Male Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis)
Cathy and I went for a walk along the C&O Canal today after church. We each brought a change of clothes because it was much too hot for even casual church clothes today. We walked west (upstream) on the tow path and enjoyed the fact that it’s pretty shady. With a temperature above 95°F in the shade, we certainly didn’t need to be out in the sun. We’re neither mad dogs nor Englishmen.
As you would expect, I brought my camera with me and we saw a little wildlife. First was this dragonfly. The female and the immature male of the eastern pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) are an emerald green. The adult male, however, transitions to a dark, powder blue, as seen here.
Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
I got some nice photos of buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), a flowering shrub native to the area. It’s a member of the coffee family, Rubiaceae and it has very interesting, spherical florets.
At the turning basin just above the aqueduct we saw a great blue heron (Ardea herodias) although the way it was lit and because it was pretty far away, I wasn’t sure that’s what it was. Of course, there aren’t a lot of birds that size around here. A little further on we saw a black-crowned night-heron (Nycticorax nycticorax). I had stopped to take a picture of a family of ducks in the canal, which was full of duck weed. That meant I was ready when the heron flew past and I was able to get this shot.
Tags: Black-crowned Night Heron, Dragonfly, Erythemis, Erythemis simplicicollis, Heron, Nature, Night Heron, Nycticorax, Nycticorax nycticorax, Pondhawk, Wildlife
Eastern Bumblebee (Bombus impatiens)
The gooseneck loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides) is in bloom and that generally means I have an opportunity to photograph common eastern bumblebees (Bombus impatiens) like this one. I don’t recommend planting loosestrife unless you really enjoy digging up plants where they appear throughout your garden. It can easily get ahead of you. We sometimes joke about planting two aggressive plants in a container and waiting to see which comes out on top. This has got to be a contender. It does have nice flowers, though, and its attractiveness to bees speaks well of it. Nevertheless, if I could get rid of all we had, I wouldn’t think twice about it.
Tags: Bee, Bombus, Bombus impatiens, Bumblebee, Gooseneck Loosestrife, Insect, Insects, Loosestrife, Lysimachia, Lysimachia clethroides, Polinators
I didn’t have anything in particular to take a picture of today and didn’t get outside much, so I took this picture in our dining room. We’ve been moving things from both my mom’s house and Cathy’s mom’s house and adding things to what we already had. The photo in the center of this is a Winter & Pond photo titled “Lights o’ Juneau” On the left, the blue bowl filled with Easter Eggs is from Istalif, Iran. There are two sets of matryoshka or nesting dolls, one traditional (in the back and on the right) and one modern with (from largest to smallest) Boris Yeltsin, Mikhail Gorbachev, Leonid Brezhnev, Joseph Stalin, and Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (otherwise know as Lenin).
The genus Hosta has about 70 species native to Japan, Korea, China and eastern Russia. They are shade loving perennials grown mostly for their foliage but they have nice, if somewhat understated flowers, as well. The name Hosta is in honor of of Austrian botanist Nicholas Thomas Host (1761-1834). My parents had these in their garden and growing up I knew it as Funkia. That’s because the genus was renamed to that in 1817 “in honor of botanist Heinrich Christian Funk under the belief at that time that Hosta was an invalid name.” Early in the 20th century the name was switched back but the plants are still referred to as Funkia by some (including my parents, evidently).
This one is growing in a container just outside our front door. There are generally two pests that eat Hosta plants. Slugs can do significant damage to them, eating holes in the leaves. In our garden, that’s generally not so destructive that we worry about it, although it can make the leaves a little less attractive. The other culprit is deer, who really seem to love Hosta leaves. Although we see deer in our yard and often see signs of their presence, they don’t seem to come too close to the house. So, we keep the Hostas close and that seems to be enough. We also put up deer repellent although I don’t actually know how much help that is. It certainly doesn’t do any harm.
Monarda didyma, Asclepias tuberosa, and Bombus impatiens
Along our back fence, the garden has really gotten out of control. With the work we’ve been doing on our mom’s houses, we haven’t really had time to give it half the attention it needs and deserves. Consequently, it’s got goldenrod, poke weed, and thistles growing in abundance. Three of our planted perennials are doing quite well, however, including the bee balm (Monarda didyma, also known as Oswego tea or bergamot) and the butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) shown here. The other, not yet in bloom, is obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana). All three are native to the area and extremely tough. The bees love them and I followed this common eastern bumble bee (Bombus impatiens) for a while as he moved from flower to flower.
Categories: Creatures, Flowers and Plants
Tags: Asclepias, Asclepias tuberosa, Bee, Bee Balm, Bergamot, Bombus, Bombus impatiens, Bumble Bee, Butterfly Weed, Insect, Insects, Monarda, Monarda didyma, Native Plants, Perennial
Sometimes you can see things lining up to make a nice sunset. Of course, even when things look right, it doesn’t happen, but this evening I could tell it was coming and it came. I took a few pictures of the clouds before there were any colors, just in case, but the colors came. The color extended pretty much over the entire sky from west to east. This photo was taken looking almost straight up with a 10mm lens (which on my APS-C-sensor camera is equivalent to a 16mm lens on a full frame sensor). The top of the tree showing at the top of the photo is behind me.
This is Iris domestica, often called blackberry lily or leopard lily and formerly known as Belamcanda chinensis. It’s a perennial plant that we have in various places in our garden. We gather the seeds most years and spread them in areas we would like it to grow, although I don’t know if we’re doing as well as the birds when it comes to actually spreading it. As you can see, it has vaguely lily-like flowers and they are quite lovely. They each last a day but they are born in clusters, blooming one after the next for quite a while. In case you were wondering, the genus name Iris comes from the Greek goddess of the rainbow.
Queen Anne’s Lace
My grandmother carried a bouquet of Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota var. carota) at her wedding. For their 50th anniversary party we gathered bucket loads of the stuff from empty fields and had it all round the room. You are probably familiar with the flowers, as it’s a pretty common plant all across the United States and bordering provinces of Canada as well as Europe and Asia. This is the wild carrot from which our cultivated carrot descended. It is reported to have been first developed in Afghanistan. It is a biennial plant, blooming in their second year.
Rose of Sharon Hibiscus syriacus
When Dorothy was born and we gave her the middle name Rose, a friend gave us a small Rose of Sharon plant. We had that in a container until we moved to our current house and then Cathy planted it in the garden along the south end of our back yard. It has flourished and indeed it is something of a constant chore to pull up the seedlings that appear around the yard, but I will confess that I like the flowers on this large shrub or small tree. They appear over a long period, from early summer well into fall. The Latin name for the plant, Hibiscus syriacus, implies that it comes from Syria, but that appears to be false, being a native of eastern Asia instead.
I was down at my mom’s after work and looked around for something to photograph. There isn’t really anything in bloom in her yard right now, but the leaves on the fig tree that dad planted caught my eye. The common fig, Ficus carica, is not completely hardy in our area but planted in a protected spot and given some winter protection, it can be successfully grown. My grandparents, in southern North Carolina, got a lot more figs off their much larger tree. This tree never produced enough figs on its own to make any significant quantity of preserves so mom had to supplement it with figs bought at the market.
I was really hoping for another good sunset this evening. There were lines of clouds in the west and it had the look of shaping up to be quite nice. By 8:40 or so, however, most of the clouds were gone and there were just a few, low in the sky and mostly behind the trees and houses of our neighborhood. This photo was taken at 8:51 and there is a little color on the clouds but this isn’t the sort of sunset you call your family out to see. I took pictures and got what I could, but it wasn’t what I had hoped for. Maybe next time.
Oregano Flowers (Origanum vulgare)
I have a little plot with a fence around it where I grew a few vegetables when it was first put in. Summers have been quite busy and keeping up with vegetables has been tough. Also, it’s small enough that it really isn’t worth the trouble. So, I’ve planted a few herbs and don’t have to get out there nearly as often. Temperatures down to 0°F this last winter took care of the rosemary but the oregano (Origanum vulgare, a member of the mint family native to Europe through central Asia) is going strong. In fact, it’s practically taken over the entire plot.
Bumble Bee on Coneflower
The coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) in our yard tend to get eaten up by insects of one sort or another. I’m not sure who the culprit actually is, but they eat holes in the ray florets (the petals around the central group of disc florets), making the flowers a bit less attractive for photography. The bees aren’t bothered, of course, and this bumble bee (Bombus impatiens). The generic name Echinacea comes from the Greek word meaning hedgehog or sea-urchin, which references the spiny center of the flower. The name Bombus for bumble bees comes from the Latin (which took it from the Greek) for “booming, buzzing, humming.”
We went to a wedding reception today. Dorothy described it as a fake wedding for a real marriage. This is the bride, Dorothy’s best friend, Kendra. She got married (eloped, actually) last fall. Today, a friend of the family had a wedding reception for Kendra and Jacob. I have a few pictures of both of them but sadly, a few days before the party he broke his jaw in a rollerblading accident and had his jaw wired shut. That makes him look a little dour and I’m not going to post those pictures. With all the talk about straw bans in various places, I hope there will be an exception for people with their jaws wired shut.
As mentioned, we went to a wedding reception yesterday for Dorothy’s friend, Kendra. Dorothy flew down on Friday evening and then today we drove her back up to Massachusetts and will be with her for the week. I say “with her” but we’ll be staying in an airbnb in Gloucester, about 25 minutes from the home she’s living in for the summer. After we arrived and got our things into the cottage, we went to see the garden Dorothy’s been growing this summer. While Cathy and Dorothy watered and did a little weeding, I relaxed in the shade and then took a few pictures. It was a long day (about 10 hours on the road) and I needed a break. The garden is in the yard of the aunt and uncle of one of Dorothy’s friends and there is a box full of acorns in the yard. That’s the subject for today’s picture.
Foggy Harbor, Marblehead, Massachusetts
We had a busy day today. Dorothy drove out to Gloucester and we went to breakfast together. Dorothy had to work later and Cathy and I enjoyed the waterfront back in Gloucester. They have some really lovely flowers planed on Western Avenue (where the fisherman memorial is). We really enjoyed the colors and the variety. After she got off work, Dorothy, Jonathan, Cathy, and I went for a walk at Strawberry Hill out to Smith Island. Then after dinner we dropped Jonathan off in Beverly and drove down to Fort Sewall in Marblehead. It was quite foggy and this picture was taken there just after 8:00 PM. All in all, a good day.
Plum Island Salt Marsh
When planning our trip to Massachusetts, both Dorothy and I included a visit to Plum Island on our list of things to do. Except for the two ends of this barrier island it comprises the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge with the southern tip of the island being the Sandy Point State Reservation. It’s a beautiful place and even with a few sections closed because of nesting plovers, there’s plenty to see. We enjoyed being outdoors in such a wide open space. We also enjoyed watching storm clouds rolling in. It was quite warm today, well up into the mid-90s and there were a few places where the breeze didn’t reach us as we walked. It was stifling in those spots but then we’d get to where there was a nice breeze coming off the bay. As we were leaving, the rain got to us and it came down quite hard. The temperature dropped to near 70&xb0;F.
Dorothy came out and we had breakfast together in Gloucester this morning. Then we spent a little time on the waterfront, enjoying the same flowers I mentioned two days ago. After that we drove around Cape Ann, ending up at a little private beach south of Annisquam Lighthouse, pictured here. We got permission to hang out there for a little while and enjoyed the cooler weather after yesterday’s sweltering heat. Cathy and Dorothy went for a swim and I sat in the shade of a few white oak trees.
Dorothy thought she had to work from 4:00 to 9:00 PM today but she got a text just after 11:00 saying she was on from 11:00 to 4:00. Fortunately, we were just driving through campus as she got that, so we were there within minutes. Cathy and I enjoyed a walk around Coy Pond and I took a bunch of pictures, including of water lilies, a great blue heron, and this dragonfly. Later we went to the garden at Long Hall and I took more pictures. That was a nice garden with an interesting collection of trees, shrubs, and perennials. Recommended. We had dinner at La Victoria, a trendy but decent taco place just off of Cabot Street in Beverly.
We had a pretty busy day again today. We went out to Eastern Point Lighthouse and walked out onto the jetty to Dog Bar Lighthouse. There were cormorants diving in the water next to the jetty and we enjoyed watching them, as well as gulls and ducks. From there we went to Rockport and when we came upon a parking spot we took it and walked a while. I took pictures of Motif #1 and thought about posting a photo of that but decided to go with this somewhat abstract photo of reflections taken a short walk from our airbnb as the sun was setting.
Dorothy and Abba
We drove up to Canterbury Shaker Village today to see Dorothy’s cousin Abba. She has been there all week in their first resident artists program. The program was a success and they plan to repeat it regularly. Abba was chosen as one of only five artists (and one of two painters). We enjoyed seeing her work as well as wandering around the historic, Shaker buildings. It’s a beautiful, peaceful place, only occasionally disrupted by the sounds of the New Hampshire Motor Speedway just over a mile to the east (if you go on a non-race day, you won’t have that issue). We wandered around the gardens and down to the ponds on the eastern part of the property.
We drove home from Massachusetts today. I don’t like driving through New York City and the traffic westbound towards the George Washington Bridge is generally ridiculous. Going by way of the Merritt Parkway and across the Tappan Zee Bridge is my preference, even if it’s a little longer. At least we’re moving the whole time. This was our first time crossing the new bridge, which has officially been named the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. We’ll see if that sticks. I know what I’ll be calling it. We also stop at Rocklands Bakery in Nanuet and pick up a couple hot out of the oven bagels. There are plenty of other styles of bread from which to choose, of course.
Malachite and Azurite
I think I mentioned before that my great grandfather was a miner in Nevada in the late 19th century. He mined two forms of copper ore, green malachite and blue azurite, copper carbonates with formulas Cu2CO3(OH)2 and Cu3(CO3)2(OH)2 respectively. For some reason, our family collects rocks. These were gathered on the mountain where my great grandfather lived and where my grandfather and his two siblings were born and raised. We have recently thrown away a lot of rocks that were in my mom’s basement but we kept a few that were particularly nice. Cathy put some in this bowl and they are outside our front door, where the bowl has filled with rain water, which I think makes it especially nice.
We moved a bunch of furniture today. After work, Cathy and I picked up a rental truck and she followed me to her mom’s house. A half dozen guys came and helped load two china cabinets, a dining room table and chairs, various chests and other furniture into the truck. As we were on our way to the house it poured rain but by the time we were loading the truck it was mostly finished, which was good because most of the furniture was wood. Once we had it all loaded we all drove to our house and the same guys helped unload it and get it set up here. We’re replacing our current dining room table and chairs with the one we brought over and we’ve put two china cabinets in our dining room. The one shown here is the larger of the two, a fairly heavy piece that just fit in the height of the room. These two cabinets along with a glass front cabinet that we have been using (the so-called Uncle Ralph cabinet), there’s probably too much furniture in the room now, but we’ll deal with that when we have the time. I was really grateful for the help we received this evening and it was good to see folks, as well.
Fred and Lucy
On November 23, 1886, Cathy’s great grandparents, Fred and Lucy, were married in Sullivan County, New York. This was during the industrial revolution and before the area because known as the Borscht Belt in the early twentieth century. Fred and Lucy moved west. Cathy’s grandfather, Albert, lived in a suburb of Chicago and became a wholesale butcher. Because of that, Cathy’s father, born shortly before the stock market crash of 1929 and Roosevelt’s great depression, grew up with meat on the table. Years ago Cathy and I visited Sullivan County and found what we believe was the family farm, although all that was left was a collapsed barn.
Silas and Iris
We had a family dinner night ahead of going to the beach. Since Iris, Seth, and Silas won’t be at the beach with us, it was good to get together with them. Silas is growing like a weed, as children do at this age. His cousin, Kaien, is also growing and I have aome pictures of him, as well. But as I post this, we’re back from the beach and I know that I took pictures of him at the beach.
It’s really nice having a baby and a toddler around at family gatherings. They are both wonderfully cute. Of course it’s a bitter sweet joy, as it really makes me miss my brother (and I don’t really need a lot of help on that front). Nevertheless, if I’m going to miss him (and I am) there might as well be two beautiful grandchildren to help offset it. And at least for now, they are in town and we get to see them somewhat regularly.
The 25 or so Rudbekia species are all native to North America and Rudbeckia hirta is the state flower of Maryland. We actually have two related varieties of black-eyed Susans in our yard and I don’t know if they are different species or different varieties of the same species. This is by far the more aggressive of the two and left to itself would probably take over the entire yard. In fact, even with some efforts to contain it, it’s taking over the entire yard. On the other hand, there isn’t a lot else blooming right now and if you look into our back yard, it’s filled with yellow, so I can’t really complain. This year, the garden has pretty much had to find for itself. Hopefully we’ll be able to do something with it next year.
Catherine, Dot, Mary Ellen, Anne, LaClaire, and Glenn
On the way to the beach in southern North Carolina we stopped in northern North Carolina for our annual family reunion. As usual there was good food and great fellowship. We also took our annual photos. Some years we do generational photos. This year we did families, based on “The Siblings”, none of whom are with us any longer. Except we always take a picture of “The Cousins”. Of the eleven first cousins, five are still with us and are pictured here (along with Catherine, Clinton’s widow). We also took a picture with the other spouses but I like this picture and decided to go with it. We also took a large group picture of the 58 people who were still there at the time it was taken.
Ocean Isle Beach
As mentioned in yesterday’s post, the family reunion we went to was on our way to a week at the beach. Work has been pretty crazy lately. On the one hand, I really need to be there to get some things done. On the other hand, I really needed this break and I’m looking forward to not really thinking about work all week. This is the view from the deck half way to the beach from the cottage where we’re staying. It’s an older house, smaller than most, but adequate to our needs. This picture was taken around high tide and it’s a rainy morning so not a lot of activity on the beach. As the tide went out and the sun started to shine, the beach filled with people (as you would expect).
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)
We had a bit of rain this morning but it cleared up later and we went swimming. Late in the day I went for a little drive to find somewhere to take pictures. On the mainland near the east end of the island is a boat ramp. There used to be a ferry across to the island there and it’s a pretty place. I took some pictures of marsh grass growing on the banks of the channel and also got a nice photo of a tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus). From there I drove to the Shallotte River inlet and took some pictures of this brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) perched on a pole out in the water.
Ocean Isle Water Tower at Sunset
We were preparing to go to the Whites’ house, just a little way down the beach, when the sun was setting. There were a couple guys working on the top of the water tower near where we were staying and as the clouds were moving past, there were occasional flashes of lightning and distant thunder. None of is was closer than three or four miles but if it were me up there it would have made me a bit nervous. Anyway, I took some pictures of the water tower with the sunset color in the clouds behind it. It was pretty impressive. Of course, if I had gotten a picture of lightning striking the tower it would have been both amazing and tragic. Fortunately for those guys, it didn’t happen.
Great Egret (Ardea alba)
Cathy, Dorothy, and I went for a drive this afternoon, going to a pond near Sunset Beach where we’ve seen alligators (Alligator mississippiensis). There was one close to the shore and I got a few pictures of it along with some water turtles. Then we drove back onto the island and to the east end, where I got some nice pictures of this great egret (Ardea alba) wading in the tidal marsh and finding fish in the shallows. We also walked on the beach at that end of the island and enjoyed the wind and the deeply colored, wine dark sea.