This Land Is . . .

My land. I’m sure of it. I don’t own it all, but I walk it often because it’s not posted and I know it well. Well, only just so well. It’s constantly offering me new learnings.

o-Mt Wash

And so once again, out the back door I ventured, intending to head north toward the land of snow–haha. My sister asked the other day if we still had snow. We don’t have any on our land, but this is our view from the power line right of way–yup–we’ve got snow ūüėČ (in our view).

o-tick

I changed my mind about the direction, however, when I saw numerous dog ticks on the tips¬†of grass as I crossed our neighbor’s field. Though they aren’t the purveyors of¬†diseases such as Lyme disease, Babesiosis, and Anaplasmosis, seeing them still unnerved me and I decided to head in the opposite direction where it isn’t so grassy. Of course, that’s where the deer ticks live. Nightly tick checks are a must every day.

o-early yellow rocket 1

It was in the opposite direction that I was caught by surprise. Behind a local business, where the land had been disturbed a year ago, a wall of yellow greeted me.

o-yellow rocket 3

It was a sea of early yellow-rocket that is common along roadsides and fields.¬†Apparently this one spot was the cat’s meow for it to grow so prolifically.

o-bee 3

What was more prolific–the sound.

o-bee 1

Bees and other insects hummed as they worked,

o-bee 2

filling their pollen sacks to the brim.

o-fritillary 1

Even a fritillary butterfly enjoyed the goodness within.

o-fringed 2

Those weren’t the only wings I saw. It was a complete surprise to also discover gaywings or fringed polygala growing deeper in the woods.

o-turkey print

Walking along, I flushed a couple of deer and a ruffed grouse. And though I didn’t see or hear any turkeys, I knew they’d been there by their signature prints.

o-tadpole 1

And then I slipped off the trail to stop at¬†a vernal pool that I don’t often visit. The water is shallow, but tadpoles are growing.

o-tadpole 2

A¬†week or two ago after they’d just emerged, they were easy to spot as they clung to their egg masses or swam by¬†water’s edge. But they are maturing and I had to stand still or they’d disappear under the leaf cover.

o-water scavenger larvae

While standing there, I spotted¬†another resident I didn’t immediately recognize–the larval form of a water scavenger beetle. According to A Field Guide to the animals of Vernal Pools, ¬†“they are poor swimmers and will hang from the water surface (where they obtain oxygen) or hide in vegetation to await prey.” That all makes sense given their body structure.

o-sugar ant?

On the way back, another insect stopped me. I think they were sugar ants with a white thorax. But why were they on beech leaves? Then again, every insect seems to like beech leaves. I guess I don’t think of them as being sweet, but . . .

o-old gate in wall

As I headed home, I paused by an old wall and gate. This land was farmed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The walls formed boundaries for animals and are owned by numerous neighbors I’ve never met. Thankfully, they let me and others cross–though few will do so until hunting season begins in the fall.

Anyway, it all got me thinking about who owns the land. And then I knew the actual answer. The plants. The trees. The flowers. The insects. The amphibians. The birds. The mammals. They all own the land. We are mere visitors. I thank all of nature for letting me trespass and gain a better understanding of its various life forms.

This land isn’t my land. And it wasn’t even made for you and me. But I have great reverence for it. And for those who have protected it.

Happy Memorial Day.

Close to Home

It’s a no-Mondate Monday since we just returned from vacation. My guy felt the need to work and I felt the need to stick close to home.

Stepping outside, the aromatic smell of lilacs and honeysuckle envelope me. It reminds me of my childhood home, where the lilacs grew outside the bedroom I shared with my sister. And that reminds me of Mom and Dad and the fact that it’s Memorial Day and we always went to the parade in town and sometimes we marched in it and other times we rode in the back of our neighbor’s car because she was the head of the VNA and the school nurse, and we always bought¬†crepe¬†paper poppies from the veterans to honor them and my father, grandfathers, uncles and cousins. Thank you to all who have and do serve.

Lilacs

We purchased our home 22 years ago. The previous owners had green thumbs and though the house had been empty for ten years before we bought it, their toil was still evident. I have a green pinky, so the gardens aren’t what they once were. I¬†am¬†excited, however, that some of the flowers they nurtured continue to thrive. Such is the case with this white lilac.

purple lilac

And the purple, that forms part of the windscreen on the edge of the yard.

The fragrance is mixed in with . . .

honeysuckle

that of the honeysuckle. Both buzz with pollinators seeking their sweet nectar.

strawberry 2

Wild Strawberries are just that as they creep through the gardens and lawn.

Flowers and leaves grow separately on long, slender stalks.
With milk-white flowers, whence soon shall sweet
Rich fruitage, to the taste and smell
Pleasant alike, the Strawberry weaves
Its coronet of three-fold leaves,
In mazes through the sloping wood.
‚ÄĒAnonymous

blueberries

Another edible, the Highbush Blueberries.

Canada Mayflower

Atop one of the stone walls, at its base and below many trees, the Canada Mayflower blooms.

star flowers

A wildflower that some consider common is the Starflower. Look closely and you may see that there are seven stamen, seven petals and seven sepals. How common is that?

Interrupted 2

We have plenty of ferns throughout the yard and woods, but I like this one–the Interrupted Fern. It speaks its name.

Interrupted fern

On larger fronds, brown fertile pinnae or leaflets interrupt the green sterile leaflets.

Lupine

And then there is that hitchhiker, the Lupine. Each year it moves to a different spot.

Lupine 2

I love to watch the flower open from the bottom up.

lady slipper

I saved the best for last. As I mentioned earlier, we’ve lived in this house for more than two decades¬†and though I’ve seen Lady’s Slippers in other places, today I stumbled upon this one in our yard. A member of the Orchid family, it features¬†the typical three petals in an atypical fashion. The pouch (or slipper or moccasin), called the labellum, is actually one petal–inflated and veined as you can see. The two remaining narrow petals twist and extend to the sides. Overall,¬†it¬†reminds me of a lady holding out her skirt as she curtsies.

Though bees help with pollination, they hardly reap the rewards of sweet nectar. It’s a symbiotic relationship with a fungi that helps the Lady’s Slipper¬†germinate. And then, it still takes a few years for the germinated seed to produce leaves and about 3-5 ¬†years before it produces a flower. Once established, however, it may live for 20-30 years or more. So apparently this wildflower has been present for at least eight years, but I only discovered it today.

Staying close to home certainly offered sweet wonders.