Coal and sadness

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall


Prayer, from the Undiscovery Channel on Vimeo. Music traditional Tuvan, performed by Ay-Kherel.

A fervent wish: that the water in this ephemeral pond last long enough for the wood frog tadpoles to complete their metamorphosis this year. When I walked up there this afternoon, I found just two egg masses, anchored to sticks near the center of the pond. Many of last autumn’s leaves floating just under the surface had turned green again, thanks to a fresh bloom of algae. I suppose you could take that as a sign of hope if you wanted to.

wood frog eggs
Click photo to see the full-size image at Visual Soma

As of this morning, the “pond” down in the corner of the field has a single egg mass, and wood frog mating activity seems to be over for the year, so the resident newt will probably make short work of those tadpoles. I have serious doubts about the long-term survival of our wood frog population in Plummer’s Hollow.

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Speaking of hope — or the lack thereof — somehow I’ve managed to avoid saying anything about the famous people who have driven past the mountain in recent days: NPR’s Linda Wertheimer, Senator Barack Obama, and Bill Clinton. It was fascinating that Wertheimer discovered outspoken social conservatives whose views just happened to confirm outsiders’ preconceptions of this part of Pennsylvania… in a local Baptist church. I gritted my teeth to read of Obama’s vocal support for “clean coal” (an oxymoron, since there’s no clean way to extract it) and wind turbines everywhere (the ecological costs of which would outweigh the benefits here in the east, according to a report from the National Academies of Science last year). In fairness, the Clintons also support these environmental shell games.

As far as I know, Jon Stewart hasn’t swung through western Pennsylvania recently, but he must’ve been here at some point, because his one-liner on April 1 captured the essence of the region as well as anything can:

This area best known for its chief exports, coal and sadness.

It is perhaps a measure of his greatness as a comedian that he managed to turn that into a laugh line.

Compton tortoise shell

A very tattered question mark Compton tortoise shell butterfly landed on the trail ahead of me as I made my way back to the house.

UPDATED 4/11 to correct the butterfly I.D., thanks to tigerbeetlefreak on Flickr. (See the Massachusetts Butterfly Club page for a side-by-side comparison with other brushfoots.)

Updated 4/9 with a couple more sentences and links on our all-too-brief brush with greatness.