Tag: nature

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A Rose by Any Other Name is Gone

Following “The Tree Tragedy” that destroyed the provider of shade (for us) and food and refuge (for birds and squirrels), I was ready to give notice and move out of our apartment. One problem: In December 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom essentially closed down the state for the entire month in response to a reported surge in SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 cases (e.g., positive tests for infection).

But Spring (e.g., Early Summer in San Diego parlance) brought more birds than any other year—many flocking to a hedge nearby our assigned parking space. Across the street, they, and other animals, used the mighty date palm as a majestic habitat. But South American Palm Weevils infested the tree, which the city destroyed in late July. The bugs are not indigenous and removal of infected palms seeks to slow their spread.

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Happy Earth Day 2021

Good luck finding the field of focus in the cluttered Featured Image, captured today using Leica Q2. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/2, ISO 100, 1/640 sec, 28mm; 3:01 p.m. PDT. Location is nearby the house where appeared Calm, who was profiled in my “Cats of University Heights” series in February 2019.

Think of the photo as my metaphorical commentary on so-called Climate Change theory, which truth isn’t so clear as political proponents of the science would have everyone believe. The hubris of humankind is to put ourselves at the center of everything—and that’s as much taking blame as claiming credit. Much is clear that the planet undergoes a warming trend. Focus on carbon emissions identifies sole cause and people to blame. But the picture is more complex, or so I say, like the one here presented for your viewing.

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The Bearded Tree is Gone!

And that’s not the worst of the devastation. Nearly three months ago, I wondered about the fate of the mighty palm after high winds ripped fronds from the trunk. Then, unexpectedly, on the First Day of Spring, under the direction of cute cottages’ new owners, men with chainsaws started clearcutting a lush landscape of shrubs, succulents, and trees around the buildings. The bearded tree is the last to go.

Every nearby neighbor to whom I have spoken about the destruction of the urban jungle is shocked. No one can fathom why the massive deforestation. Late this afternoon, one homeowner, who has lived in University Heights for more than two decades, told me that water can’t be the reason. He and his wife maintain a lovely backyard of flowers, plants, and trees, without wasteful watering.

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The Clearcutted Cottages

This morning, my wife rightly suggested that yesterday’s before photos aren’t enough to show just how brutal was the massacre of palms, shrubs, succulents, trees, and other green growing things before and among one of the neighborhood’s rental properties.

Compare the Featured Image to the one from the previous post. Those buildings and windows were obscured by a lush, well-tended, tropical jungle. My understanding: The pruning, and perhaps reconstruction, is planned to continue all week. That means the bearded tree to the left may also be removed.

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Before the Clearcutters Came

Sometimes changes occur so abruptly and unexpectedly in my San Diego neighborhood of University Heights, I regret not documenting what was—never anticipating that the thang could be gone. The tree outside our primary windows and palm at Cleveland and Monroe are examples. Today’s loss, on the inappropriately-timed first day of Spring, was catastrophic for some of my neighbors, who were reminded: renters have no say.

Calico Harley resides in a row of cute cottages that, until this afternoon, were almost completely obscured from view because of the variety of succulents and trees growing in front of the property and down the side. The well-tended, and healthy, jungle was lush and lovely. When workers started cutting down a single tree this morning, I complained to my wife about another horticultural butcher job. What I could never imagine is how devastating would be the clearcutting. For today, I refrain from showing what is. Let’s look at what was.

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Nature Shaves the Bearded Tree

Over the past year or so, I regret not having taken photos of trees that were unceremoniously and needlessly cut down. There is a relentless culling that makes no sense when Southern California society obsesses about Climate Change. Aren’t carbon-dioxide-breathers that exhale oxygen good for the health of the planet and everything living on it? Ah, yeah. So why mercilessly hack them to pieces?

Another tree in my San Diego neighborhood of University Heights is in peril of being chopped down—but unlike the others maybe for legitimate safety reasons. Few months ago, during heavy rains and winds, some of the dead fronds covering the trunk ripped away about fourth-tenths the distance to the top. Overnight and throughout this brisk Monday, winds raged 48-64 kilometers per hour (30-40 mph) with fairly consistent gusts to 97 kph (60 mph). The few fallen fronds are now many, exposing the trunk. When viewed a half-block or more away, the top portion of the tree leans from the section laid mostly bare.

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The Bee Tree

I am not a photographer and bear no illusions about ever being one. My composition skills are raw, and rarely cooked, and I lack the post-production sense that someone else would use to create art. My camera, the Leica Q2, is professional grade and seemingly beyond my skills. But I handle the all-in-one well enough, and it is satisfying to use—enjoyable and versatile.

I am a storyteller, however, and use photos to mark moments or to illustrate a  narrative. Take as example the Featured Image (warning: 30GB file), which I captured today along Georgia Street between Lincoln and Polk in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/320 sec, 28mm; 11:36 a.m. PST. The original was portrait, but I cropped square.

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Burtech Blues Break

I stand corrected about the water pipeline work, which seemed to reach its mainstay on Jan. 12, 2018. Two days ago, Burtech contractor crews started to earnestly tear up our street, compelling closed apartment windows that keep out noise and dust and, disappointedly, pleasant weather.

My repast has been longer walks, to parts of the neighborhood where the natural sounds of birds, other wildlife, and breeze rustling palm fronds are soothing ambience. This afternoon, while walking down Meade Ave. towards Texas Street, I passed a lone rose rising defiantly behind cement wall, challenging the urban, human landscape’s listless, lifeless incursion. 

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After the Rain

In nearly 10 years living in San Diego, I have not seen such lush, inviting foliage as visible this Winter—or what I call late Summer (the other two seasons are early Summer and mid Summer). Typical yearly rainfall is 25 cm (9.9 inches). Through yesterday’s massive storm, totals exceeded that amount, or more than 150 percent the annual average, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Eh, so much for the Southern California drought.

Forgive my botanical ignorance, regarding the Featured Image, the leaves are from the tree adjacent to the stairs leading down from our apartment. I couldn’t resist a quick shot as my wife and I headed out for an afternoon walk, using Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF35mmF2 R WR lens. Vitals: f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/80 sec, 35mm. I had set the camera for street shooting beforehand. 

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The Paywall Problem

This week the long-dreaded Washington Post renewal email plunked into my inbox. So ends a glorious year of reading the digital newspaper on PC and tablet. My cheap thrill ride is over: “Your subscription will be renewed for a year on Aug. 26, 2015, at the rate of $149/year. As you’ve requested, payments for your subscription to the Post are automatically charged to your credit card”. I requested nothing. The Post imposed auto-renewal, which I cancelled the next day. My sub now ends on August 26.

Twelve months ago, the Post made an amazing email offer, good for just 24 hours: “Get a Full Year of Unlimited Digital Access FOR AS LOW AS JUST $19!” Wow, what a deal. We splurged and went digital on any device for another ten bucks. Washington Post is worth $29 a year—and it’s a good value for $149, too. But all the paywall news sites want that kind of cash or more from me. I’m willing to pay for good journalism, but my budget can’t accommodate them all.