Friday, 23 August 2013

Something Blue

I noticed that when the mud dauber wasp's wings catch the sun, 
they are shiny blue.
 I did my slow quiet walk around my back yard 
and noticed the dragon fly, also blue. Blue. 
Do we see blue often in nature?
 Yes, I turned in my spot knowing 
the blue spruce stood tall right behind me. 
Stealthily I made my way back to the pond
 and was greeted by this damselfly.
 Blue, not only for summer skies and open waters.

"Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean - roll!"   Lord Byron from Childe Harold

Monday, 12 August 2013

A Living Science Book

Charlotte Mason said that all subjects should be "illustrated and illuminated by books of literary value."

A few years ago I read such a book by science journalist Rebecca Skloot, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. It was fascinating, tragic and personal. As with any decent science book it made me think. I acquired a deeper knowledge of the history of genetic research and was swept into the realm of bioethics. When my son went to work in the lab at the Women's Research Hospital at Harvard I was able to have a surprisingly intelligent discussion with him about HeLa cells, their history and their place in science research today.

Mason tells us that "we can only cover a mere inch of the field of science, it is true; but the attitude of mind we get in our own little bit of work helps us to the understanding of what is being done elsewhere." This one living science book gave me a deeper understanding on one subject but opened my mind to other closely related topics

This week, I read the news headline with great interest: The National Institute of Health Brokers HeLa Genome Deal. The book had made such an impression on me that I could still recall the people involved and empathized with their motivation and celebrate their accomplishment.

Ms. Skloot, the author of the book, was interviewed afresh with her perspective on this unprecedented agreement:  August 9th CBC radio podcast . It was nice to hear her out loud voice as I felt I 'knew' her as I read her book.

A Mason education is a life. I read with my children for years and I continue to read for myself. A book like The Immortal Life Henrietta Lacks adds experience and knowledge to my life and I care to know more.

"The question is not how much does the youth know when he is finished with his education - but how much does he care? and about how any orders of things does he care?" Charlotte Mason

all quotes from:

Saturday, 10 August 2013

The Ten Step Nature Walk

Literally. Ten steps. 
I did not have to pack my nature notebook. I did not fill my water bottle. 
I did not need to find my keys or the energy for the journey to a place where I can see God's creatures.

great golden digger wasp

I took ten steps out my back door to where my pond, 
overgrown with water lilies and filled with frogs, stands.
 Every year I tear mounds of  the invasive hydrilla out of the water
 and pull up tons of mint that throws runners over everything.

mud dauber wasp

But the mint that does grow back blooms and when it blooms,
everyone wants some.
Yesterday I took ten steps from my house, stood still 
and watched nature come to me.

metallic green bee 'Agapostemon'
cabbage white
carpenter bee
Nine different species that were kind enough to pose for a photo. 
And this was not even looking in the pond or counting what landed on the other plants.    I stood there for a good thirty minutes hardly noticing the heat of the unclouded sun.    I did notice it when my shadow obscured my view and disturbed 
an insect.
Plant something that brings nature to your door step. 
Or at least within ten steps of it.