Search Results for "Drown"

  • Perceivings: The Blue Raspberry of Forgetfulness

    Feb 2, 18 • ndemarino • 5enses, Alan Dean Foster's PerceivingsNo CommentsRead More »

    By Alan Dean Foster When we think of science, our initial thoughts likely turn to physics, chemistry, geology, or biology, zoology, and the other life sciences. I doubt anyone’s first thought is of food science. But there really is such a thing, and it impacts our daily lives as profoundly if not more so than any of the others. If you live in the woods and off the land, you’re not likely to have much interaction with food science. If, on the other hand, like most of us you buy your food in a store, you’re much more likely to encounter food that has been intensively studied, dissected, modified, and very possibly enhanced. As the old adage says, “better living through chemistry.” I was reminded of this by seeing on the soft drinks shelf of a local supermarket several bottles of blue raspberry soda. I bought one, took it home, drank it. It wasn’t bad and it certainly tasted of raspberries. But it didn’t have any raspberry in it (artificial flavor) and it didn’t look like any raspberry I ever encountered in its natural state. Blue raspberry is also a popular flavor of shave ice and other “foods.” But … there is no such thing as a blue raspberry. Raspberries are red, shading decidedly to black. For the food industry, that presents a problem. Because a more popular flavor, cherry,

  • Myth & Mind: Harvests, hops, & human sacrifice

    Nov 3, 17 • ndemarino • 5enses, Myth & MindNo CommentsRead More »

    By Reva Sherrard Autumn has arrived. The wind changed almost overnight: one day towing monsoon clouds from the southwest in summer’s established pattern, then suddenly restive, keeping the trees awake after dark and setting a fresher edge on the mornings. The light, compressed a minute at a time by approaching winter, became a little clearer, more insistently golden. The wind’s mood in autumn, a combination of restlessness and certainty, has always made this season my favorite. The year is setting out on a journey whose destination is death. To the ancient Celts, the germinant sleep of death preceded life; nightfall was the day’s beginning, and the beginning of winter was the new year. The festival of Samhain (SOW-inn), falling in early November, marks not merely the first day of winter but a resetting of the cosmic mechanism at a fundamental level. To pastoral-agrarian ancestors, winter’s onset meant it was time to move the herds down from the highlands to more sheltered pastures, time to reap and store the rich life of summer before harshening weather took it away, but furthermore the crux of nature’s cyclical drama of death and rebirth. As such it was a dangerous season: The doors between worlds stood open, and one might easily wander inside the hills where the race of fairy-folk lived — especially considering the marathon drinking bouts the Irish engaged in as a

  • Bird of the Month: Lincoln’s Sparrow

    By Sue Drown Birds display every color of the rainbow. They are art on the wing. Perhaps it’s not entirely fair, but sparrows got limited to the browns, rusts, and quiet tones of the avian color palette. But, if ever there were a sparrow who makes real artistry out of its limited choices, it’s the lovely Lincoln’s Sparrow. When they return to Prescott, dressed in their fresh autumn plumage, they are drop-dead beautiful. Lincoln’s Sparrows seem delicate, although they are just a tad smaller and lighter-weight than the familiar Song Sparrow — a very close relative in the avian family tree. Like most sparrows, Lincoln’s prefer to be in cover such as grasses or shrubs, but they are also curious. And a bit feisty. They will often pop out if you hold still for a bit. Their body language seems half afraid and half ready to fight. In the summer months, Lincoln’s Sparrows are found throughout Canada and in the Rocky Mountains, where they prefer to sing their upbeat, jumbled songs to the background music of mountain streams. Prescott is on the north edge of their winter range, and we can find them in any brushy spot, such as Watson Woods, this time of year. Listen for a husky “pik” note coming from the brush, then hold still until the Lincoln’s pops up to see who has stopped near its

  • Bird of the Month: Yellow-breasted Chat

    By DeeDee DeLorenzo Let’s play “Name That Bird.” The bird I’m thinking of has white spectacles like a vireo, the bill of a tanager, the yellow breast of an oriole, and is the size of a brown-headed cowbird. Need more clues? It mimics like a northern mockingbird with a song that contains lots of whistles, gurgles, rattles, burps, squeaks, scolds, mews, and “chacks.” You’ll probably hear it before you see it, which can drive you crazy because it’s so loud and obnoxious. It is quite good at hiding toward the top of trees among leaves and branches. Quite a tease, I must say. Every once in a while, it’ll will pop out and sit on top of a large tamarisk bush or mesquite tree as if to say, “See, here I am.” Alright, one more clue. It’s the largest wood warbler species. Seriously, a warbler. Give up? It’s the Yellow-breasted Chat. You were thinking that, weren’t you? And yes, it has a name that is actually accurately descriptive. Each spring, I expectantly wait for this bird to arrive from its wintering grounds in southern Mexico and Central America. For some time now my FOS (First of Season) chat has been heard and then spotted in mid-April on Old South Dike in the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge. It certainly can’t be missed because its noisy, boisterous song just about drowns everyone

  • Bird of the Month: American Coot

    By Sue Drown “What’s the duck with the white bill?” It’s a question many a Prescott Audubon field trip leader has answered on a birding outing. The short answer: an American Coot. Coots are actually rails, but they’re the most visible and aquatic of this otherwise reclusive family. Coots float around our reservoirs, Willow and Watson lakes, like unremarkable gray ducks. When on land, they show their large, greenish-yellow feet with lobed toes, so they walk like you might with flippers on — with cumbersome strides to lift that big foot without tripping. Coots are grapefruit-round, with smallish wings, so they must run along the water, splattering and flapping, to get airborne. Still, many migrate quite a distance, from the northern prairie-pothole regions to our lakes for the winter. They migrate at night. They prefer fresh water, and don’t mind if it’s a bit mucky. They’re mostly vegetarian, finding plenty of algae and aquatic matter in reservoirs like Willow and Watson. If you watch birds in the fall or winter on our lakes, you’ve seen American Coots. It’s a safe bet that, on any winter day, coots outnumber all the other aquatic birds put together. This might lead you to guess that they are very successful breeders and that they’re a species — like ravens, gulls, and vultures — whose needs are benefited by human activities. And you’d be right

  • Greater Roadrunner

    By Sue Drown Beep! Beep! If ever a wild bird could be cartooned, it’s the Greater Roadrunner. We’ve all watched him run a bit, pause, and lift his tail — and then seemingly forget what he was doing while the tail slowly drops. Raising his head feathers into a shaggy crest, he eyes the scene like he’s looking to make trouble, a caricature of a Cuckoo. Which he is, a type of Ground-Cuckoo who resides here in the dry Arizona deserts year-round. In truth, he’s no joke. The Greater Roadrunner has to be crafty just to survive his niche in this arid and sparse corner of the world. To live and raise a family in the desert, thickets, and rural neighborhoods of Arizona, the Cuckoo has developed an adaptation that in itself tells you how challenging their lives must be. In order to save energy, roadrunners lower their body temperature and go into a sort of stupor at night.  Maybe you’ve seen one turn its back to the sun in the morning and spread out the feathers to allow the warmth of the sun onto its skin. That’s part of getting the body temperature back up to full speed. Come nesting season, they cannot use this body temperature-lowering technique at night because they need to stay warm enough to keep the eggs vital. So, the males fatten up as best

  • The tick

    Feb 6, 15 • ndemarino • 5enses, Russ Miller's Oddly Enough4,577 CommentsRead More »

    By Gene Twaronite Few people, even nature lovers, love the tick. It is difficult to love a creature that has its mouthparts embedded in your flesh. This is the way most acquaintances with this little vampire begin. One does not set off on a nature hike to look for a tick in the field and exclaim, “Oh my, how interesting.” Instead, one is far more likely to go to the bathroom mirror and scream, “Oh my God, get that damn thing off me!” Ticks belong to the order Acarina, which also includes mites. There are about 850 different kinds of ticks — so far as we know, that is. According to one estimate, there may be as many as a million other kinds of ticks and mites in the world, still waiting for scientists to classify them. It is something to look forward to. Like spiders, scorpions, and other arachnids, ticks have eight legs, at least most of the time. When they first hatch out as larvae, however, they have six. If this sort of thing bothers you, you would do well not to become an acarologist (a specialist in mites and ticks), much less a biologist. Ticks make their living by sucking blood out of mammals, birds, and reptiles. They usually lie in wait on a plant until a suitable host passes nearby, then hop on board, anchoring themselves

  • Comic art: An oxymoron?

    By Alan Dean Foster I learned how to read from comic books. Back when (enlightened) parents used to buy their kids subscriptions to comic titles, you could get them delivered directly to your house via the mail. This had the dual benefit of ensuring that junior had access to approved titles while preventing him or her from hanging out in disreputable locales like the corner drugstore. My literary mentors were Herman Melville and Carl Barks. If queried, most folks would avow that they’d heard of Melville and that he had something to do with a whale. Barks would elicit considerably less recognition. Carl Barks, or Unca Carl as fans came to know him, created Uncle Scrooge, Duckburg, and a host of other characters, locations, and plot devices from which Disney has reaped millions. As all Disney artists labored anonymously, his work was singled out by his avid readers (including George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, among others) as being by “the good artist.” Interesting that he was recognized first for his art and, to a lesser extent, for his writing. A master draftsman, Barks could get more emotion into his drawings of anthropomorphized ducks than most “fine” artists could from high-priced formal portraits. This is true of all great comic artists because they are required to tell a story with their work and not simply petrify a scene. Comic art, or

Celebrating art and science in Greater Prescott.

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