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Somewhere in the Mojave Desert, California, United States
Gazing into this abyss called Life and wondering.....what's next !?!!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Day 31

Today, we took learning outside of the classroom. My students, along with our entire grade level, headed off our quiet high desert hilltop to the low desert valley floor to be immersed in culture. Ballet Folklorico De Antioquia, an international company from Colombia. lo pasamos maravillosamente! The costumes were rich and the beat was fast and perky....tough to keep little tushies in their seats. Fortunately, the dancers encouraged participation - within reason. The theatre was full of festive energy....

On the way home was yet another learning experience for me. You see, we pass through a massive valley practically filled with turbine wind generators. Over the years I've lived up here, more and more spring up. You get used to it after a while. It's a signal you are almost home when you are coming in from the freeway, heading east or west.

(Copyright 2012 Diana Shay Diehl. Shot with an iPhone.)

It's supposed to be a good thing, right? Harnessing the power of wind, which is free and pretty much blowing out here all of the time. The fields and fields of these massive 'fans' are not owned by one company. Many, many companies and individuals buy them, lease or own the land, harness the 'wind power' and sell it to the bigger power companies. One would think we have tons of 'cheaper' or nearly free electricity with all these wind turbines in the lower valley and now, starting to spring up in our area. Oh yea! Less of a carbon footprint! Oh yea! Lower costs of power to the locals.  Uh, not so, as I discovered today....

You see, these 'companies' are certainly harnessing our abundant winds - and selling it to places as far away as Colorado. We get nadda. Zip. Zilch. One of the volunteer's on my field trip today husband works for one of these companies. The 'batch' of windmills he oversees stretches from the highway cutting up to our basin all the way over to the boundary of the next town. Not one bit of harnessed power goes to our desert region. Nothing. All sold to far, far away communities.  Hm. Yes, I'm scratching my head, too.

Here's the worst of it. We are in a Pacific Flyway. Loosely translated, that means migrating birds from the Arctic circle to the tip of South America come through the lower valley and our upper desert on the way to and from their summer/winter habitats. They refuel here along the way. And, those alternative energy makers scattered all over the Southern Californian deserts? They shred those little feathered friends to bits as they fly through those massive blades. Eagles. Hawks of all kinds. Pelicans even. Tiny rare warblers. Geese. If it flies, it's fair game for those turning blades. Nighttime is the worst as many species fly nonstop until they absolutely must hit ground to rest and refuel. The windmills they have up now are quite different from 20+ years ago as they were experimenting with styles, efficacy, and being less intrusive to those whom they share the skies with. I give them credit for making positive changes. Still.....it saddens me to no end when I hear of what workers find stuck in the gears - which clogs the workings and stops action..... I'll spare you the details.

Gosh, I feel like such a downer of late - water mining, windmill shredders. We desperately need a cleaner, more renewable source of powering our overstretched human needs and some of these solutions are heading in the right direction - but at what cost when we overzealously go for it, and not for local use either. Just more, more, more for our faraway urban dwellers...

Okay, enough kvetching. I'll leave you with some happier scenes from my today sans bright cheery little faces for the obvious reasons. I wouldn't have my children's faces plastered all over someone else's internationally read blog either... Just use your imagination. Exuberant anticipation. Sheer joy of not being stuck in a classroom all day for a change. Warm sunny temps. Green grass! Trees! Real turtles in a pond! A beautiful, 'fancy' building to enjoy a wonderful performance in. No books. No papers. No pressure. It's a kid's life after all.....

 McCallum Theatre...just after the performance. They were sticklers about not taking any photos during. Too bad. The costumes were fantastic. This view is from the "nosebleed" section which actually turned out to be the best seats. We could see every move perfectly.

 Inside the McCallum on the upper balcony as you look out towards the theatre entrance.

The park next door...these turtles were happily sunning themselves. A couple dropped back into the water as my students approached. I showed them how to delicately, slowly tiptoe just a bit closer to look without frightening the basking turtles. The students learned a bit about respecting nature's space. The turtles were there first, but didn't mind our presence.... Everyone was happy.

(All images taken with an iPhone. Copyright Diana Shay Diehl)