Yucca Brevifolia

I spent the weekend getting very familiar with the Joshua Tree, in another class for my naturalist series. Actually it doesn’t qualify, but not knowing about the Joshua Tree on a more intimate level seemed silly, so I took the class. There are many fallacies that I’ve heard over the past couple years that have certainly been cleared up, but the class left me with some questions still not answered. The tree has only been seriously studied since 1987. This is not a long time in the study of a species that has been around for thousands of years. So long in fact that giant ground sloths once fed on the fruit! Needless to say, all is not known about this tree-like species.

There are two species of this brand of yucca, the Brevifolia (western), which is what you’ll find in the national park and elsewhere in the southwest and the Jaergeriana (eastern), which can be found in the Mojave National Preserve and Western Arizona. The main difference between the two is color, the first has more of a yellow tone and the later a blue. There are other differences as well in how the grow and bloom. They also have two different moths that pollinate them, although the western seems to not be as picky and pollinates both.

These trees are truly fascinating and I could go on all day about them, but my biggest take away was that in the next 100 years, there’s a high likelihood that the trey will no longer exist in the park with their namesake. Not to mention in surrounding areas. Global warming is causing the tress to have a pretty dramatic die off and showing no signs of new seedlings growing to replace what’s dying. This will not only effect the landscape but the many animals that have grown dependent upon them, especially in times of drought. It was a hard pill to swallow, made worse in that there’s not much we can do about it. I mean there’s the obvious, stop polluting, using things that are harmful to the environment, look at overpopulation, etc, but it would seem we’ve gone past the point of no return in this case. The Joshua Tree has adapted to environments where it’s cooler, so they will likely live on, just not here. Currently there’s an area in Death Valley where they seem to be thriving. So there’s that.

I wish more of society would take in and understand that we do have an effect on this place and nothing is forever, especially when we take it for granted. All we can do is our part, but we all have to try and do that. Future generations are counting on us.

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New Things

New to me anyway. Holiday season is underway and Santa’s, err my workshop is starting to feel the effects. Also feeling the effects is the weather. With that in the high desert comes, fires and firewood. Last night I built my first fire since Girl Scouts. It took 3 times until I got it right. I was obviously rusty, but 30 some years will do that I suppose. Then today I stacked the wood that had been delivered on Monday. I’ve never in my life done this and there’s certainly an art to it. My stack is certainly not perfect, but fingers crossed it holds up through the season, in its temporary home.

There’s something to doing these things. An independence and knowing that you’ve got this. Neither are huge feats by any means, but they were things I’ve never done and always had someone around I could give the task to. I by no means want to be doing these things, especially stacking the wood, on my own, but it’s nice to know I can. Even if I’m unable to move tomorrow.

Baby Nothing’s Changed…

Another Halloween is upon us and I completely failed at getting into the spirit this year. Being that this is the last Music Monday before the big day, although most celebrated over the weekend, I give you the Dead Kennedys, live in 1980, doing “Halloween”.

So long.

Last night Dennis Banks, co-founder of the American Indian Movement (AIM) walked on. An activist, a teacher, an inspiration. He will be laid to rest in his birthplace, Leech Lake, Minnesota. Deep condolences to his family and friends. Rest in power.

Photo – Michelle Vignes

Other Things

At the end of September I began taking classes to become a Certified Joshua Tree Naturalist. I’m about three of nine classes in so far. I’m doing this because one, I’m a firm believer in continuing to educate yourself, especially on subjects that deeply interest you. Two, I love this place I call home and want to understand it, so I can better protect it. Three, I’ve been feeling stagnant and needed to mix things up.

I’m absolutely loving these classes. The first was on snakes. We got to see rattlers up close, along with species of a gentler nature. My personal highlight was spending time with this ball python.

Next up was insects and arthropods. Chalk full of fascinating information, especially the symbiotic relationship between insects and plants. There are a wealth of interesting creepy crawlers here in the desert. I even got to see my first preying mantis!

There’s obviously more to talk about here and I’ll certainly get into it in coming posts. Worth mentioning however is the little bits of inspiration I’m having creatively because of this. What’s to come from that is still a work in progress.