Connecting Lake Simcoe's Community

Autumn is for artists

            2018 10 13 mapleleaves

By David Hawke -- Autumn is for artists.

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Autumn brings stirring winds

2018 10 06 thunderheadBy David Hawke - Physics is the science that deals with the relationships between matter and energy.

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Fabulous fall fungi

 2018 10 01 fungi

By David Hawke -- Early October is mushroom season! Now is the time to look for fabulous fall fungi popping up in woodlots all across the region.

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Hummingbirds begin astounding migration

2018 09 22 hummingbird small

By David Hawke - There is a fascination with migration that shows up every autumn.

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The curious life of a walking stick

2018 09 17 Walking Stick 499

By David Hawke -- Any hiker who has covered more than a couple of kilometres will attest to the usefulness of a walking stick. However, 'walking sticks' can be more than an ornately carved tree branch -- they can also be very interesting insects.

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Unmistakable, noisy blue jays

2018 09 08 bluejay

By David Hawke - Although most of September is still officially summer, a lot of autumnal events start to roll out early in the month.

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Open your eyes and ears to Nature

2018 09 01 June.Mack.Williams.Forest

By David Hawke -- It's amazing how easy it is to let your natural skills go to waste.

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Good reading for anyone who eats food

2018 08 26 straw     By David Hawke - By now I would think most of us have seen those car window stickers that proclaim "Farmers Feed Cities." Believe it. It's a simple truth.

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Murder of a crow?

 

2018 08 19 smallcrowBy David Hawke - Finding dead birds while on a country walk is somewhat unusual, although it does happen from time to time.

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Looking at clouds from both sides

2018 08 11 billowBy David Hawke -- A trait shared by both weather forecasters and creative writers is the ability to accentuate the mundane, embellish the boring, until it becomes quite exciting.

To be a creative writer one does not need to be a weather forecaster, but to forecast the weather one does need a good aptitude for creative thinking.

          This can be seen daily in any forecast: “Tomorrow morning will have a 10-percent chance of showers, turning to 30-percent by afternoon.” In other words, dear reader, there is a 90-percent chance of sunshine in the morning, and despite the possibility of a few clouds floating in later on, still a 70-percent probability of continued sunshine!

So why the accent on the negative? Even though the day will be gloriously sunny, the small threat of rain takes precedence within the forecast, as if trying to shake your smug confidence in enjoying your vacation. Seems to me this negative-first system must have invented by some dour Scot whose clan motto is “Don’t enjoy the good stuff because sooner or later you’ll pay for it” (I can say this as a good part of my heritage is dour Scot).

The other part of creative weather forecasting is to make it sound so much worse than it really is: “A gentle breeze will waft about the countryside, occasionally being punctuated by damaging gusts of wind.” Therefore, don’t fall asleep in that hammock, dear vacationer, as you could wake up on the other side of Lake Simcoe! Oh sure, you can lay there, but be ever vigilant for that rogue gust… it can come out of nowhere! At any time! Never let your guard down, especially while on a relaxing vacation.

As we all well know, this summer has been wickedly hot, and oft heard are the good old sayings “Hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk,” or “Must have been 104 in the shade.” Unfortunately, I believe Health Canada now prohibits the frying of eggs on sidewalks, and 104 degrees Fahrenheit is actually only 40 degrees in Celsius, and thereby loses a lot of verbal impact in the translation. May I suggest "Hot enough to melt your plastic-paper money"? No? Okay, you come up with something better.

Are weather forecasters happy giving us dire warnings of temperatures in the high 20s or even mid-30s? Nope, they feel we must have more drama in the daily report. So, in 1965, we Canadians came up with a system to make hot temperatures sound even more miserable, a thing called the Humidex (which sounds like a Superman archvillain to me, but then I wasn’t asked to be on the naming committee).

The Humidex ranking is based on a combination of air temperature in the shade and the humidity (or amount of moisture) in the air. Our human bodies have adapted to keep our inner selves at a more or less constant 38 degrees Celsius. This level of interior heating is optimum for destroying most fungal infections yet low enough to allow our body to metabolize the food we take in. When our body temperature rises above this magical level, we get feverish and cannot perspire fast enough to cool the body.

What all this medical talk means is that when the outside of your body is warmer than the inside, you feel sick. And that sums up the way most of us felt the last couple of weeks when the Humidex regularly approached 40 degrees! Of course, it probably wouldn’t have felt quite that bad had the Humidex scale not been invented… we would have just thought that, "Wow it seems hot for 32 degrees." Silly us.

The other thing about weather is that it happens all year long, which provides good employment opportunities for weather forecasters. But what happens when the temperatures are low and the dreaded Humidex can’t be used to scare weather listeners? Ah, that’s when the wind chill index comes into play.

Wind chill is a combination of air temperature and wind speed, with the resultant number being how cold you’d think it was if standing naked atop a snow bank. Minus 10C with a gusty wind (there’s that awful ‘gust’ brought into play again) makes you think it’s minus 20C, even though it’s actually just minus 10. But, if you are standing naked atop a snow bank, I don’t think you really care about these finer points of weather prognostication anyways; you probably have other things on your mind, like, "How did I get here?".

There should be a t-shirt manufacturer that can print up snappy slogans on a whim, with red and yellow colored wiggly lettering that says, “I survived Humidex 38!” or for the foolishly brave: “Humidex 41… bring it on!”.

Writers of the creative bent are allowed certain freedoms in their craft, their ability to embellish being an enviable trait to be emulated by those who follow their every keystroke. Thankfully, these writers do not regularly submit weather forecasts, or we’d end up with stories like: “Overnight, as you slumber peacefully, large cylindrical orbs of hydrogen and oxygen will stratify the area where you live; accompanying this liquid coverage of the earth will be gusts… woe, the gusts!”

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a nap on the hammock, even if there is a 3-percent chance of torrential rain… I think I can risk it.

© 2018 David J. Hawke

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Barn swallows need the right conditions to nest

2018 08 08 BarnSwallows.small

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By David Hawke - It seems that some farmers will do anything to best their neighbour.

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Luckily for us, dragonflies eat mosquitoes

20180716 TC Agnew Canada Darner 4

 

By David Hawke - Spiders make some people jump. Bees and hornets make some people cringe. Mosquitos and deer flies make some people crazy. And then there are the dragonflies.

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Hunt is on for scaly wings

2018 07 22 swallowtail revBy David Hawke -- Every July they emerge to scour the countryside, long-handled nets at the ready.

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Nature's darker side

Tomasini fox 1

By David Hawke (Photo by Chris Tomasini) -- As I write this, and certainly by the time you read it, the subject of today's column likely will be dead.

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A dewdrop fell from a small flower - a tiny link in Nature's chain

2018 07 07 woodsorrel         

By David Hawke -- A vibration caused a dewdrop to quiver and fall from the leaf of a small flower that is growing at the base of a cedar tree... 

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The Nature of Canada

2018 07 01 canadaflag

By David Hawke  -- "The Nature of Canada" is the course title of a program that I have the privilege of co-teaching at Lakehead University in Orillia.

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Giant silk moths are big, bold, beautiful – and fascinating

2018 06 25 Cecropia small

By David Hawke -- They are big. They are bold. They are beautiful. They are elusive yet unmistakable when found. If you think I'm talking about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie you are so in the wrong column.

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Chasing cows - not a favourite sport

2018 06 17 cattle small

 

By David Hawke — It's been a while since I wrote an article about cattle.

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Wildflower blossoms decorate our Lake Simcoe area

Moccassin Flower reduced

By David J. Hawke — Our local woodlots, meadows and wetlands have already been decorated with a wide variety of wildflower blossoms, and it's only going to get better.

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Curiosity, effort and luck reap double reward!

20180520 Barred Owl 4x6 small

By David Hawke - The sound coming from our woodlot was eerie, not just because of its sound but that it was the middle of the afternoon. Eerie wails are a night-time thing, when raccoons, fisher and other things that go bump in the night are out and about. It was a single note, drawn out with a downward slide to it, repeated once every two minutes.

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