Archive for the ‘Nature Study’ Category
I know I’ve been singing this song for a long time, y’all, but it’s bad, bad, bad and getting worse.
Soaring Bee Deaths in 2012 Sound Alarm on Malady – NYTimes.com
“They looked so healthy last spring,” said Bill Dahle, 50, who owns Big Sky Honey in Fairview, Mont. “We were so proud of them. Then, about the first of September, they started to fall on their face, to die like crazy. We’ve been doing this 30 years, and we’ve never experienced this kind of loss before.”
When beekeepers and scientists first starting investigating colony collapse disorder, causes were uncertain. Rowan Jacobsen’s excellent book, Fruitless Fall, explores possible reasons. (Here’s one of my many posts about the book.)
Five years later, we have a much clearer idea of exactly what is happening, and it’s very bad news.
But many beekeepers suspect the biggest culprit is the growing soup of pesticides, fungicides and herbicides that are used to control pests.
While each substance has been certified, there has been less study of their combined effects. Nor, many critics say, have scientists sufficiently studied the impact of neonicotinoids, the nicotine-derived pesticide that European regulators implicate in bee deaths.
The explosive growth of neonicotinoids since 2005 has roughly tracked rising bee deaths.
Neonics, as farmers call them, are applied in smaller doses than older pesticides. They are systemic pesticides, often embedded in seeds so that the plant itself carries the chemical that kills insects that feed on it.
The pesticide is embedded in the seeds. I posted to another piece on this topic this last week, and these are just a couple of the many anxious reports I’ve picked up on my bee wire (Google Alerts, when they’re working) in the past few months. I know I’m probably preaching to the choir here, but I implore you to read up on this issue, if you haven’t yet, and to spread the word far and wide. If we lose the bees, we lose the world as we know it.
Forest Has a Song by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, illustrated by Robbin Gourley.
My name is Rilla. I am 6. Mommy read Forest Has a Song to me. I think that It Is really pretty poetry and i also think that deer are pretty too. I really love nature. And deer are one of my favorite animals and it said a lot about deer. In the picture of the fiddlehead ferns, I really like the pattern of the colors. And the fossil looks so realistic. When I grow up i want to be an illustrator like Robbin Gourley. And also, i love the Spider poem and the Dusk poem. I love the never-tangling dangling spinner part. And I love baby animals. They’re so cute and fluffy when they’re birds at least.
One of my favorites is “Farewell.” How it says “I am Forest.”
(Doggone spellcheck. She made me correct all her invented spellings—the red dots under her words tipped her off. Then again, “rhille priddy powatre” might have been hard for you to parse. Also, of course, recognizing that a word just looks wrong is a big step toward learning to spell and I can’t very well stand in the way of that progress just because the invented stuff is adorable.)
As for the book, I wholeheartedly agree with Rilla’s review. What a gorgeous, gorgeous volume. The poems sometimes wistful, sometimes whimsical, always lyrical. Beautiful for reading aloud, full of delicious internal rhyme and alliteration. And infectious: I predict a lot of original nature poetry in our future. This collection begs you to take a fresh look at the world around you and see the magic of the curled fern frond, the mushroom spore. Of course I’ve been a fan of Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s work for years.
I can’t imagine a more perfect pairing for Amy’s poems than Robbin Gourley’s art. Lush watercolors, rich and soft. I kept coming across pages I’d like prints of. Actually, this is exactly the kind of book where you want a second copy for cutting up and framing. (If you can bear to. I always think I’d like to do that, but the one time I actually bought a spare copy for this purpose—Miss Rumphius—I couldn’t, in the end, bring myself to dismantle it.)
Beanie’s favorite poem was “Forest News”—
I stop to read
the Forest News
in mud or fallen snow.
Articles are printed
by critters on the go…
—which she loved for its intriguing animal-tracks descriptions, its sense of fun, and its kinship with her favorite Robert Frost poem, “A Patch of Old Snow.” (“It is speckled with grime as if / Small print overspread it, / The news of a day I’ve forgotten — / If I ever read it,” writes Frost, perusing a somewhat more somber edition of the woodsy chronicle.)
Wonderboy’s favorite was the puffball poem, and he later wrote (in his customary stream-of-consciousness style) this string of impressions the book made on him: “dead branch warning and woodpecker too dusk burrow in a burrow chickadee sit on my hand and come fly here”…
Truly beautiful work, Amy and Robbin.
Related post: The Poem House
December 10, 2012 @ 9:14 am | Filed under: Nature Study
Loaded my own pictures; they weren’t as blurry as I expected. Think we’ve got a positive ID on that white-tailed kite. A new one for my lifetime birding list!
Reposting Rose’s photo (the best of the lot by far) so we’ll have them all together:
White-Tailed Kite info
Rose caught this rather wonderful shot yesterday, just down the street from our house. I missed it—I’d been out there gawping at the hawk (ID, anyone? its coloring is throwing me off—could it possibly be a white-tailed kite?)* and had snapped a few wobbly pix, using Beanie’s head as a tripod, but then I ran back to the house to take over stirring the marshmallows Jane was melting for Rice Krispie treats, so she could have a turn. The mobbing crow came along just after I left. Well done, Rose.
*UPDATE: yes, we think so!
The marshmallow treats were this year’s double-birthday feast, in lieu of a cake. My guys had a great day. At Scott’s request, we had a family reading of The Tempest (Act 1; we’ll continue on future Sundays). Rilla did us proud; she gave a splendid cold reading of the role of Ariel (with some vocab coaching from Rose, who prefers to stage manage). Scott was Prospero, Beanie read Miranda, and Jane and I split the other parts between us. I got to ham it up as the old boatswain, so I was happy.
Books read over the weekend:
Tippy-Tippy-Tippy Hide by Candace Ransom, illustrated by G. Brian Karas
Mr Pusskins: A Love Story by Sam Lloyd
Hist Whist by ee cummings (a Halloween book, yes, but a year-round Rilla favorite)
Cranford (happy sigh)
In the garden:
Roses in bloom, cosmos & poppy seedlings thriving, cape honeysuckle glorious, freesia and daffodil bulbs coming up. And the rain lilies, too, I think.
November 30, 2012 @ 6:29 pm | Filed under: Nature Study, Photos
The parrots rushed up out of the schoolyard tree and I tried to capture them—the vivid emerald wings against the blue, such a sight!—but my camera couldn’t manage their color and their speed, not at the same time.
I love the story, quite probably true, that these birds are descendants of some long-ago escapees. You run into them all over town; you’ll be riding along with your windows down and realize, suddenly, that you’re shouting to be heard above the din, and one of the children will cry out, “Oh, the parrots!” and everyone cranes necks to find the raucous green sky-ballet troupe. This time of year, they seem to favor our neighborhood, especially the giant Moreton bay fig tree just the other side of our backyard fence. They annoy our crows, who nest there. The crows flap up in a huff and scowl down from the power lines. The parrots just laugh.
This is Huck’s current favorite read-aloud. I grabbed it from the library on impulse a couple of weeks ago—we’re short on fall color here, and the cover appealed to me, but I didn’t expect it to grab the three-year-old’s attention. Shows what I know. The kid is smitten. He thinks it’s called “All Dem Leaves.”
The bold images on the cover are a good foretaste of what’s inside. We’ve spent many happy moments poring over these bright leaves, matching their shapes to their names. Turns out we have a lot of sweet gum trees on our street—almost the only sparks of autumnal foliage we see here. (Mind: we’re not complaining. 70-degree weather and soaring blue skies. I’m content to satisfy my fall-color longings with children’s books.)
Rilla’s a fan of the book too—it ties in quite serendipitously to the fun we’ve been having with the Trees of England course over at Memrise. (By golly, I know my horse chestnut from my blackthorn now.)
Most of you probably live in places where the gold and scarlet has been stripped from the branches by now, in late November. (Jiminy crickets, it’s late November. I’m quaking.) This recommendation may come a bit late; we’ll all be in Holly and Ivy mode soon. But if you’re not ready to let go of autumn, you might enjoy a ramble through these colorful woods.
November 13, 2012 @ 9:01 am | Filed under: Links, Nature Study, Photos
This one’s for my kids, because they like adorable cuddly creatures like this.
The 13 Scariest Freshwater Animals in the World — National Geographic.
This one’s for me, because I love adorable cuddly creatures like this.
September 14, 2012 @ 4:07 pm | Filed under: Nature Study
(This one’s for me. The more scattered-across-many-networks my internet life becomes, the more important it seems to archive things here, where I will always be able to find them.)
She says nature study is her favorite part of the day. It isn’t an everyday thing—not the journaling, I mean—just once or twice a week. She especially loves the “talking part,” the part where we look at (smell, touch, sometimes taste) a sprig of this or that, studying it closely, discussing its characteristics. “So,” she’ll say, with the same inflection used by my elderly neighbor back in Queens, no nonsense, ready to dish. “So. Let’s look, Mommy.” I ask leading questions: leaf shape, growth pattern, texture, scent. She peers closely, so serious. And then suddenly in the midst of all this Careful Observation she’ll flash a grin: “This is awesome.”
“Alternating leaf pattern. It was hard.”
“It was [a] pattern too.”
(And lest this sound too perfect, let me add for the record that none of her sisters demonstrated much interest in nature journaling past the age of, oh, maybe eight or so. They all moved on to other pursuits. Which is fine! I have marveled at every age. Six is delicious, and fleeting, and full of wonder. I’m savoring it.)