Friday, February 16, 2018

When math is exotic and seasonal

Check out this Romanesco Broccoli that was in the produce section for just a few days:

It is also known as Roman Cauliflower, and is an example of fractals in nature. I did not have the courage to buy it, but am informed by Wikipedia that it has a "nutty" flavor.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Math in the produce aisle

I like to tell my kids that math is everywhere. Sometimes sitting in plain sight, and sometimes hiding behind a few seemingly innocuous curtains. It came sharply into focus yesterday when I sliced a purple cabbage in half. Check out the double Fibonacci spiral that was revealed!

I have never seen a cabbage in this light before.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Frozen turkey

A group of turkeys is apparently either a flock, or a rafter. Let's go with the latter as the word of the day. At least for me!

It looks like a rafter was up and about last night, as evidenced by their footprints all over the snow that started falling in the evening:

My friendly neighborhood rafter surely does not seem to be deterred by a few inches of snow, though. While they have made a daily appearance for several weeks now, and have spent significant amounts of time rooting around my bird feeder and elsewhere, they showed up like clockwork today after nearly seven inches of powder blanketed the region overnight.

Only this time, they stayed on the road (which had been plowed) and steered clear of the yard:

I learned a few days ago that a rafter usually has only one male. This guy was preening away to distract from the lack of food on the road surface:

Trust this one female turkey to throw caution to the wind and plow into the yard! Must have been one hungry bird:

Later in the day, I saw the entire rafter on the side of the house, where the snow had melted enough to expose some of the ground, and they had a field day raking up the soil in search of... frozen worms?!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

A thankful day

There is much to be thankful for in this world of ours. These wild turkeys, for instance, must be thankful to be in a vegetarian's yard on Thanksgiving Day!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A dash of blue

The drab environment is occasionally splashed with brilliant blues and reds. A gang of blue jays descended on our feeder and proceeded to monopolize it and the ground around it for the next half hour or so.

I recently read (thanks to two very funny and informative bird books* by Mike O'Connor) that blue jays often store seeds in their throats and cart them away for future consumption. here is a view of such behavior:

An action shot of a jay at work:

Scouting the ground (for fallen seeds or acorns?) while other "family" members sampled the feeder fare:

Showing off the blues:

"Why are you staring at me?"

*The two books reference above are:

M. O'Connor (1997) "Why Don't Woodpeckers Get Headaches? And Other Bird Questions You Know You Want to Ask."

M. O'Connor (2013) "Why Do Bluebirds Hate Me? More Answers to Common and Not-So-Common Questions about Birds and Birding."

The garden has gone to the birds!

After spending the spring and summer trying to protect the flowering plants from wildlife attacks, it is time now to sit back and enjoy the... wildlife! The bird feeder easily draws in the fauna of the winged variety (and a few non-flying squirrels for variety). The relatively drab background of browns and yellows causes a blending of feathers into the fading foliage.

This downy woodpecker has decided to give our house structure a break, and eat seeds for a while:

A tufted titmouse explores our "seedy" neighborhood:

The titmouse does a great jobs of sharing with a black-capped chickadee (the Massachusetts state bird):

Nature's pest control army is quite a hoot

A few nights ago, I was awakened by a haunting noise from outside my window, and realized they might be owls. Short bursts of three hoots, followed by silence, then the hoots again. I was too sleepy though to get up and investigate.

The birds were in fine form again last night despite the winter cold and a light rain. Here is a short clip of what sounds like two Great Horned Owls. The background noise is that of the rain drumming on my porch and roof:

Day was about to break, yet it was still too dark to see the birds. But I think I know which direction the sounds came from.

I hope to put a face to the voice some time soon!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The gardening season winds down

But ever so slowly! Mother Nature is fooling her own as the flora grapple with the unseasonably warm weather (the high today is about 73 degrees Fahrenheit, or roughly 23 degrees Celcius).

To bloom or not to bloom, that is the question.

I have a yellow rose in bloom, and some pink rose buds in the works. The dahlias are doing better than ever, with each plant sporting three or four flowers instead of one or two. The deer are staying warm at home, leaving the unattended and unprotected flowers alone.

There is also a profusion of yellow from one bush that I do not remember planting. It looks like a Black-eyed Susan, but the ones I planted are long done for the season:

Here is an unexpected harvest of beans from our deck:

The tomatoes are also yet to disappear, with many green bunches still hanging off the vines as the leaves slowly whither away.

The pesky chipmunks are cleverer, though. They are skittering around the yard in a frenetic rush to store more acorns. They are also using the delayed winter to explore my yard in greater detail, burrowing humongous holes in yet-to-be-staked territory. Like they say in America: "Drill, baby, drill!" 

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

A "Deer Diary" moment

It appears to have now become a bit too cold for the deer to venture about freely, and they have finally left the hardy hibiscus alone long enough to produce a couple of buds! An entire summer of deer salad existence is thus vindicated just ephemerally in the fall!

I have high hopes for the second bud too, seen below as it just prepares to unfurl: