Nearly a month went by without any new posts, despite my recent statements about blogging in earnest. I found that teaching writing classes not only involved lots of time grading papers but also focused my interest on writing. I'm actually writing a lot in various journals and notebooks, but was not focusing in the short run on material I wanted to post here. Finally, in the month of July, I managed to resume my average of one post per day for the month. I plan to surpass that volume from here on out. What I post here, combined with my daily writing in journals, is mostly fine-tuning what I hope to publish in a memoir about my experiences in education as student, parent, teacher, supporter and critic.
Meanwhile, I am still available for guiding local nature hikes. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about rates and parameters of time, distance, and personal needs regarding matters of health and fitness.
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.
Lemmon's Wild Ginger, Asarum lemmonii, is blooming in a spot on the FRC campus where I thought they might have been wiped out by a weed-eating and stream-clearing operation this past school year. The area looked so cleared of vegetation, I had got out of the habit of leaving the trail to check on the Ginger and the Corn Lilies and the various insects, spiders, and other invertebrates that lived there. Just an impulse, on this last day of April, to check out the spot. The top photo shows one of the blossoms that was visible as I approached. Before all the weed eating, the area was covered by a carpet of interlocking leaves with the blossoms hidden beneath. One could not see if there were blossoms without pushing leaves aside. The family name, which is the title of this post, is a word I love to pronounce and to hear other people try to. The photo below is from around 8" away. Both were taken with my iPhone. Generally, I'm not pleased with my iPhone photos because I have trouble focusing on tiny things and I'm pretty sensitive to the glare off the screen. This afternoon the weather was cloudy so that wasn't a problem. Although the blossom is the subject of the photo for most people, I love looking at the hairy stems.
Not only is the Henbit Dead Nettle a beautiful flower, but it is clever enough to stay below the blades of the weed eaters and mowers. Much like the response of many grasses to grazing animals, if the blades do cut off the flowering tops, it quickly blooms claser to the ground. They'll be beautifying the roadside well into summer.
Another low-flowering beauty on our roadsides is th Filaree, AKA Stork's Bill.
I've forgotten the name of this tiny white one, but up cloase it reminds me of Meadow Foam. Will post an ID as soon as I rediscover it.
I hope I can find this exact spot again today because the Henbit will have bloomed next to the little white one. Should make for a good photo.
FRC buys lots of ball-point pens for advertising purposes. I wonder how many visitors saw this one.
I made a stop at the junction of Hwy 70 and the road to Butterfly Valley hoping to see the first shoots of Umbrella Plant (formerly known as Indian Rhubarb) and maybe some Milkmaids. None yet, but I did get fascinated by the willow buds, especially when I found this pair of bugs courting.
I'm not sure if these bugs are going after just the pollen, but this photo make it look like they're going after the entire flowers. I didn't have time to stay for closer observation, but found the scene photogenic. I'll be checking this spot often after the anticipated rains this weekend.
The hated thistles are among the most beautiful weeds. Their peak season for blooming comes after most of the spring wildflowers have gone to seed, so this spot provides interesting photography opportunities well into the summer.
Our Sunday adventure on old logging roads in the Southpark area got my spring wildflower energy going. I then drove to the Old Keddie Highway to see what I hoped would help me forecast what I'd see down the Feather River Canyon in another day or two. I didn't see Shooting Star where I expected, and the first notable photo op was this patch of fungi about ten feet above the road. I-net speed very poor right now, so I'll try again later to add a few more photos from that loop. Then, it was onward to Golden Eagle Avenue.
I've been seeing a few blooming Shelton's violets here and there but hundreds of leaves emerging. In another week or so there should be carpets of this species blooming. Today I'll check the college nature trail for them.
I haven't identified this fungus on Old Keddie Highway, but it seems like Flapjack Fungus would be a good name.
A few leaves of Phacelia have emerged on the roadside cliffs near the entrance to the Keddie Cascades Trail. Should be quite a show as spring progresses.
My favorite at these same cliffs is Sedum. Some early leaves of Larkspur are showing up on the grassy slopes above the cliffs.
While on an April Fool's Day hike in the South Park area north of Chandler Road, I had a flashback of the kind of view that got me excited about hiking up mountains when I was a teenager. Click on this first photo for a closer view of my pickup which we could first see after hiking a mile or so. When I add a little imagination, I can still see the White Mountains of New Hampshire where my younger brother and I loved hiking through dense forest and every once in a while getting a new, distant view of where we parked our car. I've enjoyed that sensation many times since while hiking the trail to the top of Lassen Peak. Every few switchbacks provide a new, distant view of where we came from. I get a similar feeling when hiking or driving to the top of nearby Mt. Hough where the town I live in looks more and more like a airplane view and the people look like ants and the cars look like toys. Back in 1981 I published a two-part essay called "The View from the Top" based on "scaling" Mt. Hough both ways.
I brought my camera on yesterday's hike in case I found my first photogenic wildflowers of the season. And I did. However, on these wildflower hikes, I'm constantly looking every which way for anything that I might find interesting, such as the ants in the above photo. Besides the ants, we also saw lots of baby fence lizards, but they were too fast for me to get a good photo. Plus, it was getting too hot for me to have Ansel Adams' patience. We hiked onward, still looking sideways.
Then I started finding patches of leaves that forecast the next wave of wildflowers. These lupine leaves were among at least a dozen species of flowers that should be blooming in the next few weeks in this area. They also whetted the appetite for my first photo trip of the season down Feather River Canyon where some of them might already be blooming. Thinking Wednesday so I can beat the next rainstorm that's been forecast. Destinations - Caribou Road, Bear Creek Falls, and points between. This year's first major test of my peripheral vision.
I got that exciting feeling back, looking for spring wildflowers. Three locations during a warm, sunny afternoon. The first three wildflowers I found were in the Southpark Trail system above Chandler Road. Above is the Spring Whitlow Grass, all of 1/4" in diameter. Below are two views of Henderson's Shooting Star.
Finally, Shelton's Violet. After hiking in this area for about an hour, I drove down the Old Keddie Highway, then on the Golden Eagle Avenue, the main road leading into Feather River College. Too 54 photos altogether, and I'll be posting more tomorrow along with anticipated hikes for the remainder of the week.