My friend Sasha leads a women's hike the second sunday of the month. Sometimes it's just the two of us, geeking out about plants for a couple of hours; sometimes it's a bigger group and the pace is more that of a Hike than a Wonder (wandering, and wondering about...plants.). This week we were three, and it was a perfect day, sunny but not hot, with all the time we wanted to pause and figure and admire.
I get a little thrilled when the vast greenness of the woods suddenly becomes an unbelievable gathering of individuals (oh, black cohosh! WOW, goldenseal???? really????). Sasha was musing on our way there that she is torn between really wanting to know the names of everything (and she is good at the scientific latin names) and just wanting to pay attention and notice things about the plant or creature, not allowing her knowledge to end at its name. I get that; if I know the name of a bird, for instance, I cease really observing it and my brain rattles off "chickadee" and I stop noticing its behavior, the time of day it typically arrives at my feeder, what it says to the other birds there. I've not quite gotten that way about plants yet. They're still new to me, in their personality and design, and it's more that once I am introduced, I start seeing it everywhere.
|Goldenseal, with berries|
I love hiking with people who don't mind if I stop and try to take a picture. Who will also take the time to touch and taste and finger and dig a bit to find something out.
|Shield bug in a mayapple|
We used this unfamiliar vine-like plant to learn how to key out a plant in Newcombs Wildflower guide. What a useful method of divining its identity! The steps take you from flower (regular? irregular?) to type of plant (wildflower? shrub?) to leaf orientation (alternate? opposite?), past whether or not it might be a vine, to what type of leaf it has (entire? lobed or toothed?), to some possibilities. Luckily though, once we had narrowed it down and couldn't find the right plant in the guide, we had my Lone Pine Wildflowers of Tennessee, the Ohio Valley and Southern Appalachia to cross check, and there it was, the Climbing Milkvine, a relative of the milkweed.
A perfect way for me to refill, while Dan and the girls were in another woods playing golf and climbing trees.
* I'm having troubles with my photo editing program (iPhoto) - as in it won't open. So...for now the photos are "as-are", unfortunately! I'll try not to post anything sideways in the meanwhile...