I love looking down and seeing the variety of shapes, colors, height and textures that the foliage of my natives provide.
We found this poor dying northern crayfish (also known as the virile crayfish) washed up on a beach in our lake. It looked so perfect and beautiful, but alas, it didn't make it.
These seeds fascinate and draw my admiration EACH and every time they appear. These are doll's eyes, the seeds of white baneberry. The plant is toxic to humans if ingested, but I think the whole 'message' of this display is "don't come close" - it looks rather creepy.
Another lovely native! The two-striped or yellow-striped grasshopper. This might be the northern red tibia-ed subspecies (Melanoplus bivittatus femoratus). The details are quite lovely.
It looked as if the lawn/moss below me was moving - was I feeling dizzy? On closer inspection, it was worker ants (orange) scuttling about and getting their alates (winged) out of the nest and on their way for a mating ritual. It made the entire ground seem alive!
I suspect these might be the short horned (yellow) meadow ant, a subterranean eastern North American species that forms multiqueen colonies.
Beautiful, exquisite creature: our pickerel frog. It secretes toxins through its skin, making it unpalatable to many mammals, birds, reptiles and other amphibians.
I'm hyperventilating! I'm so excited - I encountered two spotted fawns in my woods whilst walking quietly along my boardwalk. It had been raining overnight, and everything was wet and fresh - the light breeze forced the excess water that had pooled on the leaves to drop all around me, but I was undaunted by the sporadic showers.
As soon as I 'spotted' them, I froze, watched and waited. They had seen me, and froze too. Then one of them was overcome with curiosity, and began cautiously advancing towards me. Each time it stopped to assess the situation before moving forward again, it thumped its right foot onto the ground - a thrumming, a challenge. Would I have to run along the slippery boardwalk, away from a charging fawn? I didn't think so, but wondered if their Mom might decide to put in an appearance ... I didn't dare look around or swivel my head, for fear of frightening the fawn away. I watched like an unbreathing statue.
My set of photos show the encounter lasted 4 minutes, before the advancing fawn snorted and turned tail. So special - it was lovely while it lasted!
In 96°F weather, who wants to heat their home with the side effects of preparing a hot meal? Who wants to boil pasta and create steam inside, or switch the oven on to 400°F to cook a roast dinner, or bake a cake? Who wants 'global' warming inside their house? (Hmm, I shouldn't even run a vacuum cleaner, since it will generate heat in the house - best excuse ever!)
I've resorted to using our outside gas grill to prepare dinner during this hot summer. I have an outdoor table, and carry my cutting board, vegetables, utensils, and condiments outside for my prep and supervision - chicken in a creamy sauce in a pan on the grid, boiling rice, Thai curry in a saucepan over the grill, sautéed potatoes, pasta. I don't experiment much with grilling meat directly over flames and grid, but I can still use my grill to whip up a meal in my outdoor kitchen. When the pasta is boiled, I drain it outside, letting the hot water drain through the colander onto the decking.
I removed an enormous Chinese mystery snail (invasive) from a log in our cove and left it on our dock. It got stood on and crushed, so I bent down to take a look:
I floated them all in a frisbee with water, and using tweezers, I counted 15 intact babies with shells and 5 pink jelly blobs left after the crushing.
I'm not sure what the pink blobs are ... embryos? The literature suggests that females carry varying stages of offspring at any one time. Maybe it's food for their young?
I wouldn't have thought to deliberately crush one to see what was inside! Since examining this specimen, I've been struggling to get the smell of snail innards out of my nasal passages - my olfactory memory is way too strong for my own good.
***Possible Impact (http://www.ap.smu.ca/~lcampbel/CMS.html)
I found this leech between my fingers after a swim some hours before, so it had already had its fill (it can be satiated for months, and up to 2 years after a full feed - glad I could be of help 🤷). It's basically a locomoting hypodermic needle with a blood storage organ, the stuff of science fiction (but this has been real life for millions of years)! That thin elongated part is the head end, and there are suckers for attachment at each end.
I faced my baking nemesis head on again this year - a Black Forest Cake - and experienced the usual disappointment in my presentation.
Whilst weighing the butter, and subsequently the chocolate, I briefly registered in my mind that the amounts going onto the scale didn't tally well with the printed value on the package labels. I continued the recipe, nonetheless (ack, why didn't I pay attention to my fleeting mental query?).
I then couldn't work out why the cake didn't seem cooked as it usually does after the set time (20 minutes). I gave it another 10 minutes, and then another 8, which means it was cooking for almost double the recommended time. I reluctantly took it out, let it cool for 15 minutes, and then tried to get it out of the pan, unsuccessfully of course! There was no way that combination of ingredients was going to hold together ...
There was way too much butter and chocolate proportionately to the other ingredients for the gateau to hold together - I had to have mis-measured it, and should have reset my scale when I had momentary doubts. Well, the only thing for it was to move forward ... so I made a soft chocolate frosting and poured it over the whole thing, served it with black cherries, liqueur and whipped cream and declared it done - close your eyes and eat it like a pudding or trifle.There was a LOT of cleanup to do afterwards ... the whisk in the melted chocolate wasn't balanced and flipped out of the bowl onto the floor and upwards onto my cabinets, I wasn't wearing an apron, and the powdered sugar was, well, powdery and vapory!
My thoughts on being loyal - it's an intrinsic value or principle that you either live by or don't, and it applies to all areas of one's life.
If one can't be loyal to a spouse, forget about being loyal to one's country!
Perhaps this is one of the reasons we scrutinize the private lives of public officials - it gives us a gauge of their moral compass ...
I'm always thrilled to see these gorgeously colored, swirling pondweeds. Their underwater leaves sway gracefully beneath the surface, a striking burnt orange that swirls with the currents. They have floating leaves as well, which have a totally different color and shape, as can be seen below. It's really calming and beautiful to swim amongst them.
|The inflorescence, fruit and floating leaves in a tray