Environment

Signs of Spring

RNWR_red-winged_blackbird_01-06-09We have all had enough of winter.  By the way, the “winter from hell” is an oxymoron at best.  This winter is straight from our polar vortex, which we should not confuse with our solar plexus, and other such constellations.

Anyway.

I know for sure that Spring is coming.   It first teased us when we saw the high afternoon sun, glinting off a trickle of melted ice in the gutter by our driveway.   I know Spring is not far off because stepping out of a restaurant in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin this weekend, I caught a warm blush of west wind pushing through the parking lot.   IMG_6888And with it came the subtle, sweet bouquet of a farmer’s work recently done, spreading a fresh batch of manure on his field, maybe 4 or 5 miles away.

Driving along a backroad through the country there was a torrent of snowmelt running down the ditch beside us.  Two boys, not more than 10 years old, were in their boots, up to their ankles, coaxing a small plastic boat over a waterfall and into the next pool below.

That was yesterday.

Today I know that Spring is coming because of a flock of robins perched on every branch of our crab apple tree, plumped up in the 20-degree weather, breasts to the sun, squinting out across the yard, looking for anything edible as the snow recedes from the lawn.

And that lawn?   I haven’t seen it since Thanksgiving.   It is brown, and matted down, and I will have to get it aerated for sure.  Time to pull out that direct mail piece from Spring Green, and get my discount order in.

It is surely Spring because we bought two packs of flower seeds: morning glories and butterfly catchers.

Trellis.1Tomorrow I will head back to Lake Geneva and buy a trellis to frame up our clematis.   This vine is a robust flowering cornucopia, and has a couple hundred stems shooting out of the ground.   They are brown and dead right now, but like a true perennial it will sneak up on me one day, and explode with a hundred more shoots.  The trellis will be in place in time.   By July there will be a thousand purple and magenta flowers hanging off that ironwork.

I put a roof rack on the station wagon to bring home another trellis.   This will be a longer, wider one that supports the morning glories.   IMG_5792Last summer they burst into a flood of brilliant blues, purples and pinks, like a daily chorus of trumpets that attracted all manner of birds and bees to their place on the back fence.  This year will be even more spectacular with the new frame.

I know it’s Spring because I filed my Federal taxes.   You know, I love getting a refund.  taxes-412-274I never begrudge sending a printed return to some PO Box in California.  While e-filing may be more efficient, it also opens the door to audits.   My philosophy is to bury ’em in paper right off the bat.  So I did, with 1.38 pounds of it.  Enjoy the read!

Spring is coming because the trees sense it.   The maple across the road has a vague rust hue on its topmost branches.   The willows along the highway have brightened their cold branches to a warm yellow.

Most significant, a few hours ago I was standing on the deck out back, and overhead I heard a red-winged black bird trill out a call to the frozen marsh behind our house.    Even though the robins got together earlier, that may have been to vote in a new leader after the current one convinced them to stay all winter.

But when the black bird piped up, I knew Spring will be close behind.

Hope you are seeing the signs too!    Thanks for reading.  Be sociable, share below!

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Science

Upside Down!

This new year is presenting some stunning, seemingly unrelated discoveries.

swamp-water-os-smallStunner #1: A group of soaking wet, grass-stained Department of Energy scientists in Richland, WA  have developed a process for making crude oil out of algae.  You might want to check your pool for recent intruders.    The goop is subjected to heat and pressure, much like the original process, but without the time lapse of 1,000,000 years.

This is microwave designed for oil barons.   The result is black gold–Texas Tea as the song goes.   Environmentalists: be on the lookout as the swamp in your backyard is in jeopardy.

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Stunner #2:  Those intrepid researchers at the University of Tokyo have just announced that they can levitate objects using sound waves.   This is a bit lame as my parents advised our noise had been raising the dead for years.    Apparently the scientists have been able to grasp objects–no doubt with the high parts of Old Man River–and suspend them in midair.

This is a huge advance for Obamacare where you can be put on hold forever.   While the scientists optimistically intend to create high speed rail-free commuter transport, riders will have to agree on musical choices and cell phone usage.

levitation

Stunner #3:    Invisibility cloaking is everywhere.  Not that you would notice.   I don’t know where to start, but clearly, transparency is the key word in science today.   This is good, because it has a long way to go in politics.   Researchers at universities worldwide are clamoring to publish their latest wave manipulation breakthroughs in the world of disappearance.

So was it The Hobbit, or Harry Potter that propelled a legion of millennials to perfect the science of absence?  This runs against the advice of Woody Allen, once credited with the observation that “90% of success is just showing up.”

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Stunner #4:   And this, straight out of the Czech University of Life Sciences– researchers have established that dogs relieve themselves in line with the earth’s magnetic fields.   After 7,475 individual observations of the cumulative works of 70 dogs over two years, this dedicated team proclaims that dogs line up north-south before letting go.   If you are lost, no more need to look up at the stars.   Better to look down at your feet.

Stunner #5:   The Sun’s magnetic field is changing.   It changes north to south, apparently.   This was announced just before Christmas by Stanford University.   Physicists at the Wilcox Observatory say this happens every 11 years or so, but that we should expect to see no changes here on earth.   To be sure, you might ask your dog.

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Stunner #6:   The Polar Vortex has swallowed North America, we think.   It could actually be South America, but that will require verification by our teams at Czech University and Stanford.  In the mean time, it is very cold.   Though it is never too cold for flag pole testing.   These are happy days for the professional weather forecasters who have been searching for news, and now they have it.

A sad note: while we are transfixed under a polar icecap that reaches down to Albuquerque there are two icebreakers imprisoned in a sea of ice at what used to be the South Pole (see #5 above) .   They are attempting to rescue stranded global warming researchers who, last observed, were eating canned beans waiting for a ride to Australia.

If you have any observations of your own respecting these recent discoveries, let me know.   Are they inter-connected? Mean time, feel free to share this with your friends.  They deserve to know!

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