Yes, it’s time for one more native species to take to the air. The great milkweed migration is on. [Read more…] about Other Important Uses for Milkweed
As far as I can tell, icebreaker exercises are meant to help those awkward obligatory group events like staff development days or office team retreats feel even less comfortable. I recall one workplace training where we had to inform the group what animal best represented our personality. I was going to say “squirrel” but got distracted looking at something out the window, and forgot. In retrospect I should have chosen the yellow-bellied sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius), since I spent much of that same event straightening business cards and brochures at the conference center. This will make sense (I hope) in a moment. [Read more…] about Sapsuckers and Other Insults
With cold weather approaching, those of us who heat with wood look forward to the cozy warmth that only a wood fire can provide. Especially if it’s a fireplace, or a stove having a window so you can watch the flames, it’s the kind of ambiance perfect for sharing with loved ones on frigid evenings. With the Covid-19 situation, however, visitors may be fewer and far between for a while. [Read more…] about Working the Bugs Out of Firewood
Each fall there is roughly the same amount of yellow foliage, since in most woody plants Mother Nature sees fit to cache yellow pigments beneath the overpowering verdancy of chlorophyll.
While yellow is a stable commodity in the forest, red is a different story. Trees go through considerable effort to create the assortment of red pigments known to nerds as anthocyanins, so it’s not like red is just hanging around, having a beer with yellow as they wait for chlorophyll to fade. It’s a bit more complicated, which makes it less unreliable. [Read more…] about Seeing Red During Fall Leaf Change
Adequate nitrogen, plenty of organic matter, a dependable rototiller and other attributes coveted by gardeners are the same things that oil-spill remediation engineers need as well. This should not come as a surprise, given that three-fourths of “soil” is “oil.”
Although bulk-storage facilities, tanker semi-trucks and train cars are occasionally the source of oil or gasoline spills, it’s surprising how often faulty home-heating oil tanks or even a leaky auto gas tank lead to significant soil and water contamination. [Read more…] about Gardening With Gas
Conspiracy hypotheses (or theories, as we like to call them, since “hypotheses” cannot be uttered without a lisp) seem to multiply unfettered these days, so I feel awkward birthing yet another.
But you may be intrigued to learn that the wide spectrum of color in the region’s fall foliage is largely the result of a Depression-era project implemented by the Hoover Administration. [Read more…] about A Fall Leaf Color Conspiracy
Autumn heralds its arrival with all manner of colorful cues: Tree leaves explode into brilliance; gray squirrels feverishly hoard food supplies; yellow school buses come out of hibernation, and most remarkably, blackbird flocks practice their aerial gymnastic routines. [Read more…] about Migrating Red-Winged Blackbirds
The term psithurism (sith-er-izm) doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but it’s not meant to. The word, from the Greek psithuros (whisper), indicates the melody that rolls off pine needles in a gentle wind.
It also means the sound of “proper” leaves shaking in the treetops. Obviously, we need another word, because these two things – whispering pines and rustling leaves – may both soothe us, but they sound quite different. [Read more…] about Whispering Trees: Arboricultural Acoustics
But if anything can produce a meltdown faster than a bucket of water on a witch from Oz, it’s the stress induced by the Covid-19 crisis.
Everything is uncertain these days. Jobs are on the line, kids are home from school, and social bonds are strained, sometimes to the breaking point. There is a lot of melting-down going around. [Read more…] about Dissolution And Metamorphosis: A Caterpillar Soup
We humans take pride in our unique – some would say exalted – place in the animal kingdom. Language, a complex social structure, and an unparalleled ability to manipulate our environment are among the things which set us apart from other species. We are the only animal which can point to triumphs like space travel, organ transplants, nerve gas, for-profit prisons, and plastic-filled oceans.
Until fairly recent times, we also believed that we stood alone in our proclivity to addle our brains with alcohol and drugs. Alas, we can no longer claim that distinction. It seems that dolphins, dogs, wallabies, waxwings, and loads of other animals enjoy getting loaded, too. [Read more…] about Animal House: Stoned In The Wild