December, 2011 through March, 2012 was a remarkably wimpy winter. We received only about 22 inches of snow. The snow cover was discontinuous, there were few nights below zero and our usual three months of winter were shortened by about a month.
In 1966, the author Stewart Brand lobbied the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to release photos of the Earth from outer space. The crew of the Apollo 8 mission was the first to orbit the moon and to see the whole Earth. They took the famous photo of the partially-illuminated Earth rising over the surface of the moon. That photo graced the cover of Brand’s eclectic Whole Earth Catalog in 1968.
Dan Wilcox, Outdoor Columnist
, February 17, 2012
A neighbor called last week asking if an extra-terrestrial plant species has invaded recently. He said that rapidly-growing vines with maple-like leaves, tightly coiled tendrils, many small white flowers and spiky seed pods are growing all over his trees.
Dan Wilcox, outdoor columnist
, September 16, 2011
Many years ago, Dr. Milo Harpstead, my soils professor at UW-Stevens Point, began his lecture by informing us that the thin layer of topsoil that covers the planet’s land surface is the foundation of civilization. Dr. Harpstead instructed that there’s a big difference between soils and dirt. Dirt is soil out of place.
Caddisflies are small insects that have fascinating adaptations to life in fresh water. Caddisflies belong to the order Trichoptera, closely related to butterflies and moths in the order Lepidoptera. Many species live in the Kinnickinnic and Rush Rivers, providing food for trout and excitement for trout fishers.
When the ice melts on the ponds in our valley the frog chorus begins. It’s a great sound announcing that spring has arrived. We are serenaded in the evening with stereophonic frog and toad music from the three ponds close to our house.
Belize is a small country in Central America on the Caribbean Sea, bordered on the north by Mexico and on the east and south by Guatemala. Carol and I have been going there on vacations nearly every year since 1990.
Last Friday morning was cold, about 5 °F. I walked down to the pole shed to get a flat tire off our wood-hauling trailer. The air was still and the rosy light of dawn made stark silhouettes of the tree branches. I could hear the chickadees and nuthatches waking up from their cold night roosts in the evergreens. A pileated woodpecker swooped through yelling its wild laugh. Badger was out surveying the woods looking and smelling for anything interesting.
I try for equanimity most of the time but often find myself grousing about work, traffic, or my aging body. Grousing about irritations offers little satisfaction or remedy. It’s the other kind of grousing that I really enjoy.
Hiking, canoeing or fishing on our local rivers late this summer provides lessons in fluvial geomorphology (the study of physical processes in river systems). The 5-plus inches of rain that came down during the night of Aug. 10 and 11 sent powerful flash floods down the Kinnickinnic and Rush rivers. The effects of those floods are clearly visible.
Dan Wilcox, outdoor columnist
, September 09, 2010
The late novelist Vladimir Nabokov grew up in St. Petersburg, Russia, in a family of wealthy aristocrats and intellectuals. Nabokov took an early interest in his father’s butterfly collection that grew into a life-long passion for butterflies.
View your ad here! Cost effective targeted advertising. Contextual advertising starting as low as $79/month. This includes targeted ad delivery and search results! Add your business to the Marketplace »