Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Two Thoroughworts & Gerardia

I headed out with Daisy and Dukie mid-morning, prepared to stay out for my usual long morning in the field.  The sky was hung heavy with dark clouds and a cool, damp breeze blew from the west, which felt wonderful.  As we passed through the woods I noticed mushrooms. White ones, brown ones, yellow ones, orange ones, gilled and boletes... lots of mushrooms!  They were everywhere, reminding me that I must post my last journal entry from late August that is all about mushrooms, which I'll do soon.  Today though, I wanted to get out to the fresh breezes of the pipeline and let the dogs get some exercise, so we continued on.

We passed a patch of purple top tridens (grass) and I grabbed a seed head to pull the seeds off, which I often do, tossing the seeds here and there as I walk.  This time though, the seeds weren't ready to fall off, but I did get a handful of the tiniest little insects - smaller than my pinkie fingernail.  I first thought,  baby grasshoppers, but their skinny black legs were the same width (less than a hair's diameter) all the way from body to foot - none of the muscles you find on a grasshopper.  I leaned in to other grass plumes and saw that they were everywhere - 10 - 20 on each.  Further down the hill I checked again and found a few more, although not as many as on top of the hill.  It was fairly quiet as I walked, except for the soft trill of field crickets.  A red bellied woodpecker chirred in the woods, and a lone crow flapped over my head with a single, unenthusiastic caw! 

I settled to draw next to a round-leaved thoroughwort.  It's such a tidy, well behaved plant, I can imagine transplanting one into my garden.  It's cousin, hyssop-leaved thoroughwort, is a different matter.  It grows everywhere across all three pipelines, so I imagine it does a better job getting its seeds out and about - not a good candidate for a garden, but a nice home for tiny crab spiders!  I picked one branch to draw (both plants are much fuller than these on the page) and ended up bring two size X-small spiders back to my seat. After studying them I set the spiders in the grass away from me.   

I drew for an hour or so, until I felt some tiny spits of rain.  I packed quickly, and then realized it had stopped spitting rain for the moment, so even though we still headed home, we went the long way.  I wanted to look for a third thoroughwort I know grows down by the creek, named boneset.  I couldn't find it, but that's ok... the dogs and I all needed the extra exercise.   

I returned home with soggy shoes and pants wet to the knee.  The dogs slurped the ice water I put down for them (yes, I admit, they are spoiled) and then collapsed on the cool floor for naps.


A few photos from the past few weeks around Middlewood: a tiny mushroom,

a dead butterfly's wing,

a handsome Assassin Bug,

a beautiful mushroom with a beautiful name: Lactarius indigo,

a macro photo of a spider web in the sun,

a Fiery Skipper on thistle,

a Pearly Crescentspot.

NEW PHOTOS:  the tiny insects on the grass seed heads... anybody know what they are? 
 Click on images to enlarge.

 Look who I found snacking on a mushroom... yum! yum!


nancysbaldwin said...

Sounds peaceful and wonderful. Glad the spiders were tiny!

Anonymous said...

The mushroom is Lactarius indigo. :) A beauty...just like all your other pictures and paintings!

Helen said...

Yes, Nancy, it was very peaceful! Today I went back out with camera to try to find both the bug and the spiders. Found the bugs only. Will post photos soon!

Thanks so much to Anonymous for telling me the name of the blue mushroom! Lactarius indigo... Even the name is lovely. And thank you for your kind words.


bennysmith said...

Your post seems very interesting, thanks for sharing!

Helen said...

Nancy, I am hoping the huge Black and Yellow Argiope spider that is dangling in her web to the right of our door is gone by the time you come visit me. Can't disturb her because she is getting ready to make an egg case. You'll be glad to know that I plan to move said egg case way out to the field beyond our woods. :-)