Friday, September 12, 2008


I am constantly surprised by how few people can give accurate directions over the phone. In world war two, Allies found places they hadn't been before, sometimes with no maps, told others how to get there, and had to kill people along the way or be killed.

Add to this the awful communications of field telephones, the vagaries of 'fraternal fire' (I just can't call it Friendly) and there was  a certain recipe for disaster. I think wars were won, ground was settled, and cars were driven better then, than now, due to folks  knowing how to converse, and the forgotten skill of giving and taking directions.

For instance, I live on one of those streets that should be easy to find, but is not. Not long ago, I ran a business out of my home and had to give directions to scores of banjo students (arguably not the most promising demographic) who somehow found me.

Part of the problem in direction giving, is that you must imagine seeing things for the first time, and explain only the germane things, nothing else. One can throw in a landmark, but really, is it necessary? I know I am in trouble when someone I am talking to on the phone says: "You know five corners, right?"

Of course I do. I know Five Corners in Spokane, by the Post Office, in Deer Park Washington here in Portland Oregon, (off Killingsworth Street, a street you should always spell carefully for your intended victim) and I think I recall one on the north side of Oahu. But this xenophobe is talking about his Five Corners. Over by the mill. Just after you cross the creek.

At this point I know that young uns who have not driven an average of twenty thousand miles a year for twenty years are piping up. "Just Mapquest it" or Google it, or god knows what else. No. I seldom do that, but I may use it as an adjunct to directions I find on a quaint nineteenth century device I call The Map. Most of the last two centuries were devoted to finding and identifying places, and putting them on maps, and I for one am not abandoning that for the narrow view afforded by a computer screen. Go to, indeed. Where are you coming from?

Maps work well, but are not perfect. They take some getting used to. I still get lost when I should not, but I also amaze myself (my harshest critic) with my encyclopedic knowledge of various places and streets. I have done tree work in many neighborhoods around here. And around Oahu. And around Seattle. And around Spokane. I love the Thomas Guides. In Oahu, we used Brian's Sectional Maps.

Basically, a book of various maps, with the edges of each describing where it fits into the next. When someone mentions Five Corners, I politely ask for the address, and the nearest large cross street. Some people, unfamiliar with this, will stubbornly repeat... "Well it's Broadway, but if you go past the mill to Five Corners all you have to do is just cross the crik and..." I listen with half an ear and look it up meanwhile. For this, it is essential to have a map in the car and a map in the office. A simple rule, but an important one.

I still ask " Is that Feniway Street, or Place, or what?" And believe it or not, get impatient responses! 

"Court of course. There IS no Feniway Place. "(Not since the war, how stupid of me).

But worse than this is the people who say," Yeah, I think its Feniway Place. Anyway, you go on past the little crik, and..." They do not know.

They have an address, but it is unimportant. Letters are a thing of the past, after all. A physical address is becoming archaic. But if I have to get to your tree is, an address is essential. I try to smile while I talk over the phone, because they say you wrinkle less. Plus, people can hear a frown. But I have also developed what some tree and service people all over the world probably know already, and I share it with you here, as a public service from view from the trees.

I write shorthand, and I write it big on the back of the work order, or on about a half page of the 8.5x 11 phone log. This is because, while driving, I may have to consult it in a hurry, and I do not want to search for my place on the directions at thirty miles per hour. As I read it, I fold it from the top, so that I have erased and saved directions as I go.  So very 90's.  So very Eighteen nineties. Get it? My shorthand goes like this:

left turn=L

Just a big L, but I do a circle around it.

Right turn =R. I guess I got into doing the circle around it because I was trying to make it very plain to myself what I meant. Anyhow, I do it. 

RR or RRX means, you guessed it, Railroad tracks or 'cross railroad tracks'

1 mi. means 1 mile.

1 blk.= One block.

N=north, etcetera.

I write out the words 'past' and 'until'. No wait, sometimes I fudge on that and I write the word 'till'. I may say 'to'.

Oh, and interstates get a drawing of a badge, with the number inside it. Crude, but effective, I find.

That's pretty much it. Then I can read it on the run, not that I want to, but my memory is short, so even though I read it to myself a few times before starting, I need to refresh the page a few times during the journey. And one other thing, just in case, I do write a few notes in the margin, such as, 'near 5 crnrs? Go over bridge?' Just in case.

So the directions today said;
" I-5 N to Exit 32. R  to  117th, L 7 mi. till R onto W.Main. (becomes E.Main, then NE 219th st.) L on 182nd Ave. 1.3 mi. to NE Allworth Rd. 1.8 mi approx. to Rock Creek. R.... Then the address, what house on the right or left. Simple dimple. Why not?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Tree Sitters Lose Another Grove

 When Ghandi first proposed nonviolent resistance, he had a contest in his then-newspaper to come up with a uniquely Indian word to describe it. The word was 'Satyagraha'.

Fifty-some years later, someone posted a funny little sign on their front lawn in Seattle. The sign said: "Word of The Week" on top. That one week in the Autumn SATYAGRAHA was scrawled below. I searched two dictionaries with no result. There were no personal computers yet. I could have asked one of the angels of the library system, a reference librarian, but I was a busy man at the time, running to practice for a marathon after tree work on a production arborist crew.

So I simply called my Dad.  He immediately told me about the word, where I'd find it, and then the meaning of another word from the board, KLUDGE, which is an aerospace term meaning 'to patch together hurriedly.' Dad is a former editor, and one of those people who take words so seriously it is actually funny. Like me and trees, I suppose. I could just work with them. Sort of funny how you can end up with several of these in the same family.

So I went to the library and got two books on Ghandi. One was the remarkable In his Own Words.

Ghandi never met the regents at University of California, Berkeley. Had he met them, he probably would have needed more words. Words for 'Obstinate fools who would remove living treasures for profit' for instance. He would have liked the peaceful protestors, Satyaghrahi's, who have been living in the trees on campus since 2006, when it was announced that the grove of redwoods and native oaks would be razed for a new Sports Complex.

You can read a little about it at Tree-Sitters Fail to Halt Construction this site. Tree thugs, calling themselves arborists, helped the Construction/Destruction crew to get the tree sitters out.

A little background. Oaks in California are a native species. These are big beauties more than 200 years old. The Redwoods are younger, but an essential part of this grove on campus.  In California and the bay area, nobody really knows why young oaks are not surviving. It could be that the over-populated deer herds nibble them to death. It could be that compaction for equipment, landscaping, and construction foot traffic kill them. It could be a result of overwatering from landscape installation. Whatever the cause, the oaks are dying out during construction, and they are not coming back. Oh, and a new disease Phytophthera ramosa, is also decimating them, due to longer wetter springs. Some say Global Warming.

Wouldn't it behoove a University to preserve their oaks in this kind of climate? Is it really down to that particular piece of property being the only place in Berkeley where a student can get in a workout? Seems to me there were lots of stadiums, gymnasiums, and open space on campus, without taking down big mature trees.

Once Ghandi was asked what made him think of passive resistance. He snapped "It is not passive. It is non-violent. There is nothing passive about our resistance!" He went on to say it was the only way his country could win against Britain's yoke, without a huge loss of life. Some folks do not know that he served in a war, drove ambulances, and saw firsthand what kind of horror it could be. He served for the Crown. Even then, he was against violence.

Maybe the tree-sitters, trying hard to be Satyagrahis, got complacent and passive. Maybe it takes more than sitting now. I still believe in non-violence, but I don't see so many examples of tree-sitting working against tree removal. It's time to modernize protesting. Trees expand to fill available space. Protesters need to do some expansion too, because the available space is getting thinner.

Take the Iraq war (please). Could Ghandi have successfully prevented that? Three million Europeans protested, non-violently. About a million Americans, including me, protested. The Republican strong suits went ahead. They controlled the press, and who they did not control they fought, dirty (see Valerie Plame). Ghandi counted on a free press to help with his country's struggle. What happens when that's gone? What happens when those who speak out are bumped off?

We can take an example from South America, where American CIA helped oppressive regimes close newspapers, kill detractors, and make money. Or we can take the example from Nazi Germany. Perhaps non-violent resistance would have worked there... But this is all academic. Because most of the Jewish, Polish and Gypsies who died in concentration camps were unaware that they were at war. Most were slowly assimilated, step by step, into worse and worse conditions, and by the time they realized they were at war, it was too late.

I think this is what is happening to trees in urban environments. They are being slowly consigned to smaller spaces, and when a grove such as the UCal oaks goes away, people hardly notice. It's a human interest story.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Saving and Planting

Alex Shigo, a scientist with heart and verbal skills, who changed the way we think about trees, rots, and wounding, is often quoted. I like this quote best:
"Nothing is all good, all the time." He said this in context of a planting project in Hawaii, in response to a question, if I remember correctly, something like: "why don't we just plant more and more of the good trees?"

I went home that night and wrote about this, and came up with an analogy I think nobody else had, yet. I said in the Aloha Arborists Newsletter that planting more, and not making plans for long term care, is like having sex and not planning for children. It's fun, everyone feels good afterward, and the kids are on their own. It's irresponsible at best.

Stakes are left in place and girdle the trees. Watering is forgotten after the first month or so. Weed whips are seen regularly slashing away at the bases of trees making them prettier (nice! say the planters) and deader (details). 

I read a nice solution for staking in Tree Care Industry Magazine last Spring. I forget what issue. Rather than stake with long tied stakes above ground, the idea is to drive stakes right through the root mass,  and drive the top of the (2 foot long 2"x2") stake right into the ground. This way the stake does its work (better, in my estimation), is hidden, and does not require ties to hold the tree in place. For you non-arborists, tying and staking irresponsibly is a cause of twenty to forty percent of new tree death, depending on who you listen to.

I have planted about a dozen trees this year, using the method above. None of them has blown over. I use three stakes, going in three directions slanted downward. Nifty trick from an industry magazine.

An example of why it is not all good all the time to preserve trees is shown in the photos. In south east Portland Oregon, we are building lots of McMansions right up next to trees. If it is done right, you can preserve the magnificence of nature right outside the backdoor of this impossible to heat, space-wasting, toxic dump of a domicile. 

If it's done right. That means having an arborist on board from the blueprint stage onward, who protects the tree using a tree protection plan, includes fencing in specifications, and may be on site during mechanical excavation as well, to supervise cutting of roots, tunneling, or bridging over a critical root zone.

All this assumes that the tree in question is worth saving. The tree in this photo, photographed from the front of the overlarge dwelling, then from near the tree's base, is and was a hazard. It never should have been preserved closer than its height to any structure. If it were preserved, it could have been a lovely wildlife tree, and the family could have had their cheerios  and watched each morning as woodpeckers foraged for insects out the window, a safe distance
 away. And perhaps seen, over time, a raptor or two sitting in the dead branches, where the view of warm-blooded prey is best.

I am not suggesting that any tree, especially a hazard, is ever safe. Trees are seemingly unconcerned with safety. I have seen trees fall apart in forest situations and the limbs -- torn, broken, rotting -- put out new roots and colonize that space. Whoopee! The tree says. That was fun being tall. Lets just grow here, laying around, now.

If life hands them lemons, trees  make lemonade. Lemon trees are never handed lemons, they must photosynthesize and draw up water and such to make lemons, but that is another story.

When builders are handed lemons, in the form of unsafe and undesirable trees, they find a lemon of an arborist to tell them it is ok, so that they do not have to do any expensive and time consuming planting of trees to get the property past inspection. More municipalities are requiring trees now, because the benefits to watersheds (trees slow the movement of water, use some of it, and help slow erosion), wildlife (trees provide thermal and hiding cover for critters and sometimes humans), and aesthetics (homes with trees in their landscapes can be worth much more than those without). Trees are good, right? But nothing, not even a merrily photosynthesizing , well-fluted column of woody tissue and non-woody associations with a leafy bower above is all good. At least, not all the time.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Reality nature

 So much on the news about the ups and downs of reality-television stars. So much on the tube. In my world, we watch reality television of trees. Its like science-fiction. I cannot watch television, due to a brain disability. I feel insulted by  the programming; isn't that odd?

Some of us care about trees as much as viewers seem to care about the made-for-tv stars. Of course, they just sit there, right? The visuals need a little tweaking if we are going to send this from my mind to prime time.  And trees, unfortunately, can't talk, so crying, a great draw, is also out. Oh, by the way, they may not 'feel' at all... but no matter. Just imagine....

Right after WWI, a previously undocumented disease made its way across Europe, killing stately, tall city trees we call elms. Especially American Elms, Ulmus americana, were susceptible to a fungus, transported by a beetle. Around 1930, the disease made its way to America in a shipment of wood.

As if overnight, the populations of city trees in the US and Canada were decimated, in some places almost entirely, and in some reduced by half or more. Nobody ever linked the presence of this disease to war, to the exploding of shells and piercing of bullets that took place all over Europe. A previously benign fungus that somehow became prevalent had elms quaking in their roots. If you look at the backgrounds in old movies, you see American Elms everywhere. They are tall, tall. Vase shaped, graceful, just your idea of the perfect tree, if you are like most of us.

Trees cannot fight, and they cannot run. So what would be the use of a 'fight-or-flight' reflex, such as we mammals have? This whole idea of trees 'screaming' as was so popular to believe in the seventies, is another example of man anthropomorphizing trees.  Talking about 'bleeding', 'healing' and other junk science. Probably trees, like zen masters, just stood and accepted the fact, saying "Is that so?" to the wave of disease.

Trees, Dr. Shigo once said to me, are rarely defined. He went on to say that one can almost always win an argument by asking for a definition of terms. One of his hobbies was to come up with definitions, some of which took years, for common concepts. He had some nutty ideas, but I loved the elegance of his definitions. Trees, he said, are a ..."conglomeration of associations living and dead..." it went on, but thats enough for now. Don't hurt yourself.

We call things 'dead' and 'living' based on our own anthro-centric definitions. But discolored heartwood, which most arborists call 'dead' tissue, still transports water and nutrients upward, and is a highway for radial movement of parenchyma. 'Dead' bark and hollows containing decay are often thriving communities of fungus, bacteria, invertebrates and mammals. (-thanks Dr. Shigo!) So tree people seem to wax philosophical, and hedge (pardon the pun) when asked about dead wood. My friend Scotty Altenhoff used to always leave a hunk of deadwood near the top of a tree, a signature, if you will, for birds to sit on.

Right now in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Portland, Oregon, large populations of American Elms quietly await their fate. For some reason, these elms have escaped the wholesale destruction most of North America felt due to Dutch Elm Disease (DED) so called, because of the Dutch scientists who first noticed it in the years following WWI. In these areas, hominids are prevented from cutting or pruning trees of this species form March 15 to November 15 or thereabouts. Injections are given. Infected areas are pruned out. Trees are 'protected by law' a very human solution to woody plant problems.

It is my opinion that diseases like this will continue to crop up with global heating. These are secondary reactions of tree associations, if you will. Trees suffer from some of mankinds more brutal follies, like war and the slow heating of the biosphere. Diseases like bark beetle and root rots, that used to be winter killed, are finding the weather to their liking, and are on the increase here in the Pacific Northwest. Who can tell, maybe it also true with the DED?

I wish you could all see what I am seeing, in the slow-motion world of trees, where fascinating changes are taking place in real time, with real actors, who just happen to be another species, in another kingdom. For now the tv, even cable, can't run it. But if you really care, and you watch over time, you can partake of this tragicomedy in your own brain. You just have to watch them, a few days out of the year, with consciousness.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Lets Get Messed Up-On Art

When you think of art, you just have to think of history. As long as we have been around, we have decorated stuff we carried. Lots of reasons exist. You can say we did it to please the gods, or ward off evil, or attract good. But defining visual art can be easy. Stuff made to ellicit an emotional response in humans. 

In Puebla, Mexico, the entire city sweats, bleeds, and pisses art. Some of this can be unpleasant. Some is delightful. Some is for sale. Some would please even anarchist/artists like Banksy in its inneffable unliftable unsellable ephemeralism. ( or The fabulous graffiti/signage found had a blogspot address! want it? Ok...its I think that means The Easy Monkey. my SOuth American friends called me Mono Gordo when we were all climbing together. I think that means Honored Brother. (Please- don't correct my Spanish. I couldn't take it.)

In Puebla, the true afficionado must leave the credit cards with a trusted friend. Tallavera pottery is so wonderfully cheap and available, in several fine shops. I also found and bought recycled glass  drinking glasses, and antique jewelry as gifts. These did not strain the pocketbook, and were high quality. 

Puebla has what Santa Barbara and Beverly hills aim for: that funky working-class authenticity that makes simple objects valuable. real soul and a working knowledge of what's working. Does this mean every gallery is a winner? No. Enough said.

But it also had incredible signs, even better than those I found on the walls of Mexico City. Signs for Auto Repair and Upholstery Shops were as good as those for galle
ries. And graffiti, so artfully blended into edifices, had another quality from the unfurling screed that is ever present in my native Portland, Oregon. The 'mi mi mi meeeeee' art I once heard aptly described as 'kids playing with paint'. Its like listening to the radio and thinking you do not like music. You do, just not radio crap.

And trees? I wish I could say they were respected, understood, loved. I wish they had been in enough soil to be healthy, pruned so that they were not dangers 'to themselves and others'. But they weren't. The trees had bands strapped around their stems and major limbs, effectively cutting off the circulation in a slow constriction depending on the tree's growth.

Trees were set in one or two major parks I saw (Paseo Bravo, El Paseo San Francisco, and the main square) and not allowed outside those parks on pain of death. Any that had escaped were confined to walled front yards or cracks in pavement and liberally dusted with pollution, pee and trash. Then dried for a period of years, hacked at by brave climbers hobbled by nineteenth-century methods, and left to thrive.

Herein is a photo of a few trees in the main park, girdled to death or close, in one case, by metal bands. Its hard to imagine, because we know it is wrong, but some folks have not had the education yet, and cannot figure out this cause and effect. We know they love their trees, and the lights are hung there because fiestas are fun amongst the trees. But its killing them. Anyone want to go down and do a teaching trip? I volunteer to accompany you.

I belong to an organization called the International Society of Arboriculture ( Can I say without complaint, with urgency, with dread, that I have seen pruning,planting and tree care get better all over the US when I visit, but in Europe and Mexico, I have seen no change from when I started 27 years ago? Plenty of Europeans in the ISA directory, and some in the directory are from South America.

Its time we started to get our 'I' back. If we are truly international, we need to bring education to South Americans, as well as North Americans and Europeans. Conventions have people form all over the world. But the word is not getting out fast enough. The trees are dying. The globe is warming. Something must be done. Its been said that the trees in the Urban Forest are the only ones that the public really have control over; all the rest are in corporate or private hands.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Trees of Mexico City, or ,:Exploring my own roots

Apologies in advance for any typos.

Your fearless correspondent is sitting in an internet ¨cafe¨ (no food here) in the heart of Mexico City, or DF, as it is called here. He is using an unfamiliar keyboard, cannot download from his camera until next week, and is gaining weight on the fabulous food despite walking more than he has in years.

The trees here are of incredible variety and health, despite cruel growing conditions. I see one I just cannot identify, looks like a native fraxinus, everywhere. And ficus, ulmus, erythrina, delonix, eucalyptus, cypress. It has always been a big city. I mean, there was a botanical garden here around the timne of christ, for instance, watered by human sacrifice, probably.

But my roots are partially from here. Great grandpa´s family on both sides of my grandmother
(Nena, is what we always called her) were from here. Maybe, like most immigrant american families, we remembered only what we chose to. Nena would say, if I cut my finger; you´ll heal quick, its that good Indio blood. and practically in the same breath: Use your knife to cut, not your fork. Never forget you are descended form aristocratic spanish stock.

Trees here are probably told the same things when they are young. Don´t worry, there is water below the ground; any Banyan can find it. And in the same breath, Don´t worry about bad pruning; even the Toltec pruned us badly.

I have seen trees growing in soapy pools of water. Trees in manicured parks. Mal-pruned trees, dead trees left standing long past when anyone would be able to climb them, and  on top of this practically no tree awareness. The botanical garden at UNAM (the biggest college.... a quarter of a million enrolled at any given time) is a joke. Tiny collection;bad signage; even in Latin. Some have a sign, some do not. I have seen private yards with better accessioned tree collections, and more quantity. But a great cactus and succulent collection. I mean, not to be missed. An old oak in the succulent garden better than any tree in the botanical part. There were nice interpretive signs for butterfly identification. Go figure.  

Later I will put up the photos. Frogs on tiny millions of lilly pads, jumping sometimes through, sometimes onto them.... A waterfall and two super grottos of beautiful lava, with stairs worked in artfully. Part of that succulent collections so well tended, and the other, larger part, perhaps four acres, overrun with weeds and non-pruned agave so you had to squeeze through the poinky parts. Am I being too technical here? Poinky. Ow!

This morning I wrote in a park (-with this quaint old habit of using pen and paper I still have) filled with trees, fountains lining the walks, and benches where the folks sacked out or sat as they must have for hundreds of years.

What happened in this city, when Cortez came into power, was a levelling of the old buildings for the new. So you literally stand on history. The market was always the market, since pre-Aztec times, and it was always oriented thus, but the Metro line is new. Names change here, too.It is amazing to think, at Zocalo, that you are at the level of the old market as you descend the steps to the new subway.

Its very like Europe, in so many ways, but of course, was civilized a bit sooner. Built on a lake in the mountains, a sort of Shangri-La if you will, where the weather is mild, many things grow well, and 22 million people live in relative harmony. Mild weather. Real easy going folks. I guess you'd have to be.

Shangri-La is even real. My friend Doug once told me of finding mango trees grown for fruit production at 5,000 feet in the Himalayas. Thats a sub-tropical plant, folks, not normally found much in the mountains. Hortus Third says..."'Mangos do best on rich, well-drained soils in hot rather dry lowland climates." I thought I saw a mango here, form a taxi, but the driver said I was off my rocker. I think it may have been an avocado, something I also have seen here, from fast taxis.

One would think that there was a rule.... Hotter weather, plus water, makes everything grow better. I worked in a botanical garden in Hawaii, and I learned that this is not so. Leaving out invasive exotic species of insects, birds, plants and reptiles, not to mention humans and their mammals, certain species do better in their area of origin than they do anywhere else on earth. Others do better in a place where they are introduced. This is attributable to many things. In Hawaii, in the highlands, apples grow. They are not very tasty, at least the ones I had. (always researching... with every bite). 

I think I heard someone say it was because they did not get the cold 'hardening' they would get in a cooler clime, but really, that is not very scientific. Take the Tea tree. Melaleauca... I think it is leucadendron.

It was introduced in Florida early in the nineteenth cenury. It quickly became invasive, a weed, a nuisance, etc.  Tales are told of deer skeletons found in the everglades in copses of Leucadendron where the deer jump in, but can never find a way out of the thicket, and so starve to death. It is illegal to have or transport into Florida. Introduced at the same time in San Diego, it is a desirable, tough-to grow landscape amenity.  I have climbed them in Hawaii that were two feet in diameter, over forty feet high. Never saw one that big in San Diego.

We know, for instance, that in Hawaii, the Polynesians were responsible for introducing the coconut, the pig, and other living things. Some of these naturalized to such an extent that they became invasive. Many species formerly thriving became extinct. I think this number is 2000 species. The white man got there a few hundred years later, and is credited with extinguishing about a third of the species the polynesians did. Heavy, isn't it? Man's inhumanity to his environment, and all in the best of intentions. It makes me wonder what this area was like before the pyramids. Before the people, even.

One more thing. On top of the largest Pyramid of the sun, at Teotihuacan, I saw butterflies dancing together, maybe twelve altogether. Monarch, indeed. But I would have liked an interpretive sign!  Spirits of the pyramid builders, surely.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Worry and Action Don't Mix

Two photos. One is myself in Greece, listening to a Street Musician. I think Street musician should always be capitalized. They are unsung (sic) heroes of the Urban Assault Zone we live in. And they certainly seem to need more capital.

It has been said that trees 'humanize' a landscape by bringing nature in. Song and music do as well. Of course, the Parthenon in the background on a sunny Spring day helps humanize anyone. And it can connect us to the past, in a deeper sense than history  we know in the consensus world. I stood here, in 2003, with this beautiful harmonica and sweet guitar arpeggios filling the air, and my eyes got a little wet. He and I each knew enough French to communicate; and enough music to appreciate each other. Music isn't music until it goes in an ear. Music is sound created for a human effect. You cannot get music alone(its practice, or worship at that point) you can only get it with communication as a key.

My wife shot the photo. I bought a few of this guys cds. Sally will not let me play them because she says I get too sentimental. How could I not be? I was there in the place where street music had been played for about 2500 years, humanizing landscapes... I stood there and heard this guy offering up music from the place where the word 'muse' was first spoken. From  within a mile of where Socrates drank a Hemlock smoothie because he would rather do that than put up with a retraction of his speech.

 From where posters used to say: 'Tonight- the sensation of Lesbos! Sappho!"

She makes the Beatles look like a little cafe band. Her music was popular before recording, for over 300 years. It was all sung by heart, and the fragments of her poetry are mostly preserved from those who lived and wrote hundreds of years after her death. I like this poem by her best..."If you are squeamish, Do not prod the beach rubble."

But then I have never met a Lesbian I did not like. Gay people, in my opinion, are aptly named 'gay'.

I need to say that the Greeks, who invented or appropriated some wonderful methods of discourse, written word, and mathematical ingenuity, were not what you would call environmentally-minded. Sure they invented the words eco and enviro, but were they saving any trees? In order to build what they did in stone, they needed tons of timber. 

Locally harvested forests soon dried up so they did what we are now doing with oil. They got it from trading or wars with other nations. If the nation was strong enough, they paid; but if the nation was weak anyhow, the Greeks had people for that.  Something tells me our current administration has more than a passing interest in that sort of democracy.

And the goats nibbled grass right down into the roots, killing the understory, and 
the timber was harvested, the spoils of that were burned, and somewhere in there, Greece became functionally a desert. A limited ecosystem.

In Mexico City, where I am headed, the folks had the first known zoos and botanical gardens on earth. Way before Christian-era gardens to collect species. I will comment on what I find there in the next few weeks. The gardens look pretty arid in the photos.

I used to be such an intrepid traveller. Once, I was even a street musician for a while. I played for literally tens of people, and was a legend in my own mind.

Now I am a bit older, and have bouts of worry I never used to have. Will I remember to- have I brought enough- is there a dangerous neighborhood I should know about?

it reminds me of the Tree Fear. It only came at night, before a major project. It visited when I was trying to sleep. It was all the could be's and better nots I never felt during the day. In the photos here, I am in a rented lift just a few years ago, at about forty feet up, cutting dead poplar out of a tiny little yard. I can say with certainty that that job did not scare me, after I got up there. It only scared me to think about it beforehand. 

I think for myself and most of the Tree People I have talked with, it is the same. When it is going down; you just do the next thing necessary. When you have time to think it over, it is freaky where your mind can go to.

Does this mean I should ignore the little discomforts of worry? I do not think so. I think they should be noted and  put away for later. In a time of action, like being  in a strange country, lost and short of appropriate words, I will not have time for worry, and I'll feel fine. Now, with language cd's all over my house and car, and phrasebooks proving my ignorance to me time and again, I can worry I will not get it right. I can toss and turn.

Some people would not worry about the things I do, but would worry or fear the tasks I perform on trees daily. One way I can deal is to think what I would tell them if they were learning to climb, and listen to it as advice form inside;" Concentrate on what you are doing right now; not what you are going to be doing later. Keep you rope tight and your knees loose. relax, slips are part of the learning curve..."