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.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

the nature of the void.

Kev and I went out for a walk this morning. I say "morning", even though it was really early afternoon; such are the wonders of being able to sleep in of a Sunday morn. I foolishly didn't bring either the Mighty Lumix or the Nikon, but being me, I dawdled here and there, snapping crappy close-ups with my phone. And all this rubbed off on the dear boy, because he was looking attentively all around him, and spotted a couple of jack-in-the-pulpits for me.

Not even opened up! Way to go, Kev-o. Later on in our walk, we were headed toward the beaver pond for a status update, and I found my own jack - like the one of the other day, close to the bottom of the driveway.

Each and every one of these is a thrill. 

AND, Solomon's seal abounds as well, along the way to the pond.

She's filling up nicely! 

Hours later, while Kev was off to softball (a double-header, no less) I headed out again, and again, didn't think to bring the 'real' cameras. After all, it was past 6 pm, the light wasn't that great, and "what is there to see?"

Silly me.

I found a mess of teeny Golden Alexanders on the north side of the field on the way out to the road. 

Oh, for the Nikon's zoom lens...

And some type of fern encased in... foam wrapping.

or at least that what it looked like to me.

By now I was pretty close to the pussy willows near the mailbox, I wonder what they're up to...

busy, busy, busy...

Next, I bring you - drum roll please - my oldest white baneberry friend. I've known this guy for like, six or seven years now. Kevin spotted it first, on our walk together earlier, but the best picture of the several I took was from my solo walk:  heaven forfend I arrange pictures out of order. It would violate the... journalistic integrity of this project.

Check out the way the flower buds look like they're being clasped by a hand...I guess that's a leaf, wrapped around them. "Journalistic integrity" indeed... I suspect you need actual readers for your writing to count as anything vaguely journalistic, and I'm pretty sure I'm typing merrily into a void. Who has the time/patience to read this? 

"If a tree falls in the forest, and nobody hears it, does it make a sound?" comes to mind.

Where was I? Oh. Flowers and whatnot. We're just inundated with trillium. Trillia?

This one was up in the mystery woodland. It pleases me to find 'em under the trees, regardless of whether anyone is there to see them. 

The saxifrage, on the other hand, I knew to expect. I promised The Void that I'd get to this with the Nikon: first sunny day! First sunny day!

Blurry because they're friggin' TINY.

I leave off with a magnolia queen upon her throne. 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

unfurlings continue

Here's what's been going on around here.

Red eft. Kevin took this picture. 

Ferns just starting to open.

We have a jack! We have a jack! This is basically at the foot of our driveway. It's the only one I've seen. 

Our lilacs are taking their time.

Another type of fern unfurling.

Down past the booming metropolis that is the village of Westminster West, I found a veritable boatload of sarsaparilla. Happiness!

And, back to the ferns.

Blah blah blah, words, pictures, words. I'll leave you with this: