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Secret Life of Insects

See what’s buzzing at the Topsham Public Library

Click the images to see closeups.
 Butterfly on purple liatris
 Bumblebee on white liatris
 Moth hiding in a yellow lily

Great Golden Digger Wasps and a Japanese Beetle share a Purple Globe Thistle 
 Japanese Beetle on purple coneflower (Echinacea)

The white dot that appears on the back of the beetle is where a Tachinid Fly glued its eggs to the beetle’s thorax.  Later the larva will hatch and bore into the beetle, which is a healthy and natural way to keep the beetle’s population at bay.

 Bumblebees on purple coneflowers (Echinacea)

Tandem Thread Waisted Wasps
These two were very camera shy!
Bumblebee and Great Golden Digger Wasp
 The black ant in the left photo is eating the sugary coating that surrounds the bud.  The bud will eventually bloom to the flower in the right photo.

The Twice Stabbed Stink Bug on lamb’s ear is about to make the leap!

What are you reading? What should I read next?

Not sure what to read next? Here’s what the TPL staff have been reading recently!

Darker Than Any Shadow by Tina Whittle: The dog days of summer have arrived, and Tai Randolph is feeling the heat. Running her uncle’s gun shop is more demanding than she ever imagined. Her best friend Rico is competing for a national slam poetry title. And Atlanta is overrun with hundreds of fame-hungry performance poets clogging all the good bars. She’s also got her brand-new relationship with corporate security agent Trey Seaver to deal with and while Tai finds him irresistibly fascinating, dating a human lie detector who can kill with his bare hands is a somewhat precarious endeavor. And then just when she thinks she might get a handle on things, one of Rico’s fellow poets is murdered . . . and Rico becomes the prime suspect.

Will Tai’s relationship with Trey survive another foray into amateur sleuthing? And even more importantly, will she?

The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks: For Durzo Blint, assassination is an art-and he is the city’s most accomplished artist. For Azoth, survival is precarious. Something you never take for granted. As a guild rat, he’s grown up in the slums, and learned to judge people quickly – and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint. But to be accepted, Azoth must turn his back on his old life and embrace a new identity and name. As Kylar Stern, he must learn to navigate the assassins’ world of dangerous politics and strange magics – and cultivate a flair for death.

The Kings and Queens of Roam by Daniel Wallace: From the celebrated author of Big Fish, an imaginative, moving novel about two sisters and the dark legacy and magical town that entwine them. Helen and Rachel McCallister, who live in a town called Roam, are as different as sisters can be: Helen older, bitter, and conniving; Rachel beautiful, naïve – and blind. When their parents die an untimely death, Rachel has to rely on Helen for everything, but Helen embraces her role in all the wrong ways, convincing Rachel that the world is a dark and dangerous place she couldn’t possibly survive on her own … or so Helen believes, until Rachel makes a surprising choice that turns both their worlds upside down.

Stoker’s Manuscript by Royce Prouty: When rare-manuscript expert Joseph Barkeley is hired to authenticate and purchase the original draft and notes for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, little does he know that the reclusive buyer is a member of the oldest family in Transylvania. After delivering the manuscript to the legendary Bran Castle in Romania, Barkeley—a Romanian orphan himself—realizes to his horror that he’s become a prisoner to the son of Vlad Dracul. To earn his freedom, Barkeley must decipher cryptic messages hidden in the text of the original Dracula that reveal the burial sites of certain Dracul family members. Barkeley’s only hope is to ensure that he does not exhaust his usefulness to his captor until he’s able to escape. Soon he discovers secrets about his own lineage that suggest his selection for the task was more than coincidence. In this knowledge may lie Barkeley’s salvation—or his doom. For now he must choose between a coward’s flight and a mortal conflict against an ancient foe.

The Black Country (The Murder Squad #2)Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad returns, in the stunning new historical thriller from the author of the acclaimed national bestseller The Yard. The British Midlands. It’s called the “Black Country” for a reason. Bad things happen there. When members of a prominent family disappear from a coal-mining village—and a human eyeball is discovered in a bird’s nest—the local constable sends for help from Scotland Yard’s new Murder Squad. Fresh off the grisly 1889 murders of The Yard, Inspector Walter Day and Sergeant Nevil Hammersmith respond, but they have no idea what they’re about to get into. Not even the arrival of forensics pioneer Dr. Bernard Kingsley seems to help. In fact, the more the three of them investigate, the more they realize they may never be allowed to leave…

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman: Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy. Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what. A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

Weird Detective: Recent Investigations edited by Paula Guran: Paranormal investigators. Occult detectives. Ghost hunters. Monster fighters. Humans who unravel uncanny crimes and solve psychic puzzles; sleuths with supernatural powers of their own who provide services far beyond those normal gumshoes, shamuses, and Sherlocks can. When vampires, werewolves, and things that go “bump” in the night are part of your world, criminals can be as inhuman as the crimes they commit, and magic can seep into the mundane – those who solve the mysteries, bring justice, or even save the world itself, might utter spells, wield wands as well as firearms, or simply use their powers of deduction. Some of the best tales of the last decade from top authors of the 21st century’s most popular genres take you down mean streets and into strange crime scenes in this fantastic compilation.

Welcome!

Welcome to the new Topsham Tales! We have changed platforms from Blogger to WordPress to enhance your blog experience.

Patterns in Nature

The patterns that can be found in nature are just amazing.  Here’s a quick video to give you a sense…

Would you like to find out what patterns you can discover?  Join us on the 20th at 1pm for the last in our nature journaling series: Patterns in Nature.

Hope to see you then!

Phenology Resources

If you missed the Phenology Nature Journaling workshop and are interested in learning more, please check out our nature journaling resources page as well as our activity download page.  

If you have tried any of our activities, we’d love to hear from you!  Share with us how you used them, any suggestions you may have, or ideas for other activities.

Have a wonderful week!

Nature Journaling Workshop, Part II: Phenology

We are so excited about the upcoming nature journaling workshop!  This is the second in our summer series and will focus on phenology.  New to phenology?  Don’t let the scientific-sounding word scare you.  It’s really quite simple.  If you’d like to read more about it before joining us, check out this post.

See you this Saturday, after the fishing rally, at 1:00!


Nature Journaling Photos and Resources

Here’s a glimpse of our Intro to Nature Journaling workshop held this past Saturday:


Micro-worlds were unveiled, often overlooked details noticed with new eyes and excitement, and maybe even a new species of spider discovered!

Thank you to all who joined us.  What a perfect it day it was to be out exploring the gardens!

P.S.  We’ve created a new page on our blog dedicated to nature journaling resources.  You are sure to find lots of useful information…  Please be sure to check back regularly.

Remember, nature journaling is a practice to be done on a regular basis.  The more you do it, the easier it becomes and will eventually become part of your routine.  As our friend Roger says, “the longer you look, the more you will see” and the first step in understanding the natural world is to see.

Next workshops
Intro to Phenology, June 15th: Phenology is the observation and recording of the effects of seasonal changes on plants and animals.  Join us to discover the joy and benefits of keeping a phenology journal.
Patterns in Nature, July 20th: You will be amazed at the patterns to be found all throughout nature and the influence they have had on the scientific, mathematical, and artistic worlds.    Come see what patterns you can discover…

Monday Inspirations: Green

Hello again.  Happy Monday.  Are you looking forward to your week?  We are definitely looking forward to our nature journaling workshop this Saturday.  We sure hope to see you there…

Until then, we’re here to provide a little inspiration for working some nature exploration into your week.  We promise it’ll be fun!

The following activities have been inspired by all the beautiful green growth outside as well as a lovely book titled Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger.  Whether you are 3 or 93 or somewhere in between, give them a try and have fun!

  • Matching Green:  Have you seen our color walk cards in the childrens’ area?  Would you like to have your own?  Head to your favorite paint supplier and collect some paint chips.  Try to choose shades of green close to what you have seen in nature.  Punch holes in them and attach to a key ring.  Head outside and see how many of them you can match.  
  • Creating Green: Put some green paint on a paint pallet or paper plate along with some white and black paint.  Try slowly adding some white or black to the green and paint that color onto some paper.  Now add a little more and add it to your painting.  Experiment further by adding yellow, blue, and purple.  What do your shades of green look like now?  By the time you are done you’ll have a lovely green color study that just might be fridge worthy.
  • Journaling Green:  Now that you’ve experimented with making different shades of green, take your nature journal and paint supplies or colored pencils outside.  Stop at a few different plants, draw a quick sketch, maybe add a description, and try to match the color.  You’ll have captured the freshness of spring in your journal.  Maybe you can even visit the same plant in the summer and see if the color has changed any…
If you would like to share photos of any of these activities that you have tried, we would love to see them!  You might see them in a TPL Gardens photo gallery!
 

A Great Day and Another Coming Up…

 
 
Last month the Topsham Public Library Garden Committee hosted a Garden open-house and what a lovely day it was!  The weather was perfect, volunteers were hard at work, children played, laughed and made some nature crafts and we even made a few new friends.  We call that a success!  Thank you to all who joined us.
 
This month, we have another fun event happening in the gardens and it’s coming right up…  
 
It’s our second annual nature journaling workshop.  This year, we will be hosting a series of three workshops, all with a specific theme.
 
Sources: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 
 
The first in the series, taking place May 18th at 1pm, will be an introduction to the practice of nature journaling and is open to all ages.  We’ll be kicking it off with a not-to-be-missed 3D slide presentation by a very special friend that’s sure to inspire you.  The rest of our time will be spent in the gardens where you’ll receive individual guidance as you make a nature journal entry.
 
 
 
We will provide notebooks and sketching pencils, although do feel free to bring your own supplies.  You may also choose to bring your camera if you’d like to add photos to your journal.
 
We hope to see you then…

P.S.  If you’d like to read more about nature journaling, check out my post here: The Art of Observation 
Don’t forget to view the resources at the end.