Monday, June 21, 2010

A Solstice Celebration

Today's the day, the Solstice, high summer. A good day to get high. High up, I mean, as in a nice morning climb with good friends. Here we are, standing on the mountainside overlooking the Hudson River. That's Cliff, on the left, who likes to hike barefoot; in the middle is Rebecca, who works as a nature educator at Moreau Lake State Park; and then that's my dear friend Sue, my nature adventure buddy who organized today's hike. Sue wanted to check the Wood Lilies that grow along the pathway up, so that's what we did, and we found them just fine and in beautiful bloom, tucked in among Hay-scented Ferns.

There were lots of beautiful things in bloom, including this Deertongue grass.

You don't think that's so beautiful? Perhaps you haven't looked really close at those tiny flowers that look like minute red Christmas trees. I never had, until Sue told me about them today. Amazing! How could I have lived this long and never noticed them?

Here's another kind of interesting flower that usually goes unnoticed because it's so small and unprepossessing. It's called Cowwheat. I wonder how it got that name? I'll have to do some research and add an update later.

Isn't the web amazing? All it took was one click to find a wonderful site that told me all kinds of good stuff about Cow Wheat. I won't repeat it because you can just click here and read it there.

Here's a pretty caterpillar that was clinging to a needle of White Pine. It was small, less than an inch, but quite colorful. Anybody recognize it? (Click on the Comments to learn why this caterpillar was so happy on a pine needle.)

I sure did not recognize this little pink lollypop lichen that was growing on the rocky mountainside. I've never seen it before, and it's not in my lichen book. What a pretty color combination, those soft pink fruiting bodies atop that nubby carpet of dark- and grey-green thallus. (Check the Comments to find that Ellen has ID'd this lichen for us.)

More pretty pink things. These are Black Huckleberries. Blue-black they will be, when they're ripe.

We did find some ripe Low Blueberries and ate them as fast as we found them. Sue told us that it was a Solstice tradition to pick and eat blueberries without using your hands. Here she shows us how. Don't slide down that mountainside, Sue!

Another beautiful fruit -- or rather, fruiting body. This is what one of my mushroom books calls Ling Chih and another book calls Lacquered Polypore. Ganoderma lucidum is the scientific name, and I know enough Latin to recognize the word for "shiny" in there. And shiny it certainly is.

That Chinese name intrigued me, so I looked in my Audubon's mushroom guide, where I learned that this species is believed to be the Ling Chih of the ancient Chinese, the "mushroom of immortality" or the "herb of spiritual potency." The Aududon guide also notes that a candy made of the essence is sold in Chinese markets in New York City. Wow! A magic mushroom! How appropriate for Solstice Day!

Here's another beautiful mushroom, a Painted Boletus. This is a young one, so its cap is a solid red, completely covered by what looks like a mohair shawl. As the cap spreads out, that red cover will shred, and the cap will take on a more speckled appearance.

I had read that this species of bolete is good to eat, so I took some home for supper. Were they yummy? Nyeh. Next time I'll just leave them looking lovely by the path.

Did you ever wonder what makes those foamy spit balls in the axils of green plants? Here's a nice glob of foamy spit I found today. Let's see what's inside.

What an adorable little green bug! He kept running away, so I could only get a shot of his rear. I carefully put him back on his plant after the photo session. I hope he can spit out another glob of foam to protect himself.

I hope I didn't spoil your day too badly, little bug. I certainly had a wonderful one. Thanks, Sue, for getting us up and out and up on the mountainside on this beautiful day. (For Sue's own account of our Solstice adventure, with beautiful photos and great Thoreau quotes, check out her blog Water-Lily by clicking here.)


Jane B said...

I always HAVE wondered what made those spit balls... now i know! What a cutie! thanks for the smile.

Ellen Rathbone said...

I can't help you with your caterpillar, but your pink lichens are Dibaeis baeomyces, pink earth lichens. They are an eastern lichen, from Canada down to Georgia, and parts of eastern Alaska. Found some of 'em last year and they are what prompted me to purchase my mighty lichen tome - it's not a field guide, but a good in-your-library reference book.

Carol said...

I think your caterpillar is a Pine Sawfly

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Always good to hear from you. Thanks, all, for leaving your comments. And thanks for the lichen ID, Ellen, and the caterpillar ID, Carol. My education contiinues, with a little help from my friends.

Bee Balm Gal said...

Where is this hiking trail, please?

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Hi Bee Balm Gal, thanks for stopping by. The trail we walked today is called the Western Ridge Trail in Moreau Lake State Park, accessed by a trailhead along Spier Falls Road in Moreau. If you visit the park's headquarters you can obtain a map that will show you all of the trails in this wonderful park of more than 4,000 woodsy, watery, and mountainous acres, on both sides of the Hudson River.

Bird said...

Happy belated summer solstice! I wish my feet were still tough enough to hike barefoot, they are too stiff and tender these days but I am working on it :)

The view in your first picture is magnificent. And as ever, the macros are gorgeous as well as educational. Thank you for bringing us along on your adventures.

Bee Balm Gal said...

Thank you for the information about Moreau Lake. Your blog is amazing. What beauty you find. And such energy you have!
Thanks for sharing your adventures. It's inspiring.