Category Archives: nature is awe inspiring

Got to get it

I paddle and paddle. I like the warmth of the water. Ah, there it is. I see green shoots and leaves at the edge of the water. I reach the shore and bite off a bunch of juicy stems.

“Hey,” a boy said. “A giant rat.” I grab more green stuff and shove it in my mouth. I see monsters moving on the land. Their shadows darken the plants. I better get the hell out of here.

I swim and swim until I reach home. I enter the dark hole between the rocks. My babies are hungry. I drop the leaves and shoots. Squeals of delight fill the air. I smile and watch them eat.


I see the osprey on the wire. The sunlight bounces off the white sheet of snow that covers the yard. Its head turns from side to side. I grab my binoculars and focus on it. I jump back as it stares at me. I’m certain it knows I am watching.

The bird flies across the street in front of the neighbor’s house. It perches on a power line. It waits. I wait.

Oh no, I see a plump gray squirrel come out of its nest of leaves. The squirrel freezes on the trunk of the big maple tree. The osprey is motionless on the wire. Approximately fifty feet separate the two. I know that they see each other.

The three of us wait together. Minutes go by and none of us move. Finally the squirrel moves its head to one side. Its body remains still on the tree trunk. The osprey doesn’t move.

The squirrel crawls down a few inches. It knows that if the osprey takes flight it will have time to run back into a hole. The osprey doesn’t move. I am holding my breath. My eyes can’t look elsewhere. I don’t want to watch but I do.

The squirrel begins to move down the tree. It makes a decision. It begins to run. The squirrel is crossing the street. I think it is going to make it. It runs under the white picket fence.

I see the flap of wings. The osprey swoops into my front yard. The squirrel has no chance. In an almost lazy way the bird’s talons grasp the squirrel. The osprey spreads its wings wide and I can see it pushing the soft body of the squirrel into the snow.

I can’t move even though I want to. It seems like forever. The head of the osprey swivels as it continues to press down on its prey. Five minutes have passed.

Suddenly the osprey lifts off. It soars across the street into the park. I see the limp body of the squirrel dangling from the bird’s talons.

Night walk

A blanket of clouds covered the stars. I approached the grass with care. I remembered being told that you should shuffle your feet and make as much noise as possible. That would scare them away. I couldn’t see a thing. I might as well be blind.

I entered the knee high grass and headed in the direction of the hole in the fence. Once I reached it, I could take the dirt path on the other side.  My knees shook and the grass brushed against my trousers. I saw the faint outline of the fence. Lights from faraway huts twinkled in the distance. My eyes had adapted to the darkness.

I reached the ragged hole in the fence and gave a sigh of relief. Then it rose up. It looked like a curved black whip. The head reached my shoulder and its mean eyes glared at me. I saw the forked tongue flickering, tasting the air in preparation for a strike. I stood motionless. I knew I had no chance.

Big fish

Two fat koi glided through the water.  “You look nice today,” Brilliant Orange said. “Thanks,” Cream said. They moved out from under the green mat of algae into the Sun. “Ahh, that feels good,” Brilliant Orange said. “Mmm, I know what you mean,” Cream said. They basked and flipped their fins a bit and moved on.

“Hah, there he is again,” Brilliant Orange said. “I smelled him coming,” Cream said. “That cigar smoke carries a long way.”  They watched the obese human sit on the bench. He sweated while he puffed on the brown cylinder. “I wonder why he just sits there?” Cream said. “Doesn’t he see the water? It’s such a nice day for a swim.” “Humans aren’t very bright,” Brilliant Orange said.

“There, look at that one,” Brilliant Orange said. They watched a thin lady walk and walk. For some reason she had her hand next to her head the entire time that she walked. “Why do they do it? Putting that black rectangle next to their head while they walk?” “Beats me,” Cream said. “I still don’t know why she doesn’t join us in this beautiful water.”

Brilliant Orange saw Fathead Snapping Turtle approach. “Watch out. Fathead is coming,” Brilliant Orange said. Cream moved her pelvic fins in reply and they moved away from the giant moss covered turtle.

“I’m a little peckish,” Cream said. “Me too, I could use a bite,” Brilliant Orange said. They swam over to the algae mat and started to munch on the bright green strands.  Cream moved next to Brilliant Orange and nuzzled him with her fins. Brilliant Orange stopped eating and faced Cream. “Baby, you’re the greatest,” Brilliant Orange said.


It’s cozy in my house. I sit at the bottom of a spiral. The inside is nice and smooth. I’ve done the outside in alternating brown, yellow and cream. I have to admit it looks snazzy. I get a lot of attention, especially from gardeners. When they see me there are a lot of “oohs and ahs”. Sometimes I get a “yuck” or two.

What happens next varies.  The nice ones pick me up, house and all, and set me down somewhere pleasant, like in the park. Most of the time I get tossed and I’ll admit the landings can be jarring. Fortunately I fit quite snugly in my house and I can ride out the initial impact and subsequent bounces and rolls.

I think I have a pretty good life, snug in my home. In fact I think I might go out and munch on some of that juicy Bibb lettuce nearby. 

What was it like

The thick sheets of ice approached the mounds of granite. Thousands of rocks churned in the ice. The cacophony would have deafened any living thing. Screeches and shrieks filled the air as long furrows and trenches were gouged in the salt and pepper surface. It was as if a gigantic cat was dragging its claws over a huge blackboard. The inexorable pull rent the bedrock of the planet.

The invaders

They came from all directions. A wave of them scaled the wall. The only way to pry them off the masonry was with a savage thrust of a steel bar. On and on they climbed. We tried to cut them off at the source but again they were too much for us. They had dug in deep and short of bunker busting missiles they were there for good.

I ripped and tore them off as fast as I could. My muscles ached and yet I couldn’t stop or they would completely overrun the building. My wife tried also but in the end we both surrendered.

The implacable Hedera helix conquered new territory that day.


They approached the white dwarf with caution. “No life forces appear to be within range,” it said. An intense beam shot down to the surface of the fiery white sphere and a tiny puff ball appeared. “Approaching ignition point,” it said. A purplish flare rose from the white dwarf and zoomed by them.  Everything occurred in silence. The writhing sheets of violet continued to spew into space.

It began to chuckle. It turned to its partner. “Let’s do another one,” it said. “I don’t know if we should,” the other said. “Come on, it doesn’t hurt anything, it’s just a little gamma radiation,” it said. “Alright, but this is the last one, okay?” the other said.

It grinned and turned them towards another juicy white dwarf.

We needed it

I woke this morning to a nice drizzle of rain. Our parched lawn needed a good soak. The only downside is that the mosquitoes are probably rubbing their limbs in glee anticipating all the great spots to drop clusters of eggs.

I can just imagine the revelry and chaos in plant cells right now. Water is rushing into root hairs and whooshing up xylem vessels. Cells are frantically trying to take in as much water as they can, their cell walls turgid to the point of bursting. Up in the leaves the palisade cells are grumbling, “Come on, get that good stuff up here,”  but they are going to have to be patient.

In order to get the water up that high, they are going to need to get some heat and a nice breeze.  Once the water molecules get jumpy enough they will hop out of the stomata and fling themselves into the air. Now, those long columns of water can start clawing their way up the insides of the zillions of tiny tubes. If all the leaves cooperate just right they can pull the water up a surprising height.

It’s those greedy little green guys that are desperate for the water. As soon as they get some water they will start tossing electrons around, breaking and making chemical bonds and churning out gooey carbohydrates that are destined to be the supposed bane of human dieters everywhere.

Back down at the roots, things are getting mushy. Earthworms are gasping for breath and squirming their way skyward. The fungal mycelia are happy. They just grow and grow and digest and absorb. It’s a great life being a decomposer.

I think I better take a closer look at the water, the main player in this morning’s drama. What this? It seems the hydrogen atoms won’t stay still. They are jumping from one water molecule to another, almost like they are doing the Lindy.  And they are throwing the electrons back and forth. Naughty polar molecules, I wish you could just sit still for a millisecond. Still, you’re all we’ve got in the liquids that make life possible category so I guess we will just have to put up with it.

We did really did need a good soaking today.