Friday, July 30, 2010

Sky Watch Friday

Towering Cumulus

cumulus:  meteorological use for "rounded mass of clouds" first attested 1803.

The sky is amazing, always changing,
very telling,
and you can see more skies
by clicking HERE!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Reindeer Moss

Nestled among the rocks and low growing plants of the alpine and boreal regions of the continent, Reindeer Moss (Cladina rangiferina) peeks out through the greens and browns with its frosty white, bubbly-like mounds.

Upon closer inspection,

it's hardly bubble-like at all and is a silvery grey-green color!  Reindeer Moss is actually a lichen that can be found growing as far south as Florida, but abounds in the colder climates because it is exceptionally hardy and doesn't require much to sustain it's growth.  In some areas, it is considered rare and endangered.  Functioning in nature as a 'nitrogen fixer', it helps form new soil, stabilizes eroding soil, and helps form new habitat for other plants and animals.

Loaded with carbohydrates, vitamin A, and vitamin B, Reindeer Moss was thus named because it provides food and energy to reindeer and caribou during the harsh winter months, making up about 60 - 70% of their winter diet.  They can smell it through the snow!

Throughout history, Reindeer Moss has been used as a tea, to thicken soups and desserts,  and as a traditional medicine for treating kidney stones, as well as a forest fire indicator. 

Reindeer Moss easily absorbs toxic atmospheric pollution and some environmentalists fear this will result not only in the elimination of the species, but in sickening the deer, the caribou, and the people who consume their meat.  Therefore, it can and, more importantly, should be taken more seriously as a global indicator of environmental health.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Nature Note Card Give-Away

I've wanted to have a give-away for some time now.  The quilt and stitchery blogs I follow have give-aways all the time, so why not have one on a nature blog?   Exactly!!  Why not?  I am so appreciative
of everyone who comes to visit!  Every comment on every post for the whole month of July will be entered into the random generator, and the comment-er that is chosen will recieve:

a set of six of my Eagle note cards. 

All my cards are handcrafted
and I use actual photographs in their construction.

Just a small thank you
to all of you who have given me such pleasure.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

It's a Bog's Life

I recently gave a guided walk through a portion of our Eco Trail to a small group of city folks. Accompanying me was a typcally over-active young boy who displayed his sense of adventure by romping, and climbing, and racing back and forth along the trail......

......until we got to the bog.   I was only too glad to spend some quality time with this young lad once I'd sparked his sense of wonder and we settled in to explore the world of insectivorous plants.  Because bogs lack the nitrogen and other nutrients necessary to support the growth of these plants, they have had to adapt by consuming bugs!

When approaching this special wetland habitat, the very first plants you notice are the Pitcher Plants (Sarracenia purpurea) because they stand so tall and red, like sentries guarding the tangle of lower lying plants.

The basal leaves are modified into cuplike pitchers.
You can just make them out at the base of the plants in the first picture.

Within this cup lies some treacherous territory if you are an insect!
Filled with water to entice a thirsty bug,
and lined with short downward growing hairs
to prevent it from climbing back out,
it is the perfect trap. 
The pitcher plant then excretes it's special enzymes
to break down it's tasty treat,
and digests the nitrogen-containing compounds.
There is a spider that can negotiate the maze of hairs, however, 
with whom the pitcher plant shares some of it's catch.

If you see Pitcher Plants, look closely around the surface of the bog
for the tiny little Sundews (Drocera spp.), my personal favorites.
There are three species of Sundews in Nova Scotia,
and if I'm not mistaken, those pictured here are Drosera rotundiflora

Each little droplet seen on the tiny hairs of this plant's leaves
is a sticky substance that traps the unsuspecting victim. 
Once immobilized, the leaves will curl around the bug,
and enzymes will break down the carcass into useful nutrients.

Here are the tiny, sweet, delicate blooms of the Sundew. 

Bogs are home to many more beautiful species
of plant life.  This post could stretch into tomorrow
if I showed one picture of each!


Friday, July 9, 2010

Another "Early Bird" Finish

Never having much success sewing on a curve, I came across the directions for a Glorified Nine Patch in the March/April 2008 Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting magazine.

Thinking that this curve, being on a larger scale,
might not be so difficult,
I flagged it for 'someday', and that someday is now!

Alone, it makes a sweet table topper,
(or a single sad and lonely placemat),
but why stop there?

Because my daughter loves bright colors,
and I used leftover Mary Englebreit fabric,
I kept cutting and sewing! 

IF I can stay focused on this project,  it will make
a nice set of 4 colorful placemats to put under her Christmas tree.
IF I can get these 3 finished, I'd like to buy
some purple and, maybe, yellow pin dot fabric,
and make 2 more!

Believe it or not, MORE PLACEMATS is on my list
of home decor items I'd like to have
in my house!

Thanks, Judith at Creative Studio, for the inspiration
and motivation to craft my Christmas gifts early!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Worthy Read (Natural History)

"The important thing about wilderness, any wilderness, is the effect it has on the human spirit.  Hiking a wilderness beach is different from hiking a resort beach, or even a national seashore beach where development is held to a minimum.  It has to do, I think, with the great value of seclusion, with places that are wild and remote and provide the illusion, if only for a few hours or a few days, of being untouched."  Salt Tide; Cycles and Currents of Life Along the Coast by Curtis J. Badger

My new favorite read, Salt Tide is written in tribute to the "eighteen separate islands buffering the shores of Virginia from the Atlantic Ocean, forming the last unspoiled barrier ecosystem on the East Coast".

Curtis Badger takes you on a journey of exploration and discovery into this diverse wilderness with meaningful and easy to understand text laced with his incredible gift of the sense of wonder.

A worthy read, and the price is right!

Wordless Wednesday - Second Hatching

American Robin
(Turdus migratorius)

Be sure to check out other Wordless Wednesday posts!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Early Bird Christmas Crafting

Judith at Creative Studio is hosting this fun Early Bird Christmas Crafting event, and this month we are to work on home decor.  Our assignment was to use our little Christmas journals that we made to list what we might like to see around our own homes, then to use this list as our guide when crafting for persons on our Christmas list.

So, I made my list, then got to work.  Today's finish is a 12" square table topper (quiltlet) based on a pattern from Joy at Patchalotpatterns.  I hand quilted a simple design, stitched a sleeve on the back just in case the recipient chooses to hang it instead, and voila! Of course, I made it in my color scheme because I just might decide to keep it!  It was fun and easy, and I think I might make at least one mo

I did, actually, make two.  A young friend of mine in Texas just gave birth, so I fussy cut one from leftover kids fabric and embroidered the baby's name and birthdate.  It came out adorable, but I was so excited to get it into the mail and on it's way, I forgot to take a picture!!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Camera Critters

American Goldfinch
(Spinus tristis)

Gathering plant down to use as nesting material,
this male must be helping out.
According to Kenn Kaufman's Lives of North American Birds,
the American Goldfinch nest is constructed by the female. 
The nest is a "solid, compact cup of plant fibers, spider webs,
plant down (especially from thistles)" and the nest is
"so well made that it may even hold water."

When not warbling, the vocalizations of the American Goldfinch
sound as though they are asking a question. 
Sometimes they go on, and on, and on,
asking their question
over and over and over again, 
until I feel compelled
to answer them!!


To visit more Camera Critters from all over the world,
Click HERE!