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  • Nature itself, left alone without human interference, is what you might call wondrously beautiful in all respects. Even natural death has its positive side. Nothing goes to waste; everything is recycled. Then, humans came along and began to spoil it. Try as we may to recycle, not everything — many plastics, for example — is recyclable. Let’s face it, we’ve made one humongous mess of things and we have very little time before the lights go out to make it right again.
  • All of a sudden, the trees along our back roads have burst into bloom. The black and scarlet oaks were in full flower by Friday evening. As of Sunday dogwoods were just beginning to leaf out, the lowbush blueberries and huckleberries that make up the bulk of the shrub layer are leafing out and blooming simultaneously.
  • Driving along a wood-edge road recently, you may have noticed a small tree, almost leafless but with many white quarter-size flowers. The smooth shad is in bloom. It's not as common as its sibling species, Canada shad or shadblow, which blooms a week or so later and is common in sandy habitats such as those along the Napeague stretch. As with most of our deciduous trees, the flowers precede the leaves.
  • The South Fork is contracting and expanding at the same time. Its land volume is slowly shrinking as the seas warm up, and sea level rise pushes farther and farther inland with each tropical storm or northeaster.
  • It was pleasant last Thursday afternoon as I drove from Noyac to Southampton. I had just left Edge of Woods Road for David White’s Lane when I came upon about 50 gulls landing in a just-plowed strip on the west side of the road.
  • As our planet continues to heat up and sea level rises commensurately due to melting glacial water, we think about ways to survive, comfortably if possible, and one of these ways is to switch from gasoline and coal to forms of energy production that don’t require the burning of carbon-derived materials. We are making progress, but we have a long, long way to go.
  • It’s that time of year when all of the birds start arriving and setting up homesteads here on eastern Long Island. More and more southern birds have been overwintering so it has become hard to say which ones are year-round residents and which ones are part-timers.
  • Just about everyone has a rough idea of what “food chains” and “food pyramids” are. The ones at the very bottom are the microbes, single-celled diatoms and the like; the ones at the top are the “top” carnivores. In one respect, the human is a top carnivore. In another, a top herbivore. In all respects — strict vegetarians omitted — an omnivore.
  • I just read in today’s New York Times that Nashville has a case of the demolition blues. I may have the same sickness. I also read a reminiscence by Beth Howard, a writer who rented the little farmhouse in Eldon, Iowa, made famous by Grant Wood’s 1930 painting “American Gothic.” Two American themes going in the opposite direction.
  • In last week’s column, I wrote about the beginning of the local eastern bluebird season. Then I received Joe Giunta’s annual recap of the East Hampton Town area’s bluebird box yield for 2017. Joe and his volunteers have been checking out and maintaining the boxes at nine different East Hampton Town sites and two boxes on North Haven in Southampton Town for nearly 20 years.