Silvius gigantulus, golden deer fly

It’s About Time

In recent years fire danger has been hikers’ primary concern. Drought brought on by climate change has engendered fierce forest fires that have restricted access to large areas. North Pacific Ocean temperatures have been high in the past five years. The warm period extended into February of this year, when flowering of native plants was as much as three weeks early. However, there has been a shift to lower ocean temperatures recently, which may account for our cooler late spring. Although it’s now hot and dry, the blackberries this year will not likely reach peak until the middle of this month. And no major fires have been reported. Yet.

It will be hard to celebrate my 75th birthday this month. We usually dedicate the occasion for an extended camping trip. Sadly, the grip of COVID-19 has kept almost all campgrounds closed with no prospect of reopening soon. Our favorite resort destinations are closed or are not suitable for old farts like me. It grieves me that ignorance and political posturing has aborted control of the pandemic that affects everybody. We cannot forget this on election day.

Living in Eugene is a great blessing, for it is not hard to find places to interact with nature on a one-to-one basis. Bird watching and flower photography are favored by solitary forays. Not every one-on-one is enjoyable. Mosquitoes are bad enough, but the Golden Deer Fly, illustrated here, is a green eyed monster that slices, not stings. Like mosquitoes, only females drink blood.

David Wagner is a botanist who has worked in Eugene for more than 40 years. He teaches moss classes, leads nature walks and publishes the Oregon Nature Calendar. Contact him directly at