Friday, May 28, 2010

Ah for the sound of frogs...

One week birding in the Hungarian puszta, in Hortobágy National Park, among red-footed and Saker falcons, spoonbills, stone curlews, white-winged and whiskered terns. Every heron but the cattle egret...

Hortobágy, grasslands and marshes, like stepping back into a quieter time. A time still sane.

Where people don't have such obscene amounts of money, and better things to do with their time than watch flat-screen TVs and go shopping. Where a good peasant meal can still be had any day of the week, and with beer or a glass of good wine, and coffee, costs (much) less than the glass of wine would at home.

Where trains run to nearby towns, and cross-country, frequently enough to be an option--or where one can afford to wait for the next one. Always on time, because each stop is a long one.

Where old men ride bicycles, even to and from the fields with their scythes or pruners over one shoulder. With hardly any cars, and small unobtrusive ones at that. Where the postman still rides a bicycle. Slowly. And knocks at every gate. Small, neat houses with neat yards, sheds with tools, vegetable gardens, geese and ducks.

Where a diversity of frogs serenade in the reeds, and bitterns boom. Where storks nest on platforms atop light posts on every street, or on chimney tops. Where ancient sheep and cattle breeds graze the steppes, and every other house rents out a spare room to travelers should one happen by.

Where nobody wears expensive clothes; no cheesy designer labels. No cell phones ringing, and absolutely no iPhones (except mine, and it is in airplane mode). Time for a beer at the local café.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Yo, Obama! Get out of oil!

The disaster that is the Gulf oil spill is indescribable. I could care less about human consequences--humans deserve whatever they get for allowing this hellacious development. But the fate of the innocent birds, mammals, turtles and other marine and riparian species in the Gulf should weigh on us all, particularly those with the power to do something about it. Get off fossil fuels immediately, and get us out of offshore drilling! I supported you throughout the campaign and was giddy with the hope for meaningful change, but I have seen none, and Interior has done nothing to be proud of. Perhaps it is time to get a powerful Department for the Environment. Interior has too many interests in hand, and too many of them are in conflict with environmental causes and with trying to ensure that there is a future to speak of. Salazar sure isn't doing much for sustainability or for other species. Get serious about meaningful change for other species, particularly the endangered ones! They will all be endangered soon, or extinct, if meaningful change does not come under this administration!