I just spent two weeks in western Washington visiting my daughter and her family—two weeks of giggles, bedtime stories, and stomping in the puddles left by Seattle’s incessant rain. While my focus was on our granddaughters, I couldn’t help but feast my soul on all the green—in mid-winter! Broadleaf evergreens such as rhododendrons, still-verdant lawns, even the emerald moss on the roof were all a welcome respite from Colorado’s winter browns. The only problem was that I had to get wet to enjoy it all. That’s why we planned a visit to the Volunteer Park Conservatory, located on Capitol Hill in Seattle.
To refresh your memory, here again is the photo for Bird Quiz #3. Read no further if you still want to have a shot at identifying this bird.
As I mentioned in the quiz, I saw this bird in Tucson, Arizona in March. We also know it enters cavities and, at least in this case, that cavity is in a large cactus. Since the bird was doing this in the spring, it was probably building a nest or feeding young.
What do Minute Maid® or Ocean Spray® ruby red grapefruit juice, Revolutionary War British soldier uniforms, and Almay lipstick have in common? Yes, they’re all red. But there’s more to it than that. They, along with a myriad of other cosmetics, foods, and a few fabrics, all contain a red dye known as cochineal red or its derivative, carmine.
Almost everything these days contains some sort of artificial color. While some people avoid these dyes, most don’t think twice even if they do happen to read the label. Besides, cochineal isn’t artificial. It’s a natural product that has been used for hundreds of years.
So just what is it, and where does it come from?