It’s time to take a look back at what’s happened in the last month. There’s so much to keep track of that I find myself needing a sort of journal to get everything in order. I lose track of time from week to week (though those Six on Saturday posts are helping me focus), and every day is just as long as the others – there’s always so much happening in our lives.
It’s the start of the new year. We’ve had an election, which went surprisingly smoothly considering how tumultuous events had been just a couple weeks earlier. Right at the start, a number of environmental directives changed or went back into effect – The Paris Climate Accord is back in the mix, and something like 100 other environmental actions under Trump are being re-examined. A new directive requires a sign-off on new oil and gas lease or drilling activity, which is apparently slowing down 400 drilling permit applications.
Most of Trump’s changes affected greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, though 27 affected wildlife and 23 involved infrastructure and planning. Drilling is halted in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge area, which is very nice to hear. We’ll see how all the other changes and ideas pan out. It’s always possible there will be unending resistance, which we’ve seen in the past.
One thing I’ve noticed lately is how thickly the smog is coming back, and how much it saddens me. During the lockdowns and shutdowns of COVID, the air cleared up in the city. It was possible to see the Hollywood sign from the far end of Los Angeles. Sometimes this is possible after an especially thick rain and the perfect weather, but the magical view continued for weeks on end. I think I’ve mentioned this more than anything in my recent posts, but the smog really gets to me. I had blocked it out for years while growing up and moving around in the city. The haze was something that made the sunsets more brilliant, as everyone said. It was true: we had vibrant displays of red and orange, very rarely the gentle lilacs you see sometimes elsewhere.
Things changed with all the shutdowns, and the air cleared up for months. It only takes a few weeks to build a habit, and clear skies were a sight I wanted habitually. Then, all at once, it was gone. Walking around recently, far on the outskirts of the city, I still couldn’t see many stars. There were few enough that I could have counted them all if I had the heart.
I hope things change. I hope we get plenty of rain to wash the air for a while. In the meanwhile, I keep planting more plants and spending time at South Coast Botanic Garden.
Parks and Preserves
GLOW ended January 10th, and it was wonderful while it lasted. I can’t thank the other volunteers enough for making it a wonderful experience. There were some amazing outfits lit just as thoroughly as the park, which were bright enough to keep even me warm. The music is still stuck in my head, and I can’t wait for the next time they host something like this. Or anything at all, really.
For anyone that didn’t attend – GLOW was a guided walk through South Coast Botanic Gardens, held at night. The garden was lit up with a smorgasbord of colors, and different music played at every stage. The walk in total was only half a mile long, but the interesting sights (and low temperatures) kept visitors walking again and again.
A new park was christened in West Virginia; the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. This was thanks in part to the previous COVID relief bill’s funding.
And I learned about another park roughly as far from me as Joshua Tree which sounds fairly interesting – the Anza Borrego Desert State Park.
In a moment of face-palming realization, I noticed that there’s Cholla cacti growing on the hillsides of Pelican Cove park here in Palos Verdes. Cholla cacti were a genus I’d done some research on recently (Cylindropuntia, I think?) after learning more about their skeletons. First thing’s first – these are cacti that have a wooden skeleton. I’d seen the skeletons out at Joshua Tree National Park, and hadn’t connected them to this style of cactus. Then, after having learned some more about the Cholla, I still hadn’t noticed that they grew in 2 or 3 patches up on the fallen rocks below the cliffsides near home… until now. Nature continues to surprise me. It encourages me to keep my eyes open, and the more I learn the more it gives me to look at.
The 5G infrastructure at the local Robert E. Ryan park seems to have been finished recently. The signage is a little concerning, especially as it’s a place frequented by everyone in the community (and is in the middle of the residential zone). I realize there’s plenty of healthy debate on the merits and dangers of 5G, but this does lean more towards the negative. I think I may go to this park a little less frequently, or take the long way around to enter from the bottom. This patch of networking is right at the top of the parking lot, at the main entrance to the park.
Great cell service, though.
Finally got some seeds going, after telling myself I’d use an old planter at some point. It previously held peppers, and they all died slowly and unhappily. I’m hoping that by drying out the dirt and keeping the planter clear, any diseases should have dispersed. Proper watering practices and seedling spacing should keep the new plants from choking each other or themselves. I want to grow some edible plants that I can enjoy as often as the thyme. Haven’t had much luck with that yet.
The office plants finally got some dedicated plant-intended lighting. Actual grow lights, will full-spectrum LEDs. Previously, I had thought that daylight-balanced bulbs were… exactly that. Balanced to be a bit more like daylight. Maybe missing the UV spectrum (because we can’t see it), but still sufficient. The office plants have been presenting slow growth or minor health issues, and they never seem to drink water as quick as a regular outdoors plant.
And to wrap up the month, we’ve had a few days of steady wind storms. Winds reaching 25-50mph, or even more in some areas. It’s cleared up the smog some, but it stripped one of my basil plants bare. The tomatoes aren’t looking too happy either. Realistically, I should have taped up some protective plastic sheeting before it all started… but I didn’t realize it would get so severe so soon after starting.