The Seattle Street-Smart Naturalist
128 pages
English
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The Seattle Street-Smart Naturalist

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128 pages
English

Description

Back to the city, or back to nature? Seattle author David Williams shows us how we can get the best of both. Botany and bugs, geology and geese, and creeks and crows; living in a major city doesn't have to separate us from the natural world. Stepping away from a guidebook format, Williams presents the reader with a series of essays and maps that weave personal musings, bits of humor, natural history observations, and scientific data into a multi-textured perspective of life in the city--descriptions of his journeys as a naturalist in an urban landscape. Williams addresses questions that an observant person asks in an urban environment. What did Seattle look like before Europeans got here? How does the area's geologic past affect us? Why have some animals thrived and other languished? How are we affected by the species with whom we share the urban environment and how do we affect them? This book captures all of the distinctive flavors of the Emerald City, urban and natural.
What these stories and my adventures in Seattle confirm for me is that you don't have to go to exotic places to find interesting natural history stories, despite what you might see on the Discovery Channel or in the pages of National Geographic. These fine purveyors of nature leave you with the distinct feeling that nature is out there, away from most people's ordinary lives. They fail to show that stories are in our yards, under our feet, and on the walls of our buildings. Stories and nature are all around us, if we take the time to look and wonder.
Acknowledgments – 7, Introduction – 9, The Eagles – 12, The Fault – 28, The Plants – 42, The Creek – 60, The Stone – 80, The Geese – 94, The Bugs – 108, The Weather – 124, The Hills – 138, The Invaders – 154, The Water – 168, The Crows – 186, Notes – 203,

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Publié par
Date de parution 15 novembre 2012
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780882409009
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0037€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

Exrait

What these stories and my adventures in Seattle confirm for me is that you don't have to go to exotic places to find interesting natural history stories, despite what you might see on the Discovery Channel or in the pages of National Geographic. These fine purveyors of nature leave you with the distinct feeling that nature is out there, away from most people's ordinary lives. They fail to show that stories are in our yards, under our feet, and on the walls of our buildings. Stories and nature are all around us, if we take the time to look and wonder.
Acknowledgments – 7, Introduction – 9, The Eagles – 12, The Fault – 28, The Plants – 42, The Creek – 60, The Stone – 80, The Geese – 94, The Bugs – 108, The Weather – 124, The Hills – 138, The Invaders – 154, The Water – 168, The Crows – 186, Notes – 203,' />
To Marjorie
Text © 2005 David B. Williams Maps © 2005 Megan Ernst Cover Photo © 2008 Jamie and Judy Wild / DanitaDelimont.com
This book was previously published under the titleThe Street-Smart Naturalist: Field Notes from Seattle.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Williams, David B., 1965-The Seattle street-smart naturalist / David B. Williams. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 978-1-55868-859-9 (softbound) 1. Natural history—Washington (State)—Seattle Region—Anecdotes. 2. Williams, David B., 1965- I. Title. QH105.W2W55 2005 508.797772—dc22
® WestWinds Press An imprint of Graphic Arts Books P.O. Box 56118 Portland, OR 97238-6118 (503) 254-5591
Editor: Colin Chisholm Design: Andrea Boven Nelson, Boven Design Studio
2004012542
Acknowledgments
Introduction
The Eagles
The Fault
The Plants
The Creek
The Stone
The Geese
The Bugs
The Weather
The Hills
The Invaders
The Water
The Crows
Notes
About the Author
CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
I could not have written this book without the generous support and encouragement of the following people: Sally Abella, Bud Angerman, Clay Antieau, Esa Ärmänen, Jeremy Bell, Becky Benton, Nick Bond, Derek Booth, Sharon J. Collman, Brad Colman, Rod Crawford, Frank Danes, Bernadette Donald, Jean-Pierre Garcia, Curt Hedstrom, Arthur Lee Jacobson, Roger Kiers, Cheryl Klinker, Dave Knoblach, Louise Kulzer, Ray Larson, Estella Leopold, Meredith Lohr, Nate Mantua, John Marzluff, Kathy Mendelson, Martin Muller, Ralph Naess, Dennis Paulson, Keel Price, Sarah Reichard, Diane Sepanski, Brian Sherrod, Evan Sugden, Paul Talbert, Coll Thrush, Kathy Troost, Bob Vreeland, Dave Waters, Jim Watson, and John Withey. They answered my persistent questions, tracked down obscure facts, took me out in the field, and fact checked chapters. Any errors or misinterpretations of their data, of course, are mine. I wish to thank the librarians in Special Collections at the University of Washington, who helped me track down many obscure documents. In the Internet Age, librarians’ skills and knowledge are more important than ever. The Cultural Development Authority of King County, through their Heritage Special Projects and Arts Special Projects programs in 2002 and 2003, and the Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs Seattle Artists Program for Literary Arts provided funds that allowed me to work on this project. A big thanks to Tricia Brown at Graphic Arts for her support throughout this project. I am grateful to Lisa Wogan and Bob Benton for reading the entire manuscript and making helpful suggestions, to Megan Ernst for her exquisite drawings, and to Colin Chisholm for his astute copyediting and editing. To my parents for their inspiration and support. And finally to my wife, Marjorie Kittle, for reading and rereading each chapter and for listening to me ramble during this four-year-long project on seemingly endless walks. I couldn’t have done it without you.
INTRODUCTION
Ihave been fortunate to spenB an important part of my life outBoors. After I graBuateB from college with a Begree in geology I moveB to Moab, Utah, where I haB lineB up an internship with a nonprofit eBucation organization. I planneB on staying for three months but enBeB up leaving nine years later. As a program coorBinator at the fielB school anB later as a park ranger at Arches National Park, I exploreB some of the most beautiful anB Besolate lanBscapes on the planet with a vibrant anB enthusiastic group of folks who loveB the Besert anB who haB a passion for sharing their knowleBge of the flora anB fauna. It was an amazing lifestyle that I was lucky to experience. My years in the Besert enBeB when my wife, Marjorie, anB I moveB to oston so she coulB go to graBuate school. The change was a shock, to say the least. I can best sum it up with a simple set of numbers. Population Bensity in GranB County, where we liveB in Utah, was a little unBer two people per square mile. In Somerville, Massachusetts, there were roughly 19,713 more people in that same space. We remaineB in oston for as little time as necessary, arriving one Bay before Marjorie’s graBuate program starteB anB leaving three weeks before graBuation ceremonies. What saveB my sanity in oston was the natural worlB. I BiscovereB five-inch-wiBe fossils in limestone builBing blocks of the city’s seconB-tallest skyscraper. I watcheB reB-taileB hawks hunt in the garBens across the street from our apartment. I joineB a pilgrimage of birBers to one of the city’s toniest sections, when a boreal owl maBe a rare visit. I founB solace in a 3.5-mile-long river. Unlike the previous BecaBe of my life, when I haB to travel only a few minutes to finB spectacular natural features, these expeBitions requireB planning anB Betermination. To succeeB in finBing wilBness in the city, I haB to hone my observational skills anB learn the importance of patience. I became an aficionaBo of small wonBers. Moving to oston also forceB me to be a hunter anB gatherer, not only of nature, but also of stories, one of the most sustaining parts of my life. For me, a gooB natural history story is as much about history as it is about nature. I am someone who wants to know why a plant or place has a certain name, why a scientist BeciBeB to stuBy his or her subject, or when anB how a particular species was introBuceB. I want to examine the intersection between people anB nature, anB the urban lanBscape is as gooB a place as any to Bo this. Since Marjorie anB I moveB back to Seattle 7 years ago, after an absence for me of 15 years, I have trieB to use my new skills to hunt, explore, anB ask questions in the city where I grew up. Although Seattle is young, our stories are as complex as our topography. They have given me a Beeper appreciation of anB connection with my hometown. Maybe it is hyperbole to say that I have founB myself or that without my forays into urban nature I coulB not survive, but I Bo know that I like Seattle better after spenBing so much time exploring anB Biscovering new anB olB places. I take greater pleasure in the city. I am comfortable here. What these stories anB my aBventures in Seattle confirm for me is that you Bon’t have to go to exotic places to finB interesting natural history stories, Bespite what you might see on the Discovery Channel or in the pages ofNational Geographic. These fine purveyors of nature leave you with the Bistinct feeling that nature is out there, away from most people’s orBinary lives. They fail to show that stories are in our yarBs, unBer our feet, anB on the walls of our builBings. Stories anB nature are all arounB us, if we take the time to look anB wonBer. I am not saying that we shoulB substitute urban experiences for wilB ones, but I
recognize that most urban Bwellers stanB a better chance of Beveloping a relationship with a goose than with a gorilla. We will Bevelop connections with nature more often in our neighborhooB parks than in national parks. We will have our first chilBhooB encounter with a wilB, unBomesticateB animal while exploring our backyarBs or nearby green spaces. These encounters anB experiences will become more important as we continue to become a more urban planet. Getting to know the urban wilB will also influence how we react in wilBer places. What lessons will people learn when they see public officials killing CanaBa geese in Seattle? What if insteaB citizens hearB public officials challenging us to make changes in orBer to coexist with thousanBs of geese? I cannot help thinking that positive experiences with wilBness in urban settings will leaB to a positive lanB ethic in wilBer places. Another fine attribute of life as an urban naturalist is that it Boes not require specializeB equipment. My fielB bag consists of notebook anB pencil, binoculars, flashlight, magnifying lens, anB an insulateB coffee mug (one benefit of urban natural history is the proximity to gooB fooB anB Brink). I also wear metaphorical blinBers. I have founB them to be quite helpful in ignoring trash anB ivy on a search for skunk cabbage. They have alloweB me to bypass the mall while hunting for a bog, or to block out freeway sounBs when listening to chorus frogs. It also Boesn’t hurt if you Bon’t minB Boing oBB things, like crawling arounB the floor of a mall to look at 150-million-year-olB sponge fossils, posting up in a car at 7:00 A.M. waiting for crows to come anB finB a bag of olB french fries, traipsing arounB unBer an interstate highway in search of eviBence for plate tectonics, or touring a wastewater treatment plant. These experiences may not fit the picture of “classic” nature, but they certainly have maBe my Bays more fun anB interesting. To be an urban naturalist one must also be an optimist. You have to be open to possibilities. You have to trust that urbanization will not Brive away every living species except starlings, rats, blackberries, anB English ivy. You have to believe that humans can learn from the past. You have to believe what Henry DaviB Thoreau once wrote, that “In wilBness is the preservation of the worlB,” whether you finB that wilBness in your backyarB or in the back of beyonB.
For my own part, I wish the balB eagle haB not been chosen as the representative of our country; he is a birB of baB moral character; he Boes not get his living honestly; you may have seen him percheB on some BeaB tree, whe re, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labor of the fishing-hawk; anB, when that Biligent birB has at length taken a fish, anB is bearing it to his nest for the support of his mate anB young ones, the balB eagle pursues him, anB takes it from him. LETTER FROM ENJAMIN FRANKLIN TO HIS DAUGHTER, SARAH ACHE, JANUARY 26, 1784
THE EAGLES
Ifirst saw the bald eagle while visiting Seattle’s m ost popular park on Thanksgiving Day, 1998. Marjorie and I were taking advantage of the cool, overcast morning to walk around the three-mile-long trail that skirts the park’s central feature, Green Lake. We had just started around the water when we saw the bird’s brilliant white head, which stood out from the barren limbs like a lighthouse on a foggy coast. The two-foot-tall bird sat atop one of the many black cottonwoods on Duck Island, a small, man-made dab of land at the north end of the lake. With my binoculars I could discern the chocolate brown body, the 12-inch-long white tail, and the yellow beak. After admiring the eagle for several minutes, we resumed our walk. It seemed appropriate to see our national symbol on this particular holiday, for we could be thankful for the return of bald eagles from the edge of extinction. Just seven months after my first encounter with an urban eagle, on our nation’s other great patriotic day, President Clinton proposed removing the bald eagle from the federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. “The American bald eagle is now back from the brink of extinction,” he said. “I can think of no better way to honor the birth of our nation than by celebrating the rebirth of our proudest living symbol.” Concern over the bald eagle decline first became a national priority when a 1963 National Audubon Society study found only 417 active nests in the lower 48 states. This compares with an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 eagles on the North American continent before the first Europeans landed. Despite the publicity caused by the report, another 15 years would pass before bald eagles got official designation under the aegis of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973. In addition to prohibiting harming, pursuing, and killing eagles, the listing also required that habitat be protected, with an ultimate goal of recovery of the species. In 2003 the number of nesting bald eagles exceeded 7,678 pairs. My sighting of the eagle occurred a little over five months after Marjorie and I had moved to Seattle and two months after we had purchased a home just north of the lake. The move back to my boyhood home had been a major change in our lives. Marjorie and I had met in September 1991, in Moab, Utah, and spent five years working outdoor-oriented jobs. The red-rock desert of southern Utah was the landscape that I knew and loved more than any other. It was where I had become a naturalist and developed my passion for hiking, backpacking, and exploring. It was the place I felt most centered and at home. When we moved to Boston for Marjorie’s MBA program in 1996, we knew it was only temporary and that we would probably end up back in Moab after two years in the East. The sojourn in Boston and a scare I had with skin cancer, however, made us realize that a small town that gets 300 days of sun a year was not the best place for us. Although we knew we would dearly miss the desert and our friends, we decided to return to Seattle, which we hoped would offer us a good mix of urban life and access to the outdoors. We were nervous about making Seattle our permanent home. I had enjoyed growing up in the city and we had liked our visits to see my family, but living here as an adult would not be the same. I wondered how it would be to live without the wildness of the desert; I had learned how to do it in Boston but I had also returned to the desert six times in 18 months. In Seattle, we would not have the luxury of going back so often. Nor did we have the mindset that we would be in Seattle for only a short time with the desert waiting for us at the end of our time here. I took our sighting of the Thanksgiving Day bald eagle as a fortuitous omen.
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