Friday Musings and Meanderings

I haven’t been around much recently, not because of a hiatus due to “blogging burnout,” but because of the nature of my professional life.  Once Spring arrives, however it does, my work takes me outside, and away from computers for a good part of the day – or even days.  Which means that for the most part, I have a few minutes in the morning to do a quick swing around the Internet, and in the evening try to catch up.  One of the things I’ve been relearning the past few weeks is that no matter how much I thought I’d kept in shape, it turns out that there are muscle groups I hadn’t worked on that I’m now using, and that a long day out in the woods is exhausting.  So my evenings have mostly been spent trying to deal with various aches, bumps, bruises, and stay awake.   I’m sure I’ll be back in “field shape” in a short while, but time to blog is going to be in short supply.

I wrote about the flooding here,  and yes, things are drying out.  It’s amazing what a week of good weather will do to help dry things out, but there’s still a lot of work to be done to clean up the damage, and get things more or less straightened out.  One interesting point about all this was that if you paid attention to the national news, or even the news in the larger media centers in this part of the country, you wouldn’t have known there was any flooding in this region.  It’s a contrast to the virtually wall-to-wall coverage given to the flooding in the Midwest and the South.   While no one around here expected massive coverage, one might have expected that record water levels and flooding in northern NY, Vermont, and Quebec might have merited at least a mention.

On the disaster front, I’m finding that I have very little sympathy for Texas, particularly their governor.  He pitched a fit because the federal government wouldn’t give him disaster aid when it came to their wildfires, while states hit by major tornadoes got it right away.   Of course he blithely ignored the grants the state had already gotten for fire disaster management, along with federal firefighters.  What I find amusing – and has garnered a complete lack of sympathy for him – is that he’s been the one grandstanding about seceding, and making a big deal of how Texas was strong, independent, and didn’t need all the federal “interference.”  Except that he promptly starts screaming his head off to get federal education aid and now this.  My own reaction?  Hey, he asked for this, and now he’s getting it.  He – and the Texans who keep electing state government that goes this way – should just suck it up and deal with it.  It comes under “You asked for it, now you’ve got it.  What’s your complaint?”

We’re starting to see the first hatches of black flies, so black fly season is soon to be in full swing.  As an environmental biologist, I appreciate their role in the ecosystem.  The larvae are filter feeders, and help keep water clean, and they – and the adults – provide a major food source for many fish species.  It’s not a good idea to seriously disturb that through the use of  chemicals.  As  a person, though, particularly one that has to be out in the field when they are in full swarm, I really would like to carpet bomb the entire area with insecticides.  I have those wistful thoughts about the time I’m layered in bug nets and covered in repellent, as a cloud of the damn things decides to descend on me.   Once the season is over, I’ll go back to being an environmentally aware person.

With the black flies, I’m finally starting to see green in the trees.  The leaves are starting to appear, so the rather barren forest I see now will soon be fully shaded, and alive.  The birds are returning, I saw a pair of loons in one lake and have heard others, along with a lot of  robins and chickadees.  The woods have been getting noisy as the woodpeckers are starting to pound on trees, and ptarmigan are starting to “drum” to attract mates.  It’s  fun to see a male ptarmigan strutting his stuff, it makes a real show.  I’ve seen some moose tracks in a place I haven’t seen before, so hopefully I’ll actually be able to see one – preferably when I have a camera.   The trilliums are already blooming, and the viburnums are starting to bud up.

So if you wonder why I’m not blogging, I’m not paying much attention to politics these days.  I have other things that are interesting, and … I get paid to do that.

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13 Comments

Filed under Politics, Uncategorized

13 responses to “Friday Musings and Meanderings

  1. Ha. I like how you phrase this “As a person, though, particularly one that has to be out in the field when they are in full swarm, I really would like to carpet bomb the entire area with insecticides”.

    Black flies are obnoxious … biting black flies make life miserable.

    I am going to get my camera out to get some spring green photos. There really is no color like it.

    • Yes, it’s one of those “when you’re in the situation” or “you had to be there” moments. 😆 Intellectually, I understand their role in the ecosystem, and lord knows I’ve written enough term papers and analysis documents over the years about the negative effects of indiscriminate pesticide application. 🙄

      Somehow that all goes out the window when you’ve spent the day repeating applications of repellant, which does stop them from landing and biting (somewhat), using bug nets to keep you from inhaling/swallowing them, and still have a number of bites to deal with at night. The next day as you’re looking at another swarm of them heading towards you, you start thinking wistfully of aerial spraying and foggers… just this once.

  2. Alan Scott

    Norbrook ,

    Exactly what positive role do biting flies play in the ecosystem ? The carpet bombing I sympathize with . I can see the roles of predators and political commentators . I always wanted to ask God what he was thinking when he created horseflies and deerflies . I take particular joy in killing those critters that I don’t get when I dispose of things that actually cause me more harm .

    • Well, the black flies have larvae that are filter feeders. They live in streams and filter out particles that come by as their food. So they play a role in keeping the water clean, and they’re very much an indicator of water pollution. They serve as food for other aquatic animals, and the adults are a favorite prey for brook trout and small fish. Horseflies and deerflies are … well… hard to justify. 😆 The larvae are predators on other insect larvae, and the adults are just a pain in the butt – or anywhere else they bite.

      The only problem with the use of spraying is that it doesn’t just target the biting insects. If someone tomorrow came up with a pesticide that only wiped out black flies, or the deer/horse flies, heck, I’d be out there advocating for it like no one else.

  3. Horseflies and deerflies and (shudder) greenhead flies are God’s curse upon innocent equines and their humans, and should be ruthlessly extirpated.

  4. Alan Scott

    Norbrook ,

    Thank you for the knowledge . I remember a few decades ago watching news casts from the Scranton Wilkes-Barre area of Pa about the water quality of streams improving . That area had many streams polluted by the coal industry . The bad side effects of the streams being cleaned were the return of the black flies . Old timers could not remember black flies being a problem before .

    I also did not know the aquatic nature of horse fly larvae . I always assumed it was similar to common flies .

    • You’re welcome. Tabanid fly (horseflies, deerflies) maggots tend to be more “semi-aquatic.” They favor muddy areas, bogs, swamps, and so on.

      Black flies are just one of many “indicator species” when you want an idea of how clean the water is in an area, but they’re one of my least favorite ones. 😆 I much prefer mayflies, stoneflies, and caddisflies, none of which are actually “flies.” 🙂

  5. Beth

    Hey, Norbrook. I realized I hadn’t seen you around DailyKos in a while, and checked your profile there, which led me here.

    I’m glad to read that you’ve been fine but busy.

    I did actually try garlic mustard shoots, as advocated by Sam Thayer. Surprise, surprise, the flower stalks are much less bitter than the leaves. I like the stalks best when the flowers are barely formed. I strip off all the leaves and steam them. Plus, this method prevents them from creating more seed.

    Give ’em a try that way.

    • Nice to see you here! Yes, I left DK about 15 months ago for the most part, and for good 8 months ago. So far in this area, nothing much is sprouting beyond the trilliums. The place where I normally go to clean out the garlic mustard happens to have one of the least bitter ones I’ve found. Which, if I were growing them for market, would be a good thing, but since I’m trying to prevent them from seeding at all, is just a benefit. 😀

      Anyone else reading, this is garlic mustard:

      It’s an invasive species – brought over as a garden herb – and is not a good thing for the environment. Fortunately, it’s edible (nice garlic smell/tang to it), and is quite useful in a number of dishes. 😀

  6. Alan Scott

    Norbrook ,

    Forgive me for posting this, but I assume your area is good canoe country . Anyone up your way selling used canoes ? I am asking because my area is supplying some place with stolen boats . Just ran into an older couple today who had their nearly new Old Town boat stolen . I had a two man kayak ripped off a few years back .

    I’m just trying to figure out how the thieves are monetizing their booty . Since the boats I know of are special plastic , they aren’t selling them for scrap .

    • No, the places I know of that sell used canoes of any sort are dealers and rental agencies who sell their floor models or their old rental canoes. In terms of buying and reselling used canoes, no, can’t think of anyone.

      This area is great canoe country. There’s a major event going on this weekend, and one of the better races will be coming up soon – the “90 miler.”

      • Alan Scott

        Norbrook ,

        That looks like an interesting race . Something that if I were younger and had the time, I might take a look at . None of my boats are built for racing .

        • Originally, it wasn’t a “race race.” Yes, there was competition, and obviously people wanted to see how fast they could do it. But it rather grew over time. Still, there’s nothing to say that you couldn’t do the route on your own. The “Fulton Chain” run is one of the more popular canoe routes, lots of people do it. I’ve never gone all the way to Saranac Lake (except by car), but I’ve gone through the Fulton route, and over into Long Lake. The Forked Lake – Long Lake portage is long! 6 miles. It’s just a road, but long. Hence, we punted and paid someone to portage them (and us) by vehicle. 😆