I count myself among the fortunate because pollen doesn’t keep me inside during its high season. Nor do the bugs or rain. Mind you, I do my fair share of complaining–after all I am human. At least I think I am, though I was honored to be called an ent yesterday. (Thanks Cyrene.)
Enough of that. Let’s head outside to see what we might see.
True confession. I took this photo yesterday, but didn’t have time to write. Finding this jack-in-the-pulpit beside a granite bench by my studio was a complete surprise.
Today’s journey began in the front yard where sugar maple samaras dangled below full-grown leaves. Their presence will soon offer presents to the world below.
My next stop was beside another secret giver of gifts–blueberry flowers.
And then I stepped into the woodlot, where a single striped maple which was the bearer of a deer antler rub last year and scrape (upward motion with lower incisors) this past winter, had something else to offer.
Below its almost dinner-plate size leaves–flowers. Happy was I to find these little beauties.
Perhaps . . . just maybe . . . there will be more striped maples offering their bark to those in need.
Moving along, I stopped at the opening of the cowpath to admire baby hemlock cones when something white and bubbly caught my attention. My first spittle bug sighting of the year. An adult spittlebug whips up some slimy froth to cover its eggs in late summer and the nymphs cover themselves while feeding in the spring–and so I concluded that I was viewing a nymph’s locale.
Emerging under the power lines, the community changes. It’s here that the land is especially wet and species one might find in a bog grow–such as the black chokeberry shrub. These also like rocky ledges, but such is not the case in this spot.
I was thankful to find it for those flattened bright pink anthers brightened this damp day.
Heading north, I sloshed through the deep puddles on a quest to find the sundews I discovered growing in this area for the first time last fall.
No such luck, but I did welcome the sight of the candy lichen fruits exploding from their crustose base. And then . . . and then . . . what did I see (but only when I looked at the photograph on my computer, and so now I know where they are located)? The round-leaved sundews–do you see them in the bottom right-hand corner? These are carnivorous plants (think Venus Flytrap) and their prey consists of small insects. Already, I can’t wait to make their acquaintance again.
I turned around and headed south–on my way to the vernal pool. But before passing through a stonewall, I had to look at the bunchberries in bloom.
Normally, a bunchberry plant has two-sets of leaves. But . . . when one is mature enough to grow a third set, typically larger leaves (perhaps to capture more energy) than the first two sets, it produces four white bracts that we think of as petals but they are actually modified leaves. The flowers are in the center–tiny as they are.
And because I was in the neighborhood, in the land of mosses, reindeer lichens, Canada Mayflowers and wintergreen, trailing arbutus (aka Mayflower) spoke up. Its flowers were slowly transforming from white to rust and I shouldn’t rush the season, but I can’t wait to see its fruit again.
At last I reached the vernal pool and realized I wasn’t the only visitor. What perfect hunting ground it proved to be for the . . .
phoebe. I cheered for its insatiable insect appetite.
Because the day was dark, it was difficult to see tadpoles, but I did note that many spotted salamanders were still forming. I also noted that the water level has dropped a wee bit–hard to believe–and where yesterday I found a few egg masses a bit high and dry, today they were gone. Something enjoyed eggs for dinner. Scrambled or otherwise, I’m not sure.
Back on the trail and at the next stone wall, interrupted fern showed off its fertile pinnae near the middle of the blades. It’s called interrupted because of the interruption in the blade. Again, this is an inhabitant of moist to wet forests and so it was no surprise to find it growing there.
A fertile blade, such as this, may have two to seven pairs of middle pinnae.
The globose sporangia is bright green when young, but darkens to tan or black as it matures.
On the other side of the wall, I spied some more flowers.
These were the elongated loose clusters of black cherry trees, that open when the leaves are fully developed.
One that flowers and fruits before its leaves are fully developed is the red maple.
And fruits and fruits . . . need I say more?
Though the wind blew, the samaras weren’t yet ready to let go and set down their roots. It won’t be long though, I’m sure.
Finally returning home, I passed by the granite bench once more and was still stymied by the site I saw about a half hour after discovering the jack-in-the-pulpit yesterday. It had been consumed. I suspected the woodchucks that live under the studio. Either that or a bear came along and I missed it.
And so ended today’s tramp. Thanks for traipsing along with me to visit these sites out our back door. I especially welcome those who are homebound with allergies, like my friend Jinny Mae. She gave me the inspiration to take a look today–to be her eyes for the moment and share my sight.