Thursday, December 1, 2022
Earlier in the season, I had already had my first time encounter with White Rattlesnake Root (not to be confused with White Snakeroot, also a late summer – early fall bloomer), jewelweed, various woodland edge goldenrod species and others, but now was the time for several woodland asters to bloom. Looking at the shades of pale blue, pink, and white, I try to distinguish one from another, but sometimes I just give up and enjoy their beauty without worrying about which species they are.
As I walked through the woods, I not only watched, but also listened. I heard the breeze blowing tree branches, their leaves, and finally, the leaves falling. What a sound that makes. So soft, and so peaceful.
As I emerged from the woods, my eyes were drawn to the prairie grasses. A few New England Asters and other tail end wildflowers were blooming, but they could not compete with the subtle beauty of the grasses. Tall at this time of the year, with their fluffy seed heads and colorful stems, they have the same beautiful colors as their fall foliage tree leaf counterparts. The day I walked in this area was cloudy, so the colors really stood out against the colorless sky and without the harsh sun to diminish their colors.
So while I am usually attracted to the bright colors of other native plants and use that color in the photographs I take and share to help others appreciate natural beauty, I still enjoy the more subdued shades of fall, the fifty shades of Fall.
Sunday, August 7, 2022
Since I know a prairie changes from year to year, depending on weather and other environmental factors, and of course, the prairie changes from week to week in the same prairie, I brushed aside my concern, and I was ready to stop for my first visit of the year. I only planned to stop for a quick visit to take a few pictures for this article, but I ended up staying for much longer than planned.
Not only were the mid-summer bloomers showing their true colors, but the warm season grasses and late summer wildflowers were gearing up for their turn. There was a nice mix of pinks and purples, golds and yellows, whites, grasses, and I already mentioned the striking red of the Royal Catchfly. In addition to the plants, pollinators were buzzing around—bees, butterflies, and other insects were enjoying the nectar of dozens of wildflower species. Songbirds were chirping and flitting from plant to plant. I’m sure a host of unseen critters were also inhabiting the area as well.
All in all, my short trip to the Route 40 Rest Stop was a great opportunity to stop and rest by doing what I love to do—walking in nature and photographing plants. Even though it’s located right along the highway, it’s easy to block out the traffic and immerse yourself in nature. I only walked around the prairie to the north and east of the drive, but there is acreage to the south of the drive, too. This little prairie is worth the stop!
Friday, May 13, 2022
|Wild Blue Phlox|
Finally I started to find tiny Snow Trilliums emerge and then eventually flower. Then came lovely Hepaticas and Spring Beauties. When I found a nice little patch of Skunk Cabbage to photograph, I was over the roof! Not only are they the first wildflower to bloom every spring, even producing their own heat and capable of melting the snow around them, but they are pretty darned cool even a couple of months later. Skunk Cabbage flowers are unusual, looking like a cross between sprouting red potatoes and pictures I’ve seen of the Corona Virus. Once done blooming, their leaves are still interesting to watch. I check on them weekly and am amazed at how the leaves grow between sightings.
It may sound crazy to spend what may seem to many people like a lot of time in the woods. However, it keeps me from going crazy, and it’s cheap entertainment during a time when everything is so expensive. The time I spend hiking and photographing is usually less than an hour, but it provides days of inner peace, helping to relieve the stress of a busy spring season at work and home. All in all, it makes me happy, and a lot of good comes from it. Spending time outdoors brings joy to many people. Crawling around on a muddy forest floor trying to get an up close and personal shot may not sound like fun to many, but I’ll bet there’s something else you enjoy doing outdoors that makes you just as happy. I encourage you to make time for the simple things that can make our lives seem a lot less complicated.
Sunday, April 3, 2022
Eklund Publishing recently released Rachel and Sammy's Nature Notes, the newest book in the Rachel Raccoon and Sammy Series by Jannifer Powelson.
Rachel and Sammy's Nature Notes is a junior field guide to help children learn all about the natural world. Kids will hike along with Rachel Raccoon and Sammy Skunk to discover sixty native prairie plants, twenty spring woodland wildflowers, and ten butterfly species in this colorful and easy to use photographic nature guide.
Copies of this book are available, along with Powelson’s other titles, online and from several local retailers.
Print ISBN: 979-8-426252-5-23
Print Edition: $18.95
Kindle Edition: $5.99
Stay tuned for information on upcoming nature programs and book events to celebrate the release of Rachel and Sammy's Nature Notes.