Thursday, March 25, 2010

Newsletter-From Virginia ,1969

Broad Run, Virginia
4 Jan, 1969


We have a crowded schedule, as usual, so will try to write four letters at a time; perhaps that way we can write to all our friends.

The job is interesting; it is nice to get paid for doing what I used to do for fun. We are making a complete inventory of the natural areas of the U.S. and its trust territories, and helping to establish criteria for a "natural area" which we hope will be acceptable to all ecologists. We are also making a list of the research which has been, and is being done on natural areas. We will establish a system for storage and retrieval of data, sometime soon.

I have a very good boss; Gene Wallen, a real go-getter, with a background in oceanography. The other scientists in the department are first raters, also; Helmut Buechner, Lee Talbot, Ray Fosberg, to name some. Lee Talbot is now in India, working on the Gir Forest, and in Ceylon afterwards. I get out in the field often, and really admire these hardwood forests. There are quite a few species of oaks, and red maple and and pignut hickory are common. There are also several species of pine, including the Table Mountain Pine, which is not very widely distributed. It was interesting to see witch hazel blooming this fall, and interesting to see the many species of ferns. We flush wild turkey occasionally, and bob white quail, white tail deer, cottontails, and gray squirrels are common. the mockingbirds, cardinals, bluejays, and titmice stay here all winter.

We're very close to apple orchard country, as well as peach and apricot country. Christmas trees aren't so plentiful as they are in the Gallatin Valley.

Most gardeners here try to get their potatoes planted by March 17, and the rest of the garden correspondingly early. There isn't much of a selection in the supermarkets now.

We had two measurable snowfalls so far; the first was a few inches, and melted soon. The second measured about 12 inches, and then a 40 miles an hour wind blew for 2 or 3 days. It seemed ironical to be more solidly snowbound in Virginia than we ever were in any of the Rocky Mountain States. We only have one drift between us and the county road, but it is about 200 yards long, and two to five feet deep. So we borrowed a microbus, and are driving out through the field. After the plentiful fall rains, I would say that the ground water supply should have been restored; last fall many springs went dry here, and there was a very poor crop of acorns, and the black walnuts were quite small, many of them unfilled.

I didn't do any hunting this fall, and we miss the supply of venison which we normally have. However, I have made friends with a lot of good hunters, so I will probably hunt next year. I intend to use the bow for deer; I should be able to get a turkey, also.

We had a husky Kirby-style 7 lb. 6 oz. boy; that completes the team. He weights about 14 now, at almost 3 months. The other kids are doing well. Kandy is in 2nd grade, and Jamie in 1st. The schools are totally integrated, and I guess they both have colored teachers. The schools do seem rather hillbillyish, so I don't mind keeping them out of school to take them to museums and the zoo, and other interesting places. This country is about like living in a history book, with so many battles having been fought nearby, and so many important people having been born here.

I'll close here, and wish you the best.

Vaya con Dios,

Director, Center for the Study of Natural Areas

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