Sunday, August 31, 2008

Green on Green

Plant hopper on Teasel

I'm drawn to color.
Bright yellow on tall stems, from within the dark of our woods. And the deep red of bee balm, its feet hugging the bank of our shallow creek, shady and cool, empty of water by late August.
Surrounded by green as I am in our many trees and broad fields, it is color that steals my eye.
While green becomes its backdrop.

Yet, if I look away, pry my sight from the blossoms and brilliance they possess, green on green is quite lovely.
The shapes, the textures rich.
With shadow, the subtle hues infinite.
I am guilty of looking too often past green.


Common Milkweed



Common Yellow Wood Sorrel

Lamb's Quarters

Sweet Gum

Virginia Creeper

Skunk Cabbage


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Deep Purple

Ironweed, Vernonia sp.

The Ironweed stands tall in the field.
Where teasel has passed its lavender head to brown and graceful grasses lean. Branching broadly above the warming tones of goldenrod, with the disposition to look me straight in the eye as I walk there.

I cannot leave without taking a bit of it with me, though its toughness plants it firmly in our baked clay soil. The dainty flowers riding atop the towering stems draw my eye every time.
Their delicate tubular flowers densely packed into each small head, and held in clusters ten feet high.

Glazed by morning dew.
Holding the days’ heat from under a setting sun.
Until autumn’s chill is with us.
It stands sturdy and strong.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Woolly Bear

Soft feet crossing heat
as cars and trucks fly past them.

Oh, these bears can run!

Yellow Woolly Bear crossing road

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Days of Clouded Skies

I walked this lane days ago, under pink clouds against blue, their edges brilliant, as if the door to heaven had been left open--just a crack.
It was an image too perfect. Of a full moon rising while, still, the sun crept low.
And, as too often is the case, I without my camera, could not capture it.

Day after day, I returned to the spot.
But perfect skies had moved on.

A reminder that even this day, with its tumbling gray heaviness, is like no other.
And I must capture it while I can.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It's in the Bag

So, how cool is this!?
A caterpillar that carries his own silk spindle-shaped stocking, decorated with leaf clippings he’s gathered, easily overlooked amidst the oak branches. He moves deftly along, leaf by leaf, feeding and resting--ducking quickly inside and closing the opening if disturbed.

Bagworms are the larval stage of a generally unseen moth, hanging in camouflaged houses – covered with everything from sticks and berries to needles and grains of sand.

Lacy black filigree against a pale white face peek out at me, and six grasping legs emerge from the safety of their shelter. The long, soft and tender wrinkled body behind stays within—only stretching to reach what he cannot grasp.

Soon he will fasten his stocking securely to the branch, tie down the opening and pupate. If male, he will emerge as a winged adult moth. The wingless females remain inside their silk enclosure, and after mating, leave eggs behind for spring.

Certainly, this little character, camped out on an oak branch stuffed neatly in a vase on my kitchen table wins this year’s “cool creature award.”
He’s definitely got it in the bag!

Thyridopteryx sp. on silk

Bagworm house of oak leaves

Thyridopteryx sp.
Can you see the bristles on his abdominal appendages?
They keep the bag from slipping off.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Fort Hill

Each day I spend time on our land.
The trails into the woods and fields have become extensions of our home--as if a long hallway extended through and beyond the wall, into fresh air. Without effort, I step along, ducking under a small oak branch or skirting a reaching rose—navigating with ease.
Knowing what I will find before I find it.

Fort Hill State Memorial is a National Natural Landmark a short drive from our southwestern Ohio home. A ceremonial earthwork enclosure built atop a large hill almost 2000 years ago by the Hopewell civilization, a prehistoric culture of the American Middle West, now a 1200-acre preserve.

The walls have grown over with centuries’ soil and seeds.
The people have passed.
But safe within now, is this land.

Around it-- miles of trails to explore.

Paw-paws fill the shaded understory, their rounded green fruit a Native American favorite.

From beside the darkened trail I hear footsteps in the dry leaves—and a very large black beetle scurries out of sight.

Broad-Necked Root Borer
Prionus laticollis

Magnificent fungi in all shapes, colors and sizes beg for a closer examination.

Amanita sp.

Boletus sp.


And in the quiet streamside, are flowers.

Collected in photographs, and studied late into the night—for much of this I do not know.
But in stretching my legs, I have stretched my mind.

Tomorrow my land will look different.

Please help me identify my collection.
Photos enlarge with a click.

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