River Towns

I was born in Salzburg near the Salzach River at the edge of the northern Alps in Austria.  My two sisters, brother, mother and father shared rooms in the Hotel Bristol overlooking the river in downtown Salzburg when my father was stationed in the city with the American military in the early 1950s.  Salzburg is a river city and the birthplace of Amadeus Mozart.  Its old town is dominated by baroque architecture of such repute that it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Salzburg means “Salt Castle” and it is a city that derived much of its wealth, power and history from its Read More

Canis latrans

One early Sunday morning in late September, I was hiking the newly constructed Mulkey Ridge Trail between Bald Hill Farm and Fitton Green Natural Area.  I woke a sleeping coyote nestled in a thicket of grass beside the trail.  It bounded up and raced across the pathway heading down slope but not before pausing to look quickly into my eyes. Most of us have encountered coyotes.  A map of their current distribution shows that they roam over most of North American and Mexico, and parts of Central America.  Their range has expanded and continues to do so with a likelihood that someday coyotes may be Read More

A Trail Through Time

An Account of the Opening of the Mulkey Ridge Forest Trail: From the metal file cabinet Michael takes out sheet after sheet of paper from the weathered manila folder, delicate reminders of decades of correspondence and of all of the people who worked to make the Mulkey Ridge Trail possible. There are notes scrawled on miniature notepads, holiday cards from trail enthusiasts, and finally copies of emails dating back to a time before Gmail. Most of these papers precede either of our tenure at Greenbelt. We lightly lift up each of the yellowed documents, understanding the weight that they carry. I try to decipher the Read More

Learning to Throw Rocks

As the landowner talked about river ecology, the dynamism of streams and the importance of backchannel habitat, Harley squatted down to the gravel bar, picking up rock after rock, after rock (after rock, and rock) – each one then thrown with glee into the creek at his feet. The delight was contagious, as the adults in the crowd couldn’t help but divert their eyes away from the talk at hand, to rest on the cherubic youngster so satisfied with this rock-throwing business. Each of us laughing at the simple pleasures of life as a two year old. A few hours earlier our group listened to Read More

Summer is icumen in …

And that means green, in this part of the world. More shades of green than we can count although we relish them all— the first faint glow of new rye grass, the saturated wash of wheat, the fading celadon of oak-borne lichens as they dry with the strengthening sun. Locally prolific, green is an anomaly in the universe despite the abundance of hydrogen; we see no green stars. Green is overwhelmed in the spectrum as soon as it is emitted, like a single oboe once the brass kicks in. Robert Frost got this right: Nature’s first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold. Her Read More