That Nature Show

Lifeline, That Nature Show

Lovely, and Alarming, Canada Geese

0 Written by: | Friday, Aug 22, 2014 12:20pm

 

Photo via allaboutbirds.org

Photo via allaboutbirds.org

This column, That Nature Show, is about the nature right under your nose: in our backyards, playgrounds and parks! Stop and look around, you’ll be amazed at what surrounds you. 

The Cornell Lab or Ornithology’s website describes the Canada goose as “a familiar and widespread goose with a black head and neck, white chinstrap, light tan to cream breast and brown back.” Yep. That’s a good description, last I looked out my living room window at a gaggle of them. The site goes on to note that the goose has “increased in urban and suburban areas in recent years.” Increased? That’s putting it lightly. They’re freakin’ takin’ over the place. 

I was happy this past spring when they left Owings Mills for points north for their summer feeding grounds in Canada. I spent the summer thinking, Gee, I don’t miss that honking cacophony at all. I liked also not being spun around by my dog, a Bichon, who would invariably lunge after one of them when I took her for a walk. I’d tell her, as if bursting the bubble of a small child’s wish to fly, “You couldn’t take one of them if you tried.” She looked at me like, “But Mama I’d be so happy trying!” My dog is the embodiment of the Winston Churchill quote, “Success is going from failure to failure without any loss of enthusiasm.” By that account, Sugar leads a wildly successful life. Read More →

Lifeline, That Nature Show

It’s Shark Week: Appreciating and Fearing the Great White

0 Written by: | Friday, Aug 15, 2014 12:30pm

shark

This column, That Nature Show, is about the nature right under your nose: in our backyards, playgrounds and parks! Stop and look around, you’ll be amazed at what surrounds you. 

It’s been Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. I hope all you shark lovers (and who isn’t, especially when viewed from the safety of your couch?) have been raising your goblet of rock. The creatures are television gold, and so popular there have been numerous retail tie-ins including ice cream flavors at Cold Stone, the favorite of my son, 9. Of course his favorite shark is the Great White. Second favorite shark? The mako. Third favorite? The basking. Distant last favorite: the whale shark.

My daughter, 7, says she wishes there were such a thing as a pink cupcake shark with sparkles, because, if there were, that would be her favorite. Failing the evolution of such an animal (Dare to dream? There is a Pink Amazonian River Dolphin, after all), she says her favorite shark is also the Great White.

The Great White is everyone’s favorite sea-scare. My what great big teeth you have!  Who hasn’t had a spine tingle while swimming in the waters off Ocean City, thinking as you paddle, what if? What if you saw a cresting ominous fin? Here’s what happened when Woods Hole Oceanographic scientists caught a Great White on film: the thing attacked their camera.

Read More →

Lifeline, That Nature Show

That Nature Show: Going Batty for Bats

0 Written by: | Friday, Aug 08, 2014 11:55am

 

Diaemus_youngi

This column, That Nature Show, is about the nature right under your nose: in our backyards, playgrounds and parks! Stop and look around, you’ll be amazed at what surrounds you. 

If it’s bats to like bats, I don’t want to be right.

I mean, c’mon, these are little flying mammals! Adorbs!  Tiny mouselike paws, fur, wings…and echolocation? Meaning they can “see” at night by sending out sound waves? Totally sci-fi! Am I right?

If I told you there were mole-ish or mouse-ish creatures in my world (in fact, the German word for bat is fledermaus) that could fly at night because they could see through sound waves, you would look at me and you’d make the “screw is loose” hand gesture. But there you have it. They exist. The world has magic in it. Read More →

Lifeline, That Nature Show

That Nature Show: The Song of the Cicadas

0 Written by: | Friday, Aug 01, 2014 12:00pm

imgres-1

This column, That Nature Show, is about the nature right under your nose: in our backyards, playgrounds and parks! Stop and look around, you’ll be amazed at what surrounds you.

The soundtrack of late summer is the call of the cicada. It is such a bittersweet sound, signaling Back-to-School shopping and the end of seemingly endless days dockside or pool side sipping drinks served in coconuts in which umbrellas have been placed by men in shorts. Oh, sadness.

Late summer is the season of voluptuous anxiety. When the days are still warm, and the apples still-ripening on the apple trees, but the cicadas cry like little buggy sentinels for us to make plans for whose house we’re going for Thanksgiving. Read More →

That Nature Show

That Nature Show: Want to ID That Bird in The Tree? There’s an app for That

0 Written by: | Friday, Jul 25, 2014 12:00pm

red shouldered hawk

The red shouldered hawk.

This column, That Nature Show, is about the nature right under your nose: in our backyards, playgrounds and parks! Stop and look around, you’ll be amazed at what surrounds you.

I wish I could bake. My grandmother could bake. She could also sew. Have I told you about she sewed my prom dress in a weekend? It was a fetching pink chiffon off-the-shoulder number. I don’t want to date myself, but back then, the movie Pretty In Pink was of the moment.

I don’t have a lot in common with my grandmother being myself a defroster of food and a purchaser of clothes, but what I have inherited is her twitcher-ness. A “twitcher” is unkind British slang for a birdwatcher, but I fondly remember my grandmother staring out the kitchen window looking all goggle-eyed at a nesting nuthatch, so I say, Twitchers Unite. Let’s talk binoculars.  Let’s talk squirrel-proof feeders. Read More →

That Nature Show

Glorious Hydrangeas

1 Written by: | Friday, Jul 18, 2014 12:00pm

 

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

This column, That Nature Show, is about the nature right under your nose: in our backyards, playgrounds and parks! Stop and look around, you’ll be amazed at what surrounds you.

I’m disturbed to know that you need over $88,ooo to be happy in Maryland, the so-called Land of Pleasant Living. How pleasant? My husband is a high school teacher, I am a freelance writer, dear reader, I’ll let you do the math. I still get excited about finding quarters in between the cushions of the couch.  Kids, we’re going out for premium ice cream! 

But — this is what I tell myself as a sort of bohemian pep-talk — we make up in beauty what we lack in cold hard cash. La dee dah. 

For instance, have you seen my hydrangeas? Glory be. I have become That Lady In The First Throes of Menopause Who Takes To Gardening. I believe there is actually a Myers-Briggs personality type for this. INFP, maybe? (It’s definitely for the introverts to sit in the gloaming with a glass of white wine and stare at flowers.) My hydrangeas are gorgeous. Sky blue, the blue the color of the sky in Taos, New Mexico. Multi-petaled. So blue and multi-petaled they look like creatures from another planet, one I would like to go to, unlike Mars. Read More →

Featured, Lifeline, That Nature Show

That Nature Show: The Pesky Mosquitoes of Summer

0 Written by: | Friday, Jul 11, 2014 11:30am

If it's summer, it's mosquito time!  Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

If it’s summer, it’s mosquito time! Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

This column, That Nature Show, is about the nature right under your nose: in our backyards, playgrounds and parks! Stop and look around, you’ll be amazed at what surrounds you.

On the sleeping porch of grandparents’ farm house on the Eastern Shore, my grandfather hung a large model of a mosquito.  This was emblematic of his dark sense of humor. Because, dang, if every summer I didn’t get bitten by one hundred billion mosquitoes.

I’d jump into the water to escape them and be stung by the ubiquitous stinging nettles. Weren’t Chesapeake summers fun?  At the end of the day, I’d have itched the skin off my ankles from the mosquitoes and I’d have angry red welts on my back from the sea nettles. Animals without skeletons could really pack a wallop. Read More →

That Nature Show

That Nature Show: Wild and Crazy Kids

0 Written by: | Thursday, Jul 03, 2014 1:00pm

kid shot

This column, That Nature Show, is about the nature right under your nose: in our backyards, playgrounds and parks! Stop and look around, you’ll be amazed at what surrounds you.

If you have young kids, you have animals living in your house.  With their little opposable thumbs they leave monkey-like thumb prints on the walls of the stairway to the basement, though you have told them countless times: Please. Use. The. Banister.

They don’t understand logic. Or the importance of showing off to the neighbors that you have clean walls, hand towels, and guest soaps in a cute fragile pyramid in the bathroom. To kids you sound like mwah wah wah taxes blah blah blurgle murgle eat your vegetables, co-pay, orthodontics, Home Goods. You sound like an idiot. Or, as Shakespeare put it, you sound like you’re full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Read More →

Lifeline, That Nature Show

That Nature Show: The World Cup Brings Out the Animal Within

0 Written by: | Friday, Jun 27, 2014 11:00am

 

Suarez gets muzzled.  Photo via The Independent.

Suarez gets muzzled. Photo via The Independent.

This column, That Nature Show, is about the nature right under your nose: in our backyards, playgrounds and parks! Stop and look around, you’ll be amazed at what surrounds you.

World Cup soccer players — and their fans — are everywhere. And exhibiting interesting animal behaviors, too. From which we can learn mostly what not to do.

Unless the rock you are living under is lead you’ve probably heard that Uruguay’s Luis Suarez is a biter. He bit an Italian.  I might also like to do that. To an Italian submarine sandwich. I would never bite a member of the Azzuri, which is what the Italian fans call their team, because they wear the most gorgeous blue uniform. Avanti Azzuri! is something I have frequently yelled in the privacy of my own home. Read More →

Culture, Lifeline, That Nature Show

The Magic of Fireflies

1 Written by: | Friday, Jun 20, 2014 1:00pm

Firelflies in a jar. Photo by Langston Creative via Flickr.

Photo by Langston Creative via Flickr.

This column, That Nature Show, is about the nature right under your nose: in our backyards, playgrounds and parks! Stop and look around, you’ll be amazed at what surrounds you.

Mark Twain famously said, ‘The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” But in Maryland in June it’s both lightning and lightning bug season. Read More →

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Baltimore, Heaven for House-Flippers

Written by Rachel Monroe

Monday, Aug 25, 2014 10:05pm

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