Monthly Archives: November 2013

Rivers of the United States

Hi friends! I just discovered these two very cool maps and wanted to share them with you.

First up is a map of the rivers in the United States, put together digitally by Nelson Minar. For you mappers and computer whizzes, Nelson designed this as a tutorial that can be found here or by going to his Flickr account via clicking the map below. There’s something mesmerizingly beautiful about it, isn’t there?

Nelson MinarNext is a map submitted to Reddit by user Gradeskee of the rivers in the US that drain into the mighty Mississippi River.

Amazing! Thanks for reading. :)

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Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address

With the American holiday of Thanksgiving just a couple of days away, I wanted to share this beautiful piece of history with you. The Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois nations, have what’s commonly called the “Thanksgiving Address,” and it’s the perfect thing to contemplate this time of year, no matter where you live.

Five Iroquois Nations, via Wiki.

I believe that it’s incredibly important to remember that without the indigenous people of North America, America as a country would not exist; indeed, many of our ancestors in the US would not have survived their first winters. There’s no getting around the ugly history of American settlement: the history books are quite unkind and unfair to the First Nations. Please remember and understand that these several hundred nations still exist, that these people are still here, that their cultures are still under threat, and that they deserve our respect and acknowledgement. I am grateful to the original speakers for the beautiful words below.

Even if you don’t find a space in your holiday celebrations to say it out loud, I encourage you to pursue a few quiet moments to read and absorb this beautiful, ancient, and timeless Thanksgiving Address.
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Mid-Atlantic Autumn Photos

This is my first real autumn in six whole years! After living in the shadows of mountains and being surrounded by striking sagebrush oceans, I’m back on the East Coast and remembering the autumns of my childhood. They come much more slowly here, giving you the chance to breathe in the colors and textures of changing leaves and landscapes. Have you noticed how different the angle of the light is during autumn and spring? After the blazing and endless sun of summer, it’s so spectacular to me how the light comes in more steeply, sifting through branches and brightening things with a cool fire.

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Even Superheroes Have Weaknesses

I’ve been working at a good friend’s farm a couple days a week, helping her to prep for winter. It’s been awesome. But today something traumatic [read: not actually traumatic to most people] happened, and I thought I would share it with you.

She has this great cat. To preserve his dignity and anonymity, we’ll call him Agent Orange. Agent Orange is usually out keeping the farm free of thieving mice, but today when I arrived, he was inside. He made sure I was aware that he wanted to go outside with much mewing and making pretty cat faces at me. I explained that, as a member of the primate family, there is a social protocol I must follow: whatever the alpha team decides, goes. If Agent Orange was inside, he was to remain inside.

He wasn’t impressed with my explanation. He sat solemnly by the door, watching the gray rain clouds roll by. After giving him a little sympathy affection, I noticed a dark, fat, oblong berry on the floor. My boss is always growing exciting things and so I bent down to pick it up, wondering which plant it had escaped from.

Then I noticed the berry had hairs. Six of them. Just on one end.

And then the hairs each began to move independently.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a full tick, and out of sheer horror, I dropped it back onto the floor and let out a yelp. At this point, I should tell you that out of everything in the natural world, the only critters that give me the heebie jeebies are ticks. Like big heebies. Huge ones. Uncontrollable heebies. I’m actually itching right now, just remembering the little monster.

It must have fallen off of Agent Orange, as Agent Calico – the other house kitty – doesn’t travel out-of-doors. After several minutes of uncontrollable spasms and “BLEH!” sounds, I finally calmed down (okay, so I’m still making “bleh” sounds right now) and got rid of the little bugger. I thought to take a picture of it for the blog as proof, but, well.. ew.

I then quietly informed Agent Orange that we were no longer on speaking terms, and got back to work.

Can you believe it? A silly little tick can give a naturalist the shakes! What gives you the hibbity jibbities? Is it ticks? Snakes? Leave it in the comments and thanks for reading! :)

Roaming Across America

roam: verb - To move about without purpose or plan; to wander.

Whew!

A whole month ago, I made the great journey across the country back to my home state of Maryland from Oregon. Six amazing years on the west coast have made a lasting impression upon my heart and spirit, but I sure have missed my family. It’s so great to be home for the holidays: seeing the nieces dress up for Halloween, gathering recipes for a grand Thanksgiving, and pondering Christmas crafts.

For a roaming naturalist, this was a huge, exciting adventure!

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If you’ve never driven across the country, the Great West has a Great Treat – high speed limits! I was hauling a trailer, however, and was restricted to driving about 50mph the whole way to avoid burning out the engine. I just  put-put-putted my way across Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah, but driving slow gave me a great chance to enjoy the landscape.

One place that stuck out during the travel was Medicine Bow National Forest in the southeastern corner of Wyoming. Just driving by it was amazing – I can’t imagine how beautiful it must be on the inside! Well, okay, I kind of can, because there’s Google.

This pic is similar to some of the rock formations visible from the highway as you drive past the forest. (Thanks to Sylvia from Colorado Lifestyle for the amazing photo!) Those boulders are so enticing! It was hard not to pull over and check it out.

via Colorado Lifestyle blog – check it out by clicking on the pic

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Sunka sang songs after taking doggie sedatives to make the 7-day trip less stressful. Poor pup!

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My buffalo buddy kept us company too.

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This is pretty much how we both felt at the end of every day.

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Almost out of Ohio – check out those cool cacti.

I averaged about 400 miles per day, which wasn’t too bad with a neurotic dog, three snakes, and a thousand pound trailer. I feel very blessed to have been able to cross this spectacular country not just once, but twice now.

In Nebraska, I camped at a wonderful park and serenely drifted off to sleep with the sound of rain pattering on the tent – a sound that I think many campers can attest to being quite peaceful. On the other side of that, however, the camper also knows deep down that the rain could patter peacefully for a little while, or turn into a raging thunderstorm.

Well, guess what happened!

After several hours of intense thunder and lightening, a park ranger came through each campground and advised everyone to evacuate to the park’s lodge because the park was under tornado threat. That was pretty scary, but the storm passed with no tornado and we all eventually got back to sleep. What an adventure!! Now I know much more about the Midwest in autumn than I ever had…

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Sunka lounging at our beautiful Nebraska campsite.

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Discovered this lovely deceased dragonfly on our evening walk.

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Lovely morning fog on the Youghiogheny River.

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Ahhh, a beautiful sunrise to welcome me home to the East Coast!

While I will definitely miss Oregon, this is the first year in six that I will get to experience a real autumn! Woo hoo! It’s been so long. I’ve also already ordered a winter tree finder book, and a leaf book because, well, we have a lot of leaves over here that I don’t remember. Like, a lot. There’s also already a list of things I want to plant come spring because the growing season here is tremendous compared to the high desert.

Thanks for reading! :) Have you ever driven across the country? What was your experience like? I’d love to know, so put it in the comments!