Baxter Troutman, Spirit of the Valley

  1. chapter outline
    1. Prologue
      1. Science
        1. Appalled at ignorance of the workings of my environment
        2. Pull things apart
      2. Mythology, cluture, language, myth
        1. Vs. Dull accumulations of fact
        2. Large syntheses--broad cultural continuums--style of book; continuums
      3. Variety of ways these two approaches intertwine--soul meets rationality
        1. Footnotes and bibliography contrast informal style
        2. structure of chapters is associational and logical
        3. textbook and memoir
    2. Introd--The Valley
      1. Mood and fog in MB-- journal and journey--escape--Walking; freedom, departure; come away
        1. Personified and intensified: miasma, mildew, shroud
        2. Strong arms of sun
      2. As companion--establishes territory--dog as bit of nature
        1. What's dog doing in each chapter
      3. Buddhist/Taoist connection of things reinforced throughout--inexhaustibility of nature [Ryan's grace]
    3. California [Muir, Austin]
      1. Navaho story--three dawns; emphasis on time structure--shape shifting indefinable period; see you tonight to stars 13
      2. Surprise of Mick eating groundsquirrel--roadkill
      3. Somnolent, dreamy...back in time to myths and history of California--etymology back to furnace
      4. California and dreaming--Eden
        1. History of state is myth of Amazons--hotland--etymology
        2. Humor of roadkill and amazons--tossed to hungry creatures
        3. Theme of killing for natural reasons
        4. California dreaming--gold, Hollywood gold=dream gold
        5. California is natural paradise--eden--because of most endemic species
    4. Biophilia
      1. Breakfast--Making coffee is transition to aesthetics
      2. Stack of books, cup of coffee--alien
      3. Brewer description from 1869--loving the scenery--reflection on experience of admiring a landscape
        1. Every cell relaxes, floating in the fluid mirror of my gaze--meditative contentment
      4. Biophilia experience
      5. Gene-Culture coevolution--evolutionary explanation--biophobia--dogs and snakes
      6. Landscape preferences for open, parklike spaces [pastoral]
        1. This has survival value perhaps--not woods
        2. Keep away from snakes and spidersin paradise
        3. Animal aversions
      7. Different animals landscape preferences--based on survival
      8. Distorted modern perceptions about good and bad animals--polemic urging for change to adapt to modern conditions--don’t see mountain lions as enemy or nature as threat
    5. Steinbeck--science to art--and strong emotion: fear to comfort
      1. Sacrifice and renewal theme.
      2. Link to author in same place--dialogue with writer; shared anxiety over mountains and night
      3. "long and stretching connections to this world 25...landscape tethers me to past, present and future worlds." Central theme...alone but not full of ghosts."
      4. Very personal reflection
    6. Annual Grasses [science]
      1. Dog gets foxtail--an expensive inconvenience--annual grasses and the functions of foxtails
      2. Name: ripgut brome--Hordeum and Bromus
      3. Soft first, then become hard and attach
      4. Use of latin name; scientific exposition
      5. How they attach to disseminators; diagram
        1. Glumes protect seeds; barbed to protect from predators
        2. Locomotion to avoid competition with parent
        3. They can travel 10000 miles back to Iraq
    7. More Annual Grasses [history and myth--human culture]
      1. Source of seeds--travel through dog and her pants; travel from Iraq
      2. Origins of Agricultre and civilization
      3. Seeds are durable
      4. Telling history/story/myth of the migration of seeds to California through the bulls--Cortez in 1520; Portola in 1720
      5. Same mediterranean climate of Iraq and Spain
      6. Her relation to the woman planting seeds in Iraq--her link to seed; her place in long temporal processes--individual, species, lineage--fundamental similarity in physique and in motivations
      7. Both owe existence to natural habitat
      8. Fate of seed and person bound up together--she and seed are part of immense journey "through meandering course of time"
    8. Bluebirds and Sky[science]
      1. what the bluebirds are doing with earwig--juveniles; hears titmouse--close observation
      2. illusory nature of blue--Tyndall effect--why sky is blue--because blue wavelengths only ones not absorbed by particles in air--color is wavelength not absorbed but reflected
      3. Hollow dead cells of bluebird feathers reflect blue light; red feathers are "real" colors [physics here remains obscure]
      4. Humans have given bluebirds "good' qualities" but play "The Blue Bird byt Maeterlinck is about the folly of seekng happiness outside ourselves
      5. Song about return of bluebirds in WW2 in England was illusory--not true bluebirds [probably about RAF]--used to create hope and optimism--a positive illusion
      6. Leads to thoughts of war--she whistles like bluebird, hoping to keep away war
    9. Going Native
      1. Crossing fences--duck under barbed wire
      2. Likes finding bunch grasses, the natives, rather than trespassers
        1. Deeper root systems--took away from above ground production and took time; got to deeper groundwater
        2. Didn’t produce as many seeds and when it was dry produced no seeds and saved energy for their own growth and maintenance
        3. Non-natives are opportunistic--filled in spaces between bunch grasses
        4. Surface root systems stole moisture from deeper perennial roots
        5. Cattle preferred sweeter natives which didn’t get time to produce more seeds
      3. Valley oak, quercus lobata--etymology--live 250 years; leaves for words and wind to give them voice--metaphor; myth
        1. Loss of oaks--charcoal industry, creating more pasturage, grazing--new ones not growing
        2. Sprawl--subdivision kills trees and named Happy Oaks
        3. Destroying what attracted us
        4. Annual grasses take up water from baby oaks
        5. Deer browse oak shoots, not enough mountain lions
        6. Not enough carnivores make rodent population swell, which take up acorns, especially ground squirrels which eat roots
        7. Birds depend on these trees
      4. Nature moves slowly and methodically correcting its problems as it goes. Humans often behave in just the opposite manner, moving quicky and erratically. Humans can learn from the landscape--that's where their brains were assembled p.44
    10. Acorns Ch. 8
      1. Eating salami and provolone for lunch--feeling privileged
      2. Natives saved the Spanish colonists with pine nuts and acorn mush
      3. How did they learn: centuries of trial and error [evolution]
      4. Indian Myth of acorns
        1. Different species with different hats
      5. Settlers in new environments often starve until they get to know the gifts of the land [Theme]
      6. Indians generous to those who destroy them
      7. Method of grinding acorns
      8. John Muir took acorn bread
      9. Different species ripen acorns at different times of year
      10. Family of six Salinan indians needed 2100 lbs. Of acorns per year
    11. Acorn Woodpeckers
      1. After lunch lazing--a necessity in the heat for all creatures--connection
        1. All caught in rhythm of seasons
        2. Stillness of landscape
        3. Moving from people as acorn consumers to birds
      2. Etymology of name--
        1. Melanerpes formicivorus, blackcreeping anteater
        2. Carpintero--carpinter
        3. Acorn Woodpecker
      3. Behavior
        1. Slam into wood at 650 cm/sec
      4. Physics of shock absorption:
        1. Brain is small massed in larger skull
        2. Hollow air spaces instead of brain fluid
        3. Force of blow delivered below brain case
        4. Frontal bones tuck under bill
        5. Bill is straight sharp and self-sharpening
        6. Muscle tissue around skull absorbs shock
      5. Woodpecker's tongue
        1. Similarity and difference from human tongues--relation
        2. Three different positions; complex mechanism
      6. Woodpecker associations--Pliny
        1. Eating Grubs
          1. Falsely attributed to woodpecker
          2. Diet: her preference for cow--attributable to abundance of warm-blooded mammals for Anglo Saxons
        2. Myths:
          1. woodpecker bill wards off bites from insects
          2. Picus, Roman king: refused to accede to Circe's advances, she turned him into woodpecker who banged his head against tree from frustration of not finding his beloved
          3. Christian story: Jesus gets mad at woman for not giving him big enough bread and turns her to woodpecker who flies up chimney and gets covered with soot
          4. What do stories have in common: deity denied and in vengeance creates woodpeckers
          5. Mythologies borrowing from one another
          6. Why war, when cultures are so closely intertwined [Pagan and Christian] 54
            1. Universals in mythology
            2. Connections: foxtail and mesopotamia, acorn woodpecker to romans and christians, acorns to Salinans
            3. Chaos and darkness, light and creation; falling from grace, saviors and redemption
          7. Mingle and blend like dusk
        3. Midpoint of book: Coming into the Valley is balm from feeling too separate from the world
          1. Valley is blanket woven with threats of time and land, died in a wash of living things, decorated with history
          2. I am part of everything and everything is a part of me (54)
    12. Early Biology
      1. Afternoon--sun past zenith--time of day for mocking mythology
      2. Reading history of Science
        1. Connecting ancient to modern science
        2. Basis in Egypt and Babylonia
        3. Greeks were first scientists--
          1. gods were not necessarily causes
          2. nature was self-sufficient: things growing, reproducing and dying
        4. logical reasoning as art form--Socrates and Plato
        5. applying logic to nature--Aristotle
        6. Science didnt go any further under roman empire (?)
        7. Christianity--dont study nature, study God; science languishes for 1000 years
        8. Mocking the science of the bestiaries--anti-mythological
        9. Fox seen falsely as cunning by Dante, Chaucer, Machiavelli, Shakespeare
      3. Transition to cunning fox now on edge of distinction.
    13. San Joaquin Kit Fox--endangered species act
      1. Transition to science: Personal-professional: biologist monitoring kit foxes
      2. Red foxes imported to support English passion for fox hunting; gray fox is native
      3. Kit fox small weighs less than seven lbs.
      4. Rarely seen
      5. Nocturnal, like most terrestial predatory mammals in warm or temperate climates to escape heat
      6. Burrowing during the day--always cool in burrows
      7. NB: Wendell Berry, Gary Snyder, Caren, Baxter--all looking for foxes in burrows
      8. Fox adaptable and surviving
        1. Moving to San Luis county because of pressure in native habitat of Valley
        2. Adapting to niche pressure by becoming diurnal instead of nocturnal--Darwin in action; an awed witness (p. 61)
      9. Pressure to survive breeds adaptability; too much stress leads to failure to breed
      10. Endangered Species act now protects them
        1. Expensive for people
        2. Prevents farmers from killing squirrels
        3. Most ranchers want to eradicate the whole population
        4. Squirrel infestation due to farming loosening the soil and loss of natural predators
        5. Debilitating onslaught of stresses brings species to knees
        6. Endangered species act is referee--fight analogy
        7. Appeal to fairness
    14. 5052--the individual fox--a story-telling chapter; beginning, middle and end
      1. continues previous chapter
      2. methods of biological survey to determine whether and why numbers are decreasing
      3. personal involvement--rarity provides little handling experience
      4. diction emphasizing decline--abysmally low, surreptitious gloom, empty traps--and suspense
      5. Climactic moment--description of finding holding, releasing and getting bitten by 5052--heightened drama in this chapter created by detail and bodily harm
      6. Scarring remains memorably--both are tagged; experience of being drawn together, with a tagline p. 67
    15. Lightning--ch. 13
      1. Heat of day--112 degrees--scar on tree provides transition--chainsaw
      2. Awkward transition to imagining rainstorms
      3. Myth of female, light rain vs. male thunderstorm rain--raire
      4. Scientific explanation of lightning--hard to follow
      5. Mythological connection between oak and lightning--Zeus and Jupiter
      6. Scientific explanation of "conductive pathway" now abandoned
      7. Lightning hits church towers and blows up gunpowder stored there; people still keep their old self-destructive superstitious beliefs
    16. Western Fence Lizards--taxonomy
      1. She's irritated by sounds of ground squirrels; understands people wanting to pick them off with .22
      2. Sounds catalogued; lizards fall
      3. Latin name leads to discussion of taxonomy; Greek and Roman names, which lead back to mythology
        1. Taxons are groupings; progressive narrowing--menemonic: King Phillip Came Over For Good Sex (!)=kingdom, phylum, class, order family, genus, species
        2. Phylum: chordata or vertebrates
        3. Class: Reptilia
        4. Order: Sauria
        5. Family: Iguanidae
        6. Genus and Species: Sceloporus occidentalis
        7. Uses of taxonomy--field guide
      4. Lizards vs. Snakes
        1. Lizards are much more like us
        2. Four feet, eyelids, rounde tongues
        3. Associated with sunshine and light
        4. Dislike for creeping things
        5. I picked up big lizard at oaks protest and got bitten; loved the scar
      5. Blue bellies
        1. She and dog blend in--her jeans and sky; dog and grass 79
        2. Heat makes for her spacing out; also taxonomic realtionships with other creatures
        3. Vision experience--climax of nothingness--"emerging from a place within myself, vastly still and silent, that I didn’t even know I had." (79) Lizard consciousness
        4. Contrast to "5052"--scar of individuality; active drama
    17. Datura
      1. Time change--shadows begin their stretch; they need a stretch--more connection. Mick and I saunter
      2. Encounter with Drilling--Jim Muller and sons; taxonomic reasoning
        1. Uses bird watching as her disguise
        2. What's this about, if anything
      3. Jimson weed--jamestown etymology…other names: Devils apple
      4. Dangerous cheap high…pharmacology: three alkaloids
        1. Indians used to relieve asthma
        2. Used today as sedative--depresses cerebral cortex and reduce motion sickness
        3. Used to produce hallucinations [Castaneda]
      5. Medicine vs. religion--superstition
        1. Pagan vs. Christian
        2. Church stopped medical research
        3. Sacrifice of those who experimented with drugs by trial and error
        4. Passed down gift of healing medicines, including aspirin, from indians
        5. Persecution of healers as witches, especially women--Servetus burned alive
        6. Herbal traditions--plant known by Dioscurides--connects her to past--Blake Auguries of Innocence p. 88
          1. Powerful quote--see a world in a grain of sand/And a Heaven in a wild flower/infinity in palm of your hand/ eternity in an hour
          2. Acid flash
          3. Persecution of druggies
    18. Band-Tailed Pigeons--ch. 16
      1. Walk down road
      2. Pigeons are interchangeable with doves: scientific traits
      3. Links to acorn woodpeckers as oakwoodland residents and mythologicals
      4. Doves and Mythology
        1. Deucalion and Phyrra [Greek] and Noah [Christian]
        2. Astarte/ Venus--Jesus/Holy Spirit
      5. Social birds--tend to flock; easy to hunt
      6. Passenger pigeon hunted to extinction--bag limits protect these--Endangered species
      7. Cycles of population extinctions and species succession--Ecclesiastes the Buddhist
      8. Succession of human species from homo erectus to homo sapiens--what will come next…the long view.
    19. Oak Galls and Gall wasps
      1. Still intense heat
        1. Wind and dust devils
      2. Description of oak gall
        1. Explanation of cause--cecidologists
      3. Wasps and parthenogenesis--evolutionary improvisation--bad sides of asexual reproduction
      4. Two kinds of stimuli to oak produce specialized tissues to cover and isolate irritatnt and provide a home for the wasps
      5. Honeydew produced by wasps attracts bees and ants which attract birds [everything based on predation--acceptance of death]
      6. Oaks produce tannins as defense; groudn squirrels develop salivary protein to bind with tannins--like indians washing acorns--processing and washing out tannins
      7. She gets beer from cooler--enjoying coolth in heat
      8. Dog's dinner dance--joy over dinner--best things in life are simple and shared with animals 97
      9. Elemental reverence; almost painful awareness of just how sweet, how enduring life is.
      10. Pours first sip to the ground--another climactic moment 97
    20. California Ground Squirrels
      1. Sunset frees her to leave shelter of oak
      2. Ground squirrels--very unpopular today, though relied upon by natives
      3. Serious pests in 1800s
        1. Bounty on tails; mandatory killing policy, free poisoned bait, 22 M killed
        2. Actually controlled by plague
        3. Education to hate them--DofA "instill a desire to eliminate"--a new mythology--biophobia; Mistaken like others
      4. Defense of Ground squirrel
        1. They control weeds
        2. In balanced community not much damage is done
        3. Integral function in healthy landscape
        4. Crucial food source for birds and reptiles
        5. Aerate dense soils
        6. Perfectly adapted to their role
    21. Titmice and magpies
      1. Afternoon and evening blend
      2. Birds become active between day and night--bird calls, claiming space…singing gratitude--cf. Oak moth
      3. Titmice and magpies as indicator species
      4. Their song
      5. Magpies--endemic; reconstructing their evolution
        1. Story about gene encoding bill color…speculation 109
        2. Switch to Ovid's version--the singing contest between Pierus sisters and muses--they scold and fuss then transformed by goddess
    22. Mistletoe and Druid
      1. Nighttime--gothic atmosphere
        1. Coyotes lingering; sunset
        2. Murky and lurky
        3. Sear animal flesh--she and dog in savage ritual
      2. Druidic memories; oak men and human sacrifices--worshipped spirits in oak trees
        1. Priests of Celts; sacred wisdom
        2. Celebration of paganism 113--gods in the world; animism
        3. Thunder and oaks combined like for Salinans
        4. Priests become poets and bards
        5. Praying for prosperity--to oaks
        6. Oaks favored by gods; struck by lightning; carried the power of the sun
      3. Mistletoe--Concentration of the sun
        1. Magic qualities: no roots; semenlike substance, golden bough was the sun [Frasier, Vergil]--reverence for mistletoe
        2. Christian use of mistletoe for fertility at Xmas and Yule log cake, evolved from Celtic oak; solstice bonfires.
    23. Scorpio--Ch. 21
      1. Oak coals wink--night sky
      2. Scorpio crawling--Ancient persians and egyptians had same name for it--overcoming time
      3. Summer Scorpio; winter Orion--greek myth of orion and scorpio being kept separate
      4. Light from these stars rested on heads of Socrates and Pliny, Jesus and Paganorum, passenger pigeons--all extinct
      5. Accepting her own death--scorpio is death and love symbol; more lizard…people are ephemeral but the stars will remain
      6. I have come to the valley…sky has released me…I am in the pounding heart of eternity somewhere between heaven and earth. 119
    24. Epilogue like Prologue
      1. Final image of the Marriage of science and mythology--like Revelation
      2. Parable about honeymoon--in yosemite--scientist and poet--classifying lizard as new species--poet noticing symbol of resurrection and recreation, sunshine and renewal
      3. An ecological, symbiotic relationship
  2. Class 1
    1. Relation to our hike
      1. History, sense of place, getaway, Archaeology, Geology, dog and people, California
    2. Transitions and contrasts--continuums vs. discreet facts and information--
      1. list transitional strategies
      2. implications of transitions
      3. recursive and predictive structure vs. breaking down into discreet units--54
      4. cycle of day--dawn to nightfall
      5. themes
        1. connection and connecting
        2. science and mythology
        3. time cycles
    3. Less commentary than fact--we must react and marvel
    4. Explanantions for everything=evolution=karma
      1. E.g. why she likes meat not grubs
    5. Amazon stories
      1. Califa
      2. Circe
  3. class 2
    1. Start with wordsworth--the tables turned--emerson
    2. What is ecology--ecolit--ecological mythology
    3. Her models
    4. Her structures and transitions
    5. Individual essays
    6. Model for essays--about 1200 words
    7. How did she write it; history of book
    8. Would you change anything?
    9. What's next
    10. What's happening with Kit fox?