Some people are good at finding the silver lining in just about any cloud that passes over their life. On the other hand, I can often locate a sepia tone in a bright sunburst, which is why I need to complain about energy-efficient windows for a minute. [Read more…] about Window Ferns and Frost Flowers
The morning of December 25th this year will be a lot less cheery unless the World Health Organization gives Santa a free pass on COVID-19 restrictions so he can hand out presents to billions of kids on Christmas Eve night.
As it is, many people feel like cheer is at low ebb. Local authorities in my area strongly recommend we celebrate the holidays in our respective households; no visitors. Yikes! Looks like Christmas 2020 will have to run on memories – bad news for me, as I forget where I put the keys two minutes after setting them down. [Read more…] about An Arborist Considers Christmas Trees, Evergreen Traditions
When temperatures dip well below zero Fahrenheit, especially if they fall precipitously, things go bump in the night. Frozen lakes and ponds emit ominous groans, snaps and booms that reverberate through the ice. Wood siding and old knee joints might creak. And if soil moisture is high and snow cover sparse, the soil can freeze deeply, causing the earth to shift in a harmless, localized cryoseism, or “frost quake” that produces a nerve-rattling bang. [Read more…] about Trees, Knees, and Other Deep-Freeze Creaks
Although it’s captivating to watch a big prehistoric-looking woodpecker chisel away at a rotten snag in the forest, the same performance loses its charm when it jack-hammers a hole in your perfectly sound tree.
The thing is, no matter how healthy that tree may appear, it is definitely not sound, and may in fact be quite dangerous. Your “vandal” is alerting you to this fact by installing windows in the tree trunk. [Read more…] about Pileated Woodpeckers: Miscreants or Messengers?
For the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) and other First Nations peoples, it provided roofing and walls for longhouses measuring over a hundred feet long, as well as for smaller dwellings and outbuildings.
Elm also furnished top-notch material to make items as diverse as ladles, canoes, trays, snow shovels, grain scoops, baskets, and containers of all sizes. [Read more…] about Elms: The Giving Tree
All animals need sleep of some kind. Reptiles, birds, bees – even nematodes, reportedly – require periodic bouts of unconsciousness, though I imagine it’s hard to tell what level of consciousness a nematode has when it’s awake. In a June 25, 2016 BBC report, University of Wisconsin sleep biologist Barrett Klein says that “… sleep is shared across all animals. There’s no universally-accepted exception.” [Read more…] about Science of Sleep Across Species
I’m told there is a Zen Buddhist saying that goes “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” The idea, I think, is to be mindful of the ordinary tasks which constitute one’s daily life, regardless of our spiritual state.
Unfortunately, many of us who heat with wood are not enlightened as to how much extra wood we carry because we’re needlessly boiling water inside our woodstoves all winter. In fact, if your firewood is not adequately dry, it could cost you $200 to $600 annually just to send steam up the chimney. [Read more…] about Science of Burning Fresh Firewood vs Dry
I have all the respect in the world for science, and those who practice its various disciplines, but scientists are not exempt from getting drawn into petty battles over whose ideas should prevail. I’m told there was a long-simmering dispute, apparently resolved for the moment, over how to define hibernation. The consensus now is that any critter able to actively slow its metabolism is a hibernator. Actively slowing down sounds like an oxymoron, but let’s not resort to name-calling. [Read more…] about Winter Brumation Sweeps Across Northern Latitudes
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