The first day of summer is just over a week away. Before we bask in the warmth of the lush season and spring fades to a dream, I want to share a few more images from May, specifically, the last two weeks of May (images from early May are
As our state slowly, carefully emerges from the COVID restrictions, the county where I live is now beginning to open restaurants and retail businesses. It’s good to see people sitting at tables in coffee shops again and not just getting their drinks to go. It will be nice to see stores opening too, but I really long to travel, at least for an overnight road trip. I’m not sure when that will be feasible. We’re watching to see how other counties fare as they open more businesses and people move around more. In the meantime, we did take a few day trips last month, at places that are an hour or two away. I still spend lots of time in local parks and there’s plenty to see right here at home, too:
1. The old bamboo birdcage takes on new life surrounded my late May’s super-saturated greens.
2. Afternoon sunlight in the forest at Pass Lake, Deception Pass State Park. These are Red Huckleberry bushes (Vaccinium parvifolium), a common understory plant in our woods.
3. Another detail, the same day. These two photographs were made with a vintage Takumar 50mm f1.4 lens, using spot metering in the camera.
4. And now for something completely different…a fallen tree in the bay at Larrabee State Park. The San Juan Islands are seen on the horizon; behind them is Vancouver Island, Canada.
5. Rock close-ups from Larrabee. The rock looks smooth to the touch but it feels granular and rough. A chemical weathering process in the sandstone is continuously changing the shape of these rocks (which I have featured in previous posts). *
6. A peaceful view from Larrabee, looking out over Salish Sea waters toward the San Juans.
7. One day we explored Northern State Hospital, a decommissioned state mental health facility that operated between 1912 and 1976. Mental health treatment has never been as compassionate as one would like, especially at the state level. However, there were positive aspects to treatment here: the facility was in a beautiful, rural setting and patients could get involved in farm work. There was a library, a greenhouse, and opportunities for recreation. Still, most or all of the patients were there involuntarily. Many of them didn’t have any mental illnesses but were people who didn’t fit in with prevailing norms and lacked the means to get by on their own.
8. The romantically decrepit wooden buildings at Northern State attract their share of photographers and people who are just there to hang out. Signs stating that buildings are not safe to enter are ignored. Having worked closely with seriously mentally ill adults in the past and remembering their suffering, I quickly became tired of wandering around a place that feels haunted by painful memories. *
9. Rabbits everywhere!
10. A Douglas fir (left) snuggles up to a Madrone tree at Washington Park. A perfect example of different bark textures.
11. Interesting textures on driftwood at Deception Pass. The brown circles are probably a rim lichen, or Lecanora. Orange and blue-green patches are lichens, too.
12. A Great Blue heron fishes under a massive rock covered with lichens, moss and plants. Bowman Bay, Deception Pass State Park. Scenes like this one make my day.
13. Sixty miles southeast of home at the edge of the Boulder River Wilderness, the Neiderprum trail climbs into the North Cascades. One weekday we followed part of the trail, beginning alongside Moose Creek, where I found this fading Western buttercup (Ranunculus occidentalis) hanging over the rushing waters.
14. The light changed a few steps away where delicate Piggy-back plants (Tolmiea menziesii) also dangled over the creek. This native wildflower in the Saxifrage family is called Piggyback plant (or Youth-on-age) because buds develop into new plants at the base of leaves. These plants can drop off and root in the soil.
15. A quick shot out the window as we left the mountains.
16. So far, it’s been a good year for moss. These photos were made in different places – the sight of old leaves decomposing on a thick bed of moss is a common one here.
17. A snail leaves a slime trail on the moss and heads across a dog lichen, or Peltigera. This is probably a Pacific sideband snail, a hermaphroditic land snail that employs “love darts” in courtship. The small, arrow-shaped dart is fired on contact. If it pierces the receiving snail, mucous is released that aids sperm movement, which benefits reproduction. From Wikipedia: The mucus carries an allohormone that is transferred into the recipient snail’s hemolymph when the dart is stabbed. This allohormone reconfigures the female component of the reproductive system in the receiving individual: the bursa copulax (sperm digestion organ) becomes closed off, and the copulatory canal (leading to the sperm storage) is opened. This reconfiguration allows more sperm to access the sperm storage area and fertilize eggs, rather than being digested. Ultimately this increases the shooter’s paternity. Do you have more respect for snails now??
18. A tangle of lichen that fell out of a tree, probably Old Man’s Beard, or Usnea longissima. When pieces are blown off of tree branches some of them are sure to land in hospitable places. That simple process disperses the lichen – like seeds blown by the wind disperse flowering plants. Old Man’s Beard: a lovely, rootless vagabond. (The orange objects are the male, pollen-bearing cones of Douglas firs, and right now they’re everywhere!).
19. A surprisingly tropical-looking scene at the edge of the woods at Cornet Bay, Deception Pass State Park. The orange flowers are Orange honeysuckle (Lonicera ciliosa). The pink ones are the native Nootka rose (Rosa nutkana). The ferns are Western bracken; the aggressive bracken fern is found all over the world.
20. A Deer fern (Blechnum spicant) performing the annual spring dance of frond unfolding. Foraged by deer, the plant was also used medicinally by some indigenous people. It is appreciated in shade gardens here and abroad and is known as Hard fern in England.
21. Sword fern, our most common fern, continued to unfurl new fronds in May. At home I watched in great annoyance as a deer nibbled just the tips of 6 or 7 new fronds one day, ruining the graceful vase shape of the plant. But since then, no more leaves have been sampled so I’ll allow it. The deer’s mantra seems to be, “A little of this, a little of that.” 🙂
22. Get outside if you can!
“ A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world.” – John Le Carre