Thanks to the AMVETS, we fly the American Flag outside the Collins Learning Center at Crossroads. And thanks to Breakfast Rotary, we also display “Old Glory” in our lecture hall. But on Flag Day, we celebrate with a hike to Big Creek in search of Blue Flag, which is a wild purple iris.
Flags, the iris kind, grow all over the world under cultivation and in the wild. The distinctive six-petal flowers have been used in art and designs and were the inspiration for the fleur-de-lis, the national symbol of France.
The structure of the iris blossom is a perfect example of how a plant is pollinated by insects. The seed producing organs are in the center of the flower. So is the nectar, and three iris petals (called “standards” ) arch over the nectar-rich ovaries. The horizontal or drooping three petals are called “falls” and on these petals area yellow, hairy-looking tufts that have come to be called the “beard.”
A bumblebee or digger bee (or less often, butterfly or skipper) lands on the horizontal petal and follows the beard, rather like following the yellow brick road directly to the nectar.
The beauty of this system is that as the pollinating insect walks on the beard, it can’t help but brush some of the pollen off the stamens which hang directly above the beard. Because the insect flies from flower to flower, attracted by the cloying sweet odor, it fertilizes the iris plant and seeds develop.
Flags also spread by underground stems called rhizomes. Each year, the plant stores food in the rhizomes for next year’s growth and to support new plants, so down by Big Creek, we usually find colonies, but will they bloom on time this crazy year? Join the naturalist at 11:00 on Flag Day for a gentle walk to Big Creek “in search of Flags.”
The Summer Family Programs are underway. During the three months of summer, thanks to a generous grant from the MMG Foundation, Crossroads at Big Creek offers free family programs Monday through Thursday at 1:30. This week, learners of all ages (all are welcome–you don’t have to come with a family!) will focus on astronomy.
At the end of the school year, many children were thrilled to experience The Dome at the Stonecipher Astronomy Center for a planetarium show. “Can we bring our families to The Dome?” they asked.
“We could make that happen,” we told them, and we will on Wednesday, June 12, at 1:30. In collaboration with the Door Peninsula Astronomical Society, Crossroads will offer a planetarium show for families. DPAS member Susan Basten will present an introduction to the night sky. Please use the Utah Street Entrance to get to the Astronomy Campus.
On Thursday, Kathleen Toerpy, a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador will present the interactive Family Program, “Red Rover, Red Rover,” focusing on Mars exploration. Participants will “design” a Mars Rover which will be equipped to answer their questions about the “red planet”. This program will be held in the Collins Learning Center.
Water will be the topics of the Family Programs on Monday and Tuesday. Monday, participants will explore Big Creek in search for aquatic creatures. We’ll supply the nets, but participants should wear shoes that can get wet. The wonders of water will be explored on Tuesday with one of our most popular programs–“Waterfest” . Kids will receive a free t-shirt (Youth size only) to wear while “playing” with the amazing substance called water.