Retrospective: The Real Grand Canyon 

The year 2017 is just under way. If I can get away with being a bit of a smart aleck, that makes the canyon six million and ONE years old. A year for each visitor that came by in 2016. Sure, not necessarily exact, yet generally that statement is the truth. How do we know this?

Radiocarbon dating tells us. For the 1997 Utah Geological Survey, Mark Milligan explained: “Nuclear decay of radioactive isotopes is a process that behaves in a clock-like fashion and thus is a useful tool for determining the absolute age of rocks. Sediments less than 50,000 years old that contain organic material can be dated based on the radioactive decay of the isotope Carbon 14.” This process works efficiently and accurately. Continue reading “Retrospective: The Real Grand Canyon “

Not a Poem

Painting and drawing
feel like making love.

Writing feels like shoveling a path
through the snow to the mailbox.
Maybe there will be a check in it;
probably not.

Walking the Banks

Part 1

A spring seems like a miracle every time. In the middle of the woods, no place in particular, clear clean water bubbles gently from the ground. A magic trick. A birth. At once, from nothing, a watercourse exists, one that will not quit until it reaches the sea. Six inches wide and one inch deep, it follows the path of least resistance, flowing north down a gradual slope and across an acre of meadow. Like all springs, it has only one direction – down – and one mission –keep going. A fine philosophy. Let’s adopt it and follow along.   Continue reading “Walking the Banks”

Under the Hunter’s Moon

I lie outdoors on my back, slowly surrendering consciousness to the night sky, a ritual I engage in on surprise occasions – it just shows up unannounced on my emotional radar. The temperature is perfect. I am warm in the down sleeping bag, and the slight chill on my face (the thermometer is in the fifties) is refreshing. Tonight is ideal for this. Late October has benevolently supplied a few days of Indian Summer. It will go up into the 70s during the days ahead, but because there has been a frost or two, mosquitoes are gone for the year.  Crickets, though, have yet to give up on the season. Thankfully, their loud sawing fills the night. The only sound I sleep better to is the joyful racket of the spring peepers, a blessing that can cause me to keep a window open during an April night in the forties. (This, of course, can only happen in a separate room from my cozily slumbering wife). There are a handful of leftover Katydids out here too, both insects running out of time fast, calling poignantly for companionship.  Singing (leg scraping) comes from all around me. This earth music begins in July, signaling midsummer. As it does each time, it means the slippery slope toward winter has begun, while also conveying the message to each life in the night, “This is as good as it gets – do it now!” Continue reading “Under the Hunter’s Moon”

The Ballad of Betsy Shaw

‘Tis in the dark November, of Seventeen forty four
A crime most foul and evil, passes into Windham lore.
With luck ones able children, can help you with your chores
But life is seldom perfect, and so with Betsy Shaw.
They call her slow and tease her, she cannot tie her shoes
The Shaws are much embarrassed, the work is never through.
Finally Father teaches her to work the barn, I guess,
As she grows into a figure that looks fetching in a dress.
Heaven knows, that’s how it goes.

Continue reading “The Ballad of Betsy Shaw”

Time to Dream

I wish I could fish the Neversink, in 1891
Use silken line and cat-gut, Royal Coachman and Blue Dun
With cane and tweed and pipe smoke, beside a tall elm tree
We’d talk of quills and wood duck wings,
Theodore Gordon and me.

I wish I could fish the Battenkill, in 1942
Learn from Wesley Jordan the art of split bamboo
I’d argue with Jack Atherton, about abstract art and such
And those brookies in the Gunsmith Pool?
–  we’d never get a touch.

I wish I could fish Spring Creek just once, in May of ‘53
Down in that misty valley, where it flows melodiously
The sky is all Green Drakes tonight, as Brown and I go back
To a time before the poison.
Yeah, I wish we had the knack.

I wish I could fish the Hous again, about 1985
With Pete and Jay and all those boys, when they were all alive
Those golden April afternoons pass by in memory
We didn’t know back then it was
as good as it would be.

I get to play the Old Man now, pretend to know it all
I’ve seen the glory that is spring, I’ve watched the last leaf fall.
An old man has to pick and choose the times to go astream
It was always time for fishing, now it’s time to dream.

I wish I could fish in Lobsterville, just one more night in June
Where skunks patrol and stripers roll, under the Vineyard moon
Or Firehole, or Grand Lake Stream, down in the Evening Pool
Do land-locked salmon jump for joy,
or is life just cruel?

 

©George Jacobi 2013

Seeing

The Art in Nature and the Nature of Art
George Jacobi 2014

Part of being a trained and observant naturalist is the ability to pick out clues from a complex and busy scene. An expert birder can determine the species from a faraway silhouette just by the body language of the flyer. A great tracker can tell you not only that a white-tailed deer has passed, but whether it was running or walking, male or female, and much more. I only wish I was that skilled. I can, though, pick up the tiny hop of a baby wood frog in the leaf litter as I walk, and I notice the flight of a hummingbird. Many eyes ignore that movement, just categorize it as an uninteresting bug or bee, and move on. Continue reading “Seeing”