Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Adapt, naturally

Several days ago we closed the storm windows. They're now covered with condensation as moisture escapes in the hot air from the house to be collected on the inside of the colder storm window pane. As the temperatures continue to drop, soon we can expect to see something like this on the windows.

photo of frost on the storm windows
frost on the storm windows    © harrington

The ice crystals reminded us of what we read earlier this week about the woolly bear caterpillar. Today, we saw the season's first woolly bear. We may see if we can overwinter him/her in the house. If we can't find and follow good directions, we'll turn it loose.


The more we learn about Nature's variety, the more amazed we are."A recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology by Marshall and Sinclair points out that climate change and decreasing snow cover may be exposing woolly bears and other freeze-tolerant insects to repeated freeze/thaw cycles." Think, for a moment, about whether we can expect woolly bears to migrate north with warmer Winters or whether this astounding evolutionary adaptation will be lost because it's no longer necessary, or, even worse, if repeated freeze thaw cycles will increase their morbidity and result in woolly bears being extirpated from Minnesota. Speaking of climate change and extirpation, did you notice that, on Sunday, the Star Tribune had a major front page story on Saving the Great North Woods? We're glad to note mainstream media is starting to pay attention to this issue of climate change without the debilitating pro/con debate. The Will Steger Foundation has a fascinating and fantastic video on the impact of climate change on the Minnesota Prairie. We're not sure if we wish Bill Holm and Paul Gruchow were still with us. They could (and have) magnificently tell the story of what we're in the process of losing, but we suspect their hearts would be breaking as they told it. They each loved the Minnesota prairie that much.

photo of prairie thimbleweed
prairie thimbleweed             © harrington

Whether we're concerned about the North Woods, the Prairie, or somewhere in between, Charles Harper Webb has a message for us.

The Animals are Leaving

By Charles Harper Webb
One by one, like guests at a late party   
They shake our hands and step into the dark:   
Arabian ostrich; Long-eared kit fox; Mysterious starling.

One by one, like sheep counted to close our eyes,   
They leap the fence and disappear into the woods:   
Atlas bear; Passenger pigeon; North Island laughing owl;   

Great auk; Dodo; Eastern wapiti; Badlands bighorn sheep.

One by one, like grade school friends,   
They move away and fade out of memory:   
Portuguese ibex; Blue buck; Auroch; Oregon bison;   

Spanish imperial eagle; Japanese wolf; Hawksbill   

Sea turtle; Cape lion; Heath hen; Raiatea thrush.

One by one, like children at a fire drill, they march outside,   
And keep marching, though teachers cry, “Come back!”   
Waved albatross; White-bearded spider monkey;   

Pygmy chimpanzee; Australian night parrot;   

Turquoise parakeet; Indian cheetah; Korean tiger;   

Eastern harbor seal ; Ceylon elephant ; Great Indian rhinoceros.

One by one, like actors in a play that ran for years   
And wowed the world, they link their hands and bow   
Before the curtain falls.
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