Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Posted by Fiddler at 11/29/2011 06:35:00 AM
Sunday, November 06, 2011
Last weekend, while it was still officially October, we were treated to a heavy, wet blanket of fresh snow. In preparation, and not knowing how long the first dumping of white stuff might last, I raked the yard with furious intention so that, in case the snow never melted again until spring, the yard would at least be tidy and easier to deal with in April. Note in the photo above that the oaks STILL HAD A LOT OF LEAVES!
Under no false assumptions that my labors wouldn't need repeating, I simply enjoyed the task - even as more leaves drifted downward on gentle breezes, even as the cleared green lawn became sprinkled with gold and russet, even as the snow clouds and dark of night approached. It took all of Friday afternoon and the entire day on Saturday but I managed to rake the entire lawn. And then it snowed.
Posted by Fiddler at 11/06/2011 06:18:00 AM
Saturday, November 05, 2011
Carrots! We still have quite a few carrots in the garden and, even though the deer have eaten off the lacy green tops, the veggies are storing themselves nicely beneath the soil so we just go pick them fresh whenever we want them. We've enjoyed them in chicken stew, coq au vin, and beef pot roast - and occasionally just on their own with a little bit of brown sugar and butter. Yesterday I got my mind (and taste buds) wrapped around the idea of fresh carrot cake. I found a recipe in my dog-eared food-stained much-loved-and used Fannie Farmer cookbook, but I didn't have exactly the called-for ingredients so, as I often do, I improvised. Oh, what a carrot cake!
The cake is very moist thanks to a good basic recipe, and to adding applesauce. I put the carrots through the food processor instead of grating them by hand which was a) much easier and b) created small chunks of orange to highlight the key ingredient. More color and texture was achieved by adding some dried cranberries, coconut, and finely chopped walnuts. Then, instead of topping the cake with a typical cream cheese frosting, the recipe suggested glazing the top of the warm loaf with honeyed butter - I definitely recommend this because the flavor and texture of the cake itself really shone through without the distraction of creamy sweetness. I know I'll be making this recipe again and again... if I can only remember how much of each "extra" ingredient I added!
Posted by Fiddler at 11/05/2011 06:59:00 AM
Thursday, November 03, 2011
This is how I spent a good portion of the past five-month internship as a MNAP conservation aide: hiking into natural areas and recording things like plant species, soil conditions, terrain and topography, and any signs of animal use of the habitat. It was an amazing hands-on experience. There's another component to assessing natural areas, though - somehow it all has to be documented in some useful manner. So that's how I spent the rest of my work time - filling out field forms, creating maps with GIS, updating databases, and reviewing photographs. Once home at the end of the day, my backpack got emptied and the plant specimens pressed (most of them anyway), photos downloaded onto the computer, and GPS points transferred from the Garmin.
The internship is over now and I'm searching for the next great job, one that will pay enough to keep up with the school loan payments, purchase some fuel to see the grandkids & kids, buy a plane ticket to Colorado, and contribute to our regular household expenses. Just as important, a job that will challenge and further build my botany skills.
The job search began a month or so ago. Relatively few postitions and limited experience seems to be the biggest obstacles to finding an entry level job as a botanist, naturalist, or ecologist. Hopefully I'll hear back soon about one of the many applications I've submitted. Until then, I have a stack of dried pressed plants and a computer file of photographs on my desk and there are still a lot of trails and natural areas to explore!
Posted by Fiddler at 11/03/2011 06:16:00 AM