Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Friday, May 14, 2010
NN/SOTS: Colony Collapse Disorder--'Bee' Enlightened Before You 'Make Your Garden Rich in Gillyvors'
This time of year calls for a bit of shearing--deadheading--to keep some blooms in my garden blooming for a while longer. These beauties waiting to be shorn of their spent blossoms are Dianthus or what Shakespeare knew as carnations, gillyflowers, or gillyvors. So, I got to thinking about another shearing--of sheep in this case--that takes place in a land called Bohemia. One character stands out in this pastoral scene with her steadfast attitude about allowing hybrids into her garden. Why, though? What could be so disastrous about allowing plants that have been hybridized into the mix? Perdita, the stand-out gardener, whose name means "lost," can't bear the thought of allowing anything but the art-less flowers that appear naturally each growing season.
Perdita: Sir, the year growing ancient,
Not yet on summer's death nor on the birth
Of trembling winter, the fairest flow'rs o' th' season
Are our carnations and streaked gillyvors,
Which some call nature's bastards. Of that kind
Our rustic garden's barren, and I care not
To get slips of them.
Polixenes: Wherefore, gentle maiden,
Do you neglect them?
Perdita: For I have heard it said
There is an art which in their piedness shares
With great creating nature.
Polixenes: Say there be;
Yet nature is made better by no mean
But nature makes that mean. So over that art
Which you say adds to nature is an art
That nature makes. You see, sweet maid, we marry
A gentler scion to the wildest stock,
And make conceive a bark of baser kind
By bud of nobler race. This is an art
Which does mend nature--change it, rather--but
The art itself is nature.
Perdita: So it is.
Polixenes: Then make your garden rich in gillyvors,
And do not call them bastards.
Perdita: I'll not put
The dibble in earth to set one slip of them,
No more than, were I painted, I would wish
This youth should say 'twere well, and only therefore
Desire to breed by me...
(The Winter's Tale, Act 4, Scene 4, Lines 79-103)
A swallowtail butterfly (Palamedes, maybe?) on thistle, Cirsium horridulum, seen at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge on May 9, 2010
No one really knows why honeybees have been disappearing in such large numbers over the last several years. Scientists think that a combination of factors are contributing to the decline. Researchers all over the world are studying this phenomenon because the possible outcome could be significant--a worldwide shortage of food. I asked a beekeeper and honey merchant at the Lumberjack Festival a couple of months ago what the latest word is on the disorder. He said he is studying up to be an expert, certified apiarist but hadn't heard anything new coming down the pike. I found out that the majority of his business comes from transporting his hives to fields and groves where there is a shortage of bees and a surplus of plants and trees in desperate need of pollination. Selling the honey is a way for him to make extra income and to educate people about bees and their habits. He also told us to be wary of honey sold in most outlets because it more than likely is "cut" with corn syrup to make it go further. It tastes similar and doesn't look much different, unless you've tasted the real stuff and can differentiate between what's real and its facsimile. A shortage of honey would seem logical considering the shortage of bees. But why is there a decline? Could the bees be confused--upset--by the displacement of Perdita's faves with those "streaked gillyvors"? Presumably, the bees can tell the difference between original, "rustic garden" flowers and the hybrids that have gradually stolen their scene. I wish someone would figure out what's happening to the bees and find a way to help them negotiate this thorny situation.
Prickly pear, Opuntia humifusa, blossom seen at St. Marks NWR, 5/9/2010
A little more light--maybe some funding too--on the situation might help us understand what we as a species are doing to this old planet, right or wrong, and put to shame--where they belong--those doomsayers' predictions that the world is going to end in 2012 or anytime soon.
Lighthouse at St. Marks. Guess who took me there on Mother's Day, 2010, after a great lunch out, just the two of us? I could get used to this new-to-me part of Florida.
For this week's Nature Notes/Signs of the Season post and links to other bloggers' observations about nature, please visit Ramblingwoods.com and leave a comment there too. Michelle would appreciate it. We all do.
Friday, May 7, 2010
The Write Gardener is observant (smart, too!). He noted in a comment on my last post that I never said "what it were" that had broken my heart. Is it ever just one thing? By the time you reach middle age, life gets so complicated that it couldn't possibly be just one thing. One thing can't make you happy. "Contrariwise" (as someone wise once said--think Through the Looking-Glass), one thing doesn't break your heart. Take this bivalve, for example--or what's left of it. It's a cockle shell, maybe a Van Hyning's cockle (Dinocardium robustum vanhyningi), less than half or just one part of the whole animal. It's missing the best part, the thing that kept it alive and held it together. Daughter and I found it Wednesday evening on the beach down by Fort Pickens. She had the day off from work, and we wanted to see the white sandy beach one more time and maybe have a margarita together in honor of Cinco de Mayo. The boardwalk on Quietwater Beach was practically deserted, and the bartender at Bamboo Willie's was more interested in watching the barmaids and the gals standing outside Hooters' next door than serving a middle-aged woman, even if she was accompanied by a pretty, young one. We left after about ten minutes and bought our own margarita fixins' at the Publix on the way home. The drinks were cheaper and better anyway. Before we left the boardwalk, I overheard someone say that the tourists are staying away in droves. Maybe the wildlife that's left here and there among the high-rise condos, restaurants, and bars will get a rest from all the traffic and noise. That's my foot, by the way, toenails not polished yet. I'm still trying to find that perfect Verbena purple...
Daughter is just as fond as I am of walking, but she steps to the beat of a different drummer when it comes to unsolicited advice, even if it's just about wearing shoes on the beach. She insisted on walking barefoot, at least until we saw that Man O'War. She has always been a strong-willed child, and she won't change just to suit me, thank goodness. In fact, she won't change to suit anyone--person, that is. I guess that's why things didn't work out so well for her and Mr. T. Maybe she does take after me, now that I think about it. I'm not happy about the recent Gulf oil slick, but I'm not angry at BP for causing it. Why should I be? I live in Florida, a complex and sensitive collection of ecosystems. I leave a footprint here, a footprint there, a footprint everywhere I go, especially while driving a car. Anyone who lives on the coast or near a body of water should know that living the good life with all of its amenities has a huge impact on a fragile environment. You would think that people have forgotten, though, with all of the hateful words being aimed at BP and Big Oil in general. They're being held accountable for every bird, fish, or turtle that dies now or in the future. I guess that all of the frenzied coastal and waterfront construction and subsequent devastation to wildlife due to loss of habitat and poisoning it over the course of several decades don't count in the same way. If people were honest about it, they would see that it's like Tweedledum or Tweedledee--essentially the same though different. We lovers of waterways want to have our cake--or seafood--and eat it too. And if it makes us sick, well, let's find someone else to blame. Someone else needs to belly up to the bar and pay for it. Only it isn't that simple. If BP gets punched in the eye, guess who else gets black-and-blue? We all do. Oil prices go up, and investors get even more uneasy. An already fragile economy teeters closer to the edge of a precipice. So, let's say we don't have any more oil exploration. I don't think we have a viable alternative to the messy stuff yet.
Now, about that eating... Think about what happens to what you've eaten after a few days. Sure, it goes through a water treatment facility, where it gets treated with chemicals and mixed with who-knows-what else that goes down thousands of other drains. Or, maybe you have a septic system on your property like we do, in good working order, of course! Where does all of that you-know-what in various stages of "clean" eventually end up? The Gulf or some other ocean. Yes, I know I'm being crude here, but we're all in this life together. It takes more than one thing or company or industry to make a mess. We live in a composite world, and it ain't always "the berries." Can't we all get along, make the best of a bad situation, leave off thinking terrible thoughts about each other or--even worse--threatening each other with lawsuits, curses, and bombs? So, I have been broken-hearted lately. Is it the curse of being empathic? I don't know. There is a whole lot of negativity swirling around in this old world lately.
Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Agreed to have a battle;
For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
Had spoiled his nice new rattle.
Just then flew down a monstrous crow,
As black as a tar-barrel;
Which frightened both the heroes so,
They quite forgot their quarrel.
--from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass--
Sunset at Fort Pickens, May 5, 2010
Please visit Ramblingwoods.com for this week's Nature Notes/Signs of the Season post and links to other posts by bloggers like me (or not, as the case may be)--which is as it should be, don't you think? It would be too boring if we were all exactly alike.