Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Creek (for Grizz)

Yesterday was the quintessential perfect autumn day here.  I had a chance to spend the afternoon assessing the survival rate of 1,000 white ash trees planted 21 years ago, and I didn't have to pushed out the door to do the survey work.  (I did end up with four black-legged [i.e., "deer"] tick bites, though, which itch like a son of a gun today.)  During the survey, I chatted with three good friends who were walking the trails, taking advantage of one of the last good days left this season; it might snow on Saturday!  One friend had just returned from a week's trip to western and central New Mexico, which is "Mecca" for me, so I especially enjoyed seeing him.

The afternoon was so spectacular that, upon her arrival at home from work, I immediately told Kali to put on her walking shoes because we were going for a stroll before dinner.  I guess I was a bit too forceful in my proclamation because she became a bit put off and cranky.  Once we were among the golden prairie grasses, though, all her gruffness evaporated.  By the time we got down to the creek, the light was going out of the world, but I managed to make this image, which I'm dedicating to Grizz because I know that all this image would need to make him happy would be to PhotoShop himself sanding in the water casting for trout.

By the way, though the survival rate of the white ashes I was assessing was high, I know that they're all doomed once the emerald ash borer gets here to the Mid-Atlantic Piedmont.  Their only hope would be if we treated them perpetually with a systemic insecticide--something we just can't afford. 

12 comments:

Jim said...

Is the ash borer native to this area? Or was it brought into the area?
Our spruce trees are all dying due to the Asian Long-Horned Beetle brought into this area via the container ships......about 40 kms from here.Took about ten years to come this far.

Gail said...

wonderful tribute to two great guys.
Love Gail
peace.....

The Musical Gardener said...

I was wondering about emerald ash borer as soon as I read the first few lines, but I see you got around to the reality of it by the end -- sad.

Tick bites, are you not nervous of Lymes disease? Just finished a book on that particular topic, so I guess I'm on the alert.

Grizz………… said...

Well now, my friend, it would not make me one bit happier to Photoshop my bulky self into that lovely stream shot. What would make me substantially happier would be to have actually been standing there, floating a fly for a trout, when you snapped the image. Would seeing an image of a family gathered around a loaded table feasting on a turkey dinner, wherein your picture had been Photoshopped in, make you feel one bit better about the meal…or one iota less hungry? Nope. But I truly appreciate the thought. A man can never accumulate too many fine autumn days afield, on trout streams or poking about the woods.

Your forecast of the white ash's future mortality is depressing, while doubtless accurate—though I hope something turns up to keep them from all going the way of chestnut. In my more pessimistic moments I think that sooner or later we're going to manage to screw up and destroy every living thing on the planet, and that the only good to come out of it will be that we destroy ourselves in the process.

Speaking of which (sorta) aren't deer tick bites a bit risky in regards to getting Lyme disease? Besides being itchy. I wouldn't think a smart fellow such as yourself would be going out there offering his flesh to such critters. Hey, I'm just saying… :-)

John Gray said...

You Autumn colours are so much more vivid than ours... must be the sugar produced in hot summers
lovely

Scott said...

Jim: The Emerald Ash Borer, like the Asian Long-horned Beetle, is believed to have slipped into North America in wooden shipping palates. It was first spotted near Detroit, and is spreading outward from its epicenter. All species of ash are fair game to this horrific menace; no ash has survived the infestation once the beetle arrives to my knowledge.

Scott said...

Gail: Grizz is certainly one great guy, but who's the other?

Scott said...

Gardener: Lyme disease is certainly a concern; Kali has been infected three times. I am blessed in a way, though, because I develop an intense itch as soon as a tick begins to insert its proboscis into my skin. As a result, I am able to remove the offending arachnid before it can do any serious harm (but, boy, do the bites itch!).

Scott said...

John: I don't know to what to attribute the brighter colors in North America. Your surmise may very well be correct. Though I'm a certified biologist, I'm not a botanist.

Scott said...

Grizz: You're absolutely right, of course. No point in inserting you into a fishing image that you haven't enjoyed in real life. Though our creek is a warm-water fishery with bass, panfish, suckers (and an occasional feral goldfish), the local Trout Unlimited chapter annually releases about 250 brown trout into the creek for their catch-and-release pleasure. The TU guys tell me that some of the fish even appear to remain in the creek for longer than one season. I was going to say "overwinter," but, as you're well aware, it's the summer temperatures that limit their longevity.

See my comment to Gardener about Lyme disease and tick bites.

A friend of mine living in St. Paul, MN, has had his backyard white ash treated with a systemic insecticide. For specimen trees, it's a reasonable approach, but not in young woodlands full of the species. There are so many pests besetting the forests that it makes me depressed if I think about the situation too much. You're so much closer to the point of introduction of emerald ash borer than I; have they reached s.w. Ohio?

Grizz………… said...

A couple of nights ago I watched a Nat Geo program on Ötzi, the 5300 year old iceman/mummy found in the Italian alps a few years ago. One thing I thought interesting is that analysis of tissues and blood show the presence of the DNA sequence of Borrelia burgdorferi, a marker that makes him the earliest human showing an infection of Lyme disease.

I hope your Itch-O-Meter protects you. I'm not sure how I've avoided being infected considering the time afield I've spent over the decades. God knows I've plucked countless dog ticks from my carcass—though I can't actually remember one which managed to make it to the biting stage…I always feel them crawling and begin shedding clothes, which had led to several rather singularly interesting moments with various friends and strangers.

Yeah, the ash borer is here, though not in any big way in my immediate neighborhood. But that's doubtless only a temporary omission…

Scott said...

I recorded the Nat. Geo./NOVA Iceman show; now I'll be SURE to watch it. Kali (who has had Lyme disease three times and probably has a chronic infection [or the persistent effects of one of the infections]) will be especially interested in seeing the show now that I know the Iceman had Lyme disease!

Yeah--I've been in that "There's a tick on my [whatever]! Get it off!" situation in public several times myself.