Poem of the Week: Snufkin’s Song

This week isn’t actually a poem, but a song from Tove Jansson’s Moomin books from my favorite character, Snufkin.

Snufkin by Tove Jansson

“I meander through the forests in the early spring when Nature is putting on her greatest show. Under limpid blue skies and clouds so white and striking, the earth breathes and emerges from beneath the snow. I wander where I will and I will be the one to choose. I’ll play my harp all night and day, or not if it feels wrong. Nothing do I own, so there’s nothing I can lose. I need to have the freedom to find my own song.

I sing a beautiful ode to a babbling brook and the moon will hear the language of quietness. The strings of my harp will snare birds…

Liked this? Take a second to support Kelly Brenner on Patreon!

Continue reading →

Field Journal: Seals and Slugs

When a couple of Twitter friends met in Bali recently to search for invertebrates together, I was naturally overcome with jealousy missing out on their fun adventures finding nudibranchs and all kinds of fascinating insects. We decided that since all of us invertebrate geeks couldn’t get together in person to search for spineless creatures, we’d do it remotely. So Maureen Berg, Franz Anthony and I created #InverteFest, a time when we could all go on an invertebrate hunt wherever we were in the world and share what we found on Twitter. We invited everyone to join in on the weekend of September 28th and were overwhelmed by the response.

Liked this? Take a second to support Kelly Brenner on Patreon!

Continue reading →

Field Journal: Puurijarvi-Isosuo National Park

This summer when I was in Finland, I had the opportunity to do some solo exploring from Helsinki so I planned out a four day trip that would take me to as many of Finland’s national parks. My first destination was Puurijarvi-Isosuo National Park, a two and a half hour drive northwest from Helsinki. Some of Finland’s national parks are large and you could spend days walking the various trails, but others are smaller. Puurijarvi-Isosuo National Park is the latter. It only has just one, 2 km long loop trail with a couple of short offshoots from it.

Puurijarvi-Isosuo National Park is set in the middle of farmland, one of the last remaining patches of mire habitat in the area. When I arrived there was one other car in the parking…

Liked this? Take a second to support Kelly Brenner on Patreon!

Continue reading →

Poem of the Week: Death of a Naturalist

By Seamus Heaney

All year the flax-dam festered in the heart
Of the townland; green and heavy headed
Flax had rotted there, weighted down by huge sods.
Daily it sweltered in the punishing sun.
Bubbles gargled delicately, bluebottles
Wove a strong gauze of sound around the smell.
There were dragonflies, spotted butterflies,
But best of all was the warm thick slobber
Of frogspawn that grew like clotted water
In the shade of the banks. Here, every spring
I would fill jampotfuls of the jellied
Specks to range on window sills at home,
On shelves at school, and wait and watch until
The fattening dots burst, into nimble
Swimming tadpoles. Miss Walls would tell us how
The daddy frog was called a bullfrog
And how he croaked and how the mammy frog
Laid hundreds of little eggs and this was
Frogspawn. You could tell the weather by frogs too
For they were yellow in the sun and brown
In rain.

Then one…

Liked this? Take a second to support Kelly Brenner on Patreon!

Continue reading →

Diary of an Urban Wild Garden: Wildlife Pond

The birds and the bees are great, but what I’ve wanted since I started transforming a featureless backyard into wildlife habitat, was a pond. I have long been fascinated by dragonflies (they will feature in a chapter in my upcoming book Nature Obscura: A City’s Hidden Natural World), and I wanted to bring them to my own backyard so I could watch them. Over the years, dragons had visited the yard, usually females who would rest on the fence or on a branch for a time, or darners and saddlebags cruising over the neighborhood, but I wanted to offer habitat for the full life cycle of the dragon.

When we moved in, the backyard was 2/3 lawn with a lone forsythia, and 1/3 deck. The deck was a huge wasted space and a hideout for rats so about three years ago we began slowly…

Liked this? Take a second to support Kelly Brenner on Patreon!

Continue reading →

Poem of the Week: Strange Sea

By Edith Södergran

(In two translations from Swedish to English.)

Version 1

Strange fishes glide in the depths,
unfamiliar flowers glow on the shore;
I have seen red and yellow and all the other colours, –
but the gaudy gay sea is the most dangerous to look upon,
it makes one thirsty and wide-awake for waiting adventures:
what happened in the fairy-tale will happen also to me!


Version 2

Implausible fish bloom in the depths,
mercurial flowers light up the coast;
I know red and yellow, the other colors,—

but the sea, det granna granna havet, that’s most dangerous
                                                                 …

Liked this? Take a second to support Kelly Brenner on Patreon!

Continue reading →

How to Find Tardigrades

They have become infamous as some of the toughest organisms on earth. They can survive the vacuum of space, they withstand doses of radiation that would kill humans, they can dry out or be frozen and survive for years in that state. They are tardigrades and they live on your roof, on your driveway and in your lawn.

I’ve been asked many times how I find tardigrades so here are directions to find your own.

Tardigrade with eggs

TOOLS

MICROSCOPE: The first thing you’ll need is a microscope. Tardigrades are tiny, but you can see them fairly well with a basic dissecting microscope. I don’t have anything fancy, just a simple scope with a top and bottom light. The bottom light is helpful because tardigrades are transparent and…

Liked this? Take a second to support Kelly Brenner on Patreon!

Continue reading →

Book Review: Wild Geese by Nan Shepherd

Sitting on a bookshelf in my study, is a framed £5 note. The specific note holds no special value to me, but who is on it does. Nan Shepherd may not be a household name, but she has finally been recognized enough, at least in Scotland, to be featured on the Bank of Scotland’s £5 note. I first read her most well known book, The Living Mountain, during a trip to the Scottish Highlands a few years ago, where I found her book in a local bookshop in the very Cairngorms she loved.

Sometimes we read a book at exactly the right time and had we read it at another period in our lives, we may have enjoyed or appreciated it, but missed the significance of the words. There’s…

Liked this? Take a second to support Kelly Brenner on Patreon!

Continue reading →