June 2008

Not a whole lot happened today, and sometimes that’s nice. The apple core I left at the frog pond did not wash away, but there were no animal tracks to be seen either. It did somehow make it to the other side of the pond though, so I retrieved it and put it in the smoothed mud.

Monotropa uniflora

I did spot my first Monotropa uniflora (Indian Pipe) of the season. It was growing on the trail I cut through my woods earlier this year, about in the same place I spotted one last year. This plant is white, without even a hint of green on it. The first time I saw one, I thought I was looking at a mushroom. But it’s a flowering plant. It has no chlorophyll, and derives all its nutrients from a fungus upon which it grows.

I also finally figured out that a plant I did not know, but which has been growing by the driveway is none other than Medicago lupulina (Black Medic). Once I had the name, I remembered seeing it in my Edible Wild Plants book (Peterson), and thought I recalled that it was poisonous. Well, it’s not poisonous at all, but it does resemble Baptisia australis (wild indigo), which is poisonous. That’s prolly where that notion came from, as the two are listed on the same page.

I took a walk down to Sandogardy Pond with Beth, David, Daniel (a neighbor kid who is good friends with David), and Penny. In addition to seeing the yellow Bullhead Lily, there’s also a white lily blooming in the pond. I removed one of my shoes so that I could wade out and take a close-up picture, but changed my mind and put the shoe back on. I did wade in a couple of weeks ago for the bullhead lily, but that was because I didn’t think there were any good photos of it at the WIkimedia Commons. Instead, I changed my mind, put the shoe back on and maxed out the zoom on my camera. If I can id it and find it has no good photos, then I’ll wade in after it next time. Or bring the canoe.

It didn’t rain yesterday as was forecast. After church I went outside and stomped around the woods a bit. I also put an apple core by the frog pond right in the middle of my smoothed mud section. As I did so, I figured it was going to rain and wash away any bait and animal tracks I might find, but I left it out there anyway (it would have gone into the trash otherwise, so there’s nothing to lose). And now it’s pouring outside. It has been for a couple of hours.

I saw my first Aster novae-angliae (New England Aster) of the season in bloom today. I also spotted an Eastern Red Newt, a couple of American Toads, and a broken eggshell belonging to what I think was an American Robin.

Beth wanted yet another pet, so I captured a couple of slugs for her. She put them in a plastic tub that she keeps next to the deck stairs (that spot is always shady). Gastropod mucus does not easily wash off the fingers.

I am almost finished putting the Animal Tracking honor together. I still need to find several tracks, including wild turkey, earthworm, robin, and crow. I also need some pigeon tracks, but I realized during lunch that a bunch of pigeons roost under the parking garage on Storrs Avenue in Concord, a short walk from the office. So after I ate, I grabbed my camera and went looking for pigeon tracks. I found them in spades. There were hundreds – perhaps thousands – of pigeon footprints there. So I snapped a couple of pictures and then hightailed it back to the office. Later, I loaded the photos on my laptop, but to my dismay, I could not see any of the tracks! I decided that the problem was that the flash went off, and lit up every nook and cranny, eliminating all shadows. Unfortunately, these tracks were pretty much invisible without the shadows.

It was a slow day at the office, so I decided to go out and try again. I managed to take one picture with the flash off, but my camera seems incapable of attaining focus without the flash, so the first photo was a bust. I didn’t get a second photo – the battery on the camera ran out. I find this puzzling, because I just changed the batteries the previous day. I use rechargables, and I figure that either these batteries have taken their last charge, or I took the old batteries out and then (in a mild state of confusion) put the same ones back in again. When I got home, I tried that again. If these take a charge, I’ll know the answer.

There were no tracks in yesterday’s smoothed mud. I smoothed it a bit more, but it was probably a pointless exercise, as it was thundering when I did it, and the forecast is for rain all weekend. That little storm water pond will surely overflow and cover my nice, smooth mud. But I’ll check it in the morning anyhow.

I went to check my little (and I do mean little) garden afterwards and was surprised to find several pea pods. Almost enough to make a mouthful. Beth helped me harvest them. She washed them for me, and put them in a pot of water too. I boiled them for about a minute. I guess there were half a dozen pods all told. Beth wouldn’t eat them. David tried one and made like he was going to gag. Jonathan eagerly gobbled one down, and I ate the rest myself. Man… they were good.

That inspired me to pull all the weeds after dinner.

I went to a memorial service today. Christina, a good friend of mine, lost her mother in December and held a memorial service today. Her mother served in the U.S. Army during WWII, so the army provided a color guard. Chris asked me and my sons to attend in our full dress Pathfinder uniforms, and we were happy to honor her mother’s service that way.

Chris asked our pastor to deliver a message during the service, but he was unable to do so, as he was out of town. I was surprised when Chris asked me to do that, but I agreed, and it actually went pretty well. The Pathfinders (including me) stood in formation next to a table which held a box for her flag and an urn with her ashes. The color guard marched in and stood at attention. Then Chris made some opening remarks, telling a few stories about her mother. Following that, I spoke my piece (based on John 11, 1 Thessalonians 4, and John 14). Then I returned to the PF formation and the color guard folded the flag and presented it to Chris. The PFs were standing at attention, facing away from the color guard, so we didn’t get to see that part. Afterwards there was a buffet.

When we got home and changed, I went outside with Penny (my dog) and Beth (my daughter). I logged my flowers the previous day, so there was not too much more to do in that regard.

I decided to look for animal tracks at the pond, having found some chipmunk tracks there the day before. Today I saw none though, other than the tracks Penny made as she chased her soccer ball into the water. Beth and I went to the garage and I was able to find my mason’s trowel. Then we returned to the pond and smoothed out the mud (so we’ll have an easier time finding new tracks tomorrow). I let Beth work the trowel and she did great until Penny sprung out of the pond and shook her fur dry right next to her. Beth got all wet and then cried, so I told her she should go in a take a bath (which she did). Tomorrow morning I’ll check the mud again and look for more tracks. I’ll hafta check, but I think this is the last requirement I need before I can get my Animal Tracking honor.

So. I guess that’s my first post. I dunno where this blog will go, but we’ll see.