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Bayou-Diversity (28 July 2019) A recent night of thunderstorms temporarily assuaged the tree-killing drought. By mid-morning of the following day plants were displaying the reprieve in leaves with restored turgor pressure after weeks in a state of progressive wilt. Two inches of rain brought by the storm without a doubt saved the lives of some critically stressed trees. However, as is often the case with natural events, there were winners and losers in the passage of the midnight storm. Within a hundred feet of my house in the woods three bolts of lightning came to earth in rapid succession. One killed the computer that harbored the Bayou-Diversity programs. Backups aside, it was only

WELL DIGGERS (i.e. Sapsuckers)

Bayou-Diversity (20 July 2019) Not unlike humans, birds have evolved various strategies to make a living. Some are fishermen, others hunters; some travel thousands of miles within a year to survive, others work from home. Some forage widely across the landscape, others have more focused feeding habits. One small group of birds with behavior that falls in the specialized category consists of sapsuckers. They are the well diggers of the bird world. Four species of sapsuckers are found in the U.S., but only one type of these small woodpeckers visits Louisiana. The yellow-bellied sapsucker spends the winter with us but departs in early spring to breed in northern states and Canada. When p


Bayou-Diversity (12 July 2019) For the last six weeks I have dwelled in places where the word “bayou” is unfamiliar to most people. Maps of the region are absent the names “D’Arbonne,” “de L’Outre,” “Teche,” and the like. There are no such streams with their characteristic side-dressing of cypress trees and Spanish moss for a thousand miles. No alligators or alligator gar; no accompanying summer humidity to smother the aspirations of even the native-born. It is not as if those distant places lack surface water. Though scare when compared to our saturated landscapes, it exists in geologically young channels with tails atop snow-capped mountains and sweeps downward through sagebrush desert

Tomatoes in Court

Bayou-Diversity (7 July 2019) For many southern palates ambrosia can be defined as a home-grown, vine-ripened, freshly sliced tomato. In their long journey to domestication tomatoes have made a number of interesting stops around the world, none less so than the U.S. Supreme Court. This particular side trip began in 1883 when congress imposed a 10 percent tax on all imported vegetables. One disgruntled and botanically astute importer challenged the law on the grounds that tomatoes were technically fruits and not vegetables. He was correct according to accepted biological definitions. The justices though unanimously leaned in the direction of the common man’s vernacular, rejected the bo


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