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It’s a complex balance that holds together the web of life

 

It was late summer in the coastal plain forest. At mid-day, it was quiet but not quite silent. There was a background buzz of flies, then the whine of a mosquito in my left ear. Swat! Then I heard a sound like water coming from the trees.

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The sun’s lost ground is the skywatcher’s gain

 

As if to hammer another nail into summer’s coffin, the sun this week sets before 7:00. The darkening sky reveals Venus tight above the southwest horizon, and while the evening star is brilliant at magnitude –4, it, too, is fleeting and sets shortly after the sun.

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Following a few simple rules, you can grow a mighty oak from a tiny acorn

 

A master gardener recently asked me how to germinate acorns because she had repeated failures. To be successful, collect the acorns soon after they have fallen from the tree. Never collect acorns that have caps still attached because those acorns are most likely empty. Only solid, firm acorns that have fallen from the tree without caps should be collected. A healthy, well-developed acorn is one that has separated from its cap while still attached to the tree.

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With the autumnal equinox, that footwear comes to life

Labor Day has come and gone, but the celestial clock still reads summer. While our days are still longer than our nights, we have lost two hours 45 minutes of sunlight over the past three months. After this week, the hours of darkness each day will trump those of light.

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In the shift to shallow water, tackle makes the difference

Live-lining small Norfolk spot remains the surest bet for a limit of striped bass on the Chesapeake. But light-tackle lure fishing grows more exciting as our waters cools with September’s chillier weather, when striped bass behavior changes.

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There’s a big difference between household vinegar and horticultural vinegar

A few years ago, I wrote about using horticultural vinegar to kill weeds. At a recent Deale Farmers’ Market, a customer who bought peaches from me insisted that my recommendation to use vinegar does not kill weeds.

She even went to the trouble of boiling the vinegar, thinking she would be concentrating it. What she did not realize is that boiling vinegar dilutes the acetic acid, which is why vinegar gives off a strong odor when heated.

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These beautiful days can set you free

I have spent my life much like the proverbial pirate looking at 40, wondering why I never quite fit into today’s society, when the truth of the matter has always been that I am far healthier and happier because I never bothered to change. Too often I find that there is a sad disconnect between people’s daily lives and the world in which they live.

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There’s more to Shaula and Lesath than appears at first glance

Soon after sunset on September 10th and 11th, the nascent crescent moon joins Venus low in the west. These two are the first two lights to appear after sunset, around 7:20 Saturday, when Venus shines six degrees to the right of the moon.

Sunday, the moon and Venus form a loose triangle with the dim star Zubenelgenubi in the constellation Libra.

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Week 26: The End … and the Beginning

I finally I saw Junior bring a fish of his own, grasped in his claws, to the nest site. He didn’t eat it in little beak-sized pieces like his mom fed to him, but rather tore at it voraciously, ripping it into pieces too big to swallow that he then had to step on with his foot to rip into pieces small enough to get into his beak and down his throat.

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Less daytime and a waning moon leave plenty to see

With summer on the wane, the sun sets around 7:30 at week’s end, shedding more than a minute of evening sunlight each night. In the morning it’s more of the same, as the sun rises at 6:37 Saturday and almost a minute later each morning.

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