Archive for the ‘Mother Nature’ Category

One of my Grandfather’s favorite places to find fishing worms was behind the old Freelandville, Indiana Mill, where tons of spent grain husks and chaff had piled up for decades. The resulting heap of decomposition produced layer upon layer of truly bizarre habitat, and one that to a small boy was downright frightening. Although “Papa” did most of the digging, he always brought along an extra small shovel and encouraged me to find my own worms. “Bigger fish will bite on worms you dig yourself,” he explained.

So, off I’d wander into the rank, steaming mounds of the old Freelandville, Indiana Mill, with coffee can, toy shovel, and teddy-bear in tow.


One day I had just uncovered a particularly nasty patch of compost. Underneath, was the biggest worm I’d ever seen. Even with small, kid’s fingers, the worm was twice as big around as my thumb. “Papa!” I shouted, grabbing hold of it. “There’s a great HUGE worm over here!”

Papa rushed over, thinking I had found a garden snake. He stared down at the worm. “Let’s see what you’ve got there,” he said, stooping as I let go of my discovery. The worm-thing began to pull itself deeper into the compost, its slimy coat glowing faintly as it contracted and expanded its body segments in an attempt at getting away. Papa grabbed it and began pulling on it. The worm tightened, giving up a foot or two, then broke in half, the severed ends exuding an awful smelling pea-green fluid. In his hand was a three feet section of— what?

The front end disappeared down the 3/4-inch diameter hole.

Papa examined the elongated tail section for several minutes. “I’ll be dog-gone if I know what this is!” he exclaimed, dropping the still squirming THING into my can, wiping his hands on his coveralls. (Meme wasn’t going to like that!) Then, we packed up our shovels, hopped in Papa’s 1950s  Ford, nicknamed “the Green Hornet” (based on the radio show series), and went fishing. Later that day I learned something very important to a fisherman’s way of thinking: not only do bigger fish bite on worms you dig yourself, even bigger fish will bite on BIGGER worms you dig yourself!

Thing in a Can Planet

Papa never mentioned the thing in a can again, and to this day, when I lie in bed, tossing and turning and unable to sleep, I sometimes think about the bygone Freelandville, Indiana Mill and wonder…

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Galaxies Everywhere: these from a tiny sample of the universe.

The next time you step outside on a clear, starry night and gaze upwards—consider this: our planet circles our sun within what we have come to call the SOLAR SYSTEM. A solar system contains a  sun and its planets. Our solar system, along with 100 BILLION (100,000,000,000) other solar systems, make up something we call a GALAXY. We live in the Milky Way Galaxy. How many galaxies are there? Well, let’s just say there are TEN galaxies out there for every man, woman, and child on the face of the Earth. In other words, there are approximately 170 BILLION galaxies in the known universe, each one containing over 100 BILLION stars.

Think about that for a second.

That’s a LOT of stars. That’s a LOT of planets. And if your mind can expand enough to comprehend the sheer mathematics of it, astrophysicists now believe there may be BILLIONS more universes out there.

I don’t know about you, but my mind bogs down long before it reaches the moon.

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Ah, Fall

The past couple of weeks mark the first days of what I call the “Cool Season”. Nestling somewhere in-between SummerFall and Winter, the Cool Season is sleeping under a quilt with the windows open, and morning cups of coffee that warm the hands as well as the spirit. Soon, roadside views will thrill the full turning of leaves and rich color, churning intensely as long as Mother Nature lets it.

The Cool Season is restraint; first-launch leaves, unsure hatchlings whose feathers — not ripe for flight — leap from the nest any way, swooping like Fall, but not quite right. Yet.

In a few days, overnight perhaps, Fall might splash down like a brushstroke from an artist’s wild varnish wash, fixing all things for a little while so we can look at it. Not quite Fall, though. Yet.

It’s the Cool Season.

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KILLER CORNS. The tiny ones are BAD.

It is a good year for acorns here in North Carolina. Acorns are everywhere. I step on them in the morning with my bare feet while sipping coffee on the deck, cursing. I hear them PLUNKING on the roof, from where they rattle down the shingles, PLUNK again (this time with the tinny resonance of aluminum) in the gutters. Late at night while reading Dean Koontz novels: PLUNK, PLUNK, rattle, rattle, TINK.

A nut from a pecan tree or, something — else?

(from search on FAT SQUIRREL)

Every day I sweep acorns off the deck. Used to be squirrels scampered away with them. Not any more. Squirrel holes and hiding places are already cram-packed with acorns. As are the squirrels themselves. Not one more acorn can be stuffed into any of them. Fat squirrels lounge about everywhere, kicking acorns out of their way. Sun tanning, waiting for the winter with an all-knowing glee. There are so many acorns plopping down that the next time it rains, acorns will EXPLODE from the downspouts like shotgun rounds, and wildlife will scatter in terror.

Except for the ticks and fleas.

Old timers suggest one year’s abundance of acorns assures the next year’s abundance of rodents, on which an OVERABUNDANCE of fleas and ticks will feed, which may cause additional problems. Nature is like that: I call it “the Acorn Cycle of Life”. Sweep one year and scratch the next. The ol’ Sweep & Scratch.

All of which makes me just a little bit nuts: PLUNK, PLUNK, rattle, rattle, CLANK.

That one sounded like a bowling ball.

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*Photo by Kjartan Trana

I just watched an outstanding Smithsonian Channel television show, (Goshawk: Soul of the Wind) about the amazing goshawk, an incredible bird of prey that can fly silently through tree branches while hunting by folding up its wings to get through the smallest tangle of branches in the swift and deadly pursuit. The determined goshawk also uses its talons to push off tree trunks like a banking billiard ball during flight while chasing down its prey. Very impressive and spooky stuff.

I’d really hate to have THIS raptor chasing me down for dinner.

Look for the Smithsonian Channel’s “Goshawk: Soul of the Wind” in your TV program listings. Direct TV’s listings indicate “Goshawk: Soul of the Wind” will air again on the Smithsonian Channel  on Tuesday, 9/27 at 7AM, and again on Wednesday, 9/28 at 3AM. Set your recorders and be amazed.

*Kjartan Trana’s website.

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Tim says: if you’d like to submit one of your own You Tube “Video Curiosity” discoveries for consideration, use the “Contact” form at the top of the blog. Include the link and a descriptive sentence or two and your first name only. (Email addresses (if any) will not be published.)

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Finally. Power is back on after 7 days of no computer. Been feeling like a deep diver holding my breath in the largest sensory deprivation tank in the galaxy. What an insidious addiction technology is. A seven-day withdrawal worse than nicotine.

It should be illegal to need something so badly.

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Well, Hurricane Irene was not as bad as originally expected, but she was bad enough. Here in North Carolina, trees are down everywhere and power outages are rampant. This update is going to be rather hurried…

I am still without power. My generator crashed early on, but is okay now. Lesson I learned: never use old diesel fuel in a diesel generator. Not good. Ever. I have no phone and my DSL comes and goes.  Mostly goes. Just got my computer back up for the first time since Saturday morning. I do not have access to my email. My house is without AC and it is about 93 degrees inside as I write this. Not good for a computer, so I will limit using it to a minimum. A large tree fell across my driveway on Saturday morning, taking my power lines with it. It will probably be a week before the power folks get to me. So, my blogging will be questionable in the days to come.

All is well here for now, however. I think there are still some 300,000-500,000 folks without power, which means my driveway has been placed WAY DOWN the power company’s fix-it list.

Thank you everyone for your concern and support.

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