Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Twelve-spotted skimmer

We've posted pictures of Libellula pulchella before [here, for example, and here], but it's been a while since we did dragonflies, and this shot by Jessa is a beauty, so we'll do this as a standalone.

Now is a great time of year for dragonflies, and a great time of year to be around water. Get out there!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Not quite Dover

This starts with a campsite where once there was a vast inland sea...

On our most recent visit to Verdigre Creek, we arrived late, found our traditional campsite occupied, and ended up at a secluded spot on the shores of Grove Lake. Exploring our surroundings the next morning, we found a chalk seam on a nearby hillside.

Right in the middle, about two-thirds of the way up the hill, was a red cedar growing straight and tall, its trunk no longer in contact with the ground but cantilevered by its root system.

The hillside was steep, and took some clambering...

...but reach the top we did, led by the indomitable Maxine.

And on top was a lovely little pocket prairie, dotted with sumac and a few dwarf oaks (whether bur oak or post, I couldn't say.)

It's possible this pocket meadow exists in part because of the chalk seam—calcareous soils being more capable of supporting grassland species than trees, this patch may have resisted the encroachment of the surrounding woods, an isolated but relatively undisturbed relict of what was once a vastly more extensive prairie.

[Little bluestem, with prairie coneflower and leadplant]

[Blue grama]





[Rough blazing star]

[Juniper (red cedar) berries]

But back to the chalk itself... There is a stairstep erosion pattern typical of chalk deposits [most evident in the sixth photo below] and some darker striations that may have been flint [first three photos]. Most of the holes in the chalk are, I believe, from roots of grasses, forbs, and (particularly along the edges) trees [see especially the sixth, eighth, and ninth photos below].

This small seam certainly isn't the White Cliffs of Dover—though it might have seemed that way to Max and Anya—but many of the same geological and ecological processes can be seen here on this miniature down.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Recursive sock-puppet torture

Somehow the conversation turned to "The Song That Never Ends".

J: "Oh my god, I hate that song. Do you have any idea how many times Heather would sing that just to annoy me?"

M: "Once?"

J: "You suck."

Monday, August 28, 2017

"The Feather King"

A little something for everyone in this little film: birds, fish, Darwin (who, after all, intensively studied variation and selection under domestication), and a bit of Colorado scenery. Meet the proprietor of Whiting Farms:

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

An open letter

To: The engineering firm of Newton, Kepler, & Halley


I write to congratulate you on the success of yesterday's programme. You will no doubt be pleased to know that the eclipse was very well received by the public, and while there were, inevitably, a few cynical detractors ("a hell of a lot of fuss for two minutes' shade" was overheard at one point during the festivities), their mutterings were lost among the huzzahs, the cheers of "bravo" and "bravissimo".

This positive reception emboldens me to make a suggestion, or at least a request. Now, I am aware that as engineers your primary concern is for the workings of the planetary system, that the beauty of mathematical truth must for you shine so much brighter than the merely aesthetic beauty experienced by the lay public, but the phenomenon is so ineffably pretty that...well, frankly, it's a pity it doesn't happen with greater frequency. I'm not asking you to move heaven and earth...no, on reflection, I suppose that's exactly what I'm asking...but might we do it again soon?


An appreciative citizen

Friday, August 18, 2017

Three days hence...

"Three days hence, there will be a day without a night...and a night without a day."

Here's hoping for a bit less swordplay...

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Carolina grown

Farmers' markets are a treat for the senses, and the big one in Durham, North Carolina is probably the best I've seen. A good day with friends Evelyn & Jeff from university days, and cousin Kristina. Fortunately, Jessa brought a camera to document the bounty of Carolina's farms in July.