Welcome August!

On the first Wednesday of each month we like to pause and take a look at what’s going on in the world around us, with a particular focus on animal activity, celestial events, and our farmers’ fields.

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As I sat down to write this post, I had lump in my throat realizing that summer was almost over, but then pulled myself together and remembered that for most of our childhoods, August always represented the peak of summer. We still had one (two if we were lucky) week of beach vacation on the calendar. At home days were spent outside at the city pool with afternoons on the soccer fields. And in the evenings our dinners usually included something just picked from our Pop’s garden.  So, with that in mind, I’m not going to let this summer fade away, and I hope you won’t either. Let’s fill it with sun, water(melon), and grilled veggies.

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Earth and Sky

Throughout the summer season, we’ve been following the migrations of Africa’s wildebeest, North America’s Porcupine Caribou, and (the world’s?) Arctic Terns.

Wildebeest

Continuing their clockwise migration, the first of the wildebeest are crossing the border from Tanzania into Kenya. Their August location is marked by the red shading in the image below. They will stay in Kenya on the Maasai Mara Reserve through October before returning south.

 

Arctic Tern

The Arctic tern is just beginning its 21,500 mile migration south (the green lines in the image above) from Greenland to Antarctica, although, this is not a single direct flight. They have a favored stopover location in the Newfoundland Basin of the North Atlantic where nutrient rich waters provide a source of fuel for the journey ahead.

Caribou

The caribou’s movement during this month is less precise, as their migration south may begin anytime from late August through October. The most common movements observed by the caribou during August is a vigorous shaking of their head, stomping of their feet, and racing wildly from one point to another on the tundra. What are they doing? Trying to avoid the warble and nose-bot flies. As you’ll see these flies each carry out their own migrations on the caribou during this month.

 

The warble fly lays its eggs on the fur of the caribou. When the larvae hatch, they burrow under the caribou’s  skin, moving under their skin to the animal’s back, once their, they form a capsule around themselves and then cut a breathing hole through the caribou’s  skin. The larva will remain under the caribou’s back skin until spring when they cut a hole and drop out of the caribou to mature into adult flies. The bot-nose larvae migrate through the caribou’s nasal passage until they reach the entrance to the animal’s throat. The nose-bot larvae will remain there until spring, growing so large that they can begin to interfere with the caribou’s breathing! Whatever you do, don’t do an image search for either fly.

Celestial Events

August’s full Sturgeon moon will take place on the 10th. One of our favorite meteor showers, the Perseids, peaks this year on August 12th and 13th, producing up to a meteor per minute on these evenings! Fingers crossed that the skies are clear (we spent a few rainy years parked at the beach cursing the clouds). On August 18th look for the conjunction of Jupiter and Venus; the bright planets will be clustered together in the eastern sky just before sunrise. Neptune will be at its closest point to Earth on August 29th. It still just appear as a small blue dot in the sky, but special none-the-less.

Fields and Festivals

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Just when you think the markets couldn’t be any richer, August’s produce is here to blow us away. Have you been to your local farmer’s market? What’s in season near you? We’ve had a run of delicious melons lately, and I hear that the Colorado peaches are about to hit their prime (you didn’t know we had the most delicious peaches this side of the Mississippi, did you?). It’s a good thing too, because Little A goes crazy when we’re shopping for produce ~ trying to sample everything before take it to the register! August is going to be one big peach-fest in our house.

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If celebrating the season’s bounty is your thing, we found some festivals that highlight everything from peaches and watermelon to beef, beans, and shrimp!

And if you’re looking for arts and music, here’s what we’ve found:

As usual, we’ve just touched the tip of the iceberg with these lists. We tend to favor our home states when researching events, but if you hear about anything worth publicizing, please let us know.

Happy August ~ make these your best summer days yet!

Wildebeest image from here. Arctic Tern migration from here. Photo of warble fly from here. Image of deer head dissection sourced from Wikipedia.
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