A Carrollton Garden – Part II

It’s been more than 8 years since my grandmother died – but there are still many plants in the garden at my parents’ house that she started. The pink preference sage all came from a plant from her sister’s garden.

The oxalis was something she saw first in her sister’s garden then ordered some from a catalog (we think). It is growing so profusely these days that some of the plants are being potted to be part of the floral decorations for my niece’s wedding.

The bees like the flowers too.

The evening primrose is self-propagating around a rose bush my grandmother got as a birthday present (the rose bush must be over 20 years old now) and she planted the primrose seeds at its base.

I’m not sure where the daisy-like flowers came from, but they’ve been in the garden for a long time. These days they bloom in enlarging clumps in the front yard garden under the big mulberry and beside the red yucca.

The continuity of plants – passed between family members and through generations. Remembering her…in her garden.

US National Arboretum in Early Spring

Last weekend we went to the US National Arboretum to see cherry blossoms. We entered the New York Avenue Gate and parked in the big lot just inside….with cherry trees in sight. We walked over to the trees. I got side tracked by some golden moss with spore capsules…had to take pictures from overhead and then from ground level. It was growing under the cherry trees.

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The days before we went had been windy and I found some blooms on the ground – little jewels in the dried leaves and moss.

I zoomed to get some close-up pictures of flowers on the trees – all shades of pink to white.

As I took some pictures of the high branches of one tree, I noticed a lot of bees. I was photographing hand held so had to be content with just knowing the dots in the pictures were insects!

We got back in the car and continued further into the arboretum. There were a lot of cars parking along the side of the road and we could see trees that were blooming ahead. We thought maybe it was more cherry trees. But no – it was deciduous magnolias! They were probably at their peak and gorgeous. People where photographing young children under the trees and held up next to the flowers. There were several different kinds of deciduous magnolias in bloom. My favorites were the deepest pink ones that I saw at the very beginning.

I zoomed in on two buds. Note that the outer covering is very fuzzy. Then there is a covering that looks like brown paper….and then the petals.

Evergreen (southern) magnolias are in the grove as well. They will be beautiful this summer. Right now, the empty pods from last summer are dried (on the tree or the ground under it) – and a study of complexity. I didn’t see a single red seed that had survived the winter in a pod!

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Gleanings of the Week Ending February 16, 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: Mountain Birds – National Geographic Society Newsroom – Starting off the gleanings this week with bird pics!

BBC - Future - The perils of short-termism: Civilization’s greatest threat – It is very difficult for individuals and groups of humans to think strategically. And maybe since we are now quite capable of catastrophically destroying civilization (atomic bombs and climate change are the two most probable) – we need to make strategic thinking a higher priority.

Could Spider Silk Become a Natural Replacement for Plastic? – Cool Green Science – It is still very far from the goal – mass production cheaply. But it is hot material science topic.

Report: Americans Are Now More Likely to Die of An Opioid Overdose Than on The Road: NPR – Gives another take on the magnitude of the opioid deaths.

Not One, Not Two, But Three Fungi Present in Lichen | The Scientist Magazine® - For a long time the textbooks used lichen to exemplify symbiosis of a lichen and a fungus. It’s more complicated than that….and it’s a good example of how science is refined over time to improve our understanding.

BBC - Future - Why it pays to declutter your digital life – Getting rid of stuff needs to be about more than the physical junk we accumulate…we now have email and photos…all kinds of digital media stored and rarely – or never – used. It’s clutter. And it might need different strategies to declutter.

Central Texas salamanders, including newly identified species, at risk of extinction -- ScienceDaily – It seems like I’m seeing several stories like this recently – a newly identified species that is already almost gone. Depressing.

Elevated Nitrate Levels Found in Millions of Americans’ Drinking Water - Yale E360 – I don’t like articles like this because they point to a situation that has negative consequences…then doesn’t have anything that individuals can do to reduce the risk. It’s very frustrating.

Flowers Sweeten Up When They Sense Bees Buzzing | Smart News | Smithsonian – Flowers increase sugar content by 12-20% within 3 minutes of hearing a bee’s buzz.

Food is medicine: How US policy is shifting toward nutrition for better health – Glad this idea is getting more attention. We’ve been way to gullible to think that medications can overcome poor day-to-day dietary habits. I hope the 2018 Farm Bill and the “Food is Medicine” working group in the House are good ‘first steps’ to change the way we think about what we eat.  

Gleanings of the Week Ending January 12, 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.

I have a growing list of gleanings from sites that are not operational because of the partial government shutdown; they’ll come out in the list for the Saturday after the sites are operational again.

Climate, life and the movement of continents: New connections -- ScienceDaily – Sediment, which often includes pieces of dead organisms, may create a lubricating effect between plates, accelerating subduction and increasing plate velocity!

BBC - Future - Six reasons your memory is stranger than you think – Timelines are hard (many times inaccurate) from memory…I’m glad I keep a running list of important family travel and events.

Regenerative Cities: An Urban Concept Whose Time Has Come! | CleanTechnica – Re-thinking what cities of the future could be.

Scientists call for eight steps to increase soil carbon for climate action and food security: International coordination and financing essential -- ScienceDaily – Big benefits…but hard to come by the collective push to obtain them.

Earthquake Damage Detected in Machu Picchu - Archaeology Magazine – Evidence of an AD 1450 earthquake that damaged Machu Picchu is seen in cracks and stone damage of the buildings. The Inca’s modified their construction techniques after the event too.

Shrinking of Utah National Monument May Threaten Bee Biodiversity | Smart News | Smithsonian – Grand Staircase-Escalante is home to 660 bee species, 84 of which live outside of protected land under changes. At a time when we know pollinators are under stress…one more reason why our Federal lands are needed as refuges from human activities that damage the environment.

Scientists Don't Stay for Long in Their Jobs Anymore: Study | The Scientist Magazine® - About half of scientists who enter a scientific discipline drop out after 5 years; in the 1960s, it was 35 years. We are probably training more people in science fields but many don’t stay in academia. This study used publishing records to determine if a person stayed ‘in the discipline.’ I’d prefer to see numbers of people that had careers in a STEM related field rather than just the one they trained in and find another metric than published papers to make the determination. There are a lot more jobs today where people use their science training that do not use ‘publication’ as a measure of success.

BBC - Future - Can we cheat ageing? – Some areas of active research to help us stay healthy longer (may or may not help us live longer).

Corn Domestication May Have Taken Thousands of Years - Archaeology Magazine – It all started 9,000 years ago in southern Mexico. The process continued in Mexico and the southwestern Amazon for several thousand years. It was a slow process.

Ring in the New Year With Dazzling Total Lunar Eclipse of a Supermoon | Smart News | Smithsonian – Hope we have good weather on January 20-21….since it should be visible from our house!

Gleanings of the Week Ending October 13, 2018

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.

Free Technology for Teachers: Frostbite Theater - 87 Science Experiment Video Lessons – Short videos…fun for more than just students!

Sunflower pollen has medicinal, protective effects on bees -- ScienceDaily – Sunflowers – a nice addition to pollinator gardens.

Research forecasts US among top nations to suffer economic damage from climate change -- ScienceDaily – The study found that the top 3 countries with the most to lose from climate change are the US, India and Saudi Arabia. China is in the top 5.

Do MoCA and Other Cognitive Screening Tests Work? | Berkeley Wellness – A short article that introduces some terminology….but not very satisfying. This is not an area where medical intervention has made great strides – unfortunately for an aging population.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Birds in Flight – National Geographic Blog – Birds in motion…a photographic challenge.

BBC - Future - Do we really live longer than our ancestors? – Life expectancy has increased because more of our species are making it to old age; life span has not changed much at all through history. The emperor Augustus lived to be 75 in the 1st century (his wife live to 86 or 87 years) and Japan’s Empress Suiko lived to be 74 in the 6th century. Cicero’s wife lived to be 103.

Prehistoric art hints at lost Indian civilisation - BBC News and An Unknown Ancient Civilization in India Carved This Rock Art | Smart News | Smithsonian – The same story from two sources. The first one is more detailed.

The Seven Cs of Education | What's Next: Top Trends – 2 items: the 7 Cs and the nature of creative thinking.

Secondary forests have short lifespans: Most don't last long enough to provide habitat for many forest species -- ScienceDaily – Making large scale commitment on reforestation requires long-term vision….and that appears to be lacking. The study was done in Costa Rica.

Infographic: Light Pollution Threatens Species | The Scientist Magazine® - It not just birds and bats….light pollution impacts a lot of organisms…including us (not the last item on the list ‘desynchronization’).

Outdoors at Brookside Gardens

I try to take a few minutes before each shift volunteering at Brookside Gardens Wings of Fancy to walk around outside in the gardens. There is a lot going on in August. I am featuring some of my favorite things I noticed and photographed in this post.

Button bush and cone flowers and sunflowers – with and without bees.

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Joe Pye Weed in bloom…very popular with the tiger swallowtails. One morning I photographed a dark morph female with several of the yellow and black versions.

Monarchs are more prevalent in the garden than they were earlier.

I can never resist checking the gingko tree near the conservatory. I like the way the leaves look outlined in gold of the morning sunshine.

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The sumac is a plant I am tracking this year. I recognize the seed heads but want to capture how the seeds develop. This will take me further into the fall since they don’t look like they’ve changed too much during this month.

There are always a lot of funnel spider webs in the low pines around the conservatory….and sometimes the spider is visible.

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There are several kinds of datura in the garden.

I had never nptoced what the seed pod looked like before.

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Some of the trumpets hang downward and I appreciated that the screen on my new camera can pivot so I can see what the camera is seeing when it is point straight up! I’ve always wanted to photography the unfurling flower.

The bald cypress has the scale insects like it did last summer but seems healthy enough to survive. The cones are beginning to form.

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The cannas are beautiful this time of year. Some are producing seed pods.

This is the view from the ticket taker table for Wings of Fancy. I ended up doing the job when no one had signed up for it….a  last minute change of plans.

There are milkweed plants close to the entrance to the caterpillar house and there are often insects on the plants other than caterpillars. When there are no visitors in the area…I roam around and take pictures; more on the caterpillars tomorrow.

Kenilworth Gardens – Buttonbushes and Dragonflies

There are other things to see beside lotuses and waterlilies at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. One of my favorite plants to photograph is the buttonbush in bloom. They were in all stages of bloom development last weekend.

The plants are very attractive to insects. Bees are frequently visitors

As are the small skipper butterflies.

There was one large tiger swallowtail that seems to be methodically getting nectar and staying on once of the balls for a long time…great for picture taking.

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We always look for dragonflies when we visit Kenilworth and last weekend was no exception. There did not seem to be as many of them. The first one I managed to photograph sat on some lotus petals in the deep shade…and was a very small dragonfly.

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The next one was on top of a canna stalk and was the larger variety. It did not stay very long but I did manage to zoom in for close up.

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On my way back toward the visitor center I was photographing water lilies and noticed that one had a dragonfly on it! The zoom helped again since it was another small one.

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Fishmobile – Take 2

My first experience with the Fishmobile was back in April at an elementary school in Carroll County (posted about it here). I got an email just after I returned from Texas asking if I could help with the Fishmobile’s visit to a nature center near where I life for a weekend event. I still had committed to anything else so I accepted. The day started out well when I checked the milkweed in my front flower bed and found a good-sized Monarch caterpillar!

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The day was not too hot and my ‘shift’ was from 10-12 when the temperature was in the mid-70s. Most of the animals that were there for the school were in the tanks again: horseshoe crabs, Larry the diamond backed terrapin, a blue crab, and a box turtle.

The American eel was silvery and was more active this time. The only thing I missed from last time were sea horses but there were some preserved ones to talk about with the families that came through. In the two hours I was there, almost 200 people came through. Some of the children came through the exhibit several times (after they built up their courage to experience the two touch tanks).

During one lull I stepped off the Fishmobile bus and photographed some bees on the plants just outside. The bees were very active and focused on the flowers…not flying amongst the people coming to the Fishmobile.

After my shift was over, I walked over to the compost demo and filled out the form to get a free compost bin. After the tour yesterday and further education today, I am going to do my own compost. My plan it to put the bin back near the forest and start it off with some shredded paper and veggie/fruit scraps from the kitchen. This time of year taking the watermelon rinds to the compost bin will be a lot easier than lugging them to the curb in a trash bag that might leak! Stay tuned for posts about my compost adventure.

Gleanings of the Week Ending May 12, 2018

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.

Why I Speak Up for Science – National Geographic – A short piece about the need for science in everyday life….why science is important for everyone.

From property damage to lost production: How natural disasters impact economics -- ScienceDaily – The economic impact is more than just a single point of property damage and lost production…there is a ripple effect that can increase the overall impact significantly over what insurance covers and it beomes a very complex problem to estimate.

European Union Bans All Outdoor Uses of Neonicotinoids - Yale E360 – Shouldn’t we in the US be at least this concerned about the health of bees and other pollinators? Why have we not done more to curtail the use of neonicotinoids?

Top 25 Urban Birds – National Geographic – Some birds are thriving in the cities of the world.

Common Eye Disorders Explained: Cataracts, Glaucoma, AMD | Berkeley Wellness – Prevention, signs and symptoms, treatment…well organized and easy to understand.

These daggers made from human bone were a deadly asset on the battlefield | Science | AAAS – They are from New Guinea….and decorated. Most of the time they were made from cassowary leg bones….but sometimes human thigh bones were used.

US gains in air quality are slowing down: New study indicates challenges of meeting ozone goals -- ScienceDaily – I live in an area that has an increasing number of ‘code red’ days (high ozone). This study indicates that emissions from cars and power plants are understood well enough…but not other sources and that is probably why the trend toward better air quality is slowing down.

BBC - Future - How prison changes people – Evidently the personality change that dominates is an inability to trust others….but there are other common changes as well. Prisons almost seem design to change personalities for the worse.

City upbringing, without pets, boosts vulnerability to mental illness -- ScienceDaily – We need to figure out how to make cities a healthy place for everyone --- including children.

BBC - Future - Why pristine lakes are filled with toxins – A study done on Lake Geneva revealed cadmium, mercury, lead…sometimes in high concentration…from decades of plastic build up in the lake. Other studies of the microplastics in the water (and in water that has been processed for drinking) and then beer and honey from the area. Lots more research is needed on the impact to wildlife in and around the lake.

Gleanings of the Week Ending April 14, 2018

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.

Solar Power Works in Many Places You Might Not Expect | CleanTechnica – Solar power is not just for sunny, hot areas! Sometimes assumptions we make early on about a technology are hard to overcome.

The secret world of babies – Techniques for improving our understanding of how baby’s develop their sense of the world…and some cute baby pictures.

How 'Bad Medicine' Dismisses and Misdiagnoses Women's Symptoms – Gender bias in medicine

Wild Birds of the Night – National Geographic -  Lot’s of owls in this group

Business Lessons from A Radical Industrialist (#CleanTechnica Occasional #Bookclub) | CleanTechnica – Ray Anderson’s carpet company set a goal back in the 1990s to have no net impact of the environment. They are on track to achieve that by 2020! As I looked at the summary in this blog post and took a look at the company website, I found myself wishing they made residential carpeting…not just industrial carpeting.

Sunset Crater Volcano and Capulin Volcano – I always enjoying seeing articles about places I’ve visited. I’ve been to Sunset Crater more recently (back in February 2015). Capulin Volcano was the first interesting stop along our route from the Dallas area (where we lived 35 years ago) and Colorado!

An Alternative to Burial and Cremation for Corpse Disposal | WIRED – Maybe there should be other options to cremation and burial….the ‘greener’ the better.

Six Ways to Help Bees and Beesponsible : The National Wildlife Federation -  Good ideas to add to your spring gardening.

How a Black Bear Wakes Up from a Long Winter’s Nap – Cool Green Science – Tis the season!

Pulling valuable metals from e-waste makes financial sense -- ScienceDaily – I hope it gets easier to get e-waste into a place that the value metals are extracted. In our community, it does not go in the regular recycle stream…it either is taken back to the store (traded in) or to a central collection point. We have a group of it now to load up and take.

Gleanings of the Week Ending March 17, 2018

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.

A Day in The Park: Cuyahoga Valley National Park | National Parks Traveler – I’ve been to the park but only saw a small part of it. Next time I need to be more organized!

Top 25 Wild Waterbirds – National Geographic Blog – Some of these birds were familiar….some unfamiliar and living far away from the US!

BBC - Future - The quest to tackle the rubbish dump in orbit – There is getting to be a lot of junk up there!

Flood risk from American rivers is greatly underestimated -- ScienceDaily – A high resolution model that maps flood risk across the whole continent and includes small streams shows 41 million Americans at risk from flooding rivers rather than 13 million estimated by FEMA (their maps only include 60% of the continent and does not include smaller streams). Seems like anyone buying a house would be keen to know if there was a flood risk for the property and FEMA maps are giving a false sense of security. Here’s the link to the full paper: Estimates of present and future flood risk in the conterminous United States - IOPscience

Recycled carbon fiber improves permeable pavement: Technique reduces waste, improves strength and durability -- ScienceDaily – From Washington State University…in partnership with Boeing

Incredible Pictures of the Caterpillars of New England – I’m going to keep a sharper lookout for caterpillars in our area this summer….get subjects for photography because they don’t move very fast!

Spring Break Goes Wild(life) – Cool Green Science – Lots of places to go in the spring – other than a southern beach.

High-Fiber Diet Shifts Gut Microbes, Lowering Blood Sugar in Diabetics -  If this pans out, they need to get it out to doctors treating patients with type 2 diabetes rather than focusing on all the new (and somewhat expensive) drugs that can have side effects.

The Metamorphosis of Butterflies – A 5-minute video from TED-Ed.

A Place for Pollinators: Bees and Butterflies call National Monuments Home – At Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, a 4-year study found 650 unique bee species from 54 genre of native bees, 3 of which were new to the state of Utah. We need pollinators like native bees for the rest the ecosystem to continue! We should strive to keep the special places (not pockets) of species diversity to not only to sustain our planet…but to help it regenerate. The people alive today are the stewards of the future Earth.

Gleanings of the Week Ending December 30, 2017

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 #118 – National Geographic Society – As usual – I can’t resist bird pictures. So many birds….all around the world.

Learning Center Classes and Field Excursions — North Cascades Institute – I’m adding this to my list of places to check out when I get round to planning a vacation in the US Pacific Northwest.

Ancient Maya Heritage Comes Alive...With Some Help from Google and the British Museum | Smart News | Smithsonian and the Preserving Maya Heritage Site – Be prepared to spend some time with the second link if you are interested in Mayan culture at all.

The Woman Who Shaped National Geographic – A short biography of Eliza Scidmore….writer and photographer.

Shutdown of coal-fired power plant results in significant fetal health improvement in downwind areas -- ScienceDaily – A study close to home…a power plan in Pennsylvania…the health impact happened down wind of the plant in New Jersey. An example of the need for multi-state studies (and Federal involvement) …and another reason to reduce generation of electricity using coal-fired plants.

NASA Unveils Finalists for Its Next New Frontiers Mission | Smart News | Smithsonian - A mission to Saturn’s moon Titan (from Applied Physics Lab) and a sample-return mission to a comet (from Cornell). Both projects will be funding through the end of 2018…then one will be chosen.

Bees use invisible heat patterns to choose flowers -- ScienceDaily – Heat pattern on such flowers as poppies and daisies can be 4-5 degrees warmer than the rest of the flower!

BBC - Future - Educationism: The hidden bias we often ignore – Some idea on how to improve: acknowledge that bias exists and use assessment as a tool for education (how to improve) rather than for selection. It turns out that many factors beyond an individual’s control can hinder potential.

Tiny red animals dart in the dark under the ice of a frozen Quebec lake -- ScienceDaily – A surprise for winter researchers – previously the assumption was that everything was on hold during the winter.

Five Surprising Ways Your Christmas Tree Can Give Back Long After the Holidays – Cool Green Science – Maybe there are other things to do with a ‘real’ Christmas tree after the holiday.

Gleanings of the Week Ending November 25, 2017

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.

Millions of Free Botanical Illustrations from the Biodiversity Heritage Library – I look at a lot of books digitized by the Biodiversity Heritage Library via Internet Archive – but their Flickr Account is a good way to see images – lots of them. And it isn’t just botanical. There are birds and insects and mammals and people that study them!

Gorging on Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week #112, #113, #114 - Three of them!

The Ultimate Guide to the Wild Turkey and The Fascinating Behavior of Wild Turkeys and Tracing the Wild Origins of the Domestic Turkey – Lots of articles about wild turkeys came out before Thanksgiving. These were my favorites.

BBC - Future - How popcorn became a much-loved snack – Learn a little fun history. Who doesn’t like popcorn?

A Short History of the Crosswalk | Smart News | Smithsonian – Another little history of something that is now quite common. Crosswalks didn’t exist until 1951!

Best National Parks – There are a lot of preferences! How many of the 10 ‘most visited’ have you seen. I’ve been to 7 of them. I’ve only been to 1 of the ‘least visited.’

Urban Refuge: How Cities Can Help Rebuild Declining Bee Populations - Yale E360 – Some examples of how urban gardens impact bee populations; it turns out they are measurably positive! 13% of New York State’s bees were found in New York City community gardens.

Paper Engineer Creates Magnificent Pop-Up Cards – Beautiful and fun to watch opening (i.e. the video).

Stunning 100-Megapixel Moon Photograph Created from NASA Images – From the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter…my daughter helped do the initial image calibration on LRO bak in 2009

See a Brilliant Blue Butterfly Take Flight for the First Time – A video of a blue morpho butterfly emerging from its chrysalis and tumbling to its first flight (it may take time to start…but it’s worth the wait!

Gleanings of the Week Ending October 21, 2017

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.

What’s With That Dam? : The National Wildlife Federation – We got to Conowingo to see bald eagles….so I was interested in learning more about it. Evidently - the dam’s current impact on the Chesapeake Bay is not a positive one.

On Bee-ing – Cool Green Science – About the Minnesota Bee Atlas.

Stunning Video Captures Humpback Whales Catching Fish with Nets of Bubbles | Smart News | Smithsonian – I’d heard of this phenomenon but the video is still thrilling! Well work the 40 seconds!

How honeybees read the waggle dance -- ScienceDaily – The field trip the Howard County Conservancy does for 3rd graders includes a segment on the waggle dance….so I read this article to find out more about it….both the history of its discovery and the current research on the neurons responding to the dance.

Bathtub Bloodbath, 1793 | The Scientist Magazine® - A famous painting of Jean-Paul Marat murdered in his bath…what he was before his revolutionary activities.

Adaptation as Acceptance: Toward a New Normal in the Northwoods – Cool Green Science – Forests are changing – with climate change and invasive insects like emerald ash borer and woolly adelgid culling some trees that were, until recently, common in our forests. There is a grief for those lost trees that will not make a comeback. This article is about finding hope via adaptation. The forest will be different…but still forest.

Meet the Transgenic Silkworms That Are Spinning out Spider Silk | The Scientist Magazine® - Spider silk combines elasticity and strength but has been difficult to produce. Now the fiber is produced by silkworms and the increased availability makes it viable for a host of applications. It will be interesting to observe how the market develops.

Treetop Walkway Provides an Elevated Path Through Danish Forest – What an awesome way to observe a forest!

National Mall and Memorial Parks – Hope the laser ablation of the biofilm on the Jefferson Memorial works as well as the test spot. The dome has gotten a lot grayer over the years from ‘biofilm.’

Seeing Big Changes in Baltimore: The National Wildlife Federation Blog – Hurray for the schools and students in Baltimore provided wildlife habitat!