After a slow first five months, I'm back to blogging in earnest. In the forthcoming few months I plan to keep on tracking the blooming of wildflowers, the activities of bugs and reptiles and any other critters I'm quick enough or lucky enough to photograph, and to comment on ecological relationships. Since there is an increasing sense of ecological crisis among many people and more vigorous denial of such on the part of others, I will inevitably comment on the social and political dimensions of survival as I see them.
I am still an adjunct instructor in the English Department at Feather River College, but time permitting, I am available for hire as a nature guide in the region in and around Plumas County. A brochure describing my usual kinds of natural history adventures is in development. Email me c/o firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing address and a statement of interests, and I'll send you a rough draft.
I have been teaching since 1965 and have recently joined the English Department as an Associate Faculty member at Feather River College. Recently taught Nature Literature in America and am currently teaching Interpersonal Communication and Basic Reading and Writing.
A beautiful stump of Douglas-fir sports a decorative garden. Click on the photo for an enlargement and see how many different plants and fungi you can spot. What started as a quick walk in the shady woods with our dog turned out to be a feast for the eyes.
Prince's Pine, a member of the Heath family, looks fresh and green as if it were spring. It'll stay that way under the snow. A nice White Fir seedling in the background.
There were lots of Cascara Buckthorn seedlings along the trail, mostly with either one or two leaves. The green stood out brightly against the greys and browns of the shady forest. This stretch of forest has mostly 150-foot and taller Douglas-firs, White Firs, and Sugar Pines. Not much light reaches the ground this time of year. The fungi seem to love that.
A couple of persistent leaves on Deerbrush covered with a mixture of dew and frost. Click on the photo for a more detailed view A time-lapse film of these leaves would be quite a show as the temperature hovers above and below freezing and the moisture frequently changes state. At 80 calories per gram, there's quite a bit of energy transfer going on here.
Great clusters of foliose lichens of two different kinds decorate a twig.
Lots of fungi of this type are springing up in the area. I found a pretty dense cluster of them the other day and posted photos earlier this week. On today's hike, I only found two. I wonder if they're connected below ground.
The bright yellow of these lichens is impressive. Probably a good source of dye.
Another colorful lichen, possibly growing on the fallen leaves, or maybe it fell from a tree and is now unattached. Didn't have time to investigate, just enough time to grab some photos and move on.
I tipped over a big piece of bark and found this ground beetle. My field guide says an easy way to distinguish these Carabid beetles from the Tenebrionids that share this habitat is the former run very fast as soon as they are exposed and the latter move slowly if at all. That works in the summer. On this day of near-freezing temperatures, everything moves slowly - except for me and the dog, we walk fast in order to keep warm. Anyway, I could tell this one was a Carabid based on memories from last summer. It decided to hide right away, but it could not do so very fast.
At this point, she probably thinks she is hidden, like the small child who covers her eyes and says "You can't see me!"
Here she is slowly relocating. Probably didn't like having a worm lying on her back.
This centipede was either not so affected by the cold or had been hiding in a warmer place. It was fast. I got lucky and got a clear shot. The White Fir needle provides scale. Even though nearly everything I saw on this brief hike was brown or grey, it seemed very colorful to me. If serious snow is about to begin tonight as forecast, I'll have to satisfy my need for color in some other way. I'm not enthusiastic about winter photography at this elevation. I probably worry too much about my Lithium batteries failing. So, when the snow gets serious, something about the character of this blog will change. I'm not sure yet what that change will be. Maybe more words, maybe more drawings, or maybe more trips to the Great Valley where there is no winter.
Oh, about today's title. Did you count the photos? 13. A shady dozen - they were photographed in the shade, and it's kind of shady to call 13 a dozen.