Sam WHITBY #201

Letters to the Editor

from Sam WHITBY in CMO #201

Thank you for your kind message. It is an honor to be associated with your CMO. I hope that my few words will helpful.
The Olympic Games received a lot of favorable coverage on American TV and in the newspapers.
We finally got the scanner to work properly once more, so I will try to send some more pictures. I have some newer ones of Randy Tatum and me at the observatory. You might also be interested in a photo of Randy's long focus reflector, which is a very impressive scope indeed.

On the 20th of February I heard the little frogs called spring peepers for the first time this year.
In our yard there are daffodils of the King Alfred variety which have bloomed for around ten years, predictably on the 15th or 16th of March, but this year they have already bloomed. I have wondered whether this might be an effect of the El Nino that has brought us so much rain. Also, for many years, since my childhood, I have been fascinated by solar haloes, parhelia, and so forth. (I have seen Parry' s Arc one time in my near half century of life.) Without the numbers to prove it, for I have been too lazy to keep good records (and really need to start doing better), it seems that this year has been the poorest in memory in regard to numbers and quality of solar halo phenomena. Again, I think that this may be due to warmer than usual atmosphere due to El Nino. Have you heard any such speculations?

My wife is moving our furniture around and giving me looks as to why I am not helping her, so I had better take the hint and go to work.

We will be looking forward to CMO 200.

(23 February 1998 email)

I have seen part of CMO 200 on the Web. It is very satisfying to see our son and myself and my words on your page on the Internet. I also enjoyed reading about HIGA's observation and the equatorial band mist. Your explanation of the mist is "right on the money". Let me also add that I think MURAKAMI's graph was a great idea, very creative.

. . . . . At Poplar Springs Hospital I have had a lot of experience trying to read doctor's orders, so I feel able to de-cipher almost anything. ( My education is in the psychological end of the business, rather than being medical. I do not, regrettably, have a doctorate.) Do Japanese doctors scribble everything in a mad rush like Americans do?

Tyler is waking up now, so he needs my attention. If there is time, I will try to get back to you.

(3 March 1998 7:51 email)

I want to try to add a few words to what I started yesterday.

Thank you for the news of the effects of El Nino in Japan. A weather system of the size and power of the present one is exciting and interesting to me. Although we do not get a lot of snow every year, with the first snow in a given year we have problems similar to what you mentioned in regard to Tokyo, as people slip and fall or have car accidents before they become accustomed to the snow.

You are right that I very much enjoy observation of nature, although I can claim no special expertise. My grandparents on my mother's side were farmers, and we lived near them as I was growing up. My Granddaddy used to emphasize the interdependence of all living things, and he taught me to appreciate that all living things have their roles in the Grand Plan. My mother studied biology in college. She taught me, among too many other things to begin to list them, not to be afraid of creatures like snakes and frogs (or cadavers). My father's father, when he returned from service in France during the First World War, earned a degree in horticulture from Virginia Polytechnic Institute. ( He used to say that he partied for four years at the governments expense. Some party-he had to be shot and gassed to get invited.) My father has always been an avid gardener. So you can see, I came to an appreciation of nature almost by osmosis.

When I was a boy we lived on a farm of about 165 acres. This farm was surrounded on all sides by other wooded parcels of land and fields used for farming, many hundreds of acres, all of which I was permitted to ramble on and enjoy. Our neighbors knew that I was trustworthy, and it seemed to be sort of expected where I grew up that boys would hunt and fish and hike in the woods.

I have to go now. There are a few more words to add later if there is time.

(4 March 1998 7:57 email)

CMO 200 has arrived, and I am very pleased to be so honored to be included. . . . .

This morning I started to write about my enjoyment of nature, and so many thoughts have come to mind that I must put them off in order to get them organized and minimize the risk of boring you to tears. One exciting note is that recently my father and nephew have seen black bears near their homes in Brunswick County, where I grew up, only about 70 miles from Hopewell. I have never seen a bear in the wild, for they did not inhabit the area when I lived there. So far my family has not eaten any of their porridge, and they have not eaten any of my family. ( If this reference to the three bears story does not translate into Japanese, I will try to amplify later.)

Your friend MURAKAMI may be interested to hear, when you have a chance to talk to him, that we have hoop petticoat daffodils (Narcissus bulbocodium) naturalized in our yard, re-seeding itself every year. I enjoyed the reference to his observation of nature as you walked. I do the same and try to see everything.

Yesterday I saw two bald eagles. This morning I saw a muskrat. Tyler thinks robins are wonderful, and he is right.

Oh well, let me go now,

Sincerely, with best wishes,

(4 March 1997 17:22 email)

Thank you for the report of the observations from Fukui in 1994/95. As always the drawings are beautiful and the text is interesting and enlightening.

After a period of warm weather we have had a very cold spell, and we even had a dusting of snow last night. In our yard we have a tulip tree, and the cold snap killed its blossoms. My brother has a large peach orchard, and he almost certainly lost most of his peaches last night. Virginia is really too far north to try to make a profit by growing peaches. Georgia is the peach state by climate as well as by reputation.

(13 March 1998 email)

I will try to send more amateur botanical comments later. Let me now just try to comment on "right on the money". This means just that I think that your comments were accurate and to the point. I was rushed and trying to finish in order, if memory serves me right, to get to work on time, and I took the easy - lazy- way out and used an American idiom. (A better one, which might have been more understandable, would have been "You hit the nail right on the head". ) The several good teachers that labored over my development in English classes tried to teach me to avoid idioms, so there is no one to blame but me. Anyhow, I trust that no harm was done. Although e -mail may let one make silly mistakes, it also lets one correct them quickly.

I am always pleased to hear from you, and I am pleased that your friend MURAKAMI finds my botanizing to be interesting. To very roughly paraphrase one of my personal heroes, Henry David Thoreau, agriculture is a sacred activity.

(17 March 1998 email)

Samuel WHITBY ( VA, USA ) :