Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Moon Through The Trees

It's time once again for a nighttime adventure, especially since I kind of like going out at night right now. I haven't been taking Isabella for many nighttime walks ever since those orbs showed up. No, it's not that I was frightened away. It's because she likes being out there on her chain, and I have gotten lazy.

But this time when I let her out on the chain I saw something very interesting peeking at me through the trees. It may look like the biggest brightest mysterious orb you've ever seen, but it's really the Moon, and it really was crescent shaped.

I know it doesn't look exactly crescent shaped in these pictures, but that's because the focus is on the tree. I tried to get some good Mooon pictures a little while later, but for some reason the manual settings that I normally use for that didn't work at all this time. And then the clouds came to hide the moon for the rest of the night. I hate when that happens!

You should be able to see a smaller dot below the Moon in these next two pictures. I'm pretty sure it's the planet Venus. I've tried to get planets and stars on camera before, but this is the first time I've had much success. Hooray!

The whole time I was doing this I was also trying to lure Isabell back into the house. It's not that she had been out there for a long time, but she was watching something in the darkness much too intensely.

The other reason I was trying to get her to come in was because of a struggle of wills between us. Isabella still has a strong habit of not coming when she is called. She does this completely on purpose. I know, I've checked. I've been teaching her to be a proper dog, but it's taking time. She's big and she's smart, and she thinks she's too big and too smart.

And here we are approaching the end of this post. The same Moon shines, and the same wind blows. And I'm still out here trying to get this dog to come to me. It works only if I yell at her, but I don't want to do that. I'll let her stay out for a little while longer. I'll take more pictures ofthe night sky.

And my thoughts wander...

So, did you get a chance to go over to Nature Center Magazine and take a look at our Latest News feed? It's really good. We update it several times a day with the very best nature news from around the web. This is very interesting stuff. You already missed a story detailing why your yummy, buttery popcorn smells like a bearcat's butt, and a more serious story telling about a recent near miss the Earth had with an asteroid. Kind of scary. Go take a look. It's free. It's short. And it's very interesting.

And back to this post...

I finally came back into the house to look at my new Moon pictures. Soon there was a scratching at the door. It was Isabella wanting back in. I let her wait for a few minutes. If she wouldn't come when I called her then she was going to have to learn. I eventually got up and let her back in, and now she is lying behind me fast asleep. Good dog, Isabella.

Nature Center Magazine - Your starting place for nature!

Monday, January 30, 2012

A New Day

I got up this morning with the sunrise. My intention was to be outside when the birds were around. I heard them as soon as I opened my front door. But did I see them? That was the number one question. The answer was not good. The birds were all hiding in the pine trees around here, and they only came out to dart to the next tree.

The hiding birds only slowed me down a little bit though, because nature isn't just about birds or any other animal. Nature is everything. Everything we see all around us is part of nature. Mostly we think of the things outside as nature, so I set out to find some other aspects of nature.

I didn't know what would turn up, but then I looked to the east. It was the rising Sun! I hesitated to point the camera right at the Sun, but I never have taken a picture of the sunrise so I took a chance. These pictures are what I got out of it. Maybe not quite as spectacular as some of the sunsets I've gotten recently, but these are pretty good for my first sunrise pictures.

I have some Nature Center Magazine news to share with you. We made a few changes to make the site even better. We have added a Latest News section on the sidebar where we bring you the best current nature headlines from around the internet all in one place. This is usually updated several times a day, so if you like to read the best nature articles you'll want to take a look. There are a few other additions as well, with even more to come.

I guess I should also mention my new story over at Rat Tales. This may be my best story ever. It is done from the point of view of a person who is dying. Death may not seem like it can have a happy ending, but this story has one. Read this one so you can say you were one of the first when the movie comes out.

So it really is a new day on all three of my sites today. Every new day is a progression on our journey. I hope each day has something new and special for us all to discover. 

Nature Center Magazine - What happens when one person teases an African bullfrog with a cellphone? You'll have to watch our Cool Nature Video to find out!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Animals Where Are You?

I've been busy. I've been tired. And I almost forgot! I mentioned to a few people the other day that I was going to be taking a trip on the suddenly ice covered roads around here. I was worried that I was going to have some problems, but it turns out my fears of me and my truck spinning out of control came to absolutely nothing. There was some ice, but the truck handled it very well.

Something else that seems to keep coming to nothing lately is my search for pictures of wild animals, any wild animals. I've been too busy to go very far from home this past month, so I've had to search for nature here on my own property. I'm glad this place is as wild as a good nature park in places.

But I seem to keep going out when the animals have left. We get huge flocks of birds around here every morning, but I've been late getting out there each and every day. It's my own fault, but that's the way it has been.

I do have these two very bad pictures of this little bird that was a complete expert at avoiding my camera. I kept hoping he would come out so I could make him an international celebrity, but he was quite obviously a bit shy. I have plenty of stories like this. These Iowa birds are hard hard hard to get on camera. 

I also intended to have a post ready for you yesterday, but for some reason after getting back from my incredibly exciting trip to some place so fun that I forget what it was about I found myself to be so tired that I fell asleep before I could write the post. I guess that's the way it goes.

I think I'm going to try to concentrate extra hard this weekend on catching up with those darn birds, or rabbits, or opossums, maybe a deer or two, or how about the squirrel again, or even that stinky old skunk would be good.

Nature Center Magazine - Your starting place for nature!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What's At The End Of The Road

I've been telling you for awhile that there is a creek at the edge of my property where the road ends. But I've never shown it to you until now. You can see it down there at the bottom of what I guess is classified as a gully.

I don't usually like coming all the way to the edge of this place because it's very steep, and I don't know of an easy way out if I fell down there. And it's deep enough that a serious injury would probably accompany any fall. You can see in the pictures that it is not only steep, but the edges of this place are eroding, so a fall here isn't too hard to imagine.

This steep gully is what keeps a lot of wild animals from gaining easy access to my property. They still have many ways in, but this way is not an easy one. There is a corn field on the other side of the gully, so I'm guessing I'll see some deer over there some time this year.

It was very cold here when I took these pictures. Now it's back around the freezing mark and we've been getting freezing rain on top of the snow. That ought to make it fun for driving around here in the next day or so. I'm hoping a ittle bit of warmer weather will melt everything all away.

You may have noticed that I was notably absent from posting yesterday. I told myself before I began posting every day again that I would periodically take a random day off here and there just to give myself a break. It keeps me rested and keeps blogging from seeming like an effort. I feel better, but my year old injuries are still effecting me.

One more thing. I've come up with an idea for a huge change over at Nature Center Magazine, but implementing it might require a redesign of the entire site. I don't really want to have to redesign the site because I'm extremely happy with the current design, but I haven't found an acceptable way around it yet. The change has the potential to transform the site to something much greater than ever. I hope I can figure out a way to make things work so I can have the change and keep the current design. I'll have a huge announcement when and if something happens. I just had to get that out.

I'll be back tomorrow with something that's a little bit strange and a little more stupid (the usual). See you then!

Nature Center Magazine - Your starting place for nature!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Crazy Night

I've been having a bit of trouble with something lately. I've been seeing plenty of animals, but only at night when I can't get any reasonable pictures of them. I've seen rabbits, opossums, too many feral cats to count, and now I think I've seen a skunk.

A big part of the problem is that I was up all night Saturday, so I ended up sleeping in the morning. In the morning is when the birds and many other animals like to come around here. So I wasn't exactly conscious when all the animals were out having a good time in the morning Sun.

Now before I continue, and before you think it's my own fault for missing these animals after staying up too late, I'd like to say that it wasn't my fault. I have somebody else to blame, and a little story of why. And who is that somebody?

I came up with a good idea to give myself a rest from walking Isabella multiple times a night. I parked my truck out of the way in the garage and let Isabella out on the chain instead of walking her. It gives her all the time she wants out there, and I get to stay inside where it's warm. It was working wonderfully until about the third time she was out.

She had been out for quite some time when I went to the front door to check on her. I found her there out in the cold sitting in the snow. I thought that maybe she had frozen herself as I noticed her sitting there staring out into the darkness. So I went and forced her to come back inside. And I mean forced, because she didn't want to come.

It was only a little over an hour later that I let her back out after she pestered me the whole time. This time when I checked on her she was laying in the snow intently staring off into the same area of the darkness. After a few seconds she began creeping in that same low down pose towards something. She was stalking it like a cat, but she seemed like she didn't want to get too close to whatever it was.

It was then that I noticed the strange sounds coming from the direction she was looking. It was the grunting sounds of a wild animal. I thought maybe it was a raccoon or a possum, but then I saw something white moving around down the road in the direction of the sounds. That was the dog's target, but she didn't seem to want to get very close to it.

I quickly dragged Isabella back into the house and went to the computer to find out what might be making those sounds. After checking several animals of the right size I came to the sounds a skunk makes. It matched perfectly. Not only that, Isabella then came running! She stood there turning her head from side to side while she stood there shaking and staring at the computer. I tried some other animals sounds, but she was only interested in the skunk sounds. That was my confirmation.

I decided to keep her inside for the rest of the night, especially since it was long past my bedtime. But the rotten dog wouldn't let me sleep! She was running back and forth in a frenzy. She kept walking over and pushing her head into the side of my bed. And if that didn't work, she would bark at me and loudly scratch on the walls. She was going completely crazy. This lasted all night long.

I finally looked at the window and noticed the sky was considerably lighter than before. The Sun was about to come up. I got up knowing I would get no sleep until I gave in. So figuring the skunk was long gone, I finally let Isabella back out. I smartly keep the end f her chain right at the door so I don't have to go out.

After she went running out I saw that I was right. She ran back and forth investigating everything until she began to slow with disappointment. She finally realized her enemy was truly gone. Now that she knew everything was safe she finally decided to come back inside.

When she got back in she immediately went over to her doggy blanket and went to sleep. I decided to get some sleep myself. This time it finally worked.

Nature Center Magazine - A snowboarding crow? You'll have to see it to believe it!

Friday, January 20, 2012

What She Saw

Isabella pointed something out to me the other day. Most of the time when I go out to fill the wood stove Isabella is right there with me. She loves being outside except on the coldest days. On those days she only likes going out if there is a guaranteed walk with the leash in the deal. So what was it that she told me?

I didn't know that yet! I was too busy with the firewood. When I turned around I saw that she was intently staring at something. I kept looking at her to see what she was so fascinated with. Luckily I remembered to run in and get my camera to capture whatever was going on.

So when I came back out I saw that she was staring up into the trees. This obviously wasn't one of the feral cats that live in the area. Usually when one of those comes around Isabella goes crazy trying to get at them while they calmly walk by. They're smart enough to know she is on a chain.

So I looked up into the high parts of the trees to see what she was looking at. Can I draw out a story, or what? As I searched through the branches I finally saw what it was that she was staring at. It was a little brown fluff of fur on one of the high branches. That could only mean one thing. Squirrel!

The squirrel also had its back turned toward me for some reason. For awhile I thought it was asleep or something, but then I noticed that it was moving a little bit.  It was gnawing on the branch it was on, exactly what Isabella wanted to do to the squirrel.

Isabella had pointed out another animal for me. I immediately knew this was the same squirrel that lives in the closest tree right out there behind my house. Today when I went out the squirrel was in another tree chattering away at me as if it was mad. It finally climbed through the branches over to its home and stared at me for a few minutes before going inside.

Nature Center Magazine - Your starting place for nature!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Frost On The Window

It's down to 1 degree Fahrenheit outside as I write this post. I've been out there several times to fill my wood stove. It didn't really feel very cold until the wind began to blow hard. I had to force Isabella to come back in because she wants to stay out there and bark at every little sound.

She usually doesn't like the cold very much, but she wants to be outside for some reason right now. Maybe that's because just a few short days ago the temperature was springtime warm. She enjoyed laying out there sunning herself. Maybe she misses that now and she's hoping this is just a trick.

The window in the outside front door keeps frosting over for some reason. Maybe it needs to be cleaned. Maybe Jack Frost is drawing his frozen graffiti on my door because he's trying to get us to come out and play. I don't want to play with him because he's a cheater.

I've seen other people share some excellent pictures of window frost so I thought I'd give it a try. Mine are probably not quite as good as some, but it's my first try. And besides, I'm not the real artist of these patterns. Jack will share with me what he wants to share, so I have to use what he gives me to work with.

Nature Center Magazine - Your starting place for nature!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

It's Just Snow

Oh no! Are the orbs back? No, it's just a bit of snow. Snow seems to show up very bright in this deep darkness I have here. I've taken many pictures of snow in the past, but without such bright results. Of course I used the flash to get this, but that's the best way to get snow.

The only problem is that the snow is a little bit too bright. When it's so dark the camera has to focus on something, so the snow comes out as these flat white blobs. I would experiment a little bit to get better pictures, but it's not really that fun standing outside in the middle of the night in single digit temperature taking pictures of falling snow.

This must really seem boring after so many days of mystical orbs and then a stupid prank to cap it all off. That's why I'm keeping this post short today. This is my way of easing back into normal everyday nature. If you want more to read then try today's article over at Nature Center Magazine or maybe my latest insane rambling at Rat Tales.

Nature Center Magazine - Your starting place for nature!

Monday, January 16, 2012

That Face! That Horrible Face!

You're not going to believe what happened to me when I went out to confront the orbs, and I don't know if I believe it either! I am shocked, I tell you, shocked! Poor Isabella not only refused to go out there with me, she tried to stop me from leaving the house. But did I listen to her? No! And now I wish I did! I'm not sure if I ever want to go back out there again!

When I got out there I heard a strange howling sound in the wind. No, it wasn't in the wind, it was part of the wind. This did not sound like coyotes. It sounded like voices! I was too stupid to take that as a warning, so I began taking pictures. I wish I hadn't done it!

It was only after the first flash that I finally knew something was wrong. I thought I heard my name coming from the wind, so I dropped the camera and looked up to see it floating there in front of me! It was an orb with a face! Upon seeing it I ran for my life back to the house.

When I got back in and gathered my wits I put the pictures onto the computer and found what I have here for you. You probably have to click on the pictures to see the face, but it's there floating in the air staring back at me.

This next picture above is the same face from the first picture. I cropped it out of the picture and expanded it so you can see it better. Again, you might have to click on it to see it better because it's so dark. For some reason I can only see it on my monitor when I look at it from the side.

After that night I don't think I'll ever be able to forget that face. that horrible face staring at me from out of the darknessssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

...Wait a minute! I know you don't believe that outrageous story. You don't, do you? Because it's all a big stinking load of manure. The orbs from my other posts were real, but this face was made by me in an image editor. I thought the real conclusion of the story of the orbs was much too boring so I decided to give you something a little better. So what really happened since my last post?

What really happened since my last post is much more mundane. There is only one real mystery. Isabella. Late in the afternoon Isabella's mood changed completely. All of a sudden she came to me and enthusiastically wanted outside. She has been enjoying being out there much more than usual now. I even let her go out and play in the snow for over an hour one time. It's been hard to keep her inside now.

So when nighttime came we went back out to where I got the pictures of the orbs. I took extra pictures this time to see what might show up. I was hoping for something almost as provoking as that face, but you know what I really got? Nothing! No orbs at all. The orbs have completely vanished.

I have no explanation for why they were there, and I have none for why they are gone. I changed nothing with my camera and I didn't clean the lens until after they were gone. The most plausible explanation for them is dust either in the air or on my lens, but never rule out anything. Logic tells us to always first assume that whatever you see is already known, but it also tells us never to rule out the unknown. Until there is a real investigation, the orbs I saw could have been anything.

It may have been a little mischievous for me to play this little prank on you, but those who have been with me here since before my car accident know that I am fully capable of something like this and more. After all, this blog was once taken over by a squirrel named Mister Nutz. Stupid, I know, but it was funny too.

Even if you knew right from the start of the post, or you were completely fooled, I hope you liked this little bit of goofery. Goofery. I just made that up. Now I can't unsay it. I'll be back next time with something much more close to nature. In the meantime, watch those orbs very carefully.

Nature Center Magazine - Your starting place for nature!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Stupid Dog Scaring Orbs

I've been thinking about this situation with the orbs, and I'm sure there must be a logical explanation for them. I've seen many scientific theories for their existence from moisture to dust. I'm almost certain that there is no moisture or dust in the air. There may be something on my camera lens, which I have purposely not cleaned since the orbs appeared.

I did this to see if the orbs would appear in the same places in my pictures. The only problem with that is they haven't. These orbs show up in all different places in the pictures, and they also only show up at that one end of my property.

The first time I ever heard of orbs was a few years ago. Brian May, the guitar player of the rock group Queen, was having a very similar experience with them, but his orbs were in the daytime. He also happens to have a doctorate in astronomy. He also did his own investigation. He thought for quite some time that maybe he had found actual spirits until he finally determined that they were nothing more than dust particles. He was even able to reproduce them. I won't investigate that far, but I'm also convinced there is a very logical explanation.

My only real problem with this whole event is that my dog Isabella became afraid of something out there at the very same time I photographed the bright orbs. she rushed me back into the house, and she has been refusing to go back outside ever since. This is a dog that begs to go outside several times a night.

I've had to force her to go outside to use the toilet a few times, but she tries to run from me so she can stay inside. When she gets out there it is all very quick, and she's ready to go back in. I haven't found anything physically wrong with her. She just doesn't want to be outside right now. I still have to go out to refill the wood stove.

But let's move on to something else for now. How many of you have seen Blogger's new commenting system? I've been waiting for this change for years now. Blogger has made it so that we can now reply to individual comments! This is great for those of us who like answering comments. If you want this on your Blogger blog you have to enable embedded comments below the post. It's worth it.

I've been waiting to get that geeky information out for the past two days, but those crazy orbs have taken all of my focus. I plan on going back out at least one more time before my next post to get more pictures of them. If I get more I'll clean my camera lens and then see what happens after more pictures. If that doesn't work I'm going to follow the orbs into the darkness to see how far they go back there.

I feel a strong need to find the solution to the orbs with my limited knowledge and resources. Whatever happens, there will be only one more post dealing with orbs. I'm guessing that they're just a trick of light, but some other possibilities are more fun. I'll be back Monday with my findings. Wish me luck.

Nature Center Magazine - Your starting place for nature!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

More Orb Strangeness

I hate to dwell on the idea of the orbs, but I have something new and unexpected for you. I took these pictures within an hour of writing this post. Yesterday I showed you a picture from the same general direction as the one above. It showed perhaps dozens of orbs floating around. I purposely did not clean my camera lens since then because I wanted to see if I could reproduce the same results tonight.

I couldn't reproduce the exact same thing. Instead of so many orbs, there was only this one very bright orb floating in a very suspicious place. This time instead of the gray color of all the others, this one is a tan color. It's hovering right in the same direction of a tree we cut down last week. I'm not sure what to make of that. We cut down that particular tree to make room for my neighbor's future garden. I felt bad about it when we did it, and I'm feeling superstitiously strange about it now.

this orb was so bright that I saw it on my camera's display screen after I took the picture. There are no light sources from that direction, and it is a cloudy night. It was very dark out there tonight. I was thinking that the orb effect from last night was possibly being caused by moonlight, but I don't know where this very bright orb came from. I am mystified.

The first picture was taken as I faced eastward. In this second one I am facing south. As you can see, there is another orb that is suspiciously close to the same area of the picture as the first one. That could indicate that it is the camera lens after all. But I examined the two over and over, and they are not really in the same spot. If you enlarge the pictures you'll see they aren't as close as they look in the post.

Plus if you take a closer look at this second picture you will see that this orb has a bit of motion blur. Either it was moving or my camera was moving. I don't think a spot on my camera lens would show motion blur even while moving the camera. Trying to take pictures at night can easily produce motion blur while trying to focus on still objects, but nothing else in the shot is blurred. This could be easily explained, but not by me.

Another thing I want to add is that Isabella seemed to be in an unusual hurry to leave this area of the property. On most nights she likes coming down here to look around. Usually I have to pull her away, but on this night she kept trying to pull me away. There could have been many reasons for this, but I don't know what they might be in this case.
I took this last picture toward the east again. I tried to get a similar perspective as the first picture in yesterday's post. There are no orbs in this one, not even in the same area as the other two above. There is a distant light source to the middle left in this picture, so that light is not an orb. I took some other pictures, and they also showed no orbs. Some were before, between, and after the two pictures that do have orbs.

I had so much I wanted to write about this time, including Blogger's new commenting system where you can reply to other comments, but this new orb development is too fascinating to just gloss over. This story has to be told until I either find a solution or the orbs finally disappear.

I haven't gone back to that end of the property since I took these pictures because Isabella now refuses to go back outside. Her nightly pee walks are the reason I've been going out there. And I think I don't really want to go out there tonight if she's not with me. I don't know what's going to happen next, but I'm very curious about it.

Nature Center Magazine - Come get some!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Mystery Of The Orbs

I've been taking pictures these last few nights to try to encounter a nocturnal animal or two, but instead I encountered something very different and mysterious. Orbs! This is the next best thing to getting a Bigfoot on camera! I'm not the first person to capture these mysterious objects on film, but this is the first time for me.

You may have to click on the pictures to get a better look. I still have the originals on my computer, which are the best quality at 4000x3000, but I had to shrink them down to 800x600 to save space for the blog. I wish I could show you the originals, but this is the way it has to be. I do have a better version of the first picture over at Nature Center Magazine today that we're featuring as a Free Wallpaper.

So, what are orbs? I don't know if anyone knows for sure. There are plenty of scientific explanations for orbs. some say they are artifacts caused by digital cameras, but others say a digital camera would make these artifacts more squared off. Some say they are nothing more than dust reflections, but others ask why then are they not seen all the time in the same spot. Just for fun, let's take a look at the less scientific reasons now.

Many people believe that orbs are actually floating ghosts or spirits in the form of balls of light. Others believe that they are not spirits at all, but that they are really a strange kind of energy being. For more of this type of explanation of orbs, go here. I don't know what I really believe because I don't have enough information to make a definite conclusion.

What I do know is that I've been taking nighttime pictures at the edges of my property for several nights now and I never saw these orbs in my pictures until last night. Have I done something different? No. I've taken the same pictures as always.

The reason I took the pictures you see here is because I heard some strange rustling sounds in the weeds so I pointed the camera in the direction of the noises hoping to get something good. I didn't get the wild animal I was expecting, but I think these orbs are even more fun.

So what do you think these orbs are? Did I go out at night and find glowing spirit forms coming close to investigate me? Or do you think a more scientific explanation makes more sense? Maybe they are fairies? Will I go out one too many times only to find myself mysteriously transported to another world where these orbs came from. Maybe I'll be trapped there forever. I guess we'll find out.

Nature Center Magazine - Your starting place for nature!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Everynight Adventurer

These pictures are my first attempt to get some good pictures at night. I tried a few things like changing the camera settings to nighttime mode, but none of them have worked so far. The only thing that works is to use the flash. I guess there has to be at least some light.

I haven't heard any animal sounds out there tonight so far, so I haven't tried to record any video. I'll try that if I go back out and hear any snuffling out there in the darkness. The camera usually picks up sound pretty good, and it's always quiet out here otherwise.

This first picture shows one of my outer buildings on the property. It's really just a rundown shed that I haven't even tried to explore yet, but I'll probably investigate the inside next spring. I'm in no hurry because i have too many other things to do right now.

In the background of this picture is the ravine at the edge of the property. There's a creek at the bottom of the ravine. I don't like to get any closer to it in the dark because it's a long fall to the bottom, and I don't know if I could climb out of it even in the daytime.

My dad used to use a water pump to get water from the creek to water his garden that he had nearby. I don't know if the pump is still around, but I'll do the same if I can find it. He did it that way because the garden is too far from the house to get water from there. It can be done, but you need a very long hose.

If it was daylight in this last one, you'd be able to see the large pile of firewood I've been gathering back here. This is far from the house as well, but the wood is still green, so we leave it back here out of the way to dry out until next year. I've been using some of the green wood though because my stove burns it very well.

This is the area where I hear most of the smaller animal sounds. I don't go back there while it's dark because I can't see very well there and I don't want to get too close to those animals in that darkness. They can see much better than I can, and I don't want to make them angry. Isabella doesn't like it back here while it's dark.

I'll go back out to try again with the camera, but maybe not for another few posts or so. Nighttime is good, but I like the light of day jjust a little bit better. Talk to ya next time!

Nature Center Magazine - Your starting place for nature!

Monday, January 9, 2012

They Only Come Out At Night

When it gets dark I take my dog out for walks about every hour or two for the rest of the night until it's time for bed. Isabella loves her nighttime walks, and they keep her from ever having any accidents in the house. But there are things with us out there in the night.

I've been hearing their calls to the Moon for the last few nights that we've been out. It's the howls of coyotes that I've been hearing. Isabella always cocks her head to one side whenever she hears the howls. I tell her it's the call of the wild and to try to ignore it.

The sounds always come from the distant west. The howls of coyotes sound a little bit different than dog howls. One howl is always answered by others when we hear them. Dogs seem to have deeper voices than coyotes. Whenever I hear those coyote howls I stay extra watchful when I'm at the edges of the darker areas out there, and I make sure the sounds I hear are only in the distance. That way our nighttime walks stay reasonably safe.

I wish the camera could see a little better in the dark. I'd give you some better pictures of the things we see out there. Maybe I'll experiment a little bit more. Nighttime has much to offer that the day just can't. The sights and the sounds, especially the sounds, that are out there are something to behold. I stay away from most sounds I hear out there, but I'd love to share some audio with you.

It would be a great adventure for me to get a picture of a coyote, but predators like these are something to stay away from, especially out there alone. Predators of any kind are the animals that first inspired tales of monsters, and I do not want to come face to face with a monster in the night. That's for someone more experienced.

But it's a thrilling idea. Isabella hears the call of the wild, and she doesn't like it at all. It always makes her more alert, but also very concerned. She always gives me a worried look when those howls come out of the night. I think I'll always be sure to take her advice to stay on guard.

Nature Center Magazine - Your starting place for nature!

Friday, January 6, 2012

I'm Tired

Tired. That's what I am. Tired tired tired! After trying to gather firewood from anywhere I could get it for several days, I overworked myself and made myself sick. On the warmest day we'll probably have for the rest of the winter, I stayed inside and did as little as possible. Now I'll have to keep reminding myself not to overdo things.

Some of you may be wondering why I would work so hard to get firewood when I could just go out and buy it. Because it's free the way I do it. This is the way my dad would have done things himself, so I'm going to try it this way at least for one winter. Besides, free is a really good price. Even if I paid for it, I would still have to do quite a bit of work stacking it where I need it and loading it into the stove, so I really wouldn't be saving myself any work.

Actually, if I wanted to pay, I could just pay to have my propane tank filled, but the free wood is still much cheaper, and it heats very very much better around here. And I've actually had quite a bit of help. My dad taught my closest neighbor how to burn wood too, so we work together. My dad helped that guy when he needed it the most, and he was one of a very few people who has tried to return that favor.

But right now I'm tired. I'm not as tired as I was yesterday though. I've had plenty of rest, and I'll have a little more rest this weekend. But then I'll get right back to collecting more firewood. It has to be done for as long as the weather lets me do it. A hundred years ago everyone around here had to do it this way. They didn't have a backup system like I have. My grandparents were still using wood for heat when I was a kid, and I'm still pretty young.

People my age always rightfully think of their parents as tougher than them, and their grandparents tougher still. Not many people today can even imagine some of the things they had to do. But I want to try some of it. I want a little sample. This blog is about nature, and this is as true to nature as it gets.

I'll never be able to fully understand how past generations lived, and I don't think I want to go that far, but I want to know just a little, a little more than most people. My dad could have lived here without any modern conveniences at all. I can't, and I don't want to try, but I want to be able to tell myself truthfully that I would do better than most.

But I'm tired. This is not easy, and I knew it wouldn't be, but I want to have some small idea what it was like. In a way, it's my own way of trying to make my dad proud of me. I think he would be very happy that I'm using his wood stove. But I'm tired. Right now it's a good tired.

Nature Center Magazine - Your starting place for nature!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Bird Interrupted

I went outside today and upon opening the front door I began hearing something I haven't been hearing around here recently. The chirping of birds! I guess they've been all hiding out, thinking that winter would be here.

But today the temperature was in the 50s. it felt like a warm spring day outside. That's very strange for around here. In years past they would have been buried by snow right now, and the cold weather would keep most people inside.

Instead, I was hearing the sounds of happy birds in my trees in the front of the house. It sounded like am invitation for me to get my camera and come running back out for pictures. So out I came, camera in and. I soon began aiming the lens at every sound coming from the trees.

I quickly picked up a few pictures of this woodpecker. It wasn't quite as close as I'd like, but it was the most brightly colored creature in the trees. Only one problem was troubling me. The pictures were loking kind of funny. I then checked the camera settings to find out they were all wrong!

So I had to stop and take the time to reset everything. Then when I was happy that all of my settings were back where they were supposed to be, I pointed my camera back to the trees to capture more images of happy little birdies.

But then from behind me came another sound. It was a deep scary sound. The kind of sound that makes birds for miles around flee in total terror! "Woof!"

Isabella was having none of this picture taking. That woof sound was dog language for, "Pay attention to me!" I resisted for as long as I could, but the birds had all fled to better trees far away in a paradise where there were no big black monsters.

So inevitably my camera turned towards the only thing left around that was moving, except for an old plastic bag that was waiting to be picked up. Isabella did a great job of posing for the camera. I took many pictures of this oversized camera hog. But only one picture of my dog is very exciting for a random reader, so this is all I'll torture you with.

She thinks she's a star. "Dramatic pose," click!

Nature Center Magazine - Your starting place for nature!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

On The Way Home

Maybe these two pictures in today's post represent where I live now better than any I've shown you so far.  See those hills in the background of the picture above? They wrap around the town where I live. I took these pictures while driving home from the city the other day.

One thing I like about these hills is that they go all the way through the state of Iowa. They can be found even within the city south of me as well. Driving through Sioux City, you can see the hills above you as high as mountains in some places.

there is one hill that is named as a mountain, but I don't think it is considered to be a true mountain. There is a difference, but not because of size. I'll have to do some research to find out what that difference is. I think the difference is in how they were formed.

The hills on the right in the picture above border Stone Park that I showed you last week. These are nowhere near the highest places in the park. There are signs on the side of the road near here that warn of falling rocks. And there are more that warn of deer crossing. I've been wondering how deer get down the hill here.

While traveling along this road I also had to stop for several wild turkeys that were crossing. It was only the second time in my life that I've seen wild turkeys. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me that time, but I'm sure I'll get them at some point in the future.

It's been a busy few days for me. I cut down a few trees for firewood. I hated doing it, but that's how it's done. Plenty more trees will grow in their place. All of that was really too much work for me, and I ended up sick for a few days. Staying inside for a couple of days helped, but I'm tired. Being inside was why I had the time to redesign this blog. So I've really accomplished a lot, so I'm happy.

Nature Center Magazine - Your starting place for nature!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The New Everyday Adventurer

There are big changes here at The Everyday Adventurer! Many of you may have already noticed that the look of this blog has changed. I feel very satisfied and happy right now. Even though I loved the old look of the blog, I had one small problem with it: It was designed by somebody else.

One thing I have always believed is that a blog should look good. That's my preference. Some of you may not feel so strongly about that, and that's okay. But I've been designing my own blogs for awhile now, and I like them to look their best. For that reason it was kind of hard to let the old look go.

But I wanted something that was completely unique. The older version is freely available from the original designer, but in another blogging format. I modified that design for my own use on Blogger, and I've always given credit at the bottom of my blog. But over the weekend I had images in my head of something I think is even better, so I began working.

What I came up with is something with a similar feel, but this new one is brighter in some areas, and all of the artwork was done by me. I didn't want a drastic change, but I think a new look will be a refreshing change after years of the old look. Not everyone will agree that the new one is better because the older one was very good, but I like the new one more.

So, what do you think about the new look of The Everyday Adventurer? Be honest, I love constructive criticism. You can see the old version in the picture above. One important thing for me is that I now have a completely unique look that you will not find anywhere else. I think this new look has a bit more depth to it than the old one. And besides, I really love tinkering around with my blog.