Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Moon and Jupiter

It is an amazing night out there.  The 4 degrees C is a little crisp, but with no wind it is just perfect for a walk.  For the past half hour or so I've been walking under the brilliant moon.  If you're out there tonight or in the next couple of days look for Jupiter.  It is the really bright object sitting just below and to the left of the moon. 

Fall is a great time for star-gazing.  The Sky and Telescope website will allow you to check out the sky and find many planets.  Happy Walking!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dogberries and Winter

When September rolls into October in Newfoundland and leaves begin to fall some colours jump out. Few are as dramatic as dogberries. The brilliant red berries are left hanging in bunches through the fall/winter and provide continued snacking for the birds that hang around.  It seems they are reserved for those lean winter days and tend not to disappear in fall.

Dogberry an alternate name for these small decidous trees or shrubs. They are actually called Showy Mountain Ash and American Mountain Ash; both are native to Newfoundland.  They look so similar that people tend to call both Dogberry, in Newfoundland and beyond.  There is much variability about whether the berries are edible. Some say no.  They are, in fact, quite useful for jams and jellies, even for dogberry wine. Eating them raw is not recommended; they are very acidic and not enjoyable to eat straight from the tree.

How about as a predicter for a bad winter?  When dogberries ripen people tend to consider the severity of winter based on the amount of fruit. More fruit = a rough, cold winter because more fruit is made available for birds. This has been the subject of much consideration. Who knows?  My non-scientific monitoring over the past 20 years has shown no correlation.  :)

Let's hope for a good one!