Posts Tagged ‘nature’

Lions Teeth

My lawn is lovely, with white and purple and yellow flowers. The dandelions are going gangbusters, as they do. And I’ve just been out front tidying them up in the hopes that my neighbors won’t get too stressed out about our lawn’s diversity.

In that vein, I give you a brief history of that underrated flower, the dandelion.

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Photo by Jeff Rodgers on Unsplash

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As it is Tuesday (and even worse, Tuesday after a holiday), my to do list is… extensive. Please enjoy a random post and some entertaining ostriches.

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Roll the dice for a random post: Click this link or the image below.

Photo by Timothy Dykes on Unsplash

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Boring Covid update: More coughing, more tiredness, more urges to curl up on the closest floor and sleep. These elephant seals from the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery know what I mean about that last bit. Here they are basking in the sun.

Photo by J.R. Johnson, and nature.

We went for a soggy visit to Hearst Castle and after, drove a few miles north to the Rookery. We arrived between bouts of light rain. It’s molting season and the beaches were crowded.

The beaches are even busier today. Check out the live webcams for updated views.

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This year was a bumper one for our neighborhood rabbits. We had a lot of babies running around during the warmer months, and still have at least a few adults. One has been acting a little extra lately, sprinting by the porch and across the street rather than sauntering as it dod this summer. He seems to be trying to minimize the amount of time he and his brown fur spend exposed over snow-covered ground. Sensible, as we still have a few stray cats and other predators in the area.

Which led me to ask, “How does a rabbit know what color it is?”

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The opposite of this. Photo by Andy Brunner on Unsplash

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We went to the woods today. Blue jays, gray jays, deer, a tick and a spider as big as a fifty-cent piece, wild peppermint, oaks and maple and birch and hickory trees and their nuts, moss, lichen, granite ridges wearing down at geological speeds, and an abandoned bird’s nest, waiting patiently to be discovered in the middle of the trail. The first person stepped over the nest, unaware, the second person strode past, unaware, but the third saw it. And stopped.

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”

― W.B. Yeats

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Photo by Farrinni on Unsplash

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Author notes: Let me say up front that there are a lot of things wrong with this story, technically speaking:

  • First, it was supposed to be a drabble, and at just under 200 words that clearly has not happened.
  • Second, even the North Atlantic Octopus doesn’t go as deep as the Titanic, which sits at 12,600 feet below.
  • Third, the octopus is a relatively solitary creature and would probably skip the classroom for more of an independent study sort of situation.
  • And finally, the idea that an octopus would care about the fate of salmon is, of course, patently ridiculous.

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Meteor Descending

Ironically, the first human words Ololilon puzzled out were from a menu. He’d come across the wreck while riding the current.

Metal loomed from the dark, a gaping hole in its side. Oli swam past a deck chair and through a gap in the torn metal, pushing deep into the remnant.

Few would have been able to decipher the fading text. Even in the Cold Deep time has meaning. And this fallen star had been resting on the ocean floor for lifetimes. 

But Oli’s eyes were adapted to the dark. Each shimmering wavelength told a tale, and this story was one of horror.

Chicken, peas and rice meant nothing to him, but oysters and salmon? Cousins and neighbors. Consumed.

But while this message was one of horror, it also bore hope.

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“Teacher, my podmate says aliens aren’t even real.” 

Ololilon’s classroom was full. Spawning season had ended and it was a perfect time to teach the juveniles English. They would need it.

“Their meteors are real enough. And if we can learn how to speak with them,“ Oli said, tentacles swaying with emotion, “perhaps we can keep them from killing us all.”

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Photo by NOAA on Unsplash

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It’s migration season and millions of birds are, right now, flooding the skies. I grew up noticing flocks of geese arrowing their way south but migration is much more than that.

According to BirdCast’s tool, 347 million birds are predicted to be on the move across the US tonight.

For those of us in other Western hemisphere locales, this site beautifully illustrates the interconnected flow of birds by type and pathway. 

Bird Migration Explorer

A quick search of my area shows the paths of eagles, thrushes, gulls, woodcocks, owls, scoters (had to look that one up), whip-poor-wills, hawks, sandpipers, warblers and more.

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I’ve written about bird migration before but this post has a more specific call to action. Nothing too hard, just a polite request: for the few weeks when migration is at its peak, dim your lights if you can.

Opinion | Lights Out, America! (Songbirds Are Counting on Us.) – The New York Times

Migrating birds are vulnerable to many hazards: predators, extreme weather, insufficient food and insufficient water. Glass is particularly treacherous. Expanses of glass — windows without mullions, storm doors, skyscrapers — are the worst.

Good news? When it comes to lighting and windows, there’s usually an easy fix.*

I’ve tried the UV stickers designed to show birds where not to fly but they were just so-so.

Remember those little gold stars teachers sometimes give out? I picked up a batch and have used them to give the patio doors “Bird-friendliest glass in the neighborhood” awards. The upside is that these stars are cheap and easy to replace. The downside is that they are made of paper and, while they last a surprisingly long time considering, they are still just paper. I’ve had to replace them at least once a season.

This year I upgraded to purpose-built stickers designed both for birds and the great outdoors. This is the company I used but I’m sure there are others (no affiliation, just a satisfied customer): Feather Friendly.

Easy, satisfying, and one step toward being a better neighbor to nature.

At our best as a species, this is what we do: We change our ways to protect others, and then we adjust to the new ways. Soon, we can’t remember doing things differently.

Margaret Renkl

* For more about this problem and potential fixes, including Lights Out programs and building guidelines, check out What You Should Know About Bird Migration and Light Pollution and Bird-Safe Design Guidelines.

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Photo by Michael Krahn on Unsplash

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The winds are cooler, the rains no longer soft. Bird feeders empty faster and the flowers look defiant rather than content.

I love summer, of course, but there’s something special about a hot bowl of soup and a warm blanket and crisp blue days and brightly colored leaves.

It’s a wonderful time of year for just about anything, but especially for taking stock and making plans.

Welcome to Fall.

Autumn equinox is the first day of fall. How is that different from a solstice? : NPR

Fall starts at 9 p.m. ET Thursday, a day officially known as the autumn equinox.

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Twilight Surprise

The sky burns down,
A rim of coals glowing gold and red,
Limned with orange again
And kissed with hints of pink.
The clouds reflect tangerine and plum,
Overshadowing the silent glory.
Darkness and light,
Balanced upon this equinox,
Dance together like old lovers …
… and beget beauty.

― Elizabeth Barrette, From Nature’s Patient Hands

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Photo by Samuel Ferrara on Unsplash

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And now, a brief promo for Canada’s national animal.

An unlikely ally in the face of wildfires and droughts: the humble beaver

In the face of increasing wildfires and droughts, scientists are looking to a highly skilled “environmental engineer” to help fight climate change: the industrious beaver.

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Photo by Tim Umphreys on Unsplash

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It’s firefly season* again, and I am there for it. 

Fireflies as a species are under pressure but there’s a lot we can do to help them. Short version: Turn off the lights and get (your yard) a little wild.

Tonight, dim the lights. Find the darkest patch of green you see. If it has tall grass and lush, moist undergrowth, even better. Wait.

Do you see it? That yellow-green flash of light? Bioluminescence, they say. 


Also magic.

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* To be fair, June is actually prime time for firefly mating in most areas but given good weather and habitat they can be seen throughout the summer.

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Photo by Evan Leith on Unsplash

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