PC’s Labyrinth & Sundial

Shepherd’s Corner doesn’t have the corner on labyrinths.  Providence College newly converted a roadway into a walkway in front of Hunt-Cavanagh Hall.  Two delightful surprises were built into the walkway–a labyrinth and a sundial.

PC Labyrinth

PC Labyrinth

On the College’s website the labyrinth is described as follows:

“The labyrinth at the entry of the Department of Art and Art History represents a miniature replica of the 13th-century artistic motif featured on the floor of the great Gothic cathedral in Chartres, France.

Walking the Chartres labyrinth (Image source unknown)

Walking the Chartres labyrinth
(Image source unknown)

The medieval fascination with labyrinths was inspired by ancient prototypes, the most famous coming from Greek mythology where Daedalus builds a labyrinth for King Minos at Knossos to house the Minotaur.  The labyrinth also shares qualities with eastern mandalas as a symbol of sacred geometry.  Gothic builders incorporated the labyrinth into many Catholic churches of Europe (i.e., Amiens), recasting it as an instrument of pilgrimage and prayer.  The pilgrim followed 11 winding circuits set inside four quadrants culminating in a rosette center.  In this manner, the pilgrim was able to embark upon a spiritual journey to Jerusalem right in the local church structure itself.

The incorporation of this art historical motif in the visual arts district of campus not only connects Providence College to a long and rich tradition of sacred spaces and iconography, but provides a beautiful stopping point for admissions tours, gallery visitors, alumni, and current faculty, staff, and students.”

The sundial, of analemmatic design, is interactive.  Stand on the date and your shadow tells the time.

PC Sundial

PC Sundial

Sundial In Use (PC photo)

Sundial In Use
(PC photo)

Shepherd’s Corner Hits 20

Foggy Dawn

Foggy Dawn

Shepherd’s Corner is an ecology center in Blacklick, Ohio (east of Columbus), run by the Dominican Sisters of Peace.  Founded in 1992 under the inspiration of Sr. Jane Belanger, Shepherd’s Corner celebrated its 20th anniversary in September 2012.  Events included a tour of the garden and farm, and a walk along the meditation trail, highlighted by a walk of the labyrinth.

Labyrinth (c) Google Earth

(c) Google Earth

Visible from satellite imagery, the labyrinth provides an opportunity for individuals to quiet down, focus on what’s important in their lives, and open themselves for inspiration.  The labyrinth was designed by Sr. Patricia McCabe.  Labyrinth walks are scheduled monthly.

Labyrinths have a long history.  Many medieval Roman Catholic cathedrals in Europe have labyrinths on their floors.  The most famous is the Cathedral of Chartres, outside Paris, built around 1200.  As explained by The Labyrinth Society: “It was walked as a pilgrimage and/or for repentance.  As a pilgrimage, it was a journey to become closer to God.  When used for repentance, the pilgrims would walk on their knees.  Sometimes this eleven-circuit labyrinth would serve as a substitute for an actual pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Even today, churches with labyrinths encourage people to walk the labyrinth during Lent and Advent.”

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Red Fox, too!

Red fox

Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)

Put the trail cam out again on February 26, 2014, and brought it in today, March 1, to move it to yet another location.  Surprise once again!  This picture shows a red fox (Vulpes vulpes) coming in for a drink of water.  There’s a heated bird bath just in front of the fox, where the black circle is.  This visitor appeared yesterday, February 28, at 3:44 am.  You can tell it’s a red fox, not a gray fox, by the black legs–“stockings” as they’re sometimes called.  Also, the red fox has longer legs than the gray fox, which you can tell by comparing the two images.  Once again, this is an infrared image.

I’m moving the trail cam to the back of the house, where I heard the neighbor’s dog frantically going after something last night, around 11 or so.  I don’t have any windows on that side of the house (faces south), so I missed seeing what all the fuss was about.

North American Power

Caveat emptor–BUYER BEWARE!!  North American Power (NAP) is an electricity supply company headquartered in Connecticut.  The company is making an unprecedented, aggressive marketing push in Rhode Island, seeking customers to switch from National Grid to NAP.  NAP offers lower electricity rates than National Grid, so what’s not to like?  I received a marketing call from NAP yesterday and asked a lot of questions, some of which were not answered honestly.  The more I resisted signing up on the spot, the more aggressively they pushed.  Here are some details.

National Grid is a regulated utility, meaning its rates must be approved by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and stand for about six months.  National Grid was approved for a large rate increase for January through June, 2014.  National Grid must justify rate increases, this one due to the increased cost of fuel, primarily natural gas.  They may apply in May for rates from July through December.  The rate is high (8.884 cents/kWh).  So, what does NAP offer?  They say 7.490 cents/kWh, but only for the first month.  Then the rate may change.  The most they promised is to be less than National Grid through June.  After that, no guarantees.  I explicitly asked if NAP is regulated by the PUC and was told “yes,” which is not true.  NAP has been characterized as a bait-and-switch operation.  Here’s a sample of customer reviews:  2 good reviews followed by 8 very poor ones.  Further, NAP is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB).  Here’s the BBB’s rating of NAP, which indicates 172 customer complaints in RI for the past 12 months.  That’s a lot for a little state like RI!

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Nighttime Visitor

Gray fox

Gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus)

I have a Moultrie trail camera that takes regular images by day (3 megapixels) and infrared images at night (1 megapixel).  I set it out, attached to the back of a chair on the patio, on January 2, 2014, and collected it February 25, 2014.  Some interesting things showed up.  Two different cats passed in and out over several days.  Both belong to the neighbor.  Also, the neighbor’s pot-bellied pig came for a visit.  Only shots of him are from the rear–not especially attractive.  Also, deer appear regularly, but just their heads as they eat the landscaping–an eternal problem where I live.  One really interesting visitor, though, is this gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), who posed February 3 at 4:59 am.  I thought one was around, based on scat I have found on occasion.  Gray foxes like to poop in the middle of a trail–in my case, on two or three occasions in the middle of the driveway.  I have seen a red fox (Vulpes vulpes) on the property, but never a gray–until now.  Four images show only the tail, but this image is the best.  Both red and gray foxes are canids, of course, but they are not as closely related as one might think, belonging to separate genera.  Red foxes have black legs and a white tip on the tail;  gray foxes have no black on the legs and a black tip on the tail.  Gray foxes have slightly curved claws and are able to rotate their forelegs more than red foxes, giving them the ability to climb trees.  They’re usually nocturnal, so are seen much less frequently than red foxes.  Enjoy this handsome fellow–a rare treat to see!