Category Archives: nature

Fall-ing for Autumn

In an effort to add a little more color and beauty into the world, every week on Pinterest I pick one of my favorite things and create a a new board to house all the images I find. On Tuesdays I make a blog post devoted to the theme.

Autumn Equinox

Yesterday was the Autumnal Equinox. The word equinox comes from the Latin words for “equal night.” At the fall and spring equinoxes the hours of daylight are equal to the hour of darkness. This happens because the Sun crosses the celestial equator. Autumn is a time of change as leaves change color, days grow shorter and temperature begin to drop.

Why do leaves change color? The bright pigments carotene (yellow) and anthocyanin (red) you see so vividly during the fall are actually present all year. They are simple masked by chlorophyll (green). When the temperature starts dropping, a barrier forms between the twigs of trees and the leaves preventing sugars from exiting and nutrients from entering the leaves. This results in the chlorophyll breaking down, leaving behind these other pigments.

Follow my Autumn board on Pinterest.//

Have a terrific Tuesday!

Roasted Veggie Quinoa Salad (but mostly bugs)

My job with Parks and Open Space requires a lot of hiking. And when I say a lot I mean A LOT. On average I hike 4 miles every work day. And let me tell you the main thing I have noticed on my many, lengthy hikes through the plains and foothills of Boulder County. There are approximately thousands of different kinds of insects out there in the great outdoors (for once I may have been modest).

I promise there is a recipe in this post; it’s Food Fun Friday after all. I should be giving you a recipe or at least discussing why the food you’re eating is probably killing you slowly or something. First I would like to thoroughly ruin your appetite (just be glad I didn’t include pictures) by talking about insects, the least appetizing things I can think of.

Just a preview of what’s to come

I am going to be highly non-scientific for a minute so entomologists cover your ears. I have classified these insects I have encountered into five categories: the gross ones, the lovely ones, the dumb ones, the mean ones and the pesky ones.

The Gross Ones

These are the bugs that make me squirm: Spiders (I know not insects) and earwigs. But mostly spiders.

The Lovely Ones

The only bugs I will classify here are butterflies (or flutterbys as they should be called) because they are very nice to look at and they are curious but shy creatures who want to know what your business is in their neighborhood but won’t stay too close.

The Dumb Ones

Bugs that fall under this category include grasshoppers, cicadas and flies. I can’t tell you how many cicadas I have seen fly head first into the side of a hill or a tree trunk. They make a surprisingly loud crunch on impact then they take off again, apparently unscathed, on their journey. While I do enjoy the variety of colors you find, grasshoppers are especially dumb. when frightened, are critters that take flight (rather than stay and fight) and for some reason seem to think jumping right into my shins is the way toward safety. I’m sure you’ve used an outhouse at a trailhead at some point and know them to be often full of flies. Well they all panic when you come in and you hold the door open for them to escape into the wild and they just fly around frantically and never find the source of the fresh air.

The Mean Ones

This is the classification that encompasses wasps, hornets and biting flies. The ones that are just out to get you and leave a painful blemish behind. I haven’t been stung recently but I remain wary of these nasty buggers. Biting flies remain the bane of my existence; they are all just out to get me.

The Pesky Ones

These are the insects where the word bug comes from. They just bug the heck out of you. Mosquitoes for instance are extremely persistent and have that distinct buzz that really grinds my gears. I know they are just trying to survive by sucking my precious blood but seriously do they have to leave the obnoxious itchy red bump behind? I haven’t yet figure out what kind of fly it is that likes to circle my head as I hike 20 feet before flying off but when I do, they better watch out!

So, to return from my tangential story about pests; here is the promised recipe for quinoa and roasted vegetable salad for your enjoyment…

Start by cooking quinoa to package specifications. Chop up any veggies you find in your pantry. I used zucchini, summer squash, onions, carrots and potatoes. Toss all the vegetables together in a large bowl with 3 cloves of minced garlic, 1 Tbsp Herbs de Provence (buy herb mix or make your own), 2 Tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tsp salt. Then spread in a baking dish.

Bake for 30 minutes at 450°F stirring halfway through. Mix veggies in with quinoa and lemon dressing (juice and zest of one lemon, 2 Tbsp EVOO, 1 Tbsp Herbs de Provence) serve with chicken, or other protein, or by itself, whatever you want… what do I know? All I want to talk about is insects.

buzzz buzzz buzzzzzzzzz