Sunday, May 15, 2011
Sunday Morning Potpourri
Doing some catch-up work at the office this morning, but needed to gas up on the way. I can really relate to Robert Frost's phrase "knowing how way leads on to way." We're having another one of those brief winters, perhaps the tenth this year! So, under gray and dreary conditions, I always like to gas up at OneStop. [The following ad was not solicited!] The people who work there are always cheerful, giving off a kind of sunlight. This is one of four local stations whose price beats that of the major brand names. This one comes with added bonuses. Besides cheerful clerks, they plant nice flowers in flower pots by the pumps. I couldn't resist photographing the flowers (top photo) while filling up. I usually don't pay much attention to nursery-bred flowers, favoring the wild, but this one had a wild aspect. It reminded me of Diamond Clarkia which hasn't bloomed yet on the roadsides.
When I got to the school parking lot, the wind had increased and it was snowing lightly. I wasn't even planning on taking the camera out of the car, but I spotted a tiny bird's nest on the ground. It was under the branches of a spruce where I see a variety of birds every time I park. Lots of Brewer's Blackbirds, but this nest is far too small. Then there is the variety of finches and sparrows. Based strictly on numbers, I'd guess it belonged to a House Finch, but I'll leave it to skilled bird watchers to correct me if they wish. I was content to marvel at the construction materials. The tree is around 100 feet from large pastures of horses and cows, and I suspect the longer hairs in this nest are from horses. I wondered what sort of sensory experience it must be for a tiny bird to locate individual hairs in a huge pasture. Or, do they land on horses' backs?
After a couple hours of work, I headed home, more or less satisfied with two subjects photographed and anticipating more snow and a week or so of rainy, windy, dreary weather. But when I got home, I noticed that last night's and this morning's rough weather had knocked most of the petals off our tulips, creating a very colorful contrast to the gray skies. I further noticed something I have never noticed before - each petal had a stamen attached to its base with a rather large anther on its distal end. This gave me the urge to look into the natural history of tulips. Questions flooded my mind: How long ago and where were they first domesticated? What new vocabulary will I need to describe this particular attachment of stamen to petal? While I've been learning lots about flowers from direct observation and the use of field guides, I wonder if I should find a used plant anatomy or general botany text and fill in some of the large holes in my botanical knowledge. After a few months of that, perhaps I'll no longer be embarrassed when people call me a botanist based on my photos and comments.