Saturday, September 29, 2012

Turtlehead Blooming in the Bog

What a beauty Turtlehead is and it's blooming now in the Indiana Dunes. It likes wet areas and can be found getting its feet wet along the edges of the bog---one of the last wildflowers to be showing its face as we move into October.

Friday, September 28, 2012

September Sky

September clouds blowing in over Cowles Bog at the Indiana Dunes; the clouds were bringing rain. The foreground is full of flowering wildflowers and sedges. Lake Michigan is just beyond the tree line at the horizon. The bog is a large area that contains rare plants, is a home for wildlife, and provides a protective stopping place for the spring and fall migration, making it a great place to go in the fall for bird spotting.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fighting Invasives

A few years ago this area of the Cowles Bog in the Indiana Dunes was covered with cattails. After years of hard work pulling invasive plants out and replanting those plants that are native to the bog, the area looks completely different.

The diversity of the original bog provides the food and habitat for the wildlife that depends on the bog for survival. Frogs, birds, small mammals, and some plant species that are only found in the Dunes area are what all the work is about.

Signs requesting visitors to stay on the hiking paths and off of the paths into the bog that are used by volunteers and staff in removing invasives and replanting natives are placed so that tiny seeds picked up by hiking shoes are not carried back into the bog destroying the hard won habitat for the birds and other wildlife.    

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wind Blown Tresses

As from our dream we died away
Far off I felt the outer things;
Your wind-blown tresses round me play,
Your bosom’s gentle murmurings.

And far away our faces met
As on the verge of the vast spheres;
And in the night our cheeks were wet,
I could not say with dew or tears.

As one within the Mother’s heart 
In that hushed dream upon the height
We lived, and then we rose to part,
Because her ways are infinite.

Parting by George Willam Russell

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Collecting Pollen

This good looking guy was too busy collecting pollen to pay much attention to me. He just ignored me as I got in close to take his picture.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ball of Buttonbush Flowers

Buttonbushes are sporting fall colors this week.

The wetland plant flowers in balls of flowers---tightly compacted and about the size of a golf ball. The flower balls start out cream colored, but this time of year they change to a pinkish red.    

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Buggy Cotton Candy

Walking along the path in the Indiana Dunes last weekend I noticed some leaves covered with a fuzzy looking white stuff.

Sticky as cotton candy, it wasn't until later down the trail that I found the culprits---insect larvae living inside.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Last Flowers in the Garden of the Year

Dearest, we are like two flowers
Blooming last in a yellowing garden,
A purple aster flower and a red one
Standing alone in a withered desolation.

The garden plants are shattered and seeded,
One brittle leaf scrapes against another,
Fiddling echoes of a rush of petals.
Now only you and I nodding together.

Many were with us; they have all faded.
Only we are purple and crimson,
Only we in the dew-clear mornings,
Smarten into color as the sun rises.

When I scarcely see you in the fiat moonlight,
And later when my cold roots tighten,
I am anxious for the morning,
I cannot rest in fear of what may happen.

You or I—and I am a coward.
Surely frost should take the crimson.
Purple is a finer color,
Very splendid in isolation.

So we nod above the broken
Stems of flowers almost rotted.
Many mornings there cannot be now
For us both. Ah, Dear, I love you!

Frimaire by Amy Lowell

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Miniature World

 Milkweed plants line one sunny part of a trail going into the Indiana Dunes. I like to hunt Monarch Caterpillars on Milkweed but discovered a busy miniature world this weekend.

It appears that milkweed bugs have been busy---for a quarter of a mile just about every milkweed plant looked like this.

And the miniature world gets even more interesting and busy the closer you get:

Might be the Monarch larva I was looking for in the middle

Kind of cute aren't they?

Nurturer or snack?


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Glowing in the Shade

This wildflower seemed to have a inner glow of its own---nodding its head so beautifully in the shade.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Katydid or Grasshopper?

Taxonomy is both exact and fuzzy at once. Common names are the fuzzy. Latin names generally bring exactness into the occasion, but exactness that sometimes necessitates the destruction of a specimen to properly catalog it and know for sure where it belongs.

Grasshopper and Katydid are, of course, common names. And even experts often disagree on common names.

I would consider this guy (who may be a girl?) both a Grasshopper and a Katydid. This guy certainly does hop and leap as a grasshopper should. It also sports those long antenna and long hind legs as a Katydid should.  

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Bug with the Polka Dotted Pants

This guy and I did quite a dance---he being a bit camera shy and me needing to get in quite close for a picture.

He flew away after this shot, quite disgusted with me, I'm sure. But not before I got the close up of his dotted legs.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Friday, September 14, 2012

Blueberries in September

Hard to believe, but there are still wild blueberries on the bush in the middle of September. The blueberries bloomed a month or two early this year and are still producing a month and a half after they are usually through.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

An Ant Convention---More than Meets the Eye?

After years of observing nature, I've learned that there is sometimes more than meets the eye. Take this photo of ants on a leaf for example.

I observed the ants for quite some time. They moved around the leaf but acted as if there was some major importance attached here. The white specks of the leaf appeared to be just a natural result of fall descending. Yet the ants seem to be after something. Perhaps there's something here that I didn't see?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Looking for Jumblies at the Shore

When awful darkness and silence reign 
Over the great Gromboolian plain,
Through the long, long wintry nights;
When the angry breakers roar
As they beat on the rocky shore;
When Storm-clouds brood on the towering heights
Of the Hills of the Chankly Bore:

Then, through the vast and gloomy dark,
There moves what seems a fiery spark,
A lonely spark with silvery rays
Piercing the coal-black night,
A Meteor strange and bright:
Hither and thither the vision strays,
A single lurid light.

Slowly it wander,pauses,creeps,
Anon it sparkles,flashes and leaps;
And ever as onward it gleaming goes
A light on the Bong-tree stems it throws.
And those who watch at that midnight hour
From Hall or Terrace, or lofty Tower,
Cry, as the wild light passes along,
"The Dong!the Dong!
"The wandering Dong through the forest goes!
"The Dong! the Dong!"The Dong with a luminous Nose!"

Long years ago
The Dong was happy and gay,
Till he fell in love with a Jumbly Girl
Who came to those shores one day.
For the Jumblies came in a sieve, they did,
Landing at eve near the Zemmery Fidd
Where the Oblong Oysters grow,
And the rocks are smooth and gray.
And all the woods and the valleys rang
With the Chorus they daily and nightly sang,
"Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and the hands are blue
And they went to sea in a sieve.
Happily, happily passed those days!

While the cheerful Jumblies staid;
They danced in circlets all night long,
To the plaintive pipe of the lively Dong,
In moonlight, shine, or shade.
For day and night he was always there
By the side of the Jumbly Girl so fair,
With her sky-blue hands, and her sea-green hair.
Till the morning came of that hateful day
When the Jumblies sailed in their sieve away,
And the Dong was left on the cruel shore
Gazing gazing for evermore,
Ever keeping his weary eyes on
That pea-green sail on the far horizon,
Singing the Jumbly Chorus still
As he sate all day on the grassy hill,
"Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and the hands are blue
And they went to sea in a sieve.

But when the sun was low in the West,
The Dong arose and said;
"What little sense I once possessed
Has quite gone out of my head!"
And since that day he wanders still
By lake and dorest, marsh and hills,
Singing -- "O somewhere, in valley or plain
"Might I find my Jumbly Girl again!
"For ever I'll seek by lake and shore
"Till I find my Jumbly Girl once more!"

Playing a pipe with silvery squeaks,
Since then his Jumbly Girl he seeks,
And because by night he could not see,
He gathered the bark of the Twangum Tree
On the flowery plain that grows.
And he wove him a wondrous Nose,
A Nose as strange as a Nose could be!
Of vast proportions and painted red,
And tied with cords to the back of his head.
In a hollow rounded space it ended
With a luminous Lamp within suspended,
All fenced about with a bandage stout
To prevent the wind from blowing it out; --
And with holes all round to send the light,
In gleaming rays on the dismal night.

And now each night, and all night long,
Over those plains still roams the Dong;
And above the wail of the Chimp and Snipe
You may hear the squeak of his plaintive pipe
While ever he seeks, but seeks in vain
To meet with his Jumbly Girl again;
Lonely and wild -- all night he goes,
The Dong with a luminous Nose!
And all who watch at the midnight hour,
From Hall or Terrace, or lofty Tower,
Cry, as they trace the Meteor bright,
Moving along through the dreary night,
"This is the hour when forth he goes,
"The Dong with a luminous Nose!
"Yonder -- over the plain he goes;
"He goes!
"He goes;
"The Dong with a luminous Nose!"
Edward Lear---The Dong with the Luminous Nose

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Poor Butterfly

This butterfly was laying in the sand of the Indiana Dunes the other day---still alive but barely. I picked it up, brushed the sand off, and placed it on the leaf.

The body was curiously bent and the legs didn't seem to work very well, although it was able to hang onto the leaf. Perhaps it had recently emerged from its chrysalis and still had some unfolding to do?  

Monday, September 10, 2012


Recently someone commented on a picture of not quite perfect sassafras leaf that was posted saying it couldn't possibly be a Sassafras leaf.

And while Oak and Maple leaves young and old all are shaped like Oak and Maple leaves, for the most part, Sassafras leaves appear in different ways. All the leaves posted here are Sassafras leaves.

Sassafras stems all taste of rootbeer, though, and I love hiking through the woods sampling the sweet flavor of Sassafras stems.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Hundreds of Tiny Flowers

A close look at the center of this flower shows that this flower is made up of  hundreds of tiny flowers within.  

Friday, September 7, 2012

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Indian Blanket for Cooler Days Ahead

Summer's last hurrah very often includes an Indian Blanket or two, as if we need a little something to help us through the transition from Summer to Fall.

This lone flower was like a beacon soaking up the late afternoon sunshine---a wildflower full of warmth.    

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Summer Fades. Joys Spoilt in Use. Bring on the Fall.

Ever let the fancy roam,
Pleasure never is at home:
At a touch sweet Pleasure melteth,
Like to bubbles when rain pelteth;
Then let winged Fancy wander
Through the thought still spread beyond her:
Open wide the mind’s cage-door,
She’ll dart forth, and cloudward soar.
O sweet Fancy! let her loose;
Summer’s joys are spoilt by use,
And the enjoying of the Spring
Fades as does its blossoming;
Autumn’s red-lipp’d fruitage too,
Blushing through the mist and dew,
Cloys with tasting: What do then?
Sit thee by the ingle, when
The sear faggot blazes bright,
Spirit of a winter’s night;
When the soundless earth is muffled,
And the caked snow is shuffled
From the ploughboy’s heavy shoon;
When the Night doth meet the Noon 
In a dark conspiracy
To banish Even from her sky.
Sit thee there, and send abroad,
With a mind self-overaw’d,
Fancy, high-commission’d:—send her!
She has vassals to attend her:
She will bring, in spite of frost,
Beauties that the earth hath lost;
She will bring thee, all together,
All delights of summer weather;...
John Keats/Fancy