Nature

Editorial: Autumn’s changing ways

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Sept. 18
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As this newspaper was going to press came word of a new government census: Exactly how many stink bugs are there? That’s kind of like asking how hot the sun is. As a harbinger of autumn, we now have stink bugs instead of apples.
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Wild Ideas: Sorting out the sumacs as summer subsides

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Sept. 18
Smooth sumac can start turning color as early as August, and by mid-October can take on a variety of hues, as with the smooth sumac above. Photo by Pam Owen.

Sumacs spark a wide range of reactions, from love to loathing to confusion. That confusion comes mainly from trying to sort out the three larger, most common species here — the smooth, staghorn and winged sumacs, which can easily be confused with each other and with trees.
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Grown, picked, crafted, aged, roasted (and more) in Rapp

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Sept. 11
A Jersey cow takes a break at Reality Farm in Gid Brown Hollow, one of the 33 venues of the Sept. 27-28 Farm Tour.

Scheduled this year for Sept. 27-28, the 2014 Rappahannock County Farm Tour & Festival is bigger than ever, with 33 venues offering almost three dozen ways to learn and have fun.
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The Rapp for Sept. 11

A family of Rough Riders signals their readiness for last year’s event (from left): Sabrina, Sherry, Madeleine, Ava and Chris Hayes.

Second Friday at the Library features a talk by Cliff Miller, the annual Rough Ride is Sept. 20, CAST performs “Much Ado About Nothing,” RCHS hosts a trivia night, CDSMP discusses how to manage chronic diseases and more in this week’s Rapp column.
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Photo: Scouting out the steam train

Photo by Roger Pierson

Clark Hollow Ramblings: Fall is in the air

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Sept. 11

Fall is on the way, though there are still some summer doldrums to get through. At least the garden’s bountiful crop continues, writes Richard Brady in this week’s Clark Hollow Ramblings.
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Wild Ideas: As summer winds down, some species crank up

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Sept. 11
A tufted thyatirid or lettered habrosyne moth caterpillar on one of its hosts, the American hornbeam.

Many animals have finished reproducing for the year and are fattening up to overwinter or make their way south, while most plants have flowered and are starting to fade. But while the humid doldrums of summer’s end drag on, reproduction continues for some species.
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Bee health remains fragile

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Sept. 4
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Honey bees are dying at an alarming rate throughout Virginia, according to a Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) survey that found between last October and this April nearly 33 percent of managed honey bee colonies perished.
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Editorial: We’re special, aren’t we?

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Sept. 4
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With current Rappahannock events paralleling those in Paris and “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” perhaps it’s time to realize our community isn’t as special as we like to think.
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Clark Hollow Ramblings: Be fruitful and multiply

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Sept. 4

The extremely fruitful fruits of Richard Brady's many years of gardening in this week's Clark Hollow Ramblings.
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Wild Ideas: Beating the dog days by diving into fishes

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Sept. 4
“Freshwater Fishes of Virginia” explores the commonwealth’s 210 fish species. The cover illustration, from a watercolor by Lora L. Giessler, is courtesy of the American Fisheries Society.

With the dog days of August finally settling in last week, Pam Owen decided to visit the Rappahannock County Library’s Conservation Collection and dive into “Freshwater Fishes of Virginia,” an impressive reference that explores the 210 fish species in Virginia.
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Photo: The sunflower rises

Photo by Megan Smith

The Rapp for Aug. 21

Ella Schultz of Amissville in “The Tempest” at American Shakespeare Center’s summer-camp performances at Staunton’s Blackfriars Playhouse.

Our Fourth (Estate) Friday is cancelled, Tula’s hosts a tomato-themed dinner, tickets are going fast for this year’s Taste of Rappahannock, two local students spend their summer performing Shakespeare and more in this week’s Rapp column.
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Bright green bug proves bad as its billing

The emerald ash borer is small but its potential for damage is great.

The emerald ash borer, a visitor from Asia, is steadily eating its way through our forests. Environmental officials ordered quarantines, but the orders were ignored. Perhaps we should heed such notices, writes Tim Rowland.
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Wild Ideas: Cool, damp weather brings ’shroom bloom 

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Aug. 21
This hemlock varnish shelf mushroom, photographed along the Limberlost trail in Shenandoah National Park in May, is big and bold, thus easy to identify.

Although you can find mushrooms pretty much year round in our area, especially in shady forests, spring and fall are the prime times for ’shrooming because of the usually cool, damp weather — especially as this summer has been cooler and damper than most.
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Spectra suspends pipeline

Flickr user rickz (www.flickr.com/photos/rickz/); licensed via Creative Commons

Spectra Energy says it has suspended work on the proposed natural gas pipeline that would run through Rappahannock County.
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Photo: Uh-oh

Photo by Larry Sherertz

Wild Ideas: Butterfly numbers fall dramatically from last year

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Aug. 14
Last year the Rappahannock butterfly count reported more silvery checkerspot butterflies than any other NABA butterfly count in 2013, but the numbers fell dramatically this year.

After a steady rise in the total number of butterflies recorded during four years of the Rappahannock butterfly count, breaking records for two species, numbers fell dramatically this year. One familiar species, in particular, accounts for much of the boom and bust.
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Editorial: Summertime, and the livin’ is dangerous

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Aug. 7
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Rappahannock County may not have deadly rockets, roadside bombs or Ebola virus, but we do have ticks. Already transmitters of Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, now comes word of a sometimes fatal food allergy.
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Park visitor spending down but still worth $72.4 million

A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 1.14 million visitors to Shenandoah National Park in 2013 spent $72.4 million in communities near the park, down from the park’s 2012 tally.
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Five ways, and funding, for forest owners to attract quail

Bobwhite quail populations have plummeted in recent years due to loss of appropriate habitat. Now, forest landowners who want to create good habitat have a new source of funds to support them.
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Leaving Candyland

Humans are attracted to sweetness–not just in food, but in media fare. The urge to avoid bitter realities and sweets that comfort makes us vulnerable to plenty of sticky disinformation, writes Liza Field, in this examination of bees, pesticides and PR.
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Wild Ideas: Celebrating the underappreciated moth

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Aug. 7
Specimens of female (top) and male (bottom) io moths. The large io moth spreads its wings when disturbed to reveal spots that look like owl eyes, likely an adaptation to ward off predators.

In settling down to enjoy Science Friday last week, Pam Owen was surprised to learn it was National Moth Week, which explored some of the reasons why moths are the Cinderallas of the lepidoptera world.
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Photo: Eyewitness: Devastated

Photo by L. Todd Spencer for the Virginian Pilot

Clark Hollow Ramblings: Critters in the garden

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July 31

When Richard Brady built the fence around his raised bed vegetable garden, the first thing he was thinking about was keeping out the deer. Lately, however, he’s been invaded by raccoons and rabbits.
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Wild Ideas: Some frogs are landlubbers

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July 31
A small pickerel frog enjoys the moisture and the insects it attracts near the outside water tap at the author’s house.

We often think of frogs as being aquatic creatures, but many spend some or most of their lives on land, returning to water only to breed. Among these is the pickerel frog, which often turns up in Pam Owen’s yard.
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Video: Camp time at Belle Meade

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July 30

Camp counselor Joshua Lyons of Banco made this video about Belle Meade School’s summer camp program.

Editorial: In Memoriam: Listening to the landscape

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July 24
Masestro Maazel conducts a production of TBA.

Eulogies have poured forth from around the world upon the death of Lorin Maazel the weekend before last. But for us in Rappahannock County, acquainted with the Maestro’s musical genius in ways uniquely ours, any attempted homage must express his love of the land here.
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Chester Gap column for July 24

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July 24

The CGVFD’s brush truck wins first place in the Front Royal Fireman’s Parade, tickets are still available for the department’s gun raffle, bird watching season is in full swing on the mountaintop and more in this week’s Chester Gap column.
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Wild Ideas: Let me describe the bird song I heard

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July 24
Since the wood thrush normally sings its hauntingly beautiful song high in the forest canopy, spotting it can be problematic, and describing the song is equally challenging.

When Pam Owen recently awoke to what seemed like an unusual variation on a wood thrush’s song, it led her to contemplate the vagaries of trying to describe and memorize bird vocalizations.
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Washington column for July 17

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July 17
Doug Baumgardner in his office in 2010.

Doug Baumgardener’s office closes its doors, area churches sponsor a community picnic, ORMN hold a butterfly count, Trinity offers a Food Pantry drop-off box, WVFR holds its monthly buffet breakfast and more in this week’s Washington column.
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Washington column for July 10

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July 10
Artist Jill Banks paints along Main Street.

Washington hosts 14 plein air artists, the WVFR hosts its monthly all-you-can-eat breakfast and the Fourth of July was another successful show in this week's Washington column.
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Wild Ideas: Summer wildflowers and their insect fans

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July 10
One of the many native pollinators of purple coneflowers is the color-coordinated perplexing bumblebee.

Now that summer is truly here, Pam Owen headed out to see what is blooming in the meadows and along the roadsides of Rappahannock. She found a number of brightly colored blossoms, and a variety of pollinators drawn to them.
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Photo: Double rainbow?

Photo by Molly Peterson

Photos: Officially open

John Sullivan and crowd. Photo by Matt Wingfield.

Wild Ideas: The decline of the monarch

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July 3
An adult monarch on butterfly weed, in the milkweed genus. While monarch caterpillers will eat only milkweed, the adults feed on nectar and fruit from a variety of plants.

Pam Owen explores the complex life of the iconic monarch butterfly and the reasons for its 15-year population decline.
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Letter: We’ve all been down ‘This Road’ before

This song has been stuck in my head since the town hall meeting hosted by the Rappahannock News last week. I thought it might give some perspective about what seems to have drawn all of us, on all sides of the debate, to the county. I’d almost moved to Rappahannock County in the early...
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Wild Ideas: Life goes on

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June 26
A harvestman drags a struggling eight-spotted forester moth to a suitable dining spot.

Nature is amazing and endlessly fascinating, but not always pretty. Within it lie the forces of destruction as well as creation, as it constantly reminds us — and not always in subtle ways.
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Wild Ideas: Entertaining the indoor cat with cat TV

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June 19
Golda at rest, after a full schedule of cat TV, ball swatting and rug surfing.

Entertaining a cat can be not only cheap, but easy. All you need is aluminum foil, a throw rug or two and windows — or what Pam Owen thinks of as cat TV.
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The Rapp for June 12

The Gold Top County Ramblers at last year’s Castleton Festival.

Central Coffee hosts a Father’s Day bluegrass concert, RLEP hikes in memory of its former president, RappCats puts on a benefit flea market, SNP appreciates its neighbors with a fee-free day and the Democrats are seeking items for their annual yard sale in this week’s Rapp column.
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