Sunday, April 11, 2021

MM #126: Going to the Moon (Road trip Part 8)

With Idaho Falls in the rearview mirror, and the dash thermometer reading 22 degrees Fahrenheit, we headed west.  Destination: Craters of the Moon.  Along the way, 90 miles of relatively flat terrain, populated only by pronghorn, hawks, sagebrush and, apparently, the Idaho National Laboratory.



The Craters of the Moon National Monument spans over 750,000 acres.  Volcanic eruptions ranging from gentle to explosive created the landscape.  Deep cracks in the earth allowed lava to blast, plop and flow to create cinder cones, spatter cones and lava tube caves.  We couldn't wait to drive the seven-mile loop and see it for ourselves!




While seemingly barren, the park's lava fields and arid sagebrush areas sustain a surprising diversity of plant and animal life.  We weren't there at the right time of year (we visited in October), but the annual wildflower blooms peak in mid-June, with something in bloom from May through mid-September.  Pikas, grouse, and pygmy rabbits, not to mention many birds, also thrive in the environment.  During our drive, we saw Clark's Nutcrackers.
One of the aspects of this Monument that I enjoyed was its reflection on the impact of man on the landscape.  Example: the Limber Pine.  

Click on the photo below to enlarge the plaque which explains why park managers once poisoned or cut more than 6,000 of these trees.
"The major problems in the world are the result of the difference
between the way nature works and the way man thinks."
Gregory Bateson, anthropologist

The landscape of the Monument was not created by one massive volcano, but from a series of deep fissures - known collectively as the Great Rift - that cross the Snake River Plain.  Some of the "hills" are spatter cones, miniature volcanoes formed as ejected globs of lava welded together.

Other "hills" are cinder cones, created when foamy cinders accumulate near the vent of a small volcano that generated lava with high gas content.

And then, as if to compensate, there are massive craters, as you can see in the video below.

How innocuous to see a random pine cone nearby.


I was fascinated by the lava cascades.  When the lava leaked through cracks in a natural rock "dam", fiery rivers of lava flowed across the landscape.  And then they "froze" in position!!!  


And all of this happened a mere 2,000 years ago.  Geologists believe that future events are likely!!!

We had plenty of daylight left before we needed to check in at our hotel in Ketchum, Idaho.  So when I spotted a tiny dot of green on the Idaho map, just 37 miles to the west and (mostly) on our route, we winged it.  Silver Creek Preserve turned out to be a little slice of paradise.


The story of the Preserve began in 1976 when the local community urged The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to purchase 470 acres then called the Sun Valley Ranch and create its flagship preserve, Silver Creek.  This launched a landowner conservation effort along the stream to protect an additional 12,000 acres through conservation easements, making this one of the most successful stream conservation efforts ever undertaken for public benefit and a model for community-based conservation.
 
To arrive at the parking lot for the trail system, we drove over Kilpatrick Bridge, and even from the truck we could see the rainbow trout swimming gently against the current.  Spousal Unit began twitching immediately - fishing!!!  As we quickly learned from a nearby sign, Silver Creek and nearby Stalker Creek are reputed to have 6,000 fish per stream mile.  Just think about that for a minute!!!  It explained the abundance of fishermen, most of them decked out in waders.  I left Spousal Unit to it, and went walking.  I had enough time (2 hours) to make the full circuit, beginning at the YOU ARE HERE on the map below and progressing in a clock-wise direction.


Over the last forty years, TNC has expanded the Preserve to 881 acres and restored this high-desert spring creek to a thriving ecosystem for an abundance of wildlife including eagles, coyotes, bobcats and moose.  Yes, moose!!!  


As I traversed the far end of the trail system, I spied something large and dark, nestled in the alders along the stream's edge.  My binoculars trained on the spot, I was fairly certain it was a moose.  Then, my peripheral vision caught motion to the left.  I lowered the binoculars, and what to my wondering eyes should be there, but a moose calf.  Check out the video!!!!  It trotted over to Mama, and you can see how close they were to the trail.



You do not mess with a Mama moose!  As much as I would have liked to get closer and get shots of Mama, it would not have been a good life choice!  So I had to skirt far to the left of them and then re-connect with the trail.  I was exhilarated in equal parts from seeing two moose and from the proximity of a 500+  pound mammal that has a reputation for being a little nuts!  I looked back several times just to make sure she was not pursuing me!

As many as 150 species of birds have been identified along the nature trail, and its globally unique aquatic ecosystem features one of the highest densities of stream insects in North America.  Hence the birds!


I crossed a couple of bridges along the way, and each time I was mesmerized by the clarity of the water.



Near this point, I saw two more moose.  They were on the opposite side of the creek; one was nestled on the ground.  I took a couple of pictures, but they are not the best.  I marveled at the glory of seeing 4 moose in the space of 2 hours.  Proper habitat and ecosystem protection makes all the difference!  To add to the joy of the afternoon, I saw a muskrat eating near the middle of the stream.  Here is a video of this enchanting creature.


If you can't tell, my heart was truly captured by this magical place in Idaho's high desert.  It offers something for everyone.


If you are a photographer or an artist, you'll make the trip for the legendary, glorious light: a light with its rich pastel of purples, reds, yellows and blues.  As for me, I could barely drag myself away from the spectacular collision of water, sky and hills. 


Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages.
Please include at least one photo mosaic/collage in your post.
The link will be open from 1 p.m. Sunday until 11 p.m. Tuesday (U.S. Mountain time).
Remember to add the link to your Mosaic Monday post and not the one to your blog.
Please link back to this post so that your readers will be able to visit and enjoy more wonderful mosaics; taking the MM blog button from my sidebar is an easy way to link back.
As host I will visit every participant and leave a comment so that you know I stopped by.
Please try and visit as many other blogs as you can, especially those that join in later, so that everyone's creativity can be appreciated fully.
Thank you for joining in today and sharing your mosaics with us. 


You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Mosaic Monday #125: At a snail's pace

Occasionally, a book comes along that moves me.  It stirs my emotions.  It provokes new thinking.  It re-frames some of my personal experiences.  "The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating" is one of those books.  It was on loan to Dear Neighbor Friend from one of our mutual friends, and DNF passed it on to me.  I am so grateful - she knows me well!

Set over the course of one year in a studio apartment in Massachusetts, Elisabeth Tova Bailey recounts her miserable time bedridden by a mysterious illness she contracted during a trip to Europe.  Depressed, infirmed and without a reason for living, everything changes when a friend brings a pot of wild violets to cheer her; a snail has hitched a ride on the plant.


***All content in italics is from the book

There is a certain depth of illness that is piercing in its isolation; the only rule is uncertainty, and the only movement is the passage of time.  One cannot bear to live through another loss of function, and sometimes friends and family cannot bear to watch.  An unspoken, unbridgeable divide may widen.  Even if you are still who you were, you cannot actually fully be who you are.  Illness isolates, the isolated become invisible, the invisible become forgotten.  But the snail ... the snail kept my spirits from evaporating.  Between the two of us, we were a society all our own, and that kept isolation at bay.


Within the first few pages, I wondered when the book was written, because I was struck by the parallels to the impact of the pandemic on the human race.  As Bailey notes in the Epilogue, her snail observations were from a single year of her two decades of illness.  "The research for the book and the gradual process of its writing matched the pace of its protagonist and were just as nocturnal."  The book was published in 2010, a full decade before the pandemic began.

Many of us have written blog posts about lessons learned during the pandemic, or silver linings to the metaphorical storm clouds.  This book made me consider anew those that have been isolated by the pandemic.  I paused, deep in thought about family members and friends who have faced (or are currently facing) life-threatening illnesses.  I renewed my intention to be there for those who may be suffering.  

I also resolved to continue to celebrate moments big and small.  This will get easier as more of us are vaccinated! 

I could never have guessed what would get me through this past year - a woodland snail and its offspring; I honestly don't think I would have made it otherwise.  Watching another creature go about its life ... somehow gave me, the watcher, purpose too.  If life mattered to the snail and the snail mattered to me, it meant something in my life mattered, so I kept on ...  Snails may seem like tiny, even insignificant things compared to the wars going on around the world, or a million other human problems, but they may well outlive our own species.

It's human nature to think our problems are gigantic compared to others'.  This slim little volume helps to stamp that out with a healthy dose of perspective.  On again, off again snow during late March, and a windstorm that knocked out our power - hah!  Mere trifles!!!


(On March 28, #1 Son was on the way home from work on Big Mountain, and two miles short of the house, this tree was across the road.  If you look closely, you can see the powerlines caught up in the branches.  No wonder we were out of power!  Fortunately, there is another direction to access the house - he had to backtrack a bit and go around the long way.  Power was restored after about 5 hours - we are always so impressed with the service, given that they are normally dealing with multiple outages.) 


"Humanity is exalted not because we are far above other living creatures, but because knowing them well elevates the very concept of life."  Edward O. Wilson, Biophilia, 1984

I don't need much reminding about the importance of protecting wildlife, but this book re-opened my mind to the vastness of the species that surround us, whether we notice them or not.  I am not going to take the space to write about it in this post, but I currently have a bee in my bonnet about proposals to allow new methods of killing wolves ...

My trail cam has given up the ghost, and my new one will not arrive until sometime in early May.  Sigh.  So my trail cam photos are few this month.  But no less special!





I am in the perfect habitat for me.  It goes beyond the physical characteristics of the woods that surround me, and the roof over my head -- it's about the simple activities of my days, and the people who populate my world.  

DNF surprised me with some "bunny" Peeps, and Head Chef concocted a recipe for a "Himalayan Martini".  We first encountered this palate-pleaser at the Village Martini and Wine Bar in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.  

In one of my crafty moments, I made these "flowers" from glittery wired ribbon to augment my Easter decorations.


I am particularly proud to have finished this cross-stitch this month.  It was given to me by my dear sister-in-law.  I had it professionally framed at Michael's and now it proudly hangs on our gallery wall.



"The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating" has been called a nature-memoir, and it was not lost on me that this is exactly the kind of book I would like to write, someday.  (Not the illness part, but the nature and the memoir parts.)  

"Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."  Rainer Maria Wilke, 1903, from Letters to a Young Poet, 1927


I am indebted to DNF and our mutual acquaintance, for bringing this eloquent, bewitching, tear-inducing, galvanizing book to my doorstep.  

Late one winter night, I wrote in my journal:  A last look at the stars and then to sleep.  Lots to do at whatever pace I can go.  I must remember the snail.  Always remember the snail.

******
Happy Easter to all of you who are celebrating our risen Lord!


Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages.
Please include at least one photo mosaic/collage in your post.
The link will be open from 1 p.m. Sunday until 11 p.m. Tuesday (U.S. Mountain time).
Remember to add the link to your Mosaic Monday post and not the one to your blog.
Please link back to this post so that your readers will be able to visit and enjoy more wonderful mosaics; taking the MM blog button from my sidebar is an easy way to link back.
As host I will visit every participant and leave a comment so that you know I stopped by.
Please try and visit as many other blogs as you can, especially those that join in later, so that everyone's creativity can be appreciated fully.
Thank you for joining in today and sharing your mosaics with us. 


You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...