Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Where'd they go?

I used to love to watch swarms of Praying Mantises flying among the lights at night football games in the fall.  This year I haven't seen a single mantis, not even at last week's football game.  But my son did - at work.  He works at a machine shop in Quincy and this lone Praying Mantis got into the shop, maybe to escape the afternoon heat. After getting this photo with his phone, he put the critter outside in a shady place where there would probably be some other insects to eat.

Monday, September 17, 2018

What to do when there are no flowers - well, two.

 Took a rigorous hike in Lakes Basin yesterday and searched for new subject matter since it was well past wildflower season. We saw acres of dried up Paintbrush, and acres of a member of the carrot family, I'm guessing Brewer's Angelica, also dried up almost beyond recognition. I was taking mostly scenic vista kinds of photos, not my specialty.  It was fun from 7,000 feet to be able to recognize lots of places miles away that we had visited by car and sometimes on foot - after driving t those places, of course.  These included Smith Peak, Mills Peak, Beckworth Peak, and that mountain range that forms a wall east of Hallelujah Junction. Then, I suddenly stumbled across a single Paintbrush blooming (above).  Backlit by the setting sun, and standing out among many dried up plants of kinds, it was very beautiful.  Then, a few minutes later, while enjoying a big view of Long Lake, maybe 1,000 feet below us, I stumbled across a single flowering umbel of the aforementioned Angelica.
 I wanted so much to get the lake and the flower both in focus like Ansel Aperture (er, Ansel Adams) is so famous for.  Couldn't do it with my equipment and know-how, so I took separate shots, one with the lake in focus, and one with the flower in focus.
Then I imagined sewing them together with some sort of Photoshop magic.  But I don't have Photoshop, so I'll leave it as a good exercise in imagination.  After all, that's what images are anyway.

Thursday, September 13, 2018


Pretty dramatic change has occurred on my favorite bunch of Oak Treehoppers.  When I stopped by today with my phone camera, I noticed the olive-drab-with-yellow-spots mom was still there, along with many "babies" that were red, white and black with stripes running perpendicular to their body axis.  But now some of those progeny have turned into the other form of adult I've described here in previous years.  They're the ones with longitudinal red and white stripes and, of course, are bigger than their siblings that have not yet had their last molt. A fascinating variety of forms on one six-inch stretch of twig.  Click on the photo for a closer look.

They're Back!

These Autumn Crocuses seemed to spring up suddenly when I wasn't looking.  Near some mailboxes toward the western end of Jackson Street, a spot I pass frequently, I didn't notice when the leaves arrived, then died back.  Now here is a beautiful big cluster of blossoms.  They should be around at least a week or so.  Click on this photo for a closer look.
This Crocus resembles a Crocus from which we get saffron, but it is deadly poisonous.  Nevertheless, it is a popular ornamental at this time of year.  Last year around this time, there were several small bunches in this general area, but this year there's just one large bunch.  Interesting.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Water still supporting life

 By way of catching up, here are a few flower photos I took along the Quincy/LaPorte Road a week ago when I was returning from picking up PCT hikers, my son and daughter-in-law.  These were by a roadside cascade that I've never seen dry up located on the steep grade leading down to Nelson Creek.  These are, from top to bottom, Aster, Fireweed, Fireweed, and I forget.  Will look it up.

Part of a colony?

When I got out of my truck at this loading zone, I thought I was hallucinating, or maybe having a serious memory lapse.  All last summer, I thought, there was a small Black Cottonwood growing out of a crack in the pavement right against the building, maybe 3 feet to the right of the one you see here.  It even survived last winter because i remember seeing it at least for the first half of this past summer. Then I noticed this area was recently repaved and a number of cracks were filled with an asphalt product.  Click on the photo for an enlargement to see the details.  That operation probably killed the little Cottonwood struggling to survive against the building.  Then, VOILA! a new one pops up 3 feet away from the building.  Maybe there's just one cottonwood in this whole area and it includes the above-ground trees in the background beyond the driveway, and this new one and the deceased one are just growths from the vast underground root system.  Don't laugh.  The Black Cottonwood is in the same family as the Quaking Aspen found around here at higher elevations.  In northern states of the Midwest and at high elevations in Colorado, among other places, many square miles of aspens are known to be interconnected below ground and function as one giant organism,  In some ways like the interconnected coelenterates in a coral reef.  Fascinating.

Monday, September 10, 2018

39 degrees, 42 minutes

 For the first mile or so on the trail to Deer Lake, frequently looking over my shoulder to scenes like the above, I can imagine I'm in the wilderness - barely.  However, more and more frequently, I am encountering scenes that tell me I am not.  My new name for 39 degrees and 42 minutes is The New Horse Latitude.  No dead horses floating on lakes, but still some "leavings" that remind me there are people around here who don't enjoy walking or allowing any trails for walkers alone.
 Then, while I am relieved that our dog doesn't decide to roll in this stuff, I encounter a further
 disturbance - tire tracks.  These back country travelers were not satisfied to take the newly permitted dirt road down to the lake, they had to do some "mudding" as my students over near the coast used to call it.
 There's still some great scenery up here in Lakes Basin, but there's more and more that I have to learn to ignore, or perhaps vent about here.  Ironically, when I get home and explore the edges of
my driveway, I see that the Oak Treehoppers are still having a wilderness experience.  The mom in the above photo has had an encounter with a spider web, but she's still diligently watching over her brood.  Her family actually extends for about 6 inches to the right along this limb as shown in some earlier photos in this blog.