twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
Applejack isn't the only pony who has been working hard to catch up on her duties after our long trek north and back. Fluttershy and Amethyst Star are responsible for monitoring the biodiversity and population dynamics in and around Ponyville. That includes assessments of the diversity, density and age structure of the plants via regular and scientifically rigorous sampling of various ecological communities. That sounds like so much fun! Today Fluttershy was heading out to Whitetail Woods to do some transect sampling. I volunteered to tag along and enter the data into her wax canvas field notebook. An excellent choice in rugged bound stationary, I might add.

The early fall is such a nice time of year. The lush growth of summer is bearing fruit, the air is cool and fragrant, and the leaves are beginning to turn color. We packed dice, flags, a spotting scope, a random number table, a key to identifying the plants of Ponyville, Canterlot and the Everfree Forest (I want one!), measuring tape, stakes and string. We also packed a picnic lunch and Angel Bunny.

Fluttershy's starting point is 500 paces into Whitetail Woods, following the Leaf Runner Trail. From there she uses the dice and her random number table to find a fresh starting point on the trail, either forward or back. At the fresh starting point, the dice and random numbers give her a compass direction and she uses the spotting scope to establish a straight line for her belt transect, which is three paces wide and one hundred paces long. We placed flags to delineate the study area, and then the fun began!

Fluttershy identified every plant at every pace, measured every tree diameter at withers' height, and I followed her and wrote it all down. Angel Bunny also sampled the plant life, in his own way, although not so much in the belt transect and not really at random either.

Fluttershy has noted a fair bit of disruption to the various plant communities around Ponyville. Discord's plants saw to that. As a result there has been an increase in the number of secondary successional plants colonizing the gaps left by toppled climax plants. But overall, Ponyville's plant communities are recovering nicely. The Running of the Leaves helps.

Every year, ponies wrap up fall by running as a herd through the forests. This causes the cells walls in the abscission layer of the tree leaves to thin and the leaves to fall. The pounding of so many pony hooves also stimulates the health of all the plants in the communities the run goes through. Thus the rapid recovery of the plants here after the Tree had eliminated Discord's vines.

We stopped for lunch under the trees. I noticed that I could tell where we had walked by the appearance of the plants we had passed. The leaves of the understory plants were suddenly going yellow and the leaves in the trees were changing to red, orange and yellow right before my eyes. Pony magic.

After lunch, Fluttershy finished up the day's data collection with a quadrant, or rectangular plot, sample area. She rolled and looked up a random point on, and a direction perpendicular to, her belt transect, then looked up a random distance to establish the lower corner of the quadrant. We pegged and strung a cord from one corner to the next to make a six pace by twelve pace rectangle and then Fluttershy methodically identified every plant and measured every tree diameter in the quadrant.

The job done, we packed up our things, collected all the flags, scooped up Angel Bunny and headed home. Behind us, the trees were beautiful.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
Today is the day Rarity and Fluttershy usually meet at the spa. As I was still sore from picking zap apples, I went too.

I brought five zap apples, two for the spa ponies, one for Rarity, one for Fluttershy, and a spare. While I waited with Fluttershy for Rarity to arrive, I gave the two zap apples to the spa ponies and ordered the massage treatment. Rarity arrived and I gave them each an apple too.

Fluttershy has been busy with Amethyst Star preparing the tree shaping proposal. They are worried it might not pass the scrutiny of the Ethics Board. There is the perpetual concern of accidentally creating another parasprite or poison joke. Or a whipping willow. It's not always easy to keep such things restrained to the Everfree forest.

When they have it all prepared and typed out, Amethyst Star will take care of the correspondence as well as any delegations from the Biome Management Association.

That massage and soak in the hot tub did me a world of good. I'm still tired but at least I'm not still sore.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
Now that I'm back I'm trying to catch up on my reading. We should be having another potluck supper soon, probably at Rarity's boutique. It will depend on everypony being up for it. What should I make?

Applejack has been working long hours tilling fields, planting and weeding. The lion's share was done as part of Winter Wrap Up, but there's still plenty to keep the Apple family busy.

Dash is off on Wonder Bolts Reserves duty, but she'll be back tomorrow. She has weather duty in Ponyville too and Applejack isn't going to be too pleased if her fields and orchards don't get watered on time.

Rarity should be making a run to Manehatten soon with an order of Spring formal wear and to touch base with Coco Pommel. I think Pinkie Pie has been stashing ling thin balloons everywhere for "animal balloon emergencies".

Fluttershy has high hopes for kits from her jackalope pair. She's added willow and poplar trimmings to the options in the diet of the animals she has under close husbandry. She's looking for areas around her cottage where she can plant some pioneer trees and bushes and boost her primary productivity. Preferably near a stand of mature trees. And she's going to make a few brush piles. A good balance of interspersed cover types and early succession woody plants along grassy areas makes for good rabbitat.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
Warmer air from longer days is making fog rise off the snow in and around Ponyville. It's very pretty, but ponies do like to see into the distance, just in case something nasty might be creeping up on them. So the streets of Ponyville were mostly empty. Rainbow Dash will be out clearing the fog soon.

The Everfree forest has a mind of it's own and was mostly fog-free. Sure, there are many dangerous creatures there and the gloom and untamed plant growth makes me feel trapped, but I wanted to visit Zecora, and between the fog and the Everfree, the Everfree forest was almost more inviting.

Spring isn't for another three days in snowbound Ponyville, but in the Everfree, a lot of the snow is gone and there are spring flowers! I saw snowdrops, coltsfoot, skunk cabbage and crocuses pushing up from the ground, the skunk cabbage was even melting the snow! Weird, wonderful, worrying... I hurried on.

Zecora welcomed me inside and over tea we chatted about spring, the Equestrian Municipal Affairs reports, magic and the magical resonance that occurred last "Twilight Time". Zecora thinks I should see if the foals can repeat the tree canister feat. A hollow tree can make a nice house, fit for a pony if coaxed to grow larger than that for a mouse.

If we try that, we'll do it outside in the Spring. I don't need a full sized tree in my hall. Especially not if it catches fire or explodes.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
It was sunny but really cold today and the wind made it a biting cold. It was really starting to nip at my hocks on my trot down to the Town Hall to see how Applejack's crew was getting along. Toe-Tapper and Torch Song were upstairs going over the props and making sure we had enough make-up. It's going well.

Even bundled up in my red and gold horse blanket I was cold cantering back home. Ponies have started to put up festive garlands, candy canes and decorated trees but I didn't stop to admire them. I could practically feel Windigos blowing down my neck. Well not really. It takes a lot of hard feelings and bickering to summon Windigos.

So much of Equestria's ecology is chained to the combined mood and will of all ponies and so much can go so very wrong. That's why we have the Hearth's Warming holiday, to bring cheer to ponies when winter would have us stable ourselves away. Ponies change the seasons but ponies can also bring the Windigos. We can be our own worst enemies sometimes.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
Unlike what appears to be the case in the Earth realm, we can't do without magic or let magic lapse, forgotten and unused. Almost everything in Equestria depends on pony magic to function properly. Right at the top of the list is keeping the day and night cycle on time. Then there's the seasons, the weather, managing the fauna and getting the plants to grow. All of it requires magical intervention from ponies. Mostly from specialists, but all ponies are magical and all ponies help in some way. Sure the animals are bright enough to share ideas and feelings with ponies (or at least with Fluttershy, I don't speak 'squirrel') but they require a helping hoof to plan far enough ahead to build their own nests, migrate or find food in the spring. It has always been thus, it's how things work in Equestria. Except in the Everfree forest, where it is always gloomy and nothing is run by ponies.

It's strange that the ancient Tree of Harmony exists in the middle of the Everfree. Such a strange and powerful tree, made of rock and gems, leafless, existing in a grotto and somehow responsive to our needs. Perhaps it is shaping the Everfree and its inhabitants. It is so powerful, it may even shape or have shaped all of Equestria. Which came first, ponies or the Tree? Perhaps the tree is the manifestation of the combined will and magic of the ponies of Equestria? No that wouldn't fit, Tirek had consumed the entire sum of the magic of all the ponies and we easily defeated him with magic afforded us by the Tree.

We find it spooky when things happen on their own, like there are ghosts in the machine. It's very reassuring to know that clouds stay where you put them and that if they move, it's because a pony pushed them. There would be so much chaos if everything just did as it pleased! There would be floods and droughts! Bunnies would eat everything! Like when Discord broke free that first time and took over Equestria. I think Discord would feel right at home on Earth. How do Earth denizens remain sane? I think I'm beginning to see why this E-Athenaeum is such a jumble. It's Discorded!

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twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
Twilight Sparkle

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