fireflies and stars at Congaree

May. 28th, 2017 01:11 am
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[personal profile] darkoshi
Yesterday after work, I drove to Congaree Park with my mom. From the status updates posted by the park, the peak firefly activity might have already been over. But even if so, I thought it would still be neat to be in a wilderness area after nightfall. Most other parks around here close at dusk. The forecast was for clear skies, so maybe there would also be a nice starry sky - here in town there is too much ambient light to see more than the brightest ones.

I looked up directions on how to drive there. I found that the Google Maps app has an option for downloading a zoomable map of a selected area. You can download maps of where you are planning to go using WiFi, and later on use them to navigate with GPS, without using any cellular data.

But my car also has a built-in navigator. So once I reached the outskirts of town, I turned it on and entered the address. I just wanted to be sure that I didn't miss the turn-off way down on Bluff Road. The expected route displayed on the screen, but once I started driving, it told me to turn right when I was certain that I should turn left. I stopped to verify on Google Maps that my memory was correct. Then I turned left and drove on. It started nagging "Turn left... recalculating", "Turn left ... recalculating", "Make a U-turn!" and so on and so on. I have no idea where it was trying to take me to. I wanted to turn it off, but neither my mom nor I could figure out how. Finally, after parking the car again and pressing a bunch of things on the screen, I turned it off.

The park's website had said that only flashlights with red filters or covers should be used, to avoid disturbing the fireflies. I happened to have a flashlight, plus a small BugLit flashlight, plus a headlamp, all with red LEDs. As my mom was coming too, I also brought 2 other flashlights, with red/pink cellophane covering the lights. But they weren't necessary. I only needed a flashlight on the way out. My mom only used the BugLit. The ones with the cellophane covers were still really way too bright anyway.

The parking lot was full already at the park, so I parked behind another car on the side of the road. It was already dusk. On the boardwalk, we walked past a lot of other people. We finally stopped at what seemed a good spot. (Beset by thoughts of "Maybe there are more fireflies further down. Or maybe there are fewer. Maybe that would only take us closer to that crying baby.") There were a lot of people noises. In the beginning, people were also constantly walking past behind us in both directions. Later on, much of that subsided and it was more peaceful. Surely there are places in the park where one could see fireflies too, without the crowds of people. But you'd need to be familiar with the park to know where to go.

There were a lot of fireflies, but not as many as I had hopefully envisioned. The peak activity must already be past. I didn't notice much synchronicity going on, although there were moments when a small group of them would flash at nearly the same time, and then go dark, and then do that again a few times. But there were also other fireflies around them doing their own thing, so it wasn't very obvious. The status posted by the park today said "Fireflies were again active last night (Friday, May 26). Visitors reported that separate groups of fireflies were synchronized (as opposed to all of them being synchronized together)." Maybe it was more obvious in other spots, than where we were standing.

When I see fireflies in my yard, the color of their flash is bright yellow. But the flash of the ones in the park was more white, like moonlight. (Maybe that was only because they were further away - the ones that were closer did have more color). But that white light made them look like twinkling stars in amongst the trees. Very magical. Twinkling moving stars. The kind of thing which might make you believe in fairies. In the moments when people were being quiet, you could hear the nighttime insect noises all around. There were occasional owl (I assume) calls. (Not hoot-hoot sounds. Though now checking YouTube for owl calls, it didn't sound like those, so maybe they weren't owls after all.)

We stayed after most other people had left. It was nicer then, without all the distractions, even though the twinkling fireflies seemed fainter by then, more misty and dreamlike. As we were on the way out, a few other people arrived. Perhaps they wanted to avoid the crowds too.

Other than the fireflies and the flashlights of people walking by, at ground-level it was quite dark. But looking up, you could see the sky a lighter blue between the dark outlines of trees. Even when we left, around 11pm, the sky still was that color. Not pitch black pierced by white stars, as I'd expect. Although the stars themselves were plentiful and beautiful. Does the night sky never really get black, even in the countryside? The moon was almost new, so the light wasn't from it. Maybe it was still ambient light from town; the park is only about half an hour away. Or do the stars always make the night sky seem a lighter color?

On the way out, I stopped at another small parking lot to get a better view of the sky. It was beautiful. I wasn't able to see the milky way (would it be overhead? I don't even know where to look). I think there was a pond nearby, but it was too dark to tell. There were some weird animal noises coming from the other side. I have no idea what it was. My mom guessed it might be a male deer. Maybe, based on this - the sound was sort of like that, though it's hard to remember now.

First Fireflies

May. 27th, 2017 10:13 pm
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[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
My partner Doug went outside and spotted the first fireflies of the season!  As it is well after dark, only a few are left flying high overhead.  Tomorrow we will have to look for them at dusk.  The weather is warm and damp, and we have copious grass, so there should be some.  :D

Saturday Yardening

May. 27th, 2017 06:24 pm
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[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Today we went to Champaign for shopping.  The weather was mostly cool and pleasant.  Now it is warm, damp, and full of bugs.  >_<

Round 1, I planted two wave petunias, one in a pot and one in the barrel garden; plus a packet of chive seeds in the septic garden. 

EDIT 5/27/17: Round 2, my partner Doug raked grass and I helped haul it away.

EDIT 5/27/17: Round 3, I trimmed grass around about half of the wildflower garden.

the bee's knees

May. 27th, 2017 05:13 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
[personal profile] darkoshi
Ah, man. I know I'm getting old, when while pulling weeds in the yard, I think to myself "You know, I think I'll get that stool from inside to sit down on". Because bending and unbending my knees is no longer such an easy effortless thing.

Tuskless Elephants

May. 27th, 2017 02:10 am
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[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This made me laugh, because people are surprised  by it.  Guys, this is nothing more than natural selection of a typically varied population.  It's what always happens when predators whack the individuals with a certain trait -- it drops out.  Like the silent crickets of Kauai.

Custom Keyboards

May. 27th, 2017 02:07 am
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
What you get when geeks are really into the typing experience.

LOL yes, Dvorak would bang these boys like a screen door in a hurricane.

Friday Yardening

May. 26th, 2017 03:34 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Today is partly sunny and warm.

Round 1, I watered the potted plants on the porch and trimmed grass around the telephone pole.

The mourning dove eggs have hatched into two tiny, fuzzy squabs.  I found a video of one online. 

Raspberries are beginning to turn pink in a few places.  Many of the mulberries are pink.

EDIT 5/26/17 -- Round 2, I pulled weeds around the forest garden.

Also the last shipment of plants arrived today.

EDIT 5/26/17 -- Round 3, I planted three windflowers, two stargazer lilies, and three balloon flowers around the barrel garden; and one White Feather hosta in the purple-and-white garden.

A cool breeze has blown up, downdraft from a storm some distance away.

EDIT 5/26/17 -- Round 4, I planted a white lilac and a black hollyhock.

EDIT 5/26/17 -- Round 5, I sowed more grass in the streetside yard.

It's getting dark, so I'm done for tonight.

Lawn Craze

May. 26th, 2017 01:34 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Here's a comic about the lawn craze.  Some further thoughts ...

It goes a lot farther back than postwar suburbs.  Lawns started as a status symbol among European aristocracy.

Advice to stop watering, fertilizing, mowing, etc. or to replace lawns with something else is great -- if it's legal.  In many areas it is not, and people are fined or even evicted for being unwilling or unable to keep their lawn in a manner pleasing to others. Such laws are bad for disability and bad for the environment, but those are things fewer people care about than power. Check the local level of tyranny before trying to solve lawn-related problems.

Tinhuviel Moving

May. 26th, 2017 01:22 pm
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[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
[personal profile] tinhuviel is moving, but has almost nothing to settle into a new home.  :/  There is a WalMart registry and a GoFundMe page for donations.  If you liked Shiv's housewarming basket, here's your chance to do something similar.
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[personal profile] aldersprig


This is technically a bonus, since we’ve slipped below the $70 donation milestone, but I have faith that we’ll get back up there soon enough. :-)
📖
The announcements and the invitations had been sent out:

On May 4, 1785, Louisa sh’Venti Horribiles, daughter of Isabella Venti Horribiles and Perry Longa Nocte, has come to her Change into her adult form.

Free for all Patrons!



I don’t know when this originally posted, since it was up as a voting incentive and then taken down, but it says “Last Modified June 3, 2010."
🙛🙙
Luca was standing outside of a dance hall in Boston when a gorgeous blonde woman threw herself at him. Bastard or no, he was a gentleman, so he caught her, one hand on her slim waist, the other on her shoulders. Her hair fell forward into his face, filling his nose with an intoxicating scent that no perfume could duplicate.

Read On!




Originally posted February 18, 2012.
🌹

Cole woke.

He generally considered this a good start to the day, getting things off on an immediate positive note.

Read On!

synchronous fireflies

May. 26th, 2017 12:54 am
darkoshi: (Default)
[personal profile] darkoshi
How can I have lived here this long, without having heard about this phenomenon before?

Synchronized fireflies lighting skies at Congaree National Park

Thankful Thursday

May. 25th, 2017 08:44 pm
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[personal profile] mdlbear

It's been an eventful week. I'm thankful that it's over. That's probably enough.

  • We sold our house in West Seattle. Done. It required a marathon cleanup session the day of the closing (Tuesday!) after the buyers' walkthrough Monday night. Why the *bleep* couldn't they have done it Friday evening? But they didn't, and our agent and I spent all day Tuesday cleaning out the stuff that I'd been too tired to deal with last Thursday, and the stuff that the movers dumped on the side path after they ghosted on us Friday. And G and I rented a UHaul and hauled his two motorcycles -- that the aforesaid mover had said he wanted to buy on Monday but never showed up -- over to our housekeeper's house in Auburn. But we did it.
  • In the end, after dropping off the truck, I went back to the old place to collect the paint cans the buyers had complained about, drove around to the front, and picked a bud and a flower off the Royal Amethyst rose. Thank you, Ame.
  • ... and sang "The Mary Ellen Carter" as loud as I could on the way back over the West Seattle Bridge. Thanks, Stan -- I needed that.
  • Our purchase of our new house on Whidbey Island went through without a hitch. That was a long search, and a lot of anxiety and research, but that too is done. Special thanks to our agents, Rob and (especially) Leif.
  • Also somewhere in there my final payment from Amazon came through. Less than I'd been expecting because I hadn't allowed for Social Security and Medicare taking their cuts, but welcome just the same. I note in passing that they have not come through with my promised health care, so no thanks are due in that direction.
  • Thanks to my family, too, the whole crazy lot of us. Special thanks to the Younger Daughter, whose new phone plan and health coverage through her employer have taken several additional worries off of my mind.
  • Thanks, too, to you, my readers. Your occasional comments and encouraging words have meant a great deal during this, um..., adventure? Something like that.

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