My previous post is a look at our backyard friend, the Rio Grande Leopard frog. He is one of two in residence at our pond.
Today, as I watched him sunning himself on a rock near the waterfall, a honeybee (with a death wish) caught my eye. Now, frogs eat flying insects, of which a bee is one. The following sequence demonstrates the rewards of patience:
Oh, well, I think I’ll go get some lunch. Thanks for watching.
Since Stephen Gingold is confined to a sunless Friday due to an allergy to anti-tick meds, I thought I’d post a couple of pics in absentia on his behalf. These guys are Rio Grande Leopard Frogs, and have recently taken up residence in our backyard pond. Most folks don’t realize that even in the desert, where there is water, there are usually frogs.
The first full moon after the Summer Solstice is known as the Strawberry Moon.
In ancient times, each full moon of every month had a name, usually associated with astronomical events, harvests, or other seasonal connections, and not relating to the actual color of the moon. The first full moon following the Summer Solstice, and the last full moon prior to the Autumnal Equinox, are known as Strawberry Moon, signifying the start and end of the strawberry picking season.
The full moon of tonight, June 24, would therefore be a Strawberry Moon.
My friend Ken, his son Derek, and his grandson Alec made a trip to Big Bend to hike the classic “Outer Mountain Loop,” a 4-day, 3-night epic backpack journey across the high trails of the Chisos Mountains, down into the high desert south of the Chisos, and finishing at the trail up Juniper Canyon and back into the high Chisos. At least, that was the plan…until a 1300+ acre fire in the high Chisos complex shut down all hiking and camping on the central and eastern sections of the mountains. With the trail closures, we opted to cut the trip a day short and do the hike without the return across the mountains.
Ken, Alec and Derek at the trailhead in the Basin area of the Chisos Mountains. The Laguna Meadow Trail, and connecting Blue Creek Trail, were not affected by the fire, so the first day (and second day) were as originally planned.
We had a great time wandering around together through the desert, an unusually cool trip for this time of the year. This Outer Mountain Loop is not for novice hikers, as it requires a lot of planning to insure adequate water for multiple people. Be sure to use the expertise of the Big Bend National Park staff in making plans for this trip.
Last night was the “grand conjunction” of planets Jupiter and Saturn. The two planets were just .1 degree apart in the sky just after twilight. This is the closest conjunction of these planets since March 5, 1226. The most significant grand conjunction occurred in 7 B.C., and another in 3 B.C. , thus scientific support for the reference to this as a “Christmas Star.”
As twilight fades, stars of the night sky begin to appear, drawing attention to the magnitude of the brightness of these two planets in conjunction.
A pastor friend of mine offered the following information regarding the connection of this conjunction to Christmas: “The last time a “grand conjunction” between Jupiter and Saturn occurred was 1226 A.D. Previous to that was 7 B.C., which was followed up by a very similar conjunction of Jupiter and Venus in 3 B.C. Johannes Kepler, a major figure from the scientific revolution which began in the 17th century, the scientist who first correctly explained the motion of the planets, referred to this as a “triple conjunction” because of the alignment of Jupiter, Saturn and the sun. He pointed out that this triple conjunction occurred three separate times in 7 B.C., a view confirmed by modern science. For dedicated, serious ancient stargazers like the Magi, this might have been just enough for them to saddle up their horses – or their camels – and take the long, long ride to Israel to check it out.”
The magnified conjunction, showing Jupiter and its four largest, most visible moons on the left, and Saturn to the right.