I decided to take a bit of a detour on the way home, stopping at Upper Rock Creek Park along the east bank of Lake Needwood. I find it very frustrating that the powers that be they have put up barricades on Needwood Road that make it impossible to park there and enjoy that end of the lake. I don’t really understand that decision. It’s obviously something that was thought out and specifically decided, as some of the guard rails are not protecting anything except places that one might otherwise park their car. Anyway, I drove through the park and ended up parking at the south end of the lake. As I was walking I startled a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) and was just able to get one somewhat blurry photo before it flew out of range.
Cathy’s mom got this in the mail today. A lot of organizations send out solicitations for donations and some of them send “gifts” to entice potential donors. In this case, it was a Catholic charity of one sort or another and their “gifts” was a small, wooden crucifix. It came in a foam board with two places cut out to hold the two parts, the cross itself and the base. They obviously went to a lot of trouble to cut the foam to fit the pieces and they also seem to have gone to a fair amount of trouble in making the pieces themselves. The base, for instance, has a nice chamfer all the way around and the tenon on the end of the cross has been very carefully cut. Perhaps the two parts were made by different groups and they didn’t communicate the plans or perhaps no one happened to actually try to put them together. Whatever the case, we ended up with a very nice example of trying to put a square peg into a round hole. Now that I think about it, sometimes I feel like I’m the square peg an the world is full of round holes.
For at least a couple years my friend David has wanted to roast a whole pig. Thus weekend he finally got his wish. The original date was to be Saturday but it rained until about 9:00 and kept him from getting the early start he needed. So, he moved it to Sunday. By 6:00AM he had the pig up on the spit and the fire going under it. This picture was taken about ten hours later, around 4:00 PM and, as you can see, the pig is getting there.
Because of the change of day, I wasn’t able to stay and help eat any, but I couldn’t let the occasion go by without coming to take a few photos. It turned out to be a lovely fall day, perfect for spending time outdoors around a fire. I also enjoyed visiting with David, Joel, Chris, Theresa, and Lee, however briefly. It certainly got me thinking about the possibility of a pig roast of my own. Or perhaps a sheep or a goat.
Cathy asked me to take a picture of her with two of her garden ornaments this evening. They both came from the patio at her mom’s house and so far they are on our driveway. Eventually they will go somewhere more appropriate. The taller on is a rabbit, obviously and the lower, which is also a small bird bath, is a cat. The rabbit is not as heavy as it looks, because it’s not actually stone, although it does a pretty good job of looking like it is. It’s also hollow, although it’s heavy enough that it won’t get blown over unless the wind really picks up. In the first few pictures, Cathy was posing as a rabbit, but I prefer this one, which is a more natural pose. The sections of log on the left are from the tree I cut down last Saturday.
This spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana) is growing right outside our kitchen door and although it doesn’t have so many flowers at this time of the year, it still manages to put out a few. They are such beautiful little flowers and I can’t imagine not having them in our garden. The color ranges from blue to purple and it’s not always the same in photographs as it is to the eye. It’s possible that some of the color comes from the physical structure of the flower rather than from a pigment but I don’t actually know for sure. Examples of structural colors include those found in peacock feathers, butterfly wings, and the beautiful iridescence of beetle carapaces. If you are interested in structural colors, you might find this article interesting: Color from Structure in The Scientist.
I had a dentist appointment today so I was up north of Gaithersburg this morning. After I was done there, I cut trough the woods on Game Preserve Road to Clopper Road. I stopped briefly at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church and took some photos in their graveyard, including this one of cross shaped markers seen here against the white of the church building. This is the older part of the graveyard and includes members of the Clopper family, after whom the road was named. This road, although not in West Virginia, is reputed to be the inspiration for Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert who wrote Take Me Home, Country Roads and then finished it with John Denver, who recorded it in 1971.
I released a few pounds of carbon into the atmosphere from the logs in which it had been sequestered (i.e. I burned the logs). This is part of the tree that I cut down on Saturday and I only burned one large batch today. It’s a little too warm to be having a fire but the weather is suppose to change later this week and it’s forecast to be cooler, so I’ll probably burn more over the weekend. One of my favorite things about having a fire is watching the sparks above the flames. They are, of course, very transient and you don’t get a lot of time to watch any one spark. Trying to get a picture that captures the movement as well as the transient nature is tricky because the only significant light is from the fire itself but above the fire, where the sparks are there isn’t nearly so much light. I think this one does a reasonable job and I like it well enough.
I know I posted a photo of a monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) recently but I sort of like this photo of a monarch sharing a coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) with an eastern bumblebee (Bombus impatiens), so here you are. This was taken in the same garden as the former and like that one it was in the afternoon when the shade of the building was on it, so it isn’t as well lit as I would like.
I walked around the small pond next to my building and saw lots of raccoon footprints in the fresh mud. I took some pictures of those and also of some skippers, a cabbage white (Pieris rapae) and a pearl crescent (Phyciodes tharos).
It’s mushroom season in our back yard. There were a total of five maple trees running in a line through our back yard when we bought the house. One of them, a silver maple (Acer saccharinum) was clearly large enough to be older than the house but the others, I’m pretty sure, were planted about the time the house was built. Three of the five are gone, now. One came down in a storm and I preemptively took two more down, including the largest one, to prevent the same thing happening and it falling on the house. Each year since then, mushrooms appear early in the fall and I have to assume they are living on what remains of the roots of those trees. They appear, flourish, and then turn to mush in about a week. When they become mush, they appear to be devoured by the grubs of some insect or other. It’s pretty gross, actually, but all part of the grand panoply of life.
Cathy called me around the south end of the house late this afternoon to take pictures of this male carpenter bee (Xylocopa virginica) on the buddleia growing there. Carpenter bees are nice to photograph because they don’t mind you getting fairly close to them. Also, the males like this one, identified by the white or pale yellow patch on their face, don’t sting and in fact are unable to do so. I don’t find many bees to be particularly aggressive, though, and I know some people are quite afraid of them. For me, as long as I move slowly and carefully, I’ve never had a problem. I’m not particularly allergic, either, which is important.
I finally got around to cutting down the dead or nearly dead Colorado spruce (Picea pungens) in our front yard today. I took both before and after pictures and I may put two together into an animated sequence that switches back and forth between the before and after. For now, this is (obviously) the “after” picture. I cut the tree off fairly far up the trunk to be sure it wouldn’t reach the driveway. I could probably have cut it a bit lower and it would have been easier, but I got it down without incident. Since then (I’m writing this on Wednesday, October 11) we’ve cut and dealt with most of the branches although the standing trunk is still there and about 8 feet of felled trunk is still lying next to it. I took one van load to the dump and I’ve burned four wheel barrow loads. I still haven’t decided what I’ll plant in its place or even how much effort I’ll put into dealing with the stump and roots.
This is one of two wooden chests that were in Cathy’s mom’s house that are from the Nuristan province of Afghanistan. This is the larger and less-fine of the two. It’s old, although we don’t really know how old, and it’s fairly “weathered” or worn. This is a detail, obviously, showing some of the carving on the front of the chest. There are two squares like this on the front with a design that I think of as a sort of fleur-de-lis, although I don’t really know what it’s meant to be. The lid to the chest has no hinge and simply lifts off. There is a metal chain and hasp that can be locked.
How often do you polish your stove? Here’s what you need. I’m pretty glad that I don’t have to cook on a wood stove or in a wood fired oven. That being said, there’s something nice about a wood oven in a large, country kitchen. I’m not sure that I’d appreciate it so much if I had to polish it, though. Note that this product has a warning on the side that says, “CAUTION: This polish contains naphtha, unsafe when exposed to heat or fire.” That’s certainly a worthwhile caution. Make sure the stove is cool before using.
Here’s an interesting exercise. Can you name three words that are pronounced differently when they are capitalized as a proper noun? One, obviously, is polish/Polish, with the capitalized version being the adjective related to or the language of Poland. I know of two other such words.
Mile-a-minute vine, also known as devil’s tail and tearthumb, is an herbaceous annual vine in the buckwheat family. If you’ve ever encountered it you will know where the name tearthumb comes from. It is native to Asia but has become naturalized throughout the area and is a serious pest. Think of bindeed on steroids and with seriously barbed stems but without interesting flowers. It does have interesting fruit, I have to admit. These little berries are less that 5mm across but they are such a clear, beautiful blue, I cannot help but enjoy them. That’s not to say I would ever consider growing this for the ornamental value of the berries, of course. But they are still pretty.
The funnel weaver spiders are out in huge numbers at this point of the summer. Especially on damp mornings, when the dew is heavy on the ground, their webs are obvious (but they can be seen pretty well at all times). Outside our front door is a concrete bench (that we call The Stone Table) on which Cathy has various and sundry potted plants and various ornaments. This spider has built a fairly elaborate web along the side of a blue pot. I’ve had a hard time getting a good photo that shows the funnel in their web but I think this one does it pretty well.
As we left our AirBnB this morning, heading for home, we passed this little cemetery and saw a flock of wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) among the grave markers. We stopped and took some time to walk around the cemetery a little and enjoy the quiet, as well as the birds. As I walked across the top of the cemetery, they moved slowly towards and then through an opening in the fence behind them. We used to see turkeys a lot more often than we do now. In Pennsylvania we would see them somewhat regularly and also ring-necked pheasants (Phasianus colchicus, the common pheasant of Asia, introduced into North America in the late 18th century). We almost never see them any more, so this was a treat for us.
We had a good day with Dorothy and a few of her friends today. We went to church and then to lunch. It was nice to spend some time with Jonathan (who lived with us the summer before last) and Andrew (the other half of Kindsman), as well as Taylor and Rachel.
We hung out with Dorothy at her dorm for a while and I went out into the woods next to it to take mushroom pictures. When I got back, Dorothy called me over to get some pictures of this beautiful, red dragonfly. I haven’t had a chance to identify it yet, but I’ll probably start with red skimmer and go from there.
It’s homecoming weekend at Gordon and although were weren’t attending a lot of the scheduled activities, this is one we couldn’t miss. Dorothy and two friends, John and Bobby, submitted a proposal for a chicken coop to be built and maintained behind the road halls and it was approved. The run and coop were built a couple weeks ago and the hens arrived last Sunday. Today was the official dedication of the Village Chicken Coop, also known as the R. Judson Carlbnerg Memorial Chicken Coop.
Admittedly it wasn’t the most attended event of the day but it was on the official schedule and those who came all seemed to have a good time. The chickens got a pumpkin, freshly chopped into pieces and there was cake and sparkling cider for the humans. It was also a beautiful day for it. Yesterday was rainy and chilly but today was pleasant and sunny. We couldn’t have asked for anything more. They are already producing eggs so the project is off to a good start.
Our first full day visiting Dorothy was a busy one. We had breakfast in Beverly at Cityside Diner, then back to the campus for a convocation in the chapel where Dorothy was one of the students being presented an award (and yet we still don’t know, specifically, what she did to earn it!), and then a walk in the rain while Dorothy was in class. We visited the chicken coop that Dorothy and two friends got approval to build behind the road halls. After that we walked to Gull Pond and back and the color of the light was very nice. As you can see in the reflections, the trees are just starting to turn colors. It was also quite a bit cooler than what we’ve been having at home, barely getting up into the low 60s.