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The Backyard Science group regularly features the Daily Bucket. Buckets and the accompanying comments describe the corners of nature's mysteries that are unfolding in our own backyards and favorite places.  Is a colorful duck swimming away when you approach?  Are plants budding two months early? What kind of moth just flitted away?

Please provide a comment about your own area, whether it is your backyard or a favorite spot. Include, as close as you are comfortable, your general location. If you also post pretty pictures, you are eligible for lucrative cash prizes.

I've wished for rooftop solar energy generators for a long time.  This year, when our roof got too decrepit to repair, I was anxious to explore how we could stick it to the man with our own little power plant.  But once again, I was careless about what I wished for.

Keep reading below the twisted orange yarn, and I'll spin a yarn about unpredicted consequences and unexpected emotions.

I called the Roofers' Union, and they were able to give me recommendations of two local roofers who used union labor to install roofs and solar panels. So I already felt good, I could get competitive bids, and whoever was low, our project would still employ union members.

The first guy came out, he had been a roofer for decades, and now he also estimated for the solar work.  We walked around the house, and then stood in the front yard and scrutinized the 1000 square feet of southwest-facing roof that was the prime spot for solar panels.

"Yep," he said, "We could put up 3 kilowatts worth of panels there, maybe 5.  That'll save you over $300-$500 a year on electricity."

I was getting happier and happier.  Obama's stimulus spending had also helped finance construction of a massive solar panel manufacturing plant just a couple of miles from our house. I would be purchasing panels from that very plant, patronizing another local business, and not subsidizing some starvation-wage overseas solar panel sweatshop.  Tax credits would pay back to me almost 80% of the panels' initial costs.

Then the estimator turned to my right.

"Of course, that tree is gonna have to come down," he gestured.

Oh, that tree.

That tree is a lovely sugar maple, with a stout truck, and a half dozen substantial branches spreading 50 feet high, in a pleasing umbrella shape.  It's probably six decades old, like the other grand trees in this aging suburban neighborhood.

That's the tree that shelters the little native frogs that appear from nowhere, every summer.  That's the tree that accompanies the red and purple Rhododendrons in the corner of the yard. That's the tree whose arching canopy shades our living room and front porch on sultry summer afternoons.

 Hawks sit in that tree sometimes, waiting for careless squirrels to approach. The crows and blackbirds and jays also like the vantage points high up in that tree.

Feelings I never suspected I had for that tree, built up inside me.
But if I want solar panels on my roof, I must have that tree cut down.

And now its your turn to report on your favorite corner of the world, and hopefully all your consequences are intended.



"Green Diary Rescue" is Back!

After a hiatus of over 1 1/2 years, Meteor Blades has revived his excellent series.  As MB explained, this weekly diary is a "round-up with excerpts and links... of the hard work so many Kossacks put into bringing matters of environmental concern to the community... I'll be starting out with some commentary of my own on an issue related to the environment, a word I take in its broadest meaning."

"Green Diary Rescue" will be posted every Saturday at 1:00 pm Pacific Time on the Daily Kos front page.  Be sure to recommend and comment in the diary.

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