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Deep Shade Grass Seed
Deep in the Shade of Paradise
Dufresne is "an extraordinarily generous and lyrical storyteller" (San Francisco Chronicle) who has been compared to John Irving (New Orleans Times Picayune) and William Faulkner (Detroit Free Press).
Welcome to Shiver-de-Freeze, a boot-shaped precinct deep in the Louisiana swamp, famous for its healing waters and curious fauna. Grisham Loudermilk is marrying Ariane Thevenot at Paradise, the family's ancestral home, and we're here for the wedding. But reason and love, it would seem, keep little company in Paradise these days: Grisham's cousin Adlai Birdsong has fallen desperately in love with the bride-to-be. Adlai's ill-advised courtship proceeds even as his daddy, Royce, strles to recall his past in the face of Alzheimer's; as Father Pat McDermott realizes his passion for the mother of the bride; as the conjoined twins, Tous-les-Deux, train their eyes on Boudou Fontana, the last of the star-crossed Fontana clan. And just when it seems that Adlai must resign himself to a prolonged season of bachelorhood, Miranda Ferry, Grisham's recent lover, wanders into town unawares.
With his signature tragic-comic voice and cast of unforgettable and lively characters, Dufresne explores love, death, imagination, and memory. Reading group guide available.
In his fever-dream novel Deep in the Shade of Paradise, John Dufresne is a goofily, deliriously intrusive authorial presence. He's constantly popping in and declaiming upon his plot and its various themes (which are, incidentally, love and memory and family and Southern cooking.) Toward the end of the book he pronounces, "No characters are minor." This might well be the motto of the book, which is a ridiculously circuitous retelling of A Midsummer's Night Dream, set in deepest Louisiana and cast with literally dozens of cousins. The central story is a love triangle: there's our hero Adlai Birdsong, his cousin Grisham Loudermilk, and Loudermilk's fiancee, Ariane Thevenot. Adlai pursues the beautiful Ariane through plot twists and philosophical digressions, into bars and bedrooms, and finally to the family's old estate where the wedding is to take place. Being a Southern novel, no wedding is complete without a death, and being a Shakespearean exercise, no wedding is complete without a play-within-a-play. Dufresne happily provides all this and more in a novel so completely imagined that in the back, there's an appendix like a capacious satchel, made to hold "items of passing interest." --Claire Dederer
Florida Harvester Ants - Pogonomyrmex badius
Although the Florida harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex badius (Latreille), occurs throughout most of Florida it is limited by its ecological requirements. Where it does occur, the ant nest is readily visible as a large cleared area with a number of slow moving individuals on the surface near the nest. Harvester ants in the genus Pogonomyrmex received this name due to their practice of gathering seeds for food. While there are 22 species of harvester ants found in the United States, only the Florida harvester ant occurs east of the Mississippi River (Smith and Whitman 1992).
The Florida harvester ant is found from Florida to North Carolina (Haack and Granovsky 1990) and west into Mississippi (Creighton 1950) and Louisiana (Cole 1968). The ant is the only eastern representative of the genus Pogonomyrmex (Cole 1968).
The adults are dark rust red in color (Haack and Granovsky 1990), with the worker caste strongly polymorphic (1/4 to 3/8 inch long) (Smith and Whitman 1992). The major worker has a disproportionally enlarged head (after Creighton 1950).
Like most other Pogonomyrmex spp. the Florida harvester ant has a psammophore (rows of long hair on ventral side of head) but it is poorly developed (Smith and Whitman 1992). The antennae are clubless with twelve segments. The thoracic dorsum has the sutures obsolescent or absent, and the thorax is not impressed between the masonotum and epinotum; The abdominal pedicel consists of two segments. The tibial spurs on the middle and hind legs are very finely pectinate.
The Florida harvester ant differs from all other Pogonomyrmex spp. in having polymorphic (more than one size) workers. The huge headed soldiers (major workers) are not abundant in the colonies and seem to be no more aggressive or pugnacious than the intermediate and smaller workers (Wheeler 1910).
The Florida harvester ant nests exclusively or by preference in sand. It requires open areas in which to build its nest and tends to nest in open woodlands or grassy areas (Haack and Granovsky 1990). Xeric hammocks are preferred. Many nests are found on lawns, around gardens, and in fire lanes (Van Pelt 1958). The mound is very slight and flattened with single or multiple entrances in the center and is from 30 to 60 cm in diameter. Unlike most other harvester ant species (Haack and Granovsky 1990), Florida harvester ant workers make no effort to clear vegetation from around the mound (Wheeler 1910). However, the mound is often covered with small pebbles or charcoal from burned areas (Smith and Whitman 1992).
The ant is vigorously active in rather low relative humidity (below 55 percent) and in high temperatures (35-40°C). Mating swarms usually occur in the afternoon after a rain (Haack and Granovsky 1990). Winged forms (reproductive adults) have been observed in the nests in May, and mating flights were recorded for June (Van Pelt 1958). Haack and Granovsky (1990) state that harvester ants swarm from June to October although the swarms are more common during August and September. Colonies are long lived and one was observed to last at least 19 years (Haack and Granovsky 1990). There is a single queen in each colony (Smith and Whitman 1992).
The ant harvests the seeds of many plants and stores them in the flat graneries of its nest which consists of many subterranean tunnels and chambers (Haack and Granovsky 1990, Tschinkel 2001). It not only collects seeds that have fallen to the ground, but also plucks them directly from the plants, husks them and deposits the chaff on the kitchen middens at the periphery of the mound. Seeds from the following plants have been identified from nests: ragweed, crab grass, small crab grass, rough buttonweed, sedge, Paspalium sp., poke weed, red clover, alfalfa, evening primrose, narrow leaf vetch and crotonweed.
The Florida harvester ant moves its nest periodically (an average of once every 234 days) in response to changes in microclimate resulting from shading due to overhanging vegetation. Pogonomyrmex workers of one colony will readily fight members of another colony of the same or different ant species and continued strife of this kind also results in colony movement (Smith and Whitman 1992).
The Florida harvester ant is not of economic importance to growers and homeowners, is not aggressive and almost has to be forced to sting someone. However, the sting is among the more painful of those received from ants and the pain lasts longer than usual for ant stings due to the poison injected (Haack and Granovsky 1990). Some swelling may also occur as the reaction to their stings spread along the lymph channels (Ebeling 1978).
A personal account of a sting episode by Wray (1938) is as follows: "Several ants stung me on the wrist, and after a few minutes an intense fiery pain began in this area which was about two inches in diameter. It turned deep red in color and
Cynodon dactylon (syn. Panicum dactylon, Capriola dactylon), also known as durva grass, Bermuda Grass, Dubo, Dog's Tooth Grass, Bahama Grass, Devil's Grass, Couch Grass, Indian Doab, Arugampul, Grama, and Scutch Grass, is a grass native to north Africa, Asia and Australia and southern Europe. The name "Bermuda Grass" derives from its abundance as an invasive species on Bermuda; it does not occur naturally there.
The blades are a grey-green colour and are short, usually 2–15 centimetres (0.79–5.9 in) long with rough edges. The erect stems can grow 1–30 centimetres (0.39–12 in) tall. The stems are slightly flattened, often tinged purple in colour. The seed heads are produced in a cluster of 2–6 spikes together at the top of the stem, each spike 2–5 centimetres (0.79–2.0 in) long. It has a deep root system; in drought situations with penetrable soil, the root system can grow to over 2 m deep, though most of the root mass is less than 60 cm under the surface. The grass creeps along the ground and root wherever a node touches the ground, forming a dense mat. C. dactylon reproduces through seeds, through runners and rhizomes. Growth begins at temperatures above 15 °C (59 °F) with optimum growth between 24 to 37 °C (75 to 99 °F); in winter the grass becomes dormant and turns brown. Growth is promoted by full sun and retarded by full shade, e.g., close to tree trunks.
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