Monday, June 19, 2017

The eve of Summer solstice #phenology

I'm not sure if there's supposed to be a linkage between National Pollinator Week (this week) and Summer Solstice (tomorrow), so I'm just going to treat it as a happy coincidence. Between Father's Day and a recent birthday (No, I'm not admitting to anything more than being of legal age) I got a book to help me celebrate Pollinator Week, it's the book Bees, An Identification and Native Plant Forage Guide. You probably know already that Minnesota is home to a MacArthur Genius on Bees, Dr. Marla Spivak, and that the University has two new labs, one, for academics, on the St. Paul campus and the other, for the public, at the Arboretum.

bee hives at the St. Paul campus
bee hives at the St. Paul campus
Photo by J. Harrington

As I was growing up, I knew there were honey bees, bumble bees, yellowjackets, other wasps and hornets. Clearly, I was poorly educated about pollinators. The nice thing about education is that it's like planting a tree: the best time for it was 40 years ago, the second best time is today. Without pollinators, many of the plants we enjoy seeing, smelling and eating wouldn't be available to us. Personally, as beautiful as I find this world from time to time, I doubt I'll ever fell it couldn't use even more beauty. Can any of us really have enough beauty in our lives?

whitetail doe, a browser grazing on tall grass
whitetail doe, a browser grazing on tall grass
Photo by J. Harrington

I know my morning was really improved as I watched a whitetail doe tiptoe (tiphoof?) her way down the path on the hill and start foraging on the stems and seedheads of the grasses growing around the wet, low spot behind the house. I had always thought that whitetails were browsers. They are, but from what I saw this morning, whitetails are primarily, but not exclusively, browsers. Today's deer watching improved even more later when a fawn arrived to help mom figure out what's best to eat. The fawn's idea is still that mother's milk beats everything else.

[UPDATE: "So on the evening of June 21, beginning at 7 p.m. at St. Joan of Arc Church, 4537 3rd Av. S., Mpls., poets and writers will read aloud, musicians will perform, representatives from environmental groups will discuss their work and climate change, and copies of “News of the Universe” will be given away."]

Eating Words


By Katherine Hauth


When you know
that vore means eat,
you will know
that insectivores feed
            on grasshoppers, moths, and butterflies,
            mosquitoes, bees, and plain-old flies.

When you know
that carni means meat,
you will know
that carnivores eat
            snakes and lizards, deer and lamb,
            carrion, birds, fish, and ham.

When you know
that herb means plant,
you will know
that herbivores CAN'T
            eat anything that moves on a foot,
            just foods that spring up from a root.

When you know
that omni means all,
you will know
that omnivores call

Everything
            they can suck or chew—
            sometimes even me or you—
food.


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