Sunday, April 11, 2010

What to Choose, What to Choose?

Oh my! What to choose? It's an absolutely gorgeous day outside, but it's been absolutely gorgeous the last two days as well, and I have photos to work with and a new post to make. Should I do them now, so as not to get behind, or go outside and take more photos? Yeah, I'll work on the ones I already have, before I go outside again! An open window can let the spring breeze and the sound of our neighbor's lawnmower in, so I'm not completely stuck indoors.
We explored two of Dick's favorite places this weekend, Jefferson Memorial Forest (a county park) and Bernheim Forest. I'm always amazed, although I shouldn't be by now, at the changes a few days can make in the blossoms to be seen this time of year. The word ephemeral takes on new meaning, when a short walk shows only the leaves for plants that were in full bloom only 3-4 days ago. This deer came to graze, not afraid of us at all. I never noticed how long their tails are. It comes at high as the tips of her ears when in full flag.
This little Chipping Sparrow posed for us, having chosen the bluest piece of sky it could find as a backdrop. Pretty considerate for a bird, wouldn't you say?
Bernheim Forest always has something beautiful going on, but this weekend everything was bustin' out in blossoms! I didn't even stop for pictures of all the crab apple trees. This reflection in Mac's Lake kind of says it all. Our friend Tavia Cathcart (co-author of Wildflowers of Tennessee and the Ohio Valley and the Southern Appalachians) was leading a wildflower walk at Bernheim, so I rushed out to join them after spending the morning at RROKI. That's the great thing about wildflower walks - even if you are late, no one is speeding down the trail, and it's easy to catch up with the group.
Here's one I've seen before, but never knew the name. She says it's Euphorbia (aka Wood Spurge). Sounds like it must be the happiest flower in the field with a name that I can easily misspell as Euphoric! The actual flower is only that small gold/orange spot in the middle. The green bracts act as cups to catch the rain and funnel it down towards the roots. Pretty smart for a plant, isn't it?
We found terrific Trilliums. One of the other Bernheim people says that they only have Sessile Trillium in the Forest, which was news to us.
The Common Buckeye trees are in bloom too. As always, I am blown away by the intricacy of tree blossoms. Maybe I should suggest that Tavia work on a guide for tree blossoms next! We'd have to come up with a shorter name for the next book though. She said it took 5 years to get all the photos for her wildflower book, because you have to be in the right place on just the right day to get the shot you want.
In addition to the wonderful wildflowers, we saw lots of critters. It took a while to find this almost clear dragonfly sparkling in the sunshine. I'm not sure what kind it is, but it doesn't really matter does it?
As we walked over a small bridge, a motion in the stream caught my attention. It was a Common Garter snake. Caught him tasting the breeze. Some days I almost think the breeze has a flavor too, but people stare at me if I stick my tongue out to taste it.
A clump of Bluebells hosted a giant bee...
...well, not exactly. It was the Clearwing Moth. I like to think of them as giant bees though.
As we walked along the lake we saw four foot long shadows in the water. The carp at Bernheim grow to enormous lengths, and look like flotillas of sea monsters lurking just below the surface, while much smaller bluegills stayed in the shallows under the bridge. Is it safer for them, or do they just wait there for handouts from visitors? Mother Goose is nesting in the same location she used last year, not four feet from that bridge. She keeps her cool, and doesn't pay any attention to shouting, running children so near her nest.
Father Goose, on the other hand, is pulling double duty. He patrols the lake to make sure no one disturbs his mate, but he also ensures that people pay attention to the No Fishing sign. He's doing a fine job too. I didn't see anyone fishing in this lake!

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