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The Nature of Things

A blog about nature and the environment

Archive for March, 2008

Lamont-Doherty spring lecture series


Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory kicks off its 2008 Spring Lecture Series Sunday.

Professor Terry Plank will speak on, “Is the Ocean Sinking? The Earth’s Biggest Water Cycle.”

According to info from the observatory, “Subduction zones swallow the seafloor at deep sea trenches, starting a water cycle that involves the interior of the Earth.”

Plank will offer a tour of the “subduction factory, from black smokers on the seafloor to the world’s largest earthquakes and most explosive volcanic eruptions, following the water that links all of these processes.

“The ultimate fate of the oceans hangs in the balance of this deep earth water cycle.”

Her presentation runs from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Registration is recommended because space is limited.

The cost is $5 per person, with a light reception to follow the program.

Call 845-365-8998 to register.

Lamont-Doherty is off Route 9W in Palisades.

Posted by Laura Incalcaterra on Tuesday, March 25th, 2008 at 6:30 am |
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Gardeners’ Day deadline is Friday


Register by Friday if you want to participate in this year’s Gardeners’ Day program at the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rockland, 10 Patriot Hills Drive, in Stony Point.

The offerings: “Spring Lawn and Garden Care;” “My Basket of Organic Supplies;” “Container Gardening;” “Edible Landscaping with Fruit;” “Renovating Your Front Yard;” “Growing Spectacular Orchids;” “Gardening in the Shade;” “The Flower Arranger’s Garden;” and “Growing Culinary and Ornamental Herbs.”

The program takes place from noon to 5 p.m. April 5.

The cost is $20 per class or $50 for any three classes.

The teachers include top instructors from the New York Botanical Garden, Cornell University and the Master Gardener program.

Call 845-429-7085, ext. 117 to register.

Posted by Laura Incalcaterra on Tuesday, March 25th, 2008 at 6:17 am |
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Sure signs of spring


At my house, we always know we’ve made it through another winter when the crocus finally arrive!

These beauties are showing off hues of bright yellows and purples in my backyard.

So far, the dog hasn’t trampled them, the squirrels haven’t dug them up and the deer haven’t eaten them.



Posted by Laura Incalcaterra on Monday, March 24th, 2008 at 3:23 pm |
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Daffodils everywhere (and deer)


Ever notice daffodils that seem to be growing in the middle of nowhere? Say, in the woods? We have them growing in indiscriminate places around our property and many a time I have stumbled on a patch in the woods someplace. daffodils.jpg

Seems they easily grow in the shade, or what would be shade, mainly because they’re done by the time trees get their leaves. They also get credit for being long-lived, outlasting a home or garden — hence the leftover clumps here and there. And, apparently, deer don’t like them.

Speaking of deer, some our are neighbors in Connecticut are pushing for more deer control to cut down on the incidence of Lyme disease and the number of deer-vehicle interactions (a.k.a. crashes).

Posted by Mike Risinit on Monday, March 24th, 2008 at 12:50 pm |
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Beavers among us


Basically, I’ve decided, you never know where beavers are going to pop up. On a tip, I checked out a pond in front of the Turf World Indoor Sports dome on Route 22 in Southeast. Sure enough, beavers have plugged a culvert underbeaver2.jpg the road leading into the dome that allows water to pass from one pond to the next (first photo).

It looks like the busy rodents built their lodge on the edge of the pond, kind of in the bushes.

The maple tree in the second photo appears to be a work in progress. The beavers seem to have some more chewing to do before this one comes crashing down.

beaver1.jpgAll of this is taking place right alongside a very busy road, across from the Lakeview shopping center where A&P and Burger King are.

The blue-and-white structure you can see behind the gnawed tree is the sports dome.

Here’s some beaver information and a beaver post from last year. Let’s hope these beavers aren’t as angry as this beaver.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Friday, March 21st, 2008 at 5:38 pm |

Standing up for those who can’t sit down


The United Nations and its various organizations want your support tomorrow.

To mark World Water Day, the agency is asking people to join the effort to form the world’s longest toilet line to raise awareness about what it calls “the global sanitation crisis.”

According to the U.N., 2.6 billion people around the world don’t have the luxury of having any toilet to line up for.

The U.N.’s General Assembly declared 2008 to be the International Year of Sanitation to accelerate progress for people around the world who are without improved sanitation facilities. The organization hopes to promote and give momentum to sustainable sanitation and highlight its contribution to the achievement of its Millennium Development Goals, number seven of which is to ensure environmental sustainability as it relates to water and sanitation.

As if the world’s longest toilet line wasn’t enough, participants can view the U.N.-supported “Sanitation is Dignity” exhibit, which offers a look at what life would be like if we all had no place to go to the bathroom.

The event takes place from noon to 2 p.m. at Merchants’ Gate at Columbus Circle, which is at the south end of Central Park.

Posted by Laura Incalcaterra on Wednesday, March 19th, 2008 at 4:57 pm |
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Random bird notes


Some random bird notes from my yard:

1. The Eastern bluebirds, chickadees and Tufted titmouses aren’t getting along. The latter two seem to spend a lot of time lately chasing bluebirds around the yard. As a side note, I’m never sure what the plural of Tufted titmouse should be . . . titmouses? titmice?

2. Over the past week or so, I’ve heard killdeers calling in the field across the street from my house. Essentially a shorebird, killdeers can be found in parking lots, baseball fields, etc. Their piercing call is one of those sounds of spring/summer for me.

3. The chickadees and titmice (?, here we go again) are enjoying last year’s purple coneflowers and black-eyed susans in the flower garden. The brown and withered stalks still have decent seedheads on them and the birds just flit through the garden for easy pickings. tree.jpg

4. The photo shows a tree that hairy woodpeckers have been working on for a couple of weeks. Who knows, it could be the same woodpecker. But, at least once a day, I can look out the kitchen window and see a woodpecker banging away on the trunk.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Wednesday, March 19th, 2008 at 12:37 pm |
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Buy some trees


Need an American hornbeam? How about a Paw Paw? Or just an Eastern white pine? Those and a multitude of other tree seedlings and plants are available through the Putnam County Soil and Water Conservation District 2008 Tree Program sale.

An order form can be found here. Scroll down until you get to the tree program section. Hurry, though. Deadline is next Wednesday, March 26.

On the order form are guidelines on how to choose the right trees and shrubs for your property.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Tuesday, March 18th, 2008 at 12:23 pm |
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Another round


Green beer. No, we’re not talking beer dyed with food coloring. (That would be the step I took with my daughter’s scrambled eggs this morning (see photo), a St. Patrick’s Day nod to Dr. Seuss.)

eggs.jpgThis would be beer made with a smaller than usual environmental footprint – you know, wind energy, waste recycling, recapturing CO2. The list of “Green Beer for St. Patrick’s Day” is courtesy of the folks over at the Sierra Club’s “The Green Life” blog.

(I know. Paper plates aren’t the greenest way to eat. But they’re welcomed when we’re trying to get to kindergarten and work.)

Posted by Mike Risinit on Monday, March 17th, 2008 at 3:35 pm |
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Easter’s celestial underpinning


Ever wonder which Sunday each spring becomes Easter Sunday? A coworker posed this question to me the other day and my half-remembered recollection was that it had something to do with the moon. And, it does. Here’s an explanation:

Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox unless the full moon is on the equinox, in which case it’s after the following full moon.

In other words, it goes in this order: first day of spring, full moon, the next Sunday.

Thursday is the vernal, or spring equinox. The next full moon is Friday. Hence, this Sunday is Easter.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Monday, March 17th, 2008 at 1:16 pm |
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