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.
I started to feel a bit guilty after posting that photo of blooming Rabbitbrush with a group of Skippers enjoying themselves on it. Guilty because I spoke of missing the beauty of it in August and September. As of today, many of these plants have dropped all their seeds, but a few still have them. To me, there's a kind of beauty in recognizing they're in a stage of a cycle and that these seeds will lead to next summer's blooms. A similar cycle is going on with the Skippers.
The grass along the sides of Golden Eagle Avenue have been mowed recently, obliterating lots of things I like to look at. However, the Gum Plant, Grindelia nana, like its cousins the Dandelions, is persistent. These beautiful composites generally reach 2 to 3 feet tall before blooming, but these, possibly in response to the mowing as well as the arrival of cold weather and shorter days, have bloomed while only 4 to 6 inches tall within days after the mowing.
I like seeing several stages in the cycle on one plant, and therefore in a single photograph. Buds, freshly bloomed flowers, flowers going to seed, and flowers that have already dropped their seeds. To me seeing the whole cycle is beautiful in a Wabi Sabi kind of way.
The recurved sepals are one of this plants more intriguing features. This late in the year it is apparently not worth the expenditure of energy to manufacture the gum after which the plant is named. In the hot, dry summer weather, a plant in this stage would sport a sticky, white 'wad' of gum on top of each bud protecting the merging flowers from dehydration. I'm guessing that in this cool, wet weather that's not necessary.