December 13, 2017

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Military Headstone Symbols

Probably as far off as I’ll get from a Nature related topic but certain events in life seem to have brought me here. Recently a family member was interred in Saratoga National Cemetery and the symbols on each headstone peaked my curiosity in what their meaning was. The Latin Cross and Star of David were simple to interpret but the others left me wondering. For lack of a better and faster source to find this information I decided to just do a simple post in case any one else in the world was just as curious.

Christian
(Latin Cross)Christian Cross
 Judaism
(Star of David)
HEBREW (Star of David)
 BuddhistBUDDHIST (Wheel of Righteousness)
 Presbyterian CrossPRESBYTERIAN CROSS
 Russian Orthodox CrossRUSSIAN ORTHODOX CROSS
 Lutheran CrossLUTHERAN CROSS
 Episcopal CrossEPISCOPAL CROSS
 Unitarian
(Flaming Chalice)
UNITARIAN CHURCH/UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST ASSOCIATION
 United MethodistUNITED METHODIST CHURCH
 Aaronic Order ChurchAARONIC ORDER CHURCH
 Mormon
(Angel Moroni)MORMON (Angel Moroni)
 Native American Church
Of North AmericaNATIVE AMERICAN CHURCH OF NORTH AMERICA
 Serbian OrthodoxSERBIAN ORTHODOX
 Greek CrossGREEK CROSS
 Bahai
(9 Pointed Star)BAHAI (9 Pointed Star)
 AtheistATHEIST
 Muslim
(Crescent and Star)MUSLIM (Crescent and Star)
 HinduHINDU
 Konko-Kyo FaithKONKO-KYO FAITH
 Community of ChristCOMMUNITY OF CHRIST
 Sufism ReorientedSUFISM REORIENTED
 Tenrikyo ChurchTENRIKYO CHURCH
 Seicho-no-ieSEICHO-NO-IE
 The Church of World
MessianityCHURCH OF WORLD MESSIANITY (Izunome)
 United Church of Religious
ScienceUNITED CHURCH OF RELIGIOUS SCIENCE
 Christian Reformed ChurchCHRISTIAN REFORMED CHURCH
United Moravian Church UNITED MORAVIAN CHURCH
 EckankarECKANKAR
 Christian ChurchCHRISTIAN CHURCH
 Christian & Missionary AllianceCHRISTIAN & MISSIONARY ALLIANCE
United Church of Christ UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST
 Humanist Emblem of SpiritHUMANIST EMBLEM OF SPIRIT
 Presbyterian Church (USA)PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH (USA)
 Izumo Taishakyo Mission
Of HawaiiIZUMO TAISHAKYO MISSION OF HAWAII
 Soka Gakkai International
(USA)SOKA GAKKAI INTERNATIONAL - USA
 Sikh (Khanda)SIKH (KHANDA)
 Wicca (Pentacle)WICCA
 Lutheran Church of Missouri
SynodLutheran Church Missouri Synod
 New ApostolicNew Apostolic Church
 Seventh Day Adventist ChurchSeventh Day Adventist Church

 

 Celtic CrossCeltic Cross
 Armenian CrossArmenian Cross
 FaroharFarohar
 Messianic JewishMessianic Jewish
 Kohen HandsKohen Hands
 Catholic Celtic CrossCatholic Celtic Cross
 First Church of Christ. Scientist
(Cross & Crown)The First Church of Christ, Scientist (Cross and Crown)
 Medicine WheelMedicine Wheel
 InfinityInfinity
 Luther RoseLuther Rose
 Landing EagleLanding Eagle
Four Directions Four Directions
Church of Nazarene Church of Nazarene
 Hammer of ThorHammer of Thor
 Unification ChurchUnification Church
 Sandhill CraneSandhill Crane
 Church of GodChurch of God
 PomegranatePomegranate
 MessianicMessianic

You will find that most symbols are of the deceased’s  practiced religion. Several symbols however are representative of a personal statement. The Landing Eagle for example represents Freedom. The Sandhill Crane is a symbol of peace or as being one with land, water and sky. To Christians the Pomegranate represents life and eternal life.

All symbols for military headstones must be approved by the Veterans Administration for use.

 
 The symbols used on this page were obtained from the VA website.

Christian Cross

Should there be a Leash Law in the Adirondacks?

Before you answer that question let’s see if I can set the scene for you, one I’ve experienced one too many times hiking in the Adirondacks. It’s a beautiful day for an adventure, you and your spouse throw your gear in the car and head off to hit the trail. You’re having a great time, the Fall colors are beautiful, you don’t have a care in the world, walking, chatting, enjoying the scenery. Suddenly without warning 4 dogs are charging you at full speed, some barking, some growling. They stop abruptly only a few feet away in a definite aggressive posture, baring their teeth, the hair on their back is raised. You freeze in your tracks and for a several tense seconds your wondering if your going to be mauled in the middle of the trail on a beautiful day. A half a minute later the dogs owner rounds the corner and you hear him say “Oh, don’t worry they’re friendly”.

I do want to state right off the bat that I’m not a dog hater but I am neither a dog lover. Twice in the past 10 months my wife and I have been harassed by dogs on the trail.  The above mentioned incident happened last October on a hike down to the confluence of where the Indian River meets the Hudson.  A few weeks back we were at the Indian again, this time fly fishing coming back out on one of the access trails to the river. We weren’t far from the road when this time three large dogs charged us again stopping just a few feet in front of us growling and barking. The owner, this time an older woman gave a half hearted command to the dogs to stop nearly a full minute later. Again she was no where in sight on our initial contact with her dogs. It wasn’t until she walked by us that the dogs stopped their aggressive behavior and followed her. No apologies, no nothing!

Just yesterday on a hike into the newly open trail to OK Slip Falls we weren’t on the trail more than 10 minutes when a large dog sprinted towards us from the rear. This one was friendly, we knew that how? because his owner yelled to us from a few hundred feet back “he’s friendly”, but does that make it alright? We encountered 3 other dogs running freely on the trail that day.  We didn’t have an incident with any of them but yet we still had to wonder if we were going to and like the other times we were confronted by dogs the owners were no where in sight. The last dog we came upon was leashed and I made it a point to commend the young guy with the dog for having the courtesy to leash his animal.

Did I forget to mention my wife was mauled by a dog as a child?

In my opinion and from my experience there should be a mandatory leash law in the Adirondacks on any and all trails inside the park on public land. Dog owners may think their dogs are cute running up to people but they aren’t. I don’t own a dog, I’m not hiking with a dog so why would I want to deal with your dog?  I don’t care if your dog is friendly, I don’t want to be friends with him. It’s obvious from my experience that some people shouldn’t even own dogs let alone be allowed on public trails with them when they actually pose a risk of injury to myself or someone else.

For you dog owners that are reading this shaking your head saying “this isn’t my dog”, it is your dog. Unless your dog is leashed this is your dog and I do not want to interact with your dog period! We have discussed carrying a canister of mace on future hikes.  I will not have a problem macing the next canine that decides to charge at me, but really why should it be my worry to do that?  Show some consideration and respect for others on the trail and leash your dog.

Currently as far as my research shows there is only a leash law for part of the Eastern High Peaks area and no dogs are allowed whatsoever on AMR trails.  The fine for having a dog off the leash in the high peaks is a mere $15.00, far too little to get the point across to dog owners who don’t obey the law. It seems like a no brainer to institute a leash law throughout the whole of the Adirondack Trail System. Is there any less chance that an unleashed dog will bite someone on Mt. Marcy than the trail to the Blue Ledges?

So to answer my own question, “should there be a leash law in the Adirondacks?”  My answer is a definite YES!

Please feel free to leave your opinion on the issue in the comment section below.

OK Slip Falls

OK Slip Falls ~ Adirondacks, NYRound Trip Distance  ~ 6.0 milesHiking Time One Way ~ 1 hr & 45 minDifficulty ~ Easy to Moderate with long fairly flat sections with several shortinclines.  Hike to the bottom of the falls, extremely difficult.

signpostOK Slip Falls is located in the Hudson Gorge Wilderness Area halfway between North River and Indian Lake, NY.  From the intersection of Rte 28 and 13th Lake Road in North River drive north toward Indian Lake for approximately 4.7 miles, parking for the trailhead will be on the left hand side of the road. The trailhead itself is a short hike a few hundred yards further north on the right side of Rte. 28. mudflats   The first thing you’ll notice is mud, lots of mud! Don’t let that discourage you after a few hundred yards you’ll be back on dry ground.  At 0.5 miles the trail to OK Slip Falls veers off to the right and continues through a hardwood forest of mostly beech and maple. beaver flow  At around 1.5 miles you will come upon a beaver flow on your right. This is a pretty spot and worth  spending a few minutes exploring for tracks in the muddy shoreline. I looked quick for any sign of Moose tracks but came up empty. Moose are making a pretty good comeback in the Adirondacks and I frequently find their tracks around these wet areas.   At the 2.0 mile mark you will come out to a dirt road where the trail turns left and follows the road for approximately 100 yards before turning and entering the woods again on the right. This dirt road leads to the Northern Frontier Camp for Christian Boys. The trail again here is a little muddy for a short distance.  The last mile of the hike starts winding its way down toward the falls and is the longest incline you will encounter.  There are two overlooks of which I felt the first overlook has the best view. OK Slip FallsWe got quite a bit of a late start to our hike and didn’t arrive at the overlook until a little after 12 noon. The nice thing about being late was the angle of the sun that was creating a rainbow  midway up the falls. This is getting to be a popular hike and you will most likely not be alone very long if at all while you’re there.  Don’t forget to be courteous and share the view. Ok Slip Falls is said to be the highest waterfall in the Adirondacks at 250′ feet tall.  OK Slip Brook continues from the base of the falls and flows about .05 miles further where it merges with the Hudson River. A short walk further down the ridge will bring you to the second overlook, still a beautiful view but not as good as the first.  At this point there is a trail that continues to the bottom of the falls. A sign posted says the trail is closed. Most people will not venture further than this sign which is a good idea. The trail itself is nearly vertical, slippery and muddy with few hand or footholds.  If your not an experienced outdoorsman with proper foot wear, physical ability and common sense do not venture down this trail!  While the bottom of the falls offers a different perspective it still does not compare with the awe of the first overlook, by far the best view and a great spot for a bite to eat. Green Headed Cone flowers, Snakeroot, Spotted Joe-Pye-Weed and Purple Fringed Orchid were the prevalent wildflowers growing around the stream bank on this August day. Helleborine was about the only woodland wildflower we spotted. A spring hike should have quite a bit of color on the wooded sections of the trail with Gaywings, violets, Spring Beauties and Hepatica being just a few of the wildflower species you should find. A hike into the falls in autumn should be spectacular with the amount of maples on the trail. I wouldn’t expect too much color at the falls themselves as the prevalent tree species is Hemlock but there should be a little color mixed in.  No matter which season you go the falls are truly a magnificent sight, I doubt you’ll be disappointed!

fall7

purplefringedorchid

okslip4

OK Slip Falls is a true gem in the Adirondacks! Let’s keep it that way.  Enjoy and leave only tracks!

In Search of Wild Leeks, Allium tricoccum

It’s Springtime here in the Adirondacks which could only mean one thing, that it’s time to hunt down the incredibly tasty Wild Leek, cook up a huge pot of Potato Leek soup and celebrate the end of a long dreary winter. Wild Leeks, Allium tricoccum  aka, ramps, wild garlic, spring onion or wood onion are found in rich woods in the Northeast. leekleaf Wild Leeks are best identified by their leaves which grow in pairs. The leaves are elliptical in shape 5 to 10 inches long with a smooth margin. They have a kind of waxy feel to them and they are light green in color.  Each leaves stalk is reddish purple tinged becoming lighter as it gets closer to the leaf base.  Wild Leeks tend to grow in large colonies. On my hike yesterday I saw hundreds of thousands of Wild Leeks growing, in some areas the plants completely covered the ground. If you were to crush or crumple one of the leaves it would have a strong oniony garlic scent to it.  Just below the soil a few inches is where you’ll find the meaty bulb of the plant.  There’s no reason to dig up the bulb, you don’t want or need to disturb the soil, simply grasp the lower leaf leekmeatstalk and with a quick tug the bulb should come free. You’ll see that the bulb is encased in a somewhat transparent skin and once pulled off the pure white flesh is exposed. Both the leaves and the bulb are edible and to me have a very pleasant oniony garlic flavor. If you’re lucky enough to find a patch of woods where Wild Leeks are growing take special care to not overharvest the plant. Take only enough to prepare a meal or two and you should only remove one or two of the bulbs from each colony.  Overharvesting of Wild Leeks in some states has actually led to the plant be listed as a species of concern and in some parts of Canada the plants are protected and possession of them is illegal. Once the leaves begin to yellow and wither the are no longer desirable and only the bulb should be eaten. Here’s one of my favorite recipes and one I look forward to every Spring.

Wild Leek and Potato Soup

Ingredients.
4-6 slices bacon (optional)  4 cups chopped wild leeks, including greens
4-5 diced red potatoes
3 tablespoons flour
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream  Salt and pepper to taste
 
In a large skillet, fry bacon until crispy. Set bacon aside. Add leeks and potatoes to the skillet; fry on medium-low heat until leeks are tender. Sprinkle with flour; stir until flour is absorbed. Stir in chicken broth and simmer until potatoes are tender. Stir in cream and heat thoroughly. Add crumbled bacon and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped leek leaves if desired. Serves 4-6.
 
Enjoy and please practice sensible conservation of this species!
 
 

How to Make a PVC Pipe Birdhouse

Being in construction I’ve always had extra pieces of PVC pipe left over from jobs. Most times I just threw them away rather than have a stockpile of pieces that were most often too short to use cluttering up my garage.  A couple weeks back I had a idea to turn a piece into a birdhouse.  It really wouldn’t take much, a short piece of 3 or 4 inch PVC and a cap for each end. Of course as usual I got carried away and instead of a cap at one  I decided to put a clean out to make it easier to clean each Fall.   I did a quick Google search to see if there were any plans floating around and was surprised to find only one which was from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Here’s a link to their page with the original plans created by Dan Mennill.

.http://web2.uwindsor.ca/courses/biology/dmennill/nestbox.html

pvc1I changed the plans just a little to make the length of pipe work out better if you were to make several birdhouses out of a standard 10 foot piece. As I mentioned before I also used a cleanout for the bottom and just a regular cap for the roof.

As you can see by the image I made one from 3 inch PVC and one from a piece of 4 inch. The 3 inch pipe has a 1 1/4 inch hole for chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, wrens or Downy Woodpeckers. The 4 inch pipe has a 2 inch opening for lager birds such as a Red Headed Woodpecker.  Since PVC is so smooth the most important thing to do is to roughen up the inside of the pipe on the entrance side. I used a dremel with a small grinder bit and made horizontal grooves from the bottom of the pipe to just above the hole. The fledglings will need a toe hold to get to the entrance to leave the nest. Without this roughed up surface the chicks surely would be trapped inside the nest so make sure you roughen it up pretty well before you put the caps on each end.  Your also going to want to roughen up the exterior of the pipe around the hole so the birds coming to the house can also have a toehold. A piece of 80 grit sand paper will also do the trick. Here’s what you’ll need;

  • one 11 3/4 inch length of 3 or 4 inch PVC
  • one PVC cap
  • one PVC cleanout assembly (threaded hub and threaded coupling)
  • PVC cement

Drill either a 1 1/4 (for 3 inch PVC) or 2 inch hole (for 4 inch PVC) down approximately 1 1/2 pipehouse22inches from the bottom edge of your cap. Make sure you roughened up the inside before gluing on the caps.  Apply a liberal amount of glue your PVC cap and cleanout assembly and attach then to your pipe.  On the back side of the pipe I cut in two keyhole slots, one near the top and one near the bottom. The keyhole slots will allow the birdhouse to slide over two nails that you put into the tree.  The extra nail at the bottom will stabilize the house from any unnecessary movements.

 

I went a little further and took my dremel tool and carved lines into the pipe to give the impression of birch bark.  I cut the top off a black ink pen, squeezed out some ink on a paper plate and used a toothpick to rub ink into each horizontal line.  You can go a little further even and get birchhousesome birch bark off a dead downed tree and use contact cement to adhere it to the PVC to really simulate a birch branch or trunk. I may do a few up myself that way and post them here.

The house I built on this page is made from Schedule 40 PVC which can get a little expensive. There’s really no need to use such a heavy duty pipe, I only did because I already had the pipe. If you want to make a few of these up you should purchase the more economical thin walled PVC which you’ll find at any building supply store. They’ll also have all the fittings you will need as well. If you purchased a 10 foot piece of 3 inch thin walled PVC you should be able to build your first house for approximately $17.00 excluding tax and glue.  Each additional house after that will only cost you around $8.00 bucks because all you have to buy for each house are the end caps.

You don’t have to disguise them as birch bark either, you can paint them any color but remember the darker the color the hotter it will be inside the birdhouse. Since this type design is pretty much water tight there isn’t a need for drain holes at the bottom but you can still drill a few into the bottom of the clean out and a few holes just under the edge of the top coupling for air circulation. Unlike wood These PVC pipe birdhouses will  last a lifetime and beyond.

Happy Birding !!

Feline or Canine? How to Identify their Tracks

Canine and Feline tracks are probably the most confusing tracks you’ll find yet with just a little knowledge you can be an expert at identifying each.  Carefully studying the image below you should be able to pick out a few of the different features each animal track displays.

tracks canine feline

Looking at the feline track above you should notice the following;

  • There are no claws showing. Cats tracks seldom show claws since their claws are felineretractable. This is true for all cats including Mtn. Lions, Bobcat, Lynx and domestic cats
  • The heel pad of felines will show three lobes on the back edge and usually two lobes on the front edge. If you look closely it resembles an “M”.
  • The overall shape of the track is appears round or as wide as it is long.

 

Looking at the canine track you should notice;

  • Four distinct claw marks at the end of each toe.canine
  • The front of the heel pad has only one single lobe and the back edge of the heel pad has only two lobes.
  • The overall appearance of the track is rectangular.

 

 

If there are claw marks present then it’s a safe bet it’s a canine. However, there is one exception to that rule, Gray Fox. Gray Fox have semi- retractable claws so you’ll want to also check the number of lobes on the heel pad to be sure. The majority of the time though their claw marks will be present in their track.  The following measurements might help if you want to distinguish what species of canine or feline your trying to identify.

Felines

  • Domestic Cat –  1 to 1 1/2 inches long or wide
  • Bobcat –  2 inches long or wide
  • Lynx – 3 1/2 to 4 inches long or wide
  • Mtn. Lion – 3 to 4 1/2 inches long or wide

Canines

  • Gray Fox –  1 1/2 inches wide by 2 inches long
  • Red Fox –  1 3/4 inches wide by 2 1/4 inches long
  • Gray Wolf – 3 3/4 inches wide by up to 5 inches long
  • Coyote –  2 inches wide by 2 1/2 inches long
  • Domestic Dog –  Variable size from a small lap dog, 1 inch long to a full size St. Bernard that could measure up to 5 inches long.

In most parts of North America canine tracks will surely be the majority of tracks you’ll find. However, knowing the difference between feline and canine tracks and what to look for, you may just be in for a treat and discover Bobcat or if you’re really lucky a nice set of Mtn. Lion tracks.  Good luck and Happy Tracking!!

 

10 Things to do with your used Christmas Tree

xmas treeOnce again Christmas has come and gone and the one thing left you can’t return sadly is the tree. Rather than just toss it out to the curb here are 10 environmentally friendly things you can  turn that  unwanted Christmas Tree into.

Stand your tree up outdoors to use as cover or a resting spot for birds. It should go feedercoverwithout mentioning to take any tinsel that you may have used off the tree. If you have bird feeders place the tree several feet away from the feeder.

You want to place it far enough away that the squirrels wont be able to jump from the tree to your feeder, unless of course you don’t mind feeding the squirrels. It doesn’t hurt to hang a little suet from the branches as well.

 

feederperch

Attach some branches to an existing feeder for photo opps. That’s a little trick I learned a few years back. You can use a wire staple to attach the branch to your feeder. If you project the branch upwards over the feeder it works best. This way you can get a great natural looking picture of birds without the feeder in the picture. No one will ever know your shooting pics right from your bird feeder.

Use the needles to make potpourri. This works especially well if you had a potpourriBalsam for your tree. You don’t need anything special, some old socks or nylon stockings work great. Strip or shake as many needles off the tree as you would like and simply place them in your sock. If the scent starts to subside just knead the sock or stocking with your hands and fingers to crush the needles and release more new scent.

 

Make your own fire starters. If you do any kind of camping or have a fireplace in your home you can’t go wrong making your own fire starters. All you need are some empty egg crates and old candles, crayons or wax that you can melt down. While your melting your wax down fill each space in the empty egg eggcratecarton up with needles from your tree. You can break up small twigs as well but they have to be very small.  Once your wax is melted carefully pour it into each space in your egg carton and let it harden.firestarters Once hardened simply pull the egg carton apart and you have 12 individual fire starters. You can leave the cardboard from the carton on or off, they certainly light easier if you leave the cardboard on, just trim the excess off the tops to make them more compact for storage.

 

Create a shelter for small animals. If you have any kind of yard at all just drag the tree over to the corner somewhere and leave it for birds and other small animals to nest or hide in. You can break off the branches and lay them against the trunk in a teepee pattern to create a space for rabbits or other small animals to hide.suettrunk

 

Use the trunk to make a suet feeder. You can get as creative as you want to with this one. You can make hanging feeders or simply cut the trunk into 2 or 3 foot lengths and stand them on the ground. Drill anywhere from 1/2 to 1 inch holes into the trunk with a spade bit and fill the hole suet or peanut butter. The birds will love you for it!

 

bughouseMake a bug house with the branches. Cut enough branches off the tree to make  bundles 6 to 8 inches in diameter and 12 to 16 inches long. Strip all the smaller twigs off the branches so they will fit tighter together. Wrap the twigs up tight with string and hang them in a tree or place them in some bushes or in your garden. You could also take old birch bark (from downed trees of course) and wrap that around your bundle of sticks and then wrap string around that to hang up. You may have moths, butterflies, bees or lady bugs move in which are all beneficial to your garden plants and flowers..

Make your own mulch. This one works better if you can collect several trees from your neighbors. If you don’t have a chipper rent one from your local hardware or rental store. Use the wood chips to dress up your yard or garden.

Enjoy a Spring or Fall fire.  Probably the least environmentally friendly thing to do with your used Christmas Tree but it keeps that warm Christmas feeling alive for a little extra while. Cut the trunk up into small logs, break the branches into kindling and let the wood dry. Kick back with someone you love on a cool Spring night, pour a glass of wine  and listen to the Peepers while you sit around the fire.

groundblindBuild a ground blind for photography.  This is one of my favorites since I enjoy photography and it’s simple. Since where I live it’s pretty wooded I have several ground blinds in various places. The best blinds are the ones where I used two trees from consecutive years. I have a collapsible stool I carry with me that fits nicely in my blinds. If your like taking wildlife pics then a natural blind is definitely the way to go.

You probably have a few ideas now of things to do with your used  Christmas Tree at least we hope so.  They grace our home and holidays with their beauty, hopefully they can serve a  another purpose in Nature for the coming seasons.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

Woolly Bears and the Winter Weather

I’m sure you’ve heard the old wives tale about the Woolly Bear caterpillars ability to predict the winter weather. The wider the brown middle band is, the milder the winter. Well, since I didn’t have any immediate plans for the  weekend I decided I may as well startwoollybowl25 my own study and see just how accurate a Woolly Bear can be. Really I just love projects and this sounded kind of fun and it gave me an excuse to go outdoors. I grabbed an old cool whip container and the hunt was on. Finding Woolly Bears in the Fall really isn’t a tough task, the best places to look are around rocks, rock walls, flower gardens and sidewalks.  My goal was to collect 25 Woolly Bears and measure their mid sections as well as the black bands on their head and tail. If they were to predict a mild winter then the middle brown or sometimes orange/brown band would have to be at least half the body length. The average body length of a Woolly Bear in a relaxed resting position is 1 1/2 inches long. That means we would need to get an average length of 3/4 of an inch or more on the brown band on our collection. Lets see what our measurements added up to.

Average black head band length – 0.44 inches or about 7/16ths of  an inch.

Average black tail band length –  0.325 inches or about 5/16ths of an inch

Average brown middle band length – 0.645 inches or about 5/8ths of an inch

measure1Judging by the figures above according to the Woolly Bear folklore we should be in for a harsh winter.    Damn! and here I was hoping for a mild one.  The interesting thing about those averages is that there were 8 specimens that measured 3/4 of an inch or more in length. Subjects #10 and #14 both measured a full inch long at the mid section, nearly twice as long as the majority of our caterpillars. Most of our caterpillars, 10 total, measured a solid 1/2 inch long at the mid section.

 

Not to get discouraged (after all I want a mild winter) I set out the next day to collect as many Woolly Bears as I could find in 30 minutes. This time I would count the brown segments and approach it from that angle. I managed to round up 28 caterpillars. Yes, some could have been the same ones as the day before but who could tell, they all look alike.  A Woolly Bears body has 13 distinct segments to it.  Technically we would need to find that 7 segments were brown to predict a mild winter, it wasn’t looking good.

Average black head segments – 4.678 2woollybears

Average black tail segments – 3.25

Average brown segments – 5.035

I really shouldn’t have included specimen #17 because he had only 2 black head segments no black tail segment and a whopping 11 brown segments. If I hadn’t included him our average brown segments would have been closer to four.  Nearly half, 12 of our caterpillars had only 4 brown segments.  There were a total of eight subjects that had 6 brown body segments. All this again according to folklore points toward a hard winter.  (Insert sad face here.)

Some interesting things I learned with my little study:

  • Woolly Bears crap a lot and you’d be surprised at just how big a poop a little caterpillar can do.
  • No matter how hard you try you can’t get a Woolly Bear to uncurl with your finger.
  • You can however get a Woolly Bear to uncurl by placing in him in your cupped hand, cup over that hand with your other one and gently blow long breaths into your hands. Usually by four long breaths you’ll feel the caterpillar start to move. woollypoop
  • Woolly bears crap a lot. Did I say that already?

We’ve already got our calendar marked for next year to do another little study. We’ll find out shortly if the Woolly Bear is right and the winter of 2013-2014 is a harsh one and if they really can predict the winter weather.

Stay tuned!

 

 Update 1/30/2014

I chose that nice blue color to match the temperatures outside…… it is FREEZING!!  I don’t remember a colder winter than this one. We’ve had some significant snowfall early in the season and then a lot of freezing rain and a lot of below zero days. So the score on the first year of our study is 1 zip. The Woolly Bears have this winter correct, harsh no doubt.

Update 4/22/2014

Believe it or not the snow just melted, winters here in the Adirondacks seem to last forever. Those caterpillars sure had this winter pegged. It was long, it was cold, it was snowy!!

 

 

 

Waiting on the Wind

On the verge.
You can feel the excitement
you can see it in their color.
Pure white, the purest
the white of cotton, of goose down
of impending snows.
 
milkweedblogAs so much life ends
the flowers
the grasses
the falling leaves
theirs is but to begin 
their journey
 
Waiting on the wind
 
To carry them away
effortlessly, floating
suspended in a promise
 
 
A promise  to carry them
hold them
to set them free, to explore
to grow
where the soil is fertile and the soaking rains fall
 
The whitest of whites
a seed
a simple seed, yet I feel the excitement.
The wind stirs
the leaves rattle
a journey begins.
 
 

Page Jumps and Anchor Points Made Simple

There’s one thing for sure if your blogging and that’s that at some point in time your going to want to make use of page jumps or anchor points.  So what is a page jump or anchor point? Simply put it’s a link from one spot in your blog article to another spot in the same blog article. Page jumps eliminate the need to scroll through the whole article to find a certain subject your interested in reading. On my blog for example I usually keep a day to day journal when I go on a trip. I’ll start the blog off with a table of contents like format that will look something like this.
Day 1 ~ Proxy Falls
Day 2 ~ North to the Coast
Day 3 ~ Exploring the Bluffs
 
My description of Day 1, 2 and 3 etc., will be further down the page. When you have several days listed or many subject titles listed in a long article that your writing your going to want to link the title to the body of the post with that titles information  ie: Day 3 ~ Exploring the Bluffs becomes a link to the actual write up of Day 3 where I explored the bluffs. 
 
Are you still with me?   Don’t be scared, I’ve been to enough other sites that try to explain this and I’m left sitting there with my mouth hanging open wondering what the hell they’re talking about. Some sites get way too technical and assume you know how to write code so take a deep breath and I’ll see if I can make this easier to explain than most.
And here we go!
 
 I’m going to assume your using Word Press.  At the top of the toolbar in the right hand corner you’ll   see two selections, Visual and Text. Write your blog as you normally would in the “Visual” selection. Once your blog is written click on the “Text” option. Your now going to see your blog article in HTML format, no big deal and don’t get nervous. If you take a minute to just scroll through there you’ll see all that you wrote is still there in plain English, it’s just intertwined with bits of code.
 
Now locate in there the title that you want to make as the link (page jump). Just for example we are going to use  Day 3 ~ Exploring the Bluffs. We need to insert this piece of code before the title.
<a href=”#3″>
 
Our title should now look like this,
<a href=”#3″>Day 3 ~ Exploring the Bluffs
 
We still need to insert one more piece of code after the title and that code looks like this:
</a>
 
Our whole title should now look exactly like this:
<a href=”#3″>Day 3 ~ Exploring the Bluffs<a/>

Now of course your going to want to customize this to your blog and what you want to link. So lets just say your writing a blog on flyfishing and you have several paragraphs or chapters. It’s easiest if you always use numbers for chapter or paragraphs or the points that you want to link from. So lets say chapter one is on “Fly Tying”, your code would look this:

<a href=”#1″>Fly Tying</a>

 
Chapter 2 is on “Casting to the Rise”, your code would look like this:
<a href=”#2″>Casting to the Rise</a>
 
Chapter 15 is on “How to Read the Currents”, your code would look like this:
<a href=”#15″>How to Read the Currents</a>
 
Yes, it’s that simple to make the title link, just change the numbers of the links and change the titles, all the rest of the code remains exactly the same. Pay attention to spacing that’s important. If you don’t have the spacing where it’s needed the link won’t work.
 
Now, for the second part of the page jump. This is where the link above is going to link to, also called an anchor, it’s where the link we made above is going to “jump” to. This is just as easy with a small piece of code needed as well.  Scroll down through your content and find where you want the link to go. As in the example above were going to use  “Day 3 ~ Exploring the Bluffs” 
 
Before the title we enter this code:
<a name=”3″></a>
 
Our title should now look like this:
<a name=”3″></a>Day 3 ~Exploring the Bluffs
 
That’s it!!  All you do is substitute your titles for the ones I used as an example, for instance lets use “Casting to the Rise” that we used above. We labeled that title number “2”  so our code would read as follows:
<a name=”2″></a>Casting to the Rise
 
You only need to change the number in the code to match the corresponding number you used above for the original link and change the title each time to match the title of that same link.  So lets put them together so you can see it better. We’ll use “Casting to the Rise” as an example and number it  8.
Our code will look like this for the link:
<a href=”#8″>Casting to the Rise</a>
 
and that link will jump to the content of “Casting to the Rise” and that code will look like this:
<a name=”8″></a>Casting to the Rise
 
One thing to pay attention to while you’re in “Text” mode. If you have any other words or codes before or after your links you just created make sure you have a space between them. I’ll use an example of what I have run into in my own blog. Often times I see  <address><address> or something like that before and after my titles or paragraphs. You want to make sure these do not run into your code.  Space everything before your code and after your code in both the starting link and the anchor point that the link jumps to. For example if you see your title listed like this <address>Casting to the Rise<address>. You want to space that out before you enter your code. It may look like this when your done <address>      <a href=”#8″>Casting to the Rise</a>      <address><address>    Just put a lot of space between them. the same goes for the anchor point or where the link jumps to.
 
 I hope that was an easy lesson and I certainly hope it helps you out if your trying to create page jumps and anchor points.  You can see how I used mine here in these two blog posts.
http:/2011/08/alaska-august2011/
http:/2013/05/dreaming-of-the-pacific-coast-highway/
 
Happy Blogging!!