Wednesday, August 31, 2011

insert creative post title here. or not.

Long time blog readers will know I went through a complete phase of infatuation with dandelions over the summer, documenting every micro-stage of their going to seed.
I got a whiff of that project this afternoon. This here beaut is that tall blue lettuce I just posted on the other day – the one that grows up to 15 feet tall, but is named for its teensy blue stamens.
The seeds of the lone fertilized jack-in-the-pulpit left to me – the others were destroyed by the Irene flooding – are ripening.
July 13
today, August 31
Here’s some trippy aster action for you. In this one, the outer flowers (remember, this is a composite flower – there are numerous flowers inside that circlet of white rays) are open, but the inner ones are still closed.

This one has been at the party a bit longer. All of ‘em are open.
I don’t know what kind specifically this is - – there are many to the nth kinds of asters. Some day!
No clue who this next one one is. Stay tuned. Behaves like an aster, but suspiciously yellow.

Here’s a common evening primrose – the petals are the ones who look at their watches and leave the party at 8:45 pm.  The stigma and stamens are going to be up all night:

I came across a Virginia creeper-type vine that I’ve heretofore ignored (so don’t quote me on that ID), much to my chagrin, because look what it’s been doing lately:
I’ve seen this strategy before, in the anemones. Little spiky clusters.
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Some of them are dried up already. How did I miss this? I guess because it’s over by the pole barn – there’s a lot of stuff over there I’ve missed.
One last burst of purple – gentian – is going to be opening up soon:
What a treat.
A tiny mystery blob on a log, 1/32” across:
I surprised what I think might be a pickerel frog in the grass
I didn’t want to disturb it by getting too close, because by now both the cats were following me around. Nothing like a little frog appetizer.
Here’s Maggie messing up my attempt at getting a shot of the underside of this mushroom.
This led to some hilarity.
Ah, there we go. Damn cat.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

you can’t get there from here

…to be uttered, ideally, in a northern New England accent, thusly: “You cahn’t get theyah from heyah.”
These are the road closures in southern Vermont, as per VTrans. The bottom line? I’m not sure there’s a way to get to my dad’s house from our house. (My sibs and I inherited my dad’s house and we’re trying to sell it. ‘Tis a lovely house. Big. Old. 180 degree view of the Green Mountains. Interested?)
Now, if you really wanted to nagavitate something (that’s not a typo, I like that word better, thanks), you’d need way more detailed info. What does the GoogleBorg have to say about it? Well, check this out:
roads missing
Sadly, this apparently all-too-accurate assessment on Google Maps is not integrated with the “get directions” feature, though, so I don’t know just how far up into Canada or down into Massachusetts I’d really have to go in order to make the trip from here to dad’s house. You think I’m kidding. I’m not.
No flower pictures today! But the enslaved plants garden situation is great!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Irene stole our pond

Yesterday, Sunday – the day Irene hit – after I went out to see just how flooded the brook was, I ventured down the shared driveway to the view of the pond. I was wondering just how huge it would look with all the rain.
Pretty huge, was the answer.
Today, the pond is gone.
P1140578 Evidently, the force of the flood waters knocked out the beaver dam. So long, pond!
This has happened before, although not so dramatically or quickly. Eventually the beavers, like the humans, rebuild critical infrastructure.
Today, the newly-created mudflats had a visitor. I got into quite an argument with the Lumix about this.
“You want me to focus on those stems of grass? OK.”
Oh, for heaven’s sake. Focus on the BIRD, you fool.
GOTCHA! Yellow beak, not-yellow-legs = great egret. We watched it hunt for a while, and then made our way back down the Vermont Great Lakes, otherwise known as, The Driveway.
A red eft wriggled along the margin of the driveway pond.
By the way, I have no idea what the delay factor will be in publishing this post. (I am THRILLED to report we have power again, but we still don’t have the interwebs.) UPDATE! We have the interwebs!

goodnight already, irene, you bitch

We’re fine. Without power or cable, which means, no internet or phone. Yeah, we’re dumb people without a regular landline – particularly dumb because we’re lucky if we can get one bar on our cell phones. This post comes to you courtesy of a bagel shop w/ free wi-fi. Now for the pictures:
yesterday afternoon

that’s our bridge to leave our property

“the field” = flooded

yesterday, a few hours later. see the burn pile, out in the field? it’s an island at this point.

kevin standing in the field. these are cell phone pix and hence crappy.
but he’s still cute, obviously.
that’s the bridge at the far end; this is normally a gravel road

brook, upstream, yesterday
heartbreak = wondering how all the jack-in-the-pulpits are doing. gulp.
by comparison, same view, august 16:

brook downstream, yesterday: note how it’s jumped its banks on the left

by comparison, same view, august 16th:

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Fu Manchu bottlebrush caterpillar, jewelweed gall midge, alien spacecraft, and impending hurricanes

Have I mentioned recently that I, Ms. No Discernible Income, recently went back to work after a self-imposed two-year hiatus? That’s right, I’m working, part-time, at a top-secret entity whose details I will not reveal, except for to say that we have a veritable shitload of yogurt in our fridge these days at any given time. Pardon my French.
This past week was my third week on the job. Remind me of how people do this whole work thing? I know, I know, cue the violins, shut up, Sarah. But seriously, it’s been a rough adjustment: not being able to dawdle with the camera for an hour or so each day, and then spend two or three hours doing research on my discoveries and tagging my photos and blogging about it – you might not realize it, but this wee little odyssey of a dilettante naturalist takes quite a bit of time
Today I divided said time between getting ready for our overnight guest – that would be Irene – and aggressively puttering around and goofing off.
Home is where the heart is.
We’ve cleared the decks, literally – Kevin took down the portable screened-in-porch, and I dealt with the deck furniture. We have garbage cans set up under the eaves to catch rainwater (we don’t have gutters, and recently figured out that something like 25% of our roof run-off ends up in the corner between the bump-out and the bulkhead, where it subsequently sneaks in down the bulkhead’s (presumably eroding) foundation and from there, into the basement. (Not for nothing did Santa Claus bring us a shop vac for Christmas.) Flashlights, batteries, water, food…I think we’ll be OK. Gulp. Oh, and I went for my run, since tomorrow’s not going to happen. It was supposed to be a nine-miler, but I think…heavy sigh…I think I may need to re-think the next half-marathon, and let my plantar fascia sprain and concomitant (you read right, I used “concomitant” in a sentence) ankle discomfort heal up.
Onwards to the report. There’s a lot to report. Go grab a snack, you’ll be here a while.
The anemones have long gone to seed, and now those seeds are starting to be dispersed.
Anemone canadensis on July 13…
…and today. This appears to be the classic “eat me and poop” strategy.
P1130185 P1140431
Anemone virginiana on August 5…
…and today. Oh cool, a totally different game plan for this one: wind dispersal.
I got a better look at the opened up flowers of tall blue lettuce (Lactuca biennis), first seen here the other day
I love that this plant, which can grow to 12 freakin’ feet high, but has flowers no larger than a quarter inch wide, is named for the color of the tips of its tiny, wee stamens. Speaking of tall lettuce, here’s tall white lettuce (Prenanthes altissima).
It was already going to seed, which tells you how little I’ve been able to get out and about with the camera, but fortunately I found a few flowers still open:

At long last, some of the False Solomon’s Seal berries are really, truly, turning red:

Nearby, I found Mr. Fu Manchu Bottlebrush Caterpillar hanging out.
I am informed that his real name is Halysidota tessellaris - Banded Tussock Moth – but I like my name better, duh.
And now, let’s play with the jewelweed (Impatiens capensis).
Here’s one that’s obviously preggers – see how the uvula-like dangly bit at the top is getting fat? I am REALLY looking forward to documenting how this is going to turn into a seed. I’ve seen some seeds already, but I haven’t (damn this “working for a living” B.S.!) found the time to scout out all the intermediate stages. I will, though.
I did, however, have time to suss out something that I’d been curious about since I first saw it on August 8th: a weird huge jewelweed bud? leaf? that had clearly been appropriated by some other life process.
Trust me, this is not a normal jewelweed thing. I pinched it off and took it home to do a little home surgery.
Dum – dum – Dah!!!
Little orange larvae! Excellent! One of them woke up and started exploring, whereupon I promptly filmed him.

After some digging around, I learned that this is probably the larva of a gall midge, Schizomyia impatientis. I love how they are as orange as the plant’s flowers. How cool is that?
I wandered down toward the mailbox, across the meadow, and checked in on the plantain (Plantago major). Many have gone to seed, but a few are still flowering.
This one has only the white bits. Stigma?
Others have both the white, and the purple (stamen?), bits.

Here’s an alien spacecraft disguised as a longjawed orbweaver, hanging out on a stalk of plantain.
Next door, here’s a type of marsh fly:
By the way, I don’t know a thing about bugs. These ID’s are brought to you by the incredible nerds (and that’s a good thing) at
I checked in one more time on a jack-in-the-pulpit on the streambank:
Looking good.
OK, the sky is darkening up. Here we go, campers. See you on the other side.