Sunday, September 10, 2017

Walking with my phone

 My wife and I took a walk into the woods above our house yesterday.  It was he last walk with the dogs before going out of town for a few days.  I came along in order to learn the nuances of successfully walking the dogs without her.  Will they mind me, or will I lose them?  I'm not a "dog person."  But our dogs are pretty darn nice as dogs go.  I didn't bring my camera so I could pay better attention to my instructor.  But, I did bring my phone in case one of our kids texted their need for a ride somewhere.  I was excited to find the False Solomon's Seal I photographed in flower a couple of months ago had produced a bunch of berries and the birds had not got to them yet.  Then I found another a few yards away.  I find these colors exciting.  And these photos are better than I usualy get with the phone.  I'm still kind of an iPhone klutz.

 On the way around the big green water tank, I spotted a Blue Elderberry bush laden with fruit.
 If I weren't so busy, I'd have picked these and tried to make a jar of jam.  I hope somebody else discovered these and does the same.  Or maybe make some wine.  Don't forget to cook them and not risk kidney damage.  And, if you're at a little bit higher altitude and run across the Red Elder, don't eat them at all.  They're pretty toxic.
Another reason for not bringing along the camera is that I was quite aware that I've accumulated several posts with pictures over the last week or two without keeping up on generating text.  All these stories are rattling around in my head and getting mixed up with my lessons plans for three courses for the coming week.  But the stories are still in there somewhere.  Maybe I can backtrack and squeeze them out before they disappear into my subconscious, or I start revising them and drifting into fiction.

Resurrection in my front yard...

Text coming soon.  9/11/17



Colors and Scents of Autumn

Text coming soon.  9/11/2017



Thursday, September 7, 2017

Butterfly, Part III: New Discoveries (for me)

I've never seen this flower before my recent trip out to Butterfly Valley Botanical Area.  That's because I've only visited the place during Spring and early Summer.  One common name is Grass of Parnassus.  Interesting name to research.  Even more interesting to me was the family affiliation.  It has been a member of at least a half dozen families over the years.  Some of those names are now extinct, superseded by other names.  In some cases the plant has been switched from one family to another, both families continuing to exist according to botanists.  My most-often used field guide, the one by Jack Laws, lists it as belonging to the Saxifragaceae.  No other source I've found places it in that family.  The "ground" keeps changing under my feet.  I find this flower exceptionalyl beautiful.
The greenish veins in the white petals are special.  Quite often I find white petals difficult to photograph because of what digital photographers call noise.  But I'm satisfied with these two photos.  I hope you are, too.  Click on them for closer views.
These next two photos were also a new experience for me.  The dried up flowers of Darlingtonia, the Pitcher Plant, or Cobra Lily, or.... the list goes on.  In late summer in this dried up condition, I found them intriguing.  My lack of text when I first posted the photos had nothing to do with a "guess what this is" contest, but a few people did guess and asked me what they were.  Everyone guessed wrong, but that's OK.  After all, I've often mistaken a paper bag for a fox or bobcat while driving late at night and not fully awake. 
I'm intrigued by the annual life cycle of these flowers while at the same time the cobra-like leaves are always green, or, while some dry up and turn brown they are continually replaced by fresh green ones - sort of like evergreen trees.  Anyway, I hope to get back to filling out some of these recent posts that lacked texts, but now I have to take a break and do some lesson plans for tomorrow.

Butterfly, Part II: Some freshness in dry conditions

Text coming soon, although the title gives a pretty good clue what this will be about.  9/11/2017



Butterfly, Part I: Old Standbys






This ain't natural!

An intriguing cover on The New Yorker a couple of weeks ago.  What's it doing in a "natural history" blog?  I'll explain after dinner.  Suffice to say for now that the title given to this cover by The New Yorker (and maybe the artist?) is Blowhard.
Well, it's not only "after dinner" but actually several days later and the intensity of emotion I felt when I first saw this cover art has diminished a bit.  But I still have a bit of a story to tell to relate this to natural history.  Soon.  9/11/2017.