...an unpaid sabbatical. Just call it a break. I've fallen well short of my original goals for this blog and am too busy to continue at this time. Thanks for the comments and feedback people have given me by email and other means. I will continue to find solace in nature walks, with or without camera and notebook, but I will take at least a two-month break from posting here.
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 haven't finished telling the story of last Sunday's trip to the Tahoe Rim Trail by Lake Tahoe. Yesterday morning I had to face the bitter-sweet reality of yard work. The sweet part is that the yard ends up looking better by conventional standards which makes family and neighbors happy. The bitter part - or maybe I should just say 'sad' - is that the miniature wildlife habitat that arises when I neglect the yard work is a source of all sorts of biological wonders. The "cat and mouse game" represented by the above photo was just a start. Then I had to inspect each of the daisies that were about to be mowed down for possible insect guests.
The leaf hopper on the above daisy satisfied that inquiry. Then, I moved on to the California Thistle
growing among the Irises and grasses under the roof over our inoperative well. Like Henry Thoreau and E. O. Wilson, I love to watch ants. I watched the ants on this thistle for quite a while before removing it. It was easy to imagine mountain-climbing adventures as I watched them negotiate the details of each spine and leaf. The red blossoms were occasionally visited by bees, butterflies, and other flying insects.
Then I moved on to the area where we have our firewood delivered. I picked up a few old pieces of wood and bark from last winter's wood processing and discovered a great nest of Carpenter Ants. What first caught my eye was the collection of eggs (above), some of which had about-to-be-hatched ants visible through their translucent skins. It only took a few seconds for the ants to start gathering up their eggs (below) and moving them to safer hideouts.
Last, as I split a few remaining rounds from last season, I came across a predictable variety of larvae and nymphs of various insects, mostly beetles, that spent the winter inside the logs. This entire excursion took about a half hour, then I had to get back to the yard work. My morale remains high when I remember that all the weeds and bugs I dislocated will be back.
Meanwhile, I need to get back to finishing my story of the Tahoe visit, because I went on another adventure yesterday afternoon with my son Ryan. We went to Brady's Camp, around 7,000' elevation on Argentine Peak, and had the best wildflower photography day of the year so far. We also got lost on the network of roads between the roads to Mt Hough and Argentine Peak, and drove 40 aimless miles in order to get home. It should have taken only 15. Who stole all the road signs up there?