Opportunities to use the word aposematism do not present themselves often. Today, however, it is warranted because Monarchs provide a textbook example of the phenomenon of warning coloration. The bold stripes are a clear signal to predators to stay away. And, for good reason. The primary food of this instar is Milkweed, a plant which contains cardiac glycosides, compounds which are highly toxic. The pharmacodynamics of glycosides, especially the cardenolide steroids, are widely known. Digitalis or digoxin, perhaps the best known of these compounds, is derived from Foxglove. In humans, the compound increases the force of heart muscle contraction and reduces heart rate. It has been used, clinically, as an antiarrhythmic. Such agents are therapeutic at low doses and can be lethal at higher ones.


Arion subfuscus is common and may be found when conditions are wet and, especially, in the early morning. Slugs are snails. Like other gastropod molluscs they have a shell but theirs is carried internally and has been reduced to just a sliver. Like other land snails, Arion has a pneumostome which allows air to reach the lung. In this image you can see a hint of this feature if you look a third the way down the right side of the mantle (the oval structure which leads from the base of the optic tentacles). I think this is a very pretty animal indeed.

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Spring ..

.. the verb.

Kniffiti ..

.. is also referred to as yarn bombing. Who knew?

A portrait of pretty ..

.. Rudbeckia.


The specific epithet of this orchid, psycodes, is misspelled. Psychodes means butterfly-like.


I don’t like beer, but I do remember the classic Budweiser tagline, This Bud’s for You.

Well … This Post’s for Me.

The long tentacles are for vision, the short ones are for olfaction. Members of the group respire in air. The pore, the pneumostome, allows respiratory gasses to reach the lung. Succinids live in wet, terrestrial, habitat.

Hollyhock ..

.. in France.

Hospital cove ..

.. at morning tide.

Wings Neck ..

.. at evening tide, and before a bit of weather.


Le jardin des sculptures ..

 .. de la Musée olympique. Porta italica. Igor Mitoraj, 1997.



Evening ..

.. light.


I have photographed Columbine before and welcomed the opportunity to do so again. The one here was growing just beside the road. The old women said We must transplant these, for surely they will be damaged by the plows this winter. No. And the same goes for the Bluets which bedeck the footpath. How arrogant to think that such actions, taken in what amount to a milli-microsecond of cosmic time, will have any lasting influence on these colonies of beautiful, living, things.


Surrounded by so much history, she wondered how it was that this colorful doorway should catch my eye.


I like getting things done and delight in being busy. So, it was with mixed emotion that I agreed when she suggested that we take time to get away. I have always considered, to some extent at least, vacationing to be an irresponsible use of one’s time, for surely there are more constructive things to be done. Vacations, it seemed, only took us away from what we would, or should, be doing.

We visited the walled city at Avignon and sat beneath Sycamores. She lunched on duck rillettes.

We stopped at Goudargues. He said it was pretty. It was beautiful.

Llavender bloomed in joyous interruption of the dry, undulating, countryside. The sun warmed the thin skin of the earth and Rosemary and Thyme perfumed the air above it.

Perhaps I began to get used to days with a different pace. Perhaps I began to loosen my grip on responsibility. Perhaps this vacation had been restorative. Perhaps. I do not know.


.. its common name (short for Gonepteryx cleopatra), seemed quite fond of Lavender.

The hurricane of 1938

He regales, in great detail. Of trees, unable to withstand the wind. He knows just how high the water rose, for there is a map in the dining room which has not been moved since before the storm. At chest height, it shows the yellowed stains of time. Below, the paper is white, though pockmarked with mildew. Paper, in the old days, was made of mechanical pulp which retained quantities of lignin. Exposure to air and light destabilizes lignin to create chromophores which turn the paper yellow as they increase in number. Salt deposits halt this chemistry and allow for the evidence which he points to, with pride.


I looked for a perfect one. With equally-spaced petals. Without blemish or unpleasant asymmetry. The sun warmed the back of my neck as I walked along the path in search of what I would not find. How foolish. Nature isn’t like that. It is subject to vagaries and limits at all scales. So too are our lives, complex, messy, and perhaps not quite as we’d like. But therein, as with this Fleabane flower, we find interest and beauty.

A tale of two words

Richness and diversity are very different things. Richness describes the number of species in a community while diversity is a function of both the number of species and the evenness with which they occur (roughly equivalent to population size). For example, if two meadows are known to contain 10 species of wildflower, they will have the same richness. If, however, one meadow includes a single individual of 9 of species and 91 individuals of the tenth species, it will have a lower diversity than the other, if that second place should have 10 individuals belonging to each of 10 species. So, it’s one thing to say that a meadow is rich, and quite another to describe it as diverse. Which is better? Perhaps it would be instructive to remember that it may not be a good idea to put all of your eggs into one basket. Having said that, communities and ecosystems aren’t able to put anything anywhere but those which have, for reason of history or circumstance, developed greater diversity may be less prone to the potentially negative impacts of disturbance and will be more stable. I tell you this by way of arguing that ecosystems are in delicate balance and we should tread lightly. The Jainist religion teaches that the way to save one’s soul is to protect every other soul. Its most central teaching is that of Ahimsa. Literally translated, it means to be without harm, to be harmless, not only to oneself and others, but to all forms of life. The toad is considered an indicator species. Amphibians live in both aquatic and terrestrial environments. They breathe with gills, when in the water, and use lungs when they are on land. Many species may augment oxygen supply by taking up that gas through the skin. Some terrestrial forms lack lungs altogether and are entirely dependent upon skin respiration. Because their delicate skin is especially subject to the injurious effects of radiation, disease, and toxins, amphibians may be the proverbial Canary in the Coal Mine, the first to show the effects of environmental degradation.


The tallest trees comprise the canopy and smaller ones and saplings occupy the sub canopy. Shrubs form the understory, followed by an herbaceous layer, and mosses and ferns are found on the forest floor. We planned to rendezvous in an hour. As I made my way back I was delighted to see that the sun had cast a reversal of the usual order.

No-so-strange attraction

We visited the island two years ago and I posted a few images from there, including one of a colorful tidepool. We returned last summer and, without thinking about the previous image, I captured the one below. If you examine the pair, you will see that they record the very same spot.

The palette of livings things that inhabit the New England rocky intertidal includes mostly blue and green. Color, in more tropical climes, tends toward red and orange. This difference has everything to do with light attenuation at different latitudes and the scene below might be mistaken for tropical, if not for the depth of the water. Regardless of color, each ecosystem is a thing of beauty to be admired, and protected.

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