Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday's Nature Quote


To the primal wonders no road can ever lead; they are not so won.
To know them you shall leave road and roof behind;
you shall go light and spare.
You shall win them yourself, in sweat, sun, laughter, in dust and rain, with only a few companions...

~ from the poem "This is the American Earth" by Nancy Newhall


Friday, April 27, 2012

Weekend Haiku & Limericks

Your challenge: write a haiku or limerick featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days: bumblebees, chickadees, roommates, or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.


Post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. Remember the pattern of a haiku is:

First, 5 syllables,
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.

A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.

Post your haiku or limerick in the comments, below.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bumblebees and chickadees: not good roommates

Photo by mjp* 
A sad but fascinating story over at Backyard Spectator. Last week, by happenstance, DKM and I wrote posts that complemented each other. I wrote about bumblebee queens finding a place to nest; she wrote about the mystery of chickadees abandoning her backyard nest box.

If you followed her comment back to her blog, you already know how she solved this mystery. DKM and Moe took the abandoned chickadee nest out of the box, and found it buzzing. They originally thought they'd saved a lost bumblebee, but eventually realized they'd uncovered her nest. 


Really, you gotta check out the pictures and story over at http://backyardspectator.blogspot.com/2012/04/bumbling-surprise-tale-of-woe.html


Honey pots and everything!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Monday's Nature Quote



But a weed is simply a plant that wants to grow where people want something else. In blaming nature, people mistake the culprit. Weeds are people's idea, not nature's. 


~ Jerry Smith

Friday, April 20, 2012

Weekend Haiku & Limericks

Your challenge: write a haiku or limerick featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days: homelessness, a knock at the door, or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.

Post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. Remember the pattern of a haiku is:

First, 5 syllables,
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.

A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.

Kindly post your haiku or limerick in the comments, below.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Human nature: Knock at the door

There's a guy at the door. He looks banged up. "Hey," he says, "I heard you might have some vouchers so I could stay for a night in a hotel?" 


I invite him in. Before the recession hit, I could offer vouchers for a hotel 4 times a year to those who knock on our door. Now, due to shrinking funding, people get only one voucher. Ever. Once your name is on the list as having received one, you can't get another. 


"I'm sick," he says, and I can hear it in the scratch of his voice. He sits down to tell me his story: he was thrown of his roommate's house, had to leave in a hurry when they got into a fight. 


"I can't remember right," he says, "but he kicked me in the nose and broke my nose tunnel." He puts his hands up and closes them in around his eyes. "Angry like a tunnel," he says. "I can't remember but he took me down onto the carpet, and carpet wouldn't break your nose. I remember, I'm pretty sure he kicked me. He says he has a witness, but that guy's lying."


He tells me the cops had pulled him over, and wanted to talk with him. Now he needs a lawyer, and has a court date set next month. He's worried: he doesn't want to go to jail or have court-ordered supervision.


"Can I get a voucher?"


Here's the thing: the police want us to give hotel vouchers to people who "deserve" them. I appreciate the police department's willingness to be a part of this system to help people: I sign the referral forms, which must be taken to the station to be exchanged for the hotel voucher. This gives me a sense of protection because folks on the street understand that the police are involved in this transaction. 


So does this guy "deserve" a referral form for a voucher? He had a home, got into a fight and got kicked out of it. Drink or drugs were involved, no doubt. And the cops are already onto him for one reason or another. There are a limited number of vouchers.


And ... he's sick--probably mentally as well as physically--and he's on the street. I give him a referral form to get a voucher.


Would you?



(Want to read more of these stories? Click on the "Search this Blog" box to the right and enter the words Human Nature.) 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday's Nature Quote

© Copyright Richard Dorrell and licensed 


Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth will find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.


~Rachel Carson

Friday, April 13, 2012

Weekend Haiku & Limericks

Your challenge: write a haiku or limerick featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days: bumblebees or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.

Post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. Remember the pattern of a haiku is:

First, 5 syllables,
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.

A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.

Post your haiku or limerick in the comments, below.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Bumblin' bumblebees

photo by Jose M. Rus
On my walk home yesterday, I was so pleased to spot my first bumblebee of the season--she's a sure sign of spring.

Like all other bumblers out and about this time of year, she's a mated queen who spent the winter buried beneath duff or fallen leaves, and her plan is to build a big royal family.

Since we usually only see a single bumblebee at a time, it's easy to assume that they are solitary creatures. But like the honeybee, the bumbler builds a colony.

She'll seek out the abandoned burrow of a mouse or other rodent and line it with dried grasses, leaves, or moss. When she's satisfied with her cozy, insulated nest, the queen secretes wax from glands on her abdomen, and fashions it into small cups called  "honey pots." After visiting early-blooming flowers or trees, she regurgitates the collected nectar into the pots. In one pot she places the pollen she's combed off her fur using her feet. To this pot she adds her first eggs, usually eight or so. She seals the pot with wax and then presses her abdomen against it to brood her eggs like an old hen, and sip from the other honey pots when she needs more energy.

Larvae will hatch from the eggs, grow, and spin silk cocoons. When they emerge, these sterile females have work to do. The queen mum is already incubating more eggs, and these new workers need to find pollen and nectar for their sisters. At its largest, the colony may consist of two or three hundred sisters.

Bumblebees manufacture only enough honey to feed the family through the warmer months. They don't need to stockpile extra because, unlike honey bees, the entire colony will not live through the winter.

When summer wanes, the queen will start producing fertile offspring. Up until now, to each eggs she's laid, she added a sperm from a special sac. Now she withholds sperm from some of the eggs, and these hatch into male bees (drones), which have no stingers and do no work for the colony. They've got just one job to preform before they die: to leave the colony, find a virgin (or maybe not-so-virgin) queen and mate.
         
Meanwhile, the colony is feeding some larvae extra food for a longer period of time, and these develop into queens. At maturity the queens will go looking for drones, following the advertising pheromones the males leave on twigs and leaves.

A queen may mate with several males before heartily gorging herself on the last of the season's nectar. When it gets chilly, she'll tuck herself away for a long winter's nap. Come spring, she'll extricate herself from the duff and trundle off to being raising a whole big batch of daughters and a few sons.

Have you seen a bumblebee queen this spring?                                                                              

Friday, April 6, 2012

Weekend Haiku & Limericks

Your challenge: write a haiku or limerick featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days: frogs, the kidnapped Lorax, or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.

Post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. Remember the pattern of a haiku is:

First, 5 syllables,
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.

A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.

Stretch your brain and post your haiku or limerick in the comments, below.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Pacific treefrog aka chorus frog aka Hollywood frog

Photo by imarsman
 "MrDeMilleI'm ready for my close- up." These frogs
grow to about 2 inches, are often green but can be
brown or gray. Identify them by that black stripe that runs
from snout to shoulder.
Okay, nobody really calls the Pacific chorus frog the Hollywood frog, except for me. Here's my reasoning: when movie directors need the ribbet of frogs for the background sound in a film, they rely on recordings of the noisy trilling frog readily found in Hollywood: the Pacific chorus frog aka Pacific treefrog. 


So, the harmonies of this native to the west are heard in movies and television shows set in places where these amphibians have never set toe pad, such as Amazon jungle, Maine woods, Louisiana bayou. (Filmmakers have much less regard for the importance of habitat than do the frogs themselves.)


Now that spring is supposedly here in western Oregon (goodbye wettest March on record, hello rainy April), the male treefrogs are singing their little hearts out. Chances are the frogs you hear now are these movie stars. Our other frogs are quieter and their musical seasons are briefer.


Just in case you don't live in the Pacific Northwest (and don't have a movie handy), here's the sound you're missing: http://www.californiaherps.com/frogs/pages/p.regilla.sounds.html

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Lorax was ... kidnapped

It seems that a 3-foot tall bronze statue of the Lorax has been taken from the estate of the late Dr. Seuss. Police were uncertain whether this was a prank related to the recent release of the Disney movie or if someone intended to sell the metal itself.


But I have to wonder if three young, naïve environmentalists have taken the Lorax to the woods to reeducate him so he'll stop selling SUVs....

Monday, April 2, 2012

Monday's Nature Quote

Goodbye to poet Adrienne Rich, who died last week. She wrote:

My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
so much has been destroyed
I have to cast my lot
with those who age after age, perversely,
and with no extraordinary power
reconstitute the world.

~ Adrienne Rich, "Natural Resources," The Dream of a Common Language: Poems 1974-1977