Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Best Vacation Ever

Number of Ticks removed: 39
Days Tick-free: 4

We’ve made it home from what was possibly the Best Vacation Ever. The trip was great before it ever even started. A while ago I may have mentioned that my watch stopped working (this I need for taking my data at 2 minute intervals); Rob and I actually found a battery for the watch in Moyogalpa. While we were waiting for the ferry, Rob put in the new battery, and my watch started working again, so I am back in business. Once we made it to the mainland, we stopped in Rivas where, after a very long and complicated (and at times, vomitous) process that spans approximately 3 years, I was finally able to acquire a copy of my research permit for this project. I’m just hoping that this is better late than never.

From Rivas we took a bus to the town of Masaya, and then took a taxi to the nearby Laguna de Apoyo. The place is absolutely beautiful and the Proyecto Ecologico is absolutely amazing. In addition to being a research station, it is also a Spanish school where travelers come to learn the language for a week or two at a time. The conditions were extremely rustic, but the ambiance definitely made up for it. Plus, the food was really great. On Thursday (24 May) when we arrived, they had vegetarian stir fry, complete with tofu for dinner. Believe you me, I savored every proteinaceous bite. Plus, the next morning for breakfast, there was actual cereal. It was some kind of granola/museli thing that had lots of crunchy bits and raisins, and though I normally shun dairy products, I couldn’t help but eat it doused in milk—it was delicious.

After breakfast on Friday (25 May), Rob and I went out to the forest with a guy named Pablo (neither of the 2 Pablos I have written about before), who is a university student and also sort of runs the Proyecto Ecologico, plus he is an expert in plants and birds. Unfortunately, we did not find the monkeys, but I could have told you that 9:00 in the morning is the worst time to try to find them. At any rate, Rob and I went swimming in the Laguna in the afternoon. The UNAN (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Nicaragua) students arrived from Managua on Friday afternoon as well. I got to meet Maria-Teresa, the student who wants to study howler monkeys for her thesis. Just to recap, the whole reason I went to Laguna de Apoyo was to teach methodology to Nicaraguan student(s) who want to do projects on monkeys. They’ve had a bit of biology background, but do not have anyone to really show them how to collect primate behavioral data, so that was my job.
Melissa by the laguna

At any rate, Maria-Teresa was extremely motivated to find the monkeys and learn how to collect data, so the next morning (Saturday 26 May), she and Pablo and I left at 5:00am to get started. We found the monkeys without too much difficulty, and Maria-Teresa and I stayed with them for several hours going over the data collection process. There are definitely plenty of monkeys in the area, but doing a project there will be quite a challenge. The terrain is extremely difficult. Picture a perfectly vertical wall. That is what it is like. After 2 days in the forest, my arms hurt so bad from pulling myself up the side of the volcano. But coming down was worse. At times you can be on your feet, but often the only way you can do it is just to slide down on your behind. I don’t think I could ever do a project in that location, but Maria-Teresa is undeterred, so more power to her. She is really a remarkable person. What is really remarkable is that she suffered through an entire day of my rudimentary Spanish and we somehow worked out a data collection protocol for her project.

On Saturday night, a British guy and American girl who were students in the Spanish school made a really fantastic dinner for all of us. One of the things they fixed was a fabulous and super-spicy vegetarian coconut curry—oh that was so good. Plus, someone had brought some wine, which really hit the spot. It was a really great night. I spent some more time talking with the director of the field station—a U.S. biologist who has so many stories about Nicaraguan flora and fauna, and someone I can hopefully continue to collaborate with in the future.

On Sunday (27 May) Rob and I decided to leave Proyecto Ecologico for the nearby town of Masaya. Before, I had only been to Masaya to visit its huge and famous artisan market (if you want to shop for Nicaraguan souvenirs, this is the place to do it), but once I actually had a chance to explore the town proper, I fell in love with it. Seriously, I was looking for apartments for rent. Maybe I was just a little starved for an actual city after so many months in extremely rural conditions, but whatever the reason, I really enjoyed the time we spent in Masaya. On Sunday afternoon, Rob and I went to the malecón to admire the view of the lake and the Volcan Masaya in the distance. We also went over to the hammock district, where I looked in every single shop to find the perfect hammock that I now have no idea how we will transport back to the U.S. Actually, we got two from the same family. I love these Nicarguan shops. Its not a big impersonal store like you would go into in the U.S.—these are actually peoples’ homes and you are kind of like in their living room, looking through their display of hammocks. After our tour of the hammock district, we went on to the artisan market where I did more shopping, but mainly admiring, of Nicaraguan handi-crafts.

Rob in the hammock district

Masaya Volcano

Rob was delighted to find an actual Subway restaurant in Masaya—who would have thought! That made for a good afternoon snack, and then for dinner we found a Tele Pizza that, according to Rob, served “not terrible pizza” (that is pretty much the highest pizza compliment Rob can award in Nicaragua).

The hotel we were staying at in Masaya (Hotel Maderas) was a really cute little place, and the owners were very friendly. Like all Nicaraguan hospedajes, the hotel was just an extension of the owners’ home—the “reception desk” was pretty much in their living room, and the whole family was often perched out there watching TV. In a totally random occurrence, it turned out that one of the girls Rob and I had just met at the Spanish school was actually living in an apartment right next to the hotel. So we hung out with her and her boyfriend on Sunday night and ended up having a really great time.

On Monday (28 May), Rob and I went to Masaya Volcano National Park. It was a short bus ride from town, and then a fairly step walk up to the “visitors center.” The visitors center was seriously amazing though. It could have been an art museum in itself. Someone who is at least as talented as DaVinci had painted all these completely amazing, very detailed murals of the volcanoes and various important ecological areas in Nicaragua. The artwork was so beautiful, I was content to walk around the museum for more than an hour. The main attraction of the park, though, is the active Santiago Crater of the Masaya Volcano. Its another 4km up from the visitors center, on a smooth paved road. Most tourists who visit the park have cars, but not us obviously. We started the arduous trek by foot, but luckily, some type of forest-ranger service vehicle picked us up on the way and took us to the top. Once we reached the summit, I couldn’t breathe without coughing, and the forest rangers made everyone put on gas masks because the sulfur fumes were so bad. The whole thing was a very surreal experience. Looking into this smoky, eery crater, and then seeing the other tourists with these alien-like gas masks on made the whole thing seem somehow other-worldly. But still, gazing into the mouth of an active volcano is something that just about can’t be topped.
Santiago Crater
Lava field from explosion in 1772

We came back from Masaya today (Tuesday 29 May). The UNAN student Pablo, who I had met at Laguna de Apoyo, also ended up traveling to Ometepe with us. After seeing his expertise in plants, I had invited him to come to Ometepe to help me identify some of the tree species I am uncertain about. The next couple of days, I’m going to have him go out in the forest with me and identify trees.

Its been a long trip and perhaps an even longer journey back to Ometepe after the trip; for the moment, I need to go and get myself rested for this plant expedition tomorrow. Will write more when I have a chance, thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

On the road again

Number of Ticks removed: 37
Days Tick-free: 0

Resulting from a series of serendipitous events, Rob and I are hitting the road tomorrow. A few weeks ago, I got an email completely out of the blue from a U.S. scientist running a research station out of Laguna de Apoyo. Somehow he’d come across the howler predation report that I wrote after the dog attacks on my monkeys. He ended up inviting me to the research station to help some Nicaraguan university students who are beginning a project on howler monkeys at the reserve. At this research station, they primarily study birds and fish, and they need someone who knows how to collect primate field data to come out and help design methodology for the Nicaraguan students starting the howler project. That turns out to be me! Let’s hope I know what I’m doing. I am just about bouncing off the walls excited about all of this. Seriously, I didn’t even know there was a research station at Laguna de Apoyo. Now I’ve got a chance collaborate with the people working there; it’s a great opportunity. To make it even better, there also happens to be a botany student at Apoyo right now who can identify the plant samples I’ve been collecting all these long months—so that cuts out a trip to the national herbarium in Léon.

Anyway, Rob and I will be leaving tomorrow to go to Laguna de Apoyo. We’ve actually been there before—its sort of in between Granada and Masaya, and we made a quick trip there on our way home for Christmas. Its an ancient volcano whose crater has somehow collapsed and filled with water to become a deep lagoon—in fact, the bottom of the lake is supposed to be the lowest point in Central America (or something to that effect). Rob is excited about all the bike riding possibilities that the area affords, and I am excited about checking out the monkeys and relaxing by the Laguna. After finishing this month’s data collection, I am in desperate need of a break. Unfortunately, we just found out that that there is some type of Gay Pride festival on Ometepe this weekend, so we will have to miss that. (Harry, bless his heart, personally invited us). Dang. Maybe next year.

One thing is that I am hoping there are less ticks in the forests surrounding Laguna de Apoyo. Yesterday I removed four, count them, four ticks. This is getting to be a bit much. Ticks had been a problem December through February, but then they tapered off. Unfortunately, they have returned in May with a vengeance. I put bug spray on, but it doesn’t seem to deter them (even though the bottle indicates that it is a tick-repellant). Of course, who knows how many ticks I would have if I didn’t use the spray. Last night, I woke up at 2am feeling something crawling on me. By now, I am so used to waking up feeling something crawling on me that I can usually even tell what type of thing it is before seeing it. This time, I was certain that it was tick(s), and sure enough, it was. I woke Rob up and by flashlight (there was no power), he helped me pull off 3 ticks. That was in addition to the one I’d already removed in the afternoon. What is the deal?! I am getting seriously freaked out. All I can think of is Amy’s college roommate’s mother, who had Lyme’s disease, and how awful that was. I really don’t know if these types of ticks carry diseases; if they do, I’m afraid I’m a goner. Maybe my entomologist sister-in-law can take a look at these little buggers when she is here next month, but really, I am hoping that tick season is finally gone for good by then.

Just one more thing and then I promise I’ll sign off. Below are some photos of my new friend; I call her Lucy. She joined us for breakfast this morning. Rob is here for breakfast much more often than I am, so he sees her around a lot. He says she has a special fondness for toothpicks, of all things. I guess she thought I had a kind heart, so she followed us back to the room after breakfast. I gave her part of a cracker, which she loved, and one of the cleaning ladies (Sonya) got her to eat a mango right out of her hand! A little bit later this afternoon, I heard chattering outside our window, and sure enough, Miss Lucy was right there. I offered her some peanuts, but she turned up her nose at that and went on her way. Now that Rob and I are going away for a few days, I wonder if she’ll remember us when we come back?

Thanks for reading; I will try to take lots of pictures of Laguna de Apoyo and write about that when we get home.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Not the Monkey Mother of the Year

Today I was with the South group, watching an adult female with a 3-4 month old infant. Towards the end of the day, the monkey mom took off towards a patch of fruiting Cecropia trees and began to eat. Unfortunately, she left her baby behind. At such a young age, the baby could not leap across the tree gaps (of which there were many), so she was pretty much stuck. She cried and screeched for her mom to come and retrieve her, but the mom paid absolutely no attention and just continued on her merry way, eating Cecropia fruit. I stayed with the baby to see what she would do. She tried to go after her mom, but there were just so many gaps and the poor dear was too little to jump. At one particularly large gap, she stood there, looking and looking for a way she could get to the next tree, but there was none. Finally, she shimmied down the trunk and walked on the ground! What a sight that was, to see this itty bitty little monkey just trotting along the forest floor. The intensity of her alarm calls indicated that she was pretty freaked out. She had to go to the ground 2 more times to get to the area where her mother was foraging. Thank goodness there were no dogs around.

When the baby finally reached her mother, she tried to climb on mom’s back, which is the usual mode of transportation for infants this age. But the mom was having none of that. She snapped at her baby and kept shoving her off her back. I was outraged! The mom continued leaping across tree gaps and ravenously consuming her afternoon meal, while the poor baby desperately tried to follow her. This mean monkey mom is certainly not going to win any mother of the year awards!

That’s going to have to be it for now, I’ve got to get myself together for another long day in the forest tomorrow. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Playa Santa Cruz

Number of ticks removed: 32
Days tick-free 0

Despite the all night power outage (very hot, no fan) and this morning’s discovery of my 32nd tick (embedded in my shoulder), its been a really great day. Sleeping in past 4:15am and getting a real sit-down breakfast of oatmeal, mangos, and coffee would have been enough for me to consider it stellar, but it got even better. As Rob and I were trying to come up with a fun outing for the day, we decided to ride bikes over to the beach at Santa Cruz. During the past couple of months, they’ve been working on the road around the island, and its a lot smoother than when we first arrived. With big, loud tractors, they have grated down those jagged boulders, so now the road is mainly just dust and gravel. It makes for a much smoother ride. The hills are still there, but I don’t mind a challenge. Its actually a lot of fun when you are not careening from rock to rock, certain at any moment that you will fly off the bike and land teeth first on the road.

We ate lunch at a place called El Encanto (seriously, visit the website; it will make you want to come to Ometepe and stay there!). The view from El Encanto was beautiful, and the lunch was so good; it was really nice to have something different for a change. After lunch, we continued on to the beach, and we pretty much had the whole thing to ourselves. When we first got into the lake, it felt as warm bathwater, but after a few minutes, it was so nice and cool compared to the air outside. I actually began to feel cold for the first time in months. It was great! I decided that we need to visit the beach more often. Now that the road is fixed, its only a nice half-hour bike ride away, with just enough hills thrown in to keep it interesting.

Here are a few pictures of the volcanoes and us on our bikes at the beach.

Don't I look like my sister in this picture?

Rob on bike


One more thing: good news, Rob’s dad is back at home and doing well! We are very relieved that he is on the road to recovery. Get well soon!

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A boy named Mabel

Number of Ticks Removed: 31
Days Tick-free: 5

The scent of rain woke me up in the night. I looked at the clock and saw it was 3:50am, just about 30 minutes from when I needed to get up. The first drops began to tap on the roof, and within a few moments it sounded like someone was pouring buckets of water from the sky. The power went out, and without the low hum of the fan, there was nothing to do but listen to the sound of the rain and wonder if it would quit by the time I needed to leave for the forest. The past several nights, dark clouds have rolled in around sunset and there has been thunder and lightening, but no rain. Aside those few brief unexpected April showers, it has been oppressively hot and dry. The start of the rainy season is supposed to be mid-May, and as I listened to the pre-dawn storm this morning, I thought, “Well, here we are.”

Nonetheless, the rain (which amounted to only 0.9 cm) subsided by the time I left for the forest. The path I took up to the volcano was barely even muddy, and by 9am, all traces of the early morning rain had been sucked dry by the relentless sun.

I’ve spent the past several days with the North Group. Early Monday morning, I found them low on the Camino—it really did seem like they were waiting for me, because just after I arrived, they took off for the Mango Patch. My focal animal for the day was Horace, a young juvenile who has been weaned since about December or January. Much to my surprise, I discovered that Horace’s mother, Matilda, had a brand new little baby clinging to her. At least, I am pretty sure that it was Horace’s mom because Horace never left her side all week. He didn’t really seem overly interested in the baby itself, but he did seem to want to remain close to that ever-present source of comfort: Mom. At any rate, I named the baby Toby. It was really interesting to watch all the interactions surrounding the new baby. As with other newborns I have observed, all the other females in the group kept crowding around trying to touch, smell, or lick the baby. Poor Matilda could barely get any rest. Maybe I’m anthropomorphizing too much, but a few times I swear that Horace helped out his mom by insinuating himself between her and the peering, pawing females. Here’s a picture of Matilda with Toby (just a little patch of gold) on her belly:

On Tuesday, the North Group remained at the Mango Patch. There were about 4 horses up there grazing most of the day as well; when the monkeys dropped mangos, the horses would rush over to eat the scraps. It was a nice kind of relationship I suppose. The monkeys did not appear agitated at all by the horses, and the horses could not reach the mangos up high in the tree, so it was good for them that the monkeys are so clumsy and drop so many mangos. At any rate, I followed Wilma and Mabel all day. Wilma is a tough old bird, and Mabel is a little baby I noticed with her in early March. The first name that popped into my head was Mabel, so that’s what I called it. Now, whenever I name an infant, I don’t know what its sex is. At first I tried to give sort of gender-neutral names, but eventually I just started alternating between boyish names and girlish names. In the ensuing 2 months since Mabel’s birth, I have since realized that Mabel is a boy. Try as I might, I cannot change his name. So what we are left with is a boy called Mabel.

I got some fairly good pictures up in the Mango Patch. Here are Wilma and Mabel:

A female enjoying a tasty mango:

Today the monkeys left the Mango Patch and returned to more familiar territory. I followed dear old Wrinkle Belly and was actually able to get one of my best photos of him yet. He was foraging and came down so low that we were practically eye to eye. Here he is, getting ready to take a bite of these vine leaves:

Thanks to everyone for sending out healing wishes to Rob’s dad. He is doing well, so we are much relieved, but keep the good vibes coming please.

And a big congratulations to Martin, or should I call him Dr. Martin, who defended his dissertation today. Hooray for you Martin. All of the Anthro crowd is out there right now partying like there’s no tomorrow. Wish I could be there to help celebrate!

All right, this is more than enough writing for one night. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Case of the Missing Juveniles, etc

Number of Ticks Removed: 30
Days Tick Free: 0

Just to back up to where I left off: Homeboy Rodolfo didn’t show up last Friday, which didn’t actually surprise me all that much. Note to self: do not pay in advance (I know, I know, but he claimed to really need bus fare…). At any rate, it wasn’t that big of a deal. To tell you the truth, I was so worn out that I’m not sure I was up to it anyway. I didn’t even want to test the leaves I’d collected as part of my “if-Rodolfo-doesn’t-show-up” contingency plan. But I thought S.L. would be aghast if I just wasted the day sleeping, so I set up the Toughness Tester and got to work. It was as if the machine somehow sensed that I was in such a fragile mood that I might actually throw it into the lake if it didn’t work properly, because the thing gave me perfect, beautiful toughness values. My faith in the machine has been restored.

I’ve spent this week with the South Group, and its been pretty standard: easy all-day follows, no big surprises. While I was watching the monkeys sleep yesterday, I noticed that a beetle had gotten trapped in a spider’s web right beside me. It seems like for every season, there is a different kind of spider (except for the height of the dry season, when there were none). Right now, even though its still really dry, we’ve got this kind of spider that lives in a little hole underground and builds a very thick, funnel shaped web up to the surface. Well, I saw a beetle fly right into one of those funnel webs and it was sure stuck. It struggled and struggled, all the while just getting more tangled. At one point, I saw the spider emerge from its hole for just a second and peer up at the prey. I really did not want to see that thing come up and finish off the beetle, so I decided that I must free the beetle. With my machete, I carefully excavated the poor little guy from the sticky, sticky web. The beetle was still covered with that super-adherent web even after I got it out. I did my best to wipe off the strands, but the beetle did not like me cleaning it off any more than it had liked being stuck in the web. I ended up dropping the beetle while it was still all covered in web, and it disappeared into the leaf-litter on the forest floor. So I am not sure what happened to the little beetle, but I certainly hope it escaped and has gone on to have a lovely life.

One thing I have noticed this week is that the South Group (that of Uno and of a male I recently named Funny Nose, on account of his funny nose) seems to be doing better than the North Group in terms of juveniles and infants. The South Group has got 3 weanlings (foraging on their own, but still nursing several times a day), one slightly older juvenile who may already be weaned, and 3 smaller infants that still travel on their mothers and get most of their nutrients from milk. So that’s a total of 7 “pre-adults” (to borrow a term that I think S.L. himself coined) in the South. The North Group is down to 4 total: the already weaned Horace and Buster (note: Buster is actually a female), and the infants Stacy and Mabel (whose sex I have not yet been able to determine). According to my notes, this means that 4 of the North Group pre-adults have gone missing. Obviously, I know that one of the infants died as a result of the dog attacks. This was likely the December infant I had called Scooby. But that still leaves 3 whose whereabouts are unknown. One of the missing pre-adults is little Spud, who would be near 6 months old and reaching locomotor independence about now. So, I don’t know what’s been going on with the North Group. At the beginning of the study, I thought that the North Group had a better diet and that their infants/juveniles would have a better chance of surviving. But now it seems like, despite its scrappy territory, the South Group must be doing something right.

The ever-earlier rising sun has got me more exhausted than ever, so I was glad when I was able to collect some interesting plant samples yesterday and then spend the day today testing them. I was really excited about sleeping in, but unfortunately I woke up at 4:20am anyway. Why is it that on a day when I have to get up at that time, the sound of the alarm makes me cry, but on a day when I get to sleep in, I am wide awake and ready to go? At least instead of having to jump out of bed and blearily get ready to go out to the forest, I eventually fell back asleep again. When I got up at a more reasonable hour and put the toughness tester together, it was still behaving perfectly, so I got a lot of data. I think even S.L. would be proud.

Just one more thing. Readers of the blog, please lend your thoughts, best wishes, prayers, etc, to Rob’s dad, who is having surgery tomorrow. We are sorry we can’t be there during this difficult time, and we are wishing him the speediest recovery possible. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Rainy season, interrupted

Number of Ticks Removed: 28
Days Tick Free: 0
Tick season wasn’t over, it was just on a break. And now it has resumed with a different kind of tick.

Today, among other things, is my sister and her husband’s wedding anniversary. Its hard to believe that a whole year has passed since we all stood on the beach for the ceremony; so many things have happened in a year.

I thought that for sure the wet season had begun in earnest because all night long I heard rain pouring down. When the alarm clock went off at 4:25 in the morning, I almost just rolled over and went back to sleep. But then I thought, I might as well try it. And its a good thing I did, because as it turns out, it wasn’t actually raining at all. I guess the irrigation system was malfunctioning or something, because all night water had been shooting out of one of the pipes in the banana patch beside our room. It just sounded like rain, but outside of the banana patch, the ground was bone dry.

I went to the forest by way of what I call the “Secret Camino”—its a steeper path on the north side of the forest, and it isn’t really a secret, I just happened to discover it by accident one day in September or October when the monkeys were over that way. Since the North Group has been hanging out in that area again, the Secret Camino is a much more direct route to get there. Its a beautiful path, really, but its so steep that while I am climbing it, I sometimes slip and slide back down little ways, and when I am descending it, I almost surely end up traveling on my rear end for a bit. But its so beautiful. This morning while I was climbing I paused briefly to look down below and admire the view the lake, the purplish pre-dawn sky, and the bright full moon. It doesn’t get much better than this.

The monkeys were exactly where I’d left them the night before, still fast asleep when I got to them just about 20 after 5. They slept and slept. The sun rose, and still they slept. The birds sang boisterously and the day became hot and bright, and still the monkeys slept. I kept thinking, I wish they had told me that they planned on sleeping in today, because I could have slept in myself and still made it to the forest before they got up. Finally about 7:30 they began moving a little bit and started having their breakfast of Bersara flower buds. They were done with that by 8:00, and they proceeded to sleep again for the rest of the day. My focal animal only roused momentarily for a brief love affair around 2:00pm, but she didn’t move or eat anything else until 4:00 this afternoon. It was a lazy, lazy day. I guess the monkeys must have been all tired out after their two big travel days in a row, up in the northernmost corridor with the precious mangos.

I’d taken along my rain jacket, just in case the rainy season did decide to begin for real, but it was just another dry, hot day. Tomorrow I have supposedly arranged to have Rodolfo (yes the Rodolfo) come out to the forest with me to help me with ecological sampling (tree identification and whatnot). Now, he might have a bit of a checkered past, but he does know the trees very, very well. And at the very least, if he doesn’t show up, I managed to get a sample of some Albizia leaves the monkeys ate late in the day, so I could always just stay in and use the toughness tester instead.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

May Day

First, happy May Day to all. Hopefully some of you had a chance to make May baskets and dance around a May pole. I was back out in the forest again after a mini-vacation the last few days of April. Whenever its been a couple of days since I’ve been out to the forest, I’m always anxious about what I may find. But the monkeys were waiting for me, just as though they had been wondering why I hadn’t shown up for a while. They were sleeping low along the Camino, where I would be sure to find them. They hung out for a while, and then around 7 or 8, they started their circuitous route ever northward—finally ending in that heavenly Mango Patch I discovered them in last week.

So, it was a great start to a new month of data collection. It also seems that the dry season has finally ended. Ever since we got that little bit of a rain shower last week, the land has lost its parched look, and the sweltering heat has abated somewhat. I am enjoying this transition to the wet season—its before the path up to the forest becomes a river of mud, before the mosquitoes and spiders return, before I become constantly wet and cold in the forest, before the time when my shoes never seem to dry out. For the moment it is just nice to have merciful clouds in the sky that help to tone down the sun.

Morning is arriving earlier and earlier these days, so I've got to go and try to get some sleep. Thanks for reading, until later.