Summer Slips South

The Autumnal Equinox means the end of summer for me. This week the sun arose due East and set due West giving everyone on planet Earth exactly 12 hours of light and 12 of dark.








Ford Rd. Looking West at Sunset                                            Ford Rd. Looking East at Sunrise

Ford Road in Perrysburg is aligned exactly East-West. The rising sun was blinding and almost impossible to drive into.  And likewise going the other direction 12 hours later as the sun set. 11th Avenue (or other parallel avenues if the trees are too dense) in Vancouver, Market Street in Rhinebeck, NY and Tillary, Myrtle or Dekalb in Brooklyn should all have the same phenomenon.

A very dear blog fan anonymously asked a very perceptive equinox question: What happens if you live on the equator? One could naively think that because for all the rest of us living outside the tropics, the sun is highest on the June 21 Solstice and the days are longest – after that they shorten.  For those Equatorial Equinoxers the midday sun is right overhead and after that not so high, so one would be excused for imagining the days might shorten, both after Spring and Autumnal Equinox, but…  Shine a flashight on a globe or a ball to see what really happens!

The 45 Great White Egrets on the summer Maumee got the message when the first longer night and cooler day arrived. Most stretched their wings and went South, back to Florida, this week.

And from nowhere there arrived masses of the native “White Snake Root”, happily flowering in deep shade where I can get nothing else to open up.








 Honey Bee gathering pollen                                             Imposter (name?) on Snake Root
from White Snake Root. See small
off-white pollen sac on bee’s leg.

 This is a very distinctive native plant whose leaves mysteriously poisoned the cow’s milk for the early settlers. Abraham Lincoln’s mother died from their poison milk.  Sadly, it is recorded that a Shawnee woman told a female nurse about it in the 1800’s but it was not until 1920 that a ‘man’ found the poison and was listened to. The bees are quite comfortable with it and my Bee Club says it is not a problem for bee or honey as I watch them returning with its white pollen:

Hopefully it’s only the green leaf which is poisonous?

The nectar native flower of choice right now is the Showey Goldenrod which is irresistable for this year’s great swarm of bumble bees. 

My little bees are just barely tolerated on it and are allowed to bring home some golden pollen.

They have to use their new small winter door designed to keep heat in and mice out. The occupants of the new hive complained furiously while I installed it.

‘Peter Rabbit’ has been sleeping in the grass in front of the new hive for weeks now. I give him carrots and ask in return, with some success, that he stop eating my native plants.









 He is too tame – I’ve not seen him since the Equinox. It would be nice to think he went South with the Egrets for the winter! 

The Birds & the Bees – Blue Honey?

Spring on the Maumee River had 2 escaped white farmyard ducks trying to join in the mating fun with their wild companions. We’ll watch out for dappled white ducklings.

Among the wild ducks one often sees one single female being wooed/saught by ten or more drakes,  sometimes with much splashing. Where are the other 9?

The geese are all paired up – we never see the mating but some are obviously carrying eggs judging be the size of their tail ends. The male is more alert with head up and watching for problems like pesky photographers.

As soon as it was warm enough to fly, the bees climbed out of their winter cluster where they’d huddled for warmth.  My project this year is to simply record, as best I can with a cell phone camera, each flower harvested by the bees.

Starting with the Snowdrop: I could confirm that one as it was the only flower open when the first bees were bringing in yellow pollen.

This is my best close-up yet showing Snowdrop pollen on the hind legs, just about to be brought into the hive. Unlike the regular camera which does not like to zoom in when in macro mode, this phone camera has no macro, but when fully zoomed, and using flash, it took this amazing detail from about 4 inches away. Very hard to focus properly.

Then this delightful blue Siberian Scilla or Squill (thanks to Jen & Scott for i.d.) flower gave some bees bright blue pollen. It should be used to feed baby bees and hopefully does not make blue honey.

The Pear tree was next to blossom:

Then Myrtle:

The bees like Myrtle but so does this impersonator who seems to have no stinger (I’ll check it if I can catch it) but looks enough like a bee for the predators to avoided it.

In the river the Walleye are running and many fisherfolk are standing in very cold water for long times:

 This man caught 3 but appears to have used 4 arms to do it:

In the house, O’s Amaryllis finally decided to gloriously bloom after at least 2 years of false starts. I’m tempted to bring in a few bees for it, but Alice might not approve.

As the Equinox passed we had one clear sky at sunrise letting me catch another solar alignment. It will need a small picture placed on that sunny spot on the wall to see if it will light up again at the next Equinox on September 21st?





In the night sky last Sunday and Monday (3/25, 26) the Moon danced with Venus and Jupiter.


The Moon quickly shifted position as Venus and Jupiter slowly drift apart.  (The lowest 6 lights in the right hand image are only from Maumee  buildings)


One Final Observation:

The Exxon Valdez, which dumped so much crude oil on Alaskan shores years ago, was sold for scrap the other day. I had never realized she’d been sailing in the interim, under the most amazing name of “Oriental Nicety”.   I don’t want to know under whose flag?

2011 Winter Solstice or Your House as a Solar Observatory

A simple but great sculpture by Nancy Holt in Utah, celebrating the ancient ceremonies at winter solstice is on my all time favorite website:
I celebrated the Solstice at 8:15 this morning (December 22) in Perrysburg when the sun rose and shone right through the house from its unique Southernmost direction.

The left side photo is taken from the North side of the house looking straight at the sunrise.

The right side photo shows where I am hanging a print of the first photo, in the exact spot on the North wall, illuminated by the sun only on December 21 or 22 (the sun spot is not on the photo because it had moved away by the time I got the iPad stuck to the wall!).

It worked for me  on both first and second floors (see second row of photos). I hope to repeat the measurements for the Summer Solstice and the Equinoxes, but it helps here not having leaves on the trees right now.






(Alice is more interested in Aya’s catnip mouse than astronomy).







(The Black Prince, Pinot is more interested in sitting on the warm radiator).

Here’s a good alignment that occurred a week after the solstice. There are no trees near this line of sight and the spot on the wall is small and relatively precise being a good distance from the window where the sun shines into the house.








I’ll place a photo there and see if it is directly illuminated again same time next year.

I found this 6 month old sunrise photo, taken in July about 4 weeks after the Summer Solstice, looking North-East along the top deck.

It shows the sun is rising about 78 degrees further to the North than right now at the end of December.

The best fun will be at the March and September equinoxes: then I’ll only have to wait 6 months to see if I can get two sunspots to occur in exactly the same spot.

In the Contemporary Art Museum in Chicago a few days ago I found this most timely still life by Windsor, Ontario artist Iain Baxter.

It brought back fond memories of Glenn Osborn’s Photoshopped great collage masterpiece “Homage to DeHeem” which won Best of Show (Area Artists) at the Toledo Art Museum in 2007.

It’s almost two years since Glenn sadly left us, with a great musical wake to remember him by.

Happy Solstice and Holidays to all, with a Photoshopped image of what the Maumee Xmas lights, just over the river, would look like through rainy glass – we have NO SNOW, or ice yet!