Thursday, August 26, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
It was, today, beautiful -- sunny, breezy, warm-not-hot. Rough blazing star is now in full bloom, making the sandy prairie areas at the beach just lovely.
Here, resting in a sheltered area among them, is a viceroy. You can tell the difference between the two both by the smaller size -- which is subjective but was what actually gave it away on this one -- and by the pattern on the lower wings. The viceroy has a black line that runs consistently across the middle of them (faint but present in this specimen); the monarch does not. The viceroy is well known for being a mimic of the monarch, capitalizing on the fact that monarchs, from munch-munch-munching on milkweed, taste nasty to predators. It's commonly used as an example in learning about adaptations... but it turns out, the viceroy is pretty bad-tasting itself. Its larval host plant is the willow, which is filled with a delicious chemical called acetylsalicylic acid... also found in aspirin, which is about how it tastes. Delish!
And speaking on milkweed munchers... here's another. The milkweed tossock moth, as an adult, is kind of a plain and boring grayish moth. But as a caterpillar, it is fuzzy and at least somewhat colorful. These two here were the second and third I've seen this week.
It was very wavy today!
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
The bunchberry is the sketch I did in Maine, which isn't my favorite ever. I'd have preferred to draw one with actual berries -- there were some, but not where we stopped. The form was almost too simple, and that made it harder to draw...
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
We also a lot of osprey, and even more mosquitoes.
Monday, August 9, 2010
In New Hampshire (No, I'm not going in order) we climbed Mount Monadnack. The name, I'm told, means lonely mountain, because it rises alone from land that is hilly, but certainly not mountainous. The trail that we took went up for about 2 miles, and down the same distance on a slightly different path. And when I say it went up 2 miles, I mean it went UP for 2 miles. It was a trail unlike any that I have ever hiked upon. First, it basically went straight up the mountain. No messing around with things like switchbacks, or stairs. Just... UP. Second, the trail was often just rocks that already happened to exist without vegetation, which I guess was convenient for the trail-makers. The path was marked with white dots painted on rocks -- not quite often enough and in a color that was coincidently similar to some of the lichens that also occurred on the rocks. Happily, there were some very large and creative cairns to follow as well... sometimes. Anyhow... the way up was dotted with lovely glimpses and also populated with some wildlife -- we saw a kestrel, a dragonfly, and red squirrels, which I love. They are so much tinier and spunkier than our grey ones. Also shier, and I felt lucky to have gotten a photo of one at all.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
National Parks, on the other hand, described the same as one of the great and hopeful innovations of America. Although it was balanced, and presented some of the unsavory and disappointing aspects of the NPS, the book, overall, made me proud. It even made my eyes tear up a bit. It also made me think about my relationship to the national parks, and to nature in general.
At Acadia, one of my favorite things was the trail around Jordan Pond. If you’ve been there, you know that this 3.3 mile trail is one of the few in the park that is completely flat… elevation change: 0. It doesn’t climb a mountain or take you to the edge of the Atlantic. It does offer some spectacular views of a pristine lake surrounded by pine-covered hills. I, like the other thousand people that visited the park that day, (or at least like all the ones that got more than 100 yards from the store and restaurant) snapped a picture of each perfect view.Unlike everyone else, my scenic view photos will be couched in the photo album between a great many close-ups of lichens and fungi, berries and bugs. I remarked, as we were traversing a boardwalk through a mossy forest, that this was a place in which I could spend 8 hours exploring and not get five feet from where I’d started – not even notice the clear mountain lake reflecting the landscape around it.
I think I have a very different relationship with natural spaces than John Muir. At least as described in National Parks, he sought out the grand views – the mountains and waterfalls. I like those as much as the next guy, I suppose, but that’s not where my head is really at. I seek out and celebrate the small things…
It reminds me of my first real job interview. I was 24, and had spent a few years after college doing seasonal environmental ed jobs. I’d interviewed for them over the phone and never, honestly, doubted I’d get them. But for this interview, I dressed up in a suit (probably overkill) and went in person to the Nature Museum in Chicago. And the moment I remember, the question that sticks out in my head, was “Describe your personal relationship with nature.” What? Certainly I had a relationship with nature. I’d spent a year living in the northwoods in Minnesota, outside every day. I’d spent a year on the Georgia coast soaking up sun and learning the intricacies of ocean life. And I grew up in a family that went camping pretty frequently. For many years, my parents took us west each year, to spend a few weeks in Colorado or one of the magnificent parks described in National Parks – Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Tetons, the Grand Canyon… but I grew up in the suburbs, not in the back country, and so I had the confused relationship to nature you might expect from someone with such a duplicitous upbringing. I really hadn’t spent a lot of time defining this relationship. Certainly, this was not one of those interview questions that you typically prepare for when getting ready for an interview…
Part of me answer -- the part that I still remember discussing word for word -- was that the relationship was really based on small wonders. I see magnificence in the ordinary, in the things that most people walk by every day while they're searching for the perfect mountain vista, or even on their way in from the parking lot or whatever.
So... here is a collection of my small wonders photos. I would like to note that
1. This is just a small selection of the photos of moss, fungi, lichens, parasitic plants, etc. that I have, so I did some major editing... and
2. I recognize that I probably should do some more, but I can't pick!
You're still scrolling down? OK, these last are a little different, but from the Jordan Pond hike so I've included them here. I also did some sketching, and later I will scan and put that in too...