Sun Setting On Our Field, by Rainer

Did the rose
Ever open its heart

And give this world
All its

It felt the encouragement of light
Against its

We all remain




Monday, February 21, 2011

Sap Moon

"He that plants trees loves others beside himself."
Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732

Rainer's friend, a five year-old giant sequoia named Tree. His tender care includes talking to him and fertilizing him with urine every day. Only someone who keeps such close watch would notice the first branches off the main stem, as Rainer has. Current project: a sculpture of Tree to capture his stage of growth right now, so we'll always remember what he looked like at five years old.

Tiny fly on a calla lily.

Ah, February, time of the sap moon. Juices start flowing. Rainer took many pictures of all the green and budding plants. Here are a few:

Elephant garlic

Rock rose

River willow buds

River willow buds, leaves and flowers. Curly willows are slower to come out.

Climbing Tree

Eciums are so tall they've become trees.

Dianthus, brain plant



Periwinkle? Update: It is Veronica (Speedwell), says Melissa.

Mexican sage

Pale pink fuchsias

French lavender

Fluffy shrub seed

This is an example of over zealousness. Crammed into this 2' x 2' bed: thyme, rose, cherry tree, curly willow, borage, California poppy and a Redwood tree. Settle down!


Soil Science Investigation

One day our friend and neighbor Celina, an HSU soil science major, came over to study the hole. Thank you, Celina! It was like having a rock star come to your party.

Celina led us through an investigation of our soil. Here she's showing the texture of the topmost layer of soil, which is clumpy with small roots.

See the color variation? Darker near the top where grass grows, lighter clay, then sand.

To find the layers, Celina dug a vertical surface in the hole.

She pounded brightly taped nails to mark sections.

She also had gadgets like a pH meter and all sorts of reference books to analyze the soil. Soil science is very complicated and technical. But the digging part is so fun!


Red Army ants rebuilding in the sun after hard rains. No ants were seen when it snowed later.
Something from author Mark Moffett's blog (author's typos):

"On November 19th the Dalai Lama spoke about compassion at a leadership summit in New Delhi, saying humans should behave more like ants (echoing King Solomon in the Bible). True, ants often show a devotion toward their nestmates that the citizens of human nations cannot match, but there are species with societies that show internal strife. Far more disconcertingly however, the compassion of ants is matched by their aggression: unity within each ant society and goes hand in hand with an absolute intolerance of outsiders.

This makes ants are terrible models for political idealists. Indeed, most ant societies act toward each other like the Chinese have done toward Tibet, but far worse: they will annihilate outsiders without mercy.

Compassionate humans must forge our own path through this world."

Well then.
We put his book, Adventures Among Ants: A Global Safari With A Cast of Millions, in the list of links, among a few other new entries.


From the breakfast table, we saw these two hawks mating atop the telephone pole. You can click on the picture to see them better.

Then, the lady bird flew away. The pair moved their way down the street along telephone poles, trying again and again.

Also on sunny winter days, Rainer is studying the art and science of blowing the biggest bubbles ever.

We're watching closely for birds. So far we're able to definitely identify white crowned sparrows, starlings and crows. There are many other kinds so we keep our new Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds, Western Region by the dining room window. Hopefully we'll be able to capture them on camera to post some pictures.

Happy Spring, family and friends!!