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Archive for October, 2010

Fall Foraging

The other day my neighbor Molly told me, “I’ve had it with my cherry tomatoes. Take all you want.” And so I have been popping five or six of these little beauties into my mouth every morning when I head out for my walk on the carriage trail. They are so sweet!

When I get to South Hills, my walk takes me past a house with a fig tree whose owner has also invited me to eat from her bounty. Soon, of course, both of these treats will be just a memory, and I will be trudging across the bridge and up the hill wearing gloves and a warm hat. But I’ll be looking forward to next summer’s blackberry crop.

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The Color Nerves

In her poem “At 24,” Irene McKinney talks about looking at the paintings of Toulouse-Lautrec:

“I stared at his bronzes and terra cottas and oranges/until they pulled the color nerves out of my chest.”

That’s how I look at autumn colors: they pull the color nerves out of my chest. They grab me by the shoulders and shake me. They give me shivers and trembles all the way to my toes.

It’s fun to think about different ways to say what colors can do. But I’m going for a walk instead, to visit this particular tree, one of my favorites in Charleston, and see how it has changed since yesterday, when I took the picture.

 

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Autumn’s Apex

Last Sunday, Michael and I hiked about three miles along the North Fork Mountain Trail from a trailhead near Judy Gap. The fall colors were at their absolute perfection, and the day was warm for the season, but breezy and pleasant. From outcrops along the trail, we could look out over the broad Germany Valley.

Sometimes I can hardly believe I get to live in this amazing place. And I find it even more incredible that anyone would accept, for any reason, the “removal” of a mountaintop.

When it comes to heights and precipices, Michael is more daring than I. Here he is in a place where I could not be comfortable, meditating on something!

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A-maze-ing Lichen

Michael and I were hiking along Otter Creek when we came across this wonderful lichen (“fungi married to algae,” Neal says) formation on a boulder in the river. For a few days, I had quite a fun time trying to identify it, with no success at all. Turns out lichens are just as complex and varied as mushrooms, flowers, butterflies, insects, and all the other things around us. Maybe more complex, being a “married couple.”

But the Internet has made learning about new natural wonders a fun game for me, almost as absorbing as Scrabble-with-the-robot. I can happily spend hours Googling around looking at various university and naturalist websites. Sometimes I strike it lucky within a few minutes (as I did with an Eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly a couple of days ago), and other times I never quite figure out what it is I photographed.

This time…thanks to WordPress, a friend who read the original post, a wonderful website of lichen photos, and another blogger who knows a lot more about lichens than I do, I have learned that this lichen is probably Porpidia crustulata. (I love, love, love botanical names, they are so full of music.) This could not have happened in the days before the Internet and blogging.

If you are young, you probably don’t think this is an almost-scary miracle. If you are my age, you know it is.

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