Hidden Treasures of Late Summer

fungi 4 fungi 2I always feel like the terminator when I go out with the weed whacker at the cabin. My hubby wants the edges of the stream cleared, which makes sense because then we can see as well as hear it. But I hate to chop down anything that blooms. The little thistle with the bee; the single yellow flower, the goldenrod, the white fluffy one I don’t recognize. I love them all.

Last week, though, when I whacked away a large area of underbrush, I exposed some interesting fungi that I would not have otherwise seen. They were clustered beads about the size of the tip of my little finger and bright orange. When I viewed them from the side, I could see stems, but on the log, they looked like a pile of orange grapes. (I guess grapes have stems too…)
fungi 3I I accidentally hit some with the whacker and spattered my face which worried me a bit. Aren’t bright colors in nature like the poisonous frogs a warning? Not in this case evidently because I lived to tell the tale…

fungi 1This frill of fungi was on the backside of a fallen tree. Reminded me of tutus, but a lot of things remind me of tutus: the body of a white duck swaying over skinny legs comes to mind.

I also saw some puffballs with a dab of green.
I hate to see summer slip away, but isn’t the earth beautiful?
fungi 5

West Virginia Stumps

stump two of themIn May we were out to West Virginia for the first time since autumn and were surprised at the number of trees downed. For miles, the verges of the highway (not an interstate, so imagine heavy curves and narrowish road) were lined with stump after stump. Up in the woods, tangles of fallen trees.

stump batman1It seems that Hurricane Sandy dumped snow on the state. The road we usually travel, had been closed in October for 3 or 4 days because of fallen trees. They are still running along the roadsides with chippers, trying to get rid of all the cut logs.

This set of logs was along a roadside that is seldom used. They remind me of great pumpkins and the crack in the 2nd picture is very batman-like. I liked the ridges from the saw, the bits of green leaf and the little fungus that had grown up inside the most hollow trunk. So…a stump series. Tres arty!
stump double
stump ringsstump mushroom

stump w leaf

Flowers that Bloom in the Spring on the East Coast

When I was learning to read I remember stories that talked about bunches of spring flowers. I didn’t get it; we never seemed to have blooms by Mayday, when you were supposed to make baskets, fill them with flowers, and place them on neighbor’s doorsteps. My sister and I wanted do this for the folks in the sanitarium across the street, so we created construction paper baskets, but the flowers were Kleenex carnations. Such a disappointment.

You see, I grew up in Denver and spring as portrayed in books didn’t exist. Snow, sun, cold, snow, sun, then voila it was June and the iris were out. All those in between flowers, blooming cherry trees, redbuds, massive forsythia, tulips were cut short. Now I’ll admit to loving iris; June in Denver smells wonderful, but spring on the East coast can’t be beat. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. All of the flowers are blooming in my own yard as of this minute, with the exception of a neighbor’s white/yellow tulip too lovely to omit.

Photo: On the Water in Norway

Norway fiordPicture taken in Norway.

This is another of my Daddy’s pictures, taken on our first European trip, visiting my Norwegian sister, Merete.

Coming from Colorado, we were used to mountains, but our mountains are dry. Those in Norway sprout myriad waterfalls and Daddy called them the “leaky” mountains.  Everywhere there was water; the long bays of the fiords along the coastline, the thin silver threads of the waterfalls; when the sun comes out, it’s glorious. 

Actually, sunshine is somewhat of a rarity.  When the sun appeared, Norwegians pulled off the highway, took collapsible chairs from their cars, and basked.  I can imagine the need to soak up as much sun as possible; for a quarter of the year they barely see it, a condition I would find difficult although my sister says winter is cozy.

That summer we drove the scenic route from Oslo to Kristiansund, where my sister’s family lived. It was slow going – up a mountain, down a mountain, around a fiord, up a mountain… 

Once we encountered a tunnel. We couldn’t see the proverbial light at the end; the road simply buried itself into the mountain. However, it was on the map, so in we went. Soon the only light was our headlights. Then the road took a sharp corner. Daddy stopped the car, took a flash light and investigated. Reassured that the road didn’t drop off into nothing, we went slowly on.

I always knew when my parents were worried: they stopped talking. After a very silent half hour, we came out the other side. And there on the road for travellers going the other way was a sign: ROAD CLOSED.

Here’s another of my Daddy’s pix that I love, taken in Germany…

Bananas!

This picture is from a Florida backyard: a fascinating flower with bananas growing above. The flower is about 9 inches long, far bigger than the actual fruit. The big red petals fall to the ground; I don’t know if the little yellow flowers will turn into bananas or not. This is my first banana sighting! They certainly don’t look like this in the supermarket!

The leaves on the plant are tall and dried out; in other words, it’s not much to look at. Since the bananas are still green, I can’t attest to their flavor. I read on-line that one should wait until they turn slightly yellow to pick them. Stay tuned; I’ll comment on this post when I actually eat one.

I got to wondering about where these little gems came from. Archeological studies in Papua New Guinea suggests that banana cultivation there goes back to at least 5000 BCE. The Muslims evidently caught on to bananas in the 900’s but Americans didn’t start eating them until the 1880’s. And if you think all bananas are yellow, think again. An article in the New Yorker describes fuzzy bananas with bubblegum pink skin, others with pulp the color of orange sherbet. There is a plant that produces bunches of a thousand fingers, each only an inch long.

Unlike many people, I don’t like banana and peanut butter; however I am fond of hot banana:

  • Peel a banana. (I once had a dog who ate anything, including banana skins.)
  • Put into a bowl with 2 chocolate chips.
  • Microwave for 2 minutes.
  • Mash the chocolate into the banana.

Enjoy your pudding, feeling virtuous that you’re getting a serving of fruit, but the taste of full-on chocolate.

Gecko Belly

The belly of a gecko taken through the window.

In addition to loving the stories surrounding the inanimate objects in my life, I’m a big fan of nature. For my first successful essay in college, I wrote about standing on a street corner, waiting for a bus. It was fall, the leaves a sodden mess, cars splattering past and my mood was rotten. But as I waited, I turned my face up toward the branches of the tree overhead. The sun poured them full of golden light and beyond stretched blue, blue, clouds, blue. The top of my head blew off and my mood exploded into such happiness! Ever since, I’m on the lookout for the power of nature.

Nature in Florida, where this shot was taken, is bigger than most places. The beetles are oversized, the cockroaches humongous, and the ants, which run in packs, ubiquitous. I have to admit that bugs and spiders are a side of nature I don’t enjoy. One night in Florida I left out a half-full glass of hard cider. In the morning, floating in what I must assume was a cheerful death, was the largest bug I’ve ever seen, either a palmetto bug or a beetle. *Shudder*

On the other hand, I find the geckos charming, although I draw the line at wearing one for an earring. I did some research for this post and discovered that the poor little things can’t blink. They use their long tongue to clean their eyes…some of the charm just fled! They have specialized toe pads – you can see them in the picture – that allow them to climb any smooth surface such as windows, ceilings. Evidently the only material known to cause them walking problems is Teflon. I’ll close with a closeup of a gecko foot on glass.