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....

Saturday 9 September 2017

Saturday Photo: Le Jardin botanique, Montreal's Jewel

A good friend is visiting from out of town and we did something we hadn't done in a long time: visit Montreal's Jardin botanique.  What a delight!

Our friend had spend some time around here in the early 1970s, but she said she'd never gone there then, and I realized, too, that until I was in my late 30s and had kids, I never went looking for the loveliness of gardens.  But when the children were small the garden was free, and one of our favourite winter outings was to spend an afternoon in the green houses.  Quite wonderful to be in a tropical atmosphere when it's snowing outside!

Since then we've gone through phases when we visited frequently, but lately the press of work and other projects have pushed the Jardin to the back of our schedules.  This visit has revived our interest, and I'm sure we'll be back soon. Here's a link.

Sunday 3 September 2017

Saturday Photo: Or What Happens When the Internet Lets You Down

No picture this weekend, to show my profound disappointment that we didn't have internet for 24 hours this weekend.  Amazed at how much we have come to fit regular views of news sites, Facebook and e-mail into the fabric of our lives.

Things are back to normal, which means I can waste more time than I should following links to interesting sites....