Finding time to slow down

”When I gaze at a sunset sky and spend hours contemplating its marvellous ever-changing beauty, an extraordinary emotion overwhelms me. Nature in all its vastness is truthfully reflected in my sincere though feeble soul. Around me are the trees stretching up their branches to the skies, the perfumed flowers gladdening the meadow, the gentle grass-carpetted earth, … and my hands unconsciously assume an attitude of adoration. … To feel the supreme and moving beauty of the spectacle to which Nature invites her ephemeral guests! … that is what I call prayer.”

Claude Debussy

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Ice Circles

Ice circles are a rare and beautiful looking

as well as sounding phenomenon.

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The ice circles in the photos are from Sävar in the northern part of Sweden.  The circles look perfect as if they have been made by a ceramist.

If you listen you can hear the sound of the river or the sea flowing continuously. When you are watching the ice circles dance by you can hear very sharp cracks and groans.

The circles are formed when a large piece of ice breaks off creating an effect called “rotational shear” where the current slowly grinds away at the free-floating chunk until it is smoothed into a circle.

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The first video is filmed by Kaylyn Messer in Seattle and in the second video you can hear the sounds of ice. Go here to read Jonna Jinton’s blog.

What can We Learn from Autumn?

The October air is raw and filled with goodbyes.

Goodbye green leaves and warm summer evenings.

Reluctantly I say welcome to spicy scent of colourful leaves and the shy October light.

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The forest is coming to a standstill and animals are preparing for the colder weather.

Autumn is a busy time for many animals as they prepare for winter weather. Some animals such as swallows and martins, warblers,  nightingales, and cuckoos migrate to warmer parts of the world.  Hedgehogs and toads have another approach and they decide that it is better to sleep through the winter.

So maybe the real lesson that autumn teaches us is to let go and to rest to load our batteries for Spring.

Jonna Jinton is an inspiring blogger who lives in Northern Sweden in a village with 11 citizens – what a dream!  Her blog is brimming with beautiful photos and videos. Warmly recommended.

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Nostalgic Fondness and the New Frontier

How far would you travel to see a cloud?

And what would you see?

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Gavin Pretor-Pinney  travelled halfway across the world to the middle of nowhere to see the morning glory. From the English countryside to the Australian outback. Morning glory is a spectacular cloud that looks like elongated cotton tubes. The cloud stretches horizontally across the sky – hundreds of miles.  A joke inspired Gavin to start the Cloud Appreciation Society, which now has members from all over the world.

The reputation of clouds is not always the best – clouds are getting in the way of the sun. Many sayings associated clouds to something bad, for example, the there is a cloud having over my head refers to something bad that is going to happen or that I am feeling depressed and sad.

Clouds look like objects swirling over the sky but they are only droplet or ice  crystals. Many of us have fond childhood memories of searching for shapes in clouds. Cloudspotting is a wonderful activity that remains an interest with some people, like Gavin.

Most clouds are formed in the troposphere (0-12 km), just above this layer of the Earth’s atmosphere is the stratosphere (12 to 50 km). This layer is very dry and dry but occasionally clouds are formed here.

In the mindblowing video below the question of how high the Earth’s biosphere extends are explored. Microbes have been found as far as 32 km into the atmosphere. Visit this extreme place by watching this animated documentary. Follow the microbes as they ride on air currents around the globe.

And next time you see a polar stratospheric cloud also called nacreous clouds or mother of pearl cloud, imagine different microbes that might swirl around high above your head. 

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Photo: By Alan Light from Charlotte, USA. At Commons: Alan R Light (talk · contribs) – Nacreous Clouds over the NASA Radome -4-Uploaded by Hike395, CC BY 2.0

 

Great Green Roofs

Roofs can be transformed into a buzzing meadow!

Mosses and lichens will grow naturally on most roofs, but a green roof is intentionally designed to support various grasses and flowers. Green roofs can provide a wonderful place for local wildlife.

Green roofs are of course an old tradition. Below is a photo of a traditional sod roof or tuft roof in Sweden.

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The type of green roof you can have depends on the strength of the structure beneath. So before you decide to create a green roof seek professional advice to ensure that the roof is waterproof and structurally sound. Green roofs, apart from being great for wildlife, provide insulation and they also help to reduce the water run-off. A wildflower roof is pretty and if you cut it late in the year and leve the clippings, birds have access to seeds in the winter.

Often a thin layer of soils that are poor in nutrients can be used to create a small-scale green roof. Perfect for a shed, garages and small extensions. It is easier to transform a flat roof. Pitched roofs need more preparatory work.

Perhaps you associate green roof with life in the countryside. But it is becoming increasingly more common provide city dwellers with something interesting to look up towards. Greenery has the power to enhance the quality of life and the well-being.

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Photo: Wikimedia

Love this modern low maintenance green roof filled with hardy native plants.

What does your dream green roof look like?

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Photo: Leonard G.

A Meadow of Roses and a Meadow of Grasses and Wildflowers

A world filled with contrasts.

Imagine a meadow filled with roses! 

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Photo: By Gavin McWilliam

The Savill Garden is an enclosed part of  Windsor Great Park in England. The garden was created in the 1930s by Eric Savill and you find woodland, ornamental areas with a range of different gardens such as the New Zealand Garden, as well as a pond.

In 2011, a new contemporary rose garden was designed by Andrew Wilson and Gavin McWilliam. The garden can be described as a meadow of roses. The scent of 2, 500 different rose bushes is filling the air. A leisurely stroll through a perfumed meadow  on a warm summer’s day is surely one of the most delightful experiences in life.

The roses are planted in big bold drifts of deep plum and soft pinks, apricots and tangerine orange, and pale yellow and white. The roses are surrounded by yew hedges and drifts of ornamental grasses.

Imagine a meadow filled with grasses and wildflowers.

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Photo: Mark Robinson  Meadow flowers in a Dorset field.

Meadows are an intrinsic part of the UK’s natural heritage. Once upon a time, you would find natural wildflower meadows in every parish. Today, only around 2 percent of the meadows that were found in the UK in the 19302 remain. And many of the grasslands are not rich in species anymore. Wildflowers meadows are still being destroyed and threatened by urbanisation,  agricultural practices, invasive species and climate change.

Meadows support a range of wildlife apart from wildflowers, for example,  birds, bats, fungi, bees, flies, beetles, spiders, moths, butterflies, reptiles, amphibians, and small mammals. Meadows that are rich in genetic diversity and species also store carbon and help with water retention to prevent flooding and they are also a habitat for crop pollinators. Losing the wild flowers means that we lose access to traits that could help to build resilience in our crops.

Meadows are also important for their beauty. Meadows filled with swaying cornfield flowers have inspired writers such as Constable and Shakespeare. And meadows continue to inspire poets, writers, and artists.

A wildflower meadow in your garden can offer an alternative to lawns and borders.You can create an annual meadow and this works well in rich soil. Perfect if you are converting an old border into a meadow. Perennials  thrive on poor soils and the grasses compete less with the wildflowers.

Sarah Raven is an English gardener, cook, writer and TV presenter, go here to read an article written by her about how to create a mini wildflower meadow. Happy planning and planting.

Happy planning and planting.

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Photo: Samuel John  Meadow

 

Look at the Lobster’s Way of Dealing with Stress

What is the function of stress in nature?

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Flickr Lobster by phalinn ooi

If you look the lobster, you see that it has a soft body inside a shell. The shell, which is rigid,  becomes very confining as the lobster grows. So what does the lobster do? Well, it goes away and hides under a rock. The lobster searches for a safe place where it can shred the uncomfortable shell and grow a new one. This process happens over and over again. A lobster can even grow new claw that it has lost during a fight.

Stress in nature is a time for rest and new growth.

Yet, when the lobster leaves its new shell it is very vulnerable just like we may feel vulnerable when we try new ideas that may emerge after some time of reflection and growth. The new lobster shell is soft so the lobster is an easy prey. To make sure it does not get eaten, the lobster hides  a week or two to gain a new strong shell.

Studying the way an animal deals with different situations can provide new ideas for how to enrich our lives and deal with different situations.

Happy Easter and Happy Nature Watching!