Gazing and grazing on Williams St

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On Thursday evenings, Saskia Esslinger of Williams St Farmhouse has been hosting tours of her yard, explaining the systems and the principles of permaculture.
It was a treat last night to go with my parents – the sun popped back out just for us! There was a big crowd, with lots if kids and lots of food questions.
For a suggested donation of $25 this is an educational and beautiful two hours. As always, Saskia’s home is inspirational and fun.

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Permaculture public garden tour

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On Sunday the Anchorage Permaculture Guild held a tour of public gardens on the east side of town. Two of the gardens, the first and last, followed permaculture principles while the others, while not exactly permaculture gardens, definitely were interesting. Full disclosure: I didn’t take good notes, I missed one whole stop, and my pictures don’t really do anything justice.

 

First stop! College Alps Condo Association’s garden at Bryn Mawr Court as hosted (check out the spread!) by Seija and Sarah.20130806-191315.jpg

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Second stop! St Anthony’s Church Garden (825 Klevin St). Located adjacent to Catholic Social Services, this garden also serves refugees.20130806-191628.jpg

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Stop four! (see what happened there? we missed the Bragaw Community Garden in Mountain View) McPhee Community Garden in Mountain View. The rule is “no permanent structures” but it seems vandalism and theft are an issue so the makeshift fences and gates are fascinating. This is the oldest garden, at 30-40 years.

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And the newest garden, Methodist Church Garden at 1660 Patterson, was the next-to-last stop.

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Cormac’s favorite was the third grade garden at Anchorage Waldorf School. I love the fence and greenhouse and the way it is perched on top of the hill.20130806-191931.jpg

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Winter Adventures

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I’ve been envious lately of the green grass and gardens I see in the Facebook postings of friends. I spent a little time looking through my own photos from this winter to see the outdoor (and indoor) adventures that are available during our extended winter season.

Indoor jumping

Indoor jumping

sledding at a nearby elementary school sledding hill

sledding at a nearby elementary school sledding hill

"I love to be cold, Mom!"

“I love to be cold, Mom!”

watching the Iditarod start from an urban ski and bike trail

watching the Iditarod start from an urban ski and bike trail

a newspaper lets us yell out the names of mushers as they go by

a newspaper lets us yell out the names of mushers as they go by

mush on, doggies!

mush on, doggies!

ice skating at the local school's rink

ice skating at the local school’s rink

indoor rock gym

indoor rock gym

family walk in the wooded dog park

family walk in the wooded dog park

family dog - she was born last year while I was at the Earthship with friends

family dog – she was born last year while I was at the Earthship with friends

snow sculptures during the winter festival, Fur Rendesvous

snow sculptures during the winter festival, Fur Rendesvous

snow sculptures are better with friends

snow sculptures are better with friends

an afternoon of snow tubing

an afternoon of snow tubing

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Victim of Climate Change

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Yardley, William. “Victim of Climate Change, a Town Seeks a Lifeline.” The New York Times 27 May 2007: n. pag. Print.

This article is on the impact climate change has had on Alaskan villages, specifically Newtok. Villages like Newtok are ancient places, populated with Native Alaskans who depend on the quality of the land, water, and animals for survival. Climate change caused Newtok to be cut off, and sink below sea level. Village elders wished to move the village, though the cost would have been over $400,000 per resident.

Native Alaskan villages seem worlds away from New York, where this newspaper is located, not just thousands of miles. A piece like this is significant because it gives readers around the world a perspective on what might come to be in their areas: barrier islands, beach communities on a coast, towns in low-lying areas. We have seen some of this happen in a big city with the flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and most recently New Jersey and New York City during last fall’s Hurricane Sandy. As larger populations are affected, and more lives are disrupted, will these issues associated with climate chaos be addressed?

As I look at how my family can live more lightly on the earth articles like this show me that every little bit, every change I can make, has a ripple effect. The planet is one big eco-system and even small villages, flights away from cities, feel the impact on their culture. It concerns me that after this article was published U.S. citizens and businesses didn’t learn much. It didn’t really become part of the national conversation and it barely even because part of the conversation in Anchorage.

Green Florida – Loxahatchee

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Loxahatchee is a National Wildlife Refuge located in south Florida, with 221 square miles of Everglades habitat. Small roads take you to different area of the refuge though you’ll want to begin your visit at the small visitors center, boasting several interactive exhibits, including  a simulated airboat.

My dad and Cormac headed out there at around 6 A.M. one morning during our vacation, planning to birdwatch and ride bicycles along the paths to look for alligators. Apparently this is something my dad often does when they’ve gone down there to visit because Loxahatchee, in any given year, has as many as 257 species of birds using the refuge’s diverse wetland habitats, made up of canals and “swamp” areas. My parents have been avid bird watchers for as long as I can remember (and I remember being terrified as we crossed three lanes of Garden State Parkway traffic to sit by the side of the highway watching hawks) and I’ve been to Loxahatchee with them and my grandparents in the past.

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Cormac and Grandpa at the end of their morning wildlife bike ride.

It was too cold to see many alligators early in the morning, but Cormac got in a great ride and visit with his grandfather while testing out his new camera (see slightly blurry photos below) until the rest of us woke up and drove down. It was still a little cool but we had fun walking on the extensive boardwalk system through the cypress swamp and saw one large alligator off to the side of a small access road. On the way out we stopped at a large farmer’s market on the corner, enjoying boiled peanuts, fruit, organic cookies, and hot dogs.

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Big ol’ gator (he was a ways away – I zoomed in)

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Wetland grasses (photo courtesy of Cormac)

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Grasses and bird (photo courtesy of Cormac)

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photo bombed!