Monday, August 8, 2011

spring peeper, ripening jewel weed, dive bombing dragonfly

The half marathon – the first-ever Monadnock Half Marathon – last Saturday went pretty well. It was hot and humid, and after about four or five miles I began feeling like my head was on fire. I ran with a nurse from the chemo unit where I volunteer every week giving Reiki to people – somehow I conned Carol, who’d never even done a 5K before this year, into giving this a shot. She was a champ! Every time we got to a water station, I poured half a cup of water over my head and drank the rest.
At about mile 10.5 we came to a pretty big hill – comparable to the steepest one I’ve got along my regular routes – which normally, I run up. (“Run” in the liberal sense of the word. A decent speed walker would overtake me.) But all of us within sight took this hill at a walk. Fortunately, it was pretty much downhill from mile 11 to the end.  And whaddaya know, I beat my previous best time by a handful of minutes. Although I trained to do just that, I’d given up hope of making a decent time when we went through that ghastly heat wave a few weeks ago and I realized the inherent silliness of trying to set a personal record in New England, in August, on a hilly course. VICTORY!
That was my third half marathon. The next one is an informal one this fall on Hilton Head, when I’ll be on vacation with my family. It won’t be a USTAF-certified course – it will be whatever my brother, sister-in-law, and I invent, and we’ll just persuade my mom, my sister, and sweet Kevin into standing in strategic places with water bottles.
Yesterday I lounged about indolently. Today, while hunting for monarch caterpillars, I found someone else entirely hiding under the wavy curve of a milkweed leaf:
It’s a spring peeper (Pseudacris crucifer)!  This completely made my day. He was panting quite visibly, so I zoomed in a made a short film of it. Naturally, he stopped breathing while I filmed, and – trying to hold the camera steady – so did I. It was a frog vs human show down. He won. I stopped filming, and he resumed breathing.
This is what a black-eyed susan looks like when it’s all done flowering.
New species alert! This is boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum):
It’s similar to joe-pye weed – different leaf configuration, but same general idea – only it’s white, instead of pink. How many petals would you guess these flowers have?
Answer: five. They’re joined together in little cups, and the stringy things are presumably the stamens.
There’s a disturbing amount of purple loosestrife in the wet areas. Disturbing, because they outcompete the native cattails.
They’re pretty, sure…but evil.

I came across this dead dive bombing dragonfly.
Isn’t that wild?
Oh, I lied, I did do something yesterday. I’d noticed a big branch had fallen into the brook that we cross over to get to our house, so yesterday we waded in and dragged it up onto the bank…where I noticed a whole SLEW of jack-in-the-pulpits. We positioned the branch to not squash any of them. Today I went back with the camera.
That’s the branch in the background.
OK, back to today. My other goal for today (aside from finding monarch caterpillars – FAIL), was to capture the moment when a jewel weed flower opens. Victory! Let’s review:
Not Yet Open:


VICTORY! Just opening up!

And, another time-lapse special, here we have bud to seed, all on one plant.
Let’s have a closer look:
P1130450 P1130447
P1130446 P1130445

I found a whole slew of sensitive fern spores, still green:
Like money in the bank.
And got another new-to-me species, willow herb perhaps Epilobium coloratum.

In other news, the roundleaved dogwood berries have been ripening. July 5 – they were still green.
A month later, the berries are ripening and stems going red

And just a few days later, they’re nearly all BLUE!

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