Sunday, April 25, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
Sand gnats as we call them, are members of the family Ceratopogonidae or "biting midge" family. The sand gnat that seems to be at its worst when the fishing is at its best! It hatches out in mass numbers when the temperature and season are just right for outdoor activity. Sand gnats are insects and therefore have a typical insect life-cycle that consists of four primary stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult. Eggs are laid in marsh mud, decaying plant material, and even standing water. Female gnats bite humans and other animals to extract a blood meal that is necessary for the successful development of their eggs.
So why does it hurt like mad when a gnat takes a meal from your arm or, even worse, your scalp? The secret is in the mouth parts. Sand gnats don't just puncture your skin like mosquitoes do. Instead they rip it open using sharp cutting teeth located on the mandible. After inserting two sharp, sword-like blades into the skin as anchors, the sand gnat uses the cutting teeth to rip up the skin and get the blood flowing. As if that weren't enough, the gnat then squirts a chemical into the open wound to inhibit blood clotting. The tiny pool of blood that forms is then sucked up through a straw-like structure called the proboscis. Some human victims have allergic reactions to the chemical and must endure itchy red spots or even swollen welts.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Even tho I avoid sugar like the plague in my day-to-day diet (and severely ration any sugar-containing foods to my 3-year-old), during Easter I can scarf down a row of peeps without batting an eye. Why?... Relic of my childhood most likely. Their squishy goodness & sugar coated, slightly crunchy outside is simply irresistible. So, today on my daily surf around the NPR site (*I love NPR*) I was delighted to find this - click the link below & check out the picture slide show:
PEEPS SLIDE SHOW
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Thursday, April 1, 2010
That First, Early Gobble
The animals feel it, too. Deer move a little more freely than they did in late winter. Bluebirds scramble in and out of nest boxes, brown-headed nuthatch flit and crawl around cavities, Canada geese stand in pairs around farm ponds, and the sound of gobbling begins to roll up out of the creek bottoms.
I was a young boy when I first met this season, but a boy old enough to have cultivated a well-developed interest in nature and the outdoors. Once the experience of a spring morning spent with wild turkeys grabbed me, it never loosened its grip. Truth be known, I was probably predestined to be consumed with a passion for the wild turkey. Like so many other character flaws, it is likely due to a combination of genetics and environmental influences……I come from a long line of wiregrass turkey hunters. I know my Great-Grandaddy was a turkey hunter, and called them using a lighter’d wood splinter on a piece of chalkboard slate. Though he would have hunted them primarily in the fall, the old man undoubtedly knew the grandness of the bird and the beauty involved in pursuing them. My family may not have had much through those trying decades after the Civil War, but there was an abundance of elbowroom and plenty of wild game and fish with which to supplement the greens and cornbread. The old man passed his rural life and love of the land on to his son, and eventually some of it settled on those of us who came later.
It is that son, my Grandfather, who always made time for a busy little boy itching for adventure. I remember June bream fishing expeditions with crickets and poles, autumn deer hunts spent together in a wooden stand built in a water oak, and watching baseball games on a late summer night. As I look now at my own son, I believe time to be one of the greatest gifts an adult can give a child. More important than money, clothes, toys, and gadgets, giving time is giving of yourself. A gift that lasts a lifetime through the memories created and the confidence that though a child, I am somebody that matters.
The light was beginning to pale the eastern sky, barely illuminating the hardwoods as Papa and I made our way along the sandy woods road that ran above the branch and along the edge of the old cornfield. Along the road and to the northwest corner of the field where the old barbed wire lay on the ground and protruded from the trees like skinny metal fingers; waiting to once again prove useful and stick an unsuspecting kid. I remember stepping just inside the treeline and melting once again into the darkness. “We’ll just sit against the tree here and listen for awhile,” Pa-pa said quietly.
But no gobble.
Nothing I could even twist into a gobble with my young imagination. My mind began to wander back to deer season, when after two years of hunting I had finally earned the chance to take an old doe. I could see her suddenly emerging from the mist where nothing had been a second before. Then the nerves arrived, and I pulled the trigger as the crosshairs danced across the most bewildered deer in Georgia. I remembered as she disap…..
And then suddenly and unexpectedly, it happened.
The gobble coming from directly above us seemed to lift me off the ground and rattle the leaves, not to mention any semblance of calm I could have amassed at such a tender age. Papa barely stifled a chuckle, and his slow look told me everything….“Don’t move!” But it was too late…wise old swamp birds have little patience with intruders, even nervous little boys with quaking legs. The big gobbler exploded from the tree and flew north across the creek, disappearing from view into the dark timber of the Sofkee Creek swamp.
I remember leaning back against the tree, numb with excitement and questions, and overwhelmed. To have something so close, so alive and overpowering one second, and then completely gone the next, creates a sudden void that is difficult for a youngster to comprehend and understand. I’ve had that feeling many times since, after missing a shot or moving at the wrong time, and I usually work through it by looking at a track or rustled leaves and slowly understanding that he was here, but now he’s gone. Odds are we will both return again someday, for that is the way of things.
I sometimes think that when that gobbler flew out of the old warrior pine he flew straight into my heart, because I never walk past that tree without seeing a wide-eyed boy and a smiling old man. God willing, maybe one day I’ll be the old man, and I can sit back and smile at that old gobbler, maybe give him a knowing wink. Because after all, I’ve met him before.
Early spring, 2009