Families come in all sorts of forms: those who are family by birth, those who are family by choice, or those who are family by circumstance. However you experience family, I hope you are able to spend some time connecting with friends and family this Thanksgiving Weekend – on the phone, in person, or with good wishes. And while it is true that there is much turmoil currently in the world, I also hope that we each can take a moment to think of the things for which we are grateful.
I’ve always been amazed that the new growth on a plant is a much brighter green than the older leaves.
Fun Science Facts
Did you know:
- Some examples of coniferous trees: cypress, firs, redwoods, pines, cedars, spruces, junipers, etc.
- The needles on coniferous trees are actually their leaves.
- These leaves are adapted so that they survive better in harsher and colder conditions than broad leaves can.
- There is a thick, waxy cuticle that waterproofs the leaves. This helps them retain more water than broad leaves, and also helps them survive in harsher weather conditions.
- However, there are some species of pine that can absorb water through their needles and then transport that water to the roots of the tree where the water can then be properly distributed. This is especially helpful if these pines grow in a fog belt, as the fog itself can provide water to the tree.
- The multitude of needles enable the trees to collect far more sunlight than broad leaves would. The sunlight is necessary for photosynthesis.
- Some coniferous trees in North America can grow to be 75 meters tall and can live to be 500 years old.
Did you ever wonder how in the world a 75 meter tall tree can transport water all the way from its roots to the crown of the tree? My wonderful university professor for freshman biology all those decades ago gave us this answer:
Conifers have a vascular system just like our veins. In other words, the tree pumps the water upwards a certain distance, and then some small flaps come down, preventing the water from flowing back downward. When the next pump of water comes up, it pushes the higher water into the next chamber above and so on. This is just how our circulatory system gets our deoxygenated blood back to our heart for re-oxygenation.
And how super cool is that?
This was one of those rare occasions when I felt like I had captured the perfect picture with my iPhone with the subject clear and the beautiful background perfectly blurred. It reminds me of Monet’s use of color in the background, or even sometimes in the full painting. Although he never worked in oranges to the best of my knowledge. The oranges are closer to Renoir’s use of color in the sunlight.
And here is a closeup.
Caught in a Web
Photography and Dogs in the Rain
I am, perhaps, unusual in that I like taking pictures in the rain. The rain water on objects, in addition to the light that is peculiar to rain storms, seems to intensify the colors. More importantly, I suppose, is that I don’t mind going out in the rain. I have the necessary rain gear due to my love of hiking and the necessity of walking dogs, so I only get rather damp.
The dogs, however, have a different opinion of going out in the rain and of me stopping every minute or two to take a photo. They sit there, only somewhat patiently, with their heads down, sneaking a pleading look upwards every once in awhile that says, “Would you please, for God’s sake, take me home where it is warm and dry.
*Disclosure: I actually only own one dog, a Miniature Schnauzer. Good friends in the building own a Labradoodle. We share the walking of the dogs (three people, three walks/day = one walk per day per person). We also share the dogs in other respects, such as loving them both. And they behave as if they are littler mates. It’s a great system.
A picture of Teddy, the Labradoodle. and Zoe, the Miniature Schnauzer. Teddy doesn’t actually like the rain, but he doesn’t mind it too much. Zoe, on the other hand definitely doesn’t not, I repeat, not, like rain. It probably has to do with the fact that Teddy has enough oil in his fur that the rain drops mostly sit on the surface of his coat and he simply shakes them off. Zoe, on the other hand. has hair, not fur, and the rain soaks immediately right down to her skin. She looks rather like a drowned rat and is about as cheerful as one as well.
*Further discloser: I did not have them with me the other day when I took these photos of an old lamp post on Piedmont Ave in Oakland. The lamp posts, by the way, are over 100 years old.
I especially love how the rust shows its colors where the paint has worn off.
In Honor of Mothers
Here in the States it is Mother’s Day. But I want to expand the definition of what it is to be a mother. You fulfill a mothering role if
- You are the beloved Aunt or Grandmother helping to raise a child
- You are that favorite teacher to whom a child turns when their home life is in chaos
- You are a foster mother, adoptive, or step mother
I want to especially wish a Happy Mother’s Day to those whose
- Children are far flung and none of them are able to spend time with you today or call
- Children have predeceased you, and people are afraid to wish you a happy Mother’s Day because they don’t want to bring up painful memories
I want also to acknowledge mothers whose children are critically ill.
And I want to add to this list perhaps the most forgotten category
- Mothers whose child was born still, died shortly after birth, or was born too early to survive. To you, especially, I want to acknowledge that you, also, are mothers.
I want to honor each of you, wish you the best, and offer a collage of virtual bouquets.
All Images were taken at our wonderful local flower shop on Grand Avenue in Oakland, California. It is an oasis of calm, and has the comforting feel of a French flower shop.
One normally expects to see bright red and russet hues in the fall. This plant surprises, though. It has been bright red all through winter. Only now, in the spring, has it begun to bloom…………
and will turn a deep yellow.
The Greater Honeywort
No, it’s not a wort type skin disease that oozes a honey like substance.
And it’s not a monster under the bed that ends up being cute and who likes honey. (Although if I could draw, it can think of a very very cute monster who ends up liking honey and becomes friends with a small child.)
It is something beautiful with a very odd sounding name. And which also, quite frankly, also looks a little odd at first glance. Sort of like a weird kind of cabbage. But it’s well worth taking a second look.
Juxtaposition of Old and New
Oakland, California is an old city for the West Coast. Not as old as San Francisco, but still, it’s a little over a century old. The San Francisco Fire and Earthquake on April 18, 1906 was disastrous and terrifying. Not understanding the science of earthquakes 100 years ago, and not knowing that Oakland and Berkeley also lay on the San Andreas fault line, people in San Francisco moved over to the East Bay in droves. They brought their money, their civic interests, and their influence. Almost overnight, Oakland and Berkeley became respectable in their own right as cities.