Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Nature In Us Newsletter - 12/15/15

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The Nature In Us Newsletter
December 15, 2015
By Donna L. Watkins

"Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around." -- Henry David Thoreau

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Hello Dear Friends!

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Spring-planted Petunias 12-12-15
View More 2015 Garden Photos
We've been having incredible weather here in Central Virginia. I had prayed for a warm winter and have been getting one. I don't really feel like Winter has started yet, which technically it hasn't, but Fall was always "winter" to me before.

We have Spring Peepers singing many days and nights.  What a beautiful sound to my ears in December.  I always miss the "loudness" of the critters when it gets cold.  No moths sitting on the windows, no frog chirping, no buzzing bees, no crickets or locusts.  Kinda reminds me of Rachael Carson's book called, Silent Spring.

We've had temps in the 50's but many, many days in the 60's and 70's. The last week has been like that. I'm loving it!  On Saturday night we had the doors open till after 9PM.  Spending screened porch time to enjoy the birds, squirrels and deer up close and personal.

Thank goodness for WIFI access. I've been doing all my work outside as I usually do from about April through October. It's really the fresh air that I can't seem to do without. My mom and dad always had a window cracked for fresh air in the bedrooms and living room even in Winter.  I still have petunias in the big deck pot that I planted back in the Spring. How lovely is that!

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Carolina Wren at Mepkin Abbey - Monck's Corner, SC
3132 Acres of Lovely Gardens, Pond, & Woodlands
More Wren Photos
Birds - As you know my photo gallery is mostly filled with photos of our property called Bluebird Cove.  It's an acre lot with a forest behind it and we are so blessed to have a flood of wildlife to entertain us.

Of course, it didn't start out that way.  We added bird feeders and bird baths ... and that was the easy part.  Then we began planting bushes and trees that would provide food for the birds.  Many of our plantings were done by the birds as they came in to eat and "discarded" some seeds from their last dining experience somewhere else.

Before we moved from Alabama to Virginia, we had Carolina Wrens that would nest in the corner of our back porch for many years and enjoyed them so much.  They didn't seem to mind us going in and out and even when they had declared "Fledging Day" (the day the babes were sent out of the nest), they allowed for me and my camera to participate.  What I loved most about the wrens was their cheerful attitudes.

Here in Virginia we have a deck and the post caps seem to be a delightful place that the wrens enjoy to sing and praise the Lord.  At evening the male sits there and calls in his missy.  Carolina Wrens are monogamous and will usually mate for life as long as one does not die.  They stay together even in the winter.  The pair will build the nest together. They go to bed early while there is plenty of light whereas the  Northern Cardinal (aka Eastern Cardinal). It's almost dark when they tuck themselves in the bushes beside the screened porch.

The post cap time for the wrens that I so dearly love is when they sit there and just dance and sing praises to God.  That tail flips up and down and they spin around.  I just feel myself being drawn into the dance and praise.  I wonder why God didn't give us tails to flip.  I guess we got hands instead and they are much more useful than a tail.  View the Praise The Lord Wren Video.

Another delight is to see and enjoy Pileated Woodpeckers.  That's the really big one with the Woody Woodpecker hairdo.  They love our suet feeders even though they are almost twice as big as the feeder itself.  I think they've got a contract with some of the smaller ground-feeding birds to drop some suet from that big beak.  We enjoy the birds sharing with the community of ground birds.  One nice happy family.  View Video of Male Pileated Woodpecker Eating Suet.

Neil and Michael Fletcher were hiking through the woods outside Sudbury, Ontario when they spotted a Bald Eagle caught in a trap.

Covering it with one of their sweaters to keep it calm, the brothers spent several minutes freeing the eagle’s leg.  Read the rest of the story and watch the video of the eagle's release after they took the "selfie" picture you see here.  (Source: Good News Network)

Tidbit - Health - If a person has Alzheimer’s disease, a disease that affects 343,000 people in Australia, and 50 million worldwide, it's usually the result of a build-up of two types of lesions - amyloid plaques, and neurofibrillary tangles. Amyloid plaques sit between the neurons and end up as dense clusters of beta-amyloid molecules, a sticky type of protein that clumps together and forms plaques. 

Australian researchers have come up with a non-invasive ultrasound technology that clears the brain of neurotoxic amyloid plaques.  The team reports fully restoring the memory function of 75% of the group during trials, with zero damage to the surrounding brain tissue.  Read the whole story here.

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Cricket Nymph Found in House
Photographed Before Release
Critters - This is amazing!  Composer Jim Wilson has recorded the sound of crickets and then slowed down the recording, revealing something so amazing. The crickets sound like they are singing the most angelic chorus in perfect harmony. Though it sounds like human voices, everything you hear in the recording is the crickets themselves. 

The recording contains two tracks played at the same time: The first is the natural sound of crickets played at regular speed, and the second is the slowed down version of crickets’ voices.  Jim says, “I discovered that when I slowed down this recording to various levels, this simple familiar sound began to morph into something very mystic and complex……..almost human.”  You have to hear this!

While out for a run, a Polish man encountered a Mouflon Sheep with his horns entangled in a small tree.  Krystof Wlodarczyk called up some courage to get close enough to help the frantic wild animal.  The man’s reaction to his success needs no translation: “YES!”  This was recorded in a forest near Konin, Poland in March, 2015.  Watch the 2-minute video of the rescue.

Tidbit - Hi-Rise Forests - A hi-rise building provides a skyline vista if you like that kind of thing, but for me, I've got to have forest!  Looking at what man has made from my windows is rather depressing, but to see trees ... the hand and presence of the Creator. 

In Milan two buildings are under construction and residents will see a tree outside their window that they can touch.  The project is called Vertical Forest that is the first in a development called BioMilan that will integrate exterior vertical gardens into Milan buildings so that the trees and plants will help control the building's climate and filter the air.

Plants are chosen to produce humidity and absorb CO2, dust and urban noise.  It conserves energy and enables food production.  The design irrigates the plants by filtering and reusing grey water from the buildings water system.  Read more on this exciting project in Italy.

Family - Frugal Cooking - I think I've mentioned that our son, Benjamin, has decided to spend some time in the kitchen over the past year.  Previously he pretty much ate out or heated pre-packaged meals.  When he was young he didn't want to have anything to do with cooking, but then I wasn't real open to sharing "my kitchen" either since cooking and talking just don't seem to go well with me.  I always multi-tasked recipes, so "distractions" were not a good thing.

Ben keeps coming up with dishes that include spices and ingredients that just don't mix in my mind.  One trait he did catch from me is that you use what you have rather than buy ingredients for an actual recipe.  Not that there aren't recipes that you do need to follow for many things you bake and all, but my purpose was to always use what I had on hand.  He's found the All Recipes website where you can enter ingredients and it will give you recipes that use those and then he takes it from there adding his own variations based on what he has or what he wants to get rid of.  He uses these for lunches and posts them on Facebook so people are always checking out what he's eating.  It's real funny to me.

Awhile back he had a Fall Cookout scheduled that turned into an in-house event.  He had thawed a bunch of burgers and still had quite a few leftover.  I suggested he just cook them and then mash them up and use them in casseroles he enjoys making.  So while we were talking to him at another time, he had a casserole (he called it a "bake") in the oven.  I guess for those that don't like casseroles, a "bake" sounds much more inviting.  He was listing the ingredients he used which was some of the ground burgers, rice he already had cooked, mushrooms, chicken stock, cheese, a jar of salsa with added spices of garlic, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper and before eating some Bragg's Liquid Aminos (tastes like a natural soy sauce).

I think you can imagine what ingredient I was focusing on when he relayed the information.  Where did cinnamon come in on that list of spice combinations?  My goodness!  And he loves it all.  He was never a fussy eater growing up.  I wish I could say the same.  Sorry, recipes are not available since he just tosses and sprinkles.  :-)

Travel - Unusual Places - Monemvasia, Greece, is a little settlement concealed behind a huge rock face in Laconia in Greece.  The island was separated from the mainland in 375 AD by an earthquake, although a small walkway has been created since for easy access to the mainland.  Inhabitants are hidden away from the rest of the world, with spectacular views of the Palaia Monemvasia bay.  Monemvasia was once a medieval fortress, and today it remains  a walled town that has a gated-entry protecting it.

it is one of those "lazy-feeling", out-of-the-way places  with charming views of the sea that just makes you feel good when you experience it.  Monemvasia is a great area for hiking and exploring the southern end of the Peloponnese. Lodging in the Old Town is quite limited, although you can find more modern accommodations across the causeway in "new" Monemvasia.  Read more about it.

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Life-size Nativity
Opryland, Nashville, TN
Holiday Poetry
Submitted by Brian K. Walters

And one special night.

When we go shopping,
We say, "How much will it cost?"
Then the true meaning of Christmas,
Somehow becomes lost.

Amidst the tinsel, glitter
And ribbons of gold,
We forget about the child,
Born on a night so cold.

The children look for Santa
In his big, red sleigh
Never thinking of the child
Whose bed was made of hay.

In reality,
When we look into the night sky,
We don't see a sleigh
But a star, burning bright and high.

A faithful reminder,
Of that night so long ago,
And of the child we call Jesus,
Whose love the world would know.

Share The Wonders of the Manger Story 
It's Christmas Time!

"Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around."
-- Henry David Thoreau

P.S. See anything in here that might help somebody you know?  Please share! 

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