I took these photos yesterday, 20 June 2019, the last day of Spring. They were taken at home in Bailey, Colorado, elev. 8750′. –s.a. bort
Monument to nature,
All that is soft and smooth,
That which best comes in pairs,
Creation of motherhood,
All unaborted, suckling children,
First nourishment for each and all of us once pulled from the womb,
by s.a. bort / 6 June 2019
Living at 8,750′ elevation in the mountains of Colorado, Spring is here for Jean and I, finally! (Although, it’s May 10th, and it has been snowing for two days.)
We saw our first aspen tree catkins of the year on Saturday, April 20. Above is a photo I took of them on April 27. We have quaking aspens, by the way, as opposed to the other two mentioned in the below article.
We heard hummingbirds for the first time and saw one briefly on the feeder, also on April 27. We always see the Broad-tailed Hummingbirds first, pictured below: “Migratory hummingbirds usually in [their] breeding territory about mid-April. They breed across mountain forests and meadows throughout the Western United States from eastern California and northern Wyoming south through Great Basin and Rocky Mountain states to southern Arizona and western Texas. In September, they generally move south to winter in Mexico, Guatemala and, occasionally, El Salvador.” Soon afterwards, the Rufous species of hummingbird shows up here, at our elevation, in Bailey.
As far as Maibocks, I love good beer. These beauties “are brewed in winter and released in late April and May. They are rich yet not overbearing, and are enjoyed before the searing throes of summer.” Aside from that, they are very good to my taste buds at just this time, when the aspen catkins grow, then fall away, after which little green aspen buds appear. Those buds then transform into the quaking, green aspen leaves that most people associate with aspen trees.
But, what of the too-often overlooked, too-little-reflected-upon catkins? The following article, hopefully, will nurture such reflection.
The Aspen Catkin: What will become of this fuzzy little thing?
Kara Rogers – April 13, 2011
Aspens, of which there are three species—the American quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides), the American big-tooth aspen (P. grandidentata), and the European aspen (P. tremula)—exhibit several curious traits when it comes to reproduction. For example, each tree is either male or female, a condition known as dioecism, and while both male and female aspens produce catkins, only the male catkin has pollen, which is transferred to a female by the wind. And when the right breeze comes along in early summer, the pollinated female will release her seeds, which parachute along through the air, swept away to some distant place.
Aspens have a low rate of reproductive success. Indeed, it takes trillions of seeds being dispersed on the wind each year to ensure that a percentage sufficient for species propagation happens to parachute into a suitable environment, where they can germinate and sprout. Reproductive success is limited in part because aspens have strict germination constraints. For example, aspens are shade-intolerant, and therefore a seed needs a sunny spot to grow. That spot also must be free from seed-eating animals and able to retain moisture.
Another constraint on reproduction actually is imposed prior to pollination and has to do with the distance between male and female trees. Each aspen grove is a clone, meaning that all the trees in a grove are identical to the founder sapling. Hence, if a female sapling happened to give rise to the grove, all the individual trees in the grove will be female. This means that pollination can occur only if groves of the opposite sex are relatively close to one another. If they are separated by too great a distance, pollination between them is unlikely.
The future of each species of aspen hinges on its tufted catkin seeds, new generations of which face the perilous wind-borne journey every spring. Most do not make it. The ones that do, however, spawn entire groves of aspens—stands of trees that may survive for hundreds or possibly thousands of years.
This post was originally published in NaturePhiles on TalkingScience.org.
top photo by: s.a. bort / 27 April 2019 / Bailey, CO.
second photo by: s.a. bort / 10 May 2019 / Bailey, CO.
Often now, when I go to put the hummingbird feeders out with the sunrise, a single hummingbird flies up close to me while I’m still holding the two feeders. It then drinks from the feeders while I’m still holding them in my hands.
This morning, two hummingbirds came up to me and drank from the feeders while they were still in my hands. In this goofy world, there are still moments that are so heartwarming and magical to me!
by S.A. Bort/3 August 2018
Photo by S.A. Bort/17 August 2013
bounty, business, capitalism, daybreak, dreams, film stars, hummingbirds, Jefferson Airplane, left coast, media, memories, middle America, nature, partisanship, politicians, politics, right coast, sanctuary, solitude, stockholders, television, time, world news
5:50 AM. Air brisk to the face. No wind.
Subdued light with orange horizon. No sun.
Hummingbird feeders, sugary, up as scheduled. No whistly hums yet.
Refreshing solitude. Daybreak.
On the left coast, out-of-touch film stars/media do whatever they do at this hour.
On the right coast, politicized representatives/media do whatever they do.
Now their jets, passing oppositely overhead, steal the silence, largely stockholders profiting non-partisanly from growing businesses.
All of this my view from down here. From bountiful middle-America.
Back inside, opening our living room blinds. Light pours in.
A quick peek at the morning news-of-the-moment on the “plastic, fantastic lover.” Darkness leaks in.
Back to the sanctuary of our bed.
Dreams strain under the puzzling together of nonsensical memories.
By S.A. Bort / 10 August 2018
Photo by S.A. Bort / 16 October 2017
A small footnote to the end of summer.
One chapter ends and another will begin, too soon.
The bigger creatures still fight at the feeders,
Treasuring their sugared water—
Juncos and woodpeckers, and a bandit raccoon.
Nature is always the first to sense change.
With nature, it’s wise to remain friends,
For this writer’s mind too easily now forgets.
Autumn is upon me, but it lurks ominously this time.
I now can feel the darkened air of October and November.
If I could have lingered in the sun—but, away with regrets!
It’s good to move forward and put to rest the past.
It’s good to smile and find better thermal underwear.
It’s good to examine one’s conscience and therapy to write.
Capturing this moment, at least, passes the time.
Better yet, it exercises these shaky hands.
Mostly, as summer turns to fall, I won’t abandon the fight.
poem by S.A. Bort: 15 September 2016
photo by S.A. Bort: 14 September 2016
Guests at this rolling train hotel will be hoping not to be like meals on wheels… as it is surrounded by polar bears.
The Tundra Lodge Rolling Hotel in Manitoba, Canada, is a custom rolling getaway where guests can enjoy regular visits from the giant winter mammals.
Guests can stay warm from the comfort of one of 32 rooms on-board the train – which boasts a large lounge area for viewing the bears.
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The polar bears can get up close and personal with guests staying at the Tundra Lodge Rolling Hotel in Manitoba, Canada
The sight of a bear perched up against your ‘hotel’ may look welcoming, but you’re probably better off aboard the train
The rolling train hotel gives its guests a unique opportunity to see some of the beautiful sights of nature
But daring visitors can get up close and personal with the bears on the raised outdoor viewing gallery and are often treated to the sights of the Northern Lights.
Steve Dobson, who listed the hotel on GoUnusual.com, said: ‘From your own private cabin window or the open-air observation platforms, you have constant proximity to polar bears in the area around the clock.
‘As evening falls, remain in the domain of the polar bear to experience sunset across the snow and ice.
Guests can stay warm from the comfort of one of 32 rooms on-board the train – which boasts a large lounge area for viewing the bears
The hotel will offer the chance for some stunning landscape shots that will stay with guests forever
Despite the train and tourists venturing onto their homeland, the bears are intrigued enough to come right up to the train
Guests might also get the opportunity to view the phenomena that are the Northern Lights during their stay on the rolling train
‘Safe inside your custom lodge, you’ll enjoy surprising comfort, considering our environs.
‘This custom train of connected bedrooms, dining room and lounge car is built on wheels, allowing it to be stationed for optimal bear viewing each season.
‘There’s no opportunity anywhere else on the planet that affords the chance to be in prime polar bear habitat round the clock.’
Tundra packages start start at £5,000) ($7,895) for a seven-day trip.
It is official: the media has gone bananas in its coverage of Pope Francis.
The OMG-Pope-Francis-Supports-Evolution story of the past two days is just the latest example. Almost every news outlet, major and minor, has plastered Pope Francis’ name across the interwebs and proclaimed he has finally planted the Catholic Church in the evolution camp of the creation-evolution debate. The only problem? Almost every outlet has got the story wrong, proving once again that the mainstream media has nearly no understanding of the Church. And that madness shows no signs of stopping.
Pope Francis’ real role in this evolution hubbub was small. He spoke, as Popes do, to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on Monday, which had gathered to discuss “Evolving Topics of Nature,” and he affirmed what Catholic teaching has been for decades. “God is not a divine being or a magician, but the Creator who brought everything to life,” he said. “Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.”
Anyone who knows anything about Catholic history knows that a statement like this is nothing new. Pope Pius XII wrote an encyclical “Humani Generis” in 1950 affirming that there was no conflict between evolution and Catholic faith. Pope John Paul II reaffirmed that, stressing that evolution was more than a hypothesis, in 1996. Pope Benedict XVI hosted a conference on the nuances of creation and evolution in 2006. There’s an official book on the event for anyone who wants to know more. Pope Francis’ comments Monday even came as he was unveiling a new statue of Pope Benedict XVI, honoring him for his leadership.
None of that seems to matter to the media; the internet exploded all the same. Site after site after site ramped up the Pope’s words and took them out of context. Headlines like these added drama: NPR: “Pope Says God Not ‘A Magician, With A Magic Wand.’” Salon: “Pope Francis schools creationists.” U.S. News and World Report: “Pope Francis Backs the Big Bang Theory, Evolution” (with a subhed: “Also, the pontiff says he’s not a communist”). Huffington Post. Sydney Morning Herald. Telegraph. USA Today. New York Post. The list goes on and on. Only Slate did its homework.
Wednesday morning the stories continued with new, analytical twists. The New Republic came out with a story titled, “The Pope Has More Faith Than the GOP in Science.” The Washington Post posted a piece, “Pope Francis may believe in evolution, but 42 percent of Americans do not.” It doesn’t seem to matter that Pope Benedict XVI called the debate between evolution an creation an “absurdity” in 2007. MSNBC opened its piece saying, “Pope Francis made a significant rhetorical break with Catholic tradition Monday by declaring that the theories of evolution and the Big Bang are real.” NBCNews called the Pope’s statement, “a theological break from his predecessor Benedict XVI, a strong exponent of creationism.”
This embarrassing narrative repeats itself over and over in Francis coverage. It happened last week when the Pope, again, voiced the Church’s long-standing opposition to the death penalty (having also done so in June, and after John Paul discussed the topic at length in an entire encyclical on being consistently pro-life in 1995). It happened at the Synod of the Bishops on the family, when the bishops talked about welcoming gays and the media whipped that up into an inaccurate story about an enormous policy shift toward gay marriage.
That’s dangerous, especially because this furor seems to occur most often when hot-button Western political issues can be tied to the Pope’s statements—evolution, death penalty, gay marriage. Wednesday morning, Pope Francis asked for prayers for 43 Mexican students who were burned alive by drug traffickers. It is unlikely that that will get the same pickup.
Moral of this story: Don’t believe most of what you read about the Vatican. Papal coverage has gone wild.
“. . . as these tellers of tales sat around the fireside or under the shade of trees, and looked into the rapt faces of the listeners, the deeds of men, monsters and the phenomena of nature became fused into one and their work grew architectonic, the story taking on artistic form and moving on to a magnificent climax, revealing in the end the ethical order of the world.”
So summarizes my following excerpts from the introduction of a small, tattered book [Wyche, Richard Thomas. Some Great Stories and How To Tell Them. New York: Newson and Company, 1910.], a copy of which was passed on to me by my grandmother.
With the spirit of Halloween once again animating us, it’s a time for the telling of macabre tales of ghosts, ghouls and goblins. But then, it’s always a time for the telling of stories. We are a storytelling people. At times our tales have questionable worth, but often enough, we tell stories “taking on artistic form and moving on to a magnificent climax, revealing in the end the ethical order of the world.”
I hope that this blog of mine, When Is A Party Not A Party, is a storytelling blog in the above “artistic” and “ethical” senses—with stories of our exponentially-changing world, stories of library robots, rocketships from India to Mars and teenagers (“digital natives”) who multitask with current media technology in a super-fast manner–ultimately, stories of “spiritual development.” It, at least, would make my late grandmother happy, and that would make me happy. The best stories, ultimately, make people reflective of our world—and happy in the common quest to become a more positive force within it.
So, here are some brief reflections on the history and value of story-telling, of turning the outward in and the inward out, from a 1910 book that now spans almost a hundred years through the times of my grandmother, my mother and myself. –SB
STORY TELLERS were the first teachers. Before the art of writing or of making books, before even the runes or picture writing, there were story-tellers. Sagamen, scalds, rhapsodists, bards and minstrels by word of mouth handed down through the centuries much of our literature. Unconscious teachers they were, but none the less did they inspire and teach the people as they recited the deeds of their great heroes, . . . Before even the day of the Sagamen, somewhere far back in the morning twilight of the world, people began to tell stories.
When the child-race first looked out on the face of nature, saw the sun, moon, and stars; heard the stormwind and thunder; saw the tragedy of nature, the death of summer and the long sleep of winter, what did he think? To him it was pregnant with conscious life—men, monsters or gods, to be obeyed, worshiped or grappled with. This world of outward phenomena beating in upon him was a great fact, sometimes bringing cold, hunger and death, and at other times warmth, joy and gladness. If the world of outward phenomena was a marvel to the child-race, none the less significant was the discovery of the world of inward phenomena. Where did these hopes, these fears, longings, yearnings, loves and hatreds come from, and what did they all mean? He did not stop to analyze, but in obedience to a universal law spontaneously expressed in some way what he saw and felt.
He had two great facts to deal with, the world of outward objects beating in upon him and the soul and self-consciousness stirring within him. What must he do? In some way give expression to what he saw and felt; he must make the inward outward. He could interpret this outward world only in terms of his inward life. He had life, joy, sorrow, difficulties, death, and when the day was over he would lie down and sleep; therefore the sun must do like wise. When the sun came up from the sea and burned his way through the sky and went down gain, to him it was life—conscious life. The sun strangled the serpents of the night; he went forth like a strong man battle. Sometimes the storm-clouds would vanquish him; then he scattered his enemies, and from a clear sky smiled upon the children of men. Then again he went down in a stream of blood, in the red clouds of sunset; and still again into the calm and perfect peace of a clear sky.
. . .
Some became expert in the recital of stories, and as these tellers of tales sat around the fireside or under the shade of trees, and looked into the rapt faces of the listeners, the deeds of men, monsters and the phenomena of nature became fused into one and their work grew architectonic, the story taking on artistic form and moving on to a magnificent climax, revealing in the end the ethical order of the world.
In some such way came the Saga and the Saga-man, the story and the story-teller. Crawford says in the introduction to his translation of the Kalevala, the great Finnish Epic, that it dates back to a time of great antiquity, to a time when the Finns and Hungarians were a united people; in other words, to a time at least three thousand years ago. Although the poem is as voluminous as the Odyssey, it lived all these centuries by oral tradition among the people. It was collected and published for the first time during the last century.
In Rune III of the Kalevala, we have a true picture of the ancient story teller and his work
“Wainamoinen, ancient minstrel,
Passed his years in full contentment,
On the meadows of Wainola,
On the plains of Kalevala,
Singing ever wondrous legends,
Songs of ancient wit and wisdom,
Chanting one day, then a second,
Singing in the dusk of evening,
Singing till the dawn of morning,
Now the tales of oldtime heroes,
Tales of ages long forgotten,
Now the legends of creation,
Once familiar to the children,
By our children sung no longer,
Sung in part by many heroes.
Far and wide the story traveled,
Far away men spread the knowledge
Of the chanting of the hero,
Of the song of Wainamoinen;
To the south were heard the echoes,
All of Northland heard the story.”
In the oldest specimen of English poetry that has come down to us, we read of Widsith, the far traveler: “Thus roving, the gleemen wander through the lands of many men as their fate wills; they find ever in the North and in the South some one who understands song.” These story tellers, sagamen, skalds, gleemen, rhapsodists, who wandered from land to land telling or singing of some great deed, were welcomed by court and king, as well as by the common people. And sometimes as one passed from one court to another, a chain of gold hung about his neck as a royal gift.
These story tellers, bringing news from the outside world as well as giving the people glimpses of the higher realms of thought with which their story dealt, were true teachers and poets. Not surfeited with book-learned lore, they spoke out of their hearts to the hearts of the people. Their names have usually been forgotten, but their work remains in the stories of Ulysses, Siegfried, Beowulf, King Arthur, St. George, The Kalevala and similar stories—a picture of the life of the primitive race, a history of the spiritual development of man in time’s morning.
The spoken word has more life than the printed page. Literature was first vocal, and nature’s plan has suggested the method for the education of the child to-day, and the stories she used have in turn become the stories for the children of to-day.
Note: above photos by S.A. Bort, autumn 2014.
02 May 1990, DENVER, CO: Imagine earth without money. Begin with the occupations that would cease to be. The IRS workers would be the first to go; who needs taxes on a planet without paychecks? Running a close second would be the lawyers; no one would have money to give them, and they wouldn’t work for free.
Who would miss the televangelists that peddle the good word? Robert Schuller would have to simplify his Crystal Cathedral “gospel of prosperity” down to “the Gospel.” And how would Jim and Tammy Faye raise cash for Christ in a world where a “donation” is the giving of oneself? They wouldn’t.
Then, there would be the product distributors from Amway, Herbalife and Kirby; the peddlers of water purification systems, encyclopedias and aluminum siding; the entrepreneurs of ways to keep our lives tidy. They would pass from this world without a eulogy.
Finally, on the slightly darker side of life, drug peddlers and prostitutes would also be left without soil from which to grow. What bounty would there be, after all, from the selling of bodies and dependencies without the fertilizer of money? Imagining earth without money is like imagining a garden without weeds.
There is something wrong with money and its cancerous effects on humanity: money forces into a secondary position all other thoughts than those of acquiring earnings, just as a life-threatening disease forces into a secondary position all other thoughts than those of survival. Only after the tumor of money has been wrenched free of its grip on humanity will this oppressive focus on survival be cast aside, like a broken cocoon.
The vocations that remain will be those that matter: the teachers, the medical workers, the farmers, the pilots, the researchers, the scientists, the religious, the writers, the artists, the architects, the builders, the clothing designers, the engineers and the chefs. Minds and hearts, without bonds, will be free to pursue the higher concerns of civilization.
What would motivate people to fill these vocations when money no longer exists as reward? Ask yourself what you would do with your life if you didn’t have to earn money in order to purchase survival.
Would you build a sailboat and sail around the world with your companion while drinking 100-year-old bottles of Chateau d’Yquem white wine from the Bordeaux district of France; eating all the grilled, freshly-caught seafood that the world’s seas have to offer; making wild, passionate love five or six times a day on the foredeck, under the flying jib sail?
Would you build a log cabin in a secluded mountain valley next to a gushing stream that glistens like light through a crystal and read the entire fifty-four volumes of the Brittanica Great Books from Homer to Freud? Or, would you commit yourself to eternal sluggishness as a couch potato by watching the entire series of videos of Star Trek, The Twilight Zone and The Lucy Show?
Suddenly being without the need to earn money would be similar to skipping grade school: the idea sounds great until you’re at home for awhile, bored and wondering what to do next. There is a natural motivation in people to be useful. In fact, people are born uniquely useful. In most cases, this usefulness is stifled as people move towards concentrating on the practicality of earning a living. The impression that people would veer towards laziness when confronted with freedom is only because people today yearn for laziness as a drastic alternative to the imposed drudgery of their function in society. Function is a substitute for usefulness. In a world without money, people would be free to realize the full potential of their usefulness.
Why would a person purposely choose to be lazy (an act of rebellious escape) when their natural role in life has become unbound, recognized and appreciated? Instead of laziness, there would be play and festivity: the rejoicing of the body, mind and spirit in the celebration of being fully human and fully alive. What wonders of human creativity could be revived?
In a world without money, education would be different. Teachers would be teachers because they are truly gifted at teaching and their desire is to teach. They would be free to wholly concentrate on the activity of teaching, instead of teaching while also having to earn a living. Students would be in school according to their educational needs and not according to the level of their parents’ income (or lack of income).
School would serve to guide in the discovery of a student’s unique usefulness as well as to emphasize and strengthen the student’s awareness of that usefulness. In the process of strengthening awareness, the student would come to an understanding of why certain jobs (with their underlying skills) will always be more effortless, and why other occupations will always require more effort (like swimming against the flow as opposed to swimming with the flow).
When students reach the end of high school, they would have both the ability for university level work (those who desire such) and a defined sense of direction from high school to a vocation (both virtually unknown today), based on the recognition and understanding of their natural, underlying skills. Students today are so concerned about “priorities” like job images, jobs that are in demand for the decade of the nineties and amounts of income, that they are blind to how their unique talents translate into useful vocations. In a world without money, education would be a process in which everyone gains and not a game in which some win and most lose.
Without the concept of money, work would settle into that which is necessary for the advancement of civilization. People would practice their vocations throughout the world. With the benefits of language study in school, carpenters would offer their skills in the building of housing throughout the world. Doctors and medical aides would also be in demand worldwide.
The concept of ownership would disappear with money; people would be free to live wherever their vocation would be needed at the time. Transportation would not be a concern since fares would be nonexistent. Think of the entire globe as an extended metropolitan area. As people now travel modestly among Northglenn, Boulder, Littleton, Aurora, Castle Rock and Colorado Springs, they could travel freely among Denver, Paris, Tel Aviv, Berlin, Prague, Beijing, New Delhi, Tokyo or Homer, Alaska.
Housing would exist for those workers living in each “suburb.” Restaurants of all cuisines would serve meals cooked by those who love their occupations. In a world without money, people would simply love doing the things that they do the best. As a result, there would no longer be room for greed, crime, or empire building. Purpose in life would be to fulfill creative potential daily instead of to “fill full” savings accounts for retirement.
Play and festivity would be hard to distinguish from work in a world without money. In work that one truly loves, there is a sense of already being at play and of having to force oneself to break away for quiet time or simple frolicking. One thing play would not be is an escape from work. Instead, it would be a celebration of life; and that is exactly that imagining earth (without money) is all about.
by S. A. Bort / 6 August 2013 (2 May 1990)
1). http://photobucket.com/images/cornucopia/#/images/cornucopia/?page=1&_suid=137586034581408885752393535319 2). http://www.netspedizioni.com/f/86d43ca40a 3). http://brokenlightcollective.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/cocoon/ 4). http://www.wine-searcher.com/find/yquem/1990 5). http://www.broadwaymusicalhome.com/shows/musicman.htm 6). http://www.paperbackswap.com/1990-What-Color-Richard-N-Bolles/book/0898153174/ 7). http://www.123rf.com/photo_15913053_illustration-of-a-jobs-and-professions.html 8). http://www.igourmet.com/shoppe/Maryland-Crabcakes—Classic—FREE-SHIPPING.asp?cat=&subcat=&cf=usp_ListSeafood_MultiCategory_Sel&cprod=&source=pepperjamppc&gclid=CMWmxJCm6rgCFctcMgodawoAzQ
I originally wrote this May 2, 1990. After twenty-three years, I thought I would tune it up a bit and publish it here on the blog, along with the two accompanying essays.
I sent these three essays to Burlington, Vermont’s Brautigan Library, named for Richard Brautigan and initiated by his daughter, Ianthe. The essays were among the first (in 1990) accepted, bound and placed on the shelves under the “Mayonnaise System Catalog Number” of: “Social/Political/Cultural: SOC 1990.007.” My accompanying certificate states: “LET NO MAN block the light of wisdom and inspiration found therein.”
See: http://dtc-wsuv.org/brautiganlibrary/?s=Stephen+Bort , http://www.cchmuseum.org/research/the-brautigan-library/ , http://www.thebrautiganlibrary.org/Blank.html , http://www.brautigan.net/responses-library.html , http://brautigan.cybernetic-meadows.net/tiki-index.php?page=The+Brautigan+Library and https://www.facebook.com/BrautiganLibrary for current information on the library.
Shortly after I was added to the shelves, I was contacted by Lawrence Ingrassia of the Wall Street Journal, who was writing an article on the opening of the library. He had seen the above foreward to this essay and was curious about the concept of “abolishing money.” He asked if I was a socialist. I answered no. He asked other questions, but in the end, his article of May 28, 1991 did not mention me. His article can be found here: http://brautigan.cybernetic-meadows.net/tiki-index.php?page=Ingrassia+1991+Fictional+Library+Becomes+a+Real+Place