November 2006

It’s common courtesy among hikers to hang found keys, gloves, or other personal items on an eye-level branch in case their rightful owner comes back looking for them. But when the found item is an infant’s pacifier, isn’t it a bit gross to think Mom or Dad would stick a gritty, grimy binky back in Baby’s mouth?

Yesterday was gloriously sunny and mild, with students strolling in short-sleeves and flip-flops while I was stuck inside teaching and conferencing. Today is another grading day, but not until I head outside for a good long walk. Student papers and the So-Called Novel can wait until sundown, after another glorious November day has called it a day.

Rain on chain

Wednesday is my accustomed grading day, which means Wednesdays don’t typically provide much in the way of interesting blog fodder. Grading papers isn’t thrilling to do, and it’s even less exciting to talk about. To make today’s grading day even less bloggable, it’s been raining all day, leaving me with a case of Blogger’s Block on top of a seemingly bottomless stack of student papers. When it rains, it pours…and it when it pours, you might as well stay inside and grade.

Remember the odd “alien eyes” I blogged on a Sunday morning a little over a year ago? At the time, I couldn’t understand why reflected light from un-grilled windows across a parking lot showed up as gridded on this brick facade, but the mystery only added to the odd lights’ appeal. Several weeks later, I discovered that a building diagonal from the one with reflecting windows had window grills, so apparently the low-slanting morning light shone through one grill-windowed building, bounced off the non-gridded windows of a second, and landed in an exotic and intricate design on a third. Having figured the odd and angled trajectory of this alien eye-shine, I’m just as awed as ever.

Why do mention all this? Only because the aliens are back, this time in Central Square, Cambridge.

These Massachusetts alien eyes bear a much closer resemblance to praying mantises than our New Hampshire ones: perhaps they’re from different areas of the same exotic planet?

Early icicle

To my eye, this clear, tubular structure looks more like a transparent worm or paramecium than it resembles an icicle…but that’s only because I’m accustomed to seeing icicles growing downward. I also wasn’t expecting to spot any icicles already in early November.

Icy stone

The icicles I saw dripping from the rocks along Beaver Brook yesterday afternoon are an excellent example of the kind of seasonal surprise you might encounter in a microclimate: a region where temperature and atmospheric conditions differ from the surrounding area. “Microclimates exist,” Wikipedia notes, “near bodies of water which may cool the local atmosphere, or in heavily urban areas where brick, concrete, and asphalt absorb the sun’s energy, heat up, and reradiate that heat to the ambient air.” In a microclimate, you might find winter arriving early or summer staying late. According to my car’s thermometer, the outside air was in the 40s yesterday afternoon when Reggie and I went walking, but the air immediately alongside Beaver Brook was noticeably cooler than it was where I’d parked the car. Beaver Brook cuts through a rock-rimmed ravine that is sheltered from sun, so the previous night’s freeze lingered under a shade of stone.

Since one of the things I missed about my digicam while it was undergoing repairs was its crystal-clear macro capabilities, it seemed appropriate to get reacquainted by taking several microclimate macros, these images providing a glimpse of the sort of scene we’ll see much more of in the coming winter months.


By this morning’s first light, I discovered everything outside had been covered with a crisp layer of frost…both newly fallen, light-as-air leaves and a heavy, recently rain-sodden couch.

Frosted and feral

This is my submission for today’s Photo Friday theme, Light. This morning after snapping these first-light pencam shots, I found outside my front door a package that had been delivered last night: my Lumix digicam, back from the shop after its recent gravitational mishap. Here’s hoping for a mostly sunny day to test out its newly repaired features.

Yellow birch

By way of follow-up to last week’s post showing the sprawling, outspread yellow birch roots along Beaver Brook, here’s a sunlit pencam shot of a tender arborial moment: one yellow birch hugging another with a wending root.

For many more tree-related posts and pictures, click over to this month’s Festival of the Trees, which is presently esconced at Frizzy Logic. Enjoy!

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