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Nature's Notebook

Bat basketed

Case opened  21:01 hours, top of stairs in attic chamber outside master bedroom: Flickering shadows from energy-efficient lightbulb turned out to be caused by a circling bat. Backup called and assault team assembled.

First-to-show was Night Security Officer Winslow the Cat, who danced on the railing in frantic manner, pawing upward as if to nab invader in his paws.

Senior SWAT team member arrived and delegated Officer Cat (under protest) to downstairs traffic control. 

As the NW Corner becomes a beer bastion

On a whim three years ago, I purchased a pair of potted hops plants. I have a very compact garden in the one corner of my backyard that gets sufficient sunlight, and I placed them in the center of the back line. Then I ignored them.

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Same turtle, new name

The unobtrusive and federally threatened bog turtle managed to get a new scientific name quite a few years ago without my being aware of it. 

The world of taxonomy has been upended by genetic sequencing. It turns out that while previously grouped all together in the genus Clemmys, bog turtles are closely related to wood turtles but not directly related to spotted turtles (Clemmys guttata). The bog turtle is now Glyptemys muhlenbergii and the wood turtle Glyptemys insculpta.

An ode to AC and ice cubes

Today is another hot and humid day in a summer that has seen many of them. Despite recent rains, the rivers remain low and the sun is bright and my garden still thirsts for rain. Some folks like it hot and muggy but I am not one of them. Today is the kind of day I wish I were at the beach, rather than in a room without air conditioning.

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It’s only ankle high

Scots historian Alexander Stewart has given me some useful language.
His “ ‘Twixt Ben Nevis and Glencoe: The Natural History, Legends and Folk-Lore of the West Highlands” (published in Edinburgh in 1885) includes a witty section about how folks in his day measured precipitation. 

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Learning about iron

This area, as you know, was once home to a thriving pig iron industry that exploited veins of Salisbury iron along the Housatonic River valley. You can learn about this history at Beckley Furnace in East Canaan, where a Friends group offers Saturday interpretive programs at a restored furnace stack, and Kent Furnace, part of the Eric Sloane Museum, which has a preserved stack.

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Secret paths

If you are anything like me, you don’t go into the woods hoping for a crowd. 
Popular recreation destinations with easy access and amenities have their charms, but the back country should be a refuge and our presence there a privilege. 
With more than 550 miles of trails in northwest Connecticut, some are little frequented and virtually unknown outside a small circle of users. Others are definitely in the be-prepared-and-use-at-your-own-risk category: poorly marked, poor cell service, minimally maintained. 

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Don’t bite

Don’t bite
 
Recent conversation came around to pesky flying insects and I remarked that my wife was a mosquito magnet. A friend said airborne biters can, in fact, be drawn by a person’s blood type.
Donna’s blood type is O, the universal donor. Mine is AB, the universal recipient and the rarest. 
Jerry Butler, professor emeritus of the University of Florida, has written, “One in 10 people are highly attractive to mosquitoes.” 

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Hard choices and the firefly

The fireflies came early this year, and in one special place they came in numbers undimmed by the yellow moon.
In a high field with a broad horizon the grass has been left to grow tall, and we made a twilit pilgrimage on a warm night last week to watch the lightning bugs dance. 
It was a thrill I have been denied in recent years, as the field beyond my own fence has passed to a different owner with different priorities, but there they were in their winking hundreds, free for any with a mind to stop and see.

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Back to the garden

I have two young apple trees — winesaps — that have been flowering beautifully during the last two weeks. I planted them about this time last year, and one of them produced a single small fruit. I am hoping that after a year to adjust and without the late spring frosts that often spoil the crop, they will feel like producing more. They certainly put on a lovely show.

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