Christmas vs Halloween: The Battle Continues

Christmas Aisle in Costco - in early OctoberChristmas strikes deeper into Halloween’s territory, continuing a relentless campaign that began decades ago in response to a 1993 incursion from Halloween Town.

In recent years, Halloween has shored up its position by moving into previously unclaimed parts of the calendar in early October and September, itself running roughshod over tentative efforts by Oktoberfest to establish a foothold. Growth of adult Halloween parties with free-flowing alcohol have ensured that Oktoberfest can only offer one advantage over Halloween: Lederhosen. And you can wear those on Halloween too.

Eclipse on the Hill

Clouds and timing squashed the “supermoon” and “blood moon” effects here, but it was still the most unusual lunar eclipse I’ve experienced.

Usually I’ll stay up late or get up early and go outside to watch the eclipse by myself. Last year I took my then-three-year-old son out to watch an eclipse around midnight.

Tonight’s eclipse got underway before local moonrise, and I wanted to see it as soon as possible. So J. (now four and a half) and I went out to an intersection in a residential neighborhood near the top of a hill with a clear view of the eastern horizon. We arrived at sunset, and two other people were looking eastward: a woman with a camera and full tripod, and a man with binoculars. The four of us all set up on a triangular traffic island on the northern side of the intersection.

Flat layers of clouds streaked the sky, and we worried that there might not be much to see at all, but it was only a few minutes before a slightly-off crescent moon rose due east of us, right in line with the street. Continue reading

Seasonal Wetlands: Before and After the Summer

Seasonal Wetlands: Summer vs Spring

Finally put together a before-and-after shot!

On the right: May in Madrona Marsh, after winter and spring rains filled up the low-lying areas of the preserve.

On the left: Late August in the same spot, after summer had dried up the pools. Despite the drought, and helped along by a couple of freak summer storms, the ground is still holding onto enough moisture that the floor of the vernal pool is covered with low greenery instead of dry grass.

I know, it’s always better to put “before” on the left, and I tried it with that layout, but it ended up looking better this way.

Ode to the Parking Lot Tomato

We’ve been joking about feral tomatoes for years, but recently I’ve started observing them in the wild.

Feral Tomato turning orange

So to speak.

Sometime last spring, a tomato must have been dropped in the planter next to the parking structure near work. One of the seeds sprouted, and that plant somehow survived all the remodeling and landscaping.

Feral Tomato by the parking lot

By June it was growing its own tomatoes. In fact, it was growing more tomatoes than the plants in our garden. Continue reading