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Its About Time - September 2017

Thimbleberry, Rubus parviflora
Thimbleberry, Rubus parviflora

The solar eclipse in August was a rare and spectacular event, predicted with the same accuracy as the timing of the equinox this month (1:02 pm, Sept. 22). A hurricane like Harvey is a rare and spectacular event but predicting hurricanes is much more complicated than calculating the timing of celestial events. It is remarkable that people who accept the prediction of celestial events even when they cannot fathom the math behind them are willing to challenge scientists who predict climate change. When political leaders are climate change deniers, catastrophic damage to natural ecosystems and human habitation is inevitable.

Nature lovers are suffering the effects of warming when entry into our favorite wilderness and forested areas is closed due to fire. In normal years we would be able to camp around high mountain lakes and enjoy berries alongside bears, squirrels and birds. Wet meadows in the old Cascades are full of flowers and butterflies. Many such places are likely to be closed to public access until the fall rains come. May rain please come by the first week of October!

End of summer has brought the goldfinches, chickadees and bushtits back to our garden. Their fledglings add to the flurry around the suet cages and birdseed feeders. It is a delight to watch the fuzzy teenagers figuring out how to land gracefully.

One of the berries still accessible is thimbleberry. Thimbleberries are abundant along lower forest roadsides. Yes, it takes an hour to gather enough for jam, but it’s worth it.

David Wagner is a botanist who works in Eugene. He teaches moss classes, leads nature walks and makes nature calendars. He can be contacted through his web site: fernzenmosses.com.