Every time you plant your feet upon the snow you press down thousands of seeds, minute forms of life, each with its little store of starch or albumen, carefully compounded in Nature’s laboratory, sufficient to sustain the embryonic life until the tiny plantlet learns to draw nourishment from the breast of Mother Earth and to breathe health and vigor from the sunshine and the air. By the wayside, in stony places, among thorns and on good ground, Nature sows her seeds with lavish hand. Every tree and shrub and herb, itself held fast to one place, tries to give its offspring as great a start in the world as possible. Even in late February one may see some of Nature’s airships, designed to carry seeds. They are all built on the same principle, not to rise in the air, but to fly as far away from the tree as possible when falling from the branch. The basswood puts its seeds into little hollow wooden balls, then makes a sail out of a leaf and sets it at just the right angle to balance the seeds and catch the breeze. The winged samaras of the ash and the box elder are other modifications of the same principle. The round balls of the sycamore hang till the high winds of March loosen their strong stalks and then they break open and the club-shaped nutlets inside spread their bristly hairs to the breeze. The hop-like strobiles of the hop hornbeam seem especially made to blow over the surface of the frozen snow; they drop off the queer little oblong bags as they go and thus the smooth small nuts inside are planted. The oaks, hickories, walnuts, butternuts, hazelnuts, trust their fruits to the feet of passersby and to the squirrels and blue jays which fail to find many of their buried acorns and nuts. The big three-valved balloons of the bladdernut can sail either in the air, on the water, or over the frozen snow. The pretty clusters of the wild yam, seen climbing over the hazelbrush in the rich winter woods, have two ways of navigating in the wind; either the three-sided, papery capsule floats as a whole, or it splits through the winged angles and then the flat seeds with their membranaceous wings have a chance to flutter a foot or two away where haply they may find a square inch of unoccupied soil. The desmodium, the bidens, the agrimony and the cocklebur, which stick to your clothes even as late as February, are only using you as a Moses to lead their children to their promised land. These herb stalks above the snow, the corymbose heads of the yarrow, the spikes of the self-heal, the crosiers of the golden-rod, the panicles of the asters, the racemes of the Indian tobacco, the knotted threads of the blue vervain and the plantain, the miniature mandarin temples of the peppergrass — all these have shed, or are shedding, myriads of seeds to be silently sepulchred under the snow until earth’s easter April mornings. The withered berries of the bittersweet, the cat-brier, and the sumac, like the drupes of the early fall, are scattered far and wide by the birds. All these speak not of death, but of an eager, expectant life.
– Frederick John Lazell, Some Winter Days in Iowa (1907)
Strange Fish Identification Page. Hong Kong fish pictures. Marine fishes of Vietnam. Some Photographic Impressions of Aquarium Stores in India. Do people these days feel a sudden fondness for fish or is it yet another passing fad? Learning to make an aquarium tank is great fun.
Princess Sparkle Pony’s Photo Blog.
Harriet Miers’s Weblog. The Potted Meat Museum. Association of International Glaucoma Societies. “In this frame of mind it occurred to me to put the question directly to myself: ‘Suppose that all your objects in life were realized; that all the changes in institution and opinions which you are looking forward to, could be completely effected at this very instant: would this be a great joy and happiness to you?’ And an irrepressible self-consciousness distinctly answered, “No!” At this my heart sank within me: the whole foundation on which my life was constructed fell down.” — John Stuart Mill. Classic Hawaiian music. September 10, 2005 was World Naked Gardening Day. RogerART.com. Franz’s website. INTERNATIONAL CAPS LOCK DAY WEBSITE. One Global Communty. The Tax History Museum. Improv Everywhere. The Official Flat Stanley Project.
The American Bamboo Society: includes a page of suggested bamboo literature. Tripple Brook Farm in Massachusetts sells hardy bamboos for the northeast and has a great catalog of other plants, too. Bamboo flooring and bamboo plywood. On bamboo musical instruments, including the anklung (”Meals can be without meat, but living cannot be without bamboo”). 1,000 Things Made of Bamboo.
A slow but aggressive spreader. Some facts: “In recent years it has been largely employed in experiments relating to the forcing of plants by means of anaesthetics such as chloroform and ether. It has been found that the winter buds, placed in the vapour of chloroform for a few hours and then planted, break into leaf and flower considerably before others not tested in this manner, the resulting plants being, moreover, exceptionally fine.” A poisonous plant that may strengthen the brain and renovate a weak memory. Flowers are associated with May Day in France. Also a book by Balzac.
"Texas Schools Scrap 'Cross-Dressing' Day" - -- Bobby Ross, Jr. (AP) in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 11/16/04:
A homecoming tradition in which boys dress like girls and vice versa in a tiny Texas school district won't be held Wednesday after a parent complained about what she regarded as the event's homosexual overtones.
As a substitute for "TWIRP Day," the schools ranging from elementary to senior high decided to hold "Camo Day" - with black boots and Army camouflage to be worn by everyone who wants to participate.
TWIRP, which stands for "The Woman Is Requested to Pay," was hosted by Spurger schools for years during Homecoming Week - to give boys and girls a chance to reverse social roles and let older girls invite boys on dates, open doors and pay for sodas.
Plano-based Liberty Legal Institute issued a news release Tuesday reporting that it "came to the aid of a concerned parent" over an "official cross-dressing day" in the school district 150 miles northeast of Houston.
"It is outrageous that a school in a small town in east Texas would encourage their 4-year-olds to be cross-dressers," Liberty Legal Institute attorney Hiram Sasser said in the release
Tanner T. Hunt Jr., the school district's attorney, called Sasser's statement "inflammatory and misleading." He said the district never planned or conducted a "cross-dressing day."
"They are a tiny little East Texas school district," Hunt said. "It never occurred to them that anyone could find anything morally reprehensible about TWIRP Day. I mean, they've been having it for years, probably for generations, and it's the first time anybody has complained."
Delana Davies, 33, said she complained after reading a school notice about "TWIRP Day." Davies, whose 9-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter attend Spurger Elementary, said she viewed the day not as a silly Homecoming Week activity, but rather something related to homosexuality.
"It's like experimenting with drugs," Davies said. "You just keep playing with it and it becomes customary. ... If it's OK to dress like a girl today, then why is it not OK in the future?"