I was one of the few people in Ithaca who was not at the national bird dork conference this week, so I had lots of time for hikes, creek sitting, small animal tracking, photographing tomatoes as if they were newborn humans, pig roasts, pond swims, rainy farmer's market treats, yoga downtown, and salamander crossing guard walks. Before I got married and lived with my husband, and had a job rather than being a grad student, I was better about spending time outside on hikes and meanders, but then this person came along who I enjoy being with and I forget to do the other stuff. It was a week full of the other stuff and just in the nick of time to really savor the last bits of summer. #soakitup
Oh, hey there December. You have arrived. I am at home today working on final wedding thank you cards, processing (hopefully) the last of the apples and working on some other projects. I knew it was going to be rainy today, but it has felt like dusk since about 1pm today. I have all the lights on in the living room and it still feels so dark. We knew that we were headed to Ithaca for a year before we actually moved here and everyone warned us about the GRA(E)Y. After so many years west of the 100th meridian and in the blue sky air of the west, I became someone who is very much solar powered. I am slightly worried about this gray experiment. So far so good, but I have a feeling things will change soon. What are some tips for surviving the cold and gray?
Last week I lucked upon a blue sky sunny day at Ringwood Natural area. The forest floor is now covered in fluffy beech leaves, the moss was bright, the fungus abundant and there is was one fern species green and bright that I have yet to identify.
I am feeling a lot of love for this spot. The trails area blazed with red.
Shelf fungus abounds on fallen logs. Then, there is some purple stuff and these golden orbs of fungus.
The confetti-like seeds of the Tuiliptree Lirodendron tulipifera were falling like crazy last week and spinning down to the forest floor. Tuliptrees, which I have generally called Tulip poplars (other names include Yellow-poplar and White-polar) are the only members of their genus in North America with the other being native to Asia. They are one of the largest hardwood trees in North America and grow to be very tall and straight (often 90' with a max of 200'!!!). They are limited to the eastern United States. We are at the northern limit of their range. I have missed these trees!
When I was getting ready to head into my big Kindergarten year, my parents informed the family that we would be moving to the big city of Bloomington, IN for my dad to get a Master's degree in Outdoor Education. It would be one year away from our home in rural Kentucky and we would live in a high rise apartment building named Tuliptree. It sounded like the best treehouse any 5 year old could hope for. I was only slightly dissapointed that the building wasn't ACTUALLY in a tree.
The seed cone below on a bed of Tulip poplar and oak leaves.
Seeds are called samaras, which drop in the winter. Samaras are winged seeds that are distributed by the wind. You are probably familiar with the helicoptering abilities of maple samaras. Good fun.
A samara stabbed into some moss by the wind.
A warm and cozy cocoon.
We called these witches puffballs when we were little. Spores are released on impact from things like raindrops. For many species, the spores are poisonous, so the name worked well on us kids. We never actually touched them.They are abundant in the forest right now. Even Ari Shapiro noticed them last week.