Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Photos from yesterday's hike

White Checkered Skipper

Photography is such a great way to share what you've seen, but it's also a great way to see what you missed in real life.  For instance, in my attempt to get this photo of a White Checkered Skipper I jumped around in waist-high grass and wildflowers, probably stepped in fire ants, and picked up an armful of beggar-ticks, just to follow the constantly moving subject.  The lens' auto focus wasn't functioning for some reason, so that added a special challenge.  I was able to get only six shots.  In my rush to the capture butterfly, I didn't notice the yellow beetle on the leaf (left).

Below is one of the failed attempts, but click on the photo and check out the flowers to the right - there's a party going on!  A stinkbug, a red-eyed fly, and behind him, a ladybug.  I totally missed them in real life.

So, once again I am reminded that in life, slower is better.  Imagine how much we don't see even if, like me, we are actually searching for it.  Note to self: Slow down, slow down, slow down.

Here are some more photos from yesterday's hike.  Click on the photos for larger size.
Interesting leaf-change - looks like it was somehow affected by 
the insect chomping holes in it...  

Possibly False Turkey Tail... on oak log.

 Leftovers from someone's meal.  It was a small animal (compare to oak leaf)...  not sure who has teeth like that.

 Yellow Bear Caterpillar (turns into a Virginia Tiger Moth)

 Crowded Parchment

On the same tree as above... only 1/3 inch high.  

And last but not least, Daisy on the Lawson's Fork trail...

watching out for her brother Dukie.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Stiff Aster, Folded Wing Skipper, Winged Sumac

An early cold snap Friday dipped us into winter for a bit and zapped many of the fall asters out in the field, but today it was back in the 60's, and a refreshing breeze blew from the west.  There were NO GNATS!

The dogs and I tramped around in the woods up on the rocky ridge, then slid down the steep hill to Meetinghouse Creek, where lots of four-legged romping and splashing took place. Duke disappeared around a curve in the creek and may have explored Lawson's Fork (he came back totally wet); Daisy stayed with me.

On the way out of the woods we passed through a spot I particularly love, where pines rise through an emerald green carpet of running cedar.  I've tried to get a photo of the carpet numerous times, but it just doesn't translate. There must be a magical trick of the eye that creates the carpet, something a mechanical camera just can't do. Deer paths cross this way and that, and downed pines sprout Turkey Tails and Crowded Parchment.

Back on the sunny pipeline, we hiked back up to our hill and settled down to draw a flower or two. The Stiff Aster was quite close to me, so I just leaned in to see details as I drew.  I was about 12" from the flower when a tiny honeybee landed on the yellow center.  It was fun seeing him working, up close and personal.  And then, as soon as the bee buzzed away, a folded wing skipper (probably a Fiery Skipper) fluttered past my ear, and landed to sip.  She didn't stay long, and the iphone was out of reach, but the magical camera in my eye caught her beauty perfectly.

 Turkey Tail & Running Cedar under pines

Unknown mushrooms

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Grass - Purple Tridens

Message to my readers:  It's been almost a year since the book "Middlewood Journal" came out.  What a fun, busy time I had traveling, talking about journaling, and making new friends!  Alas, all that activity gave me little time to unwind enough to go out and journal, and then come back in and post.  I walked, yes, and sometimes journaled, but somehow they didn't make it to this blog.  But now... I'm back!  I hope to post at least once a week.   Thanks for your patience,  Helen

TODAY:    Even if the trees are not showing much enthusiasm color-wise, fall weather is working its magic this morning at Middlewood.  Up on Jay's Hill a stiff northerly breeze blew across the grasses causing them to swirl and dip.   Fall field crickets chirruped all around, and tiny grasshoppers bounced around the grasses under foot.  Two buckeye butterflies twirled and danced in the cool wind.  We are supposed to have temps in the 30's by Friday... I wonder about those buckeyes... do they hibernate like mourning cloaks?  Will have to look that up.

I sat to draw near a Tulip Poplar that grows alone on top of the hill.   My view was the sloping hill, a line of treetops (from lower down) that are just barely turning color, and beyond to Hogback Mountain and the whole range (in NC) north from there.  The sky above me was deep blue, with the horizon pale and filled with lines of small scurrying clouds.  When gusts came in from the north, leaves on the poplar rattled and were torn from the tree, and once on the ground they bumped and tumbled across the grass.   

Only one flower was visible from where I sat - a lone dandelion, glowing in the sun.  At first I thought to draw it, but when I got close I realized that a huge ant hill (fire ants) had been built all around the plant.  Enough said, yes?  Instead I just picked a non-anty spot to sit and found this small tuft of tridens grass with one spent seedhead.  

Daisy and Duke sat near me while I drew and studied the view.  They are both four years old now and settling down nicely as journaling companions... well, except for an occasional burst of Dukie Itchiness that causes him to stand up, and then throw himself onto the ground with a loud UMPH, followed by some serious wallowing and back-scratching.  It ends with him standing back up and shaking all the dead grass onto me.  Then, of course, he gives me a big Golden Slurp, and also of course, Daisy has to get in on the action and comes to give me a dainty little Collie Kiss.  It ends with them going back to their spots to sit and enjoy the view, and me going back to my journal. 

The last of the morning glories for this year.

Heading back to the house.