LOCAL VIEW –Tadpoles to Toads–

Our heat wave continues. We have been hotter than Florida, at times. Also it is dry as a bone. Each day some thunder grumbles in the distance, but they are small showers and miss us.

I am losing some seedlings in the garden, as I can’t devote as much time to watering as I’d like, and the sprinkler only waters a small patch at a time. I think I can recall some years when the soil has been baked this dry by late August, but I can never recall soil being like powder in June before.

It makes me think we are in for a cold winter. It is odd, but often the places most above normal in July are most below normal by the next January, (I have noticed this because Global Warming Alarmists always point out the places most-above-normal, which makes them like sitting ducks for the ruthless counterpoints of Skeptics, who are highly skilled at pointing out when places that “proved the world was warming” in July seemingly “prove a new Ice Age is coming” by the following February,) (It has happened too many times to mention, but the time that stands out in my mind was a few years back, when the Siberian tundra and taiga baked, and fires raged in the conifers and smoldered in the bone dry sod to such a degree that the smoke was visible from outer space, and smoke’s haze gave Moscow very bad visibility, which of course caused Alarmist hoopla, yet the next winter saw the the same tundra and taiga set a new Northern Hemisphere record for the coldest temperature ever recorded. [nearly minus 90 Fahrenheit; minus 68 Celsius.] This whiplash from above to below normal makes me think that, rather than attempting to water my baked garden, I should be cutting firewood!)

Not that I have time for either watering or sawing. I have to do my taxes. Usually they are due by April 15, but due to the Corona Virus the due date was extended to July 15. So I of course put it off. Don’t lecture me. If you had any idea how busy my life is, you would be on my side. And what side is that? It is the side that states bureaucrats should be put in jail for cluttering the lives of active people with the demand that we waste precious time keeping tedious, nitpicking records.

When I do my taxes I basically face a giant heap of receipts and bank statements and credit card bills, in many cases wrinkled and/or faded by a dashboard’s sunshine and/or stained by coffee. Amazingly, I am adept at putting the deplorable disorder into chronological order and in all the proper stacks and columns, but God knows I have better things to do. Children are crying and my goats are nagging and my seedlings are withering and the ducks, chickens and rabbit demand feeding, and my dog sighs deeply, and also I am a poet and need time to write. But lazy bureaucrats with nothing better to do insist, so I comply.

Actually it is fun, in a strange way, to look at all the receipts and remember all the stuff you hardly noticed doing at the time, in your rush. (Or in my rush, at least.) It becomes obvious to me that bureaucrats are cursed not only because they plague the innocent, but also because they miss so much that is rich and beautiful.

It might be fun to some day be audited, and to then watch the face of the IRS auditor as he gradually woke up to the richness of my life, going through my receipts. Where he looks at a drab screen and clicks a dull keyboard day after day, my receipts hint at a wider world. True, a receipt is not the same as the actual event, in the same way seeing a bear in a nature-documentary does not increase your pulse in the same manner as meeting an actual bear in the actual woods. But a documentary can open your eyes.

For example, the auditor might note a couple of suspicious receipts for things that seem to have nothing to do with running a Childcare; a tiny aquarium dip-net and an adult book about toads. Then the auditor might make the mistake of asking me to explain, for all that is scrawled on those two receipts is “tadpoles to toads.” I’d then lean back and grin and get garrulous; the audit would take days, if the auditor wasn’t careful.

Tadpoles to toads? Well, in the sweltering heat I had to quit my heap of receipts and do my best to continue a theme of one branch of my so-called “curriculum”. My hard-working staff appreciated having fewer hot-and-bothered children in their groups, as I collected some older and more-inventive rascals to go to the nearby flood-control-reservoir in the oppressive heat and humidity, to check up on the tadpoles.

Small kids have a strange mixture of tenderness and heartlessness towards small creatures, one moment ripping legs off to see how an insect responds, and the next cooing terms of endearment to a crippled “pet”. (Sometimes they kill frogs by hugging them). It is a hard job to teach them to respect life, and to teach a great Truth: Sometimes the way to be loving is to not touch. This is especially true concerning blondes, and also tadpoles.

Wood frog tadpoles look a lot like toad tadpoles, and I bored the kids exceedingly by telling them the difference, during the cooler days back in April when the last ice melted and the amphibians awoke. Both wood frogs and toads spend their lives in the woods away from ponds, but the wood frog’s mating music sounds like a cross between a plucked banjo string and a duck, while the toad has a beautiful, long trill. The frog lays eggs as a mass, while the toad lays long strings. The wood frog lays eggs in vernal pools away from a pond’s predators, while a toad lays eggs in the shallowest water where predators seldom go. The children yawned. As far as they were concerned a tadpole was a tadpole.

When the small children get haughty with me I know I likely deserve it; (children have little time for an old man’s garrulous yammering), but one approach I have is to be just as haughty right back at them. I lay it on thick, slapping my forehead and staggering about exclaiming, “Oh! How could you say such a thing! A tadpole is just a tadpole? Incredible! Simply incredible!” The kids find such antics amusing, and then tend to actually listen.

This year I ranted, “You call these piddling things tadpoles? Now, a bullfrog tadpole, that’s something to see, and takes two years to mature. It’s got to swim like a fish, to live so long. These little pathetic black blobs can barely move with their tiny tails; I’m surprised they don’t drown, but they will be turning to frogs in just a few weeks. Better to just call them pollywogs, not tadpoles.”

Our drought created a crisis for the wood frogs, for the vernal pools began drying up. This brought out the compassion in the children. Where they had been mercilessly poking and tweaking the tadpoles just days earlier, all of a sudden they were faced with a mass of squirming tadpoles facing certain death in the final remaining water of an evaporating puddle, and decided to conduct an emergency evacuation to the nearby flood-control-reservoir. Rushing back and forth with small cups of tadpoles kept them busy for most of a hot morning. I cancelled my hike-and-lecture for that morning, for they obviously were having great fun, and also were displaying kindness (and were quite puffed up about how noble they were being.) One boy made a wailing noise like an ambulance as he rushed the small creatures to the pond. I didn’t spoil their party by mentioning what they were likely doing was feeding the bass.

They put the wood frog tadpoles in the shallow water where the toad tadpoles were just starting to appear, and, as the two species look nearly identical, (like black punctuation marks with tails too skimpy to be commas), there was understandable confusion, and they felt, in the following days, that the toad tadpoles were “their” wood frog tadpoles. I didn’t puncture their illusion, as they had slightly more consideration for the creatures by taking ownership, though they still managed to kill a few by scooping them from the water in cupped hands.

Toad pollywogs crowd the shore in amazingly shallow water, at times seeming beached like miniature whales. This made them easy to catch, and I tried to dissuade the kids from “rescuing” them by pushing the tadpoles out into deeper water. Not only did this compassion accidentally smush some of the tiny creatures, but it put them out where fish lurk, and even though toad tadpoles have the same poison adult toads have in their skin, and can kill some fish, other fish either have iron stomachs, or don’t mind dying. In any case the pollywogs wriggle in the slime of algae by the shore. Not only do they eat algae, but algae grows on their skin, and in some weird way having algae grow on them helps them grow faster. Yet, even as I tell the kids all this interesting trivia, I can see the little cartoon thought-balloons above their heads saying, “Too much information” and “Who cares?”

In yesterday’s heat and humidity they cared less than usual about all my talk about toads. All they wanted was to wade, the deeper the better. I stated they could wade up to their thighs, and they tested that limit constantly, and also squatted down to be immersed to their necks, so I became more of a frowning lifeguard demanding they retreat to shallower waters, than a professor of toadism.

Even though I never had to get wet saving anyone, it is surprisingly cooler right next to water in a hot spell, and eventually the cooled children grew bored of getting wet and started to meander down the shoreline, as I trailed along behind. At one point they came rushing back due to seeing a water snake, but it turned out to be the inner tube of a bicycle, that somehow wound up in a remote spot. I didn’t scold them for being fooled. It takes a professor like myself to spot the difference.

They were fascinated by the sunfish-nests just off shore, sandy areas cleared of all algae and protected by a jealous fish. They were puzzled by how few tadpoles there seemed to be, all of a sudden. Then they were grossed-out by what seemed to be lots of fleas, hopping about the shore. But they were not fleas. They were incredibly small baby toads.

We had lucked into wandering the shore during the brief period when toads all rush inland together as a minuscule stampede. Not one toad showed the slightest interest in fleeing us back towards the water. They headed inland even when it involved climbing steep slopes and cliffs. They were so numerous the children could hold four or five in the palm of their hands, despite my instruction that baby toads are too fragile to be picked up.

A toad’s metamorphosis must be amazingly fast, for there were still some tadpoles in the water, yet I only saw a single example of a tadpole in an intermediate phase, with both tail and legs. Perhaps my eyes are less keen. Someone should study the subject. But I did have the brains to not start talking about “metamorphosis” with the kids. They seemed entranced, without needing my help.

I felt I was seeing a sort of verification of my personal philosophy involving children and nature, which seems completely opposed to some socialist views. Socialists seem to feel it is best to herd children into indoctrination centers and to badger them with a guilt which suggests that man hurts nature, and they should never hurt nature by treading on its dirt, and therefore the only moral response to nature is to only experience nature in dark auditoriums via videos.

An odd thought occurred to me, and it was this; A socialist would have a hard time with the relationship between toad tadpoles and algae. They would either see the toad as the bad guy, for eating the algae, or see the algae as the bad guy, for growing on the toad and in a sense “eating” the toad. What is hard to intellectually grasp is that both the toad and the algae benefit, (and they even have the audacity to benefit without obtaining permits from bureaucratic socialists).

In like manner a small-minded socialist shudders at the sight of a child ripping the legs off an ant, or accidentally killing a tadpole, and cannot see how nature could benefit from such an experience. However nature does benefit from the interaction, for in the process the child is awakened to the marvel God has created, and falls in love with nature. Watching the children marvel over the tiny toads made me feel they were becoming people far more likely to preserve a woodland than to tear it down.

I also felt that perhaps I was demonstrating to socialists everywhere that sometimes a small business can do what Big Government cannot. A thousand small, independent neighborhood schools is better than a single vast institution. Having a field trip of several thousand kids on the shore of the flood-control-reservoir would have trampled the experience utterly.

In an odd way it seems to me that socialists, with their love of organization and order, are the ones ripping the legs off little ants.

They fail to see the Light, and therefore are enamored of shadow. And that seems worth a sonnet, before I get back to my taxes.

. SHADOW SONNET

What fools these shadows seem, approaching
The Light with swords drawn, yet all shrinking
The closer they get. The Light’s reproaching
Their arrogance, but they go on thinking
They’ll snuff the Light, dreaming darkness rules.
They think in darkness no one will see
Their plots, but darkness makes them the blind fools.
Without the Light they will simply cease to be.
Without a Creator, the creation can’t
Continue. So it goes. As they persist
The Light reveals their nature. With each rant
They get smaller. With a toddler’s small fist
They approach Light shrinking like shadows at noon.
Worms under rocks shrink from even the moon.

LOCAL VIEW –Dove Sonnet–

Our drought and heatwave continues. Not all that hot for Texas, but hot for these hills; ninety ( 32 celsius).

Yesterday it was so hot my dog lay about all day, then took off on me as we walked out to the car in the evening. She was out all night. Smart dog. Definitely not a mad dog or Englishman. She must have had a good time; she had a definite sparkle in her eye this morning. I was just glad she was alive, and I didn’t get fined.

Too hot for politics. I only watched snippets of the Trump rally. Few wore masks. The BLM leftists were blocking the entrances. I was impressed by the restraint on the part of most of the Trump supporters. The left seems to be itching to divide the country, and the hot weather doesn’t help, but things remain hanging by a thread, as if we are midst a domestic cold war. My approach is to limit the news I watch. Worry doesn’t help.

I thought it was a good sign that the first bird to sing in the dusk before dawn this morning was a dove.

MOURNING DOVE

This dawn a dove’s first coo beats the thrushes
First gushes of song; Mars glares though black haze
to the east. Heat’s paused. The cooing hushes
A fretful, sleepless child, who at long last lays
A hot cheek on the pillow’s cool side,
Finding instant sleep. Mars fades as the coos
Query the blushing east, a sane aside
Midst a heat-wave’s madness; water’s cool blues
Midst yellow dust; a momentary pause
Midst the riot of thrushes, as if all birds
Cocked heads to heed the recital of laws
Unbroken midst shattered glass, unspoken words
Which make even stars grow modest and fade.
The old dove coos from the cool of the shade.

LONGEST DAYS SONNETS

. LONGEST DAY SONNET

Longest days awaken some memory
Which I doubt it is Christian to admit:
Some echo from past lives, wherein you see
Beyond the everyday. Because of it
The pumpkin twilight on the black ridge-line
Strangely moves one, after the long, hot day.
Like a thoughtless dog, one sniffs a divine
Perfume which utterly distracts dismay.
Does mood have a scent? The sweet aftershave
Of summer’s late twilight allures, enchants,
And seduces my mind from the dark cave
It dug for itself with self-righteous rants,
And though I drive home, I see my heart roams
As within I steer towards the highest of homes.

. CRESCENDO SONNET

All worldly bliss must come to an end, though
Joy is Grace; only fools would deny it.
Symphonies must swell to a crescendo
Like birdsong’s explosive summer riot
At sunrise. Why sulk that this too will pass?
Would it be as lovely if made everyday?
And listen beyond the birdsong. Even the grass
Hearkens to faintest thunder far away,
Thirsty for drenching. Those growls will grow
And morning will purple; lightning’s flashes
Will mount to a second wild crescendo.
Then, as sheets of rain part branch’s thrashes,
You’ll change your tune, and you’ll say its OK
That crescendos are things that wander away.

.

. DROUGHT SONNET

My prayers were answered. When I shivered
In April’s falling slush I wished hot sun
Would beat down. Hot sun is now delivered
And I sweat in the shade. I am the one
To blame for the soil turning to powder
And blooms turning their faces from the sun.
All wilts. My wife wishes I allowed her
To do my praying, but I am the one
Who must stand in the garden, a scarecrow
Holding a hose. And I can think of worse
Ways to spend my time. My plants barely grow
Despite my efforts, but I will not curse.
It is more fun to splash than complain,
Recalling the shivers of cold April rain.

HOT HAIKU

When the dog won’t budge, and just lays when I’m heading out instead of asking to come along,  then I know I won’t produce much. Nor will I sleep much as night comes on. There should be some saying like “Nothing good happens after midnight” for high humidity. All eyes look west for thunder, and crisp Canadian air, expectant, breathless.

The black night’s too hot
And lightning is too brilliant
And all is silent.

Hot Haiku IMG_6952

The night’s too hot and heat lightning flashes
Too brilliant, and all is waiting silent.
I long for wind’s roar; for thunder’s crashes.
I wonder where the lost breeze’s sigh went.
Not even a cricket chirps. No cat yowls.
I hear no hooting owls. Have I gone deaf?
No, for I hear my hot stomach’s growls
And hear the intake of my own breath.
Now is the time that the red beast comes panting
Through sweating black to torment men.
Draw swords, with night stallions stamping
Silence, night mares screaming silence, and then
More silence. Hot silence way too loud
With unseen lightning illuminating cloud.

EMBARASS THE EMBARASSING

Remove air conditioning from all US State Department property.

John Kerry, Airconditioners, ISIS

WHEREAS, Secretary of State John F. Kerry has suggested that air conditioners are as big a threat as ISIS, and

WHEREAS, it is the duty of our elected and appointed government officials to lead by example,

THEREFORE, we call upon the U.S. Department of State to remove air conditioning from all property that the Department owns, rents, or otherwise employs, including but not limited to embassies, consulates, office buildings, etc., all vehicles owned and/or operated by the Department, and any other property, real or movable, owned, rented, or otherwise employed by the Department.

You can sign the petition here:

https://www.change.org/p/remove-air-conditioning-from-all-us-state-department-property

Above layout for Petition lifted from Jo Nova’s site here:

http://joannenova.com.au/

Just for your general information, the average household uses 911 KWH per Month.  In Washington DC, the average non-household structure (and this includes Mom and Pop stores that bring the average down) use 26,919 KWH per Month.

We pay for our own households. We also pay for the offices in Washington.

Even though this petition won’t lead to the President experiencing the conditions Jefferson experienced, the very idea of this petition might make a few people in Washington pause briefly, look out the window at temperatures around a hundred this week, and think a bit more deeply than usual.

So far 2,850 people have signed this petition. Please pass it on. I hope it goes viral.

I am tired of cringing when I read John Kerry has made another of these ridiculous statements. I don’t believe for a second he believes what he says. It doesn’t take all that much research  to understand the complexity of the Climate, and the grave doubts true scientists have that CO2 has more than a minor effect, and also about whether warming would be harmful or beneficial.

Even if Kerry has no  time for such research, he has advisers that do, and he surely is well aware of the reality. Therefore, when he makes statements such as the above statement, he is aware it is not only political grandstanding, but is a distortion and is dishonest. It is this dishonesty that I find most embarrassing, and causes me to feel Kerry, the President, and others who perpetuate this political grandstanding need to be embarrassed right back.

UPDATE

The petition is over 7000 now, seven hours later.