September is still a hot month in South Florida

While I'm not sure that yesterday was the hottest day on record (in fact, the mercury showed it to be in the high 80s, not really "all that bad"), it sure felt like it. Sweat rolled down the small of my back as I went through my daily rounds at Fern Forest. I suspect, as challenged conversationalists throughout the country can attest, that it's not the heat. It's the humidity. But we naturalists are a hardy breed. We laugh at danger, endure discomfort, and generally just don't do what sensible people should. As they said in colonial India, only mad dogs and Englishmen are out in the noonday sun. Read more

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Backyard nature

Remember the Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullough? Australian novel that got turned into a miniseries here in the States? I don't. I wasn't allowed to stay up late enough to watch it when it came out, and now I don't really care too much to track it down and find out whether I've missed something or not. And why bother? I have all the drama I need right here in my backyard in Boca. Of course, you have to look a bit more closely; this is not the wide-open sweep of the Outback (even though it is, technically, out back). Read more

Mars has water

NASA's Phoenix lander has at long last provided direct evidence of water on Mars. And it's been a long time coming. Back in the nineteenth century, an italian observer, Giovanni Schiaparelli, wrote that he saw "channels" or "grooves" (canali) on the red planet. Percival Lowell, betrayed by what we call un faux ami in French, preferred to read canali as canals; ie, structures built by sentient life Read more

The buzz about the ladies of Fern Forest

As I've complained elsewhere in this blog, the summer sun in Florida is hot. Brutally hot. When it's on, like it is today, it feels like you've somehow wandered into a humid blast furnace. Clothes, if you're wearing them, pull the sweat out of you (the technical term for this is transpiration) and then stick to you like glue. The sweat that doesn't get mopped up by your clothes drips down your arms, your legs, your face. It's just plain hot. Trouble is, it doesn't pay to stroll around in the south Florida sun naked, either. Read more
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