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Nature 101

Delivering a eulogy for the American chestnut tree

When I was on a hike through the Hutchins Forest of Canterbury in early October, guide Kenneth Stern pointed out a clump of branches growing from the roots of an old stump that was once a stately American chestnut tree. Sadly, Stern did not offer much hope that the thin saplings could become mature trees. He forecast… 0

October 16, 2012
Grow something!

Putting your garden to bed for the long winter

We've reached the time in the growing season when the majority of our vegetables have been harvested. The only vegetables remaining in the garden are the hardiest, which actually improve in taste after a few frosts. Examples include Brussels sprouts, kale and broccoli; continue to harvest them through Thanksgiving.… 0

October 16, 2012
nature 101

On the hunt for 'shrooms with an expert mycologist

Want to go hunting for wild mushrooms to eat? Here is some good advice: Have adequate knowledge to correctly identify edible mushrooms, or go mushrooming with someone who does. In early September, I went on a mushroom foray sponsored by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute of Concord with our guide, Reta MacGregor,… 0

October 9, 2012
Nature 101

That lugubrious loon call? It's just Paul Basham

Seven pairs of loons disappeared from Squam Lake between autumn of 2004 and the spring of 2005. This decline from 16 to nine pairs of loons represents a 44 percent decrease in the Squam Lake's loon population, a drop not seen on any other New Hampshire Lake.In August, with naturalist Tiffany Grade as our guide,… 0

October 2, 2012
nature 101

Do bobcats mate with housecats? Paul must know

"Can a wild bobcat mate with a domestic house cat?" she asked, her face reflecting the earnest inquisitiveness of her voice. I was volunteering at the Little Nature Museum in Contoocook when a woman came in with that question."Why do you ask?" I responded. "Well," she said, "in our… 0

September 25, 2012
Nature 101

Paul hears the robin's sweet, immortal melody

With its familiar brick-red breast, the American robin is one of our most recognizable songbirds, and is no doubt the first bird a child learns to identify. A native of North America, it is called the American robin because it was named after the similar European robin.Now that the days are getting shorter, our… 0

September 18, 2012

Goldenrod and the golden rule of nature

Goldenrod wildflowers take center stage in late summer and early autumn after many other flowers have folded for the season. Their profusion of golden color in open fields and along roadsides gives a radiant charm to autumn landscapes. The goldenrod is the state flower for Kentucky and Nebraska.The goldenrod's… 0

September 11, 2012
Nature 101

Paul's headed to the untamed wilderness of the Jersey Shore

In mid-October, my wife and I will be moving to a retirement community in Marlton, N.J., which is in the south-central part of the Garden State. During the past four and a half years, it has been a privilege and a delight for me to share with you my Nature 101 stories. I enjoyed working with a succession… 0

September 4, 2012
Nature 101

Onomatopoeia: the written word's gateway to the natural world

Poets love to use onomatopoeia, which are words that phonetically imitate the sounds they are describing. Some examples are words used to depict animal sounds such as woof, bray, hiss, moo, honk and meow.The names of birds like cuckoo, whooping crane, whip-poor-will and chickadee are based on their calls.… 0

August 28, 2012
Nature 101

A cardinal battles against an imaginary opponent

My wife and I watched quite a bird battle from the window of our house one recent day. A female cardinal squabbled and scratched at her perceived opponent for half an hour. Her foe? Simply her reflection in the side mirror of our parked car.I described the cardinal's behavior to Rebecca Suomala, who for 24 years… 0

August 21, 2012