Thoughtful Tuesday

“Garbage did not exist until there were humans.  Everything in nature easily goes back into the earth.  Humanity needs to learn to re-consume.”   – Michael Reynolds (creator of the Earthship)

img_5899
Late summer – Echinacea and rudbeckia hirta  growing wild at the edge of our wooded path out of a pile of cut “weeds” and deadheaded plants.  Nature will always carry on when left to its own devices.

 

 

Morning in the woods

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”    – Henry David Thoreau

IMG_5932.JPG

Nora and I took an hour long walk in the woods early this morning  The air still held a chill and the dew glistened on all surfaces.

IMG_5923
Linaria vulgaris, also known as “Butter-and-eggs”

IMG_5916

 

I was focused on the ground, taking photos of the wildflowers, when Nora noticed a pileated woodpecker high up in a dead tree.  Unfortunately he or she was playing hide-an-seek, but you can see the body on one side of the tree and the tip of the beak on the other, just to give you an idea of size.

IMG_5906

IMG_5912
I have no idea what type of bird this is, but I caught of glimpse of her sitting on a young maple
IMG_5914
With overnights in the low 50s, we’re beginning to see some color changes in the leaves

IMG_5907

 

Foraging

IMG_5654.JPGBetween the above average heat and lack of rain, this summer has seemed unpleasant and relentless.  I have to say that July and August have always been my least favorite months of the year.  Strange, I know, for someone who loves to garden.  But in the northeast, July and August translate into hot, humid days, too many biting bugs, too  many pests that spend all of their time devouring my flowers and veggies (e.g., Japanese beetles, lily beetles, squash beetles); the demise of the June explosion of growth and color in the gardens, and did I mention the heat and humidity?  Yeah, not a fan.  

Although we’re beginning to see glimpses of the late summer and autumn flowers — the dahlias, zinnias, cosmos in the garden, and wildflowers such as Joe-Pye Weed (above), goldenrod, daisies of many types, and Queen’s Anne Lace — the gardens are looking wilty and beaten down by heat and drought.  Since we rely on a well for our water, watering is reserved for any new trees and shrubs, container plants and any vegetables that are on their last leg. The other perennials and annuals are required to tough it out during the periods of no rain, which this summer, have stretched as long as 2 weeks or more.

IMG_5641.JPG

So, rather than deal with the depressing reality of my flower gardens, this last Sunday we went on a blackberry foraging expedition in our woods.  It was early morning; the the air was still cool and the bugs not entirely awake yet.  The brambles are laden with blackberries this year — thousands upon thousands of them.  

IMG_5651.JPG

We found a few raspberries tucked in among the blackberries as well.  We spent an hour or so walking, gathering berries, listening to the bird chatter, and taking photos.  

IMG_5594
Purple Thistle or Spiny Thistle — this plant has a couple of names — it has some nasty spines, but is drought-tolerant and the pollinators love it. It’s growing wild among the brambles.

It was wonderful, until the day began to heat up and the mosquitoes found us.

 

IMG_5614
Milkweed, which I was delighted to see in such abundance, is happily growing among the young trees and brambles of the “staging area.”  This plant is a host for Monarch butterfly caterpillars and as we bulldoze over open fields and/or spray them with a host of toxic chemicals, milkweed is becoming scarce, as are the Monarchs.
IMG_5622
Possibly Purple Loosetrife, but I’m  not positive.
IMG_5629
Great Mullein (verbascum Thapsus)– a 5-6′ tall spike that grows wild in the northeast, is actually a native of Europe, Africa and Asia, not N. America.  It tends to appear in open fields and farmland areas.  The pollinators love it, and it’s rather striking with its tall, yellow flower covered spike.
IMG_5648
This is a lovely vine I noticed dangling from the lower branches of a tree on the edge of the walking path; the light from the rising sun was reflecting off the leaves and the flowers were so delicate in appearance.  I have no idea what this is, but thought it was worth the photo.

But we returned home with quarts of berries that were added to bags of raspberries and blueberries already in the freezer, waiting to be made into jams and jellies in another month.

 

Early Morning Walk in the Woods

The mayflies (or gnats) are here, which means no more walking in the woods without being swarmed.  In another couple of weeks the mosquitos and deer flies will be in full force.  So, to avoid the swarm, we went for an early morning walk yesterday.  6:30 a.m., 28 degrees (note the ice crystals on the wild strawberry and cattail below).IMG_4481.JPGIMG_4478.JPG

We had barely entered the woods before we inadvertently frightened a bunny and a deer sipping from a small pond.  A little further into the walk we saw a pileated woodpecker.  The pileated woodpecker is large, roughly the size of a crow and the largest type of woodpecker in the U.S., and has a bright, flaming red crest on its head.  It makes quite the ruckus in the early morning woods as it loudly excavates deep into rotting trees for insects.  So, again, another banner wildlife viewing day in the woods.

Sunday’s Walk in the Woods

IMG_4413
Sun reflecting off the marsh; this area in particular is a favorite spot of the spring peepers.  We heard much croaking and saw lots of frog spawn in the various wetland areas; both signs of a healthy amphibian population.
IMG_4409
Miniature castle

 

IMG_4444
Reed reflections

 

IMG_4459
It was a great day for wildlife spotting.  Nora was lucky enough to come upon two browsing deer.  Unfortunately I was lagging behind to take photos and missed that opportunity.  But this little gem, an Eastern Garter snake, slithered up behind us further into our walk.  She hung out while I snapped several photos and remained there watching us intently as we walked away.

A Walk in the Woods

It’s a sunny, glorious (albeit a bit chilly at 38 degrees) early Spring day in North Country, so we took a two hour stroll in our woods with Magnolia.

IMG_4255.JPG
As you can see, the ground is still a bit wet from the melted snow and recent rains

 

IMG_4232.JPG
Reflections in the swamp

 

IMG_4245.JPG
Magnolia with her serious face on.  She had a grand time walking and smelling her way through the woods; rolling in piles of deer poo, and splashing through the flooded trails.

 

IMG_4233.JPG
Ice Art I

 

IMG_4274
A sea of young maples

 

IMG_4248.JPG
Ice Art II — the complexity of the design in this little puddle was astounding

 

IMG_4258.JPG
Through the looking glass

Among the trees

“Be a gentle friend to trees and they will give you back beauty, cool and fragrant shade, and many birds, singing.”

IMG_4157

We spent a couple of hours in our woods this morning.  The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and I even thought I heard the croak of a bullfrog…

IMG_4177.JPG
Dogwoods among the ice
IMG_4161.JPG
A glimpse of one of the many wetland areas; a haven for frogs, snakes, grouse and numerous insects

 

IMG_4134
A moss covered tree stump

 

IMG_4154
The towering, mighty pines with a nursery of young trees below
IMG_4170.JPG
Already signs of green on the forest floor