I know. It’s Monday. And we should be celebrating with a Mondate, but my guy got involved with a project and so it was that I went on a solo expedition–ever in search of nature’s treasures.
A fresh coating of snow decorated the world.
A quick stop at the vernal pool and I mentally noted the changes of the past two weeks from slush to ice to snow. According to temperature predictions for the middle of this week, I’ve a feeling it will cycle back to slush mighty soon.
A visit to a second vernal pool shows the transition all in one. With this one, however, I couldn’t help but think about how low the water level is and what this winter’s lack of snow will mean to the land, the critters and us. That being said, I hope it doesn’t rain all summer.
Someone asked me the other day if I go out with a topic in mind. Hardly ever, but today I did go in search of hairy things like this willow twig adorned with buds. Plant hairs, I’ve recently learned, are called trichomes. And what purpose do they serve? Well, for starters, they aid the plant in the absorption of water and minerals. But they do more, like reflecting radiation, lowering temperature when it’s hot and keeping the plant warm when it’s cold outside. Though they also provide defense against insects, I have to wonder if some insects find them to be an invitation.
It’s a very hairy world out there.
Not all hair is created equal. It ranges from short and fine to . . .
rather stiff and irritating.
It can be so fine, that you hardly notice it, like the hair on the beech leaf’s petiole or stem. While it’s not so evident on the bud scales, in about two months as new beech leaves unfold, pay attention. They are incredibly hairy. But, over the course of the summer continue to watch, because it seems to me that the insects are not deterred by the hairiness–beech leaves take a beating.
Another purveyor of fine hair–the witch hazel flower bracts showing off their fuzzy edges and tips (and subtle colors).
And don’t forget to notice their leaves–still attached to many trees. The wavy rim and salmony bronze color catches my eye.
But today, I realized that along the veins on the back side and that wavy edge, teeny, tiny hairs are almost invisible.
Sweetfern is not to be ignored.
The asters and goldenrods feature another type of hair–used as a parachute to disperse new life far and wide.
Sometimes, the hair is hidden inside, to be sent off when the time is right. In the end, just a woody pod remains.
But . . . being me, it wasn’t just hair that was transfixing. The color and texture of British soldiers enhanced by the melting snow were a sight worth beholding.
And there was what I think is a false tinder conk growing on a hemlock. I couldn’t help but imagine an ice cream sundae, complete with hot fudge sauce. And check out the pattern of the pore surface on the underside.
I revisited some old friends, including this bald-faced hornet nest. There’s not much left of it now, but still it exudes beauty.
And finally the seeds of a striped maple that cling still. With a bit of imagination, you might see a winged insect in this arrangement.
As I stood near an opening in the woodland, three crows squawked continuously. I paused and watched as they circled about, moved off and returned. My telephoto lens was ready to capture the subject of their discontent. About five minutes later, they were joined by two others, and then two others and eventually a murder of at least a dozen crows. The group circled one more time and then headed off, I know not where. But that was my turning around point–perhaps they were regrouping and heading home for the day. I needed to do the same. My guy had said he’d send the troops out looking for me if I didn’t return in two hours. Then we both chuckled because we knew that was an impossibility.
Three hours later, I arrived home filled with a treasure trove of finds.