display ever that I have been sites to is the Virginia Bluebells along Bull Run creek in northern VA (site of the 50 miler of the same name), and the same flower found along the C+O Canal in the vicinity of milepost 103, upstream of Williamsport, MD.

They should be blooming within a couple weeks.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

William Wordsworth....and Ultrarunning

From the Writer's Almanac for 7 April--always a good read, and you can get daily free emails.

We learn here of the English poet William Wordsworth, who was born on 7 April 1770 in the unfortunately-named town of Cockermouth:

He was always a fan of long hikes, and in 1790 he took a break from college at Cambridge to embark on a walking tour of Europe. While hiking through the Alps, he found inspiration in nature, and later said, "Perhaps scarce a day of my life will pass by in which I shall not derive some happiness from those images." After he left the Alps, he spent some time in France during the French Revolution, and through his exposure to it, Wordsworth became interested in the "common man" — mainly his voice and his concerns. 

The connection to Ultrarunning is, of course, Wordsworth's passion for the backcountry, and his ability to capture it in verse.  Here's an example of seeing some beautiful daffodils, which are coming on strong right now here in southern Pennsylvania:

I wandered lonely as a cloud 
That floats on high o'er vales and hills, 
When all at once I saw a crowd, 
A host, of golden daffodils; 
Beside the lake, beneath the trees, 
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed - and gazed - but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Oldie but Goodie

With the arrival of April, for some strange reason a joke from 50 years ago sprang unbidden to my mind:

If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring?


There. Now try to get that out of your head.