Lincoln Road Journal, One year in the backyard, Late July

A rose of sharon flower blooms. A cultivated plant, they spread readily in many places, but this is the best the bush has bloomed since we transplanted it here years ago.
A rose of sharon flower blooms. A cultivated plant, they spread readily in many places, but this is the best the bush has bloomed since we transplanted it here years ago.
A cicada, Tibicea auletes, aka a dog days locust, was found dead on the hood of my Chevy truck. They live high in the trees and are mostly solitary in Michigan.
A cicada, Tibicea auletes, aka a dog days locust, was found dead on the hood of my Chevy truck. They live high in the trees and are mostly solitary in Michigan.
Many of these red mushrooms are fruiting now.
Many of these red mushrooms are fruiting now.
A queen Anne's lace prepares to bloom.
A queen Anne's lace prepares to bloom.
Not far from the house is Hamlin Lake. This evening a striking sun dog could be seen over the lake.
Not far from the house is Hamlin Lake. This evening a striking sun dog could be seen over the lake.

Staying the course.

 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The dog days of July have left little changed in the yard in a week. More spider webs. Walking through the woods is an exercise in picking webs off you.

More fungi cropping up. There are a lot of red, red-orange fungi, possibly of the Russula genus, that turn a sunburst orange red -- kind of like an old Gibson Les Paul guitar for those familiar with that beauty. I'm going to have to do a bit more research into the mushroom to be sure of what it is.

Most of the varieties close, however, are poisonous. I wonder how many people learn about mushrooms the hard way? Even if a mistake wasn't fatal, getting sick isn't worth the risk.

Queen Anne's Lace are taking over the roadside. The milkweed are maturing, getting pods. Their numbers are declining.

Not so with the Queen Anne's Lace. There are more white flowers and green buds daily. I enjoy them just as much.

Today I spent about an hour ambling around the yard, from the upper terraces in the woods to the south, down to the creek. One can sense summer is progressing. More ferns have brown tones, not just the deep green of spring and early summer. Acorns are starting to fall. They're small. Does that mean a light winter? Some would say so.

Deer tracks are piled on top of one another at the creek and the path from the creek.

I've seen no sign of a return of the wolf spider that lived in the garden last summer and fall. She -- she had babies by the score last year -- or her offspring must have found a less visible sight, or died.

Mosquitoes were thick at the creek. Last week's rain must have hatched another generation.

And the past full moon, now waning, is rising low in the south late, adding a glow to the woods.

The yard lived on while I was gone. One thing about nature, it's persistent.

In our absence the cherry tomato plant thrived.
In our absence the cherry tomato plant thrived.

Home again

 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Spent the past five days on the road traveling to, and visiting Nashville, Tennessee. A fun town, but in the summer heat it proved almost too hot for a northern Michigan resident. The temperature hovered around 100 degrees Saturday and Sunday, with humidity to match. Strangely, to me anyways, was the Tennesseans practice of cranking up the air conditioners so inside buildings was often cold, not just cool, but cold. To me it just seemed to make the heat all that much hotter.

Oh, well.

My tour of the yard back home today was brief. Much work to do and a political forum to help with at the county fair meant little time for home or yard today. Humidity here was also high, though the temperature was at least 15 degrees cooler.

A potted cherry tomato plant on the deck seems to like the conditions. It's now six feet tall and a few feet wide. An Easter lily planted this year is in bloom, next year maybe it will bloom in spring. Flowers in the gardens had enough rain that they're doing OK.

With green the predominate color of the day, I was pleased to find a tree reflecting in a puddle on an old red chair's seat.
With green the predominate color of the day, I was pleased to find a tree reflecting in a puddle on an old red chair's seat.
Coneflowers are starting to bloom. The string is try to deter deer from dining on them.
Coneflowers are starting to bloom. The string is try to deter deer from dining on them.
Leaves are falling, probably due to a combination of heat stress, followed by heavy rain, and in the case of oak leaves, weakening by oak worms active in the canopy.
Leaves are falling, probably due to a combination of heat stress, followed by heavy rain, and in the case of oak leaves, weakening by oak worms active in the canopy.
The birch looks a bit soggy this morning.
The birch looks a bit soggy this morning.

Soggy and green

 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Rained a bit more over night. A total of 3 inches fell yesterday. The yard is soggy and green. I awoke to a doe standing in front of the picture window. She bolted when she heard a creak as I walked to get my camera. I can't believe they pay that much attention to the sounds of the house. Normal operations don't bother them. But footsteps do.

The creek isn't all that high for all the rain. It's more laden with sediment than it's been in a while.

Blue jays scolded me as I looked at it, but they stayed out of camera range.

Once again, the rain total will mean July will look pretty average in precipitation. However, most of it, once again, fell in a short period. Some global warming scientists say that is a hallmark of warming climate.

Something to think about.

Rain saturated the wood of a trailer resting in the woods.
Rain saturated the wood of a trailer resting in the woods.
A puddle reflects what little light is left after the rains this evening.
A puddle reflects what little light is left after the rains this evening.
Another specimen of purple fringed orchid near the creek.
Another specimen of purple fringed orchid near the creek.
Did the rain swamp the chipmunk runs forcing this guy out late tonight? I wonder.
Did the rain swamp the chipmunk runs forcing this guy out late tonight? I wonder.

When it rains

 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

It poured tonight. The skies built gray all morning. By early afternoon light rain was falling. By this evening it was pouring. A TV meteorologist from Grand Rapids called my office around 7 p.m. to warn me of the storm and to ask for photos of the predicted flooding.

I kind of laughed and said nothing remarkable was happening. He promised it would. He said we were in line for another three inches of rain before dark.

Well, what ensued wasn't as bad as George predicted, but it was enough to get one's attention. Hard rain did fall at times in the coming hour. In town, looking through the office window, it still didn't seem as bad as George had said it would be.

When I went home around 8:30 p.m. signs of a more severe event began showing a few miles north of town. Big puddles in driveways, at intersections, in low spots. A few branches down. And a sodden, dark, dank look to everything.

I was so engrossed by one puddle and a small limb down that I missed my turn. Mr. Magoo was always a role model for my driving.

I made a few photos and checked the rain gauges: 2.5 inches of rain. That's definitely notable. Sheets of storm water apparently flowed down the hill at the side of the house. There was mild erosion. The sand and leaves and yard debris were piled up in the middle lower yard. It looks like a mini-delta.

The rain was needed. It probably will mean most plant can now make a couple more weeks of hot summer without too much stress. It may mean a new crop of mosquitoes.

But that's ok. We've had few rainy days this summer. Can't complain about one.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A purple fringed orchid, Platanthera psycodes,is in bloom near the creek.
A purple fringed orchid, Platanthera psycodes,is in bloom near the creek.
A seed pod of a jack-in-the-pulpit glistens in the evening light.
A seed pod of a jack-in-the-pulpit glistens in the evening light.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A milkweed bug works on a roadside milkweed. Like monarch butterflies, the orange and black bugs target milkweed and are unaffected by the plant's toxins.According to Michigan State University, the milkweed bug's coloring is a warning it taste's awfu
A milkweed bug works on a roadside milkweed. Like monarch butterflies, the orange and black bugs target milkweed and are unaffected by the plant's toxins.According to Michigan State University, the milkweed bug's coloring is a warning it taste's awfu
Fleabane daise grow amidst ferns.
Fleabane daise grow amidst ferns.
The shadows intrigued me, reminding me of a Chinese landscape painting.
The shadows intrigued me, reminding me of a Chinese landscape painting.
An orb weaver spider, cross spider,Araneus diadematus, dines in its web in the woods. A really good Web site of pictures of many Michigan spiders can be found at http://kozmicdreams.com/spidersorb.htm
An orb weaver spider, cross spider,Araneus diadematus, dines in its web in the woods. A really good Web site of pictures of many Michigan spiders can be found at http://kozmicdreams.com/spidersorb.htm
Butter and eggs is the name of this wild flower or pesky weed. These are growing roadside and are known for doing well in disturbed soil. They're also a non-native plant that escaped from landscaping uses. No word if the escape took place under cover
Butter and eggs is the name of this wild flower or pesky weed. These are growing roadside and are known for doing well in disturbed soil. They're also a non-native plant that escaped from landscaping uses. No word if the escape took place under cover
Another look at the orb weaver at work. This is her undersides.
Another look at the orb weaver at work. This is her undersides.
The only reds I'm seeing now are in my wife's flower gardens. This is a cosmos.
The only reds I'm seeing now are in my wife's flower gardens. This is a cosmos.
This is known as, A: a Michigan dime; B: a beer can or, C: litter. Or, DL all of the above. One Lincoln Road regular tosses an empty along my part of the road almost daily. At least I can return the can to a store and claim the 10 cents bottle deposi
This is known as, A: a Michigan dime; B: a beer can or, C: litter. Or, DL all of the above. One Lincoln Road regular tosses an empty along my part of the road almost daily. At least I can return the can to a store and claim the 10 cents bottle deposi

Approaching full circle

 

July 16-19, 2010

Month 12 of Lincoln Road Journal has started. I've been wandering the yard looking for good photo subjects hoping to find new ones, or new light or a surprising setting.

It's a human conceit that I've "seen it all" or "photographed the best" or "been there, done that."

On any given day there is truth in having seen parts of my 3-acre yard very closely. Increasingly plants, insects, birds and animals are feeling more familiar as I enter this final month of the one-year study.

But daily, I'm reminded at how much more there is to see. The mass of green plants in the swamp are more than "plants." They're wild mint and past-their-prime jack-in-the-pulpits and marsh marigold without flowers. They're more than ferns. I realize I haven't spent the time to learn the different names of the different ferns. There are at least three different kinds readily seen, yet to this day they're just "ferns" to me.

And the bugs are a wonder, even if at times a nuisance.

Many of my rural acquaintances spray to kill bugs around their home. I understand. Some of the bugs at first glance are creepy or intimidating even. Some bite. I've been bitten so many times this summer as I work mostly in shorts because of the heat, that if either I'm well-inoculated against bug-borne diseases or I'm playing a dangerous game of bug roulette. I prefer to think I'm getting inoculated.

Certainly as much as a nuisance as the biting bugs are -- they seem to sense when you're busy and unable to shoos them away or smoosh them if they don't shoos -- some days I hardly notice them. Other days, just their pesky flights around my head or neck drive me batty.

And still I'm trying to figure out which of the many green plants can cause me to have a mild rash. I've yet to positively identify any poison ivy in the yard, though I'm sure some is lurking somewhere. There's a good chance there's other poisonous plants that I've yet to discover. I know enough to try to avoid the blackberry bush bramble. It can tear up bare legs pretty quickly.

I've learned where I need to walk on downed limbs in the swamp or seek tufts of grass so I don't go half-way up to my knees in rich, black muck -- stinky stuff. Yet I haven't paid attention to what might be living in that muck. Not that desperate yet.

I know where the frogs lurk, the meadow hawks hang out. I can find a salamander most days if I want to.

But I've yet to see a turtle or a snake, both of which surprise me. One year a very pregnant Eastern hognose (puff adder to some) was frequently seen around, much to the pleasure of my eldest daughter who enjoys snakes. While many would run screaming, Michelle would check out the snake and try to see if it would go through its defense mechanisms: puffing its head up like a cobra and striking at you, though harmlessly. If pushed too far they supposedly will roll over and play dead, but I've yet to see one do that.

Snakes, it would seem, would do well in the swamp. But you can't prove it by what I've found.

I've been disappointed that this year the pilleated woodpecker has been an infrequent guest and I've not made a good photo of it. Our crop of lady slippers orchids, a beautiful flower of spring, didn't flower this year. Not one of them. I can only guess the untimely freeze in May might have aborted the flowering.

Wild turkeys, a year ago so common I did all I could to dissuade them from hanging out, this year have so far only made one fleeting appearance.

And I'm still waiting to see a bear -- a long shot, but two summers ago a bear roamed the neighborhood for weeks.

So as move into this last month, some aspects of the yard are much better known by me. The meadow hawks I hadn't noticed in the previous 10 years of living here -- until last August. Now some almost seem friendly and don't pay me much mind.

The same with the blue darners. I'm sure they were here, I just never noticed them.

That list is quite long of stuff I hadn't noticed.

In the final four weeks, as the yard comes full circle on a year, especially with a hotter-than-average summer pushing the season forward faster than expected, what surprise awaits my discovery?

Hang in there and we'll see together.

July 18, 2010

Storm clouds over Ludington. Being on the state's west coast, weather often hits us off Lake Michigan with little warning. This storm turned nasty when it headed east and inland.
Storm clouds over Ludington. Being on the state's west coast, weather often hits us off Lake Michigan with little warning. This storm turned nasty when it headed east and inland.
A daddy long legs negotiates leaves on a tree.
A daddy long legs negotiates leaves on a tree.
These little pointed structures are on many the leaves of many witch hazel at the edge of the woods. What do they harbor?
These little pointed structures are on many the leaves of many witch hazel at the edge of the woods. What do they harbor?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Daisy fleabane is in bloom throughout the edges of the woods.
Daisy fleabane is in bloom throughout the edges of the woods.
A bee approaches what remains of a bee balm flower in a garden. The bee worked over the whole patch of bee balm.
A bee approaches what remains of a bee balm flower in a garden. The bee worked over the whole patch of bee balm.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Heads of grass wave in the breeze backlit by evening light.
Heads of grass wave in the breeze backlit by evening light.
A meadowhawk rests in the swamp.
A meadowhawk rests in the swamp.
Doll's eyes, aka, white baneberry grows on the path to the compost pile.
Doll's eyes, aka, white baneberry grows on the path to the compost pile.
The shadow of the hammock casts a pattern on the mossy ground.
The shadow of the hammock casts a pattern on the mossy ground.

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Comments 4 comments

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

What an enjoyable hub! Loved seeing what you have in your environs through your words and camera lens. Thanks! You have a new fan (follower).


Yard of nature profile image

Yard of nature 6 years ago from Michigan Author

Peggy W, Thanks much. In this July heat I can use all the fans I can get. Smile!


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England

Steve, another excellent hub sir! Your photographs are always worth waiting for.As usual your text was descriptive and informative. The daddy long legs we call them harvestmen over here. Daddy long legs being the crane fly. Thanks for sharing my friend.


Yard of nature profile image

Yard of nature 6 years ago from Michigan Author

D.A.L., thanks for the kind words and support. Names are an interesting thing. That daddy long legs -- a strange name, it seems, can be used for different creatures is notable. And the harvestmen is also an interesting choice.

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