Saturday, April 19, 2014

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Dynamic Great Lakes Book Review



Review of The Dynamic Great Lakes

Many of us know very little about the five Great Lakes other than perhaps being able to name them. As Barbara Spring states in her introduction to her outstanding primer The Dynamic Great Lakes they are "a flowing river of seas left behind by Ice Age glaciers and are nearly twenty percent of the world's supply of fresh surface water; the world's greatest freshwater system." The ecosystem of this great body of water is very complex and unfortunately due to pollution and the fallout of modern industry and agriculture they have gone through a gradual transformation. 

One of the unique characteristics of this compact book is that it is written in a language devoid of esoteric explanations. The eight chapters of the book reflect the author's teaching and journalistic aptitudes in knowing how to unravel the mystery of the Great Lakes and the many painful dangers it has faced and continues to face. 

Each of the five Lakes is introduced with a brief synopsis of important elements distinguishing one from the other such as: elevation, length, breadth, average depth, maximum depth, volume, water area, retention time, population and outlet. From this point of departure the author deals with the various changes that have taken place as well as the various major issues affecting the Lakes. There is also brief descriptions of the various animal life found in each of the Lakes and how they have been affected by pollution and the appearance of harmful species, such as the Lamprey Eel. 

However, we are also reminded throughout the reading of the book that "people power" can have an effect and if we band together and make our voices heard we could exert influence in reversing some of the harmful trends that have caused ecological disaster. For example we are apprised of the situation that occurred in relation to Lake Erie. In 1969 a tributary river of Lake Erie, the Cayahoga, caught on fire due to being heavily coated with oil and debris. As a result, the Federal Water Quality Administration launched a one and half billion dollar municipal sewage treatment program for the Erie Basin which included the five surrounding states: Michigan, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. 

The conclusion of the book most appropriately reminds us that: "we are all challenged to use our knowledge, creativity and common sense to keep the Great Lakes great. Can you think of ways to think globally and act locally?" We are also warned "life on earth is only possible as long as our limited life support system works." 

Friday, February 28, 2014

Norm Spring Memoir of the Front Lines in Korea

Norm Spring, Korean War Veteran on Veteran's Day.


memoir from the front lines of the Korean War.Korean War Educator  click the link

Norm had a baby brownie camera he carried in his flack jacket.  The photos were taken on the front lines during the Korean War.  He was there at a historic time and this is his eye witness account.

These days he enjoys fishing.  He will be inducted into the Michigan Environmental Hall of Fame on April 10, 7 p.m. at the Grand Rapids Michigan Gerald R. Ford Museum for his work in improving the environment.

Norm spearheaded the drive to ban DDT in our town and in Michigan and then the ban went nationwide. The American bald eagle was nearly wiped out due to DDT that got into the food pyramids.  He has helped, not only eagles, but all living things in his endeavors.


Frozen Niagara Falls

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152246761728151&set=a.10150719225333151.425767.181362508150&type=1



In 1911 Niagara Falls froze. They are frozen again.


Last night it was so cold that I wondered how the birds and animals outdoors could survive, yet the nuthatches, woodpeckers, chickadees and many other birds were refueling at our bird feeder this morning.  This cold spell has broken records.

It has been below zero F in many areas around the Great Lakes.  The link above shows Niagara Falls at the American side.

This is my watercolor of a nuthatch.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Tikal

What we had seen from the plane were the tops of tall temples poking up above the jungle. Now in a mini bus we passed through a countryside where men carried machetes on their way to fields and women carried water jugs on their heads or dried beans on cloths in their yards. Wild turkeys crossed the roads. The minibus stopped at a roadside stand-the driver seemed enchanted by the beautiful girl selling a few snacks-and we were told we could use the bushes if we needed a rest stop.

When we reached Tikal we asked if we could have overnight accommodations for there is more than can be seen in one day. We sat and waited until finally we were told that we could have a room in a jungle lodge. We were lucky. If we had not stayed overnight, we never would have heard the haunting sounds of jungle birds and monkeys that surrounded us after dark. Also, there was to be a full moon, and we wanted to see Tikal 's tall temples in the moonlight.

We joined a group touring the ruins. Tikal is layer upon layer of temple pyramids. The Mayans just kept building on top of former temples. I had a strange feeling as we viewed nine stellae dedicated to the nine underground gods. As we followed our guide we saw that Tikal was once a huge metropolis with broad causeways and squares designed for pageantry on a grand scale.

The square with its great temples on each side is filled with sounds of flocks of parrots, monkeys, toucans and the voices of the Montezuma oro pendula birds. Their woven nests are like an oriole's and their bell like voices echo off the temple walls. The big beautiful birds, lemon yellow and rust, nest in groups around the ruins each year. The temples face north, east and west but never south. Strutting around the temples are wild turkeys that make a deep drumming noise to show off.
As we walked through Tikal, we saw temples that had been excavated and others that were still overgrown with jungle trees, vines and soil. The jungle is filled with trees cultivated by the Maya; kapok, balsa, cork, rubber trees, nut trees, allspice tree used for embalming. Chocolate was considered sacred. Spider monkeys and howler monkeys drop debris down at us from the tree tops.
We wondered at the limestone pyramids carved with masks, the ball courts where life and death games were played, aqueducts, market place, and coliseum. We visited the museum that contains a burial, a tall skeleton surrounded with shells, food jars, jade balls, jade anklets, necklaces. It is the burial found in a pyramid.


Tikal means the voice of the spirits. In the main square, the acoustics are astounding. What spirits are here? We saw carved bones in the museum, a jaguar with a human face, a serpent with a face emerging from a dragonish serpent's mouth. By day we walked carefully through jungle paths following our guide. Poisonous snakes, the fer de lance and coral snakes are found here. We were careful not to step on army ants marching in formation on the jungle floor. We had no guide at night but we decided to walk through the jungle to see the temples in the light of a full moon. The fragrance of night blooming flowers filled the air and a musky smell-was it a jaguar or a fox? Something was near. Maybe the mythical jaguar man. Then through an opening in the jungle, we saw the glorious sight of Tikal's temples splashed with the clear light of a huge moon--the place of spirit voices. We heard them all around us.
                                                                                                     by Barbara Spring
http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/64  Link to more info