Memorial Weekend Miscellany

by Carl Strang

As Gary and I toured wild places around Culver over the weekend, we found more of interest than sulfur-winged grasshoppers.

Many wildflowers were blooming, including lance-leaved violets at the Winamac State Fish and Wildlife Area.

Many wildflowers were blooming, including lance-leaved violets at the Winamac State Fish and Wildlife Area.

A number of rapids clubtails worked the sandy power line corridor at Memorial Forest.

A number of rapids clubtails worked the sandy power line corridor at Memorial Forest.

One sad note was a road-killed otter.

I had heard that otters have returned to the Tippecanoe River. This one climbed a tributary to reach the Maxinkuckee Wetlands, and became a casualty.

I had heard that otters have returned to the Tippecanoe River. This one climbed a tributary to reach the Maxinkuckee Wetlands, and became a casualty.

No photo to show for it, but we were impressed by astronomical observations as well. While sampling the variety of Hoosier beers Gary had brought up from Indianapolis, we checked out Mars and Saturn through the spotting scope. Mars, as close as it ever gets to Earth, was a reddish disk. Much farther away, Saturn appeared as a cute little image with the rings nicely visible and separate from the planet’s main mass.

We closed the weekend by attending the local VFW Memorial Day ceremony, and visited the graves of our parents, who passed away two years ago. Then we went our separate ways home.

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Lessons from Travels: Down Under

by Carl Strang

As I wind down the Lessons from Travels series, I find a few topics remain to be mentioned from my trip to Australia. First, here’s a warning to those planning to drive in countries where cars go in the left lane. It’s not enough to visualize driving in the left lane. Remember that you will be sitting on the right side of the car. I pulled out of the car rental facility near the ferry depot in Tasmania, and immediately went up on the sidewalk at the left edge of the roadway. Fortunately no one else was around, and I quickly adjusted to my position in the lane, as well as the car’s.

The next point is that road kill looks strange. That’s because the fauna are strange. After all, the Australian mammals are mainly marsupials, and they will look different in flattened form from our North American car carrion.

We have nothing that looks like a pademelon.

We have nothing that looks like a pademelon.

Though both are marsupials, their possums are different from our opossums.

Though both are marsupials, and produce similar footprints, their possums are different from our opossums.

Finally, there is the matter of celestial bodies. The sky is inverted from our North American perspective. The sun appears to move counterclockwise above the northern horizon. At night, the moon is upside down. Orion stands on his head. Finally, you get to see the southern constellations and stars. There are fewer bright stars, and the sky consequently is less filled by bright, distinctive constellations. But then, there’s the Southern Cross, which makes up for a lot.

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