Hello, I’m Veronica

The sky is not completely dark at night. Were the sky absolutely dark, one would not be able to see the silhouette of an object against the sky.

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    Freaky Family

    First, an admission today. I deliberately scheduled this topic to give me an excuse to send birthday wishes to my sister. So:

    🎉 Happy birthday, Cory! 🎉

    I really enjoy having you for my sister.

    Now on to my actual response to today’s Blogtober prompt.

    When you look at the insect/arachnid/arthropod world, though, there aren’t a lot of family relationships in the same way we mean for human families. I mean, when I think “family,” I envision closely related individuals helping each other out, older members helping raise younger ones. Two or so parents, maybe a few grandparents, aunts or uncles, and a couple children. I also know folks who prefer their “family of choice,” longtime friends and/or lovers who’ve become as close and supportive as that network of relatives is supposed to be.

    But many insects don’t parent their young much more than making sure they have a good source of food: either the plant where the eggs are laid, as butterflies & moths do, or provisioning the nest chamber with paralyzed spiders, as some hornets do. The closest behavior to a mammal-type family might be in the social insects: ants, termites, some bees (such as honey bees) and some wasps. One or more queens lay eggs, one group of daughters tends the eggs while another group forages for food. These kinds of insects are called eusocial (see the wikipedia page here for more information). They’re kind of like really huge extended families. I think I would be completely overwhelmed living in a colony like that. Can you imagine having dozens or even hundreds of sisters/siblings, all of you living wing to wing and buzzing together all the time? It might be nice to have so many partners working alongside you, all of you having a shared purpose. But I admit, the introvert side of me is just overwhelmed.

    But another kind of arthropod is different, and still reminiscent of the human family concept. A mother wolf spider carries her egg sac around as she hunts. Then when the eggs hatch, she carries the dozens of tiny spider babies on her back until the babies are grown enough to be on their own. Pretty cool! I once encountered a fairly large spider on a night walk, took a quick cell phone photo, and only later noticed the glnts of light from all the tiny eyes looking back at me from atop the spider’s abdomen! So cool. Wolf spiders don’t spin webs, hunting their prey rather than waiting to trap them. I’ve often encountered wolf spiders while weeding my garden. They’re more than welcome to carry their families through my yard!

    Look at all those little glinting eyes on her back! What a good mom.

    I am grateful to my own family for sometimes carrying me on their figurative backs, when I needed it. My friends who’ve done the same, thank you as well. I hope someday to emulate a mother wolf spider, and be able to carry some of you when you need it. But hopefully, not all of you at once! 😁


  • Ghosts

    The splash page for this blog’s first incarnation

    What is a ghost, anyway? The spirit remaining of something that no longer has a corporeal body. In a way, books are kind of like ghosts— messages sent to us from beyond the grave. Ghosts also still interact with the living world after their bodies have died. So a remnant blog is quite like that.

    Although I’d intended to migrate all my first posts over here from my original site at Blogger, it looks like that’s not going to happen. I found instructions to migrate content from Blogger to WordPress, and was all ready to do that… until I tried to log into Blogger. Then I was foiled by the two-factor identification.

    I started the original blog at www.contentednaturalist.blogspot.com several years ago. I used my cell phone number as my primary contact, and eventually added my (then) husband’s number as a backup. But within the past year I left said husband, and changed my number.

    So now I have no way to fulfill Blogger’s two-factor authentication. It keeps sending texts to a number I have no access to! And the backup number is my ex’s. I can’t change either my primary or secondary contact with Blogger because I don’t have access to the old phone. Arrgh.

    Anyway, since I intend this to be a continuation of the first Contented Naturalist, I encourage you to go read my old posts there. Maybe someday I’ll be able to move them here. For now they’re just poor little ghosts haunting the edges of the internet.


  • Intro to Blogtober 2021

    List of prompts for Blogtober challenge. One prompt per day in October: 1. Intro to Blogtober; 2. Ghosts; 3. Freaky Family; 4. Monsters; 5. Midnight; 6. Lurking; 7. Color: orange; 8. Masked; 9. Owls; 10. Spiders; 11. Decay; 12. Transformation; 13. Poison; 14. Foul Odor; 15. Rising from the grave; 16. Death; 17. Snakes; 18. Scavengers; 19. Blood; 20. Haunting; 21. Zombies; 22. Color: black; 23. Shrieks; 24. Slimy; 25. Maze; 26. Harvest; 27. Bones; 28. Killers; 29. Moon; 30. Crows; 31. Sweets

    Happy October, all! Welcome to Blogtober 2021. This is a blog challenge that I’m using to help me restart both this blog in general, and my own blog habits specifically.

    You’ll notice a few things are different for The Contented Naturalist. I switched platforms as of a few days ago. Blogger no longer supports following by email, so I decided it was finally time.

    If you’re new here, or it’s been long enough that you want a refresher, I mostly post about nature. Topics include where and how I find and engage with the natural world, enjoyable excursions (and sometimes failed ones too), observations and musings. I especially love insects, spiders, other arthropods—beetles, butterflies, moths, anything with more than four legs. I am not a morning person, and when I discovered that bugs got up at a much more reasonable time than the proverbial early birds, I was hooked! My second love is tied between herps (reptiles & amphibians) and birds.

    To get things started, I created my own set of prompts for the month challenge when I couldn’t find another set that I really clicked with. If you’d like to use the list, go ahead! I’d love it if you let me know — I’d be happy to update this post with links to participating blogs. Heck, even if you decide to try the challenge but don’t have a public blog of any kind, I’d like to hear that too. We can still build our own little community.

    What can you expect for Blogtober? One post from me every single day. I’ll use the list of prompts above. Sometimes I’ll be literal, other times more figurative.

    What can you expect from The Contented Naturalist after Blogtober? Honestly, who knows. Part of my hope with this challenge is to build blogging habits that are sustainable. For the last few years I’ve often written a draft of a post, but never gotten it out of the pages of my spiral notebook afterward. So I’m experimenting with techniques and times and locations too—writing rough drafts straight onto my computer, and trying coffee shops and other places to write where I don’t have unlimited distractions like I do at my own apartment. These distractions include, but are not limited to, my young cat Luna who demands I play with her. (You can see by the photo below why I have such a hard time resisting her.) I hope I can maintain posting at least once per week after this month is done.

    I love when Luna decides it's cuddle time. How could I resist this furry face?

  • Relaunching The Contented Naturalist

    So I’m finally relaunching the blog, and simultaneously switching platforms. If you’re following me here from my original site at Blogger, welcome back! If you’re brand new to my thoughts and writing, it’s great to meet you. I hope you enjoy yourself here.

    I’m a little out of practice at this point, since it’s been a year or more since my last post at blogger. Sorry about that. So to really kickstart things, I am following a #Blogtober challenge for all of October, 2021. Yes, that means a new post every day! (Inside tip: I plan to write ahead to escape my usual last minute crunch. By the time you read a post it *should* have been finished for several days.)

    If you’re a fellow blogger, and would like to join in on the fun, let me know so I can link to your blog in my first Blogtober post! Creativity in how you interpret the prompts is encouraged. For some of the prompts I plan on being pretty literal, but for others the interpretation might be more figurative. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, since I have a long history of being goth (all through high school & college, with swirls of punk thrown in as well).

    After the challenge is over, you’ll still see me posting about nature and seasonal events. That’s my deepest passion. I’m always interested to hear your thoughts on what I write, so please feel free to contact me or leave comments. Feel free to share the challenge poster below, as well!

    Expect the first official post in a couple days!

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    Bio(logy)

    I was always a nature nerd. My favorite memories are of roaming the woods behind my house, planting things in the garden, or watching birds at the feeders. I am lucky to have a family who also all love nature. But I know not everybody has that advantage. So, consider me your nature guide-slash-mom! 🙂

    • Birds vs bugs:
      • Bugs get up at a much more reasonable hour than the proverbial early bird. I’ll watch birds at the feeders while sipping my coffee, but getting dressed enough to leave the house, let alone safely drive a car? Doubtful.
      • However, since bugs and spiders generally are dormant during the winter, I do engage in birding from time to time– in warm months to keep in practice, and in colder months to wait until the bugs come back. Luckily our winter waterfowl don’t hide in the treetops after sunrise, so I can get away with birding later in the day.
    • Garden for wildlife:
      • I used to have a medium-sized yard that I was converting from lawn to wildlife-friendlier gardens. I grew veggies and herbs to eat, plus native plants as well as some non-native flowers to help bridge gaps in the bloom calendar. Last year I moved to an apartment far above the ground, however, so I’m reduced to a few containers. I still focus on native plants because I like to support the vendors that sell them.
    • My day job: I’m a park ranger, at a location in Northern Virginia which I’m not supposed to discuss so that I can say things that aren’t supported officially by the organization. 🙂
    • I would love to hear your thoughts on my posts here, especially if I’ve affected how you think about or interact with nature in any way. As in my day job, encouraging you readers to form personal relationships with the natural world is my fondest desire. So yes, I’m totally fishing for affirmation here.

    #nature #parks


About Me

The sky is not completely dark at night. Were the sky absolutely dark, one would not be able to see the silhouette of an object against the sky.

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