Our Window on Nature

. . . exploring the world around us

A Long Winter’s Nap

Filed under: Reptiles — Lowell Christie -- January 14, 2016 @ 7:12 pm

WoodfrogCold weather and shorter days often mean spending more time indoors, choosing warmer clothing and, for those of us fortunate enough to travel year-round, migrating to warmer climes.  The animals we watch face similar problems, and in some cases escape the cold in similar ways.  Some migrate each year, while many grow a warmer coat.  But some have another way to escape frigid temperatures and decreasing food supplies.  They hibernate.

Hibernation can be difficult to define precisely; it’s not so much an extended sleep as the way an animal’s body reacts to the environment.  An extreme drop in body temperature and metabolism lowers the energy requirements needed to sustain life.  Sometimes this change extends over weeks or months, but it can also happen during a single night.  (The word torpor is typically used for shorter periods of inactivity.) (Read the rest …)

Whatever the Weather

Filed under: Weather — Lowell Christie -- January 7, 2016 @ 4:18 pm

StormWhether you travel occasionally or live in a recreational vehicle full time, the weather is your constant companion, dictating many of your activities. I suppose you could say that non-travelers have a slight advantage, since the weatherman is probably talking about their specific location, and if he is wrong, most of their activities take place indoors. But as travelers, we have more fun.

While one-day weather forecasts for a specific location are around 75% accurate, as you move around the country it would be nice to improve on that number. You can, by being observant and by understanding more about this subject we talk about so much. A closer look at this phenomenon and an examination of a few of the more accurate weather sayings will help you become your own weather forecaster. (Read the rest …)

A Rose By Any Other Name

Filed under: Flowers — Lowell Christie -- December 12, 2015 @ 4:51 pm

RoseIn our many years of travel we’ve always enjoyed foraging for wild foods – often native plants but sometimes escapees from civilization just like us.  In order to safely eat some of the items that others would consider just part of the scenery we’ve had to give ourselves a crash course in botany, learning to identify families of plants and discovering which ones tend to have edible species.

To our continuing enjoyment we’ve found that many of the easiest to identify, and often the most beautiful when in bloom, were related to the rose.  What may surprise you is how many “roses” you already know.  Robert Frost said it well in the first lines of his poem The Rose Family.

The rose is a rose,

And was always a rose.

But the theory now goes

That the apple’s a rose,

And the pear is, and so’s

The plum, I suppose. (Read the rest …)

Finding Frost Flowers

Filed under: Plants — Lowell Christie -- November 24, 2015 @ 12:57 pm

Frost_flower_closeupWe intentionally schedule many of our activities to the rapidly passing dates of the calendar. Early spring is for chasing birds, but it soon competes with photographing wildflowers. Early summer and we head for the beach (or the shore if we’re in the east.) Early fall finds us marveling at the changing colors, watching as leaves drop from the deciduous trees. And this year early winter has us looking for frost flowers.

No, not the artwork Jack Frost leaves on a windowpane after a cold winter night. These frost flowers are associated with the plant world, although they appear long after everyone expects the flowering season to be over. Frost flowers materialize from plants that appear to be dead or dying, but they rival the beauty of springtime blossoms. (Read the rest …)

Nature By The Numbers

Filed under: Others,Plants — Lowell Christie -- November 1, 2015 @ 6:55 pm

PineconeAs a child, did you play counting games as you plucked the petals off a flower? One – she loves me, two – she loves me not. Did you know that the probabilities are high that you’ll end on an odd number? In fact, if I can identify the plant, I can almost guarantee the outcome.

Perhaps the originators of this pastime were just lucky. Or maybe they actually knew about the regularity of numbers in nature. Most flowers have an odd number of petals. In fact, in the majority of flowers, the petal total equals one of the numbers in a series found throughout nature. (Read the rest …)

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