Monday, May 12, 2008

informal public middens

yesterday evening we went on a walk a few blocks east of our house. heading out past the edge of town there are several hectares of pinion, juniper and brush that are a patchwork of private ranches, BLM and Forest Service land. haphazard farm roads and 4 wheeler tracks wind through informal public middens where people pile carpet, home appliances yard waste, and the bodies of game, domestic and farm animals. there is also a shooting range where you see the cops parked once in a while.

the runoff that flows through here is channeled through town in irrigation ditches. can you spot the rotting coyotes in the charred sallows?

Friday, May 09, 2008

Humbaba, cherubim, chainlink

until about 150 years ago, the steppes of the Wasatch Plateau were tall grasslands. so tall that they supposedly "would completely hide the sheep and in some places cows were difficult to see." that’s about when the area caught the interest of sheep ranchers. since then, a lot of this grassland has been replaced by sage, pinion and juniper (or “cedar” in local vernacular).
these pinion-juniper forests are what I’m used to seeing around here. so when I was out in Kane Valley this week I was a little surprised to see heaps of newly chainsawed junipers covering several square miles along the base of the plateau. I asked some forest service friends about this who said it was a part of an effort to restore some of the original grasses and habitat.

I’ve also heard that most of Britain’s Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and peat bogs used to be pretty densely forested. but, this being a blog of especially tenuous reliability, I don’t have any primary sources for you. you’re on your own. all the same, whenever we bring in someone new, someone else always gets evicted.

in our case this year it was a monoculture of lawngrass. we’ve got the vegetables basically all planted now at our new place. our old garden plot on the other side of town was about twice as big and, in tilling it over, we used to turn up all kinds of great junk: horseshoes, golf balls, a truck bumper, yards and yards of baling twine. nothing so remarkable here, mostly the usuals: candy wrappers, bottle-glass, old nails, a small paleolithic wheel?!
except that in digging a pit for compost, I disturbed the rest of this armless porcelain cherub, severing his little ankle with the blade of my shovel.