Our stone wall features a female garter snake on some mornings. These live-bearing snakes spend much of the day basking, incubating their developing young at between 84 and 90 degrees.

Newly metamorphosed green frogs stay within jumping distance of water, ready to splash in if startled.

Wondering where the chipmunks went? They may take a break about now and stay underground to eat stored nuts and seeds. They will be back, no doubt

The white-faced hornet nests in our greenhouse are getting bigger, as a growing population of workers adds layers of paper, made of chewed up weathered wood, to the outside. They’re testing the limits of peaceful coexistence.

Giant puffballs may not be the best tasting mushrooms in the world, but they are pretty good. (Butter, salt, pepper.) Plus, sometimes they are huge. When young, the pure white insides look like stryofoam balls. Older ones may be wormy.

Goldenrod is an important late-season source of pollen for honey bees and many other insects. Using field trials and historic data, it’s been shown that when CO2 levels are high, goldenrod pollen has much less protein than it did a few decades ago when levels were lower. Not good news.

Vermont Almanac Welcomes Marjorie Ryerson to the Board

According to a recent National Geographic story by Paul Salopek, less than one percent of the world’s total water supply is available to drink. The next line editorializes: “And yet, we squander this treasure like fools lost in a dessert.” The piece goes on to document a water crisis that’s unfolding in India.

We’re so lucky to live in a temperate place that’s water rich, and yet that’s not to say we’re immune to water issues. The newscast this morning announced beach closures on Lake Champlain due to cyanobacteria blooms that are fed and emboldened by land use practices. Our moderate drought, coupled with an August water table that’s usually low, has reduced a lot of streams to a trickle. Just the other day a friend used his well to fill a new pool, and a couple hours in the water slowed to a trickle and turned rust colored. Oops. It’s an illustrative story – kind of the world in microcosm.

Spend some time with Marjorie Ryerson and water will inevitably come up. It’s been a muse to her for years, and was the focus of her 2004 book Water Music. In that compilation, she teamed up with 66 musicians from around the world to celebrate water in photographs and words and music. The project grew into global Water Music Project (www.water-music.org).

Marjorie has been a professional writer, photographer, editor for years, and was a legislator in the relatively recent past, so a lot of Vermonters will know her this way. Those who studied writing at Johnson, Castleton, or Middlebury’s Bread Loaf campus over the past two decades will know her as a teacher. She’s been an outspoken advocate for the Vermont State College system in the midst of its funding crisis – it’s an issue that ties directly to rural Vermont in the fact that Vermont Technical College (originally the Vermont School of Agriculture) still counts farming and Ag among its core programs. It’s how many first-generation-to-go-to-college students get there start.

It’s a pleasure and a privilege to welcome Marjorie to our Board of Directors.

Maybe it’s the heat. All things green seem to be extra large this year, despite it being droughty. Wild raspberries are also plumper than in years past

Brooks that often dry up in late summer around here have dried up. It is getting closer to late summer than I like to acknowledge,and it has been abnormally droughty.

Insect frass all over your picnic table this year? You’re not alone. Matt Ayers, an ecologist at Dartmouth is happy to see them. He writes that caterpillar abundance fluctuates by 20-fold, depending on the year. It’s all good, not an outbreak, and many different species of caterpillar are providing food for birds this year.