Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Some Drawings

Am. Hornbeam Seeds

Am. Cranberrybush Viburnum Fruits

Thursday, November 10, 2011

An Adventure!

Looking down at the accumulated hail-snow. 
So this afternoon, I set out for the homestead site (an original farmhouse ruin that's about 1/2 mile away from school) with a class of 3rd graders.  The first notable phenology event of the afternoon was that most of the kids in the class had snowpants, so the getting-ready time tripled from what it was yesterday.  And they needed those snowpants, too... if not for the snow, for the cold, which felt extreme.  It's currently 36 degrees, but with a windchill that makes it feel below freezing.  It's very windy.  I know that because these little ice pellets were being propelled straight into my face by that wind... and all those 3rd graders' faces... to the point where we truly could not even look up to see where we were going so we just had to stumble around with our hands protecting our faces.  Which froze even the most protected of fingers, and many of the tiny fingers weren't well-protected.  Seriously, OW!  I dressed properly so I really wasn't cold but I can still feel the pinpricks on my face!  Add on top of that the excitement factor that the first snow has for children, and let me tell you something.  These are not ideal conditions for teaching.  They are not ideal conditions for learning.  Ah, well.  It was an adventure!


Frozen Oak Leaf
In addition to crystallized puddles from last night's sub-freezing temperatures, this morning is graced with the season's first snow flurries.  Caught in wind tunnels, they spin and twirl, up down and around, never seeming to land... but they're definitely out there.  Mark it down.  11/10/11, first snow (flurries).

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Wormy Day

Though we're into November and we'd expect the earth worms to be digging in and entering estivation some time soon, today's soil-saturating rain has them coming out!  Just like on a spring day, the sidewalk is covered with worms this morning.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Today, an Observer

Despite my ramblings last week, when I went this morning to run in the same place, I took my camera. While I know it's not the case, there's a part of me that doesn't think things are quite as valid if I don't have PROOF that they happened. And I had to make a deal with myself... the camera was WOW! moments, not for stopping to take a picture of the wooly bears that are everywhere right now, or a milkweed seed pod whose fluff caught the morning sun in a special way. (You could argue that those are WOW! moments, too, but... you know what I mean.)

Sandhill cranes at the edge of the water. 
Anyhow, I did see sandhill cranes again, but the experience was not quite the same as last week's. I came upon a pair of them at the edge of a pond during a part of my run that was relatively crowded -- me, another runner, and a pair of walkers, all going at different speeds, all converged at this spot at the same time. Whether it was this or something else, the pair of cranes didn't stay long. Shortly after I snapped their photo, they spread their wings and took flight across the small pond and into the field, where they joined 4 other cranes. The six of them, presumably the same six birds from last week, jumped around for a few moments, called their primeval call, but they were far from me this time. Then two took off flying, and I ran on. I got an OK picture. I didn't get a connection, I didn't get to be a crane this week.

Almost more arresting were the geese. This morning was a goose morning. Geese really aren't a phenological harbinger of seasonal change the way they once were. In A Sand County Almanac, Leopold brilliantly described, in 1948, the Return of the Geese as an early sign of spring to which he looked forward every year. Now, geese pretty much stick around year long. It is my understanding that there is a small non-migratory population that sticks around all year, and then a larger migratory group. However, we have summer residents that migrate away, and I suspect we also have winter geese that send their summers way up in Canada and come here for the relief of aerated office park ponds than never freeze. Geese are so common that they've become pests... I wonder how Leopold would feel about the businesses that have sprung up whose sole purpose is to chase the geese away?!?
A flock of Canada Geese heading south.

Still... around this time of year and also in March, there is a whole lot of goose movement. On Friday night, I watched and listened as hundreds of them flew over in several groups, in front of a really spectacular backdrop of sun setting with a unique cloudscape. Unfortunately, I was observing from the parking lot of a Chase, with powerlines and a BOA in the foreground... so not so much a photographic moment. I'm not that good with photoshop. (I don't even have photoshop).

This morning, I saw similar numbers of geese in large groups heading in a generally southerly direction. Their calls are certainly not as eerie and haunting as the crane's, but in the numbers that they were in, it seemed to surround me. So that was kind of neat, too.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I'm ready...

... for daylight savings time to end!

The short days are becoming more oppressive.  This morning -- and please note, it was not an unusually early morning, I arrived at work at around 7 am same as always -- we drove to work in complete darkness.  It felt like the middle of the night.  At 7:30, it's only just beginning to lighten up behind the thick, low layer of clouds.  I know that this weekend's Fall Back means I'll be coming home in the dark, instead.  I'd rather just have longer days :) but given the latitude... If I have to choose, I'd choose to leave work at night, not arrive there at night!