Nearly a month has gone by without any new posts, despite my recent statements about blogging in earnest. I'm finding that teaching writing classes not only involves lots of time grading papers but also focuses my interest on writing. I'm actually writing a lot in various journals and notebooks, but not focusing in the short run on material I want to post here. We'll see what develops. Let's just say, my cessation of blogging is not due to deterioration of my health. I might be back soon. It probably depends on how spring unfolds - wildflowers, lizards, interesting insects, etc., usually fire me up and prompt me to keep my camera batteries charged.
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.
Since I've been steeped in Quincy area wildflowers and bugs this year and not left town very often, I was particularly intrigued by similarities and differences as we made the climb up Barker Pass Road. At the lower elevation, just above the lake, there was plenty of Yellow Salsify (above), Tragopogon dubius, and this one had a nice colony of aphids being tended by the ants that kept them in tight-knit groups in order to feed off their various exuded liquids. As we continued along the paved road, we
encountered lots of Checker Bloom, Sidalcea glaucescens, which is common around Quincy. This is a close relative of the Checker Mallow, Sidalcea oregana, featured in my previous post. Around the Quincy area, I've only seen the Checker Mallow at higher elevations, say 6,000 feet and higher. Evidently the Checker Bloom has a wider vertical range.
Asters of an unidentified species were common in the wetter areas along this road. I neglected to look under the petals or to look carefully at the leaves in order to determine whether it was an Aster sp. or a fleabane, Erigeron sp.
The Crimson Columbine, Aquilegia formosa, has a wide vertical range and they were present all the way up to the 8,000' elevation at end of the pavement.
I missed Quincy's Cow Parsnip season. They've already gone to seed here, so it ws nice to see some freshly blooming ones. Heracleum lanatum, in the carrot family. They are great bug- and bird-magnets.
I love finding Spittlebugs, of which there are at least three families and hundreds of species. The nymphs of this bug protect themselves by secreting the foal that you see here on a Mule's Ears plant, Wyethia angustifolia. (Above and below photos).
The next two photos are of Horse Mint, Agastache urticifolia. This is in the mint family, Lamiaceae, but has no apparent (to humans) fragrance. The square stems and opposite leaves are a give-away.
This impressive species of Paintbrush, locally known as the Giant Red Paintbrush, Castillega miniata poked its tall stems high above the other vegetation in the meadows and the bright red foliage stood out like red beacons.
One of my favorite beetles, the Yellow Velvet Beetle, Cosmosalia chrysocoma, finishes off this series. It's one of the Longhorn Beetles, Family Cerambycidae, which includes many colorful species around the Quincy area.
I think I need to post a Part III of my "On the way to Barker Pass" series, then I'll start posting the result of our hike along the Tahoe Rim Trail.