Thursday, July 8, 2010
Midday Madness, Shady Trail
They say that only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun. It must be my English ancestry that sent me out in the midday heat today, but at least the more practical Dutch genes in me convinced me to stay in the shade. I chose the woodsy Bog Meadow Trail, but only partly because it was shady. Most of all, I wanted to catch the magnificent Canada Lilies that grow there, before this horrible heat destroys their beautiful blooms.
Unfortunately, I had to walk quite a distance to find them, moving along at a pace fast enough to create a small breeze but not fast enough to work up more sweat than was already drenching me. As it was, my glasses soon swam off my nose, and my sweat washed away the bug repellent I'd carefully applied. So it was come-and-get-it time for hordes of deerflies and mosquitoes. The whine and buzz of these pests was deafening, like being stuck in a World Cup stadium full of blaring vuvuzelas, but the deerfly patch on my hat worked pretty well, saving me from at least a hundred bites, to judge from the bunch here stuck to my hat.
So was it worth it, this sticky, sweaty, itchy misery, to find those Canada Lilies? Oh heck, yes! Just look at this beauty, glowing like a lamp against the deep shade when a beam of sunlight picked it out.
And here was another bunch, bright yellow, that seemed to glow in the dark even though they grew in the shade.
Aside from those gorgeous lilies, few other flowers were blooming along the trail, so most other spots of color came from ripening fruits. Normally, I feel nothing but ill will toward all the alien species of honeysuckles that crowd the trail, but resentment melts when light passing through the berries makes them glow like the lights on a Christmas tree.
Our native Pin Cherries also glow a bright red, but rarely down near the ground where I can see them. But happily, there's a tree on the trail that bends low to the ground, so its fruits are well within eyeshot. Flocks of robins and blackbirds tore away from this tree at my approach, so I'm glad they left at least one cherry for me to photograph.
Down on the ground grow the Bluebead Lilies (Clintonia), their royal blue fruits set off by their vibrant green leaves. I don't know who eats these fruits, but there were just a few left.
I know that we humans must never eat this Amanita mushroom, although there may be some woodland critters that eat it with impunity. I'm not sure of its species, but the stalk ring and cup it grows out of place it among the group of mushrooms that are deadly poisonous. But beautiful, so snowy white.
Let's see, what else did I find of interest? Oh yes, this sprightly Bottlebrush Grass, so aptly named. I love how its spiky presence stands out against a background of ferns and honeysuckle berries.
I know these green leaves are oak, but I can't decide if the red one is Starflower or Indian Cucumber Root. Nevertheless, the interweaving of their leaves caught my eye and caused me to pause and admire the lovely arrangement.
This Ebony Jewelweed damselfly also paused, but just long enough for me to snap its portrait.
Be sure to click on the photo to see something of its iridescence, although no photo will ever capture the radiance we see when it flutters about, those coal-black wings open wide, its body glinting now blue, now green in the light.
I would have been glad to see many more damsel- and dragonflies, voracious insect predators that they are. Maybe then I would have encountered many fewer mosquitoes and flies.