Nature Blog Network

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Topsy-Turvy World

I wonder... is this the same place that experienced the hottest driest June-into-July since the dust bowl era? Certainly August hasn't been this way.  In fact, the past few days have been unseasonably cool and we've had quite a bit of rain, too.  Last Thursday, I think it was, we got 3.5 inches in 24 hours.  This morning's storm ripped through quickly and violently.  It started with wind gusts -- tree branches thrashed wildly around, whipping through the air.  My sunflowers, which are significantly taller than I am at this point, swayed perilously low.  I implored them not to fall over, to be flexible and bend in the wind so that they wouldn't break.  (They promised me, in a voice suspiciously similar to my husband's, that they'd stay standing -- but I'll have to wait until I get home from work to find out if they kept that promise.)  Though the sky was dark, at this point it was barely raining at all... but before too long, it was pouring buckets, as they say... raining cats and dogs... rain was coming down in sheets... am I missing any rain cliches?  The drops were huge, and plentiful, water ran down the driveway and through through the street... And before long it was over, a calm cloudy day...

Monday, August 6, 2012

My Magical Morning

Saturday evening, rain came through at the head of a cool front.  It brought near-perfect weather for Sunday and today, with my sunrise run taking place in actual coolth.  Those conditions created a magical morning.

I entered the Savanna through a mowed trail that comes off of a residential area, so I came not into an area crowded with signs and wide trails, but rather right into the quiet savanna itself.  It was a heavenly pastorale, with the reaching crowns of oak trees growing not from meadows, but directly from clouds.  Their swirls formed gently-rolling white hills.  You could almost hear the Beethoven playing.  And it was pretty neat to run through thick clouds.

Looking closer at the prairie through which I passed, every leaf tip and flower petal, every seed head and stem was heavy with pregnant dew drops, the pre-evaporated fog.  When the sun's horizontal rays shone through them, they sparkled with such intensity I almost had to proceed with my eyes closed.  When, mercifully, I passed through the long shadows of hedgerows and tree groves, I saw that dewdrops weren't the only adornment of the plants.  Spiders had fastened webs to nearly every available specimen, a testament to how many invisible creatures share the space with us.  Made visible by the water, there were large droopy orbs that bridged two plants together.  There were tiny perfect circles -- in one single Queen Anne's Lace plant, I counted four individual webs, each the size of quarters, nestled into Vs in the plant's stem.  There were low-down messy webs, the type that make you think of that you-tube video about spiders on drugs.  (Funny, irreverent, recommended.) Everywhere I looked, silken strands connected pieces of the prairie.

I had to stop and take in the wetland area.  It is a pool dotted with snags -- probably trees that weren't adapted to the wet conditions that came on suddenly when drain tiles were removed.  This morning, they, too, arose out of mist.  Skeleton tombstones in a graveyard of trees, like a scene from a horror movie.  A heron perched on a branch, his neck curled and shoulders hunched... a grey, grumpy old man admonishing the passers-by with his glare.  And to remind me that I wasn't about to hear the sound of chainsaws or banjos,  a wood duck glided through the water, diminutive and graceful.

In some ways, I think it's a shame that I wasn't carrying my camera, haven't been into picture-taking much at all lately.  But in other ways, I'm glad.  I'd have taken a picture and been done with it.  This way, I spent miles working out wording, trying to determine how I'd describe the indescribable.  Although I've forgotten some of my well-worded phrases by the time I've finally gotten to the typing, I think it's still a good mental exercise, probably better than taking a picture.  And if I've failed to capture the moment?  Well, it was my moment, anyhow... I have the pictures in my head.  

Now...
In other bird phenology news... I noticed several goldfinches today that are looking slightly less... gold.  Some still seem bright, but others? Not so much.  Is it really time for winter plumage already?