The list of things that can now prompt me to have RotE feels is ridiculous. I mean, wolves, fine. Puppies. Dragons. Great, fair enough. Woodcarving? Sailing ships? Necklaces of wooden beads? Hmm. But it doesn’t stop there.
Hunting cats, honeybees. Candles. Blue earrings. Anything black-and-white, any form of motley. Barges. Glaciers. Illegitimacy. Tattoos of plants. Axes. Harps. Ferrets. Pirates. Stags. The colour blue. Fruit knives. Ravens. Cold. Heat. Sleeping. Eating.
In this week’s Spotlight essay, Exploring Alaska’s Roadside Glaciers, Emily Epstein features Anchorage-based photographer Mark Meyer, who races against climate change to photograph as many of Alaska’s glaciers as possible.
A hiker photographs the opening of a moulin—a tunnel that courses though the glacier—in the ceiling of a cave under the Mendenhall Glacier, June 16, 2014. Glacial caves are constantly changing; this cave collapsed a few weeks after this photograph was taken. (Mark Meyer)
An ice wall and exposed crevasse in the Matanuska Glacier, July 22, 2016. (Mark Meyer)
Early morning in front of the Worthington Glacier near Valdez, July 3, 2016. This is the view from an observation deck that is just a short walk from a parking lot and a paved trail. (Mark Meyer)
Ice climbers near the bottom of the ice falls on the Matanuska Glacier, July 22, 2016. During the summer months, guided ice-climbing trips—ranging from simple introductions to the sport to all-day, intensive courses—are available from local guides. (Mark Meyer)
The glaciers don’t crush all the rocks they transport. Those that remain intact are deposited as the glacier retreats and are known as “erratics.” Erratics can range in size from enormous boulders the size of buildings to small boulders, like this one near the terminus of the Matanuska Glacier, July 29, 2009. (Mark Meyer)
A climber scales the face of one of the Matanuska Glacier seracs, July 22, 2016. (Mark Meyer)
An ice “beach” along a supra-glacial lake on the Matanuska Glacier, July 2009. Lakes of melt water often form on glaciers; they can be stable and last for years or ephemeral, quickly draining when crevasses open under the surface. (Mark Meyer)
A guide uses crampons to climb over a moulin on the Mendenhall Glacier, June 16, 2014. Moulins form when melt water and runoff find small cracks and depressions in the glacial surface and erode the ice, creating tunnels. The moulins can be dangerous and extremely deep, leading into the internal plumbing of the glacier. (Mark Meyer)
A hiker (bottom right) is dwarfed by the massive, heavily crevassed ice fall where the Harding Icefield begins its descent into Exit Glacier, August 27, 2016. (Mark Meyer)
Helicopters ferry tourists above the Mendenhall Glacier for aerial views, July 26, 2012. Although several vistas are reachable by foot, many visitors opt to go up in helicopters—a quicker, if more expensive, option. (Mark Meyer)
Jessica Taft pauses above the Harding Icefield, August 27, 2016. The ice field is thousands of feet thick, but it does not completely cover the mountains; those peaks that stick through are called “nunataks,” from the Inuit word for “lonely peak.” (Mark Meyer)
When people compare INFPs with snowflakes, they all seem to forget what snowflakes can do. Treat them wrong and snowflakes will avalanche with the force to destroy villages and remodel entire mountains. Given time snowflakes can compress and crystallise, forming glaciers that slowly and irreversibly change the landscape of entire countries. They can cover the land and create a scene so beautiful as to render even the best mind speechless. Never underestimate the power of the snowflakes.
Okay, so I think we all know dragons are cool, but why are they always big red fiery things breathing smoke everywhere?
Like, why can’t we have mountain dragons made out of stone, with rough grey skin that blends into rocks, with great jagged stones along their spines, with glaciers forming on their huge hilly backs, eyes burning like magma and coloured ores worked into their scales, sat on huge hoards of shiny stones.
Or huge fishlike ocean dragons with glittering scales and gills, roaring black ink into the waves, with barnacles from the deepest fathoms clinging to their bodies, pale eyes shining through kelp forests, fins instead of wings that guide them into the depths.
Swamp dragons, long and grey like fallen logs, with winding treelike limbs wrapped in black mangrove branches, murky water dripping from their wings, blooming flowers and green lily-pads growing on their backs, ferns and marshy growths up their horns, and snakelike eyes guiding them through the grey waters.
Domesticated house-dragons no bigger than a greyhound, scratching shiny white scales with their back legs, flapping trim little wings as they lie sleepily on hoards of cushions, snoring steamy rings, devouring treats whilst their tiny claws are trimmed.
Wind dragons made of wispy clouds, changing shape as the breeze forms their huge wide wings and long winding tails, breathing rain and smoke and hail into the currents of the air, soaring up through the clear atmosphere, eyes bluer and purer than the sky.
Dragons of the daytime, gleaming every colour, blue as the sky and gold as the sun and green as the grass, roasting in the warmth of midday, hoarding daisy-chains and rose petals, and somersaulting in the flowery meadows.
Or dragons of the night, made of something deeper than shadow, wings wide enough to wrap up the world in eternal midnight, eyes pale and cold like stars, roars echoing in the darkness, crescent horns great and curved like the dark side of the moon.
And space dragons, so huge they have tiny moons orbiting them, breathing out clouds of gas and dust that form huge swirling nebulae, wings dotted with glowing stars, soaring in the dark spaces between solar systems, roaring showers of meteors and blazing comets out into distant galaxies.
These ice caves were formed by streams flowing through glacier fields at the bottom level of the Mutnovsky volcano in northern Russia. Although the cave is only 300 meters (984 feet) long, it is exquisitely beautiful - during the summer, the roof of the cave becomes translucent, creating an attractive mosaic of different colors.
It started about 8 years ago… I was always interested in botany and was taking a course at our local Community College, when I stumbled across the ever most inspiring class called “The Natural History of Rochester” taught by the genius Steve Daniel. This professor knew everything growing, forming and singing in the natural world around us. He inspired me to take a deeper look outside of the Plant Kingdom and dwell deeper into other realms. One class though was the trigger… we went to a local park that is one of the only places in Western New York that has naturally occuring ponds that were once formed by glaciers 12,000 years ago, on that day we found over a hundred different varieties of Fungi and about 40 pounds worth that were edible. I was like, “Are you serious? There’s free food by the pounds in the forest? Breakfast, Lunch and DInner!” At first it was all about the food aspect but the more I studied and became immersed into Fungi I realized they held secrets to food sovereignty, health and becoming closer to the natural world.
What is your most fond foraging experience?
Oh dear, how do I count thy ways?? Every experience is amazing. Its always great finding a huge haul the second you walk into the forest. Its almost like welcome gift by the forest faeries or something. But as I have already mentioned, I live in the Great Lakes bio-region in Rochester NY. Where the weather in early spring can be either a foot of snow still or eighty degrees. Last spring, in early May we had classic mid Spring temperature, blooming Lilacs and Magnolias all around, temperatures in the favor of the growing season ahead. One day, we decide to take a hike to a new woodlot to look for the elusive Morel. Which, at that time, I still have not had the privilege to find and try. Well, that day was a warning of high winds and a blizzard!! Yet we still hike and are on our hands and knees in the under brush, plucking our first Morels we have ever found! Days before we are sunbathing and that day, wet, cold, snow is hitting our faces, and we are wrapped in wool, romping around the woods with a basket filled with our first Morels ever!! Oh the glory!
Do you have a favorite mushroom?
Its hard to pin point a favorite! Believe it or not I love finding Amanitas, of all kinds, A. muscaria for the sense that THIS mushroom may have created consciousness as we know it and A. phalloides for being a potent killer, the toughest mushroom in the forest. That it has the power to take life is SO powerful and to be in its presence is quite humbling. But this past fall I was in the Pacific Northwest and found my first cauliflower mushroom or Sparassis crispa! Lordy lord what a beauty and a delicious find. I have to say this species might be my new favorite edible out there. But the list could go on..and on..
Is there a mushroom you are really wanting to find?
Hmmm…Well my love affair for Amanitas make it tempting to find an edible variety out there. My family originates from the mountains of Greece and when I visit there, the natives always harp that the Amanita caesarea is the best. Alas, when I have gone to visit, its not in season. One day!! I shall eat an Amanita! But runner up would be Lepiota americana. I feel like Ive found these dozens of times but havent had the proper IDing or confidence that it was what it was, so I’ve always tossed these potential edibles to the compost pile. As they say: When in doubt, throw it out!
Want to be interviewed? Answer the questions above & include a favourite picture of yourself foraging or mushrooms you have picked and submit! If you don’t have a tumblr, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure to include a link to your tumblr or any sites of yours that you want to share. Interviews are posted on Tuesdays whenever possible.
Medial moraines are formed where two smaller glaciers join. They are a product of the accumulation of debris carved from valley walls as a glacier progresses through a valley.
This is the head of the Matanuska Glacier, the starting point for the glacier’s ice on its 27 mile (43km) trek to the base of the valley where the Matanuska River begins. At its widest the glacier is 4 miles (6km) across. On average, the glacier moves 1 foot (30cm) per day. It takes the ice 250 years to move from the head of the glacier to its terminus.
The Faroe Islands are found in-between Norway and Iceland. They originally formed from volcanism as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge began to open the North Atlantic, but today they’re stranded and volcanically inactive. The lava flows are being gradually eaten away by the ocean and by glaciers, forming spectacular cliffs and fjords seen in this video.
Birds are an important part of every ecosystem. Using a milk carton and scissors, create your own bird feeder and discover the diversity of your local bird population by watching as they eat. Pay close attention to the different sizes, shapes, feather colors, beaks, and habits of your feathered visitors, and become a local bird expert!
Every rock has a story to tell. Rocks hold evidence that helps us figure out how mountains formed, where glaciers once flowed over the United States, or what kinds of plants and animals lived on the Earth. Rocks show us how the Earth has changed and how it’s still changing, even today! They give us important clues about the Earth’s history. Start your own rock collection and begin learning about rocks just by looking at them.
Take a look out your window. What do you see? Is it sunny or cloudy? Clear or rainy? Windy or calm? Weather happens in the atmosphere, or the air around us. The conditions in the atmosphere are always changing: it can be hot or cold, wet or dry, moving or still. Make your own weather station to gather data about your local weather.
Scientists learn about animals by observing them and from analyzing their DNA. Starting your own field journal is the first step towards understanding the wildlife in your area. Learn how to start your own field journal.
Striking a yoga pose at Big 4 Ice Cave
Photo by @salvarezphoto (Stephen Alvarez)
Avalanche debris from Washington’s Big Four mountain form the lowest level glacier in the lower 48 states. The yawning and dangerous entrance to the ice cave proves too tempting and many venture inside in spite of the threat of collapse.
@thephotosociety by natgeo
Three of North America’s five Great Lakes are pictured in this Envisat image: Lake Huron (left), Lake Ontario (right) and lake Erie (bottom).
About 100 000 years ago, a major ice sheet formed over most of Canada and part of the US. As the ice sheet formed, giant glaciers flowed into the land carving out valleys and levelling mountains.
Some 14 000 years ago, higher temperatures began to melt the ice sheet, and meltwater filled the small and large holes left by the glaciers. Many of these holes today still contain water and form the thousands of lakes of the central USA and Canada. The biggest remnants of this process are the Great Lakes.
Covering an area of over 244 000 sq km and containing about 22 600 cubic km of water, together the Great Lakes form the largest connected area of fresh, surface water on Earth. The only place where more fresh water is contained is in the polar ice caps.
They have played an important role in North America’s economic development by providing a transportation system between the agricultural and mining regions on the western shores with the market centres on the East Coast. The ability to ship materials such as coal, iron and ore also gave rise to the steel and automobile industries in the area. Detroit – nicknamed ‘Motor City’ – is located on the Detroit River (lower left).
This image was acquired on 6 March 2010. Snow cover is evident across the land, and we can see ice build-up along some of the lakes’ edges.
A green algal bloom is also visible in Lake Erie. These toxic blooms have been a problem for the lake in recent years. Caused by heightened levels of phosphorus – found in fertilisers and common household products – finding its way into the water, these blooms have increased the size of the lake’s low-oxygen ‘dead zone’.