Letters

Letters 05-23-2016

Examine The Priorities Are you disgusted about closing schools, crumbling roads and bridges, and cuts everywhere? Investigate funding priorities of legislators. In 1985 at the request of President Reagan, Grover Norquist founded Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). For 30 years Norquist asked every federal and state candidate and incumbent to sign the pledge to vote against any increase in taxes. The cost of living has risen significantly since 1985; think houses, cars, health care, college, etc...

Make TC A Community For Children Let’s be that town that invests in children actively getting themselves to school in all of our neighborhoods. Let’s be that town that supports active, healthy, ready-to-learn children in all of our neighborhoods...

Where Are Real Christian Politicians? As a practicing Christian, I was very disappointed with the Rev. Dr. William C. Myers statements concerning the current presidential primaries (May 8). Instead of using the opportunity to share the message of Christ, he focused on Old Testament prophecies. Christ gave us a new commandment: to love one another...

Not A Great Plant Pick As outreach specialist for the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network and a citizen concerned about the health of our region’s natural areas, I was disappointed by the recent “Listen to the Local Experts” feature. When asked for their “best native plant pick,” three of the four garden centers referenced non-native plants including myrtle, which is incredibly invasive...

Truth About Plants Your feature, “listen to the local experts” contains an error that is not helpful for the birds and butterflies that try to live in northwest Michigan. Myrtle is not a native plant. The plant is also known as vinca and periwinkle...

Ask the Real Plant Experts This letter is written to express my serious concern about a recent “Listen To Your Local Experts” article where local nurseries suggested their favorite native plant. Three of the four suggested non-native plants and one suggested is an invasive and cause of serious damage to Michigan native plants in the woods. The article is both sad and alarming...

My Plant Picks In last week’s featured article “Listen to the Local Experts,” I was shocked at the responses from the local “experts” to the question about best native plant pick. Of the four “experts” two were completely wrong and one acknowledged that their pick, gingko tree, was from East Asia, only one responded with an excellent native plant, the serviceberry tree...

NOTE: Thank you to TC-based Eagle Eye Drone Service for the cover photo, taken high over Sixth Street in Traverse City.

Home · Articles · News · Random Thoughts · Learning to love nature
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Learning to love nature

Robert Downes - September 27th, 2007
The mice were quite inconsiderate at our cottage this year.
For starters, four of them had the poor taste to die under our bathroom sink cabinet, creating a stink like rancid gym socks (only far worse). I pried a board off the cabinet and found them all dried out in there. One got stuck in the vacuum cleaner hose, glaring defiantly with his little dead mousie eyes.
They also chewed up a bunch of stuff: a box of Kleenex was shredded for bedding and they gnawed a hole through a vinyl/canvas car top that was stored out in the garage. They chewed a hole in an expensive sail. Who would do such a thing?
Although we’d never seen a single mouse in the cottage for the 10 years that we’ve been there, several of them decided to show up for a big party at the beginning of the summer, being so bold as to run around on the kitchen counter just as the guests were arriving. My wife caught two of them under a pan lid, which were subsequently transported 200 yards into the woods for release.
I’m not keen on killing anything -- even a mouse -- but enough was enough. In the past, I had used some poison PlayDough-type substance. The label claimed that the mice would nibble on this stuff and then get deliriously thirsty and go outside to die. My son pointed out, however, that it was probably better just to set traps because then they don’t even know what hit them, dying with a pleasant whiff of peanut butter in their snouts. After some reflection, I decided that he was right; better a little ultraviolence to whack the mice into the next world than slow death by poison.
Anyway, it all goes to prove it’s the law of the jungle out there.
Take trees, for instance.
I’ve been a tree-hugger since the time I was a twig, but owning a cottage in the woods has taught me that trees can be rather hostile individuals over the long haul.
We’re not talking about a few trees surrounding a home, like in your typical neighborhood. Our cottage was built over 50 years ago and is overshadowed by numerous maples, oaks and pines more than 100 feet tall, just a pebble toss from several acres of woods. Those trees throw a lot of biological litter, humidity and bugs our way. Tons, in fact.
Several years ago, I spent $800 to repair our garage roof, which had gone as squishy as a wet paper bag due to the slow influence of the overhanging trees. Between the shade and the ceaseless litter of pine needles and oak leaves, an invincible carpet of moss and lichens invaded the roof, creeping under the shingles and rotting out the underlying wood.
Bugs, mosquitoes and spiders? If you want extras to go around, take care to ring your home with plenty of trees.
For years, I wondered why in the world anyone would be crazy enough to want a lawn around their home. After all, you’ve got to mow a lawn -- it’s a big, time-consuming pain. But owning a cottage in the woods finally enlightened me on that score. Lawns were invented to keep those house-wrecking, bug-generating trees at bay.
But how can you not love a tree? Trees are keeping us alive on this planet, generating oxygen and doing their bit against global warming. They suck up CO2 as part of their natural respiration (although they also give off methane -- a greenhouse gas). Some scientists feel we need to plant billions of trees if we’re going to survive. I still love trees. But at a distance.

 
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