Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Garden

Annual cicadas buzz in the early light
Dew sparkles across the lawn
The heady smell of lilies blooming by the cabin
Corn tassels tremble in the slightest breeze
Releasing their pollen to drift across fresh pink silk

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A dark and silent night

An obsidian sky,
Stars cold and steady.

Not a breeze stirs,
Not a single insect calls.

Monday, July 15, 2013

My Life's Theme Songs - age 14 to present

These are the theme songs of my life, arranged in chronological order by approximate age. Some day I may explain each one - the reasons are not as apparent as you might think.
Age 14 - The Joker, The Steve Miller Band
Age 18 - I'll Be Home, Randy Newman
Age 22 - She Blinded Me with Science, Thomas Dolby
Age 23 - The Coldest Night of the Year, Bruce Cockburn
Age 24 - The Boys of Summer, Don Henley
Age 25 - Holding Back the Years, Simply Red
Age 29 - Following, The Bangles
Age 30 - Manic Monday, The Bangles
Age 35 - You Were Mine, Dixie Chicks
Age 40 - Lord of the Starfields, Bruce Cockburn
Age 45 - All The Ways I Want You, Bruce Cockburn
Age 46 - Closer to Believing, Greg Lake (Emerson, Lake & Palmer)
Age 46 - Lend Your Love to Me Tonight, Greg Lake (ELP)
Age 47 - Someone I Used to Love, Bruce Cockburn
Age 49 - Overkill (Acoustic), Colin Hay
Age 50 - Deepest Part of Me, Dougie MacLean
Age 51 - Beautiful World, Colin Hay
Age 52 - Waiting for My Real Life to Begin, Colin Hay

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

That weed is not a giant dandelion!

This summer I noticed what looked like a bunch of giant dandelion seed heads on the side of the field near our mail box. But it isn't a dandelion at all. What I was looking at we're the seed heads of Salsify or Goatsbeard. Tragopogon is a genus of flowering plants in the sunflower family (Asteraceae). Some species, such as the Purple Salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius) have edible taproots. The young shoots and leaves can also be eaten. According to Wikipedia, the taste of Purple Salsify root .is described as having the taste of oysters (hence the alternative common name "oyster plant" for some species in this genus), but more insipid with a touch of sweetness."

I'll have to keep a watch out next spring to see this plant in bloom so I can figure out what species we have growing along our roadside.

Photos copyright Michael R. Martin
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The Crab Spider - expert camouflage but for what purpose?

The female crab spider is a master of camouflage, with the ability to switch its color to match the flower on which it sits over a period of several days. The one we commonly see blending into flowers is of the genus Thomisus. Now scientists are wondering why they bother.

Science News (reported by Wired Magazine) reports that "Contrary to the textbook scenario, though, a white spider on a white flower doesn’t catch more prey than a white spider moved to a yellow flower, researchers report online November 3 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Nor does a yellow spider on a yellow flower get a color-coordination bonus, says study coauthor Rolf Brechbühl of the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. He and his colleagues reached this conclusion after videotaping some 2,000 occasions when an insect buzzed over to a flower that held a spider. Sitting on a bloom ready to pounce on pollinators, the spider supposedly shifts to match her background by switching between white and yellow. To human eyes, she looks as if she’s becoming harder for her prey to see."

"Another possible direction — protection from the spider’s own predators — also doesn’t look encouraging in the new study. Brechbühl says that his research focused on spider prey, but he points out that all this videotaping took place in a field with plenty of birds and other possible menaces around. Even though he frequently moved spiders to flowers of the wrong color, he recorded only one predator (a bird) nabbing a spider."

So, once again, nature amazes and confounds us. But it sure is beautiful and wonderful.
Credits: Photo copyright Michael R. Martin
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