Thursday, February 24, 2011

Two Weeks, Two Domes

Made it down for a good day in St. Paul yesterday, and sold another bunch of books and cds. In the course of my last book trip or maybe just hauling juice from the market, a rip had started in my old gym bag so I went to REI yesterday and got a new one along with a second duffel bag for the trip. Mallard was a tempting color choice, but all things considered I thought Sagebrush was more appropriate.

I got my last dozen Bruegger's Everything bagels for quite a while and had a great green curry with seitan, broccoli, pea pods, and basil at a Thai place.

The day took me through a couple areas I considered moving to about five years ago though it seems much longer ago. It was fun to think back on my visits to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and the Raptor Center as I passed near them. There are a lot of roads not taken for me there. As for the roads the buses took, well, there's a lot more snow there than here--they had another foot last Sunday while we were just getting blown away by wind. I saw many mailboxes barely peeking out of snowbanks by the sides of the road.

While in the city, I took quick photos of St. Paul's domes.

I think Church easily beats State for the right to face Nature for the championship, but we all know that one's going to be a landslide.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Three Weeks to a Bed

My air mattress apparently sprung a slow leak a few days ago. Now I refill it each night, lie down, and slowly sink all night long until I wake in the morning in the pocket of my air mattress coffin.

This week’s been a heat wave in the 40s and a record 52 yesterday, leading to lots of melting followed by refreezing overnight. I headed out to take some photos yesterday morning but gave up on the idea immediately because it was like trying to walk on slippery glaciers. Last night it stayed warm enough to not refreeze but that led to being fogged in from the evaporating snow. Winter's due back tonight.

Along with moving preparations, I’ve been keeping very busy with a couple projects (film noir and classical music) while I still have a library to use. There are a couple novels (The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore and When the Killing's Done) published this month I want to read and am first in line for at the library but they haven’t processed them yet—I’ll be reading down to the wire, and still have a couple Vine books I need to read and review at some point.

I am reading a good book by Carl Safina, The View from Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World. Lazy Point is at the end of New York’s Long Island, and the book alternates nature writing based there and from other locations such as coral reefs and Alaska with reflections on how our economy, philosophy, and way of life are all completely removed from ecological reality and the changes which are happening because of the changing climate.

Of Alaskans who complain about federal land there while receiving on average 25 times the national average of per capita federal funds, he writes, “Like anti-‘big government’ folk in many places, such people are whining, selfish hypocrites.” Yep, there are a lot of them in the states surrounding Yellowstone as well--hunters complaining about wolves killing elk, subsidized ranchers complaining about bison. Always have been, and despite the oft-heard claim that local people know best how to "manage" local land, there would have been no national parks preserved had it been left up to the locals who wanted to exploit the land.

I’ve decided to leave a few boxes in storage here. No doubt it will cost me more than the dollar value of the contents, but some of it is irreplaceable. After this season at Yellowstone, my future there could be anywhere from ten months a year to never going back, and until I determine that, I’ll skip the hassle of shipping to and from there. There are no convenient storage places in Duluth but I’ve found the best of a bad lot and will make a couple cab trips in March to get my stuff there.

Although I’m storing boxes and will have a lot more space than I need, I’m still selling the books and cds I’d picked out. I made one trip to St. Paul and will go again next week. I could have carried everything at once, but thought I’d go easy on my foot. Even with the weight cut in half, my foot was so sore by the end of the day that I spent the last two hours of my first trip sitting in the bus station waiting for the return bus to Duluth because I couldn’t walk anymore.

I’ve got the bus ticket, settled another of my old debts, have given the disconnection date to the phone and electric companies, and gotten myself a Post Office Box in Yellowstone (what a cool address!) Moving seems overwhelming as all major change usually does to me, but when I get there, I’ll be in one place for 7 months, the longest in one spot since I left Duluth in 2009. Many of my favorite people from last year won’t be back, but it will be fun to reconnect with those who are, and meet some new people now that I’m more comfortable with the place. As homeless shelters go, Yellowstone’s pretty damn good.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Five Weeks, Six Links

And I still haven't decided what I'm doing. Oh, I've bought the bus ticket and made a hotel reservation in Bozeman (although I may have to cancel the last night and take a bus to find a hotel in a different town because at this point I don't know where I'm getting picked up--annoying).

But what I haven't decided is whether I'm shipping, storing, or tossing. Until a week ago, my plan had been to ship everything out to YNP but now I'm leaning to storing here in Duluth because I don't know if I'm going to like the new job or if I'm going to want to work there beyond this year. Either way, it's a pain to deal with without driving.

The main sticking point is the box of journals which I don't want to toss yet. Otherwise I could probably reduce my books to a bare minimum, load up the backpack, and pay Greyhound for an extra bag and carry everything out there (though the weight isn't good for the foot). I suppose I should have been busily typing the best of the journals into the computer for the past few months, but after so many months away from books and films, it was hard to resist them.

For a lot of people the grass is always greener somewhere else. I guess for me the snow is always whiter wherever I am. Right now I don't really want to leave Duluth. Of course, I didn't want to leave Yellowstone a few months ago either, and probably won't want to again a few months from now.

It's nice having an apartment of my own and a library to use and a Lake to look at even if I haven't been able to walk by it much these past months. On the other hand, I don't want to mess with Duluth's job market again, and there's certainly worse things than having to work in a national park. And because of the large number of apartments my landlord has here, it may not be too difficult to find a place to live in the breaks between work seasons. A Duluth/Yellowstone combo might be my perfect world, once I get rid of the stuff. Though I guess I'll have to stock a new kitchen every year.

I finished watching Ken Burns' PBS series on the parks a couple days ago--I'd only seen bits and pieces previously. I took lots of notes on subjects to learn more about. Tried to read a book about Theodore Roosevelt and his role but the author lost me in the first pages with a poor high schooler's description of Thoreau as a hermit making "sulking sojourns at Walden Pond". So I just checked the Yellowstone sections and returned that book and got one about national park history by one of the guys featured in the tv series.

Park history was really my main interest but I had been curious to see if I could figure out Roosevelt, the great conservationist who was eager to kill a bison before someone else killed the last one. I loved hearing in the series that John Muir asked Roosevelt, "When are you going to get over this infantile need you have to kill animals?" Of course, that might have doomed Hetch Hetchy right then.

Another annoying thing in the book was that when I looked up bison in the index, I was referred to check buffalo. Under buffalo, one of the entries was for a note "bison vs"--when I looked that up, it explained that although the words were often used interchangeably, bison and buffalo are actually different animals, one here and one in Asia. So why the hell did he proceed to list everything about bison listed under buffalo in the index?

Lots of bison probably being killed at Yellowstone right now. Between that, and morons like Orrin Hatch and the many westerners who agree with him about the "War on the West", I'm feeling particularly disgusted by humans these days.

Picked up a couple potentially interesting free books last week which will be coming out in March: Once and Future Giants: What Ice Age Extinctions Tell Us About the Fate of Earth's Largest Animals and Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth.

I doubt either of them are going to make me like people any more though. For that I'll have to keep watching the dvd I finally got featuring the local peregrine falcon banding I wrote about here. Yeah, I know that's not all sweetness and light either, but I get a kick out of seeing myself with a falcon nestling.

Yesterday, a teenage girl told me she liked my beard. I couldn't tell if I was being mocked, flattered, or entrapped. What makes it even stranger is that she's the second teenage girl to tell me she liked my beard in the past six months. Maybe this is how Ed Abbey got all that action.