Thursday, April 30, 2009

Spring Grass and Spiders



Walked early this morning, before the low clouds burned off, and had a steady fog-dampened breeze in my face that made it feel like a summer morning in the NC mountains.  There is so much going on out there that I tried to keep a mental list of sightings but couldn't keep up with it all.  

The first thing I noticed on the way out to the pipeline is that one of our patches of Mountain Laurel is in full bloom.  The tallest is about 12 - 15 feet high - it towered over my head as I walked the path my husband made years ago that winds directly beneath it.   Bees buzzed around the delicate blooms that glowed in the gray morning.

As I walked downhill on the pipeline I heard the musical song of my all-time favorite bird, the Wood Thrush.  They're back!!! (from southern Mexico/Central America/Panama) and singing their hearts out in our woods. They truly have the most beautiful song of all song birds. I heard three, I think, as I progressed downhill to Meetinghouse Creek, and then up again toward the far fence (3/4 mile). "Watery" is how I always describe the Wood Thrush song.  Other descriptions I've read.... "ethereal (oh yes!)," and "flute-like (definitely!)."  Also heard this morning on the pipeline near the house was the call of a Bob White! When we first built here we heard them every year, but in the last 8 - 10 years they have been scarce. What a thrill to hear these two birds within an hour of each other.

As I approached the steep drop-off before Meetinghouse Creek I paused to consider my path and happened to notice, right along the edge of the woods, a flash of color... not bright color, but a rich dark red.  Instead of heading down I picked my way across the washed out hillside to see what it could be.  It was Sweetshrub!  This is a common wildflower in the Piedmont, but until today not found on my treks through Middlewood or the adjoining pipeline or far woods. This discovery definitely added to my morning joy. Just below this spot is where the Green and Gold is blooming, and where the White Rattlesnake-root is sending out its large, fancy-cut leaves. Also on this damp stream-bank are numerous ferns, Joe Pye Weed, and other goodies. Out in the sun blooms thousands of  Lyre-Leaved Sages, Spotted Cat's Ears, Cinquefoils, Low-bush Blueberries, Dewberries, and as of yesterday, Lance-leaved Coreopsis.  The Gray Beard-tongue has swollen pink buds ready to pop.

So you might wonder about my journal drawing of grass.  Grass? with all those flowers and birds out there?  For the record I decided I need to try to learn about our native grasses.  I sat on my bench with a field guide and identified three of these before I drew them.   Anyone out there know the other two?  When I looked closely at two of them I saw the spiders.  Luckily I've gotten over my hatred of spiders and was able to appreciate and draw them.  Just hope I don't dream about them tonight!





1 comment:

Judy Butler said...

Helen,

Grasses in the landscape are greatly underappreciated for their structure, beauty and benefit to food chain. Lovely rendition of all of these examples of grasses. You have such a great way of laying out interesting designs on your journal pages. That is an area I need to work on. Some days I will have a happy accident but it seems when I am trying my hardest is when the design looks awkward.

Thank you for your note on my blog. The photo of the dog in the raincoat was a wonderful accidental encounter on the streets of Philadelphia right in front of the building temporarily housing the Liberty bell. This is one of my most treasured photos. The owner of the dog, a stranger to me, was so kind because I clicked about 10 photos to get these two good ones. It was raining and a very dark, yucky day.

The reason I asked about your camera on your blog is that my good camera recently died. I am trying to figure out what to buy. I am using a little Sony Cyber shot point and click camera right now. But it does not have much of a variable lens. I am torn between a Cannon or a Pentax with changeable lenses. As I get older I have to have a “shaking elimination” feature. The Cannon has this feature in the lens and the Pentax has it built into the body. I used a Cannon when I was with my school system and really liked it. It was an earlier version of the one you use, the 4 yr old Canon EOS 20D. I have never used the Macro lens or "portrait" lens. I may go with this one. My husband always had a Pentax 35mm camera. The lenses are a lot less expensive with the Pentax. I need to make a decision soon because we are off to a Tennessee state park in 3 weeks and I want to have a better camera. I have not been on an overnight trip to one of our amazing parks for 10 months…I can’t wait!

Judy