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 email@example.com 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.
Stream Orchid, Epipactis gigantea, was a delightful find at the end of a mostly disappointing wildflower photography trip this afternoon. Initial goal was to find some Mountain Lady's-Slippers still somewhat photogenic even though I knew they were fading. Look at the last photo in this post and you can see for yourself - would you drive or fly many miles to see them in this state of decline? Since I live nearby, the wilting can be taken in stride because I have a whole summer of wildflower watching ahead of me, and the Lady's-Slippers will be back next year. But I've had numerous inquiries from people seeing them on my blog from past years and inquiring as whether I'd be willing to guide them to the spot. I'm more than willing, but unfortunately they have peaked.
I've posted three photos of the Stream Orchids in reverse order of my awareness of them in the underbrush. I knew the general area where I might find them, but had lowered my expectations. I had to push my way through thick brush and soggy, muddy footing, and the first one I found was not yet blooming. I was actually on my way back to my truck when I spotted one blooming. I almost missed it because I was approaching from behind and saw the green sepals which hid the flowers among the surrounding green leaves and stems of other plants. But I got down in the mud and got closer and closer. The top photo was my best for detail, and I hope my visitors seeking the Lady's-Slippers will feel somewhat satisfied to see the beautiful Stream Orchids.
This last photo is a wilted Mountain Lady's-Slipper. There are around a dozen such plants in the one area I check every spring, all as wilted as this one or more. Nearby are also a number of specimens of another orchid, the Spotted Coralroot. They have gone to seed, but are still impressive-looking as long as they stand.
The best thing about today besides finding a few beautiful species of flowers blooming and a few interesting bugs visiting them, was feeling somewhat back in the groove of trying to average at least one post per day throughout the summer. Having neglected the blog somewhat during the first half of this year, I was beginning to forget what blooms where and when. Today I felt a bit like I do when I visit my childhood homes in Massachusetts after many years' absence. The things that remain the same are mostly comforting. The things that have changed run the gamut from exciting to disgusting. Some of my favorite formerly wild places are now now paved over and turned into shopping centers. But King Philip's Cave is now a state park. Good that someone found that site worth preserving.