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.
Last weekend, during my wanderings around Oakland Camp, I went in search of the Mountain Lady Slipper. They grow in a shady area a half mile before the camp entrance. The spot is dominated by some very large Douglas-firs. As I approached the little trail that leads to the lady slippers, I found patches of leaves of the Western Dog Violet (above). I wouldn't have been able to identify the species when only the leaves were showing except for the fact that I see them in this spot every spring. The photo below was taken nearly a year ago, at the end of April. This is the only violet viuolet around these parts. Most of the other species are yellow and one is white. We'll wait until the others are blooming before saying much more about violets. That is, except for the fact that pansies are violets.
The leaves of Trail Plant are starting to emerge through the beds of pine and fir needles. (above)
Mugwort, which is a close relative of Sagebrush, and is called sage by some Native American groups, is also breaking ground. The tallest I found so far are around 6" in height. When they reach 2 - 3 feet they display lots of tiny blooms and play host to several interesting insects and spiders.
In some earlier posts about this particular day, I mostly photographed and wrote about the plants growing in hot, dry areas, and I left out this Buckwheat which was growing on a dry road cut on the road out to Gilson Creek, north of the camp.
Finally, I found a few specimens of the plant I was looking for, the Mountain Lady Slipper. The recent rain mught speed things up a bit. I think they might bloom in early May. That's a full month earlier than the bloom date in the year I first discovered them, 2008.