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and I mees you most of all, mah darleeng, when ...

Your Humble Blogger has been writing a lot more hatchet jobs than puff pieces lately, huh? Well, I was actually thinking about writing a hatchet job about my local NPR station, because I’m not satisfied with their weekday lineup. Yes, All Things Considered, and yes, Morning Edition, but the two local shows are very weak and I don’t like Talk of the Nation anymore. So I was thinking about grousing for a note, when the station caused me to Learn Something Interesting, which is kinda cool, ain’t it?

This comes from putting together two things, one of which was a news item by Nancy Cohen called New study links fall colors with soil nutrients, which makes the point that trees in crappy soil need to drain all that last drop of sweet, sweet chlorophyll from their leaves before shutting down for the winter, which makes (through chemical processes I fundamentally don’t understand) the leaves redder, yellower, oranger, brighter, vibranter than the crappy autumn leaves you get in places with good soil.

Now, I put that together with some stuff I heard in an episode of Where We Live, Connecticut's changing forests, with John Dankosky's guests Don Smith and Les Mehrhoff. One of the ways that Connecticut’s forests have changed is that, well, three hundred years ago, the whole state was forested, because hardly anybody lived here, and the people who lived here weren’t farmers. As more people moved here and farmed, more of the land was cleared. Eventually, most of the state was farmland, with (comparatively) hardly any trees.

The problem is that Connecticut’s soil is crappy. Oh, how crappy it is. Seriously. I know, I grew up in the desert, and couldn’t tell arable land from a hole in the ground, except for the hole, obviously, but even I can tell that the clay, sand and rock in the soil around here makes for crap farmland. And, in fact, the moment the dark satanic mills started employing people, the farms were abandoned and went to forest. Now, the state is mostly forest again, although with different trees.

As I understand it, the trees around the state now are mostly trees that are good at getting that last drop of sweet, sweet chlorophyll from their leaves before shutting down for the winder, trees that won the fight for scarce resources, trees that look really, really great in October.

Now, follow the economics. First, we cut down the pine trees, make houses and furniture out of the wood, and live off the (crap) farmland. Then we abandon the farmland, and live off the mills, while we let the maples take over what used to be farmland. Then, we close the mills and open B&Bs and antique shops and live off the tourists who want to see the maples turn colors. It’s all connected. Now, if it turns out that abandoned mills become the best places to make matter transport devices or that old maples are the secret to living with climate change, we’ll be getting somewhere.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,
-Vardibidian.

Comments

People drive to Connecticut to see the trees turn color? Who knew? I thought people mostly drove to Connecticut because it was in between them and wherever they were going, and they needed to stop for some reason, and, hey, isn't this the exit for Connecticut? Look, services!

But, honestly, that's just my experience of the place.

peace
Matt

PS I read your unimportant note, didn't mean to. Anyway, A) read it, 兩) no server errors, here, although I figure posting the Chinese character for two is a sure way to inconvenience most peoples' browsers, if not your blog's HTML...


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