Maple Tree and Leaves
It’s been something of a maple-centric autumn this year. There are other trees showing good color but, as I think I mentioned previously, not a lot in our yard. This is a picture of the two maple trees behind our house. Both of them are actually double-trunks and I’m not sure if they are two trees each or single trees with two trunks. Either way, they are not particularly attractive as specimen trees. They both twist a bit and have broken and misshapen branches. This fall, though, they are doing their best to make up for it with their colors. The nearer tree in this picture, in particular, is really spectacular this year. It’s the tree that gets more direct sun and that contributes to the color.
The leaves on the ground add, I think, to the overall effect of the tree right now. It won’t be long before the leaves have all turned brown and we’ll need to get them dealt with, which we usually do by simply by mowing over them a few times, turning them into mulch in the lawn.
Dark Angel Dahlia ‘Dracula’
I posted a picture of this same dahlia on Monday, September 18, 2017, so you’ll have to excuse the repetition. Although it’s not particularly large for a dahlia flower, it’s very pretty. Also, the plant has very dark purple, not-quite-black foliage. It’s lovely overall and we definitely need to dig up the tuber and try to keep it for next year. We’ve never actually done that before and I’m not sure how successful we’ll be. They are supposed to be stored in a damp place all winter in temperatures that are between 45°F and 50°F, which is a pretty narrow range and not something we have naturally in our house. Our basement is cool but not that cool and we do our best to make it dry, not humid (it’s currently at 38% relative humidity). So, we’ll see what we can do.
One of the most easily identified trees in the forests of the eastern United States is the American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis). Even from a distance, it’s easy to pick out the sycamore by it’s white bark. There are places along the highways in the area, particularly where the road goes over river or stream valleys, where they are quite the most numerous tree. They grow very well in wet floodplains and of course they get quite large, often reaching 80 or more feet in height and trees with a trunk diameter in excess of four feet are not particularly uncommon. In addition to the white bark on the upper portions of the tree, lower down, where the branches are trunk are thicker, the brown outer bark peels away in a very distinctive way, as seen in this photograph of a tree probably not more than 15 or at most 20 years old.
In 1981 my parents and brothers spent eight weeks backpacking around Greece. We had spent a week there in 1971 and my mom started planning then to return. On this longer trip in 1981 we were in Crete (twice, actually) and happened to find this old plane tree.
Dot and Bob at the Old Plane Tree, Krási, Crete, 2007
The London plain tree is a cross between the American sycamore and Oriental plane tree, P. orientalis. In 2007, Cathy, Dorothy, and I went to Greece with my mom and dad for about three weeks of camping. We were able to find this tree again, in Krási. It is claimed to be the oldest and largest plain tree in the world. I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s certainly big, with a trunk circumference of nearly 80 feet. As you can see, it isn’t exactly a perfect cylindrical trunk, and the tree isn’t nearly as tall as many American sycamores that I’ve come across. Still, it’s a mighty fine specimen.
Again with the maple leaves. We don’t actually have a lot of plants with significant fall color in our yard, so I have to take advantage of the few we do have. There are two maple trees in our back yard and one of them in particular has good color. I posted a picture of it against the blue sky two days ago. This time I’m looking down at leaves that have already fallen. I love the color on the leaf in the middle of this photograph. I was a little disconcerted by the way it was lying right on top of another, similar leaf, because I thought it might look like I put it there. I didn’t. I moved it and took a few more but they aren’t as good as this one, so here you are.
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
I’m afraid it’s going to be more fall color for today’s picture. I met Cathy and our friend Maureen outside my building early this afternoon and we took a bit of a walk. I carried my camera with me, as is my wont, and took a few pictures of the colors around and about. This is Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia). This native vine is a close relative of Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) which is, somewhat surprisingly, a native of China and Japan. Both are quite lovely in the fall, turning wonderful shades of red, orange, and purple.
Maple trees are often some of the most spectacular trees in the autumn. Not all species, of course, but quite a few. This is a red maple (Acer rubrum) and it’s one of the best. Others that can be highly recommended for their fall color are Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) and sugar maple (Acer saccharum). Of course those are very different trees. Japanese maples are great for small yards but sugar maples get very large and aren’t necessarily the best choice unless you have room to let it go. A lot of trees in our area are still mostly green. The oak trees in the front yard have barely changed at all. Some leaves are coming down from them but doing so without any real color to them. This red maple in our back yard, however, is in its full fall finery. It is especially nice against the brilliant blue of an autumn sky. We’re going to have to start picking up leaves soon.
Old Wine Bottle
My great grandfather Robert was born in Cumbria in England in 1837. He immigrated along with his parents and at least some siblings to a town on the Canada bank of the St. Lawrence River and served in the Canadian Army during the American Civil War. It was here that he met his future wife, Matilda (whose family we think might have been loyalists who moved across the river during the American Revolutionary War). In 1872 Robert traveled by ship to Panama, crossing the isthmus on horse back. From the west coast of Panama he took another ship to San Francisco. Finally, he traveled inland to Nevada, where he began mining copper, silver, and lead ore. He wrote to Matilda, who joined him there after the railway was completed and they were married circa 1882. Robert and Matilda had three children, Ada, Robert, and Ralph. We have visited what remains of the town in Nevada a few times and on a trip there in 1974 I found this unbroken wine bottle. It’s doubtful that there is any direct connection between the bottle and my ancestors but it reminds me of the place, and that’s important to me.
Warren Historic Site
After church today Cathy and I went out to Edward’s Ferry and then to White’s Ferry. It was a beautiful day and we walked a little on what’s left of the tow path near Edward’s Ferry. On the way back towards Poolesville we stopped for a few pictures at the Warren Historic Site. The site consists of three old buildings, the Martinsburg Negro School, built in 1886 and serving grades 1 through 5, the Warren United Methodist Church which, built in 1903, and the Loving Charity Lodge Hall, built in 1914. I’m not actually sure which building is which (except the church) but I’m guessing this is the oldest of the three. (UPDATE: Cathy saw a video that talked about this place, as well as others, and this building is the Lodge, not the school.)
Vanessa cardui (Painted Lady)
The buddleia in the back and side yards is going to be done blooming soon but while there are still flowers on it, the butterflies are making the most of the time they have left. There were dozens of painted ladies (Vanessa cardui) in the yard today, as well as a handful of monarchs (Danaus plexippus). I got a few pictures of both together but since I’ve posted monarch pictures recently and it’s been a few years since I featured a painted lady, I decided to go with this one, which I think shows it off pretty well.
Cathy, Being Silly
Back in the day (like the mid 1980s) Cathy and I came across a cartoon by Ed Koren that struck a chord with us. It’s a picture of two people, husband and wife, apparently, greeting a woman walking a dog. The husband and wife are wearing typical business clothes except they are both wearing outlandish hats. His has big ears and horns, hers is huge with fruit all over it. The man in speaking and says, “We try to set aside a little time for silliness.”
Those of you who know us very well know that we have taken that to heart and we, like the couple in the cartoon, set aside a little time for silliness. This picture is Cathy being just a little silly. When I got home from work she was out in the back garden pulling weeds. I asked if I could take her picture and this is what she did.
This is Cathy’s Isadora Duncan pose.
Ed Koren’s web site is here: http://www.edwardkoren.com/.
She goes by many names around the world. This woman of mystery, who we simply call Laura, is quite an enigma (although possibly not a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma). Who is she? Where is she from? No one seems to know for sure.
All seriousness aside, though, it was really nice having her here for a day. I fixed dinner for us all this evening, having crab cakes from G&M in Linthicum Heights in the suburbs of Baltimore. I also fixed mashed sweet potatoes, which were a big hit. For dessert, we all took a few bites of a heart cake that Laura bought for her grandma, also at G&M.
Margaret and Laura
Our niece and Margaret’s granddaughter Laura came for a short visit today. We picked her up at the airport and then got Margaret before going out to dinner. I took a few pictures at the restaurant (and I’m sure annoyed the other patrons with my flash). I’ve already posted a picture taken on my phone on Facebook but because I’m behind here, this will end up showing up later. That’s the way it goes. Anyway, it was great having Laura here for a little while, even if she can’t stand being with us for as much as 48 hours.
Ailanthus altissima (Tree of Heaven) Leaves
I walked around my building around mid-day today, taking a few pictures. Most trees are starting to realize that it’s autumn, although this year it looks like there will be a lot more yellow and brown and less red and orange. Some trees haven’t gotten the memo yet, though, like this Ailanthus altissima (Tree of Heaven), whose leaves are still their summer green. It’s a weed tree around here, growing up anywhere there is unused space, often quickly outgrowing other trees. It gets quite large. According to the Missouri Botanical Garden’s web site, it was introduced from its native China into New York City in 1820 as a street tree and food source for silkworm caterpillars.
It was getting late in the day when I realized I hadn’t taken any pictures. Days like this are sort of a write-off, in terms of this one-picture-a-day thing, but if I actually were to skip a day, I’d have to say “I’ve taken at least one picture a day for almost seven years, except a few when I didn’t.” It’s so much easier to be able to leave off that second part so I take pictures of things around the house. Today that meant some plastic utensils in the dining room. I also took pictures of some knobs and of a decorative glass vase, but this is what I decided to share with you. Maybe I’ll repeat the knob pictures and use that the next time I’m in a bind and running out of day.
We had a short walk on the C&O Canal today, out near Riley’s Lock and the Seneca Quarry and the associated stone cutting mill dating from the late 1860s. From there we went to Rocklands Farm and had a nice if somewhat early pizza dinner (or was it a very late lunch, I’m not sure). After that we met with good friends David and Erin. It was so good to visit with them and talk through some things that are going on in our lives.
They have five lovely children and the youngest two of them were with us. As most people who have been around children for any length of time can tell you, although siblings often share significant characteristics, they can also vary quite a bit from one to the next. Erin and David can certainly tell you something about that, as theirs have run the gamut (although they are all very precious and wonderful in their own right). This is Anna-Gabrielle, child number four and she certainly has the family look about her. Nevertheless, she is definitely her own person. Don’t let this photo fool you into thinking she sat quietly while her parents visited with those two old folks. She’s on the go, but she was willing to give me a 1/200th of a second. I’m looking forward to seeing her and her siblings grow up and I am so glad to have them back in the area for at least a while.
Bethesda Quilters Quilt
On Thursday evening I joined a pretty large crew of people setting up the Bethesda Quilters semi-annual quilt show. In the process, of course, I got to see most of the quilts as we were hanging and labeling them. Today I went simply to enjoy the quilts and visit with the quilters (including my mom, of course). This one was made by Jane (I don’t use last names on the blog, but if you’re interested I can let you know. It’s one of the larger quilts in this year’s show and I really love the bright colors. In fact, all three of the large quilts hung on the outside walls (because they are too large for the quilt stands) were wonderful. There was a lot of very impressive work and it’s always interesting to see what people come up with.
As of last week I have a daily meeting in another building. I’m sure there will be days when I won’t want to walk over there (if it’s raining, for instance) but so far we’ve had good enough weather that I’ve gone each day. Some days I’ve brought my camera with me and taken a little time on the way back to get some pictures. Today was such a day. Most trees are still in their summer greens but a few have begun the process of changing to their brief autumn finery. This sassafras tree (Sassafras albidum) is such a one. Because September was so dry, we’re expecting a less colorful fall this year. Pity.
Every two years the Bethesda Quilters has a quilt show. It’s running tomorrow and Saturday (October 13 and 14) from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM at Holy Redeemer Church School gym at 9705 Summit Avenue, at the corner of Summit and Saul Road. This evening we put up the frames to hold the quilts and hung them. Others were setting up tables to sell some things. If you have a minute and are in the area I recommend you drop in for a visit. If you do, you’ll see an amazing array of quilts and wall hangings, including this beautiful one that my mom made this summer. I think it’s one of her best yet.
Mom’s been quilting for quite a few years now and in addition to those she made for specific people she had a pretty good pile of them at home. Over the summer she brought them all out, over 60 of them, and had us take what we wanted. Dorothy took one that she has been wrapping herself up in ever since (we keep our house cool enough that a quilt won’t go amiss even in the summer). When Dorothy left for school, I pulled out another that’s always available if you are visiting and feeling chilled.
I didn’t get a chance to go out today to take any pictures. By the time I got around to it, it was almost 10:00 PM so I took some pictures of houseplants. We have a few Thanksgiving cactus plants Schlumbergera truncata that have started to bloom and I got a few decent pictures of those. Then I moved on to this Kalanchoe variety. The genus Kalanchoe has about 125 species with only one species from the Americas. Most are from southern and eastern Africa and Madagascar while a few are from southeast Asia and China. This one is not in bloom but was started from one of the small plantlets (or bulbils) that grow along the margin of the leaves, as you can see in this photograph.
Vespa crabro (European Hornet)
I went out back to see what I could find to photograph this evening. There was a painted lady (Vanessa cardui) butterfly on the Buddleia and I got some reasonable but not great pictures of that. Then I noticed this large, yellow and brown wasp on the steps. This is a large wasp, about 2cm in length. Not as big as the eastern cicada killer (Sphecius speciosus) but still a pretty good size. As the common name implies, these are native to Eurasia. They were introduced to eastern North America in the 1800s. They are one of the many wasps to build paper nests out of chewed wood pulp.