Nearly a month went by without any new posts, despite my recent statements about blogging in earnest. I found that teaching writing classes not only involved lots of time grading papers but also focused my interest on writing. I'm actually writing a lot in various journals and notebooks, but was not focusing in the short run on material I wanted to post here. Finally, in the month of July, I managed to resume my average of one post per day for the month. I plan to surpass that volume from here on out. What I post here, combined with my daily writing in journals, is mostly fine-tuning what I hope to publish in a memoir about my experiences in education as student, parent, teacher, supporter and critic.
Meanwhile, I am still available for guiding local nature hikes. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about rates and parameters of time, distance, and personal needs regarding matters of health and fitness.
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've described my Wednesday afternoon outing in two posts so far. This is the third and last in the series. As I left Old Highway and headed toward the Butterfly Valley turnoff, I spotted one last species of blooming wildflower, the Pacific Starflower. This cute little member of the Primrose family (same family as the Shooting Star), can have one, two or more flowers per plant and anywhere from 3 to 5 or more leaves.
Next, I parked across the highway from where the Butterfly Valley Road joins Highway 70. As I crossed the highway and approached the culvert, this was the view of Butterfly Creek. By mid-summer this spot will be so dense with the leaves of Umbrella Plant that the creek may not be visible. On this day, there were only a few few small leaves of that plant and three flowered stems. Only one of these clusters was particularly photogenic as the other two had already gone to seed and most seeds had fallen. Downsteam where Butterfly Creek joins Spanish Creek, there were many more in full bloom, but I was running short of time and was determined to get to the Y.
These beautiful flowers are in the family Saxifragaceae, same as the Woodland Star featured in two recent posts.
As soon as I got out of my car at the Y, I was met by quite a few Western Fence Lizards, Sceloperus occidentalis, who were obviously marking territory and competing for mating privileges. This one kept doing his pushups and faced me as I approached with the camera. I got within a foot before he decided to run and hide. My college roommate, many years ago, studied the patterns of head bobbing in these lizards and others in the same family in order to decipher what they were communicating. I don't remember the details, but he actually made little lizard robots that he could program to various bobbing patterns that he had determined by watching his films frame by frame. They responded to the robots as thoroughly as they did to real lizards. I seem to remember they were doing some combination of showing off to potential mates and scaring off rival males. Sort of like those teen-aged car races in American Graffiti.
Next, I found two members of the Rose family blooming, the Utah Serviceberry (above), Amalanchier utahensis, and Sticky Cinquefoil (below), Potentilla glandulosa. If you have trouble growing domesticated roses in this zone, try Serviceberry or Cinquefoil. They're pre-adapted!
The Lupines in the rocky crevices around the Greenville Y are always beautiful and provide landing pads for all sorts of butterflies and other insects.
On the way home, just after the new Spanish Creek bridge, I stopped by a very popular Dogwood Tree (not much more than a shrub) for a couple of photos. It's past its prime for this season, but still looks pretty good from a distance.
Each blossom of a Dogwood is actually a group of dozens of individual flowers in the central disk surrounded by four or more petal-like bracts.
While trying to catch up with my postings from last Wednesday's trip, I've taken several more local outings and have found still more species blooming for the first time this season. After a good night's sleep, I'll have more photos and stories to tell including my first snake sighting of the season.