Thursday, June 23, 2011

Minnewaska Walk

Appalachian sandwort or stitchwort (Minuartia glabra), threatened status in NY and PA, as well as other states. We didn't notice it on the hike out, but on the way back, there it was. There it was again, and again, taking advantage of the trail edges. The shrubs easily overpower it - another plant that needs fire to clear space, but will hang on along trails. A familiar situation in NJ. Hey, watch your step!

On the way back from the Catskills, we often stop at Minnewaska State Park and walk a portion of the Long Trail, which wildfire burned in April 2008... 3,100 acres in total.

Dead wood still standing years after the blaze.

Sheep laurel is not a surprise.

Nor are the sassafras resprouts.

Nor, is the maleberry.

Nor the bracken fern.

Considering the thin, bony soil... but there is always something to learn. Always a surprise.

Whorled loosestrife which shows up in my clay-clod backyard near the drainage ditch? (Plants of PA says "dry, open woods", so I shouldn't be too surprised).

But, witch hazel, of moist, rocky woods?

But, winterberry holly, shrub of Sourlands forested wetlands?

Water is magical in these landscapes - a rill, a trickle, a brook, or bog. The plants find it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Creatures of the earth of which you are one

spiraling open

crinkled like a newborn, unfolding from safety and in to the sun

where the creatures of the earth will visit your lately smooth skin

where you will find tiny things of great importance, things I may not notice

where you, yourself will be tiny, then great, tiny again


and fledgling each minute I watch you

sometimes bristly


or beautiful

hidden within yourself

A few words for my son as told by the creatures of the earth:
  1. Meadow phlox (Phlox maculata), Fulshaw Craeg
  2. Two-flowered cynthia (Krigia biflora), Sourlands
  3. Hearts a burstin' (Euonymus americanus), Sourlands
  4. Alumroot (Heuchera americana), Sourlands
  5. Snipe fly on violet leaf, Sourlands
  6. Black swallowtail chrysalis, Sourlands
  7. Baltimore checkerspot chrysalis, Sourlands
  8. Tachinid? fly, Minnewaska
  9. Crab spider on red clover, Catkills
  10. Moth near talus slope, Catkills
  11. Polyphemus moth, Catkills

Elderberry in the meadow

Elderberry in use by the animal kingdom:

for food and launching off into the summer sky

for a treehouse

for medicine

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Black swallowtail

June 7, 10PM: Black swallowtail caterpillar on chickasaw plum prunings.

Looks the same as 6 hours previous.

June 8, 7AM: Black swallowtail chrysalis

I can't fathom this transformation. The chrysalis is attached to the twig by its anal proleg (that term takes a touch of the wonderment away.) and by two short silken strands (can't imagine what they're called).

The End or My Son Is Now Awake and Tired of Playing Solo.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


June 1, 10:36AM: Baltimore checkerspot caterpillar on cage around turtleheads.

I moved a few withered caterpillars from elsewhere in the meadow to the turtleheads in the wetlands garden. They find their way to non-host plants like sedges and rushes, and I move them back to a host plant, hopefully where there are few caterpillars to compete with. I caged the turtleheads to prevent deer browse on the plant (and the caterpillar) and birds from plucking the spiny creature.

12:06PM: Chrysalis formed.

Belly of the chrysalis.

June 2: Black swallowtail caterpillar on dill from the garden.

I brought all inside and replenished the dill every few days. Immense caterpillar droppings, so I put the caterpillar, vase, and herbs into an attractive Home Depot bucket and placed the assemblage on a table in the dining room (just days after dusting, the cliches - can't have anything nice and clean twice a year, whether it needs it or not come to mind). The caterpillar grew by 50% in just a couple days.

June 7, 4PM: Black swallowtail caterpillar on chickasaw plum prunings.

I added a couple trimmings to the bucket. Just in time. As of last night, the caterpillar began forming its chrysalis.

Meadow's Progress - June 6


Multiflora rose

Done: (blogger, I am not gonna fight you on this stupid underlining I didn't ask for)

Meadow's progress - June 1

Beginning to flower:

Multiflora rose


Wild geranium

The Gardens

Our reclaimed wetlands garden. Each year it recruits more species. Last year the blue flag bloomed profusely, this year far less so... last year's drought? increasing competition from sedges and other herbs? Iris occupies hummocks in swamps.

Our perennial border around the vegetable garden - New Jersey tea and red clover flowers with echinacea foliage at the edges of the photograph. A fritillary pollinates the New Jersey tea.

The vegetable garden - chickasaw plum, onions, cilantro in flower, kale in seed, asparagus catching the light. The early morning - dew on the leaves, the sun beginning to rise over the forest's edge, all quiet but for the noisy birds, me alone - I love this leisure time in the garden.