Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Wind Dance

I find that I enjoy breezy days even with messy hair, escaping papers, and occasional sand blasts.  The wind cools, and dries the air; making a humid day much pleasanter.  It muffles the sound of cars, and planes allowing me to focus on the sights before me.  The trees sway and bounce in the wind reminding me that they are alive, not immobile statues.  I often imagine that I am a bird as the wind pushes against me; I could jump into the sky!  I appreciate the feeling of change that the wind brings; a signal of shifting seasons, or a storm to come.  As fall approaches, I hope you are able to enjoy the breeze, and get a show from dancing leaves!

Pleasant videos of dancing leaves set to classical music.

A Waltz!

A Piano Sonatina

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Space Shuttle!

Photo by Alberto Martinez/American-Statesman. pic.twitter.com/UAbi7fhu
I saw the Space Shuttle fly over Austin this morning as it travels to California!
I let out Yippee as it flew by attached to the giant jet.  It was wonderful to see, but at little sad since it won't fly again.  The space shuttle is such a great symbol of what science can do; an inspiration to kids and adults.

The other time I saw the space shuttle was in Willcox, AZ.  I was about 7, and it was way up in the sky.  I was at school in the play ground.  I remember some papers fluttered in out of the sky just after the shuttle went by and we thought it had released a message for us kids and we were very excited!
More photos are at the Austin Newspaper website below.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

After the rain

  Snails and slugs were all over the path at the park.
You had to step carefully.
After the Rain...

Snails stretch boldly in a world of 
    damp squishy mud.

Mushrooms pop from invisible networks
    before the earth hardens.

Plants show blooms and new leaves 
    invigorated by a quenched thirst. 

Clouds linger in wispy clusters  
    pulled on by a scented breeze.

Dogs tug to forget a day indoors
    excited by trails to mark a fresh.

Mushrooms that popped up with the rain!
 I have been looking for and trying to identify
 mushrooms, but I am still a very amateur mycologist.

We enjoyed a wonderful weekend filled with a slow cool rain.  Coming from Arizona and a ranching family, I have a deep love for rain.  This weekend's rain also ushered in cooler mornings, and highs in the 80s.  I like the damp feeling of rain, being able to drink hot tea, finding snails out of from their hidden homes, catching a cool slow lizard, and seeing the cloud formations before, during, and after the front.  I have not lived in a environment where rain is common place, but I think I will always love rain!

Red Yucca, Hesperaloe parviflora, is a favorite of the
migrating hummingbirds.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Close Up Contest- the Answers

Here are the answers to the Close Up Contest. 
Thanks for playing this week!

1. Gulf Coast Toad- Bufo valliceps

2. Green Anole- Anolis carolinensis

3. Gulf Fritillary Butterfly-  Agraulis vanillae

4.  A mushroom (I don't know what kind, but Jacob recently give me Mushrooms Demystified so I will be doing some mushroom study.)

5.  Red-tailed Hawk tail feathers- Buteo jamaicensis


And the winner is...

John Malone!  Congratulations!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Up Close Contest

I've always enjoyed the games in the back of magazines where you have to guess the identity of an object with only part of the picture as a clue, so I've made a similar game for you!  I've cropped some photos, several have even been in previous posts, and you have to figure out what the subject of the photo is.  For added fun, the person who gets the most correct answers will get a prize, a choice between two small watercolor doodles painted by me.  Bonus points will be awarded for being as specific as you can about the subject, and ties will be broken by a random drawing.  All the photos were taken in Austin, TX.  Submit you guesses to my email address anna.c.malcom@gmail.com.  Answers and the winner will be revealed on Friday afternoon, submit your guesses by noon on Friday!






The watercolor doodles from which the winner can choose are pictured below.
Both pictures are small in size (8.5"X5.5"), but big in fun!

An Arroyo


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Old Books

During the loll between Summer Camp and School Program at the Nature Center, I have been going through a donation of very beautiful books.  The task has been fun, but hard because the nature center has little storage area for books, especially if they are just going to sit on shelves collecting dust.  Many of the oldest books in the collection are available in digital format and often for free.  I am guilty of not thinking of using the books in the Nature Center's library for reference material.  It is just too easy to google online for the answer to questions or background information for a new project, than to search through books not knowing if it even holds the key.  A well known book, digital or a hard copy, can be a source of knowledge, new ideas, help, entertainment, and friendship.  My job has been to find the books that staff will read, and books that will help us fulfill the Nature Center's mission as a place for hands-on exploration on the environment.  But each book has so much to offer, and each person who looks at the collection of books finds a different treasure!

It is interesting to find that I have gained a sense of the two different people who donated the books: Sandra Foster, a former director of the Nature Center, and John E. Sunder PhD a UT history professor and naturalist.  Mrs. Foster's collection consists of many textbooks, extra large picture books, TX State extension pamphlets, nature activity books, and complete sets of nature magazines.  You can see the teacher, animal lover, and information gatherer that must have made her a good person to over see the Nature Center.  From her books you can infer that she was religious, had pets and rehabilitated wildlife, made collections of natural history artifacts, and enjoyed teaching.   Dr. Sunder's collection consists of series by influential naturalist authors, stories of naturalists, books concerning the state of the planet, and books about how human thought and history has effected nature.  I can conclude from his books that he traveled to many parts of the world, considered conservation important, was a birder, and valued the collection enough to have paperbacks bound.  What do my books say about me?  My shelves are filled mostly with field guides, nature activities resource books, gardening, and our old biology class textbooks.

After going through so many books, I feel that I have a deficit of reading and learning, and I am making a list of books to read.  One gem found in Dr. Sunder's collection is a writer named Richer Jefferies.  He was a contemporary of Charles Dickens and Emily Dickinson, and heralded the beauty and joy in nature.  Another  book on my list is One Day on Beetle Rock, by Sally Carrighar, a story of a place with each chapter from a different animal's perspective.  I need to read some writings of John Muir, father of our National Parks. There are of course many more books that I should read.  Do you have any recommendations?

What kind of books are on your shelves and what do they say about you?
If you had to choose 3 books which would you keep?

There are many books in the collection
by birder, deep sea and jungle explorer William Beebe
A John Aududon illustration.
Older books have the most beautiful prints!