Friday, January 29, 2010

Howlin' at the Moon

At 4 pm, the sky outside is clear blue, the sun low. The air is crisp, (euphemism for COLD). It's perfect weather for moon viewing, and tonight's is supposed to be special. The moon will not only be full, but super-sized! Tonight is a full perigee moon -- a full moon that coincides with the point in the moon's elliptical orbit when it is closest to the earth. This proximity will make the moon appear to be 14% larger and 30% brighter than any other full moon this year... Happy viewing!

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Well, the cold is back... and it's worse than before. At least, it seems worse. I think our weekend of warmth got us all wimpy and unaccustomed. Now that it's back down to the single digits, it seems unbearable for some reason. (And cold is more tolerable when there's snow -- which there is not right now. Just very treacherous ice in some spots.)

Yesterday in one of my classes, I had a student in a tank top. I mentioned that it was, you know, cold out, and she said, "Well, I'm ready for summer and this makes me think it's coming." OK... I'm ready for summer, too, but I'm still realistic enough to dress for the weather we have now. I suppose if that kid doesn't get pneumonia or something, it's a nice optimistic attitude. Or something.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Over the weekend, this blog turned 1 year old. I have now spent one entire trip around the sun internet-recording nature... one full cycle of leaves emerging, growing, photosynthesizing, turning colors, falling, and leaving branches bare... one full cycle of waking or arriving, mating, hibernating or leaving... there were insects come and gone, flashes of color as flowers bloomed and died...

Now it's time to decide where I'm going. I will keep on with the same thing -- I want to have accurate records, for one thing -- but I may add a bit more of Naomi's philosophizing. Not that I completely refrained before, but I have stayed away at times because of the purported purview of my blog. I might change that. (For one thing, it will give me something to write about -- if I have the time -- around now, when, let's be honest... not a lot is going on, phenologically. Although the temperature difference between yesterday and today is quite extreme. It's below freezing out there today!)

I'm not sure. Something to think about as time continues to march on.
But for now, Happy Birthday Nature Nerd Blog!!!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Rain, Rain, Go Away.

Rain. I'm watching the raindrops fall into puddles out the window. It's hypnotic. Rain, in the middle of January. It's supposed to be nearly 50 today. Crazy. All the remaining snow is melting. (And then get cold tomorrow and freeze.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Whooo's Out There?

Last night we went out looking for owls. We didn't see any, which is no great surprise given that "we" were a group of about 40 people -- students and parents. No matter how quiet you are, a group that big is going to scare off the wildlife.

We didn't scare off the heavens, though, and our evening walk was well worth our while in terms of astronomy. To the west, a waxing crescent moon was setting. The cloudless sky was populated with the creatures of legend... Orion the hunter and Sirius, his faithful dog. Taurus and the Pleiades, the princess Andromeda and her hero Perseus. Bears large and small. Auriga, the charioteer, which always reminds me not of a driver, but of a kitten of the same name with whom I once lived.

A lovely night...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

One-Sided Beauty

I awoke to a thick fog this morning -- whiteness outside the bedroom window. It left behind this lovely hoarfrost as the vapor in the air hit and froze upon whatever it ran into.

Friday, January 15, 2010


We are in the midst of what we used to call, in Minnesota, a J-thaw. Back in college, we used to love these week-long January thaws that came about once a year, when we would all unzip our coats as we walked across campus... feeling the warmth of the sun on our faces, even though it was still below 40 degrees... compared to how it had been for the past 2 months, that seemed positively balmy, and I truly remember feeling the warmth on my cheeks as surely as I now feel it that first warm week in April. Closing my eyes and turning my face skyward to feel the rays...

Now, I don't particularly like the J-thaws. For one thing, we get a whole lot more of them here. (We have a D-thaw, and a J-thaw, and an F-thaw. Sometimes more than one. And they last a long time. The end of this current one isn't in the forecast yet.) For another thing, we never know if we're going to get more snow after the thaw finally ends. Will we have to spend the next month and a half in the cold without the fun and prettiness of snow? When it's just brown and dirty and icky? Not cool.

Ah, well. For today there's still snow and I have prepare for my classes so I can take advantage of it (by Tuesday, I doubt I'll be able to!)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hanging Out

On the way to school...
A sliver of a crescent moon hung in a sky that went from "midnight blue" in the west -- all you Crayola crayon fans -- and faded to the sky blue of sunrise in the east. A star twinkled to the right of the moon, making it look like a storybook illustration. It was quite pretty.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Snow Trekking

Well, no sledding for us, but we did get out and take advantage of our snow day with a walk... well, trudge, sort of... through Rollins Savannah. Due to the winds, the snow had blown all over, creating waves and ripples. A better camera would probably have been in order to capture them, but here is an OK picture of some snow patterns:
The blowing snow meant that on the tops of hills, the snow was pretty shallow, but in lower areas or on the leeward side, there were some pretty deep areas. The deepest was about up to my waist, and luckily wasn't very large or I may have gotten stuck:
Eventually, tired from trailblazing through deep snow, I laid down at the base of a large bur oak tree...
This was my view from here:The sky was constantly changing while we were out. For a few brief moments, we even glimpsed blue. This is a neat time when the sky seemed to glow at the horizon. We also saw many deer tracks (some blown over) and many vole holes. We also saw a vole scurry across the trail and dig into the snow. I really wanted a photo of him, but was keeping my camera tucked inside my coat to avoid the problem of if freezing like last weekend. I couldn't get it out fast enough. I bent over and looked in the hole he had disappeared down, and he kept poking his head up, then disappearing, then poking his head up and disappearing again. But he never came back out. Can't blame him, really. I would have waited for us to leave, also.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Snow Day.

(Note: no exclamation mark in title. Read on to find out why.)

I am writing this from home. It's 8:15 on a Friday morning, and here I am. Yup. It's a snow day -- school is cancelled. Of course, somehow our phone tree failed and we never got a call about it. So we shoveled out and went to work and spent about 45 minutes there before realizing there were surprisingly few people around. (Not zero people... there were a few other teachers there who also didn't get called. This is why we didn't figure it out sooner.) Then we made some calls and found out school had been cancelled and most people got phone calls. So there's an hour and a half I'll never get back. I mean, the worst part of the day is waking up when it's dark and getting to school. Once there, things just start happening and time passes without us really noticing and sometimes we even have fun along the way. At this point, I don't even think I'll be able to nap.

As it turns out, the snow has stopped falling -- we probably got about 10 inches all told, but over 24 hours so not that bad -- and the roads aren't terrible. It's quite lovely out. Perhaps we'll take advantage and go sledding or something. At least take some photos to post. But first, I'm going to take a nap. (I got over that pretty fast, no?)

Happy snow day!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Snow Falling on Us

It's snowing, snowing, snowing... light and fluffy stuff, but it keeps coming... we're supposed to get over a foot, total. Not that I'm complaining -- weren't there places in New York that got snow for 9 straight days or something?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Following Along

Some tracks from today... above, tiny vole tracks lead to a hole. There were a LOT of vole tracks above the snow today. I'm not sure why they spent so much time above their subnivean comfort zone, exposed to both the elements and the predators...

Below, a midden pile of Osage orange remains after a squirrel finished dining.


Sunset over housing development. Lovely colors as we left work last night.
Also, kids were playing on the ice (which has been thick enough to do so for several days now).

Monday, January 4, 2010

Sunny Side Up

Sunrise: 7:21 am
Naomirise: 5:35 am

Does anyone else see a problem with this!?!?

I have enjoyed my break, but I sure wish it were longer! I love my job, I do... but any place you are required to be for at least 9-10 hours a day, 5 days a week -- including ALL LIGHT HOURS IN THE DAY -- is going to cause some amount of resentment...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year's Cold

Yesterday, in the middle of our cold snap, we went to the botanic gardens to see the indoor exhibits and wander around some of the outdoor gardens. Unfortunately, this is the only picture from the day... it turns out, the camera got too cold to function properly after just a short while! That used to happen to me when I lived in MN, but that was several cameras ago. This was the first time I'd had it happen with this one. Honestly, I tried to take one other, but I'm not sure I would have made much of a photo chronicle... although I was dressed warmly enough, I didn't see a whole lot because I was bundled to the point of not being able to move my head side to side or even look up!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Blue Moon

Last night's full moon -- the blue moon (see previous post) -- was lovely as it rose large through the bare tree branches and made its way to the top of the sky as the new year approached. I watched it through the window as the evening progressed. It was a beautiful backdrop for a night of delicious food, wonderful friends, and brain-testing fun. And now, on to a day that is sunny to the point of sparkling.

I hope everyone out there has a happy new year! I'm not much for resolutions, really. My friend Jamie has, in the past, blogged about resolutions endlessly -- 10 or 15 detailed things to work on, which she will then seriously analyze in terms of progress. They are the only blog entries she writes that are so long that I haven't had the patience to read them all. This year, hers is short and sweet. "Bee less grumpy." I can get on board with that... (but no promises, people. I said I'm not much for resolutions, at least not at such a random time as New Year's...)