Saturday, 21 October 2017

Saturday Photo: Hibiscus in October II, Inside

The plants were brought in, there was a little frost Tuesday morning, but the temperatures shot up considerably at the end of the week.  Because of this--or despite it, take you pick--one of the hibiscus celebrated by sending forth another flower.

Should be interesting to see if the plant continues to be so colourful.  At the moment, we're just enjoying have the green inside, as the trees finally begin to turn colour. 

Climate change is really weird.  We haven't had to turn the furnace on yet this fall, and didn't run the air conditioner very much either this summer.  Maybe this Montreal is becoming a more temperate climate?

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Saturday Photo: Hibiscus in October

For years I've had two hibiscus bushes that have bloomed perhaps a half dozen times when the conditions were just right.  I put them outside in the summer, but even then blooms are rare. This year, however, things are different.  They've spent four months in their usual vacation place, in our shady little patch of front garden, and in the past few weeks they've been blooming.  At the moment, they have three flowers (I couldn't get them all in the photo) with a few more buds still to go.

Two things may account for this.  First, I did put some composted manure on them in early August, because their roots had begun to show, but I've done that before with no real results. 

The second factor is more important I think: for the first time ever I've kept them outside well in October, and the light coming through the overhanging tree branches is lower and  more intense. 
Is this one of the upsides of global warming?  Will we have other falls where the temperatures match or exceed those of July and August?  No idea, of course, although the prospect of climate change gives me chills.  What I will do is bring the plants in next week, before the frost which is forecast for Monday night.  In the meantime I'll enjoy the blossosm.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Coming Soon to the Atwater Library: Road through Time

Hope to see you at 12:30 p.m. Thursday October 12 at the Atwater Library when I'll be talking about  Road through Time: The Story of Humanity on the Move (University of Regina Press.) This image of Persian charioteers (as imagined in the 19th century) will be one of those I'll show as I talk about the first roads, warrior's roads, modern roads, and where they may be leading us now.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Saturday Photo: Happy Thanksgiving...

A little fall in the air, finally, with some leaves turning colour!  Nice...

This weekend in Canadian Thanksgiving, a feast I like a lot.  The idea of giving thanks to some Supreme Being doesn't appeal to me, but I think it's good to occasionally stop and reflect on what one has.  We're lucky to live in peace in a country that is more good than otherwise, to have family and friends, and to be able to eat our fill.  Personally, I have been very lucky to be able to follow my star with the help of some wonderful people.  Thank you!

And tomorrow we'll all have a lovely meal chez Lukas and Sophie.  It's the first time they've hosted the feast.  It's great that they stepped up to plate when I hesitated because of uncertainty about a small health problem (which has more or less resolved itself, thank goodness again.) Merci and bisous à tous et toutes....

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Saturday Photo: Stars on Earth--Asters

Before the rain we had on Thursday, our little front yard was filled with bouquets of native asters.  The flowers are a lovely shade of mauve, and bloom at the very end of summer. 

They're part of my wild, Darwinian garden in which I strive to have something low-maintenance in bloom from the time the snow melts until a good freeze levels things.  For the week or two when the asters overlap with the best of the golden rod, the effect is quite wonderful, I think.

We'd gone through a long, hot dry spell after a wet spring and summer, and the flowers were thriving with a little watering from my soaker hoses.  But the temperature dropped Thursday night, and thunder storm blew in for a few hours.  A few of the clumps of asters suffered from the hard rain so the effect isn't quite what it was.  But the change in the weather is a good one, and long overdue....

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Saturday Photo: Belles dames Or Painted Ladies?

Somewhere in there are a couple of lovely butterflies.  At first, when they appeared in mass about a week ago, I thought they were Monarchs, but it turns out they are what are called Painted Ladies in English or Belles dames in French.  The differences are obvious, when you see them side by side, but if you're not a butterfly expert, they're hard to distinguish.

Needless to say, Montrealers have been delighted to see so many of the beautiful creatures flitting around in these amazingly warm last days of summer/first days of fall.  All very normal, we're told.  A spring and summer that led to great success for the butterflies when it came to reproduction, plus this unusually warm weather after a wet summer.

Okay, I'll accept that, and not let my climate paranoia lead me to worry that the reason I haven't seen anything like this before is not a harbinger of more damage to the planet.  So I'll keep my comment to a linguistic one.  The names for the butterfly in French and English say a lot about the cultures--or what the cultures were in the 19th century when many plants and animals were catalogued.  Quite simply, something lovely in French could easily be named Belle dame, but in English a moralizing quirk led to Painted Lady which we all know is up to no good.

Would that the French are right!

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Saturday Photo: Rock of Ages, How Concrete Built the World as We Know It

This is the week that I start work in earnest on my next book, tentatively titled Rock of Ages: How Concrete Built the World as We Know It. Now that the major revisions to Different: Places that Should be Alike That Aren't Alike  (due from University of Regina Press in Fall 2018, if all goes well)  have been sent off, it's time to change gears.

Not that I haven't been thinking about the topic for a long time.  During our trip this summer, one of the things I wanted to see was Grand Coulee dam on the Columbia River, which for a while was the biggest concrete construction in the world.  But one of the things I forgot when I was thinking about the hydroelectric potential of dams is the massive effect irrigation with water from the projects. 

Concrete is essential for getting water to the countryside.  Without canals lined with it, the water so carefully collected behind dams would simply sink into the earth without the desired effect. 

This is a photo of the outlet canal at Grand Coulee.  I haven't yet researched just how the irrigation system works in this part of Washington state, but you can see the kind of countryside the river and its channeled water runs through.

More later....