Rules of Thumb, 30x30, and the Laws of Nature

Spring Landscape (Rain), A. Krehbiel My mother had a commonplace book in which she recorded, by hand, in beautiful cursive, proverbs, sayings, and quotes that struck her as interesting, thought provoking, or wise. I also love sayings, and quotes, and mantras, but mostly I’ve collected rules of thumb, those short pithy statements that condense ways of dealing with life on earth in the same way that proverbs give advice on how to behave in prudent, trouble-avoiding ways.  Rules of thumb exist for every field of human endeavor. There are the general ones, such as the 80% rule, or Pareto Principle, that gets applied in sometimes surprising ways—"eighty percent of every thing is trash,” someone will say, or another will say that “80% of your output comes from 20% of your efforts,” for example. The 80/20 ratio is useful in all sorts of contexts. For example, in a perennial garden, the general rule (backed up by scientific evidence) is that about 75-80% of the plants should be native (lo

The View from the Porch

So I go out on my back porch while eating a sandwich--it's a sunny 50 degrees at noon, how could you not--to check for flickers. They come every spring and I want to write about them and the ants. No flickers. Just robins, grackles, starlings, house finches, the usual citified birds. But then I cast about a little more and notice the woodpecker in the pagoda dogwood, the nuthatch creeping down the maple trunk, the mourning dove down among the fallen leaves and-- O glory!--up in the air is a red-tailed hawk circling high, white wing feathers flashing, tail spread out, fine as anything.