Over The Moon

By Jon Sullivan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Jon Sullivan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
It has been orbiting the Earth for 4.5 billion years, the moon. It is difficult to contemplate all the living entities that have gazed upon  or have been influenced by this natural satellite. There are the tides of the oceans and  minimally the lakes, atmosphere and Earth’s crust. Flowers, such as the Evening Primrose, Night Bloom Lilies or the Moon Flower are but a few that depend on the moonlight to bloom.  We know that sea turtles use the moon to come on shore to lay their eggs. Sea turtle off-spring use the moon to find the sea. On the Australian Great Barrier Reef moonlight plays a significant role in  spontaneous spawning of coral.  Birds may navigate using the moon as Eagle Owls use the moon to tell them when to begin making their calls.” Ecologists Laura Prugh (University of Alaska Fairbanks) and Christopher Golden (Harvard) surveyed the behaviour of 59 nocturnal mammals, they found that most carnivores and insectivores became less active under the brightest Moon phases. Primates seemed to be the only group that was consistently more active under the full moon.”(aeon.co/essays/do-the-phases-of-the-moon-affect-human-behaviour) This supports every educators and ER doctor’s claim that a full moon often causes their classrooms and ERs to be more active.

The moon is the second brightest object in the sky, the sun being the first. The moon, however, emits no light. The moon’s light is reflected sunlight. The amount of reflected sunlight, referred to as a phase, is dependent on the movements of both the Earth and the moon. The moon has eight distinct phases that occur about every 29.5 days (monthly). We begin with:

  1. Image by Eric Teske (CC BY-NC 3.0)
    Image by Eric Teske (CC BY-NC 3.0)

    The New Moon. There is no reflected light. The moon is actually out during the day and down at night.

  2. The Waxing Crescent. Waxing means growing. Just after sunset we see a sliver of the moon, then it goes down. The sliver and time seen increases each night until the next phase.
  3. The Quarter Moon. At this time half of the moon is seen for half the night.
  4. Waxing Gibbous. Gibbous means hump. At this time the light appears to form a bulge and only a crescent of the moon cannot be seen. It stays up most of the night.
  5. The Full Moon.  We see the entire moon from sunset to just before sunrise.
  6. The Waning Gibbous. Waning means shrinking. The bulge is shrinking as is the time seen.
  7. The Last Quarter. We see half of the moon….the opposite half from the Quarter Moon.
  8. The Waning Crescent. Only a silver of the moon can be seen just before morning.
View from my bedroom window.
View from my bedroom window.

Full moons were given names by the people who observed and used them as predictors of life events. You will notice each month’s full moon is named for an activity that is expected to occur at that time.

  1. The Wolf Moon, Old Moon or Moon after the Yule is the first full moon in January.
  2. The Snow Moon, Quickening Moon or Hunger Moon shows itself in February.
  3. March brings the  Worm Moon or Sap Moon.
  4. The Pink Moon or Egg Moon shows itself in April.
  5. May brings the Flower or Milk Moon.
  6. The Strawberry Moon, Rose Moon or Honey Moon comes in June.
  7. The Buck or Thunder Moon is the July moon.
  8. August brings the Sturgeon, Red, Grain or Green Corn Moon
  9. September and October each have their own moons but which comes first depends on the year. The Harvest Moon is the moon closest to the autumnal equinox. During the Hunter’s Moon there is a very short period of darkness.
  10. The Beaver Moon or Mourning Moon shows itself in November.
  11. In December we have the Cold Moon.

A Blue Moon is speaking of a month when two full moons are seen in the same month. This happens once in about every twenty-seven years thus the saying,’Once in a Blue Moon’. A Black Moon occurs when there is no full moon in a month. When the full moon is the closest it will ever be to the Earth it is a Super Moon. A Wet Moon or Cheshire Moon occurs when the points of the crescent point away from the horizon as if to smile.

View from my living room window.
View from my living room window.

The moon has been and is still eagerly studied. We have at our finger tips a multitude of information.  All of it is very interesting but somehow cold compared to personally experiencing the moon in a steely night sky. For me each siting is unique and more beautiful than the last. When traveling I think of my family under the same moon hours earlier or later depending on which continent I am visiting. I am awed by its very existence and stoic beauty. It is a joy to wake in the middle of the night or early morning and find it peeking though your window. At times it baths the cat curled up on the bed or casts a shadow of the fifty year old Christmas Cactus on the wall. It gives me a healthy sense of myself…I am but a minute piece of this great plan called life on Earth. I find this comforting and reassuring somehow. Look to the moon for peace and beauty.

Sources:

aeon.co/essays/do-the-phases-of-the-moon-affect-human-behaviou

artifacting.com/names-and-types-of-full-moons/

http://www.kidsastronomy.com/astroskymap/lunar.htm

10 Lovely Flowers Which Bloom Only At Night

http://www.space.com/55-earths-moon-formation-composition-and-orbit.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon

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Boing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Spring Is Here

Basking in the spring sun.
Basking in the spring sun.

For several weeks now I have been looking for my first robin, the first crocus, or that first truly warm breeze brushing across my face. I have been looking for spring. Spring has been a topic of conversation at the market, in the news, and on walks through the woods. I am being teased by a bit more daylight, the warmth of the sun through the window, song birds singing in the trees and a bit of green here and there. Spring is and has been a cause for celebration for centuries…we are by no means the first to feel the joy.

It is the fourth dimension, time that brings us cause for the seasons . The concept of time came to ancient peoples as they realized patterns in nature. The first lessons were in the motions of the stars, next earthly activities such as migrations.  A day equals one sun and one moon. The month is new moon to new moon. Each flooding of the Nile occurred yearly. Keeping track of time is important for human survival. When do we plant? When do we migrate? When should we begin storing food?

Devices to measure time were created to predict answers to these questions enhancing the chances of survival. These devices ranged from tally marks etched into bones to atomic clocks. We have discovered and are in awe of many of the ancient time pieces such as Stonehenge, Chaco Canyon Spirals in New Mexico, and my very favorite, the pyramids at Chichen Itza, Mexico to name a very few.

photo: wikipedia Chichen Itza
photo: wikipedia Chichen Itza

I have had the pleasure of visiting the Chichen Itza pyramids. The Mayans built these structures in 1000 AD to support a place of worship. The walls of the pyramids were built at a very steep angle forcing the climber to bend over in a bowing position as he or she ascended. At either side of the base of the steps are large serpent heads mouths opened wide. In the Mayan culture the serpent brings all life to Earth. There are marvelous stone carvings of serpents with flowers, butterflies and birds flowing out of their mouths. The pyramid is positioned in such a way that on the first day of spring at noon a shadow descends from the top of the structure to the serpents head forming a complete body….it is time to plant.

Spring has always been an important marker as it is seen as a time of rejuvenation, rebirth, or  new  beginnings. There always seems to be excitement in having a fresh start. Festivals mark spring world wide.

The scientific name for spring is the Vernal Equinox or March Equinox. Equinox is Latin for equal night. On this day there will be equal hours of daylight and night time darkness. The exact day of the equinox varies from year to year between the days of March 19th and 21st. This year spring begins on March 20th at 12:20 EST the earliest spring recorded since 1896.

Meteorologists divide the seasons into groups of three months, spring being the months of March, April and May. Ecologists feel spring arrives when the hardy flowers such as daffodils, tulips, and crocuses appear, the soil can be smelled and the animals become active.

 drawing www.geog.ucsb.edu
drawing www.geog.ucsb.edu

The astronomer tells a different story.  In reference to the sun the Earth tilts at a 23 degree angle. As the  Earth orbits around the sun the hemispheres are tilted toward or away from the sun. When the northern hemisphere is tilted away from the sun it is winter as it tilts toward the sun it is summer. The transition times are autumn and spring.

IMG_1149Living in the northern portion of the northern hemisphere I have begun to see many signs of new beginnings. My first was the yellow crocus in the flower bed next to the porch. The daffodils are poking through the ground. The robins are back with their chubby red breasts and waddle. The tree branches are less defined with buds plumping and buckets hung in the sugar bush. The sun is visible…..something to get used to in Michigan after 59 cloudy winter days. The squirrels and chipmunks are busy under the bird feeders.

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Peek out your back door and watch the marvelous re-birthing of  the Earth. It will bring you joy.

Summer grape
Summer grape

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Spring sunshine....bay neat
Spring sunshine….iceless Bay

 

 

 

 

Summer Cherry
Summer Cherry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A bit of green....maybe algae
A bit of green….maybe algae

 

Sources:

www.geog.ucsb.edu

www. Umich.edu/~lowbrows’reflections’1999/simmons.2.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2016/03/18/astronomical-spring-starts-sunday-five-myths-about-the-vernal-equinox/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spring_(season)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hopping Down The Bunny Trail

Photo by Chris Rieser
Photo by
Chris Rieser

They are everywhere pure innocence and silence, the rabbit. They live in our front yard, in the wildflowers or under the pines. Their presence always brings a smile. They may also live in your house, classroom, and local library, among other places, as a companion.

Domestication came for the rabbit in the Middle Ages.  It was the European Rabbit that gave it its start. Since then rabbits have been selectively bred resulting in breeds ranging from dwarf to giant rabbits.

In 1910 The American Rabbit Breeders Association was founded. The ARBA serves as experts in raising rabbits, defining breeds, developing uniform Standards of Perfection, registration and creating a judging system. Rabbit shows have been popular for hundreds of years.

Rabbit Breeds – The American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA)

Click here for Breed Abreviations. Click here to jump to cavy breeds.

Visit AmericanRabbits.org

Visit AmericanChinchillaRabbitBreeders.com

Visit the American Fuzzy Lop website.

Visit AmericanSables.webs.com

Visit the Argente Brun Facebook page

Visit BelgianHareClub.com

Visit the Beveren website.

Visit the Hotot Rabbit Breeders International website.

Visit BritanniaPetites.com.

Visit CalifornianRabbitSpecialtyClub.com.

Visit the Champagne D'Argent Rabbit Federation website.

Visit the American Checkered Giant Rabbit Club Website.

Visit the Cinnamon RBA Website!

Visit CremeDArgent.org

Visit DutchRabbit.com

Visit the American Dwarf Hotot Rabbit Club

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Visit NationalAngoraRabbitBreeders.com

Visit the Lop Rabbit Club of America website.

Visit AmericanEnglishSpot.webs.com

Visit the National Federation of Flemish Giant Rabbit Breeders website.

Visit the Florida White Rabbit Breeders Association website.

Visit NationalAngoraRabbitBreeders.com

Visit the Lop Rabbit Club of America website.

Visit NationalAngoraRabbitBreeders.com

Visit GiantChinchillaRabbit.com

Visit HarlequinRabbitClub.net

Visit HavanaRB.org

Visit HimalayanRabbit.com

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Visit the Holland Lop Rabbit Specialty Club website.

Visit the National Jersey Wooly Rabbit Club website.

Visit the National Lilac Rabbit Club of America website.

Visit the North American Lionhead Rabbit Club website.

Visit amlrc.com

Visit the National Mini Rex Rabbit Club website.

Visit the American Satin Rabbit Breeders Association website.

Visit the American Netherland Dwarf Rabbit Club website.

Visit NewZealandRabbitClub.net

Visit the Palomino Rabbit Co-Breeders Website!

Visit AmericanPolishRabbitClub.com

Visit NationalRexRC.org

Visit RhinelanderRabbits.com

Visit the American Satin Rabbit Breeders Association website.

Visit NationalAngoaRabbitBreeders.com

Visit SilverRabbitClub.com

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Visit the National Silver Fox Rabbit Club website.

Visit SilverMarten.com

Visit the American Standard Chinchilla Rabbit Breeders Association website.

Visit the American Tan Rabbit Specialty Club website.

Visit the American Thrianta Rabbit Breeders Association website.

Rabbits are social animals and live in colonies or nests. The adult male is referred to as a buck, the female a doe and the juveniles kits, kittens, bunnies or pups.  The digestive system of a rabbit is very complicated. They are hindgut fermenters. The rabbit’s food is basically digested three times, twice within the body and once more by eating the a soft pellet expelled from the body. Not what I call a meal but necessary for a healthy rabbit.

Sexual maturity comes at between four and five months for a small rabbit, a medium rabbit five to six months, and six to seven months for a large rabbit. They are prolific  breeders, I believe due to the fact they are part of the food web for many predators including humans.

Today rabbits are used for food, fur and wool, research (blah!) and pets. For the purposes of this blog I would like to talk about the pet aspect. A major thesis through out my blogs is the incredible responsibility we assume when we take an animal into our environment. As can be seen from the pictures above rabbits are so adorable who would not want to share their life with one. Please be well-informed before you decide to share your home with a rabbit or any animal.

I am writing this blog at this time of year as rabbits are popular Easter gifts. Rabbit rescues report  that the days, weeks and months after Easter are their highest collection times for abused, neglected and unwanted rabbits. What was once the Easter Bunny is now a lot of work and a nuisance.  Explore a favorite rescue site: http://www.rabbitsanctuary.org/ Read their stories and if possible donate.

As I mentioned earlier rabbits are social animals and will bond with their owner slowly. They can be litter trained, learn simple voice commands, are curious and playful. The rabbit is not a good pet for small children as they are fragile and easily injured. They do not like loud noises or rapid motions. There are a variety of facial features that will be used to show displeasure along with a thumping and possibly biting.

Spaying and neutering, in my opinion is essential. The male will begin to spray and drive himself crazy circling feet….his love dance. The female will not soil the house and reproduce unnecessary kits.  Your home must be rabbit proofed. Rabbits live in borrows and like to keep their tunnels root free. In your house that means they will gnaw wires they find bothersome or interesting. Gnawing things is essential as the rabbits teeth need to be worn down as they grow.

IMG_0104.JPGYour rabbit needs a den or private place to call its own. This could be a crate partially covered by a blanket to give your rabbit privacy when it desires it. Place its litter box and food in the den. Give the rabbit the ability to move in and out of its den freely. Rabbits will get along with other pets such as (some) cats and dogs.

As far as a rabbit’s diet goes it is best to consult a vet. They will recommend a pellet that contains nutrients, vitamins and other essentials for good rabbit health. Hay and or alfalfa are also recommended. Research other fruits and vegetables your rabbit might enjoy. As with all animals balance is the key to avoid illness and obesity.

As you may have guessed by now I have shared my classroom and home with a rabbit. One of my fourth grade students was saving every penny she had to buy a jet black rabbit from a local pet store. She was elated to have her pet for about a month. Once the newness wore off the rabbit sat in its pen in her bedroom creating a great odor. Needless to say her mother was not pleased about the odor or that the rabbit was living this boring life. I was asked if I would take it and I did.  By the way, the odor problem ceased once the cage was cleaned properly and frequently.

Valentine Card to Students
Valentine Card to Students

Shadow, as the children called him, lived in the classroom during the week and at my home on weekends and during breaks. He had a pen in both locations. Shadow visited the vet and was neutered which calmed him down, he had been frantic around so many people. I bought the book, “Bunny Basics An Introduction to Rabbit Care” published by the Great Lakes Rabbit Sanctuary. We read it as a class year after year.

Shadow was an amazing rabbit. He never wanted to leave the classroom as the hall was too noisy. He would hop on the sofa and then the shelf lined with windows that ran the length of the room. He enjoyed sitting in the sun and eating the geranium blossoms that bloomed prolifically in the pots lining the shelf. That was his area. My class had made tri-fold art projects and several students had not taken them home. I asked the children to take them home or Shadow will be upset that they were in his space. That day he ate the corners from one project and threw the others on the floor. The children roared with laughter.

There are so many stories, I just have to tell a few. As I was teaching math I noticed Shadow going under my student’s desks untying their sneakers. After about six shoes I could not stop laughing. I asked the students to look at their shoes….how proud they were to be the object of Shadow’s attention. If the students laid on the floor or sat on the couch to read Shadow would join them intently looking at their books. I told the kids if I could teach a rabbit to read I could teach them. They bought it.

Shadow’s morning routine was to lay in the sun on the carpet eating a carrot with a long green top. The bell would ring, the students would enter and Shadow would stretch out waiting to be adored and adored he was. He did not mind the crowd lying  around him stroking and talking to him. We never picked up Shadow unless it was your Birthday, then you got one cuddle.

Shadow truly helped all the children calm down, learn, laugh, love and respect. Eventually a parent objected to the rabbit in the room and Shadow retired to our home to spend time with the cat and our grandson. One of my grandson’s favorite activities was to share banana chips with Shadow. I came stairs one morning and they were sitting together…one for you, one for me.

Our love on a shelf
Our love on a shelf

Shadow was our family member for ten and a half years. He passed away one hot summer. We had him cremated and have buried his ashes under a pine tree in our yard in Traverse City.

 

So…..long story short…..a pet rabbit is not an EASTER BUNNY but a full time job with expenses, responsibilities, and tugs at your heart. Please be informed before taking in a bunny and look to your Rabbit Rescues for adoption.

http://www.rabbitsanctuary.org/

 

Sources:

https://www.arba.net/breeds.htm#cavies

http://www.rabbitsanctuary.org/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestic_rabbit#Diet

Continue reading “Hopping Down The Bunny Trail”

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The Green Sea Turtle

Time Tomlinson Your Shot
Time Tomlinson
Your Shot

Many years ago while visiting the Galapagos Islands I was elated when I sighted  a Green Sea Turtle. Just a small head above the waves heading for shore…..time to mate and lay eggs. Sea turtle sittings were extremely rare.  I was having the great privilege of viewing an emerald in the sea that might soon be lost.

Green Sea Turtles are named for the milky green color of their skin. The heart-shaped carapace, or upper shell can be  shades of  green or brown. The lower shell, the plastron, is a yellowish white. Looking at the turtle from below this color can be mistaken for the sky, from above the sea.

Growing up to five feet and weighing up to seven hundred pounds the Green Sea Turtle is a magnificent swimmer making long migrations between feeding and nesting areas. Strong paddle like flippers move them through the water as their tails work like a rudder. The male turtle has a longer tail than the female, one of the few differences between the genders. Green Sea Turtles are herbivores as adults eating sea grass and algae. As juveniles they are omnivores eating plants and invertebrates such as sea worms, crabs, jelly fish or sponges.

 

Gary Brennand Your Shot
Gary Brennand
Your Shot

Living as long as eighty years the turtle becomes sexually mature between twenty and fifty years old. The males mate yearly,  the females every two to four years. During the breeding season, late spring through summer, the turtles leave their eating area and migrate many miles to their nesting area, usually using the same beaches their mothers used. Mating takes place in the shallow coastal waters. The female will climb onto the beach and can lay several clutches of eggs. She digs holes with her flippers and deposits one to two hundred eggs, covers them with sand and returns to the sea. The eggs will hatch in about two months. The movement of the first hatchlings stimulates the lower eggs to hatch allowing all the fledglings to hatch at once and head for the sea. Gender is determined by temperature. The eggs closer to the center of the clutch, the warmer eggs, will most likely be female. The surrounding cooler eggs will be male. Amazingly the ratio of male to female is about the same.

Photograph by Bill Curtsinger
Photograph by
Bill Curtsinger

The moment the hatchlings lift their heads out of the sand and race for the sea they are in danger. Nature poses the first obstacles, awaiting predators, such as seagulls, crabs, fish, among others lay in wait for a feast. Humans are next posing a wide array of obstacles. Green Sea Turtles are still killed for their meat and eggs. Boat propeller accidents can cause death, getting caught in fish nets causes drowning, nesting grounds are being destroyed, and light pollution are just a few dangers imposed by humans.

Is there something that can be done? Absolutely! Green Sea Turtles  are protected by National, State, and International laws in addition to being on the Endangered List. Modifications to fishing gear are being made to avoid accidental capture of turtles and other sea creatures. Low pressure sodium lighting is being used along shore lines. Habitat areas are being protected and turtle populations monitored.

 Photo abc news
Photo
abc news

A new monitoring system is being used on Raine Island in Queensland, Australia one of the largest nesting sites in the world. What is this new system?  Drones. Drones help scientists get accurate and efficient counts, monitor beach erosion and habitat loss. A drone driven successful project has been reshaping parts of the beach thus protecting breeding grounds.

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 12.22.50 PMIt is gratifying to see so many professionals and volunteers helping the Green Sea Turtle re-establish itself.  There is however another very powerful tool in the survival kit, EDUCATION.  We must teach our children to value nature in all its forms, our lives depend on it. I am proud to say one of my former students is one of those educators.  She practices nature conservation in her personal and professional life. Working in Florida she volunteered helping hatchlings find their way to the sea rather than the two story ranch on the beach with its lights on. She has taken this information into her first grade classroom with the following presentation. It is my hope her students will have futures as citizens teaching wildlife preservation.

 

 

Prez Presentation for first graders
Prez Presentation for first graders

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This presentation is animated. I was not able to embed that into my presentation. Although it is difficult to see I wanted you to get the feeling of the presentation. You can try for yourself at:  https://prezi.com/7loyzxsce0ns/sea-turtles/

Sources:

https://prezi.com/7loyzxsce0ns/sea-turtles/

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/reptiles/green-turtle/

http://increasinghumanpotential.org/abc-news-drones-helping-save-worlds-biggest-green-sea-turtle-nesting-site-at-raine-island/

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