Nature Pauses Not for a Human/Viral Pandemic

 

As I write and publish this brief Post March 28, 2020, our air is thick with pollen — ’tis the season! Six-year-old grandson Sam spent an hour outdoors with us today — social-distancing and all that.

I couldn’t help but share a few photos and write a bit of verse about the paradox of a global viral pandemic changing every facet of our life and living… and Nature proceeding as though nothing is amiss.
 

Nature Pauses Not for a Human/Viral Pandemic

 
March 28, 2020 — Covid-19
Impacts human life and living,
Loblolly pine (Pinus taeda)
Simply couldn’t care less
 
North Alabama catkins
(the pine’s male flowers)
Are ripe and shedding their load…
To grandson Sam’s delight
 
Warm sun, ready for gathering
Encourages new lateral growth,
Candles reach and lengthen
Ready for chloroplasts to power
 
Loblolly pine knows not of Covid-19.
Adding a little new wood each year,
The pine knows its future
Is not linked to human fate
 
Practice Covid-19 avoidance,
Like social distancing and self-isolation;
And dare to venture outside, but
Beware the air thick with spring pollen!

Fitting Photographs

 

North Alabama catkins
(the pine’s male flowers)
Are ripe and shedding their load…
Verse
To grandson Sam’s delight
Verse
Warm sun, ready for gathering
Encourages new lateral growth,
Candles reach and lengthen
Ready for chloroplasts to power
Verse
Stay safe — enjoy Nature-Inspired Life and Living!
 

Resurrection Fern — A Metaphor in Verse for Nature’s Simplicity

11 Photos

An Exemplar for Simplicity in a World of Expanding Complexity

I will mention but not dwell upon the fact that Covid-19 house-arrest spurs reflecting, creating, and writing… and encourages me to flourish in Nature whenever I can. March 21, 2020 I drove the short three miles to Rainbow Mountain Nature Preserve to hike the Rainbow Mountain Loop Trail. I know, the old forester below looks like he may already be suffering from some serious malady!

Rainbow Mountain

 

I hiked the day after yet another inch-plus of rain. My timing had purpose — I wanted to see the rich variety of life clinging to trees, especially the amazing resurrection fern… in its full moisture-laden glory. I also saw ubiquitous lichens and mosses in vivid splendor adorning saturated bark, branches, and rocks… their presence highlighted by the deep shade of continuing dense cloud cover. However, today I am focusing on one of my favorite gifts of Nature: resurrection fern.

Resurrection Fern

 

And as I have recently been emboldened to do (by completing a winter term poetry writing course), I offer today’s reflections principally in verse. Magically, even the trail sign is framed by resurrection fern.

Rainbow Mountain, Resurrection Fern

 

I discovered this morning as I write this that over the past couple of years I have restricted my photography by and large to the verdant, fully-hydrated version of resurrection fern. I could find no clear photos of the desiccated, dry-dormant version. The best I could do to represent that state of shut-down is this massive oak at Camp McDowell adorned with its robe of dry resurrection fern. Ah, if only I had anticipated this Post and compiled a portfolio of withered fern.

Resurrection Fern

 

So, there you have my foreword, setting the stage for my latest verse… a testament to a wonderfully resilient non-flowering native plant, with a stress-dealing mechanism tested and honed over 360 million years!

Striving for…and with…Simplicity

 

Release a spore to the wind

Trust it to find suitable anchorage,

This special fern finds all it needs

Perched high in the fork of a tree

 

Resurrection fern, Pleopeltis michauxiana

Southeastern USA forest resident,

An epiphyte of high aerial regard

Clinging to branches and bark

 

No parasite this exquisite plant

Non-flowering, just like other pteridophytes,

But vascular, unlike neighbor-mosses,

Yet all are green with chloroplasts ablaze

 

No need to reach for the sun

The tree does the vertical work,

No need for forest soil and deep roots

Tree surfaces bear water and nutrients

 

Yet from time to time showers lessen

Hot breezes swing the boughs,

No moisture within reach

Time to close the door… rest

 

The fern knows the drill,

Responding with adaptation,

Hitting the off switch, drawing within,

Wilting without complaint

 

Master of dry-spell deception

The fern sleeps with drought,

Desiccated, feigning death, withered

Simply turning life off with ease

 

Waiting patiently, anxiety-free,

Knowing the rain will come,

As it always does in these humid climes,

Resuscitating the deceased

 

Springing to life with turgid cells

Moisture awakens the dead,

Resurrected from deepest sleep

Arboreal garden alive and green

 

No lesser organisms are these,

Finding plenty amid scarcity,

Thriving for 360 million years

Adaptable to whatever tomorrow brings

 

(Do we humans know the drill,

Responding with science and sense,

Hitting the off switch, drawing within,

Beating Covid-19 with social distance?)

 

Should humans fail the test,

Ferns will grace the remains, and

Festoon the decay of civilization,

Declaring their reign of simplicity

 

Release a spore to the wind

Trust it to find suitable anchorage,

An epiphyte of high aerial regard

Clinging to branches and bark

 

 

Leonardo da Vinci observed: Art is the queen of all sciences communicating knowledge to all the generations of the world. I agree… and offer that Nature is the consummate artist.

Resurrection FernResurrection Fern

 

An epiphyte of high aerial regard

Clinging to branches and bark

Resurrection FernRainbow Mountain, Resurrection Fern

 

Release a spore to the wind

Trust it to find suitable anchorage,

This special fern finds all it needs

Perched high in the fork of a tree

Rainbow Mountain, Resurrection Fern

 

No parasite this exquisite plant

Non-flowering, just like other pteridophytes,

But vascular, unlike neighbor-mosses,

Yet all are green with chloroplasts ablaze

Resurrection Fern

Rainbow Mountain, Resurrection Fern

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A two-hour Covid-escape hike reveals magic, spurs contemplation, and lifts spirits. Perhaps we require something like a global pandemic to give us pause, consider our place in the world, and draw together for the common good. We need Nature’s places far more than she needs us. No matter our fate, Nature will reach far beyond our time and place.

Leonardo da Vinci’s Natural Rules of Simplicity

 

I often look back 500 years to seek enlightenment from Leonardo da Vinci, who saw wisdom in Nature and expressed it simply and profoundly. Some examples:

  • In her (nature’s) inventions nothing is lacking and nothing is superfluous.
  • Human subtlety will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple or more direct than does nature because in her inventions nothing is lacking, and nothing is superfluous.
  • Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.
  • Nature is the source of all true knowledge. She has her own logic, her own laws, she has no effect without cause nor invention without necessity.
  • Nature never breaks her own laws.

Resurrection fern, whose moniker so beautifully expresses its secret to life and living, is simplicity itself:

  • An ancient form, long ago proven fit and sustainable
  • Spore disseminated, wind-dependent
  • An epiphyte, elevated anchorage courtesy of trees
  • Stress-coping as its mainstay
  • Relatively free from grazers
  • Writes no poetry
  • Concerns itself not with philosophy, fate, or social distancing
  • It is what it is

Simplicity rules the day, the year, the centuries, the eons!

Thoughts and Reflections

 

I wrote my books Nature Based Leadership (2016), Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading (2017), and Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits: Stories of Passion for Place and Everyday Nature (2019; co-authored with Dr. Jennifer Wilhoit) to encourage all citizens to recognize and appreciate that every lesson for living, learning, serving, and leading is either written indelibly in or is powerfully inspired by Nature. All three are available on Amazon and other online sources.

Here are the three succinct truths I draw from this Blog Post:

  1. Simplicity ensures evolutionary success
  2. Nature is the consummate artist
  3. Nature’s power to inspire and lift us is unfathomable — jettison the potential mental, physical, social, and spiritual anguish of Covid-19 by escaping to nearby Nature

Inhale and absorb Nature’s elixir. May Nature Inspire and Reward you… and keep you healthy!

 

Note: All blog post images created & photographed by Stephen B. Jones unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: “©2020 Steve Jones, Great Blue Heron LLC. All Rights Reserved.”

Another Note: If you came to this post via a Facebook posting or by an another route, please sign up now (no cost… no obligation) to receive my Blog Post email alerts: http://stevejonesgbh.com/contact/

And a Third: I am available for Nature-Inspired Speaking, Writing, and Consulting — contact me at steve.jones.0524@gmail.com

 

Reminder of my Personal and Professional Purpose, Passion, and Cause

If only more of us viewed our precious environment through the filters I employ. If only my mission and vision could be multiplied untold orders of magnitude:

Mission: Employ writing and speaking to educate, inspire, and enable readers and listeners to understand, appreciate, and enjoy Nature… and accept and practice Earth Stewardship.

Vision:

  • People of all ages will pay greater attention to and engage more regularly with Nature… and will accept and practice informed and responsible Earth Stewardship.
  • They will see their relationship to our natural world with new eyes… and will understand more clearly their Earth home.

Tagline/Motto: Steve (Great Blue Heron) encourages and seeks a better tomorrow through Nature-Inspired Living!

 

Steve’s Three Books

I began writing books and Posts for several reasons:

  • I love hiking and exploring in Nature
  • I see images I want to (and do) capture with my trusty iPhone camera
  • I enjoy explaining those images — an educator at heart
  • I don’t play golf!
  • I actually do love writing — it’s the hobby I never needed when my career consumed me
  • Judy suggested my writing is in large measure my legacy to our two kids, our five grand kids, and all the unborn generations beyond
  • And finally, perhaps my books and Blogs could reach beyond family and touch a few others lives… sow some seeds for the future

Steve's BooksPhotos of Steve

 

All three of my books (Nature Based Leadership; Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading; Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) present compilations of personal experiences expressing my (and co-author Dr. Wilhoit for Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) deep passion for Nature. All three books offer observations and reflections on my relationship to the natural world… and the broader implications for society. Order any and all from your local indie bookstore, or find them on IndieBound or other online sources such as Amazon and LifeRich.

Release a spore to the wind

Trust it to find suitable anchorage,

An epiphyte of high aerial regard

Clinging to branches and bark

Lyrical Expressions in Forest Pathogens… Under a Covid-19 Cloud

I write these words March 18, 2020, sheltered in-place in the midst of uncertainty as we face the Corvid-19 pandemic. As a forester (1973 BS) and applied ecologist (1987 PhD), my passion in semi-retirement is Nature, especially trees and forests. With all of my speaking, teaching, and consulting gigs on Covid-hold, I allocate my time among writing, reading, and venturing into Nature’s nearby wildness, camera in-hand and mind alive with thoughts of my place in this world.

Covid-induced house-fever (not of the body temperature kind) provoked me to contemplate the role of all organisms in the great circle and cycle of life and death. I loved undergraduate and graduate courses on forest pathology; I am still fascinated by tree pathogens. Because I have just finished taking a course on writing poetry, I offer you another Great Blue Heron Blog Post in verse… combining tree diseases (pandemics of a different sort) and Covid-19 considerations, thoughts, and reflections.

Trees, too, suffer pandemics

All in the cycle of life and death

Dead Oak

 

Da Vinci, master of simplicity, said,

In her (nature’s) inventions

Nothing is lacking

And nothing is superfluous

Bracket fungiDead Sugarberry

 

And below is my verse. Again, don’t expect rhyme and standard rhythm, nor a scientist’s pure explanation of the respective diseases. View it as more freelance, the musings of a naturalist… fueled by passion and philosophy… and a zeal for words.

The Lyrical Intonations: The Grand Circle of Life and Death

 

All life strives to persevere

Whether human or Covid-19,

Securing the essentials

And seeding the next generation

 

Trees, too, suffer pandemics

All in the cycle of life and death,

Their Latin monikers, harsh

Yet lyrical… even elegant

 

Chestnut blight, an Asian import

Eliminating America’s Tree,

A Cryphonectria parasitica pandemic

All in the cycle of life and death

 

Dutch elm disease, a fungal immigrant

Swept shade from New England streets,

Ophiostoma ulmi, guilty as charged

All in the cycle of life and death

 

White pine blister rust, another import

Threatening the pine of my youth,

Cronartium ribicola, a fungal nasty

All in the cycle of life and death

 

No doubt, I am in love with oaks,

Facing oak wilt’s death threat

Ceratocystis fagacearum,

All in the cycle of life and death

 

Colluding with beech scale insect

Beech bark disease of European origin,

Cryptococcus fagisuga, deadly force

All in the cycle of life and death

 

Courier of spring’s glory

Blunted by dogwood anthracnose,

 Discula destructiva, foe of beauty

All in the cycle of life and death

 

Loblolly pine of my industry days

Cursed by fusiform rust infection,

Cronartium quercuum, dealing woe

All in the cycle of life and death

 

All life strives to persevere

Whether plant pathogen or Covid-19,

Seeding the next generation

All in the cycle of life and death

 

Sobering reality of lesser organisms

Impacting human life and economy,

We learn their ways to reduce consequences

All in the cycle of life and death

 

Da Vinci, master of simplicity, said,

In her (nature’s) inventions

Nothing is lacking

And nothing is superfluous

 

Whether human dreams, or

Covid’s brute determination

To live, flourish, and reproduce,

All in the grand circle of life and death

 

Stating the obvious, death is the final chapter of life; death leads to renewal. All cells furnish nutrients to some consumer organism. Fungal hyphae feeding on dead wood in the two photos below are arranging their next meal, extending mushrooms to the trunk surface to distribute spores to tomorrow’s host.

Dead hackberry

 

Virginia pine at Buck’s Pocket State Park, dead of unknown causes… perhaps daring to select a precarious perch on the rim rock.

Buck's Pocket SP

 

Spotted this twin sweetgum March 18, 2020 on one of my Covid-house-arrest escapes to Bradford Creek Greenway. Buttressed base evidences deep heart rot, a fungal infection established decades ago. The stems have now split; the hollow right fork shattering eight feet above ground.

Da Vinci, master of simplicity, said,

In her (nature’s) inventions

Nothing is lacking

And nothing is superfluous

Bradford GWBradford Creek GW

A massive bur oak, dead of unknown causes, at the edge of gallery forest cover in Kansas’ Konza Prairie Biological Station… perhaps succumbing to more than two centuries of harsh life. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.

Konza Prairie

 

All individuals of every species across 3.5 billion years of life on Earth have succumbed, or will die. Understanding that death is integral to life does not diminish the import of our Covid-19 pandemic. I offer these remarks only to acknowledge that like every living organism, we humans are host to many infectious agents, some ancient and some still emerging and evolving. Unlike the American chestnut (America’s Tree) and the introduced Cryphonectria parasitica, we humans possess the means to combat Covid-19 through the science of modern medicine, just as we did with typhoid fever, smallpox, bubonic plague (black death), and polio. I take comfort that science will prevail.

All life strives to persevere

Whether plant pathogen or Covid-19,

Seeding the next generation

All in the cycle of life and death

Meantime, I shall continue Corvid house-arrest, occasionally venturing into local Nature for doses of Vitamin-N. All of us want to avoid the sorry condition I feigned below:

Covid-19 Sheltering

Three Books

Thoughts and Reflections

 

I wrote my books Nature Based Leadership (2016), Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading (2017), and Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits: Stories of Passion for Place and Everyday Nature (2019; co-authored with Dr. Jennifer Wilhoit) to encourage all citizens to recognize and appreciate that every lesson for living, learning, serving, and leading is either written indelibly in or is powerfully inspired by Nature. All three are available on Amazon and other online sources.

Here are the three succinct truths I draw from this Blog Post:

  1. All living cells are subject to infectious agents, some harmless, others deadly
  2. We have always been, along with every form of life on Earth, part of the endless circle of life and death
  3. Nature’s power to inspire and lift us is unfathomable — jettison the potential mental, physical, social, and spiritual anguish of Covid-19 by escaping to nearby Nature

Inhale and absorb Nature’s elixir. May Nature Inspire and Reward you… and keep you healthy!

 

Note: All blog post images created & photographed by Stephen B. Jones unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: “©2020 Steve Jones, Great Blue Heron LLC. All Rights Reserved.”

Another Note: If you came to this post via a Facebook posting or by an another route, please sign up now (no cost… no obligation) to receive my Blog Post email alerts: http://stevejonesgbh.com/contact/

And a Third: I am available for Nature-Inspired Speaking, Writing, and Consulting — contact me at steve.jones.0524@gmail.com

 

Reminder of my Personal and Professional Purpose, Passion, and Cause

If only more of us viewed our precious environment through the filters I employ. If only my mission and vision could be multiplied untold orders of magnitude:

Mission: Employ writing and speaking to educate, inspire, and enable readers and listeners to understand, appreciate, and enjoy Nature… and accept and practice Earth Stewardship.

Vision:

  • People of all ages will pay greater attention to and engage more regularly with Nature… and will accept and practice informed and responsible Earth Stewardship.
  • They will see their relationship to our natural world with new eyes… and will understand more clearly their Earth home.

Tagline/Motto: Steve (Great Blue Heron) encourages and seeks a better tomorrow through Nature-Inspired Living!

 

Steve’s Three Books

I began writing books and Posts for several reasons:

  • I love hiking and exploring in Nature
  • I see images I want to (and do) capture with my trusty iPhone camera
  • I enjoy explaining those images — an educator at heart
  • I don’t play golf!
  • I actually do love writing — it’s the hobby I never needed when my career consumed me
  • Judy suggested my writing is in large measure my legacy to our two kids, our five grand kids, and all the unborn generations beyond
  • And finally, perhaps my books and Blogs could reach beyond family and touch a few others lives… sow some seeds for the future

Steve's BooksPhotos of Steve

 

 

All three of my books (Nature Based Leadership; Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading; Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) present compilations of personal experiences expressing my (and co-author Dr. Wilhoit for Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) deep passion for Nature. All three books offer observations and reflections on my relationship to the natural world… and the broader implications for society. Order any and all from your local indie bookstore, or find them on IndieBound or other online sources such as Amazon and LifeRich.

 

Nature Poetry: Sowing Seeds for Earth Stewardship

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.

Robert Louis Stevenson

 

I am committed to Earth Stewardship, a mission component driving my entire life in these years of semi-retirement. Spurred by being no longer fully employed, watching the first two of our five grandchildren nudge to within a few months of their teenage years, and feeling both knees (among other body elements) making woods hiking more difficult, I am focusing more and more on leaving some kind of legacy. Sam, the youngest of the five, enjoys hitting the local wildness with me. I am thrilled with his enthusiasm for exploring the woods! Here he is with a lichen-encrusted American beech.

Sam at Wet Beech

 

I’ve published these Great Blue Heron Posts for nearly four years, reaching a tally of 200+ Posts. The vast majority have integrated text and photos, explaining and reflecting on Nature’s magic, beauty, wonder, and awe. I’ve striven to present written messages with inspiring, grammatically correct verbiage. I took a course on Writing Poetry during the 2020 winter quarter of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. I love words… and their integration with my photos. Now I’m ready to try words in verse. I want you to know that it is not easy for this old forester to bare his soul in what for me is a brand new medium. Don’t look for the rhyming verse that most people consider poetry. Neither should you look for the mushy stanzas of love, epic challenges, and tragedy…rooted symbolically in odd twists and turns of phrase. My verses are low on deep hidden meanings and far-reaching interpretation requiring exhaustive study. I am far too literal with words to wear the reader out trying to interpret what I really meant.

Sam is my Nature buddy. My role as his trail guide is simple — passing the fever of Earth Stewardship to him in a manner purposeful, yet subtle, enough that he ultimately shares my addiction into the deep future. That he embraces and spreads the Earth Stewardship gospel. Here is my poem, Sowing Seeds.

Sowing Seeds

Steve Jones March 7, 2020

 

Inoculating youth

With the love of Nature,

       and joy in wildness

 

Encouraging him with Nature immersion

To embrace his responsibility

To know and understand,

To respect and enjoy

To steward the future

 

He’s not just a boy; he’s tomorrow

Nothing else counts so much

As devoting myself to the future,

Making sure Sam knows his joy,

And accepts his burden

 

I pass the torch to him

With passion and purpose

He accepts it without yet knowing

How blessed he is to light the way

 

Inoculating him

With the love of Nature

 

 

 

I pass the torch to him

With passion and purpose

Sam at Wheeler NWR

 

He accepts it without yet knowing

How blessed he is to light the way

Non-flowering Plants

 

He’s not just a boy; he’s tomorrow

 

Nothing else counts so much

As devoting myself to the future,

Making sure Sam knows his joy,

And accepts his burden

Wheeler NWR

 

Reminder of my Personal and Professional Purpose, Passion, and Cause

If only more of us viewed our precious environment through the filters I employ. If only my mission and vision could be multiplied untold orders of magnitude:

Mission: Employ writing and speaking to educate, inspire, and enable readers and listeners to understand, appreciate, and enjoy Nature… and accept and practice Earth Stewardship.

Vision:

  • People of all ages will pay greater attention to and engage more regularly with Nature… and will accept and practice informed and responsible Earth Stewardship.
  • They will see their relationship to our natural world with new eyes… and will understand more clearly their Earth home.

Tagline/Motto: Steve (Great Blue Heron) encourages and seeks a better tomorrow through Nature-Inspired Living!

 

Steve’s Three Books

I began writing books and Posts for several reasons:

  • I love hiking and exploring in Nature
  • I see images I want to (and do) capture with my trusty iPhone camera
  • I enjoy explaining those images — an educator at heart
  • I don’t play golf!
  • I actually do love writing — it’s the hobby I never needed when my career consumed me
  • Judy suggested my writing is in large measure my legacy to our two kids, our five grand kids, and all the unborn generations beyond
  • And finally, perhaps my books and Blogs could reach beyond family and touch a few others lives… sow some seeds for the future

Photos of Steve

 

I like to imagine that representative samples of my books appreciate accompanying me into the woods. So far, none has complained nor groaned. Knowing that I am getting way out in front of remote possibility, perhaps there is a book of Steve’s Nature-Inspired Life and Living Poetry awaiting me around the corner of some forested trail!

 

Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits

 

All three of my books (Nature Based Leadership; Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading; Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) present compilations of personal experiences expressing my (and co-author Dr. Wilhoit for Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) deep passion for Nature. All three books offer observations and reflections on my relationship to the natural world… and the broader implications for society. Order any and all from your local indie bookstore, or find them on IndieBound or other online sources such as Amazon and LifeRich.

 

Note: All blog post images created & photographed by Stephen B. Jones unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: “©2020 Steve Jones, Great Blue Heron LLC. All Rights Reserved.”

Another Note: If you came to this post via a Facebook posting or by an another route, please sign up now (no cost… no obligation) to receive my Blog Post email alerts: http://stevejonesgbh.com/contact/

And a Third: I am available for Nature-Inspired Speaking, Writing, and Consulting — contact me at steve.jones.0524@gmail.com