Friday, April 30, 2021

Beautiful Devil

Invasive milfoil fragments have been washing up into our cove ever since the ice thawed, some with straggly roots that are viable starter plants! Eek! I've been busy scooping them out religiously, even though it's probably futile. My goal though, is simply to prevent it from invading and choking my personal cove, and that seems to be working, and is a manageable task.

We've had two fishing tournaments on our lake already this spring, so milfoil-chopping machinery has been super-active! My job of fishing them out is never-ending, but satisfying. I stopped to take a pic of a beautiful fragment floating by, and was taken in by the intricate beauty of the whorls and feathery leaflets of this intrepid and resilient invasive.




Thursday, April 29, 2021

Aerial Highways


Squirrels scamper on 

Branches interlaced above -

Aerial highways.















Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Perks & Forfeits

 

Oh boy, spring is such an amazing time, but also a mixed bag of perks and forfeits: beautiful, crisp sunshine, unfurling blooms and glowing green moss.

 

But also, tree pollen floating in the air. And ticks. I recently found one tickling me as it crawled up my leg in bed! Ugh.

Sparrows flip leaves noisily in bunches of five or more, and the white-throated sparrow repeats its signature call.


Northern flickers have been displaying and parading for each other on various branches, hoping to win the mate-jackpot. 


Black flies have made their appearance, but not yet in swarming hordes.  


The winds have been ferocious on some days - lovely for getting my laundry dry, provided I peg things down securely enough!


Also, loons!








Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Vanishing Deer



Deer stand still and stare

Till they're not discernible -

Their legs "become" twigs.

 



,Flicking of white tails

,Like snow dropping off branches

!Distracts, and conceals

 


Monday, April 26, 2021

Communing with Clubmoss

Lycopodium obscurum


I love this beautiful plant we commonly call a clubmoss, or ground pine. You might also know it as princess pine. As an understory plant, they don't get much bigger than this (6 inches).

 

The needle-like leaves and fertile projections with spores on them look almost identical in their structural arrangement, but differ in color. 


They are primitive, slow growing plants, taking about 20 years to mature and reproduce, so please don't harvest them for Christmas decorations.

I'm so pleased to have some growing happily in my yard 😀 that I can lie down next to and enjoy close up.


Sunday, April 25, 2021

Morning Stars

My haircap moss glowing boldly in the morning sun, as it sprawls over an old tree stump. They're like mini starbursts; showy for a moss, and beautiful in a rock or stump garden where soils are thin.




Saturday, April 24, 2021

Coiling Curls or Curling Coils?

 

The way birch bark peels off and coils up is fascinating to me. I love seeing the different ways it presents.








Thursday, April 22, 2021

Earth Day Celebration












Delicate, pastel beauty












Believe it or not, this purple beauty is wintergreen!
 

           Moss etched on bark
  

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

On Three Counts ...



We can't bring you back, but we can show respect and dignify your life.


R.I.P.

George Floyd



“We cannot expect people to have respect for law and order until we teach respect to those we have entrusted to enforce those laws.”
(Hunter S. Thompson)




Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Pink Tinged Beauties

These tiny spring flowers, Epigaea repens (trailing arbutus) are a delight to see and smell. They're so unpretentious: low to the ground and only 1/2 inch across. The flowers lose their pink tinge as they mature; they no longer blush - I wonder if that's happened to me yet?



The Lady Bird Johnson wildflower site notes that 'one must search among the fallen leaves in early spring' to be rewarded with the beauty of this hidden gem - so go out, and get down on your knees to smell them! They're sort of jasmine-like in their perfume.


Monday, April 19, 2021

Maple Focus

The little spiderweb-like perturbations around the edges of this floating maple blossom fascinate me



Look at all those unripe stamens!


The stamens here are full of pollen:



The shadow of this tiny flower arrangement makes it looks larger and more robust than it really is. I hope the oak leaf as scale puts its minisculity into perspective.






 

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Dangling Catkins

Look at these magnificent speckled alder flowers that hang in catkins. They're exquisitely and surprisingly colorful - they've been ripening and opening from the top down, creating a variegated texture. I usually miss seeing them because they're hanging over the water's edge, above my usual sight line. They're also reasonably small (about 2 inches max), so their showiness isn't blatant.

They're one of the early spring bloomers that we don't notice, except maybe by sneezing!

Nature's very own dangly earrings! Wouldn't they look great in gold?



 

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Ho Hum ...

On one day this week, I:

  • found a tick feeding near my navel
  • salvaged the good bits from 3 spoiled oranges & made candied peel, and orange brandy sauce
  • hung and folded 2 loads of laundry
  • scooped milfoil fragments from the lake
  • emptied my compost container
  • cleaned the bathroom counter, vacuumed, then scrubbed the bathroom floor
  • blew gravel off my front yard
  • listened to an author presentation
  • forgot to take any photos!
  • did not exercise ...
  • ate a delectable dinner, spiced with my Texas rub and grilled scrumptiously by Dale. We followed it with vanilla ice cream topped with strawberries in red wine - bliss!

The next day it snowed. On this day, I
  • stayed indoors
  • wrote a haiku
  • shivered
  • wished I could go outside
  • caught up on emails
  • tried 'blocking' one of my crochet items
  • took a photo through my window


Friday, April 16, 2021

Trilliums are Here!

I found my Trillium erectum plants (red trilliums) suddenly budding and unfurling amid the leaf litter of my flower beds. I'd been looking out for them for days, and suddenly, there they were, a few days ago now (April 13).



I also have a magnificent patch of Trillium maculatum (spotted trillium). It stuns every year. The leaves are beautifully speckled and patterned, both above and below:




Since then, I've learned that what I've been referring to as leaves, are not true leaves, and are regarded as flower bracts by botanist fundis, even though they have the ability to photosynthesize - who knew?

So, I can't wait for the rest of the bedazzling flowers to open ...


Thursday, April 15, 2021

Crocheting Time-Out

This us why I give up on shaped, hand created items ... the cardigan I crocheted just doesn't hang right, and I couldn't really tell until I was assembling it. Ugh. This is why I don't enjoy making my own clothing: it never seems to fit as it should. I can't bring myself to get back to it to fix it - YET. It'll need a severe pulling out, but until then, it's been discarded in this spot for at least 10 days now, in timeout!

Punishment corner ...


Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Spring's Rollercoaster

                             

Skies grey or stunning blue, cloudless,
Incessant phoebe trilling lulls, like cicadas.
Deer poop and prints. 
Eagles fish.
Peepers, yeah.
A film of snow, flurries blow
Crows warble their cawing, burbling like water in their throats -
When will the loons come? 
Unseen barred owls call ...
Chipmunks scurry, then 'chuck' from their shelters
Maple blooms float, milfoil fragments 
Green-hued water, reflections
Skunk cabbages
Turkey vultures show off their flying skills
Marsh marigolds
Wood ducks, muskrats
Warmth, rainshowers
Wasps hover
Pollen breezes -
Ticks crawl, tickle
The slumbering world has woken fully
A wondrous unfurling.

 

 


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

A Little Lapse


What a silly numbskull I am! I paid for my groceries in the store at the checkout, and walked away without my purchases. I only realized what a dithering nincompoop I'd been until I drove into my carport, 20 minutes later, with no groceries to carry inside.

I guess I don't know how in-person grocery shopping works any more! I've got used to the convenience of ordering online and having someone load it into the back of my car for me.

What actually transpired to precipitate walking out without my groceries, was that after paying, I asked the cashier if they carried our community newspaper, The Reporter. She pointed to a set of shelves beyond the checkout area, and to one near the pharmacy. So I headed off to check the shelves (in vain) at each location, then left the store, without thinking to return to the checkout for my fruits and vegetables!

If you know me at all, you will remember that I usually try to minimize trips by car for items on a whim (and particularly during COVID), and only drop into the store for essentials if I'm already out on another errand. This was one such occasion - I'd had a dental checkup just across the street from the grocery store, where avocados and strawberries were on special for the week. I decided I should capitalize on such an aligning of the stars. Ha! I ended up having to make 2 trips to the store instead - I might just as well have gone on a separate day, when I felt like it!

And as for Kahlil Gibran's crazy-ass wisdom, that claims “Forgetfulness is a form of freedom," I'd like to know what he was on ... ? Sounds like a euphemism for explaining dementia politely.

As we reflected on what I affectionately call 'my little lapse' over lunch, my forgetfulness generated a lot of mirth, and had us laughing for a long time afterwards, so perhaps Shakespeare had a better take on it when Gratiano says, "With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come." (Merchant of Venice). The laughter my lapse caused was well worth the experience! 😀 Laughter helps us live longer so we can get old wrinkles!





Monday, April 12, 2021

Skies of Spring

 

Bronze beech leaves stand out

Amidst evergreen needles;

Cerulean skies.








Sunday, April 11, 2021

Do Dreams have Smells?

What a delightful feeling it was to wake up from a dream that was infused with the aroma of sugary, buttery apples simmering in a pan! I kid you not, the comfy wafts of caramelized brown sugar and melted butter drizzled over softly sautéed apples were part of the dream ... I decided I just HAD to follow through on that wishful dream and make it a reality.

Yes, I had apples in my refrigerator, and I'd found an overdue 'use by' jar of bottled mincemeat (2019), and 1 cup of crumble topping in my freezer. I blended the mincemeat into the caramelized apples, made a pastry for the base, and covered the top with my leftover crumb topping from a previous indulgence. The afternoon house smells were ... delectable!



That is, until the sweet, sticky mixture started bubbling over, out of the pie and onto the bottom of my oven. Not only did it end with the smell of burnt sugar, but ... I had to clean my oven, as well. The title of this post could easily have been dreamy smells, or perhaps the less appealing, smelly dreams!

I thought the moral of the story might be 'don't try and live out your dreams,' but as it turns out, I'm glad it happened, since the aftermath of cleaning my oven makes me feel good, 😀 and I have a piece of pie to eat with my morning coffee!





Saturday, April 10, 2021

Sodden Moss

I've been getting down and dirty, close to the ground to photograph the littlest beauties I can find in the woods. But I made the mistake of sitting back down onto some softly padded moss while I focused on some speckled leaves on the forest floor. In no time at all, my behind and pants were S O D D E N. What an incredible sponge they are - everything else looked and seemed dry enough, but not these little gems - they just oozed water. I wasn't too pleased, but hopefully will remember it for next time ...







Friday, April 9, 2021

My Beautiful Skunk Cabbages

May I present ... the uniquely beautiful skunk cabbages, always a welcome sight in my yard in early spring. It's a very special plant - its temperature can rise up to 15–35 °C (27–63 °F) above the air temperature, which causes the snow around it to melt. Thermogenesis, ingenious!



Sadly, it gets a bad rap because brushing against its leaves releases a smell like skunk spray. No wonder it's also called polecat weed, and that its scientific name contains the word foetidus. Luckily there are some early hatching insects that are drawn to its scent. Just look at the unusual beauty of this magnificent little native:




Thursday, April 8, 2021

On Thin Ice

Whilst sitting on my glider bench, drinking coffee with a blanket around me (it was a brrrisk morning), I watched a red squirrel scamper from the opposite side of the cove, across a thin sheet of ice. As it neared the shore, the fragile ice skin collapsed under its weight, and I watched it frantically paddle the last few feet in icy water. I felt quite sorry for it, but it seemed not to have got fully immersed or sodden, and was none the worse for wear.



Later that morning, I came across this little squirrel, in the exact same spot. It explored the outer edges of the stump where it protruded out into the water, and also tested out the fragile and springy twigs of nearby shrubs, putting its paws down into the water, and then turning back to find a better spot. The ice no longer extends all the way across the cove, and it looked as if this red squirrel was trying to find a way back to the other side of the cove without getting wet. I imagine it was the same individual I'd seen earlier.

It didn't succeed while I watched, so it decided to save face by pretending it was here to munch on acorns instead 😀



 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Psyched ...

Oooh, not only have I just had my second COVID shot, but I've also found a flowering beaked hazelnut (Corylus cornuta), right next to our boardwalk this spring. So exciting! I'd seen a few of the nuts some years ago, but this was the first time I'd noticed the miniscule flowers - they're about half the size of an (unpopped) popcorn kernel. Seeing the catkins and flowers was new for me, and super special. They're so easily overlooked, which is surprising really because once you see the flowers, they pop out at you distinctly amidst the drab browns of twigs, catkins and leaf litter.




The catkins and flowers ripen at different times since they are self-incompatible, and must cross-pollinate with another shrub. The male catkins produce a haze of yellowish pollen that drifts in the air onto ripe flowers nearby. The next pic shows an unopened bud next to the exquisite catkin.




Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Nature's Lace

I wonder if the delicate lace we humans create with needlework was inspired by nature's very own lacy presentations?

With delicate tassels and filaments, this slow growing beard lichen is common in our woods. I'm not 100% sure of the I.D. but I believe it's in the genus Usnea. Lichens are sometimes mistakenly blamed for killing trees, but the fact is, they opportunistically harness the nutrients from an already sick or dying tree.


This beautiful lacy structure is formed from the leftover veins of leaves that were encased around insect eggs, as a larder for when the larvae hatch
 



Yet more filigreed, fractal-edged delicacy in the woods








Monday, April 5, 2021

Icy Details

 
I love the beauty and uniqueness of each of these bubbles under the ice:



And how these holes form as the ice sheet melts unevenly




... and the scallops of the fragile edges as it recedes.