Say hello to Rastrum

IMG_9816 (2)My name is Rastrum. Some of you may recognize me from those halcyon autumn days of your youth, but these days I am a dying breed. I and my kind in decades past served as a sign of autumn, our work the prelude to kids holding suckers jumping into piles of leaves, but no more. We have been replaced.

Where once the sound of our pleasing scraping of leaves accompanied your work as you humans raked the detritus of arboreal denizens whose chlorophyll had ceased for the year, now mowers sounding like propeller planes awaiting their turn to taxi attack the fallen foliage. Those leaves go in bags that go to landfills if plastic or yard waste sites if paper, those humans seemingly giving no thought to reusing the bags or leaving the leaves on their yards to serve as fertilizer and as haven for small creatures. But no, humans have become wasteful and arrogant, believing despite mountains of evidence to the contrary that they know better than their Earth Mother.

IMG_9818Next, meet Scopae, a friend of mine who has also been replaced, again by machinery that pollutes the air with exhaust fumes and despoils the formerly congenial ambience of time spent outdoors with its hurricane racket, all this while those wielders of mowers and blowers see their muscles atrophy and their bellies burgeon. Scopae and I seem to be going the way of landlines, cursive, and writing letters, and one day young children will be as puzzled when they see us in a museum as they are by a television with a knob for changing channels.

I have some suggestions that I suspect will be met with disdain, dislike, and disregard, but I must nevertheless state my case. Radical they are, but I believe the time has come for such revolutionary, subversive measures.

First, stop mowing and stop blowing. Rid your life of power yard equipment. Rake, sweep, and stoop. Use your muscles and enliven your body with fresh oxygen while enjoying tranquil quiet time. Enjoy fresh air free of internal combusion pollutants.

I can hear you already. “But Rastrum, I can’t possibly maintain my lawn without power equipment!”, which brings me to point number two. Reduce the lawn on your property. Plant trees, let their leaves kill the grass, forswear chemicals, and, if you must have short grass, use a mechanical push mower or buy sheep. Keep a small patch of lawn for outdoor activities, trim it with that push mower, and trim weeds with hand clippers. Use Scopae and I for lawn litter that must go.

Make your property a wildlife refuge, a haven for birds and bugs and mammals and worms, free of pesticides and herbicides and fungicides, a harbor and shelter for nature on the run from man the defiler. Let fallen trees lie, and let nature reclaim her own.

Such actions will generate protests from neighbors and visits from zoning inspectors, so be prepared to protect your rights. Remember that farm animals were banned in the early 1900s because neighborhood beautification organizations coerced their neighbors into following their manner of living, and those groups and golf clubs convinced the masses that lawns were the right and only method of suburban landscaping in a campaign of society brainwashing that remains with us after a century.

Mother Nature achieved balance and environmental health long before humans graced, and later trashed, the planet. It is time to look to her for proper ways to live, to care for the environment, and to rescue Earth from centuries of human abuses before it is too late. Say farewell to mowers and blowers and shake hands with Rastrum and Scopae.

Posted in Environment

Merriam-Webster Word of the Day

This is today’s  Word of the Day from Merriam-Webster, which you can receive by email. I like the quote comparing spoken sentences to cats landing on their feet:

Posted in Language

Lessons From the Hardy Boys

I avidly read Hardy Boys books as a child, and I still use lessons I learned in the books. This article expounds on those lessons.

Posted in D. Books

18th-Century Ink Advice

This video on the Townsends site gives advice on the proper ink for quill pens.

Posted in History - 18th Century, Writing Materials

Boxing the Compass

I learned about the sixteen points of the compass in Boy Scouts, adding terms such as NNE and WSW to the eight I already knew — N, S, E, W, NE, SE, SW, and NW. The compass I learned in Scouts is the 16-point compass. A few years ago I learned the32-point compass, which further divides the 16-point. Now I learned that the 32-point can be divided into half and quarter points. Boxing the compass is the term for naming the 32 points both clockwise and counterclockwise. Wikipedia has a good explanation here:

Posted in Geography

Erie Maritime Museum

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The Erie Maritime Museum in Erie, Pa., is home to the reconstructed brig Niagara, famous for Commodore O.H. Perry’s defeat of the British near present-day Sandusky in the War of 1812. The museum has two floors of displays of lake history, and the Flagship Niagara League offers sails on the Niagara and the Lettie G. Howard. They also offer sailing training for adults and children. Tall ships will visit in late August.

The ships dock in Presque Isle Bay, formed by the Presque Isle peninsula that juts into Lake Erie.

See for information about the museum, the ships, and the August event. We enjoyed an evening sail on the Lettie G., with passengers hauling lines and taking the wheel.

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Posted in History - Ohio

Fort Niagara

Guarding the mouth of the Niagara River at Lake Ontario, Fort Niagara, on the river’s east bank in the state of New York, is a restored fort (not reconstructed) that was built by the French in 1726 and used successively by British and United States soldiers. It offers daily tours and demonstrations, and the fort sponsors French and Indian War and Revolutionary War reenactments.

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Posted in History - 18th Century