Ames Free Library

"Where the Community Connects"

A Glimpse of Nature

See what’s happening on the grounds of the Ames Free Library or nearby areas with “A Glimpse of Nature.”  Offered by Lorraine Rubinacci, the library's resident naturalist, this weekly photo blog is a gentle reminder to enjoy the wonders that surround us.

A Glimpse of Nature - Survivors

Today is a mild, sunny day, one of those days when the library patrons are smiling and the birds are singing. It’s quite a contrast to last Friday’s ice storm which challenged anyone who ventured (or lived) outdoors. The day after the storm, I was stepping gingerly through the library’s ice-encrusted property to see what might be seen when the soft voices of eastern bluebirds caught my attention. A small flock was passing through, including this bird which paused long enough for me to take a good look.


A Glimpse of Nature - Twigs and Buds

Trees in Winter” was a “before” quiz, an assessment of what you already know or can aim to learn. It limited the selection of trees to those living at the Ames Free Library, a manageable group growing on a small, easily-traversed property.  I hope that their names and images will stay in your mind as you visit the library. The game will remain open as a learning tool even after the contest closes on February 10.

A Glimpse of Nature - Trees in Winter

Winter is a great time to learn how to recognize trees, now that all those leaves are out of the way!  Bark, buds, and the tree's shape offer helpful clues. Why not try your hand at tree identification by playing our "Trees in Winter" game?  This illustrated multiple choice quiz is centered on trees growing on and around the Ames Free Library.  It is fun and informative, and it’ll be good preparation for your winter walks.  There is an optional outdoor component, and small prizes will be awarded to the two players with the best scores.

A Glimpse of Nature - Dwarf Alberta Spruce

Next Tuesday is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, the day when the sun makes its lowest arc in the skies of the northern hemisphere.  This astronomical event has been celebrated from time immemorial, as people eagerly anticipated the return of longer days and a greener landscape.  Light – in the form of candles, yule logs, and bonfires – has been central to the rituals, perhaps as a means of welcoming the sun’s “return.”  Evergreens have long been associated with these winter festivals, as well.  By retaining their outward vitality through the coldest and darkest

A Glimpse of Nature — Weeds in Winter: Mullein

The last time we looked at an herbaceous plant was at the end of August when the library’s jewelweed reached its floriferous peak.  It’s high time to consider another wildflower!  Yes, blossoms are in short supply right now, but the plants that create them can be very conspicuous, especially when there is snow on the ground.  This first installment of “weeds in winter” spotlights common mullein.

It’s hard to miss a plant whose stalk can be over six feet tall.   Here’s what it looks like in winter.


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