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.
Well, not exactly a secret, but generally overlooked. In this "garden" amongst a little grove of White Alder trees, there's a slow but steady flow of water that emerges from a pipe that runs beneath the large green practice field, or what used to be a practice field for youth soccer, among other things. This spot is only a few steps off the paved walkway, and is announced by the above crop of young Corn lilies.
If you walk into the area, past the Corn lilies, you'll find a small number of Lemmon's Wild Ginger. The leaves are looking rather scraggly compared to normal water years, and the blossoms are exposed. During normal water years, the leaves are larger and form a continuous mat which totally hides all the blossoms from view.
I put my hand in a few of my photos, taken on April 1, to give a sense of their size.
Lemmon's Wild Ginger is not related to the commercial culinary ginger, but it smells the same. This wild plant is actually in the Birthwort family, Aristolochiaceae, which also contains the Dutchman's Pipevine. These plants have been used by native peoples to induce abortions early in pregnancy and/or to facilitate childbirth following a full-term pregnancy. The active ingredient is actually rated as toxic and carcinogenic, so I wouldn't advise using it to make Ginger Tea or to flavor your stir fries.
It's a beautiful plant, whose blossoms are usually hiding, and the pattern of veins in the leaves is quite inspiring to anyone who likes to draw or paint interesting leaves. Once you walk into the spot
supporting the Wild Ginger and face southeast, you'll see another crop of young Corn Lilies. It's a nice little spot to sit quietly and read or sketch. No mosquitoes yet. I almost had a Dan Quayle moment and left out the "e."