Ames Free Library

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A Glimpse of Nature - Dwarf Alberta Spruce

Next Tuesday is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, the day when the sun makes its lowest arc in the skies of the northern hemisphere.  This astronomical event has been celebrated from time immemorial, as people eagerly anticipated the return of longer days and a greener landscape.  Light – in the form of candles, yule logs, and bonfires – has been central to the rituals, perhaps as a means of welcoming the sun’s “return.”  Evergreens have long been associated with these winter festivals, as well.  By retaining their outward vitality through the coldest and darkest

A Glimpse of Nature — Weeds in Winter: Mullein

The last time we looked at an herbaceous plant was at the end of August when the library’s jewelweed reached its floriferous peak.  It’s high time to consider another wildflower!  Yes, blossoms are in short supply right now, but the plants that create them can be very conspicuous, especially when there is snow on the ground.  This first installment of “weeds in winter” spotlights common mullein.

It’s hard to miss a plant whose stalk can be over six feet tall.   Here’s what it looks like in winter.

A Glimpse of Nature — Oaks: Some ID & Ecology

The foundation of nature study is the habit of watching and wondering, of making observations and asking questions, a habit that I try to practice daily and to encourage through this blog.   These simple, and sometimes brief, observations quickly point to the complexity of our world.  

In writing A Glimpse of Nature, I hope to demonstrate the joys and accessibility of nature study AND to focus attention on some of those complexities.  As unwise as it may be to combine both, here I go again.  Let’s start with the visible.  


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