Frogs, Frogs, Frogs

The parade of frogs to the breeding ponds begins soon after the ice is out (usually after April 15th), as they fulfill their yearly mating ritual. In the spring I try to spend as much time as possible in the local frog ponds. Although it may seem gross to be slogging around a mucky pond, it is actually very healing. It is a world unto itself:  the frogs calling; dragonflies darting around; and red wing blackbirds calling from the cattails.  All you need is a decent pair of waders or rubber boots and a walking stick to keep from falling in the water.

 

 American Toad – One of the dominant night sounds in May is the calling of the toads. I often have my window open, so I can be lulled to sleep by the trilling of the toads.

Listen:

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Chorus Frogs – The chorus frog is about 1/2 inch in size. The sound can be deafening when they are calling. However, they are very difficult to find if you are searching for them. Chorus frogs have also been called “cricket frogs” because their call resembles crickets.

Listen:

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Male wood frog calling with abdominal sacs inflated.

Wood Frog – The wood frog is  2-3 inches, brown with a black eye line. They are a woodland frog that spend the winter in the leaf litter. They freeze solid over the winter, but their internal organs are protected by glycol, an antifreeze chemical. This frog is usually the first to visit the breeding ponds. They are very quick breeders, often only staying at the pond for two weeks. While breeding, the males aggressively move about their territories. The male’s call is a “clucking” type sound, similar to a chicken.

Listen:

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Gray Tree Frog – The gray tree frog can change colors from gray to green depending on its surroundings. They are two inches in size and have small suction cups on their feet which allows them to climb on windows and in to the treetops (over thirty feet).

Gray tree frogs overwinter under leaves on the ground. Their body completely freezes like an ice cube or “frog cube”. The frog survives by filling major body organs with an “anti-freeze” substance.

Tree frogs breed in mid-May in woodland ponds. After leaving the ponds, they feed on insects living in shrubs and trees.

Listen:

      treefrog

 

 

Bullfrog – Bullfrogs can reach up to eight inches and are the largest frog found in Minnesota. Bullfrogs are a game species and are hunted for their tasty legs. They do not naturally occur in the Twin Cities, but have been introduced in many areas of the state.

Bullfrogs breed later than most frogs, in June and July. The call of a male bullfrog sounds like someone plucking a banjo string. Tadpoles take one to two years to metamorphose. Young frogs take 2-5 years to develop into adults.

Bullfrogs are rarely found far from water. They will eat any of the native species of frogs and have caused the population of native frogs to be lower in areas where the bullfrog has become established. Bullfrogs will eat anything that they can fit into their mouths, including: worms, insects, small turtles, snakes, bats, mice, and ducklings. Predators on bullfrogs are raccoons, mink, pike, bass, and humans.

Listen:

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Spring Peeper- Spring peepers are the smallest frogs in our state. They are approximately one inch in size. They are brown in color and have a distinctive “X” on their back. Peepers are woodland frogs and are uncommon in the Twin Cities because they like a natural setting without humans. Housing developments and roads have caused spring peeper populations to be reduced because of loss of habitat.

In the spring, peepers come to the ponds and make a “peeping” call that sounds like a chick. A pond full of spring peepers calling can be overwhelmingly loud.

 

Leopard Frog – The leopard frog is the most well known of all Minnesota frogs. It is a large green frog, three to four inches in size, with many black spots. Leopard frogs are exceptional jumpers.

Leopard frogs spend the winter buried in the mud in lakes. When the ice thaws, leopard frogs migrate to their breeding ponds.

They begin breeding in late April. The males make a low snoring call to attract females. Leopard frogs complete their breeding in only two to three weeks, but remain near the water or in wet meadows throughout the summer.

Leopard frogs feed on insects and worms. Herons, raccoons, snakes, and owls feed on leopard frogs. Humans use leopard frogs for fishing bait, and many are killed by mowers and cars.

 

 

Posted in Connecting to Nature, Spring | Leave a comment

Sights and Sounds of Spring 2016

Author’s note: The audio portion of this essay works on computers, but not on iPhones.

Spring weather has finally arrived. It is time to get outside and witness the unfolding of spring.
Below are four common spring calls. How many can you identify?
1.

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2.

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3.

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4.

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  1.                                            2.                                        3.                                      4.

Chickadee

Male CardinalRobin:Wormnuthatch

        Chickadee                                                   cardinal                                                       robin                                            white breasted nuthatch

 

Male wood duck

Male wood duck

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Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

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Migrating Canada geese

Migrating Canada geese

 male red-wing blackbird calling in the marsh

male red-wing blackbird calling in the marsh

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A soaring turkey vulture (photo by Mike Farrell)

A soaring turkey vulture
(photo by Mike Farrell)

Pussy Willows

Pussy Willows

A groundhog feeding in early Spring.

A groundhog feeding in early Spring.

Mourning Cloak Butterfly

Mourning Cloak

Anglewing

Anglewing

 

Painted turtle sunning itself.

Painted turtle sunning itself.

Hepatica is one of the first to bloom

Hepatica is blooming now!

 

Bloodroot blooms in mid-April

Bloodroot started blooming this week

Trillium blooms in late April and May

Trillium blooms in late April and May

A chorus frog calling in early spring

A chorus frog calling in early spring

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American Toads beginning calling at the end of April

American Toads beginning calling at the end of April

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Canada goose nesting on muskrat hut.

Canada goose nesting on muskrat hut.

 

May 1st look for orioles and grosbeaks.

May 1st is oriole day. Put your orange slices out.

Northern Oriole – Put your orange slices out.

Rose-breasted grosbeak

Rose-breasted grosbeak

 

 

Warbler Migration early to mid May

Yellow-rumped warbler

Yellow-rumped warbler

Yellow warbler

Yellow warbler

Blue-wing warbler

Blue-wing warbler

Posted in Birds, Connecting to Nature, Spring | 3 Comments

Art from the Heart of the Earth

Chinese ink and Brush paintings – James Gregory
I like painting nature because in order to paint I have to get out of my analytical mind and actually see the scene in order to paint it. This experience of turning off my expectations of how I think something should look allows me to access parts of my awareness which get blunted in daily thinking.

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editor’s note – click on the horse to see it full size

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Photo by David Nelson

Photo by David W. Nelson

I almost cried.
There was an affinity in the woods,
A stillness of calm,
And peace,
And pride.
The wind filtered through the brush
And touched
Ever so lightly,
The rustling leaves
And the flowing current.
Gusts,
Upon which the Egret
Displayed their grace with dignity.
There was an affinity
And I almost cried.

banc

 

 

Robin Sanislo – photography and poetry

robin

 

The question of art for me
Is in my home and surrounding gardens.
My gardens are one way I connect to nature
And the promise of spring
Is my favorite time to witness nature.
And birds….
I love their visits to my yard
And I provide lots of suet and thistle for them year round.
Oh, and the bees, too.
I love them when they move about all the flowers.
I love to listen to them do their work.
And then, voila…
I reap lots of raspberries
and plums
and even peaches.

Christina Gregory – Chinese Ink and Brush Painting

Christina3
Spring’s Rhythm

I feel the beat of Spring today in crescendo and legato
Of wind that stirs the chimes to rise
And practice their scales.
da da daaaa    da da daaaa.   Da da da da da.     Da da da da da

I feel the beat of Spring today in the heartbeat of Mother Earth
Held tenderly in the dark and moist home
Singing a lullaby to the new born flowers.

I feel the beat of Spring today in the sap that pulses upward to feed new leaves
To touch the buds with nectar sweet
And treat humankind to sweetness on their pancakes.

And I hear the grace notes of the rain
Quickly against the window pane in the early morn
Lightly lightly tapping out a rhythm the stars can dance to.

And on the lakes I hear the creak and sway of cracking ice
Thundering like the largest drum
Releasing with each beat the water for the boats to come.

         Christina Gregory

 



LoneWolfLone Wolf

The lone wolf comes in from cold
Shoulder to the wind
Never needing anything
Not asking for help
Independent and strong
Surviving but not living
The lone wolf comes in from the cold
I see you are child of light
You are safe here in my arms
And you will always be valued for who you are
The lone wolf comes in from the cold
You are always welcome at our table
I will give you my chamomile tea
I will listen to your stories
There is no need to be silent anymore
I will hug you if you are feeling sad
You will never be ignored again
The lone wolf, alone no more.

               Lawrence Wade

 

Falling into Spring

The wind is blowing warm across my skin.
Urgently it draws me into the night.
I sense you there
And I begin to play.
You whisper,
I dance.
The wind caresses my face.
I am alive under the stars.
I hear the flutter of night wings,
The flutter of my heart.
I am still.
The night moves around me.
The moon smiles down.
I reach out my arms
I’m filled with joy.
I am falling into spring.

                                               banc

 

Christina Gregory – Chinese Ink and Brush Painting

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Chinese ink and Brush paintings – James Gregory
The Chinese say, all Chinese ink and brush paintings begin with understanding how to paint a rock!

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Pelicano – Lawrence Wade

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Posted in Nature Poetry, Photography/Art | Comments Off on Art from the Heart of the Earth

Walking in Two Worlds

Editor’s Note: The wildness of Antarctica, the Chilean Andes and the desert lands of the Atacama in Northern Chile had a deep impact on many of the travelers. Hopefully, you will feel the raw emotion in the poetry and the photos. One of the photographers, Jane Ball, has traveled around the world with her camera. To see more of her work go to:  www.janeballphotography.com/

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A humpback dives right beside the Zodiac. Photo by Robin Sanislo

A humpback dives right beside the Zodiac.
Photo by Robin Sanislo

 

 

When in the Atacama desert, we walked across dry, heaved, hard dirt and made our way to a large, very old Carob Tree. The wind touched our faces and we discussed how being more authentic in ourselves and being more of who we are would allow more life to come to us. To touch us. We would be more available to the earth and to each other. Later that day, I sat with the question, Who am I?

Betsy Nelson-Callahan

Touching Life

Carob Tree Photo by Jane Ball

Carob Tree
Photo by Jane Ball

I am the Water, the stone,
And the woman who swims.
Life will come to me.

 I am the song, the dance,
And the woman who sings.
Life will come to me.

 I am the flower, the rain,
And the woman whose hands
Are covered in dirt.
Life will come to me.

 I am the wind, the tree,
And the woman who walks
The earth.
Life will come to me.

 I am the tear, the prayer,
And the woman who cares.
Life will come to me.

 And I will open my arms
And hold the truth.

                              Banc

 

Flamingos in Flight, Atacama Desert Photograph by Robin Sanislo.

Flamingos in Flight, Atacama Desert
Photograph by Robin Sanislo.

 

The poem below was inspired by Gentoo and Chinstrap Penguins. They are a tough bunch of creatures. Living each day on the edge. In one of our discussions about the penguins someone asked, “What is their strength?” A fellow traveler answered:

They are what they are

Lawrence Wade

Gentoo Penguin colony

Gentoo Penguin colony

I am the gentoo,
Life and death are constant companions
The skua waits for my chick – to move out of reach
An orca may eat me for a snack
It is of no concern to me
Interwoven into the fabric of life
I am what I am.

Gentoos climbing ice flow Photo by Rodrigo Antarctica XXI

Gentoos climbing ice floe
Photo by Rodrigo Moraga Zuñiga- Antarctica XXI

I live between two worlds
Land and sea.
Everyday is an impossible journey
On the ice floe.
Step by Step.

Gentoo Penguin Tracks

Gentoo Penguin Tracks

Falling down – getting up.
A trek towards freedom,
The ocean.
Then slowly climb back up
Step by step.
My chick is up there,
And must be fed.
I am what I am.

P1110342I am the human.
Raw wildness of Antarctica,
Exposes false truths.
Opportunity to see with fresh eyes
Unexpressed pain
Old patterns and beliefs die slowly
An unknown path to travel
I am what I am

Two steps forward – one step back
Murky water
Embrace abandoned self
Reach out for help
More oxygen
More hope
An impossible journey back to myself
I am what I am

Chinstrap Penguin

Chinstrap Penguin

 

 

 

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The Atacama Desert, in Northern Chile, is a desolate land filled with many wonders. Looking at the photo below, is a crack between the spires. Some of us were able to find our way up into the crack to a secret landing.  It was here that the sounds reverberated off the walls.

Lawrence Wade

Sacred Spires

Photo by Ken Brown

Photo by Ken Brown

Ancient spires of red volcanic ash
Reach high into the sky
Seekers ask the enchanted land for entry
A steep scramble and a large boulder blocks the way
But determination wins out
At the foot of the cathedral walls is the sacred ground.
Shoes must be removed,…. but weren’t.
A falcon nest on a small bluff above.
Bones and feathers litter the ground.
A woman’s primeval chant pulses into the mountain
And mixes with the mountain’s song.
The song drifts out across the land
Witnesses hear two voices
One the mountain and the other a woman.
A blessing for Earth.

Natural Salt Sculptures, Atacama Desert, Chile photo by Lawrence Wade

Natural salt sculptures, valle de la luna, Atacama Desert, Chile
photo by Lawrence Wade

 

 

 

 

Atacama Desert photo by Lawrence Wade

Atacama Desert
photo by Lawrence Wade

 

 

 

Be With the Earth Photo by Lawrence Wade

Be With the Earth
Photo by Lawrence Wade

Posted in Nature Guardians, Nature Poetry, Photography/Art | 7 Comments

The Eye of the Whale

Fin Whale

Fin Whale – Stellwagon Bank, Massachusetts 2014.

It was 43 years ago that I was a whale researcher in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Quebec, Canada. After 6 months of living and breathing whales for 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, I crossed over into dreaming about them. I had the following dream three times that summer.
I was standing at the estuary’s edge,
A fin whale swam right up to me
And lifted part of its head out of the water.
All I could see was its eye.

 This did not feel like an ordinary dream, but more like a vision. It was not so much about the eye, but more about the intensity that pierced the veil into another world. I had the feeling the whale was calling to me.

Blue Whale Eastern Tropical Pacific 1976.

Blue Whale Eastern Tropical Pacific 1976.

 

GettingToKnowWhales

I continued working at sea for another 4 years, then we started a family.  In 1985, I finished my book, Getting to Know the Whales. I interviewed renowned whale biologist, Dr. Roger Payne, and one thing he said, I really connected with:

“….down deeper, whales are moving
with slow drifting currents – whales that are
great, gentle, cloudlike beings”.

The whales were still with me, even though I was landlocked.

In 2013, I started saving to go to Antarctica. About a month before I left, I had the following dream:
The setting was before the whalers ever came to Antarctica.  I was a whale and the interconnection between all the whales was unlike anything I have ever known as a human. I was not only connected to other whales, but to all living things in the ocean. There was a real beauty in the flow between all the sea life. The movement of the currents and whale sounds were part of my daily life. I could feel the currents moving inside of me as well as in the ocean itself.

Antarctica is calling.....

Antarctica is calling…..

Whale try pots where whale oil was rendered.

Whale try pots where whale oil was rendered.

This past January, I actually went to Antarctica with a group of close friends. During the trip, we visited two shore-based whaling stations established in the 1920’s or 1930’s. At Deception Island there were eight rusted ovens where the whale blubber was rendered into oil. When I realized what I was looking at, the horror I felt was beyond words. It was like walking through a World War II German death camp.

 

Whale bones

Whale bones, Whaler’s Cove Antarctic Peninsula

At Whaler’s Cove, we found a pile of large whale bones (probably blue, humpback or fin whales). One of the goals of our group was to “listen” to the land. For most of us it wasn’t hard to hear what the land was saying. From my perspective, there was agony on that beach. The agony of so many whale’s lives cut short. On the day of a whale kill, the beach and water around that cove must have been red with whale blood.

 

Whale bones litter the beach
Reminders of the genocide
So long ago.
Still, the air smells of agony
Humans breath in the pain
Breath out hope and caring
Tears fall to the sand
Removing the stain on the land
Healing
For whales and humans

 Since the 1970’s I have been aware of the Antarctic whalers who decimated the blue whale population in the early 20th century (over 200,00 blues were killed). Sometimes, it is hard to be a human. So much ripping apart of the whale tribes to support the greed of a few people. I have carried this burden with me for 40 years, and I am finally free of it. Also, I feel that I had completed a cycle that began many years ago with the dream of the “Eye of the Whale”.

Humpback "blows" at Sunset

Humpback “blows” at Sunset, Antarctic Peninsula, 2016.

Lastly, that very evening, there were over 50 humpbacks within a half-mile of the ship. Many were right in front of the ship: bubble cloud feeding, tail lobbing, and fluking-up. It was a great celebration of life for whales and humans.

Humpback "fluke-up" Antarctic Peninsula, 2016.

Humpback “fluke-up” Antarctic Peninsula, 2016.

 

Posted in Nature Guardians, Whales & Oceanography | 11 Comments

Naturalist in the Schools

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1st grade Decomposer Lab

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1st Grade Pebbles, Sand and Silt

 

 

 

 

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2nd grade Grasshopper Lab

Second grade Schoolyard Nature Hike

Second grade Schoolyard Nature Hike

 

 

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Schoolyard Fieldtrip to Gro-Tonka Park

2nd grade Seed Lab

2nd grade Seed Lab

 

2nd Grade Spring Bird Lab

2nd Grade Spring Bird Lab

 

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3rd  or 4th Grade Mammal Lab

 

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3rd Grade Pond Lab

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4th or 5th grade Oceanography Unit

 

4th Grade Glacial Rocks Lab

4th Grade Glacial Rocks Lab

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3rd or 4th grade Microscope Lab

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Microscope Lab  – leaf (30x)

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3rd or 4th grade Nature’s Challenge

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5th grade squid Dissection

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Squid Beak  (30x)

Posted in Connecting to Nature, Resources, Services | Leave a comment

Holiday Books for Nature Loving Kids

During the holidays, you can buy my books at a 50% discount off of the retail price. All books are priced at $12 + $3 shipping. I will sign all books. Books can be returned for 100% refund.  How to purchase:  Send me a Check for $15. Will ship within 24 hours.
Also, please send me your email address and I’ll get the tracking numbers to you. The last day for the sale is Dec. 21st (visiting my mom).

Larry Wade
15524 Day Place
Minnetonka, MN 55345

or order by email:  larrywade16@gmail.com
or call me to order:  (952) 288-5025

You can also pay by credit card through PayPal go to: /www.oldnaturalist.com/nature-seeker-workbook/  and scroll down  ( Nature Seeker only) ($19.46 includes shipping)

OceanographyOceanography includes challenging activities on physical oceanography, biological oceanography, interviews with oceanographers and a teacher’s key. For students 4th-7th grade. This book is in its 6th revision (2015). 144 pgs. topics:
Plate Tectonics          Marine Communities
Geology of seafloor   Marine Plankton
Mapping the Seafloor   Marine Food Webs
Ocean currents               Food pyramids

To learn more about this book and Getting to Know the Whales go to:  www.oldnaturalist.com/oceanographywhales/ or go to the pull down menu at this site and go to Publications. Click on Whales/oceanography.

GettingtoKnowWhalesThis book had to be written because of the author and illustrator’s passion for whales. Whale biologists have readily contributed data to make whales come to life for children. For students 4th-7th grade. This book is in its 5th revision (2015). 146 pages

Whale Biology Topics
Draw a whale         Prehistoric whales
Whale and dolphin key      Whale dissection
How Whales feed       Lunge-feeding flip book           How Whales Breathe
How long doe a Whale dive?       A Day with a Blue          Whales  How Fast is a Whale
Whale Migration              Year in the life of a Humpback Whale

Nature Seeker Workbook

Wade Cover 020913_flt@300 copy 2Nature Seeker Workbook is the product of 20 years of work as a school naturalist. It is a unique personal field guide to the natural world.
Over 50 field-tested activitiesHundreds of detailed and original drawings
Highlights natural history through all seasons
Entire units to forest and wetland ecology
Includes Nature songs, poetry, weaving and more
For students  2nd – 6th grade 157 pages  (2013)

To try out some of the activities go to:
www.oldnaturalist.com/nature-seeker-workbook/

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Life and Death in the Okavango Delta

Editor’s Note: Jane Ball is a world traveler, and has some incredible photos at her website: www.janeballphotography.com.     This is the second of a two part series, written by Jane, about her latest trip to Botswana.

Our final camp had tented cabins built on pillars and connected by a boardwalk about eight feet in the air. At this camp, there were palm trees whose ripening nuts the elephants loved. One night, an elephant broke through the boardwalk to get to some of these palm trees.  Early the next morning, I realized the elephant was near my tent eating the nuts. I looked through the screen window, and the elephant’s head was right in front of me, only a few feet away. I watched it put the length of its trunk against the palm tree, tusks on either side of the tree, and using its whole body, shake the palm tree until the nuts fell down crashing on the boardwalk. Fabulous! Elephants are big and strong, and for the most part, they get what they want.

DSC_0465 (1)Elephants are really tough on trees. In addition to rubbing and scratching on a tree to the point of uprooting it, they will eat everything right down to the nub. After they have eaten every leaf and most of the branches, they will use their tusks and their feet to dig up and eat the roots. Elephants have six sets of molars during their lifetime. As one wears down, due to continual grinding, another one moves in to take its place. When elephants are younger, they’ll eat the biggest and toughest pieces of wood. As they get older they will eat smaller, finer branches because they don’t want to wear down the last set of molars they have. Once those molars are gone, they starve to death.

Hippos also pretty much get what they want. We think of hippos as dancing in tutus. They don’t. They spend most of their time in the water but come on shore at night to eat grass. There are a lot of hippos in the Okavango Delta, and I heard them grunting and rumbling day and night. Usually all you see are ears, eyes and a nose, unless they are irritated. Then you see a great gaping maw, which is not a yawn, but a threat.DSC_1119

If you are in a boat and get too close to a hippo, it will be unhappy with you. It will open that giant mouth and with those giant teeth, clamp down on the boat and possibly bite it in half. If the boat is too big, it will attempt to climb up into the boat until the boat capsizes. Then, if the hippo doesn’t bite your head off, the crocodiles will get you before you reach shore.

DSC_0004We went by boat from our third to our fourth camp. It was late in the season, and the waterways were drying up, which meant fairly narrow, shallow channels for the boats to travel. Our group was transferring in two boats, and I was in the second boat. The first boat was whipping down the channel and almost ran over a submerged hippo. The surprised, and irritated, hippo stood up in the water, saw our boat heading toward it, and charged us. I spent a few long seconds considering how I could possibly live through this. Fortunately our driver had backed up our boat enough that a side channel was exposed between us and the hippo, and the hippo chose to take a hard left instead of killing me. (I found it difficult not to take the situation personally.)
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I have so many stories from this trip. More than any other, this trip impressed me with nature’s life-death continuum–the lion killing the cub; the zebra stallion trying to kill another stallion’s foal; the elephants eating the trees to death; the eagle catching the fish and pinning it to a branch with its talon; the bird catching the frog and beating it to death on the branch before eating it; the gecko on the tent wall catching and eating the moth. It’s all happening, all the time. The first time I went to Africa, I went as an entitled American, fairly certain that nothing would hurt me. This time, I came home grateful for the doors on my house, the food in the grocery store, and the animal that lives with me that lets me hug him and would never think of eating me. But make no mistake–I love Africa, and I can’t wait to go back.
Article and photos by Jane Ball
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Posted in Connecting to Nature, Mammals | 1 Comment

Fall on Fire – Gatewood School Poetry

Fifth graders at Gatewood Elementary expressed what was in their hearts, writing haiku, cinquain, and sensory poems. All photos by students. The poetry residency was funded by the Gatewood PTO.

I am

Mary O'Neil

Photo by Mary O’Neil

I am the ladybug, gliding gracefully up the wall
I am the paper wasp nest hiding in the crack
I am the ant, about to get stepped on
I am the squirrel nest, swaying high in the trees
I am the wind biting at everyone’s necks
I am the cottonwood, shedding all of my leaves
I am the hornets nest, waiting for my hornets to leave me for the winter
I am the frog, hopping away from attention,
I am the fallen tree, with a carving so people will remember me
I am the giant waiting for someone to sit on me
I am the leaves, that are littering the ground
I am the bush, yearning to be a hiding spot
I am the tree, dying and drooping low
I am the tall grass, grabbing at everyone’s feet
I am the tree with what looks like a face,
Waving good-bye to all of the humans out here
I am nature.
Quinn Ingham

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The Sun
Sun gleams through the flowing trees.
The shining ball bounces off the leaves.
The leaves shower into the meadow of sun.
The sun shines so bright as you are blinded.
Rays shine through the crunchy leaves.
Trees cuts out the shower.
Beware the sun lives for millions more years
as it has a super power
Lizzy Helling

Sea Urchins

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I once lived under the sea,
People get scared looking at me,
I wiggle I wobble,
I jumble around,
But now I’m not here I’m buried in the ground,
My bones are still here I’ll never leave,
Sea urchin, love is all you need
Lola Jessen

 

Leaves
One leaf, two leaves, three LeavesOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Red leaves, orange leaves, yellow leaves, green leaves
All the colors of fall
Leaves are any color
You can’t count all the leaves of fall
Many leaves on trees
Many colored leaves
Imagine you’re deep into the woods
See the colors of the leaves
See the critters on the leaves and in the treesP1100407
Hear the crunch of the leaves as you run
Smell the damp leaves
Feel the leaves fly down onto you
Stop!
Touch the leaves on the forest floor
The leaves crunch and fall to ground
Crunch, crunch, crunch
What’s that
It’s a squirrel!
Lizzy Helling

                     OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWilderness
Trees and rocks!
Animals and plants!
They beg me to come
I wonder if I can help them grow?
I feel very touched
Nature is wonderful!
 Evelyn McNeil

 

 

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Flying Squirrel
Dead and paralyzed
People are amazed at the sight
Sad and filled with pain
Quinn Ingham

 

 

 

 

 

 

I smell the rain
Falling on me
Hear the trees tumbling like lighting
Feel the autumn breeze
As it rushes  through my soul
I hear the trees calling my name
They wish to sing me a lullaby
The coldness of mother nature
Chills my bones
Aisha Yusef

I am Somebody
I can’t spell
I can’t remember that well
i can’t name the 50 states and capitals
I AM somebody
I am not perfect
I am not always right
I am beautiful
I am somebody
I have a scar on my eyebrow
I have the letter D on my right hand
I have an imperfect body
I am Somebody
I love my family
I love my friends
I love my dog
I am somebody
I must do my best
I must care for others
I must write with my left hand
I must be respected, protected, and never rejected
I am somebody
Marit Elverum

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo sad
the moose has lost his hips
now he can’t hip,
hop,
and rock his moves.
Alyssa Forstad

Dead Wolf

Gray fox

Gray fox

Prowling the world trying to find my place
A land of freedom that’s what they say.
Going from place to place but I can’t stay.
I am lost, hungry,  and tired.
I should have stayed with my pack.
It it my fault.
I have met my demise.
Marit Everum

Twinkle twinkle little star
I can see you bright and far
All across the world so high
I just love to see you cry
Twinkle twinkle little star
I can see you bright and far
Alexandra Litel

                  Snowflake

www.its.caltech.edu

www.its.caltech.edu

 

Gleaming and falling,tumbling and floating,
Screams, “winter is here!”
I wonder if there will be more?
I feel wondrous and excited
winter is here!
Evelyn McNeil

 

 

 

 

The brown wasp’s nestOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Old, destroyed and discarded
But it was still safe
Theodore Wogstad

 

 

 

BUT I AM SOMEBODY
I am myself everyday
I am a singer by heart and soul
I am not you and you are not me
BUT I AM SOMEBODY
I have a dream to be a singer
I have friends and family
I have people that care about me
I AM SOMEBODY
I have freedom
I don’t have nice things
I don’t have a lot of money
BUT I AM  SOMEBODY
I must be my best
I must be a singer
I must do what’s right
and I must be respected, protected, and never rejected
I AM SOMEBODY 🙂
Alyssa Forstad

Sea Urchins

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There once was a sea urchin named Stubby
He lived on the ocean floor
He is very spiky
But still adorable, and then Stubby once more.
Erin Anderson

Posted in Connecting to Nature, Nature Poetry | 5 Comments

Life and Death in the Kalahari

Editor’s Note: Jane Ball is a world traveler, and has some incredible photos at her website: www.janeballphotography.com.     This is the first of a two part series, written by Jane, about her latest trip to Africa.

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Two lions greeting.

 

Leopard peering out behind a termite mound.

Leopard peering out behind a termite mound.

I recently returned from a safari in Botswana–a wild place with plenty of “Wild Life.” I saw and experienced things I had read about, but they became real in Botswana. For example, I had already learned that it’s tough being a top predator. This trip I saw firsthand that a lion’s life is every bit as precarious as the life of a lion’s prey.

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The lion pride:  females, sub-adults, and cubs.

At one camp, we found a pride of lions, including females, sub-adults (2 year olds) and three cubs. The cubs were playing and the females were resting before their nightly hunt. This pride also has four males, who were off inspecting their other prides in different areas. We never saw them.

The next day, we wanted to find the lion pride again. As we drove in the general direction of where we had found them the day before, we heard a burst of growling ahead of us. Our guide told us that there were two male interlopers in the area looking for a new pride. He said they might be trying to take over this pride because of the absence of the four males. This is the way of male lions–they grow up in the pride and eventually are kicked out to find a pride of their own, one way or another.

The elephant charged and stopped abruptly in front of us.

The elephant charged and stopped abruptly in front of us.

As we drove toward the commotion, we encountered some agitated elephants running directly toward our vehicle. One of the females trumpeted and charged us. She was frighteningly close when she finally stopped in a cloud of dust. We had no idea why the elephants were so upset.

After half an hour we came upon the two male lion interlopers.  When male lions take over a pride, they will often kill the cubs. Although no one knows for certain, it may be because they want to get rid of future competition. Also, females will not be receptive to mating while they are nursing. These males had killed one of the cubs that we had met the night before and were eating it.

Adult male eating a cub.

Adult male eating a cub.

The bigger, dominant male was doing the eating, and the other was just waiting. Occasionally, he would try to get a part of the dead cub to eat, but the dominant male always backed him down. The dominant lions eat first–the males, the sub-adults, the females, and finally, if there is anything left, the cubs. Therefore, it’s important for the females to kill something big. Otherwise, their cubs might not eat.

Two cubs in hiding after their sibling was killed and eaten.

Two cubs in hiding after their sibling was killed and eaten.

We supposed that when the two males entered the pride, the lions scattered, creating havoc with the elephants and other wildlife. Later that day, we found the other two cubs hiding in the shade under a tree, being very quiet. We worried about what would happen to them and whether they would be reunited with the pride before the two males found them.

The next day, we looked for the pride again. We spent at least an hour tracking them. It was fascinating to see so many types of tracks in the sand and pick out the lion tracks. Finally, we located the pride, and the two cubs were with them. If the pride’s four males were to return and find the two interlopers, there would be a fight, and the interlopers would probably be killed. Two against four are not good odds. In fact, very few male lions survive long enough to preside over a pride.

I intellectually knew that prides work this way, but the reality was shocking. I felt very sad that the little cub was killed and eaten. I kept telling myself, “I am here to observe not intervene.” Of course, those two remaining cute little cubs, if they are male, may one day grow up, leave their pride to make their own, and kill somebody else’s cubs. It’s a very delicate balance.

Jane added the following postscript to her story:  – “I just got an email from one of our guides in Linyanti and Gomoti.  He’s the one who found the cubs hiding under the tree and found the leopard hiding in the tree/termite mound.  He said he had recently been to Gomoti and found the same lion pride. There is only one cub left. Damn I’m glad I’m not a lion.”
Article and photos by Jane Ball

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Posted in Animals, Connecting to Nature, Mammals | 9 Comments