Category Archives: Nature

Denny

December 19, 2018

Not the best photo in terms of quality due to cropping but I love it because, well, Snow Goose! Just one. So pretty.  Side note: Trying out some image processing with Darkroom on iPad and it’s pretty fantastic.

Sunset Time-lapse

Been having some very active weather lately. That may sound silly as the weather is often active.  Maybe more accurate to say that we’ve been having lots of windy days. Thankfully we had a slight let-up in the wind the other day at sunset and there were some very nice clouds rolling through which made for a very nice time-lapse.

↵ Use original player
YouTube
← Replay
X
i

Of Monarchs and Birthdays

It’s Royal’s birthday so I’ll put on a happy face. But this. This. I’m having a real hard time imagining a summertime without Monarchs. What else will we kill off because we don’t know how to live within limits, don’t know how to live as species that recognizes the needs of other species. Every grass lawn, every golf course is a problem.
Prime example, I’ve just had a bit of a family kerfluffle because now that I’m not living at the lake they are making changes. Gone are the native wildflowers, including the butterfly milkweed I planted (the exact food source mentioned in this article), the coneflowers, etc…. replaced by? Grass. Every area we humans occupy (at least those of us I have come to know in my life) we insist upon wiping nature clean with a green lawn or concrete.
Of course I often hear “Oh what does this one little patch matter”? There’s more growing over there (wave hands in some direction). It is as though we each live in a bubble and unwilling to acknowledge that what we do matters because millions (in this nation) of others are doing it as well. The denial of collective behavior and collective effect is very intentional.
So, today Monarchs. Tomorrow?

A Cold and Snowy Night!

A 13 second exposure of my scope and all the snow
nicely illuminated by the moon! Note Sirius in the
lower left corner of the image. Wish I’d gone just a bit
higher to fit Orion in the image!

We’ve been clouded over since the December 14th, the night of the fantastic Geminid shower so when it cleared late yesterday afternoon I decided to get the scope out. My plan was to try to get an as much time as possible before the moon came up which I did. It was about 25 degrees when I settled in at 6:20pm with a plan to observe 6-8 open star clusters in the Herschel 400.

The viewing was perfect! As cold as it was I was toasty warm with 4 layers on my legs, 2 pair of socks, 4 layers on top and my mittens and ski mask. I was able to get in a little more than an hour looking for my clusters and then spent another half hour looking at Jupiter. NGC 7209  and NGC 6940, both open clusters, were quite beautiful.

As beautiful as the views through the scope were what was most enjoyable was the snow covered landscape all around me. Even before the moon was up there was enough light reflected around by the snow that I could enjoy the view. The higher the moon got the better the scene became! The night was so calm and serene.

Pondering the Future

Specifically my personal future and also thinking a bit about this blog. I’ve obviously not been very consistent with updates. Honestly, I put some of the blame for that on Facebook. I’m sure I am not the only one who spends too much time there. While it is great for sharing I thing the downside is that much of that sharing is just reposting. I am also leery of so much content being under one roof so to speak.

So, still here. With the crazy heat and drought of this past summer my garden suffered as did the many trees and bushes I put in over the past four years. That said, almost all of my perennials survived even if they didn’t thrive. Luckily the veggie garden was, by chance, smaller. The climate future looks increasingly scary for those of us that want to eat food, wink wink.

As for my project here, it will continue for the time being though I struggle to remain enthusiastic with the annual veggies. Something about three months of intense drought and heat seems to make my garden time outside a bit less enjoyable. Our well is shallow which means I either need to haul water from the lake or invest several thousand into a new well. Climate change is ugly.

So, I’m thinking that it is time to add in a new element of activity which reflects a new interest (actually a childhood/life interest that has been sitting in a corner of my mind): astronomy! Well, science in general, but astronomy especially. While I have no intention of abandoning the permaculture work I think having another primary activity is a good thing and in the winter when growing is out I’ll have something very interesting to explore, namely, our universe.

Which brings me back to one my thoughts on the blog. I’ve not been consistent in writing about my permaculture/homestead efforts but do think I might be more consistent in reporting on my astronomical explorations as it is the sort of interest that lends itself to data collection and reporting. Should I do that here as a supplement to my other interests or do I start an astronomy based blog? Actually, I think I just sorted it out as I write. I’ll keep it here but will not just add in my astronomical observations but will also add in other science related material.

Actually, and don’t laugh, but I have this vision of humanity (or myself?) that connects to a few episodes/films from Star Trek that have always stuck with me. In particular, those which seem to showcase small, egalitarian villages in which science seems to not only co-exist with daily life, but informs a deeper and greater understanding of the relationship between humans and nature and the larger universe. Contrast this to our modern manifestation which seems to have largely become a tool for corporate profit with little regard to ethics. A great example would be GMOs and modern industrial agriculture as it might compare to a decentralized permaculture-based system informed by local and thoughtful observation.

One outlook, the modern corporate/capitalist/industrial, uses science primarily as a tool for the accumulation of wealth. The other uses science as a method for deepening our understanding of the natural world around us not just for technological development, but for the sake of understanding. In this second outlook the ethics of use would be an important part of the overall process and would include all sorts of new questions and concerns in any sort of possible application of scientific knowledge. In fact, one might say that the second view represents a kind of democratization of applied science.

Wow. I didn’t expect to take this post in this direction but it is interesting and it is something I’ve thought about off and on over the years so, yeah, I’ll be back to this at some point. Another area that I’d like to explore is science literacy and critical thought. There has been a long trend in the U.S. which seems to be gaining a bit of steam when, in fact, it should be losing steam and that is the movement against science. Such a movement can only happen when there is a lack of communication of knowledge. When people are ignorant of established scientific knowledge and the basic method which serves as its foundation there is room for manipulation.

So, you can expect that I’ll be spending some time discussing not just science but specifically science literacy. I’m not a trained scientist but I think I know enough to discuss some issues as a citizen. Specifically I’m likely to dig into the entwined relationship of politics, religion and global capitalism have been used to undermine science literacy to further their capacity as control agents: social, political, economic, ecological… everything from the genetics of corn to humans, from crowd control to the “entertainment” that comes out of the glowing screens in living rooms. Science and technology can be used in many ways for many different and often opposing agendas. I think that will be some interesting exploration.

There is also some real life stuff I’m hoping to make happen that reflects all of this, specifically a few ideas for how I might further science literacy here in rural Missouri where it is greatly needed. I’ll share that as well.

Conservation and Land Ethic

A great article on the Sand Prairie Conservation Area in Missouri, The Vasculum: Strolling the Remnants: Sand Prairie Conservation Area included this quote from Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac in one of the comments. It’s been awhile since I read it but I will again very soon:

‘All ethics so far evolved rest upon a single premise: that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts. His instincts prompt him to compete for his place in that community, but his ethics prompt him also to co-operate (perhaps in order that there may be a place to compete for). The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land. This sounds simple: do we not already sing our love for and obligation to the land of the free and the home of the brave? Yes, but just what and whom do we love? Certainly not the soil, which we are sending helter-skelter downriver. Certainly not the waters, which we assume have no function except to turn turbines, float barges, and carry off sewage. Certainly not the plants, of which we exterminate whole communities without batting an eye. Certainly not the animals, of which we have already extirpated many of the largest and most beautiful species. A land ethic of course cannot prevent the alteration, management, and use of these ‘resources,’ but it does affirm their right to continued existence, and, at least in spots, their continued existence in a natural state. In short, a land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such.’

Thanks to Bill for the link.

Birds!

Northern CardinalFor some reason last winter, my first as a full time resident, I did not feed the birds. Of course I watched them as I do all year but winter feeding of birds is always a treat because it seems to bring so many in. This year I noticed that they noticed the chicken scratch everywhere and were coming in as though I was purposely feeding them. Since then I’ve made it a point to put out bit extra and have added black sunflower seeds. The number of birds has been amazing. I’m not used to seeing six male cardinals at once! One or two is not unusual but six is not something I’ve seen. Pileated WoodpeckerNot as many females. I’m seeing the usual number of other winter birds: Titmice, Black-capped Chickadees, Juncos, Red-bellied Woodpecker, and Downy Woodpecker. I’ve not seen any Pileated Woodpeckers here though I have heard them a few times. I’ve not seen any Gold or Purple Finches recently. One new bird I’ve seen is the White Throated Sparrow which is a very pretty bird similar in look and behavior to the Fox Sparrow.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
I’ve not been taking any new bird photos largely because I’ve already got so many shots of these particular species. It’s been awhile since I posted any of my nature images so thought I’d pull a few from my flickr archives. For anyone interested in birds, frogs, insects, flowers, moss, fungi and other nature related photography please visit my flickr archives. Most of my nature images were posted in 2007 and early 2008 so it’s easiest to browse them via one of the sets.

Technorati Tags:
, ,

Loretta

You were saying?I’m not sure how to say this. I think I’m in love with a goose. Is that strange?

I kid. Really though, she is quite a sweet goose and I am very fond of her. She started hanging out here in early August and has been here every day since. I started calling her Loretta the second or third day she was here. It somehow seemed to fit. She leaves every night to sleep somewhere else, not sure where but she flies off towards the lake and I lose sight of her so my guess is she’s fairly close by. I don’t know where geese prefer to sleep. In any case, she is here most of the day and the little darling has stolen my heart. She follows me around when I’m out doing chores. When I bend over towards her and say her name she smiles. I kid you not. Well, not exactly a smile but she opens her mouth sticks out her tongue and squeeks. And no, this is definitely not the defensive hiss that geese use when threatened. This is something else and it is entirely adorable. She also has decided that I am edible and will nibble on my legs, ankles, toes, etc which tickles unless she get’s carried away and starts pulling hair or a grabs a bit too hard on a toe or two.

One day during her first week here I was in the outhouse doing my business and up she came. She can’t step up so she did this funny little hop up the two stairs and proceeded to come into the outhouse and then sit on my foot. Literally sat down on my foot and remained there. It was all I could do to not burst out laughing.

I have no idea where Loretta came from or how long she’ll stay but I hope she stays around for a good long while. With characters like her around the smiles come easily.

Technorati Tags:
,