Nature

Ginko

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perhaps everyone has tired of pretty leaf pictures, but I decided to chance it and post three snaps of a ginko tree.

The ginko doesn’t leap to mind as a go-to for autumn foliage.

It seems like a lot of years, the leaves just turn yellowish-brown and drop to the ground.

But this year I’ve seen a number of them putting on a spectacular golden show.

I’m always pleased to spot one of these, they’ve got all sorts of positive associations.

It’s nice to see something that’s survived for over two hundred million years.

Dinosaurs of the Jurassic, like one of my favorites, the brachiosaurus, could graze on them.

When Frank Lloyd Wright built his first home (in Oak Park, Illinois) he selected the property because there were beautiful ginko trees planted there.

I’ve seen the leaves countless times in artwork from Asia, especially Japan and read that the trees are treated as sacred at Shinto shrines.

Old arboretums in the eastern states of our country inevitably have specimens, some planted in the first years of the republic.

It’s cool for our republic to have these “living fossils” around, like most of our political leadership.

And as an “herbal supplement,” it’s supposed to remedy insufficient blood flow to the brain.

That problem seems to be pervasive right now during the political races, so there’s another good reason to keep these ancient trees in circulation.

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Autumn, milwaukee, Nature, Uncategorized, wisconsin

Walks Around Wisconsin. Milwaukee, October

 

It’s that time of year again.

The days are mellow but at night, there’s a bit of a nip in the air.  OK, really more of a wholehearted bite.

Autumn in Wisconsin — hard cold winds straight off the Canadian prairies sweep summery days away.

 

Experienced walkers in these parts know how to stay the course during the cold winds.  Put on your heaviest boots & take on some ballast – – drop a half-dozen rolls of quarters in your coat pockets, maybe a couple pints of Captain Morgan, the favored antifreeze in these parts.

Wax the ear flaps on your Stormy Kromer hat to cut wind resistance and head into the headwinds.

 

People are using to weaving, here in the city that leads the country in excessive drinking, so tacking & jibing with the wind comes pretty naturally.

Signs in the park remind dog owners that during High Wind days, any breeds smaller than a St Bernard should be double-leashed and aviation wheel chocks are recommended when they stop by a fire hydrant.

 

Who knows where the summer’s heat is carried off to – – I seem to recall an old Chippewa legend — when the North Wind blows into town, all the sunshine’s warmth is swallowed & carried to Capistrano.

Or perhaps I’ve got that muddled somehow. But modern science offers an equally crazy story to explain the change in seasons.

 

This old planet wobbles along on a bent axle or tilted axis, something like that?

“Wobble & Tilt” should be a carnival ride, or cop lingo for an inebriated pedestrian, but it’s scarcely appropriate behavior for a mature planet.

And recently I’ve become hopeful that scientists will buckle down and stabilize this situation.

 

The Big Red Ball. Photo by Jeff Miller / UW-Madison

 

 

Last month, apparently lacking adult supervision, those crazy kids at NASA deliberately crashed a spaceship into an asteroid.  (Some articles called it a “moonlet” which makes me feel bad, like we’re picking on the little guy.) The idea was to see if they could change the asteroid’s course as a kind of test run for a planetary defense system.

So I’m thinking, once NASA has practiced up a bit, crashing spaceships & changing orbits, etc. perhaps they can correct Earth’s wobble & tilt problem?

Redirect some pointless wandering rock to smack into Earth.  Nothing over the top like last time, when they wiped out the dinosaurs, just a smack on the wrist with a ruler, so Earth straightens up and flies right.   Haley’s Comet is due for a visit in 2061, they should have it all worked out by then.

 

These same science types are working on jaunts to Mars, where temperatures during the tourist season average -81 degrees F.

 

We laypeople may not know much about space travel.  But we do know, that those sorts of scientists, interested in the Red Planet, and eighty one degrees below zero, are not from around here.

No one from Wisconsin is much interested in traveling somewhere colder.  The Wisconsin science types are mostly in Madison, huddled around a plasma magnetosphere called The Big Red Ball.

 

 

Our planet has a magnetosphere of course, so at least we’re protected from solar winds, even if it doesn’t help with the Alberta Clippers or the Arctic Cold Fronts.

 

The Big Red Ball, at the U of Wisconsin, kinda looks like a Hollywood mad scientist thing – – covered with magnets, wires, gauges, and pretty sure a 48-cup stainless coffee maker. And it cranks out 500,000 degrees F.  or 5 million K, something like that, basically “real hot,” a miniature sun.  And the scientists really don’t care if they discover a darn thing — as long as the funding holds out, the lab is nice and toasty.

And that reminds me, time for cinnamon raisin bread toast and hot coffee, gotta go.

 

 

 

 

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A few days ago, I posted some pictures from a nature preserve on Lake Ontario.

The lakeshore there has stretches of coarse gray sand and a fair number of fallen trees, where the clay bluffs eroded during winter storms.

And lots and lots of rocks, what they call a cobble beach.

I wanted to show what folks in the area did with all those “cobblestones.”

This is a one-room schoolhouse, built around 1820-24 and used for over a century.

 

 

I was happy to run across it and see the local historical society is maintaining it in fine shape.  But it did strike me, that perhaps because it was a schoolhouse and not a bank, store, or private residence, the stones may not have been selected with as much care as usual, for uniformity and smoothness.   It’s seven or eight miles from Ontario, so they may be rocks from local fields or a glacial dump and not the lakeshore, there’s moraines and eskers a bit farther south.  But nonetheless it’s a mellow, handsome little building.

 

 

 

1820's, architecture, Great Lakes, History, NY, Ontario, Upstate New York

Walks Around Upstate New York. Cobblestone Schoolhouse, October, Late Afternoon

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A pair of swans were the only movement in a beaver pond

 

 

 

 

 

 

maples reflected in a small pond

 

 

 

A heronry appeared to be deserted, but I’ve still seen the birds fishing in local creeks.  Most of the NY herons will take off for the Caribbean soon, but some Great Blues tough it out all winter.

 

 

along the shore of Lake Ontario

 

I’ve posted a few pictures from this place in past years.

The Sterling Preserve is not far from Oswego, NY, and about an hour’s drive from Rochester (maybe 45 minutes if you skip the leaf-peeping and drive down Route 104 like a bat out of hell, which is generally the custom in these parts).

In the 1970’s, a utility company acquired thousands of acres to build a nuclear power plant – – there were/are such plants near Rochester and Oswego.  However the plans for this Sterling plant fell through and there’s now roughly 1400 protected acres of fields, wooded hillocks and marshes .  And almost two miles of shoreline along Lake Ontario, all cobble beach.

 

 

The woods are nice – mostly maples, oaks, tulip trees and beeches.  Along the eastern edge of the preserve, remnants of a stone boundary wall and an old apple orchard are visible, now overtaken by native trees.  Near the marshes, there’s more buttonbush shrubs than I’ve seen anywhere else in the region.

WP seems to be doing that thing it does – – some of these photos fuzzy to me, I fiddled with them but no improvement.  They seem to look ok when you click on them.

 

What a variety pack of colors on a single branch from an oak tree

 

 

Birds, Clean Waters, Finger Lakes, FLX, Great Lakes, hiking, Nature, NY, Ontario, Uncategorized, Upstate New York

Walks Around Upstate New York. Sterling Preserve, October

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One of the many nice things about autumn, is that a bit of rain doesn’t spoil the day.

In the summertime, if you’re headed to the beach, determined to swim and sunbathe

but then a rain storm blows in, your day is scuttled & scuppered.

(I thought those terms seemed more sea-worthy than “screwed up.”)

You can go back home, put on your DVD of “South Pacific,”  stand real close to your plasma widescreen,

soaking up a bit of UV radiation, eating your rum raisin ice cream cone with a dusting of sand.

Uncork the vintage bottle of Coppertone you found behind the clothes dryer and have a few sniffs.

But it’s just not the same as a day at the beach.

In your living room, it’s rare to have a gull swoop down to steal your doughnut, for one thing.

 

 

 

But this time of year, a walk in the park on a cool drizzly day is A-OK with me,

bathing in a great woodsy, earthy aroma.

The color of the wet leaves and the mushroom-y notes in the air intensify.

It doesn’t smell of decay, but kind of rich, really.

It’s a smell of health & wealth, as the leaves fall to enrich the earth.

 

 

It’s cool enough to wear a rain jacket, so you’ve got pockets for an apple and a few snacks.

Just enough rain to lay the dust, same idea for taking a hip flask along.

So here’s a few cellphone snaps from a couple of walks, on wet days, sometimes taken during a brief sunshower or an actual outbreak of sunshine.

 

 

 

These two characters were hanging out together. Gray tree frogs. The one hunching on the right, looks much darker, because I didn’t notice him at first, and startled him when I shifted a trash can, so he jumped into a planter filled with water. I scooped him out and dried him off with some tissues but he’s still looking grouchy, or maybe just a bit woebegone, in this shot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I liked this little alien guy, who cleverly disguised his flying saucer as a toadstool.

 

 

Autumn, Nature, Uncategorized

A walk in the park – early autumn

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Uncategorized

Art in a work of art

The Milwaukee Art Museum is a gem of a museum. There is the largest collection of German genre painting and Mettlach Steins in the US (fitting for what some consider the most German-American city, take that Zin-Zin-Atti) and a small holding of the greats, a Picasso, a Monet (Waterloo Bridge, one of many takes), a Renoir, Pissaro, etc.

I find it manageable in scale, you can see the whole thing in a day, it isn’t a palatial holding, and the situating of the building by the lake with lots of incredible views help punctuate the artwork. Its delightful and I don’t feel like it’s a chore to visit. To be clear, I love the giant museums as well, like the Met, but they are so big, you have to be decisive, do I see the Egyptian hall or the Impressionists (if you’re like me, ideally both, but time allowances and lines make it a challenge). Personally, if I go to Paris, I would likely go to the dozens of smaller art collections or artist specific ones (the Rodin museum for instance) than the Louvre, I don’t want to wait in line to see the Mona Lisa, and I suspect it would underwhelm me. Art museums should be quiet and peaceful places of contemplation, and I won’t jockey with half of humanity to see a painting on the screen of another tourist’s iPhone.

I digress, as I tend to.
What I like about the museum most perhaps is the building itself. It truly is a feat of engineering. I have written about it before, and there are countless other articles that exist that can provide more insight into the engineering or design aspects. So, here is a picture instead, they say they are worth 1,000 words.

They were setting up for a wedding when I peeked behind the curtain. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain I yelled as I reached for the snack tray.
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Great Lakes, milwaukee, Spring, Winter, wisconsin

Walks Around Wisconsin. First Spring Blossom above the 42° Parallel North

 

 

 

Well, I don’t really expect I’ve fooled anyone!

Yes, I took a bit of latitude with the title, and need to backpetal – – it’s not a real blossom of course.

I sliced the stem off the top of the last acorn squash from last fall’s harvest, and it just struck me, how much it looked like a daisy.

Around here, it’s still dropping below freezing every night, and probably down into the teens by next weekend.

But we had some warm weather over the past weekend, and we’re getting ready for some flowers and green leaves.

Hope springs eternal, even if it has to jump over the snowdrifts.

 

 

 

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A shot of the lower half of the falls.

I did very little editing, mostly just made it a bit brighter, and didn’t fiddle with the balance or boost the “color saturation,” or whatever it’s called.

I think the color comes from minerals and perhaps fresh-water algae.  Pale blue?  Pale turquoise?

The Crayola box (the big one, my go-to reference for art stuff) indicates “aquamarine,” but when I look online at a color chart, that’s way too green.

“Bluish” will have to do.

 

Clean Waters, Finger Lakes, FLX, Nature, NY, snow, Things to Do When Your Water Crystallizes on You, Upstate New York

Taughannock Falls & Icicles

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Nature, snow, Things to Do When Your Water Crystallizes on You, Winter

Ten degrees and the fern is totally unimpressed.

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I went out one mornin’ when the sun didn’t shine

I picked up my shovel and began to whine

I loaded sixteen tons of wet gray snow

And my neighbor said “It’s just started to blow.”

 

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?

It’s another foot deeper and my socks are wet

Saint Peter don’t you call me when there’s all this snow

It’s hellish cold and the wind does blow

 

If you see me comin’, better step aside

Snowblower’s goin’ and we’re goin’ for a ride

Throttle is stickin’ and you’re gonna take a lickin’

If the auger sucks  your foot inside.

 

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?

It’s another foot deeper and my socks are wet

Saint Peter don’t you call me when there’s all this snow

It’s hellish cold and the wind does blow

 

 

Apologies to Merle Travis
Cold War, Frostbite, snow, Socks, Things to Do When Your Water Crystallizes on You, Winter

A little exertion & one ton of exaggeration

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