March 2012

Ravines sink abruptly at LaBarque Creek. It must be due to the way the bedrock is layered, hard rock atop soft. The little streams must reach a soft layer, cut through it until it hits a hard layer, then widen the resulting ravine by meandering back and forth across the harder rock flooring the ravine.

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Whatever his faults, Thoreau was an accomplished naturalist. It doesn't really come through in Walden, but it's readily apparent in his appendix to The Maine Woods, where he catalogs the plants he saw on his trips there. It's a tour de force, complete with each plant's Latin name, common name, and a note or two on where it's usually found. It's rather like watching a good musician practice scales, while knowing full well that he or she has a virtuoso piece readily at hand.

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Better than the Grand Canyon? No, of course not. But every bit as good? You bet.

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How bureaucratic can the protection of nature be? Plenty, it turns out.

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So gorgeous, and so close.

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Henry Rowe Schoolcraft is the authority on the Ozark landscape in the early nineteenth century. How good of an authority is he?

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Who was A.P. Greensfelder? It's not a trivial question, since he was involved, either directly or through cooperation with others, in the donation of the land--Rockwoods Range (1,400 acres), Rockwoods Reservation (1,800 acres), and Greensfelder County Park (1,600 acres)--that forms the big chunk of open space in west St. Louis County.

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How old is a forest? I don't have a good way of answering the question. It's one of those things I have to get at through indirection. But when I find myself surrounding by big trees (see the thumbnail), I have to ask anyway.

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Sometimes an uncomplicated long walk is fine.

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