Sunday, May 18, 2014

wading back into amateur night

We have a boatload of Solomon’s Seal down here, which feels like an embarrassment of riches. This one poked up through some construction crap on the side of the road (there are a couple of developments going in just down the road).


One set of twins and a bunch of singlets. The next one I saw had four sets of twins, which led me to wonder if it was a more mature plant. (It didn’t occur to me at the time that another explanation might be different species.)


Maybe, I wondered, Solomon’s Seal has a hammerlock on super-efficient photosynthesis, and is able to store extra bueno in tubers or something. So that the bigger the plant, or the more robust its seed bits are, the “older” it is. (Isn’t there such a thing as annuals and perennials? For all I’ve stared at wildflowers, there’s much I don’t know about how they actually go about living.) Newcomb’s doesn’t mention this – it just describes physical characteristics. Wikipedia, on the other hand, mentions their rhizomes – apparently they’re eaten in China, and used in both Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine – so I may be on to something. I CAN tell you, there is nothing above the surface come winter, so anything persistent would HAVE to be underground.

At any rate, the second plant I saw, according to my theory, would be a year or two older than the first. It’s got the aforementioned twins...


...and at the end of the stalk, three or four singlets.


Later in the walk, I came across the biggest mama of them all:


Triplets, baby. And the rest all twins. And good lord, they’re like miniature watermelons.



Other discoveries: skunk cabbage gets HUGE. Here’s the local vernal (?) pool. (“?” because I don’t know how persistent it is. Stay tuned, I guess.)


That thing is a couple of feet tall at least.

I came across what looks like an awfully cute wild rose.


And then, o happy day, bluets!


Such friendly little buggers.

I found something that has me totally stumped.




psssshhhh, no idea. mustardy-cress cousin?

Later, I found something I do know: golden alexander:for when you absolutely, positively, must have yellow, STAT:


Last but not least, there were two sets of Romeo and Juliet:


Romeo. And a foot away, his Juliet:


A little while later, another Romeo...

P1230397 to another Juliet:


I see the Lumix focused on his leaf, instead of on Juliet.

I really shouldn’t anthropomorphize so much – my brain is half dreamy mystic fairy-land, but also half amateur naturalist. Which usually amounts to asking question after question, only occasionally figuring something out more-or-less definitively. In the case of jack-in-the-pulpits, I am pretty sure they must have some kind of piggy bank going on, some ability to get bigger and bigger year after year, because I’ve seen these guys both small and HUGE. The cool thing about living down here will be the opportunity to watch particular spots over more than a year or two, and maybe find out more. (We had a hard time sustaining them in our little neck of the woods in VT – one year, a single night’s hard rain destroyed the four plants along the shared driveway – so  I didn’t make much progress there.) I WILL say, Newcomb’s gives an alternate name of Indian Turnip. So, victory, right? I could dig one up to investigate, but you know? That seems a bit rude.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

a profitable morning

part one: timelapse of the opening of some kind of mutant chive-type thing in the flower bed near the kitchen window.





Next up: celandine.




...and stalk (with bonus bud to left). I didn’t notice it was striped until the nikon macro lens told me so.

last up: raindrop on celandine


I’m liking the reflections.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

great ocean road

As though the day (we are at Friday, March 28 at this point) had not been aesthetically and spiritually awesome enough, we took in a few more sights on our way back to Warrnambool in the afternoon: just a taste of the coast.


The next day, Saturday, I was better prepared – I brought the mighty Lumix. We headed back toward the Great Ocean Road. In a sense, the experience was like Big Sur: ocean, bluffs, road, gloriousness. But unlike the PCH, the Great Ocean Road is set back quite a ways from the water. A series of viewing spots, each with parking areas and boardwalk paths, dot the way. Not knowing what I was about to see, I dawdled at first, happy to indulge in my botanical fetishes.


We were mostly at the seed stage of the game.




Succulence seemed to be a theme.




But then this sort of thing started to happen:


Oh. OK. Switch gears!


We made our way down to a promising looking thunder hole.


Taking selfies along the way.


At this particular spot, a group of college-age kids ignored a wide variety of warning signs, skipped off the boardwalk, and onto bare rock. O, how I longed for a wave to come fetch them all and cast them out to sea. Fortunately for my karma (not to mention theirs), this did not happen.


I could see that the “repairs” I had recently paid for did not actually fix the smudgy spot in the upper left of the frame, which is only apparent in the landscape shots.


These formations are ever-changing, as the sea works to erode them. Ultimately, it’s all ephemeral, innit?


In the parking lot, a series of distinctly marked vans and busses indicated some kind of excitement underway. We peered over the edge of a cliff to see this:


A film crew set-up for “The Amazing Race”, which I’ve never seen, Actual Reality being generally sufficient for my purposes.

We stopped off in a tiny town to gas up and find public restrooms. Kevin wandered down to the water while I ogled the greenery.


And then we went in search of a picnic spot – down a trail toward a somewhat secluded beach where a river came alllmost to the ocean.



Lunch was to be in that cove, facing those bluffs.



Yours truly, Kate.


Eventually we dragged ourselves away from the ocean, and wound up at an awesome brewpub/restaurant...


...and from there, we wandered down more secluded roads, weaving back and forth a bit as we craned our heads out the window in search of... this!


Ohhhh...would you fit in our duffle bag?




No? OK...OK...I understand. You stay up in your tree, sweetheart.