It’s gray and gloomy today, belying the unseasonably warm weather (which refuses to give us a drop of much-needed moisture!), so I went in search of a cheery image to brighten the day. I selected a photo of sedum that’d bloomed in the front yard last summer.
June 10, 2021
I then went in search of a quote to accompany my photo, but was unsuccessful. Instead, I learned that sedum roofs are quite popular in other parts of the world. Sedum has a very shallow root system and not only that, “The metabolism of Sedum differs from other plants. At night, carbon dioxide is absorbed through the stomata and converted into malic acid. During the day, under the influence of sunlight, the malic acid is decomposed and photosynthesis takes place. The stomata in the leaves are only open at night. During the hot and dry day, moisture loss is minimized.” How cool is that?! And how beautiful is this roof?
My new dream is to live in a little cottage covered by a sedum roof.
Funny how something is an instant “known” and then, upon closer examination, can turn into an “unknown.” For example, this insect I photographed back in August while visiting the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. Clearly a grasshopper, right?
August 20, 2021
Well, I just went down the proverbial rabbit hole in an attempt to more specifically identify the type of grasshopper. I’m admitting defeat. Apparently, there are over 100 species of grasshopper in Colorado and to my eye, the markings on their legs are quite similar.
On the other hand, this immediately “unknown” insect was quickly identified via an online search as Tetraopes texanus, otherwise known as the Milkweed Beetle. Oddly, this particular beetle is not on a milkweed (and no, I’m not even going to try to identify this plant).
On this cold, damp, gray November afternoon, I’m basking in the warm memories of that visit to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge where keen eyes reap intriguing rewards.
I took this photo at our campsite last month and just now when I went to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology site to verify my identification (Gray Jay), learned that Gray Jays are a thing of the past. In 2018, the American Ornithological Society voted to change the name from Gray Jay to Canada Jay.
What else did I learn?
“The Canada Jay stores large quantities of food for later use. It uses sticky saliva to glue small food items to tree branches above the height of the eventual snow line.”
Now that’s thinking ahead!
I wanted to express my magpie love today and went in search of a fun fact about this member of the corvid family. Guess what you call a group of magpies? A parliament.
However, my research didn’t reveal what the parliamentary procedure is for one magpie reuniting with the rest of the gang.
Our guest next to Zippy’s hand for scale.
I spent the afternoon working in the yard in preparation for the winter storm and below-freezing temperatures on the way. I cut back perennials and chopped up greens to add to our two compost tumblers and standing bin. Zippy joined me after his bike ride and made the plants from his vegetable garden compost-ready. As he stood over the bin and chopped up tomato plants, he discovered a guest he’d been dreading all summer: a tomato hornworm.
He showed me and said his friend had told him that hornworms turned into swallowtail butterflies. That didn’t sound right so I checked. In fact, tomato hornworms turn into the five-spotted hawkmoth. Either way, that’s quite the transformation. (I do think it’s kinda too bad the horn gets lost along the way.)
Solitary crow seen through my kitchen window, December 2015.
Every time I see or hear a crow, I smile.
I stop what I’m doing so that I can watch what it’s doing.
Because, crows are smart.
Crows sometimes make and use tools.
Examples include a captive crow using a cup to carry water over to a bowl of dry mash; shaping a piece of wood and then sticking it into a hole in a fence post in search of food; and breaking off pieces of pine cone to drop on tree climbers near a nest.
Crows are that smart.
Wouldn’t smart be a nice change?
Also? Crows maintain extended families and communities.
And wouldn’t responsibility to community feel really nice right about now?
Chances are high that if Marcel is purring, Marcel is also drooling.
“In my defense, I’d like to point out that I’m drool-free in this pic.”