Nature Tours Inc.
THE ENCHANTED NATURE NEWSLETTER
Greetings Enchanted Nature Community
Welcome To The Enchanted Nature Newsletter
The Summer Star(t)s
On June 21, the northern hemisphere experienced the summer solstice, also known as the estival solstice. In the northern hemisphere, we experience the "longest day of the year".
Every six months, when one of the Earth's poles has its maximal tilt toward the sun, we experience the longest or shortest amount of daylight per day, in the year.
Throughout history, earlier civilizations celebrated the summer solstice. Celtic, Slavic and and Germanic peoples often marked the solstice by lighting large bonfires. It was believed that this would boost the strength of the sun for the remainder of the crop season and ensure a good harvest. Neolithic Europeans also constructed several stone circles that appear to have been built to align with the movements of the sun at the summer and winter solstices. A well-known example of this is Stonehenge, located in southwestern England.
In The United States, we don't often hear about celebrations or ceremonies based on the astronomical movements of celestial bodies. For many, if I asked, "When does a man turn into a werewolf?", most would know that happens when it's a full moon.
When can a vampire come out?. If you're in the know regarding these infamous fictitious characters, you would answer only after sundown. It would not pay to be a vampire in Alaska on the summer solstice. But seriously, our society has lost its interest in astronomy. With smartphones and tablets, it is easier than ever to learn about the constellations and what stars are in the sky you're standing under. There are many free apps that will allow you to just point your phone at the sky and it will tell you which star you're looking at and what constellation that star is part of.
The night sky and the entire universe is part of our collective world experience. As far as humans know, the universe is INFINITE! Infinity is an exceptionally hard concept to grasp even though it is above our heads every day and night to experience.
In the illustration above, we can see why there may be a waning interest in the night sky. It no longer exists for many people. If you're living in an urban or suburban area, we encourage you to visit a nearby rural region to look at and appreciate the heavens that appear at night.
We would also like to encourage you to protect the remaining dark areas of the country. In many cases, it's simply a matter of installing lights that aim down. Yes, it's that simple. We want to light the roads and sidewalks not the night sky.
Preventing urban sprawl is another simple answer to letting future generations see the stars at night. We need to ask our state and municipal governments to create and maintain rational zoning ordinances like requiring building lights and street lamps to aim down. As equipment finishes its life expectancy, we can replace it with energy efficient lighting that shines the light toward the area that we need lit up.
The heavens make their own light without any human assistance. As mushroom fans and hikers, we spend much of our time scanning the planet below our feet so that we don't trip or miss a mycological treasure. Don't forget to look up, especially when you're out after sundown...just watch out for the vampires : )
PICS FROM OUR READERS
It seems that everyone was too busy (or too hot) this month to take some nature snapshots and share them. We thought that we might repost a few of our past shots. May your days be filled with time being enchanted by nature.
Joseph Andrews of California sent us a fun picture from Woodley Park in Van Nuys near the Sepulveda Dam. Seeing how the mushroom broke through soil and the soil still on top of the cap/pileus is beautiful. Thanks for the pic Joseph!
Nancy Sorrells, an amazing local historian and naturalist of Churchville, Virginia sent us these pics of Skunk Cabbage blooms (Symplocarpus foetidus) from the snowy ground. These flowers have to emit their own heat to melt the snow so that their blooms can be pollinated. The flowers appear before the leaves and are characterized by a spotted protective leaf called a spathe. The spathe surrounds a knob-like structure called a spadix (not seen in the photo). The spadix is actually a fleshy spike of many petal-less flowers. As the actual flowers mature, the spathe opens more to allow pollinators such as flies and beetles to enter and pollinate the spadix. Thank you again for the great pic Nancy!
Kathy Kelly from Massachusetts provided this stunning photo of Hydnellum peckii. Some of the common names for it are strawberries and cream, bleeding tooth, devil's tooth, and bleeding Hydnellum. One of the interesting characteristic of this mushroom is that it is growing "around" that leaf. If it continues to grow, it will completely engulf the tip of that leaf. Many mushrooms do not have that ability. Thank you again for sharing Kathy!
Please continue sending us your pics and queries: [email protected]
You can also text your pics & questions to (540) 324-8778.
Pics from the Writers:
We've had some interesting and perseverant visitors over the past couple of weeks. We love wildlife, but when they do not show fear of humans, it's something to be concerned about. It's imperative that we don't habituate wildlife to human-provided food; not only for our safety but mostly for theirs. Problem animals often have to be trapped, euthanized, or relocated to unfamiliar areas where they may be killed by the dominant animal in that area.
Our security camera picked up this Black Bear (Ursus americanus). Too bad he wasn't willing to pull some weeds and lay down a little mulch in our garden beds.
The bear decided to become a regular visitor twice a day looking for an easy snack. We removed the bird feeder in hopes that (s)he would go back to a diet provided by Mother Nature.
These pics are a little blurry because they were taken from the safety of inside of the house over the course of several days.
"No bear here...I'm invisible!
"I wonder if they have anything tasty inside of that house. Let's check it out."
After the feeder was taken down, the little rascal discovered where we stash the mother-load. It's not surprising that the bear tried to open the metal trashcan where we store the bird seed. The area inside a black bear's nose, known as the nasal mucosa, is 100 times greater than a human's. This large nose results in a superior sense of smell. Even bloodhounds don't smell as keenly a black bear. It is estimated that a black bear's sense of smell is about seven times greater than a bloodhound's. Conservative estimates of a black bear's sense of smell state that a black bear can smell a food source from over a mile away, while other sources claim a black bear can smell food from over two miles away.
Funny enough, on the last day that we saw this cute little rascal, the bear was trying to reach on its hind legs for our suet feeder. The feeder was hung high enough on a small tree limb so that it was out of reach for the bear. Once the bear left, along comes this big masked bandit.
After running off the bear earlier that morning, a raccoon seemed like it should be an easy adversary...NOPE! Ready to leave for work, I walked out clapping and speaking in a loud, authoritative tone. This little devil was not going to give up the suet until it was empty. Rather than getting into an altercation with a hungry raccoon, I just waited it out and enjoyed the show. After s(he) finished eating and left, down came the suet feeder too.
We've had reports from our neighbors that the bear is moving throughout the area looking for an easy meal. Hopefully everyone will do the right thing and take down their feeders until the bear moves on.
The day after the bear and raccoon episodes, another little fearless visitor decided to say hello while working in the vegetable garden.
We believe that this is an Appalachian Cottontail rabbit (Sylvilagus obscurus) but it is difficult to distinguish it from the common Eastern Cottontail rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus).
The local fauna is not the only entertainment these days. The flora is showing off as well.
This allium bloom has the Silver-Spotted Skipper Butterflies (Epargyreus clarus) interested:
Our wildflower meadow has a variety of Foxglove and Hairy Beartongue blooming:
Some beautiful Cosmos are blooming as well:
Berries, Snakes, and Bears
by Victoria Vacher
Berry picking plays a vivid roll in my childhood memories. Time spent with my Mom, Grandmother or various family members picking what I knew was going to be turned into wonderful treats like pie, ice cream and jam! I actually remember the very first day I picked blackberries with my mother. It was exhilarating! Picking and eating berries that grew wild and wouldn’t make us sick! Obtaining what seemed an endless source of delicious food for free (one berry in the bucket and two in our tummies) and laughing as our hands, mouths and tongues turned purple from the juice. I looked forward to those summers when we could pick berries together and I hold very happy memories of them.
Blackberries (and all berries for that matter) are remarkable! They have served as both food and medicine for humans and animals since the beginning of time. In herbal medicine, the leaves are used to make a fever-reducing tea. Blackberries belong to the rose family (Rosaceae) genus Rubus. They are composed of many tiny drupelets forming an aggregate fruit. High in antioxidants and filled with nutrients like manganese (important for bone development) and copper (necessary for the production of red and white blood cells), blackberries provide many of our daily-recommended nutrients. They contain vitamins B – C – A - E and K not to mention fiber. In addition to the antioxidant qualities there are more anti’s…anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer due to the high levels of Ellagic acid in the berries. Abundant in early summer but actually delivering fruit through September they provide an important source of nourishment for not only humans but also animals.
Brambles (another name for blackberries due to the prickly thickets they grow in) are especially abundant throughout northeastern North America and the Pacific Northwest. However, some type of blackberry species can be found growing in every one of the fifty states. The United States is the world’s leader in blackberry production. They are known by various names in different regions. In addition to brambles, some are called dewberries, thimbleberries and in the west referred to as caneberries. Reiterating the need for botanical names… Rubus.
Flash back to my childhood memories…
One particularly nice day at my Aunt’s house my Mother and I set out to pick blackberries at the request of my Grandmother. Equipped with baskets we set off to forage Nature's gifts. I was as excited as a youngster can be to be, going on an adventure with her Mom to do something she had grown to love when out of the back door my Grandfathers voice boomed out…”Watch out for Rattlesnakes and Bears!!!”
I stopped dead in my tracks! What?!?!? Mom replied, “ We will” and walked on. Catching up with her I asked her what he was talking about. I was thoroughly familiar with the pain the thorny bushes could cause if you ‘horsed around’, but what was this new bit of information? She informed me that snakes loved the protection the thickets provided and the bears simply loved the blackberries!!! Fascinated with this new knowledge about snakes, bears and blackberries I decided to investigate to find out if it was true. Sure enough, snakes like thickets and berries make up a substantial portion of bears' diets. The brambles and berries are crucial to their survival. The bears are also important to the proliferation of berries as they consume the berries then disperse the seeds as they "answer the call of nature" meandering through the forests.
Throughout my life we continued to enjoy berry picking (now stomping and yelling first) but somehow, needless to say, the youthful innocence of picking berries was never quite the same!
Interesting fact: When you pick a blackberry the stem stays with the berry. When you pick a raspberry the stem stays with the plant leaving a hollow core in the fruit.
Please be safe!
Be kind to nature and one another.
Enchanted Nature News
Enchanted Nature Tours inc. is planning our next mushroom class. We will cover wild edible identification, toxic mushroom identification, cultivation, medicinal mushrooms, and cooking. If you are interested on being notified when we schedule the next class, please contact us.
Give the gift of nature! We now offer gift certificates. They can be customized and emailed for any occasion. The gift certificates are available at our Trading Post
IF YOU'RE HEADING TO THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY,
You're invited to enjoy an afternoon with us and we're sure that "Our Local Friends" would love to meet you too. These are small local businesses that we support and feel confident recommending. Keep an eye on the page, as we expect the list to grow.
Take Your Time
is this month's video theme
Take time to smell the Roses. We have all heard it. Time is often hard to manage when you're trying to earn a living, meet obligations to family and friends, and maintain a home. Take a couple of minutes to enjoy a walk in a wildflower meadow. Breathe deep and know that despite the unrest, suffering, and ignorance amongst humans right now,
there is still beauty on the planet waiting for you to enjoy.
FEELING RELAXED? IF NOT, BACK UP AND TRY AGAIN.
NATURE IS CALLING, WILL YOU ANSWER
There are many proven health benefits to spending time in nature. It has also been proven that just looking at images of nature can provide multiple health benefits including: reducing depression, speeding healing, improving your immune system, preventing dementia, improving your mood, and increasing happiness. We end each newsletter with a short video of a natural scene.
Hopefully the videos will provide you with some of the benefits listed above.
Findings reported in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, suggest that keeping a few snapshots of greenery around yourself might be beneficial. When participants viewed the natural images in the experiment, their stress levels lowered, thanks to the activation of their parasympathetic nervous system – which controls certain rest functions. "Viewing green scenes may thus be particularly effective in supporting relaxation and recovery after experiencing a stressful period and thereby could serve as an opportunity for micro-restorative experiences and a promising tool in preventing chronic stress and stress-related diseases."
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Stay safe and enjoy nature
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