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September

Bayou-Diversity (26 August 2018) In Louisiana, September is the season of winding down, of transition to better times or places. It is as if all things in the natural world are fed up with the necessary struggles to carry on in the heat and humidity of our subtropical summers. Within the trunks of white oaks and black hickories the growth rings of summer wood form a defined edge. The trees stop growing. Buckeyes have long since lost their leaves and those of black gum flame scarlet in protest. Each fleeting breeze that follows an afternoon shower convinces a few of the bold leaves to jump first from the treetops and not wait for a bona fide autumn zephyr. Daytime drones of cicadas and

Wild Grapes

Bayou-Diversity (18 August 2018) Grapes are woody vines that climb with tendrils in search of sunlight. About twenty species of native grapes are found in the eastern United States in a variety of habitats. The well-known fruits of grapes have been consumed by humans for thousands of years in some form. The famous early naturalist William Bartram described Native Americans’ use of grapes near Mobile in 1773. He wrote, “The Indians gather great quantities of them, which they prepare for keeping, by first sweating them on hurdles over a gentle fire, and afterwards drying them on their bunches in the sun and air, and store them up for provision.” In the Civil War, grapes were among the mos

Eyeshine

Bayou-Diversity (5 August 2018) In my family there are stories about lean times during the Depression when rabbits were a welcomed source of protein in the household larder. Most were shot at night with the aid of a carbide lantern. Rabbits were detected by their eyeshine in the dim glow of the light. Boys, new to the venture, were reminded that because rabbits' eyes are on the side of their head, only one eye could be seen at a time. And if, when walking through the lonely swamp at night, a person were to detect a creature with two eyes shining, he should remember that such physiology is a trait of many predators that can see much better at night than a mere boy. The cause of much hope an

 

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