Napping up on a chair, but under the table, is the best of both worlds. The “under shelter” and “off the ground” worlds, that is.
She likes to hop from one chair to the other when the urge strikes.
Noe spends a lot of time lounging near the kitchen, where she can get underfoot when she sees us head toward the fridge.
This spot also has the benefit of keeping an eye (or ear) on most of the apartment. It’s apparently very important to know where the humans are at all times.
A few days ago, we encountered a Southern ringneck snake while on our way back from an evening walk:
This is probably the second snake of this species we’ve seen in our apartment complex at night. They hide under rotting logs- and apparently decorative landscape mulch- and eat a variety of prey types. They’re non-venomous, and very, very cute. This one was only about five inches long.
At any rate, we backed off to let this one have a clear path into the grass. Hopefully it’s enjoying a nice earthworm or slug or arthropod as you read this. Cute little snake.
We had a garden setback for a while- the sprinkler that was supposed to automatically water our plot was misaligned, so for several weeks it seems that our plants weren’t being watered at all. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize this until we made the connection between the excessively dry soil and the dying pak choi, radishes, and beets. We’d been watering them every few days and they were still doing poorly, and many of the seedlings died before we realized the problem. We generally go weed in the late afternoons, when it’s more humid out, so didn’t realize how dry it was really getting.
Now that the sprinkler issue has been fixed, our garden plot is getting plenty of water. There’s a noticeable difference with the plants- though many of the younger plants didn’t make it . I’m not planting anything new because I don’t know what the plans for the plot will be after May 1, when the community garden program ends, so we’ll pretty much be harvesting what’s there until that point.
The lettuce and radicchio are doing pretty well- we harvested some of the radicchio leaves this weekend and had to make pesto out of them because they were incredibly bitter. Added to some Italian parsley and escarole, it was pretty good after cooking it slightly. We’re also still eating the last of the carrots, and cooking the radish & carrot leaves.
The latest thing we’ve eaten a lot of is our neighbors’ turnips- they have so much in their plot that they’ve basically given us free rein to harvest there. The escarole was theirs, as some green onions and Swiss chard have been. It’s nice to get a variety of different things.
One of the things I want to do before the end of the month is gather some of the herbs to make simple syrups. I’ve done that with the mint, but it might be nice to do with the lavender and lemon verbena as well. It should be a tasty way to preserve some of the different flavors.
The weekend before last, I went to the Earth Day festivities at Seminole County’s Environmental Studies Center. This is a small nature center near the southeast corner of Lake Jesup; I’d previously biked past it on the Cross Seminole Trail, but never visited.
I took a short stroll on the center’s trails after the event- not too far, but it was nice to get into the outdoors. There weren’t too many birds, because it was pretty warm in the early afternoon.
It’s apparently a good spot to see migrating warblers (and other forest birds) early in the morning at this time of year. I did see (and hear) the ubiquitous cardinals, catbirds, and blue-gray gnatcatchers. I also heard a red-shouldered hawk or two and saw a swallow-tailed kite soaring overhead.
The area is pretty damp, as it’s pretty close to the lake. I’m sure it gets even wetter during the summer.
I’m not sure how extensive the trail system is, but it might be fun to go back and explore.
There’s an old saying about the leopard not being able to change its spots. But snowshoe hares do it twice a year: replacing a thick white winter coat with a lighter brown summer coat.
European rabbits, which is what Noe is, don’t do this- she does shed twice a year, but her fur is the same color each time.
For hares, the timing of the coat replacements is roughly correlated with snowfall, and it’s easy to picture how a white coat helps camouflage them in winter and a brown one in summer. But there’s a problem: climate change means that seasons are shifting, so their white coats come in too soon and stay too long. This is a big problem for the hares: white makes them stand out to predators on a brown (or green) background.
In theory, natural selection will weigh heavily on hares in the years to come: the hares that have coat-changing cycles that more closely match snowfall will survive, while those with the older cycle will probably be eaten. Over time, the hare population will adapt to the new seasons. But there are two big IFs here: this will only happen IF the seasonal changes happen slowly enough so that the hares have time to adapt, and IF all the hares aren’t preyed upon faster than the survivors can have babies.
Because hares breed like…rabbits (sorry, couldn’t resist the cliche), they will probably be okay in the long term. But there are many, many other species for whom rapid climate change will create insurmountable problems in the decades to come.
For more on the story, go here: http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2013/04/color-changing-hare-cant-keep-up.html?ref=hp
Last weekend, we took a walk through UCF’s Arboretum after doing some work in the garden. We’re still in spring (or we were until the last few high-80′s days), so it’s been pretty dry.
The arboretum is on the northeastern side of campus- when UCF was built, the surrounding land was basically farms, so the campus is quite large. There’s a network of walking trails through this undeveloped part of campus. There were some flowers blooming- like most subtropical areas, Florida doesn’t really have an overwhelming amount of giant blossoms. Flowers are generally small and seasonal.
Part of the Arboretum is open oak woodlands, but most is a variety of pine flatwoods. There are also some boggy areas. Again, Florida is so flat that even a few inches of elevation change can make a dry pine flatwoods into a boggy little marsh.
A little marshy area held some pipewort and pink sundews, as well as long-leaf violets.
We didn’t see too many birds- the buzzing calls of Blue-gray gnatcatchers and alarm chirps of Northern cardinals were pretty ubiquitous, though. There were a variety of warblers, vultures, and a few raptors, though.
It’s a bit odd to be able to look through the trees and see the new stadium- while this part of campus is undeveloped, the surrounding area is rapidly being built on. There’s actually an abandoned dump in one part of what’s now a semi-protected area. But it’s a nice place to take a short walk near campus.