Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Nature Notes: Splendor in the Grass

Splendor in the Grass

If I told you this was a rare variety of chrysanthemum you'd probably want one.

However, this lovely blossom is a lowly dandelion, arch nemesis of control freaks, gardeners, and lovers of lawn. Which is to say, my husband.

We have thousands of the little gold flowers in the spring. They pop up literally overnight or, as they did this year, in the course of a single day. Not there in the morning, running riot in the afternoon. It's impressive. (And I secretly enjoy them on that first day, before they turn ugly.)

We don't want to spread weed killer all over the place, and so have relied on relentless mowing to control them before they set seed. It worked well - until now.

The crafty little bastards have learned to keep their heads down.

The Hubby attacked them on first sight, firing up the tractor and wading full-throttle into the swarm. Other than a full hour of his weekend that he'll never get back, there were no casualties. You could almost hear the weeds giving him the raspberry.

I recall a science class in high school where this phenomenon was presented as an example of small-scale evolution. Tall-stemmed dandelions get mowed down and don't get a chance to reproduce. Short-stemmed dandelions are spared the blade. Within a few seasons, only short-stemmed dandelions remain, being the best adapted for their environment. Survival of the fittest.

Unfortunately, this probably means an escalation to chemical warfare. Darwinism sucks.

Click here to visit Michelle's site and see more Nature Notes.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Nature Notes: Love Is In the Air

Working It

In the spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love. ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson

Yep, he's twitterpated all right.

The dominant Tom turkeys are strutting their stuff, flashing their frills, bringin' the bling. The ladies pretend not to notice, but it's a tough act to ignore.

Toms look huge in full display mode, and that wattle turns a brilliant red when the hens are looking.

They'd be magnificent if their heads weren't butt-ugly.

Click here to visit Michelle's site and see more Nature Notes.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Build a DIY Ghost Buster

We were driving home from an errand last week, in an unfamiliar part of town, and suddenly found ourselves enveloped in a cloud of sweet wood smoke carrying the unmistakable aroma of pork roasting on the fire. It was an invitation we couldn't refuse.

We followed the smoke to a big outdoor grill and tiny carry-out, family-run rib joint. The folks were friendly and the portion choices were large, extra large, and "monster".

And there was a trap door in the floor.

It was a small, wooden door with a ring for a handle, right there next to the line of customers. I tried to ignore it, but it whispered to me. Hell, it was all I could do not to grab that handle and go on down the rabbit hole.

According to the owner, it just goes to a crawlspace. Disappointingly mundane.

On the way out, I snapped a photo of the quirky bottle sculpture sprouting by the front door. Having made something of a spectacle of myself already with the trap door thing, I didn't go back in to ask about the bottles.

A few days later, I Googled bottle sculptures, bottle art... and soon discovered bottle trees. Specifically, spirit bottle trees.

Bottle trees are an old tradition in the south, with roots in the Congo. Though mostly yard art these days, they were originally meant to keep evil spirits out of the house.

The spirits get caught in the bottles at night, and the morning sun finishes them off. Blue bottles are best, blue being a magically protective color, with green a close second. But any bottle will do.

So the bottle art may have a more mysterious side. Which makes me wonder where that trapdoor really goes.

Links for more:

*Bottle Trees on Squidoo: Great photos, lore and more

*Mojave Bottle Trees: A bottle tree forest and a magical Dale Chihuly installation

*Bottle Tree Bob: Got haints? Here's who you're gonna call.