Just Shelley Photography Places

Forests I have loved

By accident and restless choice, I am the ultimate stone that gathers no moss and have lived all over this country. In each location, I’ve hiked whatever wilderness the area boasts, and one doesn’t truly know how beautiful this country is until you’ve walked the fields and forests, beaches and rivers.

In the Northwest, the wet rainforests of the Peninsula be-grudge every inch of the path and at times you feel as if the forest will swallow you whole, so rich and close it is. If one is fanciful, and the rainforests generate fancy, one would think to look closely at the bushes, to see if a set of eyes looks back. Cold water droplets down the back of one’s collar area is a typical Northwest rainforest experience. Elsewhere in the region, the forests are less dense but no less wild: whether walking the foothills of The Cascades, or the high hills of the Inland Empire.

As a break from the forests, one can walk the desert-like petrified forests, the rich meadows, or the beaches of the Oregon coast, getting lost among the rocks and the tidal pools, to climb sandy dunes and rocky cliffs. I have walked a thousand miles of Washington and Oregon through the years, and every mile is unique.

Roosevelt lake a few miles from where I grew up

In Arizona, the forests are in the north and consist mainly of Ponderosa and scrub pine. In the red rock country, the trees fight for a life among the rugged rocks, their green a brilliant counter-point to the rust reds of the ground, and the azure blue of the skies. In the Arizona deserts, one can turn about once, twice, and get lost if not careful, and during the summer, the wilderness is unforgiving of fools. But, oh the beauty of an Arizona desert in the Spring, with flowering cacti and cool breezes, snakes warming themselves in the sun, lizards scampering about. And the area is so rich with minerals that one can find entire valleys literally sprinkled with jasper or black or white onyx.

One might expect fierce wilderness in Vermont, but you’d be surprised. The entire state was clear cut at one time, and the trees are of a uniform sameness and type and size. But in the winter, when the snow is on the ground and the lakes are frozen, that’s when Vermont shines for me. The irony though is that there are few places to hike easily in Vermont. In the winter, on Grand Isle, the local high school opened its doors in the evenings for community members to walk the corridors, get a bit of exercise and socialize. When snow is 4 feet deep, you don’t just cut across the country for a bit of a hike. Unless you’re a red fox.

Once, when I stayed at a bed and breakfast in the central part of the state, I found a trail made by a snow trailer and was able to walk to the top of the hill the B & B was next to. The day was sunny and cold, and fresh snow was pure white, all about me. As I walked further and further up the hill, all sounds fell away until the only thing you can hear is your own heart.

Trail in Muir Woods, CA

In Massachusetts, there are miles of coasts to walk if you can find them. The water is warmer than the Pacific but more temperamental, and there are few experiences finer than to stand on a beach during a summer storm in New England. Wet. Truly wet.

I prefer hiking, but it’s hard to resist the lure of the Emerald Necklace in Boston for walking — the series of connected parks that traverse the city. In Boston, you’re always aware that the streets you walk were once walked by the likes of John Hancock, Samual Adams, and Paul Revere. It was in one part of the Necklace that I walked along a stream and a red-tailed hawk landed on a branch only a few feet away. Right in the middle of the city.

In Montana, the green forest gives way to mile after mind-numbing mile of cattle ranches before hitting rocky mountains that tear through the earth in jagged layers, dangerous to walk, beautiful to see. And In Idaho, the lakes rest like blue sapphires nestled in verdant green velvet.

In Northern California, you can walk among Redwood trees so tall that no other life grows on the forest floor, because no sunlight ever makes it past the trees. In the distance, you can hear birds singing, but not a sound at the forest floor. As you walk, you can reach out and pat a tree that was born about the time when Abraham gave birth to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Rocky Mountain forest

Here in Missouri, where mighty rivers have carved a culture unique to this region, of blues and banjos, where north and south meet and co-exist, this is a land of many faces: river fronts give way to wild mountain, which gives way to city, which gives away to parks absolutely unique in this country. One can walk every day in the year and still not touch all the trails and paths this state supports.

The mountains here are smaller than in the Northwest, but no less wild and no less fierce with brambles and tangles and rocks and soft clay ready to trip you up at every step. Here is where one is likely to meet white-tailed deer and beaver and black bear in addition to squirrel and opposom and raccoon. The bird life is as rich as the landscape, with bluebirds and red cardinals and mockingbirds and finch, hawk, eagle, and red-winged blackbird, all within a few miles of the city.

However, the real magic in this simple land is to walk the same path in all seasons; to see the land in winter, only hinted at behind lush trees and bushes in the summer; to watch a whole valley suddenly become dusted with green after a spring rain; to stand at the edge of the forest and see color that would shame the finest painters as the leaves of dozens of different trees of different heights and shapes change into their autumn colors, of gold and rust, pink and scarlet, with a hint here and there of defiant, stubborn green; to stand beneath a canopy of trees as golden leaves cascade down around you.

Trail in the fall

Critters Photography Weather

Too hot

Even before Summer officially starts on Sunday, we’ve had heat alerts the last two days. Combined heat and humidity has led to effective temperatures of 105 degrees. We haven’t broken upper temperature records, but we have lower temperatures in the evening.

As these two Grévy’s zebras demonstrate, the only way to handle weather like this is to stay in the shade, or in air conditioning. I’ve had to turn my air conditioning up to 80 degrees, just to keep it from running 24 hours a day.

Not sure if the sudden heat wave is an indicator of a bad summer or not. From what the climatologists have said, it looks like we will have an unusually warm summer. Move over, zebras.

two zebras under shade of tree

Just Shelley

Decisions Decisions

There is nothing more implacable than a decision waiting to be made.

It can shake you out of sleep, pulling the covers off, forcing you out of bed and to your feet. It can hover around you during your waking hours, beating at you with tiny, subliminal fists of frustration.

As time passes the decision grows and swells, bulges from barely sensed speck to overshadowing monster. Your attempts to fend it off become weaker as it smothers you in it’s soft folds, pushes you against the wall, and rolls over you as you try to run.

Poets write of Decision. In The Road Not Taken Frost wrote:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler

The poem ends with “…and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

In this poem Frost sees Decision as noble — Man choosing to follow his own path rather than following the crowd. Compare this to Dorothy Parker’s caustic and brutally direct ‘Resume’:

Razors pain you; Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you; And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful; Nooses give;
Gas smells awful; You might as well live.

No nobility here — life as a lesser of evils.

Not all decisions are the same. Whether to choose strawberry ice cream or chocolate is but a moment’s thought; after all, one can choose chocolate tomorrow when choosing strawberry today. There are an infinite number of these decisions made in a life.

Some decisions, though, can only be made after sleepless nights, and days spent in thought—little scales in your mind working overtime. To have a child or not. To marry or not. To make this move, buy this house, take this job, follow this path. Or not.

Regardless of the magnitude or its impact, once the the decision is made, you’re free of the weight, the monster has rolled on. This leaves plenty of room for Decision’s younger brother, Regret.


New page New Start

My web sites are undergoing a redesign, including this new page, which will eventually feature a lot more than what you see at the moment.

Until everything is up and running, you can access current material at the following focused sub-sites:

If you’re currently subscribed to any of my feeds, you don’t need to do a thing. I am redirecting the feed locations, which should cause your feed readers to update to the new location.

HTML5 Specs W3C

The “WhatWG’s Mine is Mine” Design Principle kerfuffle

I’m not part of the HTML WG, but still follow along. Enough to see that one of the big ongoing debates lately is about the HTML WG’s Design Principles draft document. There are too many threads to link, but I would suggest the following as good places to start:

I think some people, i.e. Laura and Larry, expect the Design Principles to be used as rules, rather than as means of explaining

My own opinion of the document, and the discussion surrounding the document, is that the HTML WG Design Principles document is imprecise, vague, and vulnerable to use by self-justifying entities—OK, if you just want a fuzzy feel-good document that looks good in the press, but not something you want to see from a formal W3C Note, which is what the Design Principles wants to be…when it grows up. Definitely not something you want to see used to enforce, or justify, design decisions.

There have been numerous objections to the Design Principles document, in the past and in the current debate, not all of which have been addressed. In my opinion, though, what’s more important is that provisions in the HTML WG Design document have been used to shoot down discussion and debate about namespace support in HTML, support for RDFa, and the introduction of the microdata section:

But I don’t want RDFa to hog all of the focus. Other groups and interests have also been gently schooled in the HTML Design Principles:

So, what do we know about the Design Principles? Ian Hickson in the HTML WG mailing list:

I think the text in the Introduction of the editor’s draft of the HTML Design Principles as of rev 1.26 is quite accurate, and that the rest of the text in that document meets the goals set out in the introduction admirably. I think that it is ridiculous to think that language design can ever be based on strict objective rules, and I do not think that the design guidelines claim that this is what is attempted (indeed quite the opposite). In fact, that’s what the term “design principles” means.

Thank you for that clarification, Ian. Oh, Henri, about that DOM Consistency principle you frequently mention…