Tuesday, July 18, 2017

beauty underfoot

So this is what happens when you take the Nikon into the garden: you realize even the enslaved plants are...well... plants. Just like the wilder ones.  There are similarities. The corn, for instance, reminds me of grass. 

The same dangly bits. 

And I'm struck by a fractal: the little green and red...leafy bits enclosing the not-yet-exploded flowers (scales? sepals?) Whatever they're called, they're mini-me versions of the husks you strip off an ear of corn. The shape of the unopened flower is the same as that of the ultimate, eventual, ear. 

At this point, I am so clueless about corn that I'm not even sure what I'm looking at. It's a few flowers, I get that - although come to think of it, are the stamens inside these bell-shaped tubes? Are there male and female flowers...on the same plant? different plants? Dunno. Generally speaking, I think that's just a few eventual kernels I'm looking at (assuming they're fertilized), and that the whole long thing itself (most of it out of frame) is the whole ear of corn. I dunno. 

It feels kinda good to be clueless. It means there's some more discovering to do - always a good thing. 

Here's another one - ear? - it's on the same stalk as the more horizontally-oriented one from the picture above. Which makes me think it is, in fact, an ear. I DO know there are multiple ears on a stalk; I've seen that. This is so like plantain (a common lawn weed; where we park our cars is loaded with it) it makes me wonder how closely related they are.

Whoever first domesticated/bred plants really figured some shit out. 

Now here's something adorable, from the other end of the garden bed:

Wee baby peppers.

Lots of them.

Is that not the cutest? I'm kinda fascinated by the striations in the wall of the pepper; they kind of echo the veins in the (sepals?) (the hugging bits). More fractally stuff. I know they'll fade; I don't recall ever seeing a bell pepper with little speckled lines...

Meanwhile, Kevin planted a couple of echinaceas at my request, so's I could have ready access to hallucinogens. 

Oh yeah, baby.

Ah, not even opened up yet. Let's go backwards in time, shall we...

Maybe I should get out in the garden more often. 

Saturday, July 8, 2017

in honor of eleven

Behold the Mighty Lumix, and its zoom lens. This eastern tiger swallowtail is at least 10 feet away from me. 

Incidentally, I never did find the monarch caterpillar again, after I first spotted it on July 2nd. By now it's probably several sizes bigger. 


Out on the road, musk mallow. 

Does this remind you of anything?

Maybe gray birch's fuchsia party hats

Random shrubbery. No clue. Didn't capture enough info to look it up later.

Hawkweed. Suck down the orange while it's still around.

Today is a special day. Sweetpea and I have been legally wed for eleven, count 'em eleven years.

In celebration, let's observe others celebrating togetherness.

First from one side, then from the other:

A little syrphid fly action for ya. Hubba hubba. Happy anniversary, love!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

a random sampling of roadside pleasures

July already? 

Gone are the days when I could while away the hours on a mere trip to the mailbox a quarter mile away, and get 200 shots in. For lo, I am gainfully employed and whatnot, and damn if it doesn't eat in to the esoteric pursuits. Translation: oh right, the Mighty Lumix! Let's go out into the world with it, shall we?

The milkweed is just starting to pop.

This summer, I've let a handful of milkweed get established in the lawn because, why not? We got mouths to feed. Specifically, this one:

I spotted this monarch caterpillar a couple of days ago but couldn't find him (her?) (it?) today. Must be around somewhere.

Grass is always good for a close-up. I don't know what kind. The tall kind. Sorta like timothy grass, but we have that, and it hasn't gotten this far along yet.

Purple-flowering raspberry. I'm just going to go on a binge here, don't mind me. We'll start with the beginning:

Some say beauty fades with youth, but I'm not so sure...the petals may be gone, but this is life unfolding before your very eyes...

Ah, wasn't that fun? Soon that'll ripen into the the sweetest little open-cupped raspberry you can imagine. Yum.

Here, have a fly.

And now, a final dose of purple, courtesy of the bittersweet nightshade flower...

OK, time to call it a night.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

in honor of mother's day, some observations of flowers' families

I went up into the woods this morning armed with only the iPhone because it's kinda overcast and I figured any pictures I took would suck. So I'm standing there, looking around, when eventually I notice a whole clump of trillium flowers, about twenty feet away. I've noticed clumps of trillium on one other occasion and it made me curious to know how that comes about. Are they all related to one another - perhaps descendants, or siblings, or ... ? Poking around today's clump, I found another one right nearby.

Only, unlike with the clump two feet away, none of these have flowers.  

They remind me of an elephant family: a couple of big mamas, some teenagers, and a few wee little ones. I'm beginning to think, the more I look around, that some of these spring flowers are perennials. Meaning, those wee little ones are new this spring, and the medium size ones are at least a year, possibly more, older...these guys live from one year to the next, until they've got enough juice to send up a flower. If I were faced with suddenly having to live off the land, I would look for plants like this. There is bound to be some carbohydrate-rich root-type thing, like a tuber, that serves as a bank account from which to draw for each new spring's set of leaves. I would look for these plants, so I could harvest and eat those roots. Assuming they're not poisonous.

But back to my theory: that size is an indication of age, that a plant takes a while before it makes a flower: how else to explain the enormous size of this trout lily's leaves? I'm used to little two-inch long guys, barely bigger than canada mayflower leaves - but these were easily eight inches long, two of them, flanking a now-decaying flower. Only one leaf is in this picture, but trust me, it has a mate.

(Oh, and notice the solo baby jack-in-the-pulpit triplet of leaves in the background, above.)

I've seen a ton of single trout lily leaves here and there this spring - even some along the shared driveway - but hardly any flowers. But this morning, once I looked around some more - my brain by now humming and fizzing merrily - I saw them everywhere. The freshest one, still a bit yellow, was at the base of a tree.

Alas, the phone focused on the trunk lichen, but you get the idea. Those LEAVES! They're ginormous.

And another one. An embarrassment of riches. The moral of this story is, don't blow off going up into the woods next spring, sarah... I nearly missed the trout lilies entirely. Let's not let THAT happen again.

In the meantime, I started to use what I'd just learned to see if I could find any jack-in-the-pulpits. See, before I found the trillium with which this post started, I saw FIVE jack-in-the-pulpits within ten feet of me: thus doubling in one fell swoop the total number of jacks I've seen this spring, total. 

Once I sussed out the trillium / trout lily situation, I started noticing little jack-in-the-pulpit plants, just the one stalk with three leaves. I recalibrate my visual filters. There MUST be jack flowers right around here. Ask and ye shall receive: boom, they just started coming and coming. 

That was just two. There were many, many more. Up to a couple of feet away from each of these, were little colonies of the-ones-with-just-leaves.

And then I remembered, just cause a species' flowers have largely come and gone doesn't mean the story is over. Remember the trout lilies? Under those decaying petals we have....

A seed pod thingy forming! I don't know what the resulting seed(s?) look like, so I'll be vague. Here's another one. 

If I hadn't started getting curious about what I was seeing, and deliberately looking for certain things, I never would have stumbled across all of this. This is why I love hanging out in the woods. It wakes my brain up. 

By now I was starting to head down the hill back to the house - Saturday mornings involve pancakes and bacon in our world - but the jacks kept stopping me.

This one was the blond kind, speckled with tiny orange dots. 

When I finally got back to the house, I paused to admire the apple tree, because, PINK.

And I checked in on the Buddha...

And then came the best part: the ultimate fruit of all the adventures up in the woods.

I was heading down our driveway, cause I'd looked at the time and realized I had plenty of time before pancake o'clock, and I saw one of those jack-in-the-pulpit leaves-only plants. I thought, "hello, miracle baby! where did you come from?"


Not five feet away, in plain sight, under three screaming daffodils, where Kevin and I have walked every day, multiple times a day, I find...A DOUBLE.

Here, I'll help:

Un-fucking-real. I kept walking, found ANOTHER along the shared drive because I now knew where to look. I went inside after a while, found Kevin was awake, dragged him outside to show him, and what does he do? HE FINDS TWO MORE. 

This is one of them. A huge honker, hiding in plain sight. 


Friday, May 12, 2017

sun + Nikon = happiness

Friday Friday Friday! The day I go put my hands on strangers. Doing Reiki. The signal-to-noise ratio wasn't ideal - a lot of patients not in their rooms, or passed out, or about to be discharged, or visiting with family - but I did have some great conversations, and I put two people to sleep, so I count it a win.

AND AND AND I started the day off with a run, first thing. I have three half marathons in mind for this season - I'll choose two of them and register this week. They're not for a few months, so I'll have plenty of time to build up my base again after a crappy stint of missing too many runs due to the Epic Boomerang Cold of '17, that gift that kept on giving. When I was first starting up again after missing oh my god, like two or three weeks, I could hardly do a tenth of a mile first thing in the morning. Grrr. Summer running requires being able to fall out of bed and into your running shoes; it just gets too hot to wait til consciousness and whatnot.

Coming across foamflower in our woods today was just, the icing on the cake.

And can you believe it, that's an iPhone shot, above. Then I remembered: THE NIKON.

Ahhhhh...o yeah, baby.

Then the dear boy and I went for a walk, where I found ANOTHER jack! So we're up to five now. 

Can you spot the boy? The very top tip of the jack is pointing to him.

Closer to home, let's check in on the magnolia, still going strong:

And I think we're ready now for the saxifrage as seen through the Nikon. Each of these flowers is no more than 1/16th of an inch. For our metric friends, < 2mm.

Last but not least, daffodil exploration.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

great things from small packages

I'm fascinated by beech buds, particularly the terminal ones - the ones at the ends of the branch - because just the one bud really packs a punch. This one has at least five leaves coming out of it, in their special accordionated formation.

Once again, for I am a fool, I headed out with only the phone, so... well, it wasn't sunny, that's my excuse. This here is a RED BANEBERRY which as you can see, I'm excited about.

This one roadside is positively littered, littered I tell you, with both solomon's seal and false solomon's seal. Here's the former.

Those little dangly flowers slay me.

Not til I got this next one up on the computer did I see ALL THE SPORES.

Those little dots. They're spores. Or something like that. I have to study up on fern reproduction, it's complicated.

Here's a false solomon's seal flower whose privacy I invaded.

New life, new life everywhere. Makes me happy.