Field Notes #5

From time to time, someone asks why I don’t write about the meaner, nastier  side of nature, especially the predator-prey drama.   Until I go on that man-eating African lion-hunting trip  or bag  me an Alaskan  grizzly or happen to be on hand when a puma takes down a mule deer buck, I just don’t have much to offer on predator vs. prey.   Sorry.

However, something did come to mind the other day, musings upon a kind of predator-prey relationship that I jotted down in my hiking journal as I  strolled through Crossfire.   It isn’t pretty, but I thought I’d pass it along.

Warning: This post shows Patricia in a mood.   If you’re in a mood today,  you might want to skip this one.      

May 21, 2009

Overcast, humid, cooler-that-has-been morning.   I set out for Coyote Way, the trail  leading down into Crossfire Canyon.   As usual, I pass my mouldering friend,  the dead coyote    lying  off to one side of  the trailhead.   I stop to look at him whenever I take  this path.    

After a month of decompostion he  looks considerably worse for wear, though that lovely triangular earform  still holds  up well.    Gone, the  shine and softness his coat had when he was first dumped.    Matted patches have loosened, as if  he were going through a heavy shed,  or  they have been peeled back  in the course of some  other  scavenger’s work.   A gaping entrance into his inner cavern has formed in his side.     His coat has taken on the patina of old carpet  across whose nap mud has  been tracked  and into whose fibers a wide variety of liquids has soaked.   The flies that earlier clouded his vicinity have gone through their cycle; no insects are visible, though something must be creeping  through the body.  Every time I stop here, I wonder how and why  this animal  died.   Anything could have happened, but the dominant reason folks kill these animals—if, in fact, he was killed—can usually be summed up in this word: competition.

 A week ago, winds  blowing up out of the canyon carried the scent of  the coyote’s chemical crush into the earth.   Today, cliffrose pollen lightly perfumes  breezes  swirling past. Continue reading “Field Notes #5”

WIZ’s spring photo gallery

Wilderness Interface Zone  is happy to announce  the arrival of  its spring photo gallery, now  showing in the photo box in the upper right-hand corner of the page  displayed on your screen.   It’s a little late, I know, but flowers,  tree leaves, migratory birds, and torpid amphibians and reptiles have only emerged  in  abundance here in San  Juan County,  Utah over the last three weeks.   I did include some photos from the winter gallery I couldn’t bear to part with.  

My son Saul took these pictures using a Kodak DX6490.   He shot somewhere around four hundred photographs, from which we chose these seventeen.   Many spring flowers haven’t yet bloomed.   Hopefully, we’ll be able to get nice shots of can’t-be-missed subjects  to add  to this collection. Continue reading “WIZ’s spring photo gallery”

Earth Day 2009 (Field Notes #4)

Forgive, please, the late, overhasty and not especially informative nature of this post, but I wished to get something up for Earth Day before the opportunity passed.   As usual, consider yourself invited to  report on your own Earth Day activities  in the comments section.

Here in SE Utah, Earth Day opened gorgeously.   Warm and blue.   To the south, only a few drawn clouds showing, thin as weeds that snow flattened.   Around the Abajos to the north  rise those striking cloud formations that always provoke my wonder.   Can’t remember what they’re called, but I  think of  them as the “jellyfish formations,” because to my eye they resemble man-of-war jellyfish: small, top-heavy  clouds trailing long, wispy tentacles of vapor that appear to dangle into lower reaches of the atmosphere.   As I’ve sought to understand those cloud structures, I’ve read what’s actually happening is that the tentacles are  water vapor rising out of unstable air, seeking a more settled region of the atmosphere.   Once the vapor finds that more stable region it forms a cumulus cloud, which may in turn provide the seed of a cumulonimbus cloud, a thunderhead. Continue reading “Earth Day 2009 (Field Notes #4)”