The distinctive long-billed curlew glides gracefully over the grassland, head and characteristic long curved beak outstretched. When this shorebird alights, it almost disappears, with its mottled brown coloration blending in perfectly with the grasses. Few Nebraskans have had the opportunity to see the long-billed curlew, the largest shorebird in North America. Perhaps this is because it is limited to grasslands and hayfields in the Sand Hills and Panhandle. Perhaps it is because the bird is considered “at-risk” in our state and “critically imperiled” nationally. The Nebraska Natural Legacy Project uses an image of the long-billed curlew as a constant reminder that the Natural Legacy Project is designed to help individuals improve habitat for Nebraska’s over 600 at-risk species in a manner that also provides valuable habitat for Nebraska’s most common species.
“The Loren Eiseley Reader”
Author: Loren C. Eiseley
Publisher: Abbatia Press/Loren Eiseley Society
The Loren Eiseley Reader,” published by the Loren Eiseley Society (LES) and pushed to fruition by Bing Chen, the society’s unabashedly enthusiastic president, is a labor of love and an act of honor. It’s also an excellent example of what happens when a group of idealistic, insightful and well-educated people decide that their intellectual hero must not sink into the electronic quicksand of our digital age. Starting with his essays in Harper’s and his first book, “The Immense Journey,” Eiseley began telling us about the human condition, drawing upon his anthropological experience and sharing a personal vision that is sometimes disturbing but always enlightening. As much as any other writer, he came close to answering the leading question of our time: What is a human being? The society’s intent was to ensure that Eiseley’s answer does not disappear from our collective memory.
In his State of the Union address, President Obama said that “Jobs must be our number one focus in 2010.” The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a sweeping package designed to spur our economy and put Americans back to work. The Jobs for Main Street Act includes an Education Jobs Fund that will help states retain or create an estimated 250,000 education jobs over the next two years. The act also includes funds for school construction, renovation and modernization. In Nebraska alone this job package will save 700 education jobs that provide economic stimulus for every community in the state.
Around Nebraska it’s not too hard to hear somebody talk about how government just plain doesn’t work or should just keep its nose out of people’s business. While no doubt this is true in many instances, there is no question that when it comes to clean and healthy land, air and water, without an active government working on our behalf, each one of us—even those who think “government” is a four-letter word—would be in a whole lot of trouble.
Snow! It’s great if it falls where you want—on ski slopes or good sledding hills. It can be challenging if it falls in your driveway or roads. Getting snow to fall where you want, especially on cropland, can be good for both the soil and good protection for roads and travelers alike.
Rain barrels, so common many years ago, are making a strong comeback to store rooftop runoff for later use. This practical, water-conserving reservoir can be a container of any size and material, but most are made from 55-gallon plastic drums.
At times I think that April is the saddest month. The last of the sandhill cranes are leaving the Platte Valley for northern breeding grounds. As I watch the last flocks disappear into the clouds like departing angels singing a final farewell, I am bereft knowing that I will not see or hear them again for six months. My primary consolation lies in the fact that I know I will soon be hearing a different chorus, a sunrise serenade of grassland dancers, just as mysterious and magical as the departing cranes. To hear and see this event requires more planning and even more patience than is needed for watching cranes.
Each week as I read the newspapers, I am amazed at a number of anomalies that reflect our past and paint the realities of our current conditions. Sometimes those issues are based upon everyday events in front of our faces. In one of my African-American classes, the students received the results of their mid-term exams. Many did not do as well as they had expected. Nevertheless, what is to be expected when students have no semblance of African-American culture or history? Whites grow up in a system that is packed full of white privilege, and when they encounter an Afrocentric person, many have no ability to engage in that worldview.