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Floating on My Back, I Watch the Sky by Elaine A. Powers, Author

Sky at dusk, so arizonaYes, there really is a bat in this photo.

You might have heard people say that in the Sonoran Desert, “It’s a dry heat.” Yes, there is very low humidity in Tucson, which makes the high afternoon temperatures comfortable–okay, tolerable. However, this also makes the overnight temps surprisingly cool. I enjoy swimming and am fortunate to have a nice pool. But I am a wimp when it comes to water temperature. The pool must be at least 88 degrees before I can comfortably swim at night. When those magical nights come, I enjoy watching the night creatures emerge, as the daytime inhabitants head to bed.

At dusk, I float on my back and watch the sky. The first to appear are the nighthawks with their distinctive wings crisscrossing in pursuit of insects. They are the Lesser Nighthawks, Chordeiles acutipennis.

A few minutes later, the animals I’ve been waiting for arrive: my favorite mammal, bats. As I quietly float, they swirl, swoop and circle around me . . . at a very high rate of speed. They are gulping insects. I wonder if I’m attracting some of the insects and that is why the bats speed around me. Occasionally, a bat touches the water–perhaps catching a quick drink?

I believe these are big brown bats. The “big” part is in comparison to other North American bats. I like them because they eat insects, especially around my house. I don’t have to put up bat houses to entice them, since they roost in my trees. I do have one that likes the side of my chimney. I am always delighted to see my bat neighbors.

I’m told I should include photographs of my blog subjects. I want you to know I tried, I really did. But, do you know how fast bats fly? According to the Desert Museum’s website, it is up to 40 mph. And they don’t fly in straight lines! I took about 30 pictures to get this one shot.

sky at dusk, so arizona, with bat circledThat gray smudge is a bat.

But I’m not disappointed. I get to enjoy them in person, every night, sometimes, floating on my back in my pool.

Now, that’s life!

For more information about bats, please see Lyric Power Publishing’s supplemental, educational workbook, My Book About Bats and Rats, Grades K-3.

a yellow and green book cover with an image of a fruit bat and a common rat

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Maybe I Should’ve Brought the Other Book, Too by Elaine A. Powers, Author

female author sitting at book signing table, books in the background
Me, signing books at Tohono Chul Museum Gift Shop

July 13 was the 2019 Tohono Chul Bloom Night. If you’re not familiar with the night-blooming Cereus, the cactus only blooms at night and they all bloom on the same night, once each year! It’s incredible.

Linda Wolfe of Tohono Chul gave me the idea to write about the night-blooming Cereus, and Lee Mason provided the information about these amazing cacti. I finished writing The Queen of the Night: The Night-blooming Cereus just in time for the big night. I was delighted to be able to sign the books as they were purchased in the greenhouse gift shop.

The staff and visitors were excited about the flowers, but another local created a bit of excitement. A rattlesnake came out to enjoy the evening, as well. Fortunately, everyone got along.

But it make me wonder if maybe I should have had a few copies of my rattlesnake book with me to sign, as well.  Something to think about for next year.

Of course, you don’t have to wait until next year to get your copies. 🙂

a light brown book cover with green lettering: Queen of the Night: Night Blooming Cereus, with illustration of a white flower
A favorite in Southern Arizona where the Night-blooming Cereus bloom all together, one night per year

Don’tMakeMeRattleA brown book cover, with a circle with blue sky, with a rattlesnake popping out of the circle, title: Don't Make Me Rattle

Everything you ever wanted to know about rattlesnakes, written in rhyme, with beautiful, colorful illustrations.

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Is the Snake Oviparous, Ovoviviparous or Viviparous? By Elaine A. Powers, Author

Snakes are reptiles and as such, they produce eggs. Snakes that lay eggs are called oviparous. The eggs are incubated in the natural world until they hatch. Most “common” snakes fall into this category.

However, there are two other categories of reproducing snakes. Some keep the eggs inside their bodies where the baby snakes hatch and are then released as live young. The rattlesnake is an example of this. These snakes are called ovoviviparous.

As amazing as ovoviviparous snakes are, even more incredible are the viviparous snakes, which reproduce in a manner similar to mammals. Viviparous snakes develop their young inside their bodies without an egg shell. The mothers nourish their developing young through a placenta and yolk sac, which is very unusual in reptiles. Boa constrictors, like the Bahamian boas, are examples of this reproductive method.

To learn even more about rattlesnakes and boa constrictors, check out my books, Don’t Make Me Rattle! and Bahamian Boas: A Tabby Tale.

A brown book cover, with a circle with blue sky, with a rattlesnake popping out of the circle, title: Don't Make Me Rattle

A children's book cover, brown background, orange and yellow lettering, with images of snakes from the Bahamas
BAHAMIAN BOAS: A TABBY TALE Now Available at Amazon

 

And check out Lyric Power Publishing’s fun, educational supplements, our workbooks and activity sheets on snakes, tortoises, turtles, birds, plants and rocks!

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How Does the Rattlesnake Drink Water? By Elaine A. Powers, Author

A colorful, red and gold illustration of a rattlesnake
From the book “Don’t Make Me Rattle!”

With the start of the monsoon season, you may be wondering about the animals that live in this harsh desert environment. With an annual rainfall of only 12 inches, having water to drink is a significant issue. Rattler bodies are adapted to prevent unnecessary water loss: the scales are impermeable, the snakes don’t urinate and they can detect water with their incredible sense of smell and taste.

Rattlers take advantage of rain by drinking from puddles, of course.  But more impressive, is that they collect water on their skin to drink. This amazing behavior is shown in this illustration from Don’t Make Me Rattle!, a book I wrote in rhyme to make learning about rattlesnakes fun!

This image was created by the talented Tucsonan, Nick Thorpe.

 

 

A brown book cover, with a circle with blue sky, with a rattlesnake popping out of the circle, title: Don't Make Me Rattle

Lyric Power Publishing also publishes supplemental, educational and fun activity sheets and workbooks. Want to learn all about rattlesnakes while keeping busy this summer? Click below to see all that is inside these masterful workbooks.

a white and light blue book cover with an image of a western diamondback rattlesnake

A Book Cover, Colorful Dotted Border, Yellow Background, Orange letters My Book About United States Rattlesnakes, with an image of a Rock Rattlesnake and a list of US Rattlers

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Why Does the Tortoise Go Out in the Rain? By Elaine A. Powers, Author

a tortoise on wet patio
Heading out to catch some rain drops!

It’s the start of monsoon season here in the Sonoran Desert. When the rain begins to fall, the tortoise comes out of her den. Why? Is it because she’s afraid the water will rush into her underground den and fill it up?

No, she comes out because it’s time to drink. The desert tortoise finds a depression in the ground where the water collects. Then she drinks and drinks and drinks until her bladder is full.

I’ve tried putting out dishes of water for my tortoise, but she won’t drink from a source where the water is still.  Sometimes, I pretend to be a storm and rain down water from my hose.

It’s a truly wonderful thing when it rains in the desert. We should all be more like the tortoise and go out and drink it in!

Here I am reading Don’t Call Me Turtle! to Myrtle.

If you’d like to know more about tortoises, check out my rhyming book, Don’t Call Me Turtle! My tortoise, Myrtle, asked me to write about the differences between turtles and tortoises because everyone kept calling her Myrtle the Turtle. She’d finally had enough! She likes her book a lot, perhaps just a smidge more than my young readers!

A children's book cover, green with a tortoise standing, coming out of a circle, finger pointed, saying Don't Call Me Turtle

And check our our workbooks on tortoises and turtles at our Lyric Power Publishing Workbooks page. They are full of information, and have lots of fun activity sheets for kids (and adults like them, too, I’m told!) that help to pass the long summer days.

a yellow and green book cover with an image of a desert tortoise

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Ice Break Day in Tucson? Arizona? by Elaine A. Powers, Author

Ice Floe jutting from the ocean
Image by Simon Matzinger from Pixabay

Here in Tucson, we recently celebrated Ice Break Day. It occurred on June 9, 2019 at 2:37 pm, as reported from the Tucson International Airport. Those of you up North know what ice break originally meant. During winter, rivers and bays have been known to freeze solid. Ships are unable to navigate the waters until spring when the ice breaks. Consequently, supplies are limited until the ships are able to push through.  Ice breaking ships were built to aid in hastening this release from being ice-bound. Many communities hold events to guess when ice break will occur in their waterways.

Here in the Desert Southwest, where we enjoy our dry heat, we also celebrate Ice Break. However, the only ice we have here is our freezers.  We frequently add it to beverages for cold refreshing drinks. So, what is Ice Break in Tucson? It’s the day and time we officially reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit for the first time in a calendar year. Many TV station weather-people have contests with prizes for the person whose guess is closest to the actual time.

“Has Tucson ever failed to have a 100-degree day?” you ask.  Hah, you’re amusing.  Ever since temperature records have been kept, it has reached 100 degrees every year.

How does 2019 compare to previous years for the Ice Break?  The earliest date was April 19, 1989 and the latest was June 22, 1905.  May 26 is the average.  So we’re a bit later than average this year, although we had several near misses earlier.

So, just how hot does it get in Tucson?  The highest recorded temperature was 117 degrees on June 26, 1990. Even with the low humidity, that would be hot.

Many people head for cooler climes when the summer heats here in Tucson, but I enjoy the hot temperatures. I say, Don’t go! Make your plans now to be here for next year’s Ice Break in Tucson and get that chill out of your bones.

Elaine A. Powers is a true adventurer and the author of science-based children’s books, written in rhyme and adventure stories.

Lyric Power Publishing also publishes supplemental, educational workbooks with activity sheets to help keep the kids busy during the summer.  My Book on Directions and Place is packed with information to help your child understand directions, use maps, the Compass Rose, etc.

a green and white book cover with an image of a Compass Rose

 

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Queen of the Night: The Night-Blooming Cereus by Elaine A. Powers

a light brown book cover with green lettering: Queen of the Night: Night Blooming Cereus, with illustration of a white flowerSometimes in life, we end up on an unexpected path. I was going to write murder mysteries, but the muses had different ideas.  I ended up writing science-based children’s books. These aren’t general topic books–most are written for specific locations.  I have found a niche for writing books about places and things other authors probably wouldn’t.

When I was told there were not any books about the Night-Blooming Cereus, I accepted the challenge to write a picture book about them. In researching the book, I didn’t find any information on the details of the plant’s growth and flowers.  The amazing thing about this species is that all the plants flower together on the same night! An incredible sight and feat.  How do they all know? Fortunately, the local botanical garden, Tohono Chul, has Lee Mason, an expert on all things Cereus (Peniocereus greggii). He generously shared his knowledge.

Then the rhyming began. YES, it’s written in rhyme. It’s fun!

Tucson artist, Nicholas Thorpe, created the illustrations.  You may remember Nick from the “Don’t” series books. We were able to complete this book in record time, so that it would be available for Bloom Night 2019. Fortunately, the Cereus waited for us.  Now, they are free to bloom whenever they want.

From The Queen of the Night: the Night-blooming Cereus:

 It’s just a bare stick, stuck in the ground,

Why on earth would you keep it around?

The reason becomes abundantly clear,

On one very special night each year.

image of web page re: night blooming cereus at tohonochul.orgThe book is available at Tohono Chul in Tucson, AZ., where they are currently awaiting the annual one-night only 2019 blooming of Cereus, and at amazon.com.