Last week a friend sent me some photos of an odd phenomenon in a wasp nest over her porch door. Thankfully, she also included Mary Holland in the e-mail, who probably had a much better idea of what was going on than I did.
My two thoughts–green in the woody tissue the paper wasps consumed or small green caterpillars somehow at the nest. Neither made sense. My friend is away for a while, but she suggested I go take a look and bring a ladder.
And so I did, but first I invited Jinny Mae to join me. Feeling well these days, I’m thankful she’s up for some adventures. We found the nest and up I climbed, but I guess I was a wee bit shaky for my photos were fuzzy. Nonetheless, I saw no green and so the mystery remains. But, if you have such a nest nearby, take a look–going only as close as you are comfortable. And let me know if you see anything green.
We found another nest over a different door, but it appeared the wasps had abandoned it. Why is that? They work so hard to build these and then move on.
Since our wasp adventure wasn’t successful, we decided to take advantage of the situation and explore our friend’s property, a lovely woodland and garden under conservation easement. (Hope you don’t mind, MY.)
Along the trail we came upon a downed beech tree that seemed equally alive in death as in life.
It sported lichens and mosses that combined looked like a 3-D topographical map of the property. And only now am I seeing something I can’t believe Jinny Mae and I missed earlier–script lichen across the bottom of the map. As it should be.
Puffballs also appreciated the substrate and fruited en masse.
.While we both looked into the hollow of the tree hoping to find someone at home, we didn’t. But, we did note that before the trunk snapped and toppled, it had leafed out–a last shout out to the world that sugar and water flowed through its pipeline.
We pulled away from that exploration, when something else caught Jinny Mae’s eye. I didn’t see it at first, and can’t imagine how I missed it–Prince Charming, the king of the toads.
He had so many warts that he had warts atop warts, a right robust old guy.
A little further along, more fungi attracted Jinny Mae, while I pulled out my hand lens to take a closer look at some fuzz balls that I first thought were cocoons. You might say they are also fungi upon fungi, so coated were they with a hairy mold. Or you could see them as alien forms frolicking on a fallen log. I prefer the latter.
Everywhere we turned it seemed fungi presented itself in various forms and patterns, which was apropos given that the friend who owns this land is a mushroom aficionado.
As we walked, we looked and looked for bear trees, finding none. We did, however, find some beaver works–both fresh and . . .
old. Even tree roots attracted their attention.
Beside the wetland, we scanned high and low–hoping for activity of some sort. Jinny Mae saw what was probably a cormorant, but that was all.
Our view, of course, included a lodge that looked like it had some fresh wood atop. The winter prep was under way.
And nearby, a lodge of a different sort, its construction equally intricate in an interesting geometric form.
After expressing our awe, we finally turned ourselves around–our stomachs indicating that it must be getting toward noon.
We walked out the same way we’d walked in, and as was to be expected, found more, like a false tinder conk that measured almost ten inches across.
And a young snake about ten inches long.
And then we spied something even longer in the grass.
This guy stayed absolutely still, its head held high.
But we noticed the thickness about halfway along its body.
It had beat us to lunch and we wondered what we’d missed.
Whatever it was, it apparently put up a bit of a fight if that’s blood on the snake’s neck.
We’d wandered and wondered for three hours on this last summer morn.
And gave thanks for the opportunity to spot several clouded sulphur butterflies on red clover,
the first of the milkweeds spilling its beans,
and painted ladies feasting on Joe Pye Weed. Summer was slowly coming to an end.
But Jinny Mae and I managed to embrace its last moments thanks to MY’s question about the wasp nest. We knew that before the sun set over the mountains, fall would be upon us.