Turkey’s flying, Puckered soils, and a Tiny Green Machine

Dear Ecology friends,

You may have heard a strange distance gobbling from somewheres up on high in the past few days. I have. So did my little neighbor girl. She said, “Look Mr. Leki Gobble Turkeys”. High, high overhead they hovered, in ranks of 30, 40, 50, sometimes circling, catching the wind, and then streaming again southward. She thought they were turkeys fleeing Thanksgiving. But they were Sandhill cranes making their annual pilgrimage to Florida. The sound of their chorus is unforgettable.  They were probably heading to the Jasper-Pulaski Wildlife area in Indiana, a roosting and resting sight. There, the birds congregate at dusk, to spend the night in collective safety. The sight of them arriving there from all directions, coming in for a landing with their long legs extended down, and the great collective roar of their voices is a great hope-giving uplift. It is a marker of the season, Fall passing into winter. Another sign is the crunch, the feel and sound of soil beneath your feet after the first hard frost. The soil “puckers” as bits of moisture freeze and expand, opening tiny cavities in the ground. It is the perfect time to sow native seed: the tiny crevices offering winter protection and await a blanket of snow.

For the past month, egged on by the shortening daylight, the trees are undergoing their almost magical transformation: the life-giving, energy-harnessing chlorophyll is being broken down, and stored safely in the tree’s trunk and underground, to be re-assembled in spring. Left behind are the other pigments: the  Carotenoids, yellow and orange, and the Anthocyanins ~ purple and red.

That’s what I’ll be teaching the First Grade today, our first-in-class lesson in our year-long study of trees. I wrote this song during remote learning, to raise our awareness and appreciation of chlorophyll:

Tiny Green Machine

Chlorophyll Breakdown (Lyrics)

By P. Leki

Chlorophyll is green

A tiny green machine

It lives inside of leaves

And makes food for the trees.

When Autumn comes around

The chlorophyll’s broken down

It flows into the trunk

And underneath the ground.

That’s the way it works

That’s the way things go

That’s the way things end

That’s the way things grow.

A blessed holiday to all,

Be well, and

Stay well.

Mr. Leki