Rather a Mondate

Yes, it’s Monday. But as has been the case lately, my guy and I haven’t been able to hike together. We both had chores and projects to complete and so we did.

In the late afternoon, however, I headed out the back door. My mission–to locate something orange to photograph for our young neighbor who is prepping for a bone marrow transplant. Not an easy task, but like others I know, as often as he can, he smiles through this journey.

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Orange hawkweed provided today’s support to Team Kyan. May he continue to be strong. And his family, as well.

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After my orange find, I journeyed on–headed for our woodlot. And only steps from it, I discovered this camo-dressed insect fluttering on the ground. The male member of this species is known for the high-pitched buzz we hear on summer days. Sometimes, it’s almost deafening.

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This is a cicada, one that appeared to have a wing issue. A set of wings was held close to its  thick body, while the other set extended outward. (I thought of Falda, the faerie with folded wings in The Giant’s Shower.) I love the venation, reminiscent of a stain-glass window. Strong, membranous wings for a large insect.

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When I returned a second time, it was flapping those wings like crazy, but take off wasn’t happening. Did a predator attack at some point? Will it still be there tomorrow? So much to wonder about.

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And being me, I took advantage of the fact that it wasn’t going far to take a closer look. Notice the three legs extending below the thorax.

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Face on! We might as well have kissed. I’ve licked a slug, but passed on the opportunity to kiss a cicada. I do love this broad head, however. Check out that mouth that protrudes. Hidden inside are mandibles and maxillae used to pierce plants and drink their sap (xylem). Even if this chunky one couldn’t fly, it could still eat. And those eyes, oh my. So, here’s the scoop. The two obvious outer  eyes are compound, the better to see you with. But then I noticed three red spots located between the two compound eyes. Do you see them? These are three more eyes known as ocelli–they look rather jewel-like and are perhaps used to detect light or dark. Yup, this is a five-eyed insect. Certainly worth a wonder.

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As I continued my wander, I noticed that in the past few days a large number of Indian Pipes made their ghost-like presence known.

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Ever so slowly they broke through the ground–these under a hemlock grove.

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Though each is one flowered, they love communal living.

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Their waxy flowers dangle as they pull up through the duff.

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Once fertilized, their pipes slowly turn upright, where the flowerhead will transform to a capsule encompassing the seeds of the next generation. Notice the lack of leaves–scales take their place.

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Also in these woods, I knew today to look for a relative of Indian Pipe because I found their capsule structures last winter. Pinesap growing below an Eastern white pine.

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Since it was dark under the trees, I needed to use a flash, thus the color. But really, these are amber. And multi-flowered on a raceme. Pinesaps and Indian Pipes produce no chlorophyll, therefore they can’t make food on their own. And because they aren’t dependent on light, they thrive in shady places.

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What sustains them is their saprophytic nature–they aren’t a fungus, but depend on fungi to obtain carbohydrates from another plant, so the mycorrhizal fungi serves as the connector between the host and the Pinesap’s roots.

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While the Indian Pipe is scaly, the Pinesap has a hairier appearance. Both are members of the heath family.

As for me and my guy, today we’ve been near each other, but not on a playdate. In fact, as I sit in the summer kitchen and write, he’s doing a huge favor for me. Isn’t that how it should be? No, not really. We’d rather be on a Mondate together.

4 thoughts on “Rather a Mondate

  1. I anxiously await your Mondates. Sorry it couldn’t be a true one today, but this is a great post. I noticed all the Indian Pipes emerging from under the leaves today – but searched in vain for pinesap. Very strong thoughts for young Kyan as he moves through this challenge.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Caroline. I appreciate that you take the time to read the blog. The entire process is pure joy from spending time noticing to sharing it with others.


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