Life Lately | Early May 2019

Two pretty big controversial things:

The First:

You can click through and read the entire thread including background on Baker Creek’s previous interactions with Bundy and just exactly what knowledge they already had about him and his involvement in the Bundy standoff in 2014 as well as his familial association with the Malheur NWR standoff in 2016. Apparently Bundy is also an heirloom seed saver and gardener, which yay!, great for him, but that doesn’t wipe away any of his racist and violent issues. Other than already being appalled that they were even thinking of including him into their festival to begin with and calling him a “land rights activist”, I was seriously disappointed in their doubling down within their feed with replies to those who were upset about this. I’m sure they have a social media manager but at some point you know the Gettles were involved in directing this social media person in how to reply to the outrage from gardeners and well, it wasn’t handled well. It was eventually announced that Bundy was not going to be showing up at the festival but the reasons why seemed a bit disingenuous and as someone mentioned in one of the threads I read, it came off as if had Baker Creek had enough money to provide security from protesters that they would have had him anyway.

So, they are off my list of companies to buy seeds from now. I’m kinda glad they sold Heirloom Gardener magazine a few years ago but it now makes me want to go back through my back issues and see if they still include any advertising or notes about Bundy in there.

The Second:
Oh boy, the hiking world and leave no trace ethics.

I’m know the issue has been brewing for a while but the recent superbloom in California really set off a spark. There’s a couple of components to this that I believe made it worse, and one of them was of course social media, with mostly outdoor newbies going out and completely disregarding signage and laws about where to stay on trail, etc and then sharing those photos online and triggering an avalanche of visitors. The second component to making it worse were the social media handles that began shaming people and calling them out. It’s been a trend in general with other handles I’ve seen. At first I was on board with some of them but after I started reading more of the posts and then the feeds of people they were actively shaming, it left a very bitter taste in my mouth. The schadenfreude was far too thick. (Somehow I think this pairs nicely with an article I recently read, The End of Empathy via NPR).

After the brouhaha with the superbloom I noticed several hiking accounts I follow call out leave no trace ethics in general and the overall hiking community as being racist or gatekeeping in the whole situation. I could see their point in some way but it felt false in others. Over the last few weeks there’s been even more of a push to stop geotagging many places unless they are already well-known or even not including detailed hashtags. I never geotag because I don’t keep my location services activated on my phone and can’t be bothered to enter it manually but if I write up something I’ll type into the narrative the general state park or area, never an actual location. And some things I don’t even get specific on, just share the photo of whatever it is and a narrative and leaving the location out of it. But apparently people are taking offense to this (not to me specifically, just in general) and are strongly pro-getotagging and anti-gatekeeping and everyone should know all the locations and on and on and on. If you are entrenched in the hiking community you already likely know the accounts I’m talking about—I’m not going to name them here.

The whole thing is getting tedious for me though and I’m losing my patience with it. In some aspect I can see what they are talking about but when you zoom way out and think about the actual repercussions of posting exact locations to arch sites, geologic sites, rare plant sites, unique photography locations—I know exactly what happens when a lot of people go there. It takes one person to ruin something. It’s why we’ve always been very vague and only told certain people about ghost orchid sites. Orchids disappear.

As for the gatekeeping portion of it, so many of these interesting places are already known or the information is out there. We have a friend in Florida that is using old topos to find old logging roads and buggy trails and exploring these areas. This stuff is out there. Do you need to know where to look? Sure, but once you dip your toes into guidebooks and exploring whatever ecosystem you are interested in, you usually want more and will start figuring out how to get the information yourself. You also build connections with people who are already out there and creating a reputation for trust. I think this is the issue for me—it is trust and something that I don’t know if these groups are thinking through clearly when they want everyone to know about certain, specific locations.

I was thinking about our trip to Inks Lake State Park and how the majority of people go to the Devil’s Waterhole to visit. It’s crowded and yes it is scenic, but I had so much more fun hiking the trails at the back of the park. It also made me think of how places like Austin’s Hamilton Pool has changed over the last 9 years since we first started going. I remember the first time we went, there was relatively no one there and while we paid an entry fee it was no big deal. I mean, it has always been a well-known spot but it’s gotten even more popular and now you have to make reservations ahead of time to even go there! Just a mile or so down the road and across the Pedernales River is the less well-known but equally interesting Westcave Preserve, which because it is privately owned has always required a tour to see the cave. I think we’re going to start seeing this even more as more people visit outdoor spaces.

I know bloggers have been writing about places for eons already and I do the same, but something about social media has really amplified the visibility to many of these locales.

Anyway, I’m not sure my thoughts are coherent on this topic completely but it is on my mind.

The garden is starting to look fairly decent. I’ve had some setbacks with the deer a few times in the flower beds. Our cooler than average spring has made it a slow start to a good blooming season but May is going to set it up for a lot of growth I believe.

The edible garden needs a weekend of hard work to get the weeds under control. I’m going to do some plastic sheeting on the garden paths out there to get the weeds under control and then we need to do some re-mulching out there. I was crossing my fingers that the chamberbitter wouldn’t be horrible this year but it has taken its time germinating and I’m just now starting to see them pop up. The hairy crab weed/mulberry weed is already popping up and I’m trying to stay on top of it before it gets bad, too.

The sugar snap peas are done and I’m attempting to let the pods on the trellises dry so we can save the seeds. I’m thinking about planting cucumbers or black eyed peas on the trellises while I wait for them to dry as they won’t grow that fast and I’ll have time to take the dried vines off before the other plants get a foothold.

+Texas is finally getting a sea turtle license plate! Chris ordered it for me the day it came out and even snagged my new tag #: KEMPS! Ridley was unavailable and Kempii was too long by a letter for this plate style, so Kemps it is!

+Forest started telling jokes last week and it is HIL-AR-I-OUS! I don’t know where he came up with that but it cracks me up!

+My new computer!

+Monarch butterfly season! I actually enjoyed how I ‘raised’ them this year, which is to say I was hands off until I couldn’t be because they ate all of the tropical milkweed so soon. Thankfully the green milkweed came in quickly and I fed them on that until the end. I only found five that died in chrysalis, though I kind of lost track of where some went to pupate so I have no idea if any others died. Many have eclosed now and are on their way north to continue the generations. Hopefully I’ll see their great-great-great-great-grandchildren sometime in September or so. But there wasn’t any cleaning of the cage (which I still need to clean with bleach from the over wintering pipevine swallowtails) or general worry like that. I was getting milkweed cuttings once or twice a day and just sticking them into the pots where would chow them down very quickly. Not sure that this would work for fall and tagging them, but I guess I could just keep track of where they pupate, and move the chrysalides into the cage?? I’ll think on it this summer.

+iNaturalist City Challenge 2019. A former coworker told us about it late last week. I’ve always wanted to participate in a BioBlitz and while I didn’t collect a ton of data, I did get enough around my neighborhood for me to realize my Cyperaceae, Juncaceae and Poaceae skills are super rusty. It was nice to pair their AI with the photos of things I couldn’t identify to guide me in figuring out what something was. There are some cool oddball plants hanging out in our yard as well as some exotics I didn’t realize we had. I also randomly took a photo of a spider that caught me in its web as it was flying from a tree limb and managed to figure it out, though no one has confirmed it yet. And I still have a caterpillar to identify. Lots to learn, not enough time—well, not enough time spend in the field being able to keep on top of it all. And I regret not getting better at it when I had the chance earlier on.

Not much. With the chaos my desire to read went out the window. I am reading a NetGalley preview of The Planthunter by Georgina Reid which is just a gorgeous little book. All of the gardens make me wish I had no deer and a lot more time and money to garden.

Forest and I had been spending a lot of time in the studio in April but the last week or so has been quiet on that front. I’ve got some paintings and drawings in store. I’m also taking part in the #100DayProject which I made super simple on my part: 100 days of blind contour drawings. So far so good, though I have been doubling up on days the last week and a half due to the chaos. Maybe we can shift back into the studio this weekend.

Watching & Listening:
+Call the Midwife is back and I’ve been enjoying that again. There have been at least two episodes with back-alley abortions and I’m trying to figure out if this is a statement piece or they are lacking in storylines this season. They usually touch on it once a season if I recall but it seems like it is being brought up a bit more. I’ll be sad when this show ends its run one day.
+Downton Abbey reruns. Oh Matthew, why did you have to leave the show so soon?
+The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: I’m late to the game on this one. I don’t typically watch Amazon Prime regularly but I thought I’d dip into this show. So far it is proving to be worth watching!
+Solo: It’s on Netflix finally and I got to watch it. I did catch the next Star Wars trailer, too.

What’s up with you?


  • Joan

    I really appreciate your perspective on the geotagging debate. I’m glad that you brought up the issues of arch sites and rare plants. Those are thing that I deeply care about too, and I think that some of the debates miss the point on them.

    Also, very cool about the iNaturalist city challenge! Sounds like so much fun!

  • Patrice La Vigne

    People used to complain about guidebooks & magazines “ruining all the good places,” but my problem with social media is it is so immediate! You see a beautiful place and all the sudden you want to go there. You know nothing about it. And that just opens the can of worms.

    I feel like things are not going to get better on that front …

    Also, did you see this recent writeup about geotagging? Pretty good.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.