Saturday, April 13, 2013

Trail Stuff at FRC

 Sometimes when I set out on a nature walk, I have specific goals and expectations.  For instance, on a recent hike on the Keddie Cascades Trail, I wanted to visit a particular spring to see if a particular Helgrammite I had seen there two summers in a row was still there.  It wasn't.  But a new, younger one was there.  I was happy to see it.  However, the season of spring wildflowers was barely getting started, so I did have a mild sense of disappointment over the lack of flowers.  However, when the hike was over, I felt happy that I had noticed, photographed, and thought about a number of other items along the way that would have been easy to overlook.  Things like tree bark, bicycle tire prints, slugs...a pretty long list of things.  So, I tried to bring that attitude of open-mindedness and a lack of specific goals with me on my recent hike around the Feather River College Nature Trail.  I already posted twice about my hike last Sunday.  This post one might call the leftovers.  Things that didn't jump out at me like blooming flowers do, but which ended up being very fascinating and lead to more research and thinking at home.  The first case in point is the rock on the above photo.  It was a beautiful piece of mostly quartz with some other inclusions that I don't know about, but which would undoubtedly thrill a geologist.  Then there was the nice patch of moss.  When I got home and reviewed my photos, I couldn't help but think of the phrase "a rolling stone gathers no moss" and my need to research it.  The phrase, like so many things we might see in nature, has both positive and negative connotations.  There seems to be some debate about the intentions or even the identity of its author.  I invite the visitor to type the phrase into a search engine to see what you find.  You might find it hard to quit.  As Robert Frost once put into a poem, "knowing how way leads on to way...." 
 Some people look at a scene like this and think "this would be a beautiful spot if it was just cleaned up a bit"  as in remove the downed wood and maybe rake.  I immediately think "I hope they don't clean up this place."  I always visualize the great variety of bugs, fungi, young plants, etc., that are growing beneath and inside the decomposing logs.  I have spent all day in places like this, never wandering more than 100 feet, taking notes, sketching, photographing, and promising myself to research various items when I get home or to a library.  I love rolling over certain logs and rocks to see what I can see, then replacing them so I can visit often throughout the seasons and record the changes.  Right now the centipedes, ants, termites, and certain ground beetles are becoming active. 
 At this spot I saw several clumps of Stellar's Jay feathers still connected by cartilage which suggested the bird had fallen victim to a predator.  This one appealed to my photographer's sense because the blue feather complemented the reddish orange in the rock.  I invite you to click on the photo for a closer look.
 These newly-emerging Corn Lilies have a look of power.  When they're at this stage, it's easy for me to imagine a time-lapse video of the process.  And imagining is sufficient.  Spares the expense and skill set required to make a good video.  And this is one plant that will be around all summer and well into the fall, showing off the many stages of its life cycle and playing host to a sequence of invertebrates. 
My last image from this walk was a cluster of ants beneath a rock, still immobile from the cold.  I cannot look at a group of ants without thinking of the work of one of my biologist heroes, E. O. Wilson.  His writings continually fuel my biophilia.  I think it's about time Spell Check recognized that word.  I get a bit irritated every time the red line appears beneath it.  That's because it reminds me of the prevalence of biophobia. 


  1. Beautiful, thoughtful post. I, too, almost always think of E.O. Wilson when I encounter ants! And thank you for sharing emerging corn lilies -- I have seen plenty of stands of mature corn lilies, but never the shoots. And yes, imagining can suffice!

  2. Thanks for your feedback. I checked out your blog, Honest Runner, over 2 years since the last post. It was very good. You should resume. Since I posted this morning's items, I have seen my first ladybug of the season, so my mind is wandering all over the place - again!