Flowering bulbs

March 22, 2020

 Let us whir with the golden spoke-wheels

Of the sun.

For tomorrow Winter drops into the waste-basket,

              And the calendar calls it March.               

                                                                          – Amy Lowell (Lot # 3401 Bellwort Path)

The scientific definition of the beginning of spring occurs with the vernal equinox (March 20). But, locally, we have experienced snowfall on the running of five Boston Marathons (1907, 1908, 1925, 1961, and 1967) and two Boston Red Sox games in Fenway Park were snowed out on April 8th and 10th in 1996. Boston had a half-inch of snow on May 10, 1977. This year, we place great hope in Lowell’s poetic weather prognostication. For many of us, the lovely sights of the first flowers opening from bulbs are our own “signs of spring”.  Flowering bulbs, corms, and tubers, which are modified perennial, herbaceous plants, are currently coming up in numerous locations, throughout our landscape. (more…)

Story Chapel Exterior Masonry Repairs

March 12, 2020

Work will begin in February 2020 on the second phase of a two-year exterior masonry repair project at Story Chapel.  The project includes rebuilding many of the building’s stone buttresses, extensive repairs to the chapel’s chancel wall, and 100% repointing of the exterior masonry joints.  Ongoing moisture issues related to deterioration of the stonework necessitate replacement of a significant amount of the stone at the buttresses and throughout the building. 

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Big Brown Bat at Mount Auburn

March 11, 2020

Urban Bat Diversity and Activity Study, Mount Auburn Cemetery, June 5, 2019.  Lesley University researcher Chris Richardson retrieves and bands a Big Brown Bat caught in a mist net at Auburn Lake.  He then performs a physical examination of the bat, including checking its face for signs of White Nose Syndrome (look closely at its mouth and you’ll see a fragment of a beetle that the bat had captured just before being caught itself in the net), measuring its wing length and checking its wings for signs of previous infection by the fungus that causes White Nose Syndrome. 

The tiny holes visible in the bat’s wing are a sign that it had the disease but survived.  Big Brown Bats have a higher recovery rate from White Nose Syndrome than other species of bats, so Chris also collects a blood sample from this bat to add to efforts to figure out how Big Browns are able to fight off the infection.  He also swabs the bat’s face to collect any evidence it might still carry of the fungus.  The band placed on the bat’s wing has a number that will be added to a Mass Fish & Wildlife database, so that if this bat is caught again in the future, researchers will know some of its history.  The band rests securely on the wing’s bony edge like a cuff bracelet and does not pierce the wing itself.

Although gloves are worn for safety by the person handling the bat, as you can see, the research assistants are thrilled to find out how soft and silky a bat’s fur and wings are.  The bat keeps up a steady and vocal commentary of its opinion about what is happening, but is unharmed by the experience and has contributed to efforts to better understand White Nose Syndrome and how it might be contained or stopped.