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May 142017

Greetings ERTHAWARE Friends (who deeply care about the health and beauty of our only home-planet),

Last week Lynn and I had a most fascinating experience in our back utility room, the place where we have a washer and dryer, a shelf for spare vases, cooking utensils, recycling bins, key ring hooks, cleaning supplies, mop, rain gear and a shoe rack. The ceiling has a single bright light bulb. Plainly functional. Yet, since May 1977 it is a very romantic place for it represents 40 years of Lynn and me living and surviving together in this 100+ year old cottage. In this back room there are no soft lights, candles burning, flowers, mood enhancing background music. Rather the utility room is the place where we use the backdoor for going to our daily activities and return. It is here we often part or greet each other with gestures of care or affection or last minute scheduling. Our front door is a formal entrance for guests or the UPS. The backdoor is the portal of home.

There’s an old wood frame window above our washer that looks out to two clotheslines stretching from the house to the barn. (There is nothing like the smell of laundry dried in fresh breezes – and it saves energy). Out the backdoor about 20 feet from the lines we have an unruly quince bush that blooms every early Spring, and as long as we have lived here it has grown into a wild tangled mess of color. Every year it attracts several hummingbird families that build their nests in the safety of its dense foliage.

Often maturing youngsters, when not chasing their parents or siblings, will come out and sit on the clothesline, seemingly surveying the new world. As I was leaning over the washer and looking out the window, I noticed Junior just sitting there motionless on the clothesline. I ran to get my camera from the other room, hoping he’d stay.

He was still there. So I carefully slid aside the curtain so not to frighten it away and took these pictures through the old panes of the window. But, now, something was really peaking his attention. What was it?

He raised his head skyward and was slowly following something up there from left to right. A crow? An eagle? A hawk?

The sky was cloud-covered, but it was as if he was slowly following something, straining to see or locate some moving object going from west to east.

From inside the house I suddenly realized the tiny bird was following the sound of several Navy F18 GROWLER Electronic Warfare Jets flying overhead, returning to the Naval Air Station across the Sound from their warfare target practices over the Olympic Mountain wilderness and various staged targets in the National Forests to the far west.

This fleet of GROWLERS is expanding significantly and there is great controversy, as some argue, over their frequent training runs and noise effecting the peace of one of the most beautiful natural places in America, if not the World – a place where many patriotic people (not anti-military) have chosen to visit, live, work, play, engage with nature and to seek healing solitude and silence in a rare and pristine Sanctuary of Creation. As our world of natural places rapidly shrinks, is there the necessity of bio-environments to be honored and held with systemic integrity apart from the congested and noisy madness of urban modernity, abused landscapes, and commercial and political aggression?

The roar of the planes faded into the distance, and Junior settled, but looked a bit ruffled. What does this mean? if anything? It was strange to watch and photograph this out our utility room window.

More and more scientific studies are being done concerning the negative effects of human generated noises on wildlife, and humans, as well. The most prominent studies have to do with engine and propeller sounds from big commercial ships and submarine sonar detection on the communications of whale pods. We also know globally the dire effects of loss of habitat and migration corridors, the  pollution effects on many forms of declining wildlife on this tiny planet once flush with great biodiversity. Can we now add the influence of noise pollution? Outside the iconic whale studies, are there other creatures disturbed by anthropogenic noise pollution? Was this little hummingbird indicating something? And what effect does noise have on our human population?

Recently, the “Washington Post” had a fascinating article summing up current scientific studies on noise pollution in wild areas. Here is the link.
Washington Post – Current scientific studies on noise pollution

The tiny bird jetted off; we returned to putting the dark clothes into the washer. Next to the utility room I could hear the clink of Lynn doing the breakfast dishes in the old kitchen sink. Snowmelt water originating from the Buckhorn Wilderness swooshed into our front-load washer (a recent addition). I opened the back door. Two humming birds sucked at quince blossoms. Finches and chickadees were among the cherry blossoms. A Mourning Dove up the hill was wooh whoooing in the distance…

On the journey,

Hugs from Lynn and me

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Hello. Welcome to the Blog version of Erthaware Report. I have been photographing nature for over 40 years and writing about it for almost that long as well. I hope you like the content of this site and come back often!

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