The Turtle by Odgen Nash

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Spring–time for the birds and the bees, and the turtles, too, apparently

Since the first time I read poetry by Ogden Nash in the fourth grade, I do believe he has been my favorite poet.  His irreverent style and creative use of words reflect my inner bard.  I introduced him to my children recently.  My youngest was required to memorize a poem for class, and the choices available were deplorable (no rhyme or meter, and boring content).  My kids were most impressed that I could rattle off this ditty after so many years.

 

The Turtle by Odgen Nash:

The turtle lives twixt plated decks

Which practically conceal its sex.

I think it clever of the turtle

In such a fix to be so fertile.

“Firefox”–the Red Panda

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Red Panda, Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, Kansas. 2013.

The Red Panda (aka “firefox,” lesser panda or red bear-cat) is not related to the raccoon or the bear, although they used to be classified in those families.  These musteloids (related to otters, weasels and badgers) have been placed in their own family, the Ailuridae.  Although musteloids are considered small, carnivorous mammals, the Red Panda mainly consumes tender bamboo.  Two species of Red Pandas are found in southwest China and Nepal.  The numbers of these animals are diminishing in their native regions; they are considered a vulnerable species.  Due to this, zoos in North America have developed a Species Survival Program (or SSP), a studbook which tracks all matings of Red Pandas.

This Red Panda lives at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas.  We visited the zoo in March of 2013.  Although it was chilly for us humans, I think the panda seemed right at home.

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Sympathy by Briton Rivière

Sympathy by Briton Riviere

Sympathy by Briton Riviere

One of my favorite artists, Briton Riviere was a British artist from a family of acclaimed artists.  After he became a regular contributor to Royal Academy exhibitions, he discovered a passion for painting animals.  He has a wonderful way of showing the animals’ expressions.  Riviere’s paintings make me smile and sigh.

Rose Hips

roses5Rose hips (or Rose Haws) are the fruit of the rose that forms following successful pollination after the petals drop.  They are definitely edible although the seeds are held inside by tiny hairs that can be irritating if not removed.  Fresh, they have been compared to cranberries–tart and very fruity-flavored.  They can also be dried or preserved to use at a later time.  One method for making rose hip tea is to grind a little powder from the dried hips and steep it in hot water, straining the dregs before drinking.  Many countries make their own concoctions from rose hips:  nyponsoppa in Sweden, palinka in Hungary, and cockta in Slovenia.

The rose hip contains many beneficial chemicals.  By weight, rose hips contain more Vitamin C than citrus fruits (about 1-2%). The also contain Vitamins A, D and E, as well as iron, carotenoids (including Beta-carotene), lycopene, and flavonoids. Historically, they have been used for laxatives and diuresis.  Present research is looking at the benefits rose hips may have in the treatment of arthritis and depression.

Rose Hips in the Black Forest, 2007.

Rose Hips in the Black Forest, 2007.

When I went to Germany, I enjoyed the roses which seemed to be present everywhere. I was astounded by the size of the rose hips on some of the plants–I never knew they could be so large!  I suspect it is because the newer varieties of roses are chosen for specific weather or disease-resistance.  I have long noticed that the older, more “wild” varieties of roses have the best aromas (and probably the most beneficial phytochemicals, as well!).

 

Giant Leopard Moths

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Two Giant Leopard Moths (the second one is hiding underneath the rail)

In June 2013 I encountered these lovely creatures resting on my deck. (Or maybe I interrupted a personal moment?) The Giant Leopard Moth ranges from Canada to Mexico in the eastern US.  They prefer forest-type habitat where the caterpillars (a wooly-worm type) can find plenty to eat. Browsing the web I discovered that these moths make good pets–really?  Or maybe just good science projects where you can watch a caterpillar develop into a chrysalis and a moth.  Although they are supposed to be nocturnal, these were obviously out during the day.  Happy me!