Finally, a color pic – crystallofolia emerging from a stem of White Crownbeard, Verbesina virginica

Scientists have been trying to explain the unique phenomenon of  “ice ribbons” for hundreds of years. But oddly, there was no consensus on what to call them. 19th century German botanists came up with “Eisblatt” (iceleaf); translated into latin it becomes “Crystallofolia”, which rolls off the tongue much more nicely. No surprise, the term was coined by linguist Dr. Bob Harms. In fact, we have Dr. Harms and Dr. James Carter (ISU professor emeritus, Geology/Geography dept.) to thank for finally demystifying the phenomenon with their careful research. Read More

Liquid Frozen

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I’ll bet some readers will recognize this odd, but relatively common natural phenomenon. If you don’t know what it is, the convoluted spirals may seem rather fantastical; reminiscent more of old-time ribbon candy than something in nature. Black and white images can make the familiar strange, and the unfamiliar even stranger… Read More

12/5 Nine Pictures, (almost) no color

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If that title sounds inviting, you may be one of the rare breed who actually enjoys black and white photography. In our color saturated world of digital screens, it’s an odd choice to go monotone. Like seeking out vinyl records (the kind I grew up with), it seems perversely retro. But in my opinion it’s not – there’s actually a reason to forsake color sometimes… Read More

11/27 What About the Rut

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Though the sexual behavior of powerful men has been much in the news lately, an equally riveting drama of the sexes has been playing out in our own little forest. The White-tailed Deer rut (breeding season) is winding down, and considering the buck behaviors I’ve witnessed, I can imagine many of the does breathing a sigh of relief. Read More

11/20 What the Deer Don’t Eat…

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…is what thrives in this forest. Yes, it’s Browntail again, and her doe fawn. Day by day, their eating habits determine the future make-up of this forest, from tiny herbaceous plants to tall trees. They are the deciders. And what don’t they eat? It’s a very short list – which makes it awfully hard to encourage some “stuffing” to grow back back. We’d hoped for a revival of native plants after removing so much Bush honeysuckle, but it’s just not that simple. Read More

11/9 Deconstructors


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Oyster Mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus – a white-rot fungus

And who do we have to thank for turning dead trees into soil? If you answered fungi and decomposers, you’re right – but there’s more to the story. Though I could have titled this post “decomposers”, I didn’t for a reason. All the tiny critters – millipedes, pillbugs, earthworms, nematodes, bacteria and so on – they do an incredible job of eating dead stuff and breaking it down. But there’s one thing they can’t digest: lignin, the toughest part of wood. Only some bacteria, and fungal deconstructors in the class Basidiomycetes have evolved to do this specialized task.  Read More

11/1 What Would A Bird Say?


If we could ask this Common Yellowthroat what she thinks of our efforts to improve the forest, I suspect she would not be impressed. She might say “what happened to the tangles?” In the past six years we’ve lopped and sawed our way through acres of invasive plants. But what have we done for wildlife, especially birds? We’ve mostly taken away, not replaced. Read More

10/23 If Jewelweed Could Speak…


What would it say? In this forest I can imagine it saying “give me shelter”. Pale Jewelweed’s just a humble annual plant, so weedy and abundant we don’t usually give it a second glance. But deer relish its juicy tenderness; by midsummer in this forest, any unprotected Jewelweed is looking seriously ragged. Read More

10/16 Tale of Two Turtles



If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know our forest is a haven for Box Turtles. And just like the rest of us, some turtles are more fortunate than others.  Life is not fair – I’ve seen healthy old turtles without a mark on their carapace, and young ones that were chewed on, damaged by mowers, or just plain run over and dead. Within the past week I’ve met two box turtles with very different life stories… Read More

10/10 Dear Readers

an old acquaintance, and subject of my next post

Let’s have a conversation! It’s easier than you think. Although the blog post comment box says to log in, give email etc. – you don’t have to! The message is just there to protect the blog from spammers, and I can’t remove it.  Because I trust you, dear readers, I’m sharing this little secret. To comment on a post you only have to give a first name. “Liking” a post however, still requires logging in. My hope for this blog is to create a community of folks who love BCSNP, urban nature, birds, habitat restoration, frogs, pollinators, native plants, turtles, deer, backyard habitat, salamanders,  butterflies – you name it ….    So what do YOU think? Take a moment to share your thoughts with all of us.

Thanks! Rosemary