Beauty without Substance is Hollow!

The miles through Quebec roll on and on. The forests, hillsides, lakes, and streams are exceptionally pretty. But where is the animal life? We have traveled great distances without seeing a thing. What is wrong? Why? Satisfaction has escaped us. Other less glamorous areas, where animals can be seen, are much more enjoyable. As we travel back west through the prairie country, the scenery is less spectacular, but a few mammals grazing the grasslands and waterfowl in every pothole make things so very much more interesting!

The natural earth, with its vegetation and geology, is a glorious place. However, it seems sterile if there is nothing around to utilize the habitat! Fish in the streams, birds in the trees, reptiles scurrying on the ground, and mammals dominating the scene – just make a place so much more interesting. It’s like having a practical application for knowledge, and satisfaction is derived as a result.

The National Bison Range, in northwestern Montana, is an area of modest beauty. It is tremendously appealing though. Its Bison, Bighorn, Pronghorn, deer, and birds make it so. Davis Mountain State Park, in western Texas, is another place of a similar mien. Northern British Columbia is prettier than both, but it’s the caribou, bears, and other fur-bearing mammals that give it substance.

Yellowstone and Glacier parks both have, not only the animal life, but scenic beauty to add to the mix. Many of our parks do, and that’s what makes them such special places. I hold my breath that these unique spots of our earth won’t be desecrated.

Beauty and utility usually go together. It’s when they don’t, that things just are not right.

These Bison add character to mountain scenery

THIS EARTH: Some Thoughts

Van Gogh stated that the creation was a study – a roughed-in sketch. Perhaps that is one reason that his art looks roughed-in. But his view doesn’t seem to be true! The earth is supremely & meticulously put-together; abundantly, extravagantly, and in fine.

While observing the intricacy of form, nothing seems to be ridiculous. The variety of form itself and the multiplicity of forms is mind “boggling”! It seems that anything goes. Form follows function, and function is nature’s only aesthetic consideration. Freedom is the earth’s water and weather, the world’s nourishment freely given, its soil and sap. It definitely has pizzazz!

But only ten percent of the earth’s life forms are still here. Were some forms made with extinction in mind? Created as test models so to speak, to be refined as the adaptation process progresses?

Also, the globe (viewed from afar) may appear smooth but it is anything but smooth. It is jagged and rough. Anything less would be frightfully dull and also very non-utilitarian. Texture is extremely important – both for beauty and for function. The looping, rough inside, nature of intestines is not only necessary for nutrient absorption, but creates more area in a limited space to facilitate the process. Good fishing streams operate on this same principle; and we all would die of thirst if watersheds were smooth and even. In fact there would be no watersheds. .

The tremendous diversity in the earth, points out how important variety is. Why would anyone want to minimize it?

Form and function are important for our physical well-being.

Beauty is important for our mental and emotional well-being.

(The beauty and diversity of REVELSTOKE Park, B.C.)

The Cattle Egret: A Pasture Presence

The CATTLE EGRET, also called the Buff-backed Heron, is the
white bird seen in pictures following elephants or other large animals. It
originated in Africa, but has spread worldwide. The bird especially likes the
tropics, subtropics, or warm temperate zones.

Unlike other birds in its family, this wading species feeds in relatively dry
grassy habitats. It conserves energy by following cattle or other large mammals.
The feet of mammals stir up bugs (especially grasshoppers) and small vertebrates
in the grass, thus making predation easier. This bird can also be found in
wetlands, where it catches frogs and fish. However, it is most often found near
farmland where following either livestock or machinery produces excellent
foraging results.

You can occasionally see it here in Idaho, but don’t confuse it with other
white egrets. This one has an orangey plume and back during its breeding season.
It is 19 to 21 inches tall, has a short, yellow bill, and light orange legs. It
has an interesting upright posture (almost penguin-like) that is different from
other herons.

This species is very social and gathers in colonies. Thus, each territory is
quite small, but the male is very defensive of it and will evict all other
egrets except one female. He will bring materials (sometime stealing from other
egret nests) to the female who builds a nest of sticks. She lays 3 to 5 eggs,
which both parents incubate and feed after hatching.

We have often seen this white bird of pastures and roadsides all over Florida
and in southern Texas where there are sizable populations. A few years ago, we
were excited to see a Cattle Egret, in the used-to-be alfalfa field, just south
of our home.


Night Sounds

An owl’s soft call speaks plainly now.
He talks so hauntingly.
The cool night breeze wafts it forth.
It resounds from tree to tree.

The crunch of jaws, upon something hard –
Adds mystery to the night.
Where is it at? What might it be?
It’s somewhere near but out of sight.

The rustling leaves, by creatures small –
That scurry to and fro.
They all cause questions to arise.
What are they? I’d like to know.

Off in the distance, such a plaintive howl –
Emotions it subtly wrenches!
A lone Coyote that sounds so sad –
Reaches deep into my senses.

I lie in the dark. Sleep will not come.
As sounds, whether loud or small –
Excite my thoughts at what’s out there.
I wonder about it all.

The Sacred Cow

How often I have mused about the Hindu tradition of sacred
cows and how asinine it is. Ridiculous because millions of
people starve while a source of food is running free in the
streets. Not only is the meat lost but the cattle put a lot of
heavy competition on the human population for the valuable
vegetative matter. How tragic – to live by a system that allows
this to happen.

However, I have come to realize that India is not the only
country with the “sacred bovine”. The desire to elevate the
animal seems to run through all cultures and is manifested in
various ways. The Children of Israel made their “Golden Calf”.
African tribes revere the Zebu – scrawny beasts that contribute
little except as status symbols. They repay the tribesmen by
being scourges upon the landscape. Other peoples have a
more practical relationship. Laplander cattle are their reindeer.
Eskimos and northern Indians look to the Caribou with the same
reverence. The American Indian felt the same about Bison
until “white man ” arrived to slaughter the vast majority of them.
Only, in their turn, to replace them with European-type cattle.

Are the “white man’s” cattle sacred? I thought not, but have
since had a change of mind. You have to look hard to find
another industry that is subsidized by the federal government
to the degree that livestock producers are. Their animals run
upon the public lands for a mere pittance of a fee. But even
that is not as devastating as the greed that motivates the over
population of the beasts upon the land in order to harvest every
vestige of grass. Even though they damage ecosystems, it’s
hands off – they must not be disturbed!

Cattle have always held a soft spot in my heart. To see them
grazing on a hillside or in a meadow still causes my heart to
“skip a beat”. Fond memories of 4-H projects from my teenage
years were a major spur to cause me to seek my dreams in the
cattle business. The quest for a high quality Angus herd was
an obsession that filled my early adult life. It didn’t matter so
much that this quest was, for me, economically unfeasible – what
really mattered was that my bovines were of a kind that would
place them at the top end of their breed.

Well, economics finally had the say in the end, but dreams die
hard. My love for the “cow” is so deep rooted that I couldn’t bear
to part with all of them. I would be better of without them. They
tie-up my life activities – every trip away from home requires
extensive preparations for their care and safety. They are also
hard on fences causing constant attention to the same. When
they do get out, they’re an irritant to the neighbors. NEVERTHELESS,
I CAN’T HELP BUT LOVE THEM. There is something very beautiful about
a large, beefy, sleek cow feeding in a pasture. A beauty that endears
them as if they were actually a family member.

Yes, upon reflection, I can clearly see that the cow is indeed