Lynn Landes, founder of the Wild Foodies of Philadelphia joins with Chef Jeff Miller of the eponymous catering company to forage for wild plants in the fields of the Weavers Way Coop farm at Awbury Arboretum. The plants, which Lynn doesn't like to call weeds although they are generally considered so, were to appear in the salad of a dinner that very evening to benefit the arboretum. Miller sampled some succulent-like purslane which he describes being crunchy and also some carpet weed which your correspond concurs has a strong, mushroomy flavor. These, wood sorrel other "weeds" were all competing for purchase in the fertile soil where the farmers had planted onions for harvest months later. Landes takes the zealot's stance that only wild plants and animals, free for the taking are a sustainable source of food because agriculture of any kind requires ongoing maintenance. Watch video here.
Under the watchful eyes of a score of officers from the Philadelphia Police foot and marine patrols, the PA Fish and Game Commission and the US Coast Guard, serious but festive protesters stage a family picnic and paddle on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia to mark the third anniversary of the Lac Megantic Ontario oil train derailment that killed 47 people. Coryn Wolk of the Clean Air Council points to data showing the outdated tank cars are subject to puncture even at the low speeds they move through Philadelphia, putting 700,000 residents in the potential blast/evacuation zone at risk. Clean energy groups participating in the action are urging people to contact their elected officials to stop such oil trains from passing through Philadelphia and shift toward of wind, geothermal and solar energy. Watch video here.
A Penn Environment representative demonstrates how planting trees will cool the earth and counter global warming using a lamp, a model house and tree and a temperature reading gun. Video and interview here.
Architecture students from Philadelphia University demonstrate the model they've desgined of a turbine that would sit in the ocean off of Santa Monica California that would not only generate energy from wave action but would allow people to walk through the apparatus. The walkway is composed of segments which compensate for undulations and thus would grant visitors a level walking experience while connecting directly with the source of their [electric] power. The designers, entering their model in a competition, describe their invention as "habitable generative art." Watch video and interview here.
Speech pathology students from Salus University offer samples of thickened juice to educate the public how thickened liquids can help people with swallowing problems inadvertently breathe liquids into their lungs. Watch video and interview here.
Quaker Action activist Chris Baker Evens urge the PECO [Exelon] electric utility to agree to buy back energy from residents of North Philadelphia who install renewable, solar energy panels on their rooftops. At a booth across the way at the Philadelphia Science Festival, PECO representatives advise the public how to save on their energy bills. Watch video and interview here.
Alison and Robin of Philadelphia's Resource Exchange demonstrate and explain how scraps of clothing and many other things you might be inclined to trash can be used to make art or recycled for other purposes. Watch video interview here.
Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation project coordinator Curt Helm oversaw the felling and removal of three large diseased trees at the Allens Lane Art Center. The trees were in danger of falling onto the playing fields or the other way over power lines and onto McCallum Street which bears significant vehicular traffic. Helm, with direct experience in the field, complimented the adroitness of the park's subcontractors. As the final chainsaw cuts were made to the diseased oak tree, it began to tumble. A truck with a rope attached to the tree began to pull it forward in the direction the contractors wanted the tree to fall. A couple seconds later the top branches hit the ground with a resounding crash. The two other trees to be taken down that day were ashes. Sadly, Helm reports, all the park's ash trees will eventually succumb to the emerald ash borer and, for safety reasons, will be taken down within the next five to ten years. Watch video here
Bee Boy Ryan Williamson is happy for any technology advancement that raises the profile of beekeeping but has reservations about the so called flow hive with preformed plastic combs. New beekeepers who think all they have to do is turn the handle and out will come honey risk harming the bees. He also believes that comb building is in the bees' genetic coding and something that they are meant to do and is good for them. The Bee Boys are organic beekeepers whose simple mission, according to their website is to support the honeybees! At the right in photo is Bee Boy Kevin O'Connor. Watch Video here.
Your correspondent volunteered in the kitchen for two weeks this summer at the Audubon Society's nature camps on Hog Island, some skipping stones length off of Bremen, Maine in Muscongus Bay and shares some highlights - and wisecracks - with you!
--With many thanks to those on the other side of your correspondent's lens!
On Hog Island, Maine , raptor biologist Rob Bierregaard and a guest expert demonstrate how a juvenile osprey is measured, blood-sampled and banded for scientific study purposes. Just minutes before, they had climbed a ladder to snatch and secret the chick away and worked quickly so as to reduce stress to it and return it as soon as possible to its likely fretting parents. Watch video here.
Biology professor Jerry Skinner holds a black capped chickadee in a photographer's grip as he discusses how to identify species of chickadees and the art and science of banding birds. Watch video here.
On a boat trip, to Harbor Island, Skinner demonstrates how to sample plankton using a net trailing the boat. Watch video here. [Sorry for wind noise.]
Snow Goose III Captain Bill Chapman and First Mate Meghan Kennedy bring up cages with lobsters and talk about lobsters and lobstering in Muscongus Bay
Built in Bath, Maine in 1902 to carry coal. this three thousand ton 273 foot long 5 masted schooner was refitted to become a nightclub in 1929, gutted in 1938 to become- unsuccessfully- storage for lobsters. The Cora was then scuttled near the shore to serve as a breakwater. According to an older gentleman at a nearby dock, attempts to remove the ship by burning failed and break away debris poses a threat to sea-goers. Watch video here.
EDUCATORS WEEK EVENING POTPOURRI
The Audubon Society's Sue Shubel trains a powerful microscope on a small bunch of barnacles and describes how they open up to use their filaments to feed on plankton. Watch video here.
By keeping the moon on one side of them as they fly, moths are able to navigate and fly straight-ish. But they also keep a nearby artificial light at night to the same side and end up going around in circles. Moth student extraordinaire Paul shares his recently acquired knowledge of moths indigenous to Hog Island. He appears to be on his on his way to becoming acquainted with nearly all the 160,000 known species and has a growing collection. By identifying moths temporarily captured on a lit up vertical white sheet, he was able to deduce what flora were nearby because some moths in their caterpillar stage feed only on the leaves of one plant or tree species. Watch video here.
And last but not least, a glimpse of what life was really like from a kitchen volunteer's view and the volunteers put on some plays:
The Story of the Ladlebird inspired by the newly commissioned play about Mabel Loomis Todd and
When you have three kinds of clouds coming together and catch the "rat's end" of the storm, you have a good chance of catching a rainbow she says. We ran into this couple at a rest stop on the PA Turnpike. They were coming from a music fest and headed towards another and had paused to see an awesome rainbow. Watch video here.
Elizabeth Fink has been using the new composting toilets near the Wissahickon Environmental Center (formerly Andorra Tree House) at the northwestern edge of Fairmount Park, Philadelphia. It never smells, she says and there's Purell for hand sanitizing. She thinks it's a big improvement over the old "Johnn(ies) on the Spot". She's careful that her cell phone is in a zipped pocket, however, lest it inadvertently fall into the pit! She and a companion had been taking a walk in the woods and recommended I check out the toads mating in the pond above the tree house. Watch video here.
The day before Easter Sunday, Nick Hasselback and his wife, Jenna, who was due to deliver their first child four days later, marveled at Patrick Dougherty's new stick sculpture installation at the Morris Arboretum. "A Waltz in the Woods" is a handful of closely circled tall and leaning towers consisting of willow branches and saplings woven together. And then left for nature to take its course as with Dougherty's previous work at the Morris. Nick and Jenna describe themselves as woodsy people and are hatching similar, likely more modest, ideas of their own. Watch video here
Your correspondent volunteered for a week cleaning dishes and bathhouses at the Audubon Society Camp on Hog Island off of Bremen, Maine. He collected an old glass bottle encrusted with barnacles and these stories. See photo slideshow here.
A large aquarium in the lab building of Hog Island affords a micro view of aquatic life in coastal Maine’s tidal pools. Off the pier, swaying mats of seaweed. Watch video here.
“Puffin” Pete Salmansohn, Project Puffin outreach coordinator and director of Hog Island Educators week, describes how puffins were saved from near extermination from the Maine Coast on a boat trip out to Eastern Egg Rock Island where island sitters carefully monitor and study them. Along the way, seals sunning themselves on a small island, produce whoops and hollers among the day-trippers as they dive into the water toward the boat to investigate or perhaps be fed? Watch video here.
On Hog Island, early morning guided birding, a photographer and his camera level with the osprey nest, an osprey parent guarding two fledglings and later the same day foraying out and back. Watch video montage here.
“Seabird” Sue Schubel, Project Puffin Outreach Instructor and Hog Island Camp Coordinator, puts the finishing touches on a large batch of cream “puffins.” They will be served to oohs and ahs and camera flashes at the conclusion of the farewell lobster dinner for Educators week. The confectionary puffins, like their living counterparts, Schubel says, could be either male or female, as they look the same. Their breeding plumage, bright orange bills, mark them as mature adults. Watch video here.
Susan Spitzer Williams, a career guidance specialist participating in Educators Week on Hog Island, seen here rushing to get her camera to the photogapher and back in place for a group shot. In the video, she pauses before swimming to share one of the many ways in which she is superior to her dear older brother, Nick Spitzer, host of the widely syndicated, public radio program, “American Routes.” For one, she met and played pool with Muddy Waters and he didn’t. Watch video here.
A short, live action, instructional video for kitchen volunteers at the Hog Island camp on how to use the Hobart 4 sided, hood mounted, pass through, commercial dishwasher. Watch video here.
She’s been skinning road kill, preparing pelts, skull specimens and mounts for museums for some time but this was Carolyn Zaino’s first beaver. Discovered by a couple Hog Island staffers, the road kill became the object of Zaino’s artistry and industry in between stints in the Hog Island kitchen. Zaino is nonplussed by the gore and gruesomeness of her vocation as befits the pathologist’s daughter for whom, as a child, the hearts, lungs and brains in her father’s lab were naturally things of wonder. Her work lets her give these animals “another life” and educate people about them. Watch short video here. Watch full-length video here.