Posts Tagged ‘winter’

A Winter’s Trail

11 January 2020

After a short hiatus in my weekly bike rides, due to threat of rain, I returned to the trail today.

As the daytime is now once again getting longer, we can imagine a sort of “walking backwards” towards the warmer months ahead.

Geese invade Aquatic Center

This – as I have mentioned in earlier posts – is the wet season. And so, grounds which would ordinarily have little appeal to the likes of geese (who are well known for their love of open lawns) find themselves being pecked at after an early morning rain.

geese at the Aquatic Center

As usual, these birds show little fear beyond a certain desire to stay out of the way.

Wet season plants thrive

The fern fronds last inspected two or more weeks ago now show their spore sacs (sporangia, in the formal neo-Latin so common in the life sciences) more clearly. Their favorite growing places continue to be the rock piles so common along the upper part of the bike path.

fern sporophylls mature

The rocks are also covered by green moss and rather spectacular lichens. When I took the following photo, I thought that the little green branching things in the moss might be its “flowers” (sporophytes), but they appear to be new-growing seed plants.

moss growing among the rocks

The amount of growth in these rock piles is really quite something. What happens to it during the dry months? I don’t remember noticing it at all during the summer. I will have to look more closely this year.

lichen, moss and dead leaves

This almost looks like an underwater scene. These lichen are amazing!

By the way, I recently read an article about lichen – a new discovery concerning the fungal component. It was long thought that lichen consist of one fungus and one alga living in symbiosis. But in at least one lichen, a third organism was found, in the form of a second fungal, but yeast-like, component. This was determined by DNA/RNA analysis, as there is almost no way to detect the two different fungal components visually.

Woodpeckers remain elusive

A little further down the trail, a dead tree stands, proudly remaining erect, but peppered with numerous little holes made by woodpeckers in search of insects. My attempts to photograph these birds have not been highly successful, though they will sometimes at least stay in one place long enough to have their picture taken.

woodpecker on a dead tree

This bird, though obvious enough to the eye, remained in the shade, rendering my image of it less than wonderful. All the little holes stuffed – apparently – with acorns are quite clear in this photo, however. My guess is that the squirrels do that.

Doe, a deer…

Five deer showed up on this trip, all female. They were much further down-river than where I usually see them. These were grazing just outside the fence of a local organic farm (Soil Born), located right next to Hagan Park, an important part of the Rancho Cordova suburban community.

deer grazing next to organic farm

Pond Park, that’s William B. Pond

I usually take my “lunch” break at Pond Park. Technically, it’s a “Recreation Area.” It allows horse riding, fishing, and has multitudes of picnic tables. This park has been here for a long time, judging from the size of its biggest trees. The cottonwoods by my table look at least 150 years old. I can’t find any data on when the park was planted, however.

leaf skeleton

Most of the leaves on the ground look like ordinary dead leaves. But a few of them were just skeletons. I don’t exactly understand how this happened. They could be two-year-old leaves that finally fell off their branches. Or this year’s leaves that just died early and disintegrated on the tree before falling. The patterns are amazing. Very organic, yet with a regularity almost like city streets.

Old trees become fantasy images in a front yard

I had never noticed these before. Perhaps they are new. They are carvings at the tops of dead birch trees. Were they carved in-situ (where they grew)? I sort of doubt it. So perhaps these were created in a studio then installed in this front yard. Great carvings!

Christmas Eve

24 December 2016

winter scene bird in bush
Nature wears the snow well.
The trees seem happy to be shrouded in it.

snow-covered fruit tree

Tree still full of fruit wears the new snow.


The birds fly above it…
birds in flight - winter
…and otherwise seem willing to deal with it.
birds share a tree
While the mammals sleep beneath it.
rabbit run in snow

Rabbit run leads under a boulder.


Nature has to deal with it, or die. And – as part of Nature – so do we. We, however, don’t wear it so well.
looking up Larry Street

The view up my street.


As with other obstacles, we push it out of our way, do our best to get rid of it, or get around it.

We created Nature

After all, we are more than just a part of Nature. We (or beings very much like us) created Nature. Though most of us have forgotten how or why we are now stuck in our own creation, winter is a perfect example of how we do our best to assert our lost and former greatness.

I went out today to take some photos near my building, and deliberately tried to keep man-made items out of my shots, so that they would appear to be totally natural settings. The weeds look pretty with their snowy coverings, but they are dead. That wouldn’t do for us. We’re not about to spend a season hibernating just because it’s a bit chilly.

snow shrouded scene

A field shrouded in snow.

winter - weed wearing some snow

winter - tree over a creek

winter - frosty cow parsnip

Our creation is beautiful, isn’t it?

But, I keep hearing about how fragile it is. We could lose all this, and then what? Are we prepared to create it all over again somewhere else? We could do that, though most of us don’t think we could. For most of us, this biosphere is scarce in this universe, and thus precious. And so we count our blessings on the eve before the day we celebrate as the birthday of a great spiritual teacher of the West. And though there have been many great spiritual teachers, this one gets singled out as our special one. Perhaps he really stands for all of them. Back when Christianity was getting started, most people touched by it didn’t even know what had come before it. They weren’t aware of the benefits they derived from the teachings of the one called “the Buddha” roughly 500 years earlier. Jesus was aware, or so I am told.

Yes, our memories seem so poor! And the lessons we can’t remember we are doomed to repeat. But let us take a few hours out of our somewhat hectic lives to celebrate the lives of all our great teachers, to give thanks for the lengthening of the days, and to ponder what we should do next; how we want all this to turn out. That question is now before us.

Freezing Fog

23 January 2014

view wide

We have had “freezing fog” on the Palouse for the past five days now. It may disappear tomorrow when the sun comes out. I was not used to it, so took some photos. Technically, it’s probably not “fog” but extremely low clouds. But as you can see, it turns the trees, bushes and plants white.

view narrow

Here are what some rose hips by my apartment looked like on the second day.

rose hips

And here’s what a branch up on the hill looked like on the fourth day.

branch with crystals

An undropped oak leaf is encrusted with fine ice crystals.

oak leaf

Up on the hill, the crystals were long and whiskery by the fourth day.

branches closeup

The structure of these crystals is quite fascinating and appears quite delicate. I’m sure if there had been more wind, they would have all been knocked off.

crystals closeup

A little further down the hill, a different branch carries its crystals in a stubbier pattern.

bush branch