Letters

Letters 12-05-2016

Trump going back on promises I’m beginning to suspect that we’ve been conned by our new president. He’s backpedaling on nearly every campaign promise he made to us...

This Christmas, think before you speak Now that Trump has won the election, a lot of folks who call themselves Christians seem to believe they have a mandate to force their beliefs on the rest of us. Think about doing this before you start yelling about people saying “happy holidays,” whining about Starbucks coffee cup image(s), complaining about other’s lifestyles…

First Amendment protects prayer (Re: Atheist Gary Singer’s contribution to the Crossed column titled “What will it take to make America great again?” in the Nov. 21 edition of Northern Express.) Mr. Singer, the First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”

Evidence of global warming Two basic facts underlay climate science: first, carbon dioxide was known to be a heat-trapping gas as early as 1850; and second, humans are significantly increasing the amount of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels and other activities. We are in fact well on our way to doubling the CO2 concentrations in our atmosphere...

Other community backpack programs I just read your article in the Nov. 28 issue titled “Beneficial backpacks: Two local programs help children.” It is a good article, but there are at least two other such programs in the Traverse City area that I am aware of...

A ‘fox’ in the schoolhouse Trump’s proposed secretary of education, Betsy DeVos (“the fox” in Dutch), is a right-wing billionaire; relentless promoter of unlimited, unregulated charter schools and vouchers; and enemy of public schooling...

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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