We do not have Satin Bowerbirds in our neighborhood, but they are distant cousins of our crows and ravens. I am entranced by their bower building and use of color to attract a mate.
Satin Bowerbird by Bert Kitchen :: from And So They Build
The bowerbird especially loves the color blue and will make use of discarded bottle caps and plastic straws, as well as toothbrushes, clothespins, and other garbage. An amazing bird that is able to turn trash into art .
Australian printmaker Rachel Newling has lovely linocuts and engravings; while looking for artistic rendering of bowerbirds, I came across her flying foxes...she has cards available too.
Today is Lughnasadh, the beginning Gaelic harvest festival which historically was observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. I will be celebrating by tidying up my garden boxes, harvesting the last of my spring kales and Swiss chard, and replanting for the fall season.
Where did July go? Our mornings included drinking coffee on the patio and enjoying our resident Spotted Towhees, Bewick's wrens, and hummingbirds--(not so much the antics of the voracious and vociferous fledgling crow who continues to create endless ruckus).
Photos: August calendar by Linnea, super-tiny cilantro flowers (whose centers turn into amazingly large coriander seeds!), and our manzanita (Arctostaphylos) Towhee playground
Pollinators I have loved,
and this t-shirt seems especially poignant these days.
How many different pollinators can you find in your backyard and neighborhood?
Want to know more about migratory pollinators?
specifically nectar-feeding bats and Monarch butterflies... Me too!
The Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides is offering a free webinar on
Monday, June 29 1pm PDT---
see you there!
It's June and here in Seattle we've been in quarantine since mid-March...
yesterday (while shopping outside by appointment only at my local garden store) I was asked to pay for a purchase by placing my credit card in a butterfly net--in order to stay 6 feet away from the masked and gloved employee who would run it inside to be processed. I did not make this up.
As an inquiry biologist, it is in my nature and training to be curious, to think for myself, and to use my common sense when approaching a problem. Lately, I see very little of the latter.
If you have also been wondering about the state of things and questioning the response to Covid-19/ the SARS-CoV-2 virus, you will appreciate this excellent article by JD Handley from the Children's Health Defense website.
Then, Swiss Policy Research is a treasure chest of fully referenced facts about Covid-19 that counter the mainstream media narrative.
I am taking a bit of comfort in knowing that there are others who question the current paradigm. I do think it is important to be careful, to make informed decisions, and to always always keep in mind the consequences of any action that is taken. My biggest concern at this point is for our parents, people who are over 80 and who have comorbidities and who are suffering from isolation. Young healthy people do not need to be using butterfly nets to process credit cards! That kind of thinking is what truly scares me.
Fear is causing people to stop asking important questions. Why I am being scolded for wondering: "why should healthy people wear masks (especially when cloth face coverings are at best ineffective and at worst cause harm)?" and "how can they possibly create a vaccine for this novel coronavirus in six months when they've been working on a vaccine for SARS for seventeen years and still have not had success--and crucially: why will there be no mandatory trials for safety and efficacy?"
Brew yourself a cuppa and prepare to settle in.
Tracey’s Rhubarb Cake
Preheat Oven to 350 F. Grease and flour 8x8 square baking dish.
In large bowl mix:
3⁄4 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1⁄2 tsp salt
1 cup white flour
1 cup ww flour
2 beaten eggs
1 cup sour cream
Then fold in:
3 cups chopped rhubarb
Spoon into baking dish, it is thick!
In small bowl stir together:
1⁄2 cup brown sugar
1⁄2 cup softened butter
1 tsp cinnamon
2 T of ancient seeds or chopped nuts
1⁄4 cup rolled oats
2 T rye flour
Spread mixture over top of cake
Bake at 350 F for about 50 minutes (or until toothpick comes out clean)
Eleanor Lutz, of Tabletop Whale, created this animated butterfly chart in 2014. I think she is brilliant, and love her application of art and digital technology to science illustration. Be sure to click the link to watch the butterflies in motion!
Then, pop over to Pacific Horticulture to find my inquiry research on "Where Are the Butterflies?" Plus, tips on how to make your garden butterfly-friendly with these Eight Essential Elements.
~illustration by Roger La Borde
This year we have spunky Bewick's Wrens nesting in the side of our garden shed (they totally ignored the birdhouses we have installed for them), a reclusive pair of Spotted Towhees nesting in the hedgerow underbrush, and some riotous Stellar Jays have built their nest in a neighbor's conifer. We are enjoying getting to know these three bird couples. It's been fun to observe their quirky personalities and how they interact with all the other songbirds who visit throughout the day.
Since I recently donated my cameras and lenses to Peter Pearsall, wildlife photographer, I was compelled to go looking for images of these avian parents. I am very pleased to have discovered Whatbird.com. It is a nice compliment to my favorite site :the Cornell Lab's All About Birds.
Back in my new/old house, I am enjoying baking and brewing in my updated kitchen. These last two weeks I’ve been nurturing three different sourdough starters, as well as taking my SCOBY out of hibernation and brewing my own continuous green tea Kombucha. I have to say that all my experiments have been tasty and successful. My ferments are as happy as me to inhabit this lovely new space.
My sourdough pancakes have been getting a kick out of the daily feedings and these have been the lightest and most complex pancakes in quite some time. Whiskey=Irish coffee...also a quarantine-blues buster.
My stay-at-home project this spring is to join Rob Dunn and his crew in their Wild Sourdough Project and also to participate in Michelle Jewel's 20 minute Fermentology Seminars to learn about "the applied ecology, evolution, history and culture of cultured foods". Both of these activities have open invitations from North Carolina State Public Science Lab.
As a Wild Sourdough participant, I will be comparing ferments from three types of flour. I mixed my pastes today and in two weeks will be posting photos and data to the site.
Meanwhile...meet the new babies in our fermenting lab (joining our kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, and my Seattle sourdough).
Want to join me in a Zoom seminar every Thursday afternoon through August? See you there!
I am excited to share the link to my article, published Spring 2019 in Pacific Horticulture.
With everyone quarantined and staying at home, this is a wonderful opportunity to dig into your soil and to nourish your relationship with the flora and fauna in the neighborhood.
Now, get outside and enjoy that spring sunshine!