Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Farewell to a Wilderness Troubadour

Walkin' Jim Stoltz
June 1953–September 2010

We can't afford to lose people who are passionate about wilderness and its preservation, planetary stewardship, and all things wild and free. But we do. With the death of Walkin' Jim, an important voice for the Earth has gone too soon, but his message and his memory lives on through a legacy of music he left with us.

And what a voice! Deeper than a shadowed mountain valley, headlong as a mountain stream, that voice rattles your bones like a blast of high-country wind. The wild wind he celebrated his whole life. I urge you to experience his songs yourself and see just why this advocate will be missed so much by those who loved him and all who knew his music. Listen, and consider buying a CD or download to remind you of the Forever Wild his life celebrated so well... Like the buffalo, his spirit is still on the run.

The message in my inbox said it all: "Legendary American Folksinger, Backcountry Traveler, and Wilderness Advocate James "Walkin' Jim" Stoltz Returns to Earth." A "troubadour," Webster tells me, is a "class of poet-musicians... whose major theme was love." Jim's love of Earth was his guiding principle and the focus of his lifework. Live each day like you mean it, he said, and he did.

I've been the lone wanderer, ramblin' free,
But there's more to this life that I want you to see,
For around every bend, a kind thought and a friend,
Has been there uplifting me.

It's the good hearts that spring from the salt of the Earth,
They inspire and brighten my days,
And I owe it all to the spirit of love,
And the friends along the way.

-- from "Friends Along The Way" on The Long Trails CD

This life is so rich I can taste it,
And I’ve given my heart to the wind,
And when the rain falls down,
And the sun rolls round,
I’ll be thinkin’ like a mountain once again
—from "Thinkin' like a Mountain" on The Vision CD

Like Loren Eiseley, he "loved the Earth but could not stay."

Photo above: Jim (right), with my friend Eric, another defender of wilderness, at Red Rocks in March 2006. When Eric died in June 2008, I wrote Jim to ask to use his songs in a tribute. Typically generous, he replied:

...another good man gone too soon. Yes, please feel free to use any of my songs or lyrics in any way you see fit. I'd be so honored if they were used to celebrate him in some small way.

I send my sympathies to you in this time of loss. Time to sing to the mountain and listen for that echo...the spirits of Eric and all wilderness defenders reminding us to keep on.

Despite cancer, Eric and now Jim kept on... Let's make sure something wild outlives them, outlives all of us.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Adventures in Geo-Browsing

You never know where the current edition of Berry-Go-Round (now hosted by Laurent at Seeds Aside) will take you!

After browsing several of the fascinating offerings, my love of lichens took me to Botany for Geologists where David at History of Geology does a great job of explaining lichenometry, or the use of lichens to date exposed rock surfaces.

In his sidebar, I discovered Eat.Sleep.Geology., by a neogeoblogger whose nom de plume is GeoGirl. She soon led me to the geologists' blog carnival over at The Accretionary Wedge, which provided great ideas for future Berries as well as a long list of future reading.

Geology class at a local outcrop.

David also tipped me off to Riparian Rap, whose series on geomorphically incorrect art is mind-bending entertainment.

As always in the blog world, you can make your way around the planet and back again in a few clicks, and learn a lot about how it's put together in the process.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Legal at Last!

And I missed it!

All these years we’ve been capturing illegal Colorado rainwater here at the homestead, and it turns out that, just last year, Colorado water law reversed itself on this issue.

That’s right, home gardeners and flower lovers, now you can capture and beneficially use any drop of rain that falls on your property without fear of being hauled off to jail! (But please see the fine print below.)

As High Country News explained recently:
“…last year's House Bill 1129 authorized large-scale rainwater harvesting test projects like Sterling and loosening restrictions on individual collection of rainwater. Well owners, for example, can now legally harvest their rain for personal use. We non-well-owning proletarians (and by extension, basically everyone living in a city) are still operating outside the law if we fill a rain barrel, though.

Despite the changes, the original law was hardly enforced on individuals back when rain was contraband. It seems intuitive that the people inclined to harvest their own rainwater for personal use would be little-impeded by a badly made, artifact of a policy.”

The rationale for the change rests on a 2007 study that revealed how little water (3%) actually makes it into the stream systems, the remaining 97% being lost to evaporation or put to beneficial use by plants. Probably any ecologist could have told them that years ago.

Does it make a difference? It's amazing how much water a modest roof can produce from a 10-minute Colorado dust-settling rain that doesn't even get the soil wet. My substantial collection of house plants gets watered most of the year from harvested rainwater. Even in much of the winter, the effective snowmelt cycle makes it possible to use the rainbarrels, except when they turn into 55 gallon icecubes.

Of course, we rainbarrel lovers still have to deal with rampant mosquito larvae and the occasional drowned mouse (today’s find) in the rainbarrel. And, equally obvious, it has to rain now and then for this system to work.

And it doesn’t protect your cherished home-grown heirloom tomatoes (which will cost more than $3 each, we calculate, assuming we get any) from the depredations of passing deer (for the second time this season).

Photo from the Why I Don't Garden series.