28 April 2006

The Song of the Peepers

A couple of nights ago, I was out walking the old
country road at one o'clock in the morning, when I
heard peepers (frogs) singing in a pond up ahead.
As I approached the pond, I moved quietly, so as not
to alert the peepers. I was able to move alongside
the pond, without attracting their attention.

I stood there, listening to the symphony of sound. So
many peepers! Also, the occasional croak of a bullfrog.
I closed my eyes and focused on the array of sounds.
I was soon carried away, and absorbed in this world
of frogs. I wasn't able to see them, but I could tell
that the singing came from all areas of the pond. I
could imagine the social interaction that was taking
place that night! The example of community within this

I opened my eyes, and noticed the darkness all around
me. Nothing else seemed to be stirring in that darkness.
I continued my walk for about a mile, and then retraced
my steps back home. As I passed the pond, the peepers
were still singing, and the bullfrog was still actively
taking part in its own way.

As I lay in my bed that night, I could still mentally
recall the song of the peepers. It was good medicine
for my mind, and just what I needed for a good night's

23 April 2006

Writing Tip

There are days when one is hard pressed to find things to say about a
particular subject, or when we simply don't feel in the mood to write an
entire article. Well, it's still possible to accomplish a great deal on
such occasions, and here's how.

Make a list of ten subjects which you feel you'd like to write about over
the next several weeks or months. Then, sit down by the keyboard, or
with your pen and paper, and write a paragraph on each in turn. The
paragraph doesn't have to be the opening to the article, but can describe
an important point in the article -- something you feel your readers
should understand about the subject.

Begin by writing a paragraph on each of three subject areas. Then, take
a break. Have a cup of tea... take a short walk... or do something else.
Afterwards, come back to the keyboard, and continue with the next couple
of items. You will be surprised how much you can acomplish over the
course of a morning, for example. Soon, you will have started ten to a
dozen articles! A pretty good accomplishment, I would say.

All the best!

18 April 2006

Pileated Woodpecker

I forgot to write about my sighting of a pileated woodpecker,
while sitting and relaxing in a mixed forest, near the end of
my field in Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia. I had gone walking
and came upon a large poplar tree that had fallen in a high
wind. As it was a mild, sunny day, I decided to rest using the
fallen poplar as a seat.

As I was sitting there, enjoying the warm sun, I heard the
knocking sound of a woodpecker about fifty yards to my
right. I peered through the forest, and saw the pileated
woodpecker on a pine, about twenty yards from the base
of the trunk. Its head was moving from side to side, as it
examined the bark of the pine. Periodically, it would stop
moving, and tap the bark in rapid succesion.

The bird slowly moved up the trunk, stopping to examine
and tap against the tree, before moving along. This continued
for about fifteen minutes until, I think it sensed my presence,
and flew away to the west. I love to see them fly, because
they often make their rising call, as they move to a new

I could elaborate on this incident, for the purpose of a nature
article. If I added some research material on the pileated
woodpecker, I would have a short article that would be suitable
for publication in a magazine or newspaper. This is an effective
method for writing nature based articles.

All the best!

16 April 2006

Happy Easter!

I want to wish all my visitors a Happy and wonderful
Easter Holiday!

I'll be back next week with several posts, including
some tips on how I do nature-based writing. In the
meantime, enjoy your weekend, and please inform me
if you happen to find a rabbit that lays eggs! I've
been looking for such a creature for the past 50 plus

All the best!

11 April 2006

The Porcupine's Night Out!

I opened my door last night, to go outside, and almost
stepped on a porcupine! It was there, looking up at me,
about three feet from the doorstep.

So, I gently closed the door, and sat down on the step.
It moved back slightly, about three feet, turned around
and briefly made a show of the quills on its back and rear.
However, it soon relaxed, and appeared to be nibbling
on spring's fresh grass shoots.

Well, this went on for some time, until it started woddling
away toward the rear of the house. I followed at a distance,
and watched as it went past the house, through a small
stand of assorted bushes and into the forest. That was at
11:30 p.m.

I went back outside at 1 a.m., to take a walk in the moon
light, and saw a porcupine under an old apple tree, nearby.
It was similar in size to the one I had observed earlier that
evening. I suspect it was the same porcupine, that had
come back to the field to sample more of the freshly growing

All the best!

07 April 2006

Poison Ivy and its Rash!

As spring gets into full swing, many people will be out
in their gardens digging around, or moving brush, and doing
other general clean-up chores. In other words, taking part
in activities that could expose them to poison ivy plants --
either new growth, or the old, dried plant material from last
year's cycle.

Be careful, and take precautions. Wear work gloves, and wash
up with strong soap after your activities -- change your socks,
as you may have walked through the plant material. Now, I don't
want to make anyone paranoid, as chances are remote that you'll
be exposed to it. And, if you are, you might very well have a
high tolerance to it. My father could rub poison ivy leaves over
his arms, and go away laughing about it.

Learn to identify poison ivy. There are several varieties; but,
mainly, you can identify the plant by its three leaves -- in
some cases, groups of three leaves -- and by the fact that there
is a small notch or indentation on the edge of some of the leaves.
While there are many plants with three leaves or leaflets, the
notch or indentation is a pretty good indication of poison ivy.

Never try to burn the plant! The chemicals in the smoke can go
in your pores, and cause poison ivy rash. Also, if your dog, for
example, rolls in the plants or old, dry leaves, you can catch
it by petting your dog. I caught it once, while on a canoe trip.
It lasts for a week to ten days, although poison ivy can remain
in the blood for up to ten years, causing minor periodic outbreaks
of itching. In my case, a small pimple would appear on one of
my fingers, and would itch badly, for several days. This continued,
occasionally, for about seven years.

Oh yes, you can be very susceptible to it, if you're perspiring;
for instance, if you're doing heavy manual labour in hot weather.
I caught it while pulling my canoe through a rocky, low water area
of a stream. It was a hot, July day, and I was perspiring profusely.
I didn't realize that the banks of the stream were populated with
the ivy plants. Soon afterwards, I learned how to identify the plant!

The Mi'kmaq used sweet fern leaves to treat poison ivy rash. The
leaves were steeped or boiled in water, and the resulting concoction
used to bath the effected area. This is a good remedy to know, in the
event that one is camping in an isolated area, without recourse to
medical treatment. For the most part, the best one can do is gain
some relief for the itch, and to allow it to run its course. Mind
you, I personally feel there are some plant remedies that can
be used to shorten its duration.

All the best!

03 April 2006


One of the best things for a beginner writer to do, in
terms of introducing themselves to the writer's life, is
to practice journalling on a regular basis. The regularity
of the process will allow the beginner to develop the
discipline necessary to complete a manuscript or report.

A simple process to follow in the beginning, especially
if you are having problems with getting started on a
project, is to dedicate yourself to writing a paragraph
each day. This may seem like a long, drawn-out process,
but it will be worth while in the end.

For anyone interested in writing about the natural world,
a good idea is to go to a park or some seluded area, and
find a single object to write about. For instance, an
interesting looking tree, a special feature of the landscape,
a particular bird or plant, or some other thing that interests
you. Describe it in as much detail as possible, or write a
paragraph of general remarks about the object or feature.

Go there, daily, and write your paragraph. Soon, you will
find that you've accumulated a lot of material about different
objects and features of that landscape. You will be able to
tie the paragraphs together into an article about that place.
Name the article, and send it off to a magazine or newspaper.
Or, simply, keep it private, and as a valuable part of your
journalling and learning experience.

All the best!