CLIFF CREGO | Alpine Fleeceflower—close-up (Polygonum phytolaccaefolium)

FALL MOUNTAIN COLOR: Alpine Fleeceflower—closeup skyview [ click photo for next . . . ]
(Polygonum phytolaccaefolium)

Member of the Buckwheat family——notice the knot-like swellings
giving the clan its other somewhat less charming common name,
Knotweed——after the first frost of highcountry autumn, the entire
plant loses its moisture, becomes paper-like in texture, and then
turns a stunning fiery orange to rusty red. With parboiling and
stirfying, much like, say, Burdock, the finger-thick roots
of Fleeceflower are not only edible but in my opinion a real
delicacy. If there is one plant to know in the Wallowas come
fall, this is it!

Eagle Cap Wilderness . . .

Here's is an autumn quartet of Alpine Fleeceflower images growing
in diverse situations varying in altitude from about 2000 to 2400 m.,
and mostly seeming to prefer a granite (gray background!)
substrate. This is THE color of the Wallowas in September
and October:

at Pop Creek
At Glacier

There's not much science in ethics,

but then, there's not much ethics

in science, either.


Primum non nocere
(First, do no harm)

Freedom is always a question of the balance between freedom to, on
the one hand, and freedom from, on the other.

I might feel, for instance, that I should be free to mine for gold up-
stream from your homestead. You, in contrast, may feel equally
strongly you have the right to be free from the danger of the cyanide
from my leech ponds getting into your well-water. Or I might feel that
I should have free, unrestricted access with my new snowmachine to
any wilderness I choose. While, you, in contrast, feel I shouldn’t even
be allowed to take the thing out of my garage.

Clearly, the task of the rule of law is to protect in a fair, balanced,
reasonable way both freedoms, carefully weighing the pros and cons in
each case in an ongoing way. Balance between the two freedoms is not
a fixed state, but more akin to keeping a bike upright as the rider shifts
his or her weight, now to the left, now to the right—counter-intuitive-
ly—in the direction of the fall.

Notice, too, that freedom balanced in this way is always ethical free-
dom. Why? Because real balance demands that there be no arbitrary
limit to the width of what we might call the circle of concern. That is,
it is freedom that must be necessarily mindful of the myriad potential
negative consequences of actions undertaken by free agents as they
reverberate throughout the wider community, or the human-plus-natu-
ral-environment, as a whole. As always, the first principle of ethics is:
First, do no harm.


Highways exist to move traffic,

As Internets exist to move bits,

And Economies to move goods.

All three are paths of movement,
of exchange, of communication.
And with all three, freedom flourishes
only when it is strictly limited by universal,
clear, unambiguous laws.

Without clear limits, the worst and most brutish
of our natural tendencies shall come to rule
the many roads that run between us.


In the mountains,

one may go up a climber,

but always comes down a pilgrim.

Camp Lost & Found,
Eagle Cap Wilderness,
Oregon, IX.15.2008

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All Photographs & texts by Cliff Crego © 2012
(created: X.11.2008)