Saturday, February 27, 2010

Nearing the end of the shortest month

Here are some photos of things I've been thinking about lately. Pithy quotes and other scintillating prose will follow later today.

Recently, a friend asked me if I knew the whereabouts of a stand of Indian Hemp. I do. The three photos of it shown here were taken on the road to the Oakland Feather River Camp, north of Quincy. They were growing at the roadside around 100 yards shy of the camp's entrance gate. Many plants might be named Indian Hemp, so, for the botanically inclined, this one is Apocynum cannabinum. It's in the dogbane family which was recently merged with the milkweed family. It resembles the showy milkweed also found here, that is, until it blooms. The flowers are quite different. For some entertainment and edification, "google" this plant and you find out about lots of traditional uses as well as some silly religious references to why God created it. As for the other two photos: the "organism" sitting on the textbook is Gigantovirus nutandboltum, a creation of my teen-aged son who is studying biology this year, but is still more inclined toward the physical sciences. The lovely pair of grubs, i. e., beetle larvae, were revealed when I was splitting firewood. The lodgepole pine logs came from the Moonlight fire, about 20 miles north of Quincy as the raven flies, and had been sitting on the ground or standing dead for a full year after the fire. I encountered around 100 of these while splitting 6 cords of wood. Amazing critters. Quite an accomplishment to get to the interior of a 3' diameter log, and then out again when ready. As spring unfolds, I'll undoubtedly continue photographing in the spirit of a quote I used here a month or so ago: "God must have had an inordinate fondness for beetles" (having created so many kinds). Nice fairy tale, that, but still, the beetles are truly a wonder of the animal kingdom.

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