Natural History Notes

Monday, February 21, 2011

cold and warm

Saturday 19 February
3:30 pm, 75°, breezy, mostly overcast

Let’s see. Saturday 29 January, three weeks ago, was about 77°. I went into the bees that day, and they were very un-aggressive and no trouble at all, unlike the day early in the month, when it was about ten degrees cooler, and they were all over me and one stung me through my sleeve.

Saturday 5 February was a lovely sunny day in the fifties. This was notable because the previous four days had not reached freezing (from below), and a couple of nights went down to about 10°. Snow and sleet which had been in place since Tuesday just vanished at last. The powder room cold water line froze and burst the copper tubing on Thursday. The birds at the Ridge just mobbed the feeder, which I moved to right up against the craft-loom window, hanging from the trellis, high. I had to get it out of Buddy’s reach, as I cleared out the garage for him for a refuge, and therefore he has been free of the house-yard.

Saturday 12 February was another nice warm day, after a second blast of sub-twenties weather from Wednesday to Friday. We had postponed Benthic Collection from the 4th to the 11th, then we canceled February collection altogether. All this week now has been above average temperature and mostly dry after the sleet and snow. Two or three days, including yesterday, got up in the 80s. I spent Wednesday morning out at LLELA at the trail-guide workshop. We met comfortably in the outside pavilion.

Others have noticed their bees bringing in orange pollen, and we decided it must be cedar. I had thought of this, but had looked at some cedars and seen no pollen. Was reminded at the CCHBA mtg. that the trees are dioecious. Today I went for a walk around the west forty and found several trees that are indeed covered with cones of pollen. I doesn’t really look as orange as what I have seen being brought in, but must be the answer. Today, I saw a few bees coming in with orange loads, but most had very contrasty and visible pale yellow pollen, from the winter honeysuckle, which is covered with working bees.
Last week, no, because even its flowers can’t take the kind of cold we had, and it was covered with sad little brown blobs. But the small buds have all come out now, and it is fragrant and buzzing. Bare of leaves, though, they froze also, and it will have to put on a new crop.

While exploring for pollen-bearing cedars, I went over to examine closely the one that is right on the big corner post at the se corner of Holmans’ 8 acres, just sw of the tank. It is indeed full of pollen cones, More notably, however, next to it in the fence-line to the north is a possum-haw. I didn’t think I had any. This one is orange-berried, not the real luscious red, but it’s a sizable shrub/little tree. Hurray! Possum-haw, Carolina buckthorn, female persimmons -- wonder what I’ll find next?

New to the land today are 5 pinyon pines (species unknown) and 6 bur oaks, plus a vitex. I got them at the soil conservation service sale yesterday, and Eddie plated them today. The larger (sorta) bur oak in the nw corner of the yard to replace the big hackberry, which seems to be senescent. One little oak near the center of the rock wall, behind the beehive. Two pinyons north of the yard between me and the big house. One oak down the hill by the irises and the toothache tree where I tried one before. A set of three pinyons south across the grass from the shop, and a set of three oaks down in the north pasture below the tank, the closest I have to a bottomland. Well, I could have put them in the drainage near the lane culvert. But if that’s going to get sold, I’d lose them.

I learned at LLELA about a “weed wrench” and I’m going to get one, or maybe two, privets for the pulling out of which. Maybe it will actually be possible to permanently clear some of the area by the drainage-stream, and put in redbuds, French mulberry, Eve’s necklace, buckbrush, etc. Wonder if it can usefully pull Japanese honeysuckle, or if the vine just breaks off and regrows.

As I finish writing this (after a nap), a big full moon shines in the window. So next month it will be full probably on the 20th of March, the day before the equinox. That will make the next full one I guess on Monday April 18, with Easter the following Sunday, the 24th. The vagaries of the ecclesiastical calendar! If the equinox should happen to be on a Friday, with a full moon on the Saturday, Easter could be a full month earlier, on March 23. There were women my age in the Thursday craft meeting, where this discussion came up, who had never learned how the date of Easter is set.

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