Guide vs. Sage • Thursday, April 6th
Have you ever experienced the anxiety that comes from anticipating the millions of questions children are apt to ask on a nature walk, during a museum visit or any exploration of their world? Even if you are an expert, today's vast amount knowledge in so many diverse areas, would make it impossible to be an expert in all of them. And of course, children will ask the questions you have no idea of how to answer!

In working with children, I have learned many things. One of the most important ones was that you did not have to be the sage, the all-knowing. You had to know how to frame the questions and guide the conversation. Have you ever tried to push a shopping cart through sand? Rather than pushing it, isn't it easier to pull it along. The same can be said of learning. Instead of "pushing" your knowledge onto others, it is much better to "pull" them along in their own discovery. You should be the guide defining the exploration by the questions you ask.

The questions should be open-ended questions. They start with Why...? or When did you see...? or What do you think happened when...? These lead to deeper, more thoughtful answers and often give an insight on how the child looks at the world. A multitude of answers are possible. They are answered in sentences rather than a single word.

Close-ended questions usually only require a simple yes or no response. "What was it that you saw" would allow the child to elaborate not only on what they saw but where they saw it, what it was doing and what it might have meant to them instead of just answering "yes" or "no" to "Did you see that?"! Careful listening will point to further questions, continuing the discussion thereby enriching the experience of discovery and deepening the learning.

So when a child or student comes to you looking for an answer, turn it back to them. Ask a question in response and then look for the answer together. The child's question "Why are leaves shaped the way they are?" can be countered with" I am not quite sure but what happens to leaves when it rains?" or "How do leaves act when the wind blows through the forest?" This should lead to the library, a trip outside for observations or doing an experiment on how water runs off a leaf's surface. Hands on experience turns into a knowledge base which builds an understanding of the world.

So much more rewarding than having to live under the expectation of knowing it all and then being stumped by an unexpected!

Posted by MrK@exordium-adventure.com on 2017-04-06

Nature • Thursday, November 10th
SOME SIMPLE QUESTIONS TO ASK –

Nature, with its unlimited supply of materials and wide variety of potential topics, presents an ideal setting for place-based inquiry. Students of all ages become enthralled with the mysteries that confront them once you, as their guide, ask an initial question.

• What left that mark on the tree?
• How would you know a porcupine sat under that rock?
• Look at this plant and let's see what made that swelling on the stem?

Each question leads to another as observations are made and facts noted:
• What would leave regular scratch marks along a tree trunk?
• What animal would favor a beech tree and why?
• Is that black hair possibly left by the animal as they climbed the tree?
• What is that large "nest-like" structure in the crotch of the beech tree?

These are all signs that await an interpretation, recounting an animal's actions, which has long since faded back into its habitat. Just as the child that sits on the lap and is fascinated by the pictures in the book you are reading to them, so nature's observers pay close attention to the detail as the "story" unfolds in the telling.

A bear, wandering the woods in search of food comes upon a beech tree filled with ripe beech nuts, one of its favorite foods. Climbing up into crotch of branches, the bear makes a nest in which it can sit and pull branches toward itself, eating the nuts it finds. In climbing, it had caught its fur on a tiny snag in the bark, leaving behind a dark clump of black hair. The marks on the tree should have the form of claws on opposite sides of the tree as the bear digs into the bark with fore and hind legs.

Further questions arise:
• Are there other beech trees (or other tree species) with similar signs?
• Are the old marks covered by fresh marks? If so what does that mean?
• Has the bear marked the tree in any other way?

And so a simple walk in the woods can yield a wonderful story of events that were unseen but are clearly understood just like the story-line of a good book. Can you think of a better way of firing up the imagination no matter what the age of the observer?

Modified by MrK@exordium-adventure.com on 2016-11-10

Nature • Friday, December 6th
PERSONAL PURSUITS IN NATURE DECEMBER 6, 2013

Nature has a way of speaking to all of us, of calling out under the open sky to listen to her "various languages". To the born scientist, her call is a challenge to know and to probe. To woodsmen and campers, she is a friend providing materials to use in woodcraft. To those among us who think beyond the immediate present, she is a rich environmental heritage to protect for generations to come. To each of us, she suggests things to do in the outdoors.
There is no end to the possibilities that nature presents to you! The way you accept her message and act upon it depends on yourself: your background, your temperament, your ambition.
Your interest in nature may cause you to undertake an occasional short-term nature activity in a certain field, or it may involve you in a whole string of activities in a wide variety of areas.
Sooner or later one or more of these activities may catch your whole-hearted imagination and cause you to pursue them further. What started as a simple activity, perhaps casually indulged in, may then turn into a long-term nature hobby with life-long implications and fulfillment. Such a hobby may center in a single phase of animal or plant life – birds, for instance, or mammals, or insects, flowers, ferns, or trees – or in one of the earth sciences. Or it may take in all the phases of an ecological environment – field, meadow, marsh, or swamp, desert or forest, mountain or lake or ocean.

THE GOLDEN RULE FOR YOUR PERSONAL PURSUIT IS THIS: PICK A NATURE ACTIVITY OR HOBBY THAT WILL GIVE YOU ENJOYMENT AND SATISFACTION. START OUT IN THE SPIRIT OF ADVENTURE, AND MAKE UP YOUR MIND TO HAVE A GOOD TIME!
Source: The New Field Book of Nature Activities and Hobbies, William Harcourt, GP Putnam's Sons NY 1970 – p.7
Posted by MrK@exordium-adventure.com on 2013-12-06

Animals • Friday, October 25th
ANIMAL METEOROLOGISTS - October 25, 2013
Can animals help us predict weather events? Two rare oarfish have washed up on beaches in California in less than a week and according to Japanese folklore that means that the West Coast may be in for an earthquake. Oarfish (Google me!) are giant serpent-like fish that live at great depths in the oceans and scientists speculate that deep-sea fish are more sensitive to the movements of active faults than those near the surface.
What about here in Northern Vermont? We often look to animals to give us clues about the weather. How about the Groundhog? What about Wooly Bears? Wooly Bears are hairy rust brown and black caterpillars that become Isabella Tiger Moths in the spring. Folklore here says that the width of the rust brown band is supposed to tell us what the up-coming winter will bring. A broad band means a mild winter, and a narrow band means "Hold on to your hats!" Scientists say that the band tells us more about the age of the Wooly Bear and less about the weather to come. A young Wooly Bear has more black than brown and as it grows the brown band widens.
I know that around this time of year I am always looking for signs that will tell me about the winter, and every time I see a Wooly Bear I am hoping for wide brown bands! Only one thing is for certain, we will all know for sure what the winter of 2013 will bring... if you ask us again in March.
(Sources include: 5 Surprising Facts about Oarfish found at Resource - Click Here and The Beginning Naturalist by Gale Lawrence (1991) )

Posted by Tonya Caswell for exordium-adventures.com

Posted by MrK@exordium-adventure.com on 2013-10-25

Modified by MrK@exordium-adventure.com on 2013-10-25

NATURE’S MASS P • Saturday, January 12th
Up, up and away. A spore is a single cell capable of development. Spores from an insignificant mold, Cladosporium herbarum â€" which have been caught by balloons as high as 90,000 feet above the earth’s surface â€" are the most common.
Some of the larger bracket fungi, often found growing on old decaying trees, can keep up a daily spore production of as many as 30 billion for a period of five months.
Bracket fungus is especially common in the United States on oak, birch, and other trees.
(Source: Reader’s Digest. (1976). Strange Stories, Amazing Facts. Pleasantville, NY: Reader’s Digest Association. p.89.)

Posted by MrK@exordium-adventure.com on 2013-01-12

Conifers • Monday, November 26th
SENTINELS OF MILLENNIA
Before the founding of Rome, before the golden age of Athens, and about the time as the pyramids were built, a seed germinated in what is now California. The tree that grew from that seed is still alive â€" the world’s oldest living thing. It is Methuselah, a 4,600-year-old bristlecone pine growing 9,000 feet up in the White Mountains.
There is another bristlecone even older than Methuselah. When it was cut down in 1964 for scientific study, it was found to be 4,900 years old. Scientists estimate that a bristlecone may live for 5,000 years, so Methuselah may be around for another 400 years.
(Source: Reader’s Digest. (1976). Strange Stories, Amazing Facts. Pleasantville, NY: Reader’s Digest Association. p.86.)

Posted by MrK@exordium-adventure.com on 2012-11-26

Who Is it? • Monday, November 5th
THIMBLE-SIZED IGLOO
The tiny false scorpion constructs an igloo-type nest little bigger than a thimble. The quarter-inch-long creature, a distant relative of true scorpions, has no tail or sting and surrounds itself with sand grains and fragments of wood and stone that are cemented together with a coating of fine silk threads. The dome rises until only a small hole remains, out of which the false scorpion emerges to forage for new materials. Finally, this too is sealed, and the internal walls are lined with further quantities of silk before egg-laying or molting begins.
(Source: Reader’s Digest. (1976). Strange Stories, Amazing Facts. Pleasantville, NY: Reader’s Digest Association. p.115.)

Modified by MrK@exordium-adventure.com on 2012-11-05

Bee Buzz • Saturday, October 27th
October 27, 2012
THE BUZZ ON BEES AND FLIES
The buzzing of flies and bees is not produced by any sound-producing organ or apparatus within the insects’ bodies. It is simply the sound of their wings moving up and down and back and forth at a rapid rate.
There are more insects in one square mile of rural land than there are human beings on the entire earth.
A flea is capable of jumping 13 inches in a single leap. In human terms, this would be equivalent to a person leaping 700 feet in a single bound.
(Source: Louis, D. (1983). 2201 Fascinating Facts, NY: Greenwich House. P.274)

Modified by MrK@exordium-adventure.com on 2012-10-27

Summer Time • Saturday, July 14th
SUMMERTIME AND THE LIVING IS EASY!
My apologies for the lack of up-dating! Me, myself and I keep delegating chores to each other and all three of us just don’t seem to get all the things done that we are supposed to take care of. I hope that you are all having a great summer! The weather sure has been nice to us and the bees. They are making honey like crazy and if they don’t swarm because of temperatures I should have a good crop. I am off to my last residency in pursuit of my Masters and when I get back I hope to be able to get some new postings, pictures and other web artifacts up and running. Stay cool, drink lots of liquids and watch out for ticks! …AND BEST OF ALL HAVE FUN! See you in the woods, or fields or in a river somewhere!
Modified by kapitalm@fairpoint.net on 2012-07-14

Deer Botfly • Thursday, February 16th
NOW YOU SEE IT, NOW YOU DON’T!
With winter (or for what passed as a winter up until now) on the wane, we can start to think of all those insects that will be around in very short order.
One of the most amazing ones when it comes to flying speed is the deer botfly which can flyer faster than a jet plane. It has been clocked at a speed of 818 miles per hour. It crosses 400 yards in one second and moves 13 miles in a minute. The deer botfly flies so fast that it is almost invisible to the human eye (from 2201 Fascinating Facts, David Louis. PP.72)

One would want that fly to emit a vapour trail just to keep track of it!

Modified by MrK@exordium-adventure.com on 2012-02-16

Hummingbirds • Friday, December 16th
Hummingbird Facts:
It has been a busy year and the blog has been somewhat neglected. My New Year’s resolution is to be more consistent in up-dating it and bringing fascinating facts and stories into the spotlight. That said, the season has once more gotten gray and dark. Many of the birds that serenaded through-out the summer have gone to warmer climes in the South. The seed eating birds have not forsaken us and we can be good friends by feeding them seeds, suet and water.

Here are some facts about hummingbirds, many of which migrate to Central and South America: (Source: Louis, David. (1983). 2201 Fascinating Facts. New York, NY: Ridge Press Inc.)

The average hummingbird weighs less than a penny. It has a body temperature of 111 degrees Fahrenheit and beats its wings more than 75 times a second. Its newborn are the size of bumblebees and its nest is the size of a walnut. The hummingbird is the only bird that can fly backward.

Happy holidays, take a long walk and enjoy the winter landscape and all of its denizens that are up and undertaking the hard work of surviving.


Modified by MrK@exordium-adventure.com on 2011-12-16

Feather Feats • Friday, May 27th
Geez Louise, another rainy day! Will it ever end? Just went for a long walk in the woods and watched some birds flitting among the hemlocks looking for insects or other tidbits to munch. Went to the pond and saw the osprey, majestic in its white and brown plumage. It had a young fledgling in the nest, peeking over the edge looking at the watery world at the base of the dead snag. Made me wonder what they feel like in the midst of the thunderstorms we are experiencing in the evenings. Do their nests have floor drains? Does the mother bird extend her wings to form a roof over the nest cavity or simply seal the inside circumference with her own body contour, keeping her young dry but remaining exposed to the weather herself? Their nests don’t even have the advantage of upper tree branches to partially shield them from sun or rain or other inclement weather.

But birds have feathers and feathers are really quite a marvel. Designed not only for flight, feathers also insulate, waterproof, enable concealment, attracting a mate and incubating eggs The barbs can be zipped together, an action the bird undertakes with their beak as it preens the feather’s from base to tip. (The hooks on the barbs have can be seen under a magnifying lens). There are several types of feathers, each fulfilling a different function. The flight feathers are stiff, with a small leading edge and a wider trailing edge, giving the lift as the air flows over and under the wings. The contour feathers shape the body to an aerodynamic form. Tail Feathers have three uses: for steering during flight, for balance when perched and for impressing the mate during courtship. Found next to the bird’s skin, the barbs of down feathers don’t lock together but instead spread out to form a soft irregular mass. Down traps air and is one of the most effective insulating materials found in the animal kingdom. Some birds even have glands at the base of their tails that allow them to waterproof their feathers while the preen and clean.

So next time you see birds sitting in the rain, know they have a great outer coat that performs better than anything that is made-made in total weight, warmth, versatility and colorful beauty. All you can say, I guess, is “Lucky Duck”!

Modified by MrK@exordium-adventure.com on 2011-05-27

Spring Fling • Saturday, April 24th
It seems that Spring has come with a bang. Just a few weeks ago it was cold and stark and now the warm sunshine is coaxing the tree buds back to life, the birds are doing their mating dances and singing their special songs and those dang pesky insects are out looking for blood as well.

I should know since I was swatting them as I planted 50 blueberry bushes, 10 apple trees and prepared the bee yard to accept 4 new hives. The weather has been glorious and I know everyone is hoping that summer will follow suit.

Now is a good time to take a walk in the woods and look for emerging wild flowers on the forest floor. Look also closely at the trees and observe the tiny flowers blossoming. These are the early pollen suppliers for the bees as they emerge from their wintering hives. Follow the link Resource - Click Here to read in greater detail the description of the parts of a flower and their functions. Then go out and take a real flower and look at it and see if you can identify all of its parts

Mother Nature is in Renewal Mode. Go and use all of your senses to enjoy and appreciate the energy and inspiration that surrounds us as the animals and plants all come out from their winter quarters and soak up the sunshine.

Posted by MrK@exordium-adventure.com on 2010-04-24

Easter Weekend • Saturday, April 3rd
HAPPY EASTER! People think that Phil Spectre invented the “Wall of Sound” technique in the 1960’s but in actuality it was Mother Nature. We were able to sleep with the windows open last night. This morning we were greeted by a cacophony of sound from all corners of our yard. The pond was alive with Spring Peepers. Amazing how one day everything is quiet and the next the whole orchestra shows up to try their voices. The birds are also more visible. Robins, Crows, American Goldfinch, European and House Sparrows as well as Purple Finches and Mourning Doves were singing in their best voices, starting as early as 3:30 AM. I guess the early bird doesn’t only get the worm but also the best podium!

Song birds are quite amazing in their ability to sing. They do not have vocal cords but a boney structure called a SYRINX surrounded by an air sac. Air released from the lungs under pressure then cause membranes with the syrinx to vibrate. By controlling the frequency of those vibrations, birds produce their amazing and complicated songs. The number of syringeal muscles in any given species will determine the ability to vary the vibrations. So birds like the crow, thrush and mocking bird having eight such pairs of muscles, can produce a great variety of beautiful sounds, while pigeons and mourning doves, having only one pair, produce only the simple and haunting cooing.

Visit Resource - Click Here and learn to identify bird songs. Then go for an early morning walk, listen to the birds in the trees and think about the way they make those sounds emanating from their beaks.. I am always in awe of Mother Nature and the surprises she has for me!

Posted by MrK@exordium-adventure.com on 2010-04-03

Is Spring here? • Friday, March 19th
I am waiting for the other shoe to drop! Can the harsh weather really be over and there won’t be another snowstorm until next winter? It can hardly be true but the signs are everywhere. Crocus, lily, skunk cabbage and other early plants are bravely pushing out into the sunshine, hoping that winter storms have passed. Birds, having migrated south last fall, are slowly coming back. I have seen red-winged blackbird, grackle, heron, the ubiquitous seagulls and geese flying in formation. They all herald the coming of Spring.
I came across a long pile of sawdust, left by someone who had cut down pine by the side of the road. It was a sunny spot, particularly warm today, since it was completely wind still. As I walked alongside the pile, I heard loud buzzing. Looking down I observed hundreds of honeybees hovering, landing and rolling on the surface of that sawdust pile. They were trying to get any moisture that remained in the woodchips. Since emerging from their hives on these warm days, they have no source of food and will drink any moisture or sap they can find. They surely were reveling in the beauty of the day.
So maybe it is so. Spring really is here to stay and we can trade our snow-boots for walking shoes to go into the woods and watch the reawakening of all of Mother Nature’s living things. If you take pictures of what you saw as the first signs of Spring and send them to me at MrK@exordium-adventure.com I will post them in the Image Gallery on my web-site at www.exordium-adventure.com

Posted by MrK@exordium-adventure.com on 2010-03-19

Muddy Tracks • Friday, March 12th
Little islands of brown grass are emerging from the snow landscape. The warming sun turns snow to water and you guessed it, Mud Season is just around the corner. Cars have a nice light tan coating, boots a high water mark of mud. Dog paws track the stuff into the house and chickens are enjoying it after the long dark hours of being cooped up.
You can also enjoy the variety of animal tracks that can be found in the muddy bank of a stream or soft spot in a field. From tiny mole tracks and mouse tracks to raccoon, dog and if you’re in the right spot, bobcat or moose, these tracks write a story for you to read.
A carton of Plaster of Paris, some water and a cardboard strip to hold the mixture as it hardens will give you a permanent negative of the tracks you find. Follow the link Resource - Click Here to more detailed instructions and send me pictures of your tracks or tell me the story they told you at my e-mail MrK@exordium-adventure.com. I will post them in my gallery once it is finished.

Modified by MrK@exordium-adventure.com on 2010-03-15

Thinning Ice • Thursday, March 11th
I watched ice fishermen yesterday, each trying to get closer to the ice’s edge than any of the others. Fish are beginning to feed more now as water opens up and other food sources become available. Sure hope they know when ice is too thin or else have a fur-lined bathing suit along!
The beaver is also coming into the sunshine from his watery world below the ice. As the trees awaken, he will have fresh bark to chew instead of the branches he hoarded in the fall. Look for muddy trails over ice. Emerging from holes in hidden spots along the pond’s edge, they lead off into groves of their favorite meal â€" young saplings. If you follow them you will probably find the beaver’s lunch counter. Scat piles at the hole’s edge or at the dam signal his territory to others.
Inside the lodge the family is probably growing by one or two members as the females are giving birth to kits about this time. When walking or driving by wetlands watch for beaver and muskrat lodges, since this is a great time to see them because they are not yet hidden by marsh grasses, bulrushes or leafy branches.

Posted by MrK@exordium-adventure.com on 2010-03-11

Sooty Snow • Tuesday, March 9th
Can’t complain about the weather we have been having. Chilly mornings with bright blue skies give way to warm afternoons and sunshine to fill every room in the house. The sap has been running to overflowing with everyone and everything basking in the beauty of the day. I have seen wooly bears and errant caterpillars walking on patches of bare ground probably hoping that the temperatures stay warm.
Go walk on corn snow when you go into the woods and watch for “soot” in your footsteps. If you look more closely you will see that the “soot” is actually large numbers of springtails coming to the surface from the leaf litter below â€" a sure sign of spring waiting in the wings. Look at them under a magnifying glass and see why they are called springtails â€" a powerful tail allows them to jump out of harm’s way when danger threatens.

Modified by MrK@exordium-adventure.com on 2010-03-09

Give a Hoot • Saturday, March 6th
Crisp, frosty air, a dark, clear night sky, a mixed species woodland straddling two types of habitat with twenty enthusiasts, both young and old, are all the ingredients needed for a successful “Owl Prowl”. And that was just what I was part of last night at the Stephen Young Marsh off Tabor Point Road in the Mississquoi National Refuge. From 6:00 PM to just shy of 8:30 PM Jeremy Brooks, a wildlife biologist and owner of Brooks to Bay Tours led us through the marsh calling to Great Horned and Barred Owls who are in the middle of their breeding season. Using both recordings and voice, Jeremy was able to arouse several of each species and the “Owlers” were rewarded with a finale of a Great Horned female and male pair, greatly excited by our presence and letting us know it. Young participants shed the shyness us older folk had and tried their voices at calling as well. Seeing the passing of a satellite, sighting Mars and identifying clear constellations twinkling in the inky blackness, crowned the perfect evening stroll. The next few weeks are good for hearing owls so bundle up against the cold and go give a “HOOT”!
Posted by MrK@exordium-adventure.com on 2010-03-07

Skunks & Bees • Friday, March 5th
The temperatures dipped last night leaving the snow a crisp and hard surface to crunch as you walk about. Skunks are up and about, smelled one in my barn yesterday. Have to find a way of letting him and all his relatives know that my barn is not a way station for food and companionship as they wander about the country-side.
Its warming up enough during the day for my bees to take cleansing flights and do some of their housecleaning after a winter spent cooped up inside the hive. Bees do not hibernate during the winter months but cluster tightly together in their hives, maintaining a 90o temperature by contracting wing muscles. This gives off heat but requires lots of energy, energy they get from feeding on honey gathered during the previous summer. They are amazing little creatures!

Posted by MrK@exordium-adventure.com on 2010-03-05

March Unfolds • Tuesday, March 2nd
March has arrived and the light at the end of the winter tunnel is shining brighter. Stand outside in the morning sunshine and notice the subtle differences around you â€" the light is brighter and crisper, the sky far more blue. Even the air has a different feel to it. The sound of activity is everywhere, woodpeckers drumming their presence on hollow trees, chirping birds singing their joy, tree buds slowly preparing for their bursts to life. Let all your senses revel in the coming of Spring and enjoy its unfolding!
Posted by MrK@exordium-adventure.com on 2010-03-02


uploading file,
please wait.....