Sunday, May 6, 2012

Substitute Field Trip

I had my heart set on exploring Butterfly Valley this afternoon, but other events intervened.  I was getting restless, when a friend called to report a healthy crop of Blue-eyed Mary growing in the woods behind her house.  This tiny flower has been difficult to photograph without a macro lens, so I thought I'd drive over and give it another try.  Got side-tracked by a beautiful Ponderosa Pine stump with a pattern of holes in it.  On closer inspection, it turned out to be a large colony of Carpenter Ants.  When I tapped on the stump, they emerged from many holes at once.  There was substantial amount of sawdust on the ground around the stump, and I found large numbers of ants, some with wings, under the rocks surrounding the stump.  It appeared to be one large colony extending within and beyond the stump.  I'm hoping cute little flowers will grow out of those holes.  In the vicinity, the Bedstraw was blooming.  This plant has even tinier flowers than the Blue-eyed Mary as you can see in the middle photo.  On a wooden stairway leading toward the Blue-eyed Mary, I discovered a lot of Bleeding Heart, Dicentra formosa.  This is a wildflower that is also commonly cultivated, so any given patch may be wild, cultivated, or mixed.  This intriguing flower shape makes it hard to imagine why it's in the poppy family, Papaveraceae.  The leaves do show some similarity to many of the poppy species, though. 
The last photo here,  the reason for the excursion, is the Blue-eyed Mary, Collinsia spp.  Still not the sharply focused image I strove for.  A difficult little plant for me.
All in all, this was a satisfying substitute for my Butterfly Valley plans.  By early evening I discovered that I had botched several other appointments and plans, and I began, once again, to envy Thoreau his couple of years at Walden during which he could tune out the world of obligations, for the most part, or is that a myth?

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