Jack Frost was Here

This morning it was below freezing. It’s been said that Nature was the first artist.

And so she painted in frost on my deck railing!

It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp winter air is full of it. – John Burroughs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness. – John Steinbeck

Winter is a glorious spectacle of glittering fractals complete with a soundscape and atmosphere entirely its own. – Anders Swanson

 

 

 

Fall Equinox

Fall 2018 is arriving with a blast.

Last night the breeze began to build. Tree branches danced to and fro. It rained overnight. This last summer morning, the warm season is letting us know she is not happy to have to step aside. Her winds tell us so.

This evening fall will officially arrive. The equinox is said to yield equal number of daylight and dark hours.

But as daylight hours dwindle, we have something pleasant to witness. The earth brings out her colors.

Full Blood Moon, Buck Moon, Here Comes an Eclipse!

Today’s superstar is the full moon, and this one is being hailed as the longest lunar eclipse of the century!

That’s a lot of hype. Sadly, the eclipse won’t be visible in the United States, because it takes place during daylight here. But it should be exciting for people in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and South America, who should see a reddish moon.

That’s where the name Blood Moon comes in. Any moon in eclipse typically looks reddish, so it’s always called a Blood Moon.

The July full moon is also called the Buck Moon, referring to the time that deer start to shed their antlers. Other names for the July moon are Thunder Moon and Hay Moon.

Whatever we call it, our moon is deeply tied to our rhythms and cultures on earth.

Low-Low Tide

A couple weeks ago, we had some super low tides in Seattle. It’s always fun to go out and explore the exposed shoreline. This time, the vistas were amazing!

My photos were taken from the West Seattle neighborhood, which lies on a large peninsula across Elliott Bay from downtown. The tide was at -3.7.

Normally, this area is completely covered.
This little pier now allows a new view from below!

The normal view!

 

Usual view from the top of the pier.

 

Egg case of moon snail
Another egg case

Anemone
Jellyfish

Full Moon, Empty Strawberry Bowl

The June Full Moon is called the Strawberry Moon. The Algonquin tribes associated this moon with the gathering of strawberries.

The June Full Moon is also known as the Rose Moon, Honey Moon, and Mead Moon. Perhaps it is the time of collecting honey, picking roses and making mead.

I have not noticed a pink hue to the moon in the past couple days. The night before it was officially full, I gazed upon a lovely, if not ominous, moon surrounded by swirly clouds. I especially liked the way the moon was lighting up the clouds around it.

I quickly shot a bunch of hand-held photos. Not sharply in focus, they do not need to be. Think of them as atmospheric, dreamy.

On the following night of the real full moon, I looked out and saw a crystal clear white moon, with no clouds. Not as interesting, so I did not shoot it.

Strawberry moon? I have been waiting for my strawberries to ripen. They seem late and not many so far this June.

True, we have had cooler, cloudy weather, but I usually am harvesting many berries by now.

There is promise: strawberry blossoms and unripened fruit.

June Bug

It’s officially June! I found this ten-lined June bug, or June beetle, right next to my front door! That was really strange, because just minutes before I was singing a line from a Lucinda Williams song that goes “June bug versus the hurricane…”

I had only seen one of these beetles in my yard once before.

This large beetle is a member of the scarab family. The grubs live underground and feed on plant roots. the adults feed on plant foliage. There are several varieties of beetles called June bugs and they all look different. Another common one is a large green one.

I’m glad this attractive one came to visit. I discovered that they hiss!

A Pigeon by Any Other Name

We call them pigeons. Birders have called them rock doves. Apparently now, the powers that be in the bird world have declared them to be rock pigeons.

One of the most familiar birds worldwide, these chunky, multicolored birds have adapted so well that we can find them in cities and farm fields, in parks and on rocky cliffs. They are members of the Columbidae family, along with all other pigeons and doves.

Their natural diet includes seeds and fruits, but they’re excellent scavengers, loitering in places where people gather and tend to drop morsels that can be snatched. They are equally creative in using various spaces for their nests.
Pigeon skills in navigation and homing proved valuable during World Wars I and II, when they were used by the U.S. Army Signal Corps to carry messages.

Numbers Declining

Though pigeons seem ubiquitous, the North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) estimates that the population has declined by almost 50 percent since 1966. The survey is a long-term, large-scale cooperative effort of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and the Canadian Wildlife Service.

The program began in 1966, led by Chandler Robbins, a researcher at Patuxent and good friend of Rachel Carson, who penned the landmark book Silent Spring. Her book alerted the world to the effects of pesticides on bird populations, but was considered quite controversial when it was published. Robbins died in 2017, just short of his 99th birthday. He was a renowned ornithologist and often birded with Carson. You can read more about them at http://www.rachelcarson.org/mChanRobbins.aspx

The BBS continues to be an important tool in avian research and the formation of conservation programs.

The global population of pigeons is estimated at 120 million and though declining in North America, they are not currently a species of concern.

Watching pigeon behavior can be a fun past time. Recently while waiting at a bus stop in downtown Seattle, I watched a group of them ambling about. It’s fun to make your own narrative of what’s going on.

Forming a strategy
Gone to the dark side
Walking the line
Going their separate ways