Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Soltice Nature Walk

It actually reached 80F yesterday - wow!  I must say the afternoon was not very pleasant - muggy and humid - not "normal" for this part of the world.  But the evening, aah the evening.  It was glorious! 

Immediately after dinner I grabbed up a piece of stitching and headed for the Front Porch.  I stitched not even one stitch, but spent a couple of hours watching all the birds, the deer, the cats, and just enjoying a quiet sunny evening in Oregon. 

One of the joys of living in an northern-tier State is the additional hours of spring/summer daylight we receive.  Each year at the Solstice my sister and I attempt to stay up and track the sunlight as it ever so slowly diminishes.  The last several years we've been frustrated in our attempts by a heavy cloud cover and/or rain.  This year though we could do it!  We watched the sun as it set over the hills, and then tracked the light in the western sky until it totally disappeared. Even though the sun set at 8:59pm yesterday, there was still light in the sky at 9:25pm.  At 10:00pm we could still distinguish the clouds.  Finally, about 10:30pm the sky was dark.

It's Wednesday - must be time for the first Summer Walk of the year!

Not everything in the forest is benign.  Besides the ubiquitous Poison Oak, I was surprised to find Poison Hemlock (Conium maculatum), on The Secret Path - just to the left of our bridge over the larger of our two seasonal creeks.  A non-Native, it is toxic - so toxic even a tiny amount of sap, leaf, or seed can cause severe sickness if eaten.

Purple Vetch (Vicia dasycarpa) is a European native.  Before the development of inexpensive chemical fertilizers, Vetch was used in this country as a soil builder for its high protein component.

Pacific Ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus).  It is a tall shrub found in wet, somewhat open places like creek-side thickets and the edges of moist woods.  The name comes from the bark which is flaky and peels away in many layers.  The fruit is an inflated glossy red pod which turns dry and brown and then splits open to release seeds. 

This is the Forest Canopy on the far side of Dorothy's Creek.  I love all the levels and layers of green - low shrubs to tall trees.

The Nootka Rose (Rosa Nutkana) grows along the roadside in sunny meadows.  We have a few plants growing in much deeper shade, but they have far fewer blossoms.  The hips, or fruit may be eaten and often used to make jam and jellies.

Western Yellow Oxalis (Oxalis suksdorfii) is an Oregon native.  It grows in dry woods and shrubby areas at low elevations. I found this clump under a large Oak tree at the edge of our driveway. 

But my best "find" on this walk was a Blue Dick (Dichelostemma capitatum).  I always thought this was a wild onion, but as it turns out it is a member of the Lily family.  An Oregon native, it often grows in large numbers in grasslands, or dry woods.  I found my example in a meadow. 
That's it for our walk today.  I hope you are able to get outside and enjoy the day.    


Valerie said...

Many time I have taken my stitching outside only to spend hours enjoying the flora and fauna!

Love the picture of the kitty!

Mouse said...

how lovely to have been able to sit out last night :) love the walk and your secret path too :) love mouse xxx