Gleanings of the Week Ending September 21, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

These Caterpillars Can Detect Color Using Their Skin, Not Their Eyes | Smart News | Smithsonian – A little surprise…but insects probably have a lot of adaptations developed over eons that are challenging to imagine.

Five weird and wonderful ways nature is being harnessed to build a sustainable fashion industry – New dyes from enzymes, ‘leather’ from mushrooms, lacy fabric made from plant roots that grew that way (watch the video), cellulose for fabrics derived from manure!

Aesthetics of skin cancer therapy may vary by treatment type -- ScienceDaily – Hopefully these findings will guide doctors to use the more aesthetic treatments…since they all have about the same recurrence rates a year after treatment.

On the Alabama Coast, the Unluckiest Island in America - Yale E360 – Dauphin Island…when does everyone decide that these places can’t be saved…should not be rebuilt. It’s not something we are dealing with very well as individuals or as a nation.

Deer browsing is not stopping the densification of Eastern US forests -- ScienceDaily – Deer hurt the understory but the canopy is more impacted by the greater density of the big forest trees (because of fire suppression) and that red maples are growing in areas where young oaks, hickories, or pines would have grown previously. But wouldn’t the deer browse young trees? In our area – the forests have also changed quite a lot in the last 20 years with the decline of the hemlocks and now the ashes. This study – done in Pennsylvania – did not comment about those issues.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: September – These photographs are always worth a look….birds are so beautiful.

North America has lost 3 billion birds – And fresh from looking at the wonder pictures of birds….this sobering news: North America has lost 25% of its bird population and it’s all happened in the last 50 years. More than 90% of the loss is in just a dozen bird families that includes the sparrows, warblers, blackbirds, and finches. Grassland birds have suffered a 53% loss. Potential causes: habitat degradation, urbanization, and the use of toxic pesticides.

Staying at elementary school for longer associated with higher student attainment – My daughter didn’t seem to have a problem transferring from elementary to middle school after 5th grade…but the middle school was next door to the elementary school, and she was doing well in school. The results of this research will have to overcome the school building infrastructure in many areas. Change happens slowly with school systems. So far I haven’t seen a change in start times for high schools even though there are studies that say that early starts are not good for high school students (in our area, they have always started before the elementary and middle schools).

Spotted in Kenya: a baby zebra with polka dots – I hope there is a follow up story on this baby. Will the pattern make it more susceptible to fly bites? Another note from the article: Zebras are accepting of difference…animals with atypical coat patterns fit right into the herd.

Drought Reveals Lost “Spanish Stonehenge” – The Dolmen at Guadalperal has resurfaced from the Valdecanas Reservoir in western Spain due to lower lake levels from dry, hot conditions this year. It has been submerged for 50 years. Hopefully someone will make a good 3D tour of the place.

Brookside Flowers – September 2019

There are a lot of things in bloom at Brookside Gardens in September. The weather is a little cooler and the Roses are blooming profusely again.

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The Angel’s Trumpets – that always remind me of long swirling skirts – are in all stages of their blooms. I like the colors of this one…the crème color with green highlights at the ‘waist’ and then the transition to melon at the ‘floor.’

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The Black Eyed Susan petals start out as tubes!

There are seeds forming a this point too. I always notice the dogwoods – bright red.

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This year I noticed the nuts on the Red Buckeye trees. At first, I thought they were some odd growths on the trees and there are not many of them; perhaps the trees are a little out of their natural range in Maryland.

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And then other flowers that I couldn’t resist photographing with my cell phone. The phone does very well with flower pictures if I can get close enough to the flower for the picture I want!

Longwood Gardens – September 2019

Now for the highlights from the rest of the Longwood Gardens. Before the waterlilies we enjoyed the plants around the main entrance to the conservatory.

We always stop at the indoor children’s garden at the very beginning since later it will be a busy place. This time we got there before any families, so it was very quiet. The place it full of accessible water and natural materials made into art.

On the way to the waterlily courtyard, I noticed different colors of cannas and a bird-of-paradise flower.

After the waterlilies we walked through several more ‘rooms’ of the conservatory including one with plantain and banana plants (both with heavy pods of fruit). And the orchid room was there too.

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Then it was outdoors to the trial gardens. They are particularly lush right now after growing all summer. The sunflowers were heavy with the forming seeds.

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We walked to the chimes tower going up the steps of the tower

And then more steps to follow the water to the Eye of Water. Last time we’d come to Longwood, the eye had been closed for renovation, so we wanted to see it this time.

We trekked to the other side of the visitor center for the flower garden walk. There were beginning to be more people around by this time. A hummingbird flew ahead of us but wasn’t stopping for long; too many people about. Just past the Whispering Bench, there were pots with pitcher plants. I remembered them being there last time as well.

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We made our way around the Large Lake to the Italian Water Gardens.  I zoomed in on some of the sculptures. The renovation several years ago is holding up well.

The day was warming up, but we decided to head out to the meadow anyway. The plants are well established now, and we hiked all the way across to the Forest Edge kiosk/bench. I saw taller Joe Pye Weed than I’d ever seen before…lots of goldenrod…a few thistles…skippers and buckeyes…large dragonflies. We were glad to get back to a shady part of the trail. It was a good morning to be at Longwood!

Waterlilies at Longwood Gardens

One of my favorite places at Longwood Gardens in the late summer/early fall is the waterlily courtyard. Last weekend was no exception. It was a sunny day – and not too hot. We had left our house early enough to be at the visitor center about 15 minutes after the gardens opened. There were a couple of groups that had obviously planned to meet others waiting in the building or just a little way into the garden. Everyone was enjoying the prospect of the day at Longwood – just as we were. As usual – we headed for the Conservatory first…..making our way to the waterlilies half way through the conservatory walk through.

The courtyard always has a few photographers and there is usually someone around to answer questions. We were around early enough that it wasn’t crowded. I love catching the bees on the flowers. My favorite picture of the slideshow below is a flower with 4 bees (there were probably more on the inside of the flower)! Waterlilies often look somewhat alien to me because the colors are vibrant, and the flower parts are robust. I love photographing them….and enjoying the images after I get home.

Gleanings of the Week Ending September 14, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Radio Tracking a Rare Crayfish – Cool Green Science – There are a lot more species of crayfish than I realized…and they have a bigger role in the stream that I assumed.

Mindfulness for middle school students: Focusing awareness on the present moment can enhance academic performance and lower stress levels -- ScienceDaily – I wonder if ‘mindfulness’ is something we need to teach more overtly now than in the past because technology and daily life tends to push us in ‘unmindful’ ways.

Canadian Canola Fields – I looked at this article because the Bugs101 course that I took recently mentioned the canola fields of Canada (for some reason I had never known very much about Canola as a crop). This article provides more history. It has become a cash crop for Canada in recent decades.

There's a Troubling Rise in Colorectal Cancer Among Young Adults | The Scientist Magazine® - Incidence of colon cancer is falling in older people…but becoming more common in people under 50. It has continued to go up over the past decade. In young adults, the cancer is discovered later too…usually stage 3 or 4.

A Northwest Passage Journey Finds Little Ice and Big Changes - Yale E360 – Lots of changes. Grizzly are moving northward…fewer polar bears…salmon far north of where they used to be…lungworm killing muskox…plastic in ice cores.

Researchers Discover New Family of Viruses | The Scientist Magazine® - The new viruses are found in lung biomes of people that had had lung transplants or have periodontal disease….many times the patients are critically ill. But we don’t know yet if the new family of viruses are linked to disease.

Utah's red rock metronome: Seismic readings reveal Castleton Tower's unseen vibrations -- ScienceDaily – On the plus side – it does not appear that climbers of the tower are impacting it…but this work is a baseline and there could be some longer term effects. Wikipedia has some pictures and a short article about Castleton Tower.

Infographic: History of Ancient Hominin Interbreeding | The Scientist Magazine® - Still learning about the hominin tree and how modern humans carry the genetic heritage.

Camera Trap Chronicles: The Pennsylvania Wilds – Cool Green Science – I wonder what I would see coming through my back yard. I know we have deer…and I occasionally see a fox. Maybe racoons. My first though was to put a camera on the bird feeder or the bird bath.

BBC - Future - Is there a worst time of day to get sick? – Circadian rhythms are important to health….and our medical system doesn’t use them to advantage. I remember being concerned when my mother was in the hospital years ago and the lights were very bright day and night. No wonder she had difficulty sleeping!

Georgina Burne Hetley

Georgina Burne Hetley is best known for her book The Native Flora of New Zealand. She worked in the 1880s at a time when increased cultivation was reducing the botanical diversity of New Zealand. The Wikipedia entry for Hetley notes that Trilepidea adamsii (previously known as Loranthus adamsii) – one of the plants she painted – is now extinct. As I read her biography, it sounded modern in the sense that many biologists now feel the sense of working against an environmental degradation clock just as she did to “paint New Zealand’s indigenous flora before it was destroyed by the advance of cultivation.” She appears to have started out as an artist…coming to botany work in her 40s.

I am including 6 sample images from the book in this post. It is well worth browsing the images online in the book itself available from Internet Archive here. It was published in London in 1888.

Note that Art Album of New Zealand Flora was published shortly after this book in 1889 in Wellington, New Zealand. It was published in two parts and is also available from Internet Archive (part 1 and part 2). I posted about these volumes back in March 2013.

eBotanical Prints – August 2019

Twenty-one books added to the list of botanical ebooks collection this month. They are all freely available on the Internet. The whole list of over 1,700 books can be accessed here. Sample images and links for the 21 new ones are provided below. (click on the sample image to see a larger view) Enjoy!

These are not all the issues of Revue Horticole available from Internet Archive. I’m still working my way through issues in September!

Journal des Roses  (1906 ) * Cochet, M. Scipion * sample image * 1906

Manual of Grasses of the Unitied States * Hitchcock, Albert Spear; Chase, Agnes * sample image * 1950

The native flowers of New Zealand * Hetley, GB * sample image * 1888

Plantae utiliores V1 * Burnett, Mary Ann; Burnett, Gilbert Thomas * sample image * 1840

Plantae utiliores V2 * Burnett, Mary Ann; Burnett, Gilbert Thomas * sample image * 1840

Revue Horticole (1844-1845) * Librairie Agricole de la Maison Rustique * sample image * 1845

Revue Horticole (1846) * Librairie Agricole de la Maison Rustique * sample image * 1846

Revue Horticole (1847) * Librairie Agricole de la Maison Rustique * sample image * 1847

Revue Horticole (1848) * Librairie Agricole de la Maison Rustique * sample image * 1848

Revue Horticole (1850) * Librairie Agricole de la Maison Rustique * sample image * 1850

Revue Horticole (1851) * Librairie Agricole de la Maison Rustique * sample image * 1851

Revue Horticole (1849) * Librairie Agricole de la Maison Rustique * sample image * 1849

Revue Horticole (1852) * Librairie Agricole de la Maison Rustique * sample image * 1852

Revue Horticole (1853) * Librairie Agricole de la Maison Rustique * sample image * 1853

Revue Horticole (1854) * Librairie Agricole de la Maison Rustique * sample image * 1854

Revue Horticole (1855) * Librairie Agricole de la Maison Rustique * sample image * 1855

Revue Horticole (1856) * Librairie Agricole de la Maison Rustique * sample image * 1856

Revue Horticole (1861) * Librairie Agricole de la Maison Rustique * sample image * 1861

Revue Horticole (1862) * Librairie Agricole de la Maison Rustique * sample image * 1862

Revue Horticole (1863) * Librairie Agricole de la Maison Rustique * sample image * 1863

Revue Horticole (1864) * Librairie Agricole de la Maison Rustique * sample image * 1864

Gleanings of the Week Ending September 7, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

BBC - Future - Is city life really bad for you? – Some additional reasons we need to make changes to cities --- if that is where the bulk of humans will live in the future.

A Field Guide to Commonly Misidentified Mammals – Cool Green Science – How many of these animals can you correctly identify?

Blood vessels turning into bone-like particles -- ScienceDaily – The headline caught my interest…bone-like particles in the blood. Then I noticed that the researcher was from the school where I did my undergraduate work back in the 1970s!

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Raptors and Migration – Catching up on these weekly posts from National Geographic. I always enjoy them.

BBC - Future - Can you cool a house without air conditioning? – We’ve probably had our last 90 degree plus day for the season at this point….but over the long term, I expect broadening the technologies we use to cool our homes and buildings is going to be important.

Turquoise-Tinted Tarantula Discovered in Sri Lanka | Smart News | Smithsonian – Iridescent color that must startle the spider’s prey (or a predator) --- and a discussion of collecting by scientists.

See a different endangered animal in every U.S. state – The map is easy to explore. The Puritan Tiger Beetle was the one listed for Maryland….not something I had heard of before.

Infographic: How Muscles Age | The Scientist Magazine® - A little muscle anatomy lesson – for young and old.

The Earth's Vegetation Stopped Expanding 20 Years Ago - News | Planetizen – Another indication that climate change is already having a worldwide impact?

Forest-killing bark beetles also might help ecosystem, experts say - UPI.com – It’s distressing to see a forest of dead trees…but maybe it’s an indicator that monoculture forests and fire suppression are not healthy. And then there is climate change in the mix as well. The beetles now survive the winter temperatures in much of their range.

Gleanings of the Week Ending August 31, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: August and Sunbirds and Spiderhunters -  Two sets of bird pictures this week…catching up a little on the gleanings…and good picutres to start out the post this week.

Rare Lightning Strikes Detected 300 Miles from North Pole | Smart News | Smithsonian – I’d never thought about lightning or thunderstorms over the arctic….so this was ‘news to me’ from several perspectives.

Impact of largescale tree death on carbon storage -- ScienceDaily – In our area, invasive insects have caused the deaths of two tree species in recent years: Eastern Hemlock (wooly adelgid) and Ash (Emerald Ash Borer)…die-offs that are definitely not the norm. I wondered if the research included these in their ‘insect outbreak’ category.

The practical ways to reduce your carbon footprint (that actually work) | WIRED UK – How many of these have you considered…implemented?

Here's How the 'Fish Tube' Works | Smart News | Smithsonian – And it doesn’t injure the fish? It seems like it would be very traumatic for the fish.

Tracing the History of Decorative Art, a Genre Where "Form Meets Function" – Short…with some good pictures…and links.

Microplastic drifting down with the snow: In the Alps and the Arctic, experts confirm the presence of plastic in snow -- ScienceDaily – Aargh! Something we have in our minds as being ‘clean’ because it is white, is polluted by things so tiny we can’t see them.

Insect 'apocalypse' in U.S. driven by 50x increase in toxic pesticides – Why are we still using such huge amounts of pesticides when we don’t need to….we have methods to grow our food without decimating pollinators and other beneficial insects.

BBC - Future - The wildlife haven in a Cold War ‘death strip’ – The land between what used to be East and West Germany…the borderland between Finland and Russia….places where the Iron Curtain divided people. This is a long corridor of land left alone for the decades of rapid growth in Europe – land where people didn’t tread but where plants and animals could thrive. It is the European Green Belt through 24 countries. Some species are already using it to migrate north to escape the effects of global warming.

What drives inflammation in type 2 diabetes? Not glucose, says new research -- ScienceDaily – A surprise finding….and now a lot more research needed about fat derivatives and mitochondria in people with type 2 diabetes.

Zooming – August 2019

There are 10 images in this month’s ‘zooming’ post – a selection from places I’ve been over the month: Brookside Gardens, Patuxent Research Refuge, and Mt. Pleasant Farm. I used the zoom a lot on my camera, so I always have a lot to choose from…and the collection almost always is dominated by plants. This month is no exception although there are a few insects (butterflies and a cicada) and a frog.

There is one type of plant that is featured twice. Can you find it in the slideshow?  The answer is below the slideshow.

The hibiscus is the plant featured twice: the red flower and the three green buds!

Battered Moth

Earlier this week when I was heading out to a volunteer shift at Brookside Gardens’ Wings of Fancy exhibit, I noticed something moving at the base of the red oak tree near our mailbox. I got out of my car to see what it was. There was a large moth flapping around on the ground among the remnants of day lily plants. I took several pictures with my phone and continued to Brookside.

When I got there, the staff helped me identify what I’d seen: a Polyphemus moth (read about the species at Maryland Biodiversity Project and Wikipedia). It’s a female because it doesn’t have the feather-looking antennae. It looked very battered and it died sometime after I left. I collected it when I got home and have it in my freezer…trying to decide what to do with it.

The caterpillars require about 60 days to grow enough to make a cocoon to go through the winter…so this is going to be cutting it close for the eggs this female probably laid in our oak tree. Some of the leaves on our oak (a food plant of the caterpillars) are already beginning to turn reddish brown. None of the branches are low enough for me to see any of the caterpillars in action unfortunately. I’ll still be watching the tree hoping to see one as they grow larger.

Ten Little Celebrations – August 2019

August 2019 was busy – but not as overwhelming as July. I savored the recovery time before the busy fall field trip season volunteering and my own travels. It was still easy to find little celebrations this month.

For three weeks of the month, I celebrated two mornings with Howard County Conservancy summer campers. What great experiences for me and (I hope) for the campers. Fossils, water and flight….interesting themes of high interest to the 5-12 years old groups. I could have counted 6 little celebrations but opted to count each week as 1 larger celebration since I had so many other things to celebrate.

Celebrating Coursera course Bugs 101: Insect-Human Interactions from University of Alberta (which I hope to finish by the end of the month). It was wonderful to have time to dig into an online course again.

Montessori teachers in the Wings of Fancy exhibit. A group of Montessori teachers in training came through the exhibit one morning (when it wasn’t too hot) and I celebrated conversations and that the method is still popular. My daughter certainly thrived in that type of pre-school.

Finding lots of botanical print books. Just when I think I am about to run out of online botanical books, I find a lot more…..and celebrate.

Getting a new laptop ordered. My old laptop is almost out of warranty and, even though it has a new battery and seems to be working well, I ordered a new one. I’m very excited about getting it all set up by the end of the month.

Flavorful cantaloupe. The CSA had very sweet cantaloupes this year. I celebrated melons that were as good as my memories of childhood cantaloupe from my grandparents’ farm.

Office rearrangement. I celebrated a new arrangement of my office furniture and general tidiness of my home office…in preparation for a new laptop.

Photographing a living cicada. Usually the cicada’s I photograph are not living – or are too cold to move. I celebrated seeing one fly into a tree and photographing it…while it was singing.

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Brookside Gardens – August 2019

There is a lot to see at Brookside Gardens in August. I try get there early enough before my Wings of Fancy volunteer shifts to look around.

A plant that was new to me and is evidently doing better than usual in the garden this year (according to one of the gardeners I talked to) is Cardoon or artichoke thistle. In early August, most were still just buds.

By the third week of August there were a lot of blooms. It looks like artichoke and is closely related.

I see Goldfinch almost every time I am in the gardens…but only managed one picture!

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The evidence of Bald Cypress Gall Midge is on the trees now. Soon the tips of the branches will die.

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Sometimes the shape of a leaf catches my attention. These are folded along the central rib – sometimes until they get quite large – and then unfolded into a heart shape leaf.

Milkweed bug larvae (many different instars) are common on milkweed this time of year.

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There were a few Dogwood Sawfly larvae on the dogwood plants near the front of the conservatory buildings but not as many as last year (see the post about them here from August 2018). They were treated with BT (found out from one of the gardeners) and only shriveled larvae were on the plants the next time I visited the gardens.

Gleanings of the Week Ending August 24, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

‘Off-the-charts’ heat to affect millions in U.S. in coming decades – How will public health be impacted by warming climate? This article summarizes a county-by-county analysis of likely temperature and humidity over the coming decades.

Waist size is a forgotten factor in defining obesity -- ScienceDaily - Waist size is just as important as BMI in defining obesity-related health risks. The study used data from 156,000 women ages 50-79 from 1993-2017 and confirms a similar study published in 2015 based on a much smaller population.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Little Brown Jobs (LBJs) – National Geographic Society Newsroom – Not as colorful as usual…but I still enjoyed the pictures. I also like the acronym (LBJs)

Algae living inside fungi: How land plants first evolved -- ScienceDaily – And the study was done with algae and fungi that produce high amounts of oil…could be useful growing together for bioproduction (reduce costs).

Food insecurity common across US higher education campuses -- ScienceDaily - Lack of access to reliable supply of nutritious food may affect student's ability to succeed, researchers say. Is it more a problem now that it used to be….or are we just recognizing it? Universities are scrambling to set up programs to address the issue.

With New Perennial Grain, a Step Forward for Eco-Friendly Agriculture - Yale E360 – How can the ideas for prairie and forest sustainable agriculture be moved into the mainstream faster? It seems like there is still a lot to learn about how to do it on a large scale.

Non-native invasive insects, diseases decreasing carbon stored in US forests -- ScienceDaily – It seems like more of these problems are cropping up….and at a time when we need our forests to retain carbon. In our area, the emerald ash borer has killed all the ash trees in the past 5 years…a noticeable change in our forests.

Focus on Native Bees, Not Honey Bees – Cool Green Science - Lots of beautiful bees out there…pollinating right along with the honey bees. We need to support all the pollinators to build (and sustain) health environments for us all.

Solar Panels on Farmland Have Huge Electricity-Generating Potential - Yale E360 – A vision to think about….agrivoltaics (a new vocabular word for me!).

Arctic permafrost is thawing fast. That affects us all. – I was intrigued by the pictures of landscapes of melting permafrost – collapsing land, methane (enough to burn) bubbling from a thawing pond, crumbling cliffs.

Favorite Summer Foods

I have two favorite foods that are new-to-me this summer.

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The first is one I started when my freezer was close to overflowing with frozen veggies from the early weeks of the Community Support Agriculture (CSA) season (while I was traveling). I started making green smoothies for breakfast: vanilla soymilk, frozen ‘greens,’ frozen banana, protein (peanut butter, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, raw cashews).

I put them all in the Ninja without measuring exactly; the consistency is thick shake to soft serve ice cream…always cold and yummy. Perfect for summer mornings. The past few weeks I have been getting cherry tomatoes at the CSA. I freeze them…and combine tomatoes and greens. Then the banana can be room temperature. The smoothies are a great way to start the day.

The second favorite for this summer is tomatillo salsa. This was the first year for tomatillos from my CSA. We’ve had two weeks where the share included a pound of tomatillos. I had to so a little research to decide what a wanted to do with them. I decided on salsa. The husks of the tomatillos are star-like…I enjoy the shape before putting them into the bin to go out to the compost pile.

I pan roast most of the ingredients in a skillet first.

After they are cooked and cooled – I put them into the Ninja along with the cilantro (one time I used parsley because I had a big bunch of it) to make it into salsa….and then store in glass jars left over from other salsa or preserves. It lasts for a least a week in the refrigerator. The salsa goes fast since I like it for salad dressing, stir fry sauce, a topping for hamburgers, or dip for chips/veggies.

Savoring the flavors of summer!

Patuxent Research Refuge – Part II

Continuing about our visit to the Patuxent Research Refuge last weekend (map)…

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At the very beginning of the Loop Trail near the visitor center, we saw a blue dasher on a sign! A great way to start the morning at Patuxent.

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After leaving the bird blind on the Loop Trail, we crossed the bridge heading toward the Cash Lake Trail and began to realize that it was getting hotter every minute…the hike was going be a short one. Looking back toward Lake Reddington, I took one landscape picture

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Then zoomed in for waterlily pictures. The bright sunlight made the water look very dark.

There was a thistle blooming nearby….and going to seed.

After photographing the herons, we came back to the Viewing Blind at the end of boardwalk. I noticed something fly into the tree and was lucky enough to zoom in to find it – a cicada! It was probably the highlight of the trek for me.

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On the way back to the car I noticed the milkweed…looking too good to have very many Monarch caterpillars.  There don’t seem to be many Monarch butterflies this year in our area – noticeably fewer than last year. I hope they are more numerous elsewhere.

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Gleanings of the Week Ending August 17, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Well-Preserved Mosaic Floor Found in Roman Egypt - Archaeology Magazine – Lotus patterns!

Nations with strong women's rights likely to have better population health and faster growth-- ScienceDaily – A study analyzed databases which held information on health, human rights, and economic and social rights for 162 countries for the period 2004 to 2010.  The results suggest that gender equality is not just a women’s issue but a development issue.

More Climate Surprises Expected – THE DIRT – “Climate change together with environmental degradation and social and political instability is the threat multiplier.” It seems like more and more climate-linked surprises/disasters are happening every year. When do we reach a tipping point where everyone realizes that we cannot continue the status quo?

Liver transplants could be redundant with discovery of new liver cell -- ScienceDaily – From Kings’ College London. It would be a big step forward if this finding translates into standard treatment for liver failure.

Viking Woman Warrior May Have Been Slavic | Smart News | Smithsonian – Not all ‘Vikings’ were Nordic men…some were Slavic and some were women! It’s good to understand long ago cultures in more depth…particularly when it causes us to rethink our assumptions.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Birding – National Geographic Society Newsroom – Variety and beauty of birds…I always enjoy the ‘25’ collections.

How to keep buildings cool without air conditioning – according to an expert in sustainable design – We are going to need all the technology we know (and some new ones) to keep buildings and homes cool as the planet gets warmer.

America's packaged food supply is ultra-processed: Americans are overexposed to products that are high in calories, saturated fat, sugar and salt -- ScienceDaily – Unhealthy ‘food’ --- most of us have an inkling about this but it doesn’t keep us from indulging. The article mentions the Foodswitch app that allows consumers to scan packaged foods to determine their healthfulness; I loaded the app and scanned things in my pantry. The pasta I buy (whole wheat and green) rates a 5 of 5! Soymilk was 4.5. The canned tamales my husband likes are a 3 (salt and fat).

Thamugadi, a Roman outpost in Algeria, was saved by the Sahara – Buried in sand after it was abandoned around AD 700…and rediscovered in the 1700s but not explored. In the 1870s it was again rediscovered. It was excavated by the French from 1881 to 1960 in its entirety. It became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982.

100 days, 100 nights: Sensor network reveals telltale patterns in neighborhood air quality: Custom-built sensors deployed for 100 days and nights to track black carbon pollution -- ScienceDaily – A test was done in West Oakland with new technology to monitor air pollution with more specificity over the area and time of day(s) than has been done before now. The technology worked and demonstrated that the finer grain measurements provide deeper understanding of what impacts localized air quality…something we have to understand to make progress in improving city environments.

A Serendipity Hike at Mt Pleasant

Last Saturday morning, there was a Serendipity Hike offered at Howard County Conservancy’s Mt Pleasant location. There were quite a few registrations for the free event after the forecast temperature and humidity were lower than recent days in our area. About 50 people came and we had 4 volunteers to lead hikes. My group included people that had not been to Mt Pleasant before.

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My focus turned out to be about landscaping with native plants (like the sweet bay magnolias)

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And cone flowers.

We headed through the Honors Garden to see more flowering plants and around to the stand of Joe Pye Weed (full of tiger swallowtails). Along the way, the green frogs provide a serenade from the pool. I told them that I had seen 3 frogs earlier but that the summer campers had found 7 a few weeks ago. My hiking group saw 5 and one was positioned to easily observe when he made his croak!

From the Joe Pye Weed we hiked around to see Ranger the Barred Owl…then to the meadow, noticing the orchard and Montjoy barn along the way. Down at the stream we noticed the steep slopes that now have vegetation growing on them --- an indicator that the stream restoration upstream has slowed the flow of water from storms. To avoid a steep uphill climb, we crossed the meadow and walked along the stone wall and then back to the nature center. I pointed out the tree with myriad yellow-bellied sapsucker holes.

The hike was a little over an hour…several people came in to get maps of the trails afterward.

Flowers on Table

I have been enjoying the cut-your-own flowers from my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) this summer. It’s great to have the color on the table – changing every week. A small bag with scissors for that part of the share pickup has been added to the larger bags for the heftier veggies. I often get some herbs as well. Fresh oregano and thyme are my two favorites. I rinse the herbs and put them on a small plate on the counter using it up in a few days or letting it dry so that it crinkles easily into a steaming pot of sauce or stir fry.

Summer Camp Volunteering- Week 3

The theme for last week’s Howard Count Conservancy’s summer camps was ‘Water Wizards.’ The campers at both Mt. Pleasant and Belmont made terrific water themed Zentangles®! I started out the sessions by briefly talking about the water cycle…how water moves on our planet and in the atmosphere….honed for the 5-12 years old campers. I projected a simple diagram of the water cycle from the NASA website….and then used the same set up to enable the campers to see how I drew some water themed patterns on pale blue cardstock (using the camera on the iPad which was hooked to a projector).

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There were three groups at Mt. Pleasant. They all enjoyed frogs eggs and tadpoles, raindrops making ripples in a pond, mist….and clouds. The youngest group made rainbows! I used 4.5-inch squares for the youngest group (last of the group of 3 mosaics below); the other two used 3.5-inch squares.

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At Belmont, the session was on a hot afternoon and the campers appreciated the time to cool off inside. I took a picture of the room before the campers arrived – the cool and calm before a flurry of activity.

After a short discussion of the water cycle, the room was filled with very focused campers making Zentangle patterns. One of the counselors came in and commented about how quiet the room was. It wasn’t silent exactly…everyone was just busy. The first mosaic were made by the older group and are 3.5-inch squares…and some that finished early made mini-tiles on 2-inch squares. The younger group used the larger 4.5-inch tiles. Both groups enjoyed frog eggs and tadpoles, cattails (or seaweed), raindrops into a pond, and mist.

Each week I do Zentangles, there are a few campers from prior weeks that know the Zentangle basics…and others that are new. All are keen to learn some patterns and are tickled with the tiles they create. There’s always a crowd around the mosaic at the end.

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The Zentangle® Method is an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns. It was created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. "Zentangle" is a registered trademark of Zentangle, Inc. Learn more at zentangle.com.