Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

My First Red Eft by Dr. Stephen Johnson

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Dr. Stephen Johnson is a friend of ours.  He is an ecologist who teaches biology at a college in a nearby town.  He also writes very well and has had a number of articles published in different wildlife magazines.  Because I like his writing, Im sharing one of his short biographical stories1 I like and find interesting.


My First Red Eft2


There isnt much else that I remember about the event.3  I couldnt have been older than seven or eight years.  It was some sort of mountaintop social gathering4 in western Virginia5.  I recall my mother and grandmother close by6 on a wide open clay trail7.  Lots of people milled around8 ahead of us in the distance.  There were spruce9 trees to the right and left and a tiny-legged red line10 moved steadily in front of me.


Coincidentally11, I had recently read about red efts in the popular GOLDEN GUIDE12 series and I was always looking for any kind of wildlife, but salamanders13 were special because they seemed so primordial14 and wild.  I liked their secrecy15 and the tactics16 it took to find them such as stone and log flipping17.  The GOLDEN GUIDE told me that spotted newts18 occurred in Virginia.  I could see one, but certainly didnt expect to.  Now I couldnt believe that I was witnessing one cross this trail before my eyes19 at mid-day.  I picked it up and marveled at its muted red20 curvaceous and glistening form21 as my grandmother immediately said, Put it down. It will hurt you. I knew better22 and quickly responded, No, it wont. In fact, it could have hurt me if I squeezed23 it or chewed it, but she didnt know that.


The red eft is a temporary terrestrial phase24 of the spotted newt and is the most likely stage to observe25 because other stages of the animals life cycle are aquatic26.  The spotted newt is a member of the scientific family Salamandridae27, the family that includes the salamander most important to European cultural mythological history28–the fire salamander29. 


I had always been fascinated with the legends30 about the fire salamander.  These creatures31 would hide in logs and emerge32 when European villagers brought in the logs and put them in the flaming hearth33.  European people apparently believed that the fire had generated34 the salamander.


When I was about ten years old my friends and I went to a tiny creek35 that trickled36 into the James River not far from my home in Richmond37.  We flipped rocks, searching for whatever, but delighted in the capture of what are called two-lined salamanders38.  I wanted to learn more about them so took one home, much to my mothers dismay39.  I learned that they are quite good climbers40.  This one lodged41 itself behind the window unit air conditioner42 and was, of course, never found. 


Throughout the 1970s water quality in that little creek deteriorated43 rapidly because of washing machine effluent44 from the houses parallel to45 my home street.  I never found another salamander in that creek.


Salamanders continue to fascinate me.  I take care of a fire salamander that I rescued46 a few years ago from a pet store.  Placing his aquarium47 on a wine rack seemed appropriate to me for his European heritage48.  I also care for a tiger salamander and occasionally search for them in forested ponds49 around Iowa.  A few years ago I helped a small tiger salamander cross a highway on its way to its breeding pond50.


As I grew older, I became convinced51 that education is important for preserving52 these wild creatures.  So just as the GOLDEN GUIDE series helped me marvel53 at the wonder of the red eft, I now try to educate future generations toward a better appreciation of amphibians54.  And I still cant help but look55 under logs and rocks. 


1. biographical stories: accounts relating to the facts of someones life (传记故事).

2. red eft: the common name for the terrestrial phase of an aquatic type of newt, a type of salamander (红水螈,蝾螈的一种,为该水中动物处于陆地生长阶段时的称呼).

3. There isnt much else that I remember about the event: 关于这件事其他方面就记得不多了。

4. mountaintop social gathering: 山顶聚会

5. Virginia: 弗吉尼亚州

6. close by: not far away (在附近).

7. a wide open clay trail: 空旷地上的一条泥路

8. milled around: moved around a place in different directions without any particular purpose (无目的地乱转).

9. spruce: a type of evergreen, cone bearing tree, typical of that area (云杉).

10. tiny-legged red line: a metaphor describing the appearance of the red eft on the path in front of him (长着很细腿的一条红线,这是个隐喻,指一条红水螈出现在他面前).

11. coincidentally: occurring or existing at the same time or moment (巧合,碰巧).

12. Golden Guide: a series of books for children which gives pictures and descriptions of plants and animals (一种儿童系列丛书,书中有大量的动植物图片和说明).

13. salamander: the name for a group of amphibian animals with four legs, moist skin without scales, and which have several stages in their life cycle, some terrestrial and some aquatic (蝾螈,四脚两栖动物,皮肤湿润无鳞,其生命周期分几个阶段,有陆地和水中阶段).

14. primordial: primitive in appearance and behavior (原始的).

15. secrecy: the process of keeping something secret (秘密).

16. tactics: methods that one uses to achieve something (方法,策略).

17. stone and log flipping: quick turning over of flat stones or logs (很快地翻动石头和木头).

18. spotted newts: a type of small salamander which has spots on its back (有斑点的水螈,一种小蝾螈).

19. before my eyes: meaning that one is surprised to see something right in front of them; an unexpected sight (就在我的眼前,表示看到了意想不到的东西).

20. muted red: dull red, not bright in color (暗红色).

21. its muted red curvaceous and glistening form: 它那暗红色、带曲线美并且很有光泽的样子

22. I knew better: I had better knowledge (我更了解).

23. squeezed: pressed firmly together with your fingers or hand (捏,挤).

24. terrestrial phase: a stage of life lived on land rather than in the water (陆地生活阶段).

25. the most likely stage to observe: 最有可能观察的阶段

26. because other stages of the animals life cycle are aquatic: 因为这种动物生长周期的其他阶段都是在水里。

27. Salamandridae: the technical or scientific family name given to the group of organisms called salamanders (蝾螈科,该科动物的正式名称).

28. mythological history: popular folk beliefs (神话记载).

29. fire salamander: a type of salamander typified by a bright red color; in mythological history, thought to have been produced by fire (火蝾螈,一种艳红色的蝾螈,根据神话记载是由火产生的).

30. fascinated with the legends: deeply interested in old, well-known stories (对传说入迷).

31. creatures: living animals (动物).

32. emerge: come out of something; to come out of hiding (出现).

33. flaming hearth: 有烈火燃烧的炉床

34. generated: produced or made by some means (产生).

35. creek: a small stream of moving water (小溪).

36. trickled: flew slowly in drops or in a thin stream (缓缓地流动).

37. Richmond: a large city in the eastern U.S. state of Virginia (美国东部弗吉尼亚州的一个大城市).

38. two lined salamander:身上有两条线的蝾螈

39. dismay: fear, alarm or anxiety because of something having happened (不安,难过).

40. climbers: 攀登者

41. lodged: located or stuck between two or more objects or surfaces (卡住,嵌入).

42. window unit air conditioner: 窗式空调.

43. deteriorated: become worse (恶化,变坏).

44. effluent: liquid waste, especially chemicals or sewage (废水).

45. parallel to: 与……平行

46. rescued: free someone or something from danger, or loss (解救).

47. aquarium: 水族箱,养鱼缸

48. European heritage: 欧洲的遗传

49. forested ponds: small bodies of water surrounded by trees (周围长满树的池塘).

50. breeding pond: the small body of water where organisms give birth to offspring (在那儿繁殖的池塘).

51. convinced: feeling certain that something is true (确信).

52. preserving: keeping in good condition, or keeping alive or from spoiling (保护,保养).

53. marvel: be filled with surprise or astonishment (感到惊讶,钦佩).

54. better appreciation of amphibians: 更加欣赏两栖动物.

55. can’t help but look: feel compelled to look (禁不住要看).







Searching for Iowa’s Prairies[1] by Mary Stark

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Nothing in my previous experience or reading prepared me for the dense thicket2 that I was about to enter.  My colleague, Stephen Johnson, assured3 me that we just had to meander4 through the thick undergrowth5 to reach what was once tall grass prairie.  


I was born in Iowa, a state that once was 85 to 88 percent tall grass prairie; still I had never seen one.  Only one-tenth of one percent of tall grass prairie now remains in Iowa.  Since Steve has a Ph.D. in plant ecology6 from research on prairies in the Flint Hills7 of Kansas, he volunteered to inventory8 the 300 acres of land still classified as9 prairie around Pella.  I volunteered to assist him and learn first-hand about tall grass prairie and Whitman’s metaphor of LEAVES OF GRASS.10 


I soon learned that Steve and I conducted research in different ways.  I wrote my dissertation11 on the nature imagery and context12 of Walt Whitman’s works; in the comfort of the library and my lounge chair13, I had played with Whitman’s idea of America as a prairie, a unique landscape full of diversity14 of flora15, fauna16, and fungi17.  I liked the metaphors and Whitman’s long lines of open verse18 which followed the unique landscape of the rolling prairies19.  Steve’s research, on the other hand, entailed20 taking measurements and collecting aboveground biomass21 in flesh-cutting prairie cord grass (Spartina pectinata) to document22 the effects of fire on its growth and productivity.  Konza Prairie23 in Kansas provided the actual pre-settlement prairie24 because its rocky soil prevented even the steel plow from piercing25 it.  


Now was my chance to learn more about the facts in order to understand the metaphors of a landscape that disappeared 150 years ago.  Steve and I started with a parcel26 of land that the Army Corps of Engineers27 referred to as “Prairie Remnant 244-828.”  “Remnant” seemed more like a left over piece of fabric with frayed open edges29 than the expansive diverse vista described by 19th and 20th century American authors30.  The number of 244-8 jarred31 me as mechanical and lifeless, just the opposite of Steve’s photographs of prairies, rolling as a sea of purple blazing star and orange milkweed butterfly32.  But Remnant 244-8 was my first chance to see the literal roots of Iowa’s heritage33– all of it hiding behind a dark curtain of autumn olives, oaks, blackberry vines and poison ivy34. 


I followed Steve as he navigated35 around the dense hedge36 of poison ivy.  All the while, I thought of my brother’s agonizing three-week recovery from brushing against this rash-producer37.  Despite the humidity and 90 degree temperatures, I was suddenly glad of my long-sleeved shirt and long pants tucked38 into my socks.  Steve and I tip-toed39 around a fence of fallen logs, multi-flora rose40 and poison ivy covered with ticks41, their legs outstretched to snag42 passing deer– or humans.  We reached a wetland43 teeming44 with what Steve identified as reed canary grass45 (Phalaris arundinaceous).  The reed canary grass engulfed46 us.  It never looked this tall from my vantage point47 in the car.


We walked faster when we found a well-worn deer trail48.  I thought of the early descriptions of the steel plows that had ripped open the prairie49.  The sounds made by the blade as it carved50 the network of roots were like rifle reports51.  Before I knew it, I stumbled and fell.  I was relieved when I saw I hadn’t fallen in poison ivy.  Steve helped me up, and we continued on.


We pushed on and up the slope to what looked like an open pasture52.  Steve began spotting53 plants that indicated remnants of a panorama54 of Indian grass, milkweed butterfly, partridge peas55 and cream gentian56.  Steve was thrilled at the sight of some of the pre-settlement plants of the tall grass “lost landscape.57     


My first encounter with Remnant 244-8 inspired me to learn the facts of Whitman’s nineteenth century landscape.  In the process of my prairie education, I am including units of prairie literature and ecology in my Nature Writing and Environmental Literature course58.  As a class, we travel forty miles to the Neal Smith Prairie Learning Center, a 5,000 acre restoration project,  We also tour a sod house59 in Pella’s historical village , as actually one area of Pella was once called Strawtown for these sod houses– perhaps even formed from that prairie sodgrass.  Above all, I am inspired to plant prairie flora on my own three-quarters of an acre, remnant-sized yard. 


1. prairie: a wide open area of fairly flat land in North America which is covered in grass (大草原).

2. thicket: dense growth of shrubbery or small trees (灌木丛,小树丛).

3. assured: guaranteed or convinced (使确信).

4. meander: walk aimlessly, winding about or without a planned route (漫步,闲逛).

5. undergrowth: low growth on the floor of a forest composed of herbs and shrubs (下层灌丛).

6. plant ecology: the study of plants and their relationship to the environment (植物生态学).

7. Flint Hills: a very rocky large area of rolling hills in north central Kansas, set aside as a natural area (地名,为堪萨斯州中北部一块面积很大山地起伏岩石遍布的地区).

8. inventory: make a list of everything that is in a given area or place (列出清单).

9. classified as: decide what group something belongs to (归类为).

10. Whitmans metaphor of Leaves of Grass: a book by Walt Whitman, a 19th century American writer, a metaphor of American life and nature, widely considered one of the great masterpieces of literature (十九世纪美国作家瓦尔特•惠特曼的“草叶集”,隐喻美国人民的生活及其本质,普遍认为这是一部伟大的文学巨著).

11. dissertation: a long written paper submitted as one of the requirements for a doctorate degree in graduate studies (博士论文).

12. nature imagery and context: the use of examples from nature which produce imaginative occurrences in their surroundings (自然界中有象征意义的实体和周围环境).

13. lounge chair: a large, comfortable chair (安乐椅).

14. diversity: a wide variety of things or types of things (多样性).

15. flora: all the plants that grow in a particular place or country (植物群).

16. fauna: a technical term referring specifically to animals (动物群).

17. fungi: non-green organisms typically growing as filaments in the soil, or on plants or animals as a parasite (真菌). The term includes mushrooms and related organisms which play a vital role in recycling of mineral nutrients in organisms and the soil.

18. open verse: writing without use of one particular rhythm (自由体诗,不使用专门格律).

19. rolling prairies: 起伏的大草原

20. entailed: involved something as a necessary part or result (使……成为必要).

21. biomass: the total amount of living matter in a particular area, or of a particular organism (所有生物).

22. document: record something in writing or on film (记录).

23. Konza Prairie: a large prairie area set aside in north central Kansas as a natural area or preserve (康泽大草原,是位于堪萨斯州的中北部的一个自然保护区).

24. the actual pre-settlement prairie: the prairie that is in the state or condition before humans came to that area (真正处于人类居住前状态的大草原).

25. piercing: puncturing, or making holes in something (穿透).

26. parcel: an area of land that is part of a larger area which has been divided up (一大片面积中的一小块).

27. Army Corps of Engineers: a U.S. government organization which is given the responsibility for overseeing government land and water resources (陆军工程师团,是美国政府的组织,负责监管政府的土地和水资源).

28. Prairie Remnant 244-8: the specific, smaller piece of land which was once in prairie, based on map location which is one part of a larger land area (编号为2448的大草原残留部分).

29. a left over piece of fabric with frayed open edges: 一块边上开了口磨破的布片

30. the expansive diverse vista described by 19th and 20th century American authors: 1920世纪美国作家所描写的广阔的景致各异的风景

31. jarred: made someone feel annoyed or shocked (令人感到不快或震惊).

32. rolling as a sea of purple blazing star and orange milkweed butterfly:明亮的紫色星和橘黄色的斑蝶像一片海洋那样高低起伏。

33. the literal roots of Iowas heritage: 爱荷华州遗产的真正的根

34. behind a dark curtain of autumn olives, oaks, blackberry vines and poison ivy: 在秋天的橄榄树、橡树、黑莓的藤蔓和有毒常春藤的浓密的幕后。

35. navigated: found which way one needed to go (指路,引路).

36. dense hedge: 茂密的树篱

37. agonizing three-week recovery from brushing against this rash-producer: 因为触摸过这种产生皮疹的东西而经历了极度痛苦的三周恢复期

38. tucked into my socks: stuffed into my socks (塞进我的袜子里).

39. tip-toed: walked carefully on the toes or the tip of ones foot with heels raised (掂起脚走路).

40 multiflora rose: a thorny plant producing a rose flower, and often found in some prairies (野蔷薇).

41. tick: an insect that sucks ones blood (扁虱).

42. snag: attach themselves to (附在……身上).

43. wetland: 湿地

44. teeming withbeing full of (长满了……).

45. reed canary grass: 草芦

46. engulfed: completely covered or surrounded (完全把……掩盖了).

47. vantage point: a good position from which something is viewed (观察某物的有利位置).

48. a well-worn deer trail: a rough path used by deer for a long time (鹿经常走的一条小路).

49. ripped open the prairie:(用犁)把大草原撕开

50. carved: cut by a sharp instrument (雕刻).

51. rifle reports: the sound of a rifle being shot (来复枪的枪击声).

52. open pasture: 开阔的牧场

53. spotting: seeing something or someone (看见).

54. panorama: 全景

55. partridge peas: 敏感豆

56. cream gentian: 黄龙胆

57. lost landscape: a sight that once existed, but which no longer exists (失去的景色).

58. Nature Writing and Environmental Literature course: 自然写作和环境文学课

59. sod house: 一种完全用泥和草建造的房子





Natural Disasters

Friday, March 13th, 2009

   The other morning at 5:15 we awakened to the terrifying noise of the city warning siren sounding1.  Since there was a big electrical storm going on outside, we knew that this meant that a tornado2 might be approaching Pella and that we should head to our basement3 for protection from swirling4 winds, should they actually hit Pella.  By the time we were heading downstairs, Kim had our TV on and was checking the path of the tornado5.  She called to us that it was between Pella and Knoxville, a town about 12 miles southwest from us and heading toward Attica, a town of several hundred people.  Attica is located about ten miles south of Pella. We turned on our local radio station and learned that the tornado had struck6 Attica and was heading on east.  We knew we were safe this time, but we felt7 for the people in Attica. Soon the all clear8 signal was sounded, so we came back upstairs and listened for further news of the weather.  Later in the day we learned that Attica had received considerable9 property damage, but there were no deaths.  They were fortunate10 in that respect11. While some people look at natural disasters as punishment12 for human misbehavior13, most of us accept them as merely physical changes of our earth. 


  We are well aware of the damage tornados can do; recently several of them struck small towns north of us, killing eight people and essentially completely destroying the towns.  Repeatedly there have been pictures of the destruction14 from there, and now from Attica. 


  Of course, the damage and loss of life here in Iowa is very small in comparison with the loss of life and damage caused by the massive15 earthquake in Sichuan Province of China and by the hurricane16 in Myanmar17.  We seldom have earthquakes in Iowa, and if we do, we barely feel them.  Of course, we never have hurricanes.  But we certainly do have tornados and bad winter storms!


  We now are at the beginning of the hurricane season18 in the U.S.  People who live close to the ocean are keeping their fingers crossed19 that this wont be a bad hurricane season.  These storms are terribly destructive too.  So far we have had a record number of tornados in the Midwest this spring and summer.  The storms that moved into Iowa from Nebraska today caused Interstate 8020 to be closed down last night because the powerful winds blew the big trucks over on the highway. 


We can add to this list volcano eruptions21, hailstorms22, and severe winter blizzards23, as well as floods.  Iowa has been flooding recently too.  However, one positive thing in all of this is that people cooperate to help one another to recover from these disasters.  Also, for many of these disasters we are able to avoid them by wise planning and sound construction and we can predict their occurrence24 and minimize25 the losses due to property damage and the danger to human life.

1. terrifying noise of the city warning siren sounding: 城市警铃响起来的可怕声音。 句中 the city warning siren sounding 等于the city warning siren’s sounding。
2. tornado: an extremely violent storm consisting of air that spins very quickly and causes a lot of damage (龙卷风). To qualify as a tornado the wind speed must be at least 75 miles per hour, and the most severe reach 200+ miles per hour.
3. basement: the lower level of a house built down into the ground, and commonly used for storage and house utilities (地下室,通常用做储藏室以及存放家庭器具).
4. swirling: moving in circle (旋转). In tornados it forms a funnel-shaped cloud in most cases.
5. checking the path of the tornado: observing information about the way of the strong storm (查询龙卷风经过的路径). Regional TV stations show images of the path of tornados and predict the potential damage.
6. struck: hit, or make contact by hitting something (袭击).
7. felt for the people in Attica: (informal) were sad for people who suffered from the tornado (为Attica人感到难过).
8. all clear signal: the several short blasts by the city siren, indicating that the tornado has passed and it is safe to leave protective cover (龙卷风解除信号,城市警笛短短地响几下,告知人们龙卷风已经过去了,可以离开躲避的地方).
9. considerable: fairly large (相当大程度的).
10. fortunate: lucky, or having good luck (幸运的).
11. in that respect: in that situation or particular event (在这方面).
12. punishment: a penalty, severe treatment (惩罚).
13. misbehavior: bad behavior that is not acceptable to other people (不良行为).
14. destruction: severe damage to persons or property (破坏).
15. massive: very large (大规模的).
16. hurricane: 飓风
17. Myanmar: 缅甸
18. hurricane season: the time of the year when hurricanes are likely to occur (飓风季节).  In North America this is usually from June through November as the oceans are cooling.  In the South Pacific and parts of Asia the season is somewhat longer.
19. keeping their fingers crossed: (Idiom) hoping for good luck instead of bad luck (把手指交叉,希望未来好运).  Many people do cross their fingers even though they do not think it really will help the situation.  This superstition goes back hundreds of years.
20. Interstate 80: 80号州际高速公路
21. volcano eruptions: the activity of heated rocks, ashes and gases exploding from a given point in the crust of the Earth (火山爆发). Volcanoes usually occur where there are mountains formed by thrusting interactions of continental shelves of the Earth.
22. hail storms: storms in which frozen pieces of ice are formed in the air and which fall to the earth, usually along with rain (冰雹).  Hail stones vary in size from small to quite large; some reaching several inches in diameter.
23. blizzards: winter storms in which snow and extremely strong, very cold winds may result in physical and personal damage (暴风雪).  Often visibility is limited due to the blowing snow, and snow drifts may interfere with normal movement of traffic or animals.
24. occurrence: an event or incident which happens (发生).
25. minimize: reduce something that is difficult, dangerous, or unpleasant to the smallest possible amount or degree (使最小化).

My Day by Blitzen IV

Friday, March 13th, 2009

A blog which would be written by our dog if she could write. Written by Kim while Don and Maxine were in China.

Whine1 to my Kim when she’s sleeping in2 after 7 even though she takes me outside at 6 in the morning and she has a SNOW DAY3. I like to get fed at 7 and then wait around to get any extra treats4.

At 11 a.m. I went for a ride to HyVee5 and we stopped by Dairy Queen6  for lunch. I got a free ice cream cone7 for being a cute8 dog and I also got my own hamburger9 too!

Sometimes, when we go for a ride10, we go to the bank and I get a treat from the bank teller11! I sit up and wait patiently and they like it I don’t bark and demand12 my treat.

Later, I got to go for another ride to the Village Cleaners13 and Wal-Mart14, but they don’t give treats to dogs. So, when I got home, I decided not to get out of the car. My Kim had to promise to take me on a walk15! So, we went on a walk!

There had been so much snow in the morning, there was slush16 everywhere and deep snow drifts17. I ran and pretended18 I knew the snow was deep all the time, even when I fell in!

Everyday, I get to watch19 the birds and the squirrels in my yard. Some days, I get to chase20 them! But, it is a rare day21 that I get to go on TWO car rides!



1. whine: make high pitched sounds of a complaining sort or nature (发出尖利的声音).
2. sleeping in: meaning sleeping beyond the usual time of awakening in the morning (睡过头).
3. snow day: a day on which school is cancelled because the heavy snow makes it difficult and dangerous to drive the school buses which pick up many of the students who attend school (因下大雪学校听课日). On snow days, Kim also does not have to work in the kitchen to fix food for the students.
4. treats: good things given to eat when Blitzen is a good dog (好吃的东西).
5. HyVee: the name of a large supermarket where we buy most of our food (某大型超市的名称).
6. Dairy Queen: the name of an ice cream and sandwich shop (一家卖冰激凌和三明治的店).
7. ice cream cone: a thin pastry shell in which ice cream is placed so that it can be eaten without a spoon and bowl (圆筒冰激凌).
8. cute: nice looking and nice acting animal or person (讨人喜欢的).
9. hamburger: 汉堡
10. go for a ride: ride in the car when Kim or other people drive someplace (搭便车).
11. bank teller: the person who deals with the customers who come to the bank (银行出纳员).
12. demand: ask for something very firmly (要求).
13. Village Cleaners: a shop where laundry and cleaning of clothes is done (洗衣店).
14. Wal-Mart: the name of a large discount store which sells many different types of items (沃尔玛,一家大型超市).  This is one of the largest stores in the U.S. and is in some other countries as well.
15. on a walk: walking somewhere with someone (去散步).  Dogs are not permitted to be loose, so to take a walk someone must have them on a leash while walking in the city.
16. slush: partly melted or watery snow as it melts (开始融化的雪).
17. snow drifts: piles of snow that result from wind having blown it in this place (吹积的雪堆).
18. pretended: made believe, or acted as if something was being done (假装).
19. get to watch: be able to look at something (能够看某物).
20. chase: run after or pursue something or someone (追).
21. a rare day: an unusual day or event in one’s life (不寻常的一天).



Water is Important

Friday, March 13th, 2009

     Last night Maxine and I had a phone call from a friend who is preparing a scholarly paper1 on the cross-cultural2 importance of water.  Soon after that, we heard a report on the evening news3 of the loss of water4 to a small community in central Iowa.  These two incidents5 again reminded me of the critical nature6 of water to humans and the rest of nature. Water has been and will continue to be important to human societies. I remember first becoming aware that early human civilizations7 depended upon a reliable water source8, even when they were still part of a mobile, hunting society9. The animals they hunted also depended on a supply of water. I also remember learning in one of my college courses about the impact10 which water, both as rivers and as ports11, has made on modern man and his society12. 

     We compose songs, write poetry and have emotional ties to water13 whether it is about the Rhine River in Germany, or West Lake in Hangzhou, China, or the Mississippi River in the U.S.  We recognize the importance of transportation on waterways, the importance of water to make our cities livable and our crops bountiful14. We use water to create electrical power.  We even use water in religious rites15, have often worshiped16 it as a key element of life17, and we are concerned when our supplies of water fail or become polluted18.

     The news report last night about the failure of water for a small community in Iowa told of the complete failure of a water system for that community lasting more than a day and a half.  After hunting many hours for the cause of the failure, city officials discovered that the single water main19 leading to the town had broken, and it was estimated20 that they lost at least a million gallons21 of water before finding the break22.  The break in the water supply occurred near a stream so it was not easily seen.  Meanwhile23, I can imagine the concern of families who had no water available for drinking, cooking, or washing.

     It seems to me that we often assume that there will be an unending supply24 of potable25 water for our cities, transportation, electrical generators26, and agricultural uses.  It now is apparent that this may not be true, and it is certainly time for all humans to recognize how deeply27 we must care about and depend on this natural resource28.  What could be the impact of melting of our ice fields at the polar areas29, and what would be the effect of a rise in ocean water levels30 on the cities near coastal areas?

     Yes, water is certainly important to us, and we must manage it wisely, now and in the future.


1. scholarly paper: a professional level publication which has been published in a journal with critical editing (学术论文).
2. cross-cultural: extending between and across different cultures or societies (跨文化的).
3. evening news: the national, regional or state news which has occurred during that particular day and which is first reported to the public readers or listeners (晚间新闻).
4. loss of water: a condition in which all water needed for a community or person is not available due to some unexpected cause (断水).
5. incidents: things which occur or happen to a person or society (事件,事故).
6. critical nature: very important feature or situation which is threatening to someone’s safety or well being (至关重要的特点/作用).
7. civilizations: times in history in which well organized groups of humans existed  (文明社会).
8. reliable water source:可靠的水资源
9. mobile, hunting society: 游牧群体
10. impact: a forceful contact, or a significant effect on something or someone (作用,影响).
11. ports: places on rivers or oceans where cargo can be loaded or unloaded from ships (码头).
12. the impact which water, both as rivers and as ports, has made on modern man and his society: 水,无论作为河流还是码头,对现代人类及其社会所产生的影响。此处the impact 是后面has made的宾语,which 起到society是impact的定语从句。
13. have emotional ties to water: (我们)跟水有了不少情感上的联系。
14. bountiful: generous in giving or making things available to others (慷慨的,大方的).
15. religious rites: religious practices which are repeated often (宗教仪式、典礼).
16. worshiped:敬奉
17. key element of life: an important part of life (生活的关键因素).
18. polluted: tainted or impure as a result of something impure being added (污染了).
19. water main: the primary pipe or conduit which supplies the water to an areas (自来水总管道).
20. estimated: rough guess of a measurement, distance, weight etc. (据估计)
21. gallons: amount of a liquid equal to 4 quarts or 8 pints (加仑).
22. the break: the broken part; as in a water line, a support element of a structure, etc. (破裂处).
23. Meanwhile: at the same time (同时).
24. unending supply: a supply without limit, continuing forever without end (无限的供应量).
25. potable: pure or useful for human consumption without causing disease (可饮用的,适合饮用的).
26. electrical generators: 发电机
27. deeply: 深切地
28. natural resource: a valuable item which occurs in nature and from which man can obtain a positive use (自然资源).
29. ice fields at the polar areas: large areas of ice found in the Artic areas (极地地区的冰层).
30. water levels: the depth of water in a body of water like a lake, an ocean, etc. (水平面).


Fall Foliage[1]

Friday, March 13th, 2009

I love autumn for many different reasons, but especially because of the beautiful leaves on the trees.  There is something sad about the fact that shortly after the leaves are at the height of2 their beauty, they will fall from the trees and blow away.  Our leaves are at their best right now, but in another week or so they will turn brown and fall off.


Our town has many maple trees3.  I love them because of their color, ranging from yellow to orange, to pink to red.  The maple tree in our back yard is turning yellow, but the maples a few blocks4 away are orange.  It depends on the species5 as well as the weather.  According to the weather experts, our fall colors are not as brilliant6 this year as sometimes because of the unusually warm autumn we have had.  There are also oak trees7 in our town.  Their leaves are a deep reddish-brown or yellow, again depending on the species. 


As the leaves fall, they keep property owners busy raking8 them from their yards.  Don spent this morning picking up leaves with a leaf collector on his lawn tractor9.  He will compost10 them and eventually11 put them on our gardens, returning minerals12 to the soil.  Thus the fallen leaves are put to a good use.  Since we have about fifteen trees on our property, we have plenty of leaves to compost.  Many leaves from our neighbors’ trees also blow into our yard.


When I was young we used to pile up the leaves in our yard and burn them.  I loved the smell of the burning leaves.  However, now most cities, including ours, have laws against burning leaves in order to cut down on air pollution13.  I miss the smell, and sometimes when we are in the country and smell a leaf fire on some farm property, I have good memories of my childhood and the leaf bonfires14 my father would make. 


All too soon the leaves will have fallen and the trees will be bare again until next spring, excepting for those like our big pine tree15.  It and other coniferous evergreens16 will provide the green we see when winter comes.


1. foliage: the leaves of a plant or tree as produced in nature [叶子(的总称)].

2. at the height of: at a time when a situation or event is the strongest or most full of activity (处于顶峰状态).

3. maple trees: 枫树

4. blocks: 街区

5. species: the technical, scientific term for a specific type of living organism, i.e. trees, flowers, animals of all sorts from most primitive to most advanced (种类).

6. brilliant: bright in color (色彩鲜艳的).

7. oak trees: a large group of types of trees of the genus Quercus which are part of the major forests of the U.S. and which occur in both Asia and Europe as well (橡树,栎属树中的最大的一支,是美国森林主要的组成部分,也生长于亚洲和欧洲).

8. raking:

9. lawn tractor: a mechanized small, gasoline powered machine which is used to mow lawns and to collect debris like grass clippings or leaves from the lawn (草地拖拉机,一种小型的用汽油驱动的机械,用于修草坪、收集割下来的碎草或树叶。).

10. compost:把……变成堆肥

11. eventually: finally, at the final stage of a process or task (最终).

12. minerals:矿物质

13. air pollution:空气污染

14. bonfires:篝火,营火

15. pine tree: 松树

16. coniferous evergreens:长绿针叶树





Mushroom Poisonings

Friday, March 13th, 2009

    Today as Maxine and I stopped to visit with a friend in McCall, Idaho1, she received a call from the Valley County Hospital2 in Cascade, Idaho3.  Our friend, Hope Miller, has worked for many years in mycology, the study of mushrooms.  She and her late4 husband, Orson K. Miller, were mycological colleagues5 of mine and all of us have helped identify6 mushrooms which are poisonous7 to persons who eat them.  The doctors at Valley County Hospital were calling about a case of mushroom poisoning of a husband and wife who had eaten mushrooms about four hours earlier. Both of them became sick and entered the emergency room8 in Cascade hospital for help.

      The doctors reported that the man and woman had found what they thought were “puff balls9” in the woods northeast of McCall.  Because the couple knew most white puff balls were edible10, they ate some with their breakfast. 

      Hope knew the procedure11 well.  First, she asked whether the couple had brought any of the fresh mushrooms along with them to the hospital.  Fortunately they had, but the doctors did not recognize what type of mushroom it actually was.  They reported that the patients had teary eyes12, excessive salivation13, and sweating14 along with nausea15 and vomiting16.

      Next, Hope asked whether they could deliver the suspect mushrooms17 to her home, where she and Orson have studied mushrooms with books, microscopes18 and other instruments needed for mushroom identification19.  Yes, they could, and the mushroom arrived at her home in McCall about half an hour later.

      Both Hope and I recognized the mushroom as Amanita muscaria var. formosa, a variant of the Fly Mushroom20 which is common at this season in the mountains of this area. It resembled a puffball in shape and was whitish-yellow color, but in fact it was actually the early stage of the mushroom just emerging from the soil. 

      We cut the mushroom lengthwise21 and confirmed22 the presence of the cap23 with gills24, the stem, and we noted a few of the whitish scales25 present on the upper surface.  We confirmed our identification in the Mushrooms of North America book which Orson and Hope had completed writing shortly before Orson’s death last summer.  If we had not been certain of identification, we would have looked at the spores26 and other microscopic aspects27 of the mushroom, or we might have treated it with specific chemicals which cause color changes in the tissue of the mushroom.  But, in this case, there were no spores in the immature stage28, and no chemical staining29 was necessary.

      Hope returned the phone call to the hospital in Cascade, reported our identification of the mushroom involved, and assured the doctors that the patients would be sick for a few hours, but that they would recover without permanent damage31 from eating the mushroom.

      It is fortunate that there are certified mycologists32 who are known to medical centers so it is possible to learn exactly which mushrooms are involved in poisoning cases, and to make this knowledge available to doctors treating the patients.  Some mushrooms are safe to eat, but others could cause death or serious illness. 

      Hope will send a written report of this poisoning incident to the Rocky Mountain Mushroom Poisoning Center33 where it will be recorded in the national records of mushroom poisoning in North America.  These records are published each year so that, at least, mycologists know how many poisonings are reported, and which mushroom type is responsible for each poisoning case reported.  


1. McCall, Idaho: a small city in the state of Idaho, a center for recreational tourism in the east central part of the state.

2. Valley County Hospital: a medical facility located in the same county as McCall, Idaho; where county offices are located.

3. Cascade Idaho: a city in Valley County where the county offices are located; about 30 miles south of McCall, Idaho.

4. late: referring to a person who has died; no longer alive (已故的).

5. mycological colleagues: persons who are involved in the technical study of mushrooms and who know one another well; work together in mycology, often members of the same organizations (研究真菌学的同行们).

6. identify: determine precisely (what the type or species of mushroom is) (确认).

7. poisonous: 有毒的

8. emergency room:急诊室

9. puff balls: a group of mushrooms which are round and the interior of which is filled with tissue which develops into spores (芽孢), the reproductive units which are windborne (由风传播的) and which start new growth at some distance.  Some puff balls are edible (可食用的), others are poisonous.

10. edible: capable of being eaten without adverse effects on the person eating them.

11. procedure: the method involved in doing a specific task (方法,步骤). In this case, the steps involved in dealing with a suspected mushroom poisoning case.

12. teary eyes:眼睛眼泪汪汪

13. excessive salivation: unusually large amount of saliva (唾液) being produced in the mouth.

14. sweating:不断出汗

15. nausea:恶心

16. vomiting:呕吐

17. suspect mushrooms: the mushrooms which have been eaten, and which are possibly associated with the illness of the person who has eaten them (可疑的蘑菇).

18. microscopes:显微镜

19. identification:确认

20. Amanita muscaria var. Formosa, a variant of the Fly mushroom: 蛤蟆菌的一种,有毒,但多数情况下不致命。

21. lengthwise: 纵向的

22. confirmed: 肯定了

23. cap: the expanded, umbrella-like part of a mushroom

24. gills: leaf-like, thin structures found on the bottom of a mushroom cap (蘑菇盖下面像鱼鳃状的细褶).

25. scales: small, flat pieces of tissue found on the upper surface of a mushroom, or on the stem of a mushroom (鳞叶).

26. spores: microscopic bodies produced by fungi which serve as reproductive bodies for spreading of the mushroom in nature (孢子,芽孢).

27. microscopic aspects: characteristics visible only with the magnification by lenses of a microscope (用显微镜才能看到的特征).

28. immature stage: a developmental stage of an organism (未成熟期).  Important in mushroom identification because of the fact that precise identity may require the knowledge of size, shape, and surface aspects of spores.  Spores are not formed until maturation of the mushroom.

29. chemical staining:化学显色法

30. recover: get well after having been ill from a specific cause (恢复).

31. permanent damage: harm to a patient which cannot be cured or ended (永久性伤害).

32. certified mycologists: scientists who specialize in the study of fungi or mushrooms, and who have the knowledge of these organisms (持有证件的真菌研究学者).

33. The Rocky Mountain Mushroom Poisoning Center: a center for collecting information on mushroom poisonings in the western part of the United States. This is located in Denver, Colorado and is one of a series of regional centers where data is collected and sent to the national center for mushroom poisonings.






Blitzen IV[1]

Friday, March 13th, 2009

If you visit our home and ring the door bell, you will be greeted by the loud and happy barking of our dog2, Blitzen IV, usually referred to just as Blitzen or Blitz3.  The IV refers to the fact that she is the 4th in a string of4 black Labrador retriever dogs5 that we have had over a period of about 38 years.  Both Don and I (and now our children) are exceptionally6 fond of these big, friendly, gentle animals.  We have loved them all but we both think this one is extra special.


When Blitzen III died, Don tearfully7 announced that he didn’t want another dog because it hurts too much when the family pet dies.  However, I was determined that we WOULD have another Blitzen when the time was right.  The following summer we went to our vacation home8 in McCall, Idaho9; soon after our arrival there, a neighbor pointed out to us that the animal shelter10 in McCall listed the availability of a 4-month old black lab11.  The following morning we visited the shelter, and by noon were home with our new puppy12.  We knew nothing about her excepting that she had been found in the big state park13 in the nearby national forest14.  She obviously had ridden in automobiles before15, as she immediately jumped in ours16, determined to go with us to whatever new home she would have.  She was well trained17 and made herself at home in our condo18 immediately.  In fact, when Don took a nap19 after lunch, she crawled20 up on his stomach and napped with him.  There was no question about the fact that she knew how to “bond21.”


Blitzen is now almost nine years old and is a very important part of our life.  Don takes her out for long walks.  I don’t know who enjoys that activity the most.  She has a wonderful sense of time.  Of course, she always knows when it is 5:00 in the afternoon, for that is when she gets fed.  If we go more than ten or fifteen minutes after that hour she starts making a “yowling22 sound  to remind us of our neglect23.  She also knows that Kim gets off work at 3:00pm and will be home shortly after24.  By 3:00 she is in front of the door waiting for Kim’s car to enter the driveway   She also knows when we are going to have company for dinner25.  As soon as she sees the extra place mats26 on the table, she stations27 herself under the table so that she can get some extra morsels28 from whoever is sitting there.  We have some long time friends29 who often eat with us on Tuesday evenings.  I think she knows it’s Tuesday long before we set the table as she is there waiting ahead of time.  She also knows when it’s bedtime, and if she thinks it’s getting late, lets us know it’s time to go to bed.  She likes sleeping at the foot of our bed30.


On Thanksgiving our son Jim brought his young Shih Tzu puppy31 Lucky with him when he came for dinner.  Blitzen wasn’t sure she wanted to share her territory32 with this new young intruder33 but reluctantly34 did so.  All went well until I let Blitz have the potato dish to lick35 and the puppy had the audacity36 to want to share.  Blitz chased37 him away, but fortunately Lucky decided not to be afraid of “Aunt” Blitzen38, and peace was restored39.  After Jim and Lucky went back to Des Moines, Blitzen went throughout the house40 to make sure that all of her dog toys were still here.  She seemed satisfied that all was well, and slept the sleep of a truly exhausted41 dog for the rest of the evening.  


Blitz has a special relationship with each of us.  Don is principal feeder and walker42; I am the comforter43 she comes to when it storms, for she is afraid of the sound of thunder44.  Kim is the one who plays tug-of-war45 games with her and her toys and takes her for rides in her car.  Now it is Jim who brings that puppy with him!!!!!  She’s not sure she’s happy about that.  She doesn’t really want to share any of us with any other dog. 

1. Blitzen IV (布利茨4): the name given to our Black Laborador dog (拉布拉多,一种狗).  Each of our dogs has been named Blitzen – meaning “lightening” in German – because each has had a white streak-like mark on the broad, black chest.  The designation of IV indicates that this is the fourth of these dogs we have had as pets.
2. you’ll be greeted by the loud and happy barking of our dog: the loud and happy barking of our dog will be the first thing you hear (when you arrive) (你首先听到的会是我们那只狗的大声高兴的叫声).
3. referred to as Blitzen or Blitz: 被称作Blitzen 或Blitz
4. a string of: a number of similar things or events coming one after another (一连串,一系列)
5. black Laborador Retriever (黑色拉布拉多猎犬): a specific breed or type of dog which are known for their pleasant disposition and gentle behavior as well as their ability to hunt and retrieve game animals and birds.
6. exceptionally: unusually
7. tearfully: sadly with tears evident.
8. vacation home: usually a second home, often in mountains or lake areas, etc. with beautiful scenery not present in the primary home.
9. McCall, Idaho: the name of a small town in the valley of high mountains in the state of Idaho, a resort town which initially was an area for mining and lumber production but now known as an area for excellent fishing, hiking and camping in the summer and hunting, skiing and other winter sports.
10. animal shelter: a place where homeless or lost animals are cared for until they can be returned to their owner, or placed with a new family (动物避难所).
11. lab: laborador (拉布拉多狗)
12. puppy: a young dog
13. state park: a large tract of land set aside and maintained by the state of Idaho (爱达荷州立公园).
14. national forest: a large area of wooded land owned by the federal government (国家森林).
15. She obviously had ridden in automobiles before: 显然在这之前她乘过汽车。
16. ours: our car
17. well trained: 受过良好训练。Usually this means that some person has taught her what she should or should not do in a house, around other people and other dogs, etc.
18. condo: (AmE.) an abbreviated name for condominium; (one apartment in) a building with several apartments, each of which is owned by the people living in it (公寓楼,公寓楼中的一套公寓)..
19. took a nap:  took a short sleep, especially during the day. .
20. crawled: 爬行
21. to bond: to become emotionally closely associated with someone (建立感情/友谊).
22. yowling: making a loud, long mournful noise typical of expressing a desire for something, or a show of displeasure (哀号).
23. neglect: 疏忽
24. shortly after: soon after a particular point in time (很快).
25. company for dinner: people invited to dinner.
26. place mats: smaller flat protective items placed on a table instead of a table cloth to avoid damage to the table (餐桌上放盘子、刀叉用的垫子).
27. stations: places oneself in a specific location or position.
28. morsels: small bits of food  (少量,一点).
29. long time friends: friends who have been one’s friends for many years (多年的朋友).
30. the foot of our bed: the end of our bed (我们的床头).
31. ShihTzu puppy: a young, small breed of dog, originally from China, but now widely spread as a pet (小西施犬).
32. territory: an area of living, or an area under one’s control (领地).
33. intruder: an individual or animal in a place where it is not welcomed (不速之客,不受欢迎者).
34. reluctantly:不情愿地
35. to lick:舔
36. audacity: boldness or arrogance in behavior of a person or animal (大胆,无畏).
37. chased: driven away; force away from a place (赶走).
38. “Aunt Blitzen”: a joking name given to Blitzen IV as the elder female dog.
39. restored: renewed or returned to the rightful state or place (恢复).
40. throughout the house: in every part of the house
41. exhausted: extremely tired; worn out (疲惫不堪的).
42. feeder and walker: one who provides a pet with food and exercise (喂狗和遛狗的人).
43. comforter: one who quiets, consoles and assures another person or a pet which is bothered (安慰者).
44. the sound of thunder: 雷声
45. tug-of-war games:拔河游戏




In Like a Lion but Not Out Like a Lamb

Friday, March 13th, 2009

We have an old folk saying1 that when the month of March comes in like a lion it goes out like a lamb.2  This means that if the weather is cold and stormy at the beginning of March, it will improve3 and be mild4 and gentle5 at the end of March.  That was NOT what happened this year. 


March in Iowa began as a cold and snowy month.  We no sooner managed6 to get the drives7 and walks8 clear of snow than the worst ice storm in fifty years struck9.10 Ice formed all over the branches of trees, causing such a heavy weight that the branches started cracking11 and falling off.12  For a solid13 24 hours we heard the constant crack14 of branches breaking and then falling from the trees.  We were afraid that the ice on the power lines15 would cause them to break, resulting in our loss of electrical power16.  When our power went out, we turned out to be fortunate.  We have a big electric pole in front of our house, and the linemen17 were able to repair things quickly; thus we were without power for only about 30 minutes.  Some friends of ours in the country were without power for an hour and a half.  When their power went off18, they were using their computer and the hard drive19 crashed20.  They lost all of their data21 and have had to replace22 the hard drive.


Still other people living in the country23 were without power for as long as a week.  We really felt sorry for them.  Many of them were farmers who had baby pigs that needed heat.  Fortunately many of them owned gasoline powered generators24.  Others made hurried trips to hardware stores25 and purchased generators if they could.  (Most hardware stores ran out of generators during the first day.) 


By the time the storm ended, our back yard looked like a war zone26.  Our big old elm tree27 (probably over 75 years old) lost so many critical28 branches that we will may have to have it cut down this spring.  We would hate that because it has been a nice old tree that provided a home for many of our back yard squirrels29.  Our pine tree30 also lost many branches, but it is only about 30 years old, young and healthy enough that it will be ok.  It took Don, our son Jim, and a college student a long time to finally clear31 and stack32 the branches.  The city had two special days when workers in trucks came by homes and picked up the branches the homeowners had stacked in front.  The town is looking better now, but the damage is still evident33.


Well, April arrived on the weekend.  The weather turned warmer, but it brought a strong wind and heavy rain with it.  We were under a tornado watch34 in our area for most of Saturday.  There was some bad wind damage in the Des Moines area (about 40 miles from here), but fortunately no tornado was reported in our part of the state.  Tornados are real weather “lions” 35!


This week we are to have cold weather again with temperatures below freezing36 every night.  That will be destructive37 to the early spring flowers that have been appearing.  People will either have to cover them or lose them.  So, here it is April, but our March-like “lionish38” weather remains.



1. an old folk saying: an old well-known short statement that expresses an idea most ordinary people believe is true and wise (民间老话).

2. We have an old folk saying that when the month of March comes in like a lion it goes out like a lamb: 我们(这儿)有民间老话说,三月天气来时像狮子,走时像羔羊。Here a lion symbolizes terrible weather, cold and stormy, and a lamb mild and gentle weather.

3. improve: get better, as in weather conditions without storms or extreme heat or cold.

4. mild: (in weather) neither very cold or very hot (温和).

5. gentle: (in weather) very favorable, normal for the season [非常舒适、正常(的天气)].

6. manage to do something表示succeed in doing something that one doesnt really want to do (勉强做好某事).

7. drives: driveways into the garage from the street (通往车库的车道).

8. walks: sidewalks in front of homes or leading to the doors of a home or building (房屋、建筑物等前面的人行道).  In most cities it is the law that these pedestrian walkways must be cleared of ice and snow within 24 hours of a snow or ice storm.

9. strike (struck, struck): If something bad strikes, it suddenly happens or suddenly begins to affect someone (袭击、来临).

10. We no sooner managed to get the drives and walks clear of snow than the worst ice storm in fifty years struck: 我们刚勉强清理好车道和人行道上的雪,五十年一遇的最糟糕的冰雪天气就来临了。“…no sooner than…”用来连接两个句子,表示“刚……就……”。

11. cracking: beginning to break by cracking of the wood.

12. Ice formed all over the branches of trees, causing such a heavy weight that the branches started cracking and falling off.: 树枝上结满了冰,分量很重,结果树枝开始断裂并掉下来。

13. solid: continuing without interruption (不中断的,连续的).

14. constant crack: 一直不断的断裂声。此处crack是名词。

15. power lines: the wire lines which carry electricity from the source to residential areas (输电线).

16. electrical power: energy in the form of electrical current which is used in homes for light, etc. (电、电能).

17. linemen: people whose job is to take care of power lines, railway lines or telephone wires or (输电线路工,养路工,线务员).

18. When the power went off: 当停电时。此处go off表示stop working

19. hard drive: the part of the computer which stores all data (计算机硬盘).

20. crashed: suddenly stopped working (突然坏了).

21. data: the items in document or picture form which are stored in a computer or on a disk (存在计算机硬盘里的数据资料).

22. replace: remove damaged hard drive and install a new one (取代、换一个新的).

23. in the country: in a rural area (在农村).

24. gasoline powered generators: machines which produce electricity by using gasoline (汽油发电机).

25. hardware stores: commercial shops which sell all sorts of equipment including electrical supplies and appliances such as generators (卖五金制品、金属器件的商店).

26. a war zone: a place or area in which battles of war have been occurring; a badly damaged place (遭受严重破坏的地方).

27. elm tree: a large, woody plant of the genus Ulmus, native to most areas of the temperate areas of the world (榆树,适合在温带地区生长).

28. critical: important to the health and well being of something or someone (至关重要的).

29. squirrels: small red-brown tree dwelling rodents which have a bushy tail (松鼠).

30. pine tree: a large, coniferous tree of the genus Pinus which has needle like leaves (松树).

31. clear: pick up something where it does not belong (清理); as fallen branches from trees. Branches had to be removed before spring came and grass was to be mowed.

32. stack: place one on another in a pile (堆放).

33. damage: the injury suffered by someone or something (损伤、损害).

34. evident: easily seen or detected (清楚的,显然的).

35. tornado watch: a weather term used by weather forecasters meaning that there is a possible storm forming in a given area, and that the inhabitants should be prepared for it (密切关注龙卷风,气象用语).

36. weather lions: dangerous weather conditions (危险的天气状况).

37. below freezing: below freezing point (冰点以下).

38.destructive: harmful or causing damage (具有破坏性的).

39. lionish: harmful, destructive, unpleasant; as in weather (有害的,恶劣的).



Mushrooms and Spring

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Last week I had my first phone call about spring mushrooms1. This is an annual ritual2 with mixed benefits3. It does remind me that when April arrives in this part of the U.S., some people begin thinking about edible4 mushrooms, especially about morel5 mushrooms, or sponge mushrooms as they are commonly called.


Mushrooms are fungi6, and like other living things, some are edible, some inedible7 and some poisonous8. Knowledge of edibility9 accumulated over time as humans tried to eat specific types of mushrooms or other food, and the results were observed, remembered and reported to other people.


Eventually10 as humans developed language11, they passed on information about mushrooms to one another. When language became written, some people began to study and write down information about edibility. Finally some people began to specialize12 in the study of mushrooms. Their written records were organized13 in books. That is why people call me. Some friends and I wrote a mushroom book that can be used for identification14 of mushrooms. It also tells which mushrooms have been reported to be edible.


When spring finally arrives, people are anxious to get outside15 to enjoy nature16. One of the excuses17 for being outside is the annual mushroom hunt18. Not everyone owns a mushroom book, so newspapers print articles19 and radio stations20 have short specialty21 talks about them. The phone call I received last week led to my being interviewed22 this morning by a man from the local radio station. He wondered where morels can be found, and how one can tell which may be poisonous look-alikes23. We had an enjoyable conversation24, and one thing I know for sure is that when his mushroom program airs25 on our local station, I’ll receive many more phone calls.



1. spring mushrooms: fleshy fungi which appear in the spring of the year.

2. annual ritual: an event which occurs each year (每年都会发生的事).

3. mixed benefits: results which are sometimes good and other times not good (不确定是好是坏的结果).

4. edible: something which can be eaten safely (可食用的).

5. morel: a desirable type of mushroom characterized by a sponge-like appearance (一种比较好的蘑菇,外表像海绵). Some people consider them to be the very best of edible mushrooms.

6. fungi (真菌): organisms placed in their own group, separate from plants, animals and bacteria.

7. inedible: not edible because of texture, flavor, or poisonous compounds (不能食用的,由于质量、味道或含有有毒化合物等原因).

8. poisonous: having the property of being harmful or destructive if eaten (有毒的).

9. edibility: the quality of suitability for eating without harmful effects (可食用性).

10. eventually: in the end, after a period of time (最终,终于).

11. language: the ability to communicate accurately, usually orally (语言能力).

12. specialize: focus on (a specific part of a body of knowledge) (专门/重点研究).

13. organized: placed in a meaningful system for study or use (编写于……以便研究).

14. identification: determination of specific types so that each may be accurately recognized (确认).

15. outside: in a natural setting, not within a building or other structure (室外、户外).

16. nature: all of the types of living things which occur in the world (大自然).

17. excuses: reasons given for performing a given action or behavior (理由、借口).

18. annual mushroom hunt: a search for certain mushrooms such as morels which appear about the same time each year (每年去找、拣蘑菇).

19. articles: short news items about a given topic or subject (报纸上的专题短文章).

20. radio stations: places where radio broadcasts originate or take place (无线电台).

21. specialty: specific topics relating to something or event (专业、专题).

22. interviewed: engaged in conversation with a reporter or interviewer who asks specific questions of the topic of interest (被采访、访谈).

23. look-alikes: a look-alike is one that looks like another (看上去一样的东西).

24. how one can tell which may be poisonous look-alikes: 人们如何能够辨别,看上去一样的东西会是有毒的。Mushrooms or other things which may appear to be harmless but which in reality are poisonous. In mushrooms collected for eating in the wild, this is a major problem which can be avoided only by knowledge of the mushrooms involved.

25. airs: is broadcast on the radio for listeners to hear (广播).