Monday, June 25, 2007

Summer Retreat

Wanderers gathered at Joe's place in Oregon wine country, to learn about his long term experiments in horticulture and forestry, and to compare notes on practically any subject under the sun.

Given the Willamette Valley's almost Mediterranean ecosystem, with drenching cold winters and hot dry summers, a relatively small set of plants and animals are good to go here.

Although redwoods and great sequoias grow in largely separate bioregions of northern California (along the coast and in the Sierra Nevada respectively), Joe hopes his experiment of interleaving the two species will work well on this property. Once these trees are big enough, they tend to create their own self-sustaining micro-climate.

At one point I felt we were becoming too cult like, with the sun beaming down between rains, listening to ourselves chatter in the well lit, finished barn (more of a workshop). When people prefer the sound of their own philosophies to unedited Mother Nature, that's a warning sign.

I left the group and hiked up to the old oak, taking in the view, coming down from the mountain with a message for my peers: "you're all crazy" (I got a few nods of assent). But the group was transitioning to the outdoors at that point. Joe cleared a main trail with his Kuboda tractor and before long we were all guzzling Nature's Own kool aid, taking in the forest.

And besides, we are an interesting group, chat wise.

Listening to Gus and Bob blab about who they know in common in the Mars Society, what experiments they've been up to, what telescopes made, articles read and/or published, is all very entertaining and enlightening to boot. Too bad I'll miss Gus's upcoming talk on time lapse photography, which I expect will be excellent.

Terry was busy spinning thermodynamics, channeling Greek philosophers. Gloria led a discussion of family design patterns in relation to ethnicity. Phil, the book store owner, suggested I read up on those tough guy Teutonic Knights given I'm heading to Lithuania soon.