Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Sycamore Barks

I am intrigued by these erratic, mottled patterns on the mature Sycamore trees. Sometimes I try to find the shape of Lithuania or the Netherlands for myself, or Ireland or Germany for Mary. Japan is a common sighting. Occasionally West Virginia. Colorado, Wyoming? Doubt it.

(Click on photos to enlarge)

Any two trees alike? Any matching patterns? Even a square foot of similarity? Doubt it.

Can you find a pattern for your country? How about my readers in Australia? Surely the U.K. is represented somewhere. What else do you see? What if you looked sideways, or stood on your head? Doubt it.

Camouflage clothes designers should be asking to purchase my photographs. Doubt it.

Here, about 6-8 feet above the ground, thin patches of chocolate-colored bark are flaking off. If I said chocolate-covered, would you try some? Doubt it.

The splotches and blotches diminish in the upper trunk and branches; smoothing out to a pastel-green/creamy-white/faded-celery color. You want me to climb up there for a closer photo, don't you? Doubt it.

This next photo I'd like to give to you. It would make an excellent bookmark; tall, slim, attractive. Or maybe you could enlarge it and wear it. Doubt it.

Wearing psychedelic sunglasses was fun for this next crazy shot:

Doubt it!

These Sycamores were thriving in the rich bottomlands of the Kalamazoo River. Many of them were 42-48" in diameter and growing 80-100 feet tall! In some areas of the country they may live over 500 years! Don't doubt me on this.

Sycamore: Plantanus occidentalis

Photo Location: Allegan County, (Allegan County) Michigan.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

This Moment

Seeing you
like this
the promise
wrapped within
your soft skin
of petals.

your future
a gift
of pure beauty.

This moment
this morning
grateful for
this blessing
of your
precious favor.

Wildflower:  Yellow Flag (Iris pseudacorus)

Photo Location:  Ada, (Ada) Michigan

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wild Geranium

By now you've probably purchased greenhouse Geraniums for your gardens, planters, and hanging baskets. That's cool. So did I.

But I'm also growing Wild Geraniums in our wildflower garden; planted in 1999. Except for the Ostrich Fern and Sensitive Fern trying to dominate the space, the Wild Gs are thriving, with no toil or trouble for me.

This is a very common wildflower, and I'm sure you've seen it growing abundantly if you live within its range. I'll assume you like it, and to increase your appreciation, here's a brief Botanical background:


Perennial, 2-3 flowers per cluster, 1-1 1/2" wide, 5 sepals (above: see their outline under those backlit petals)

Colors: rose, purple-rose, lavender, bluish.
10 stamens (male)- in two circles, (outer stamens mature first), one pistil (female).

"Nectar Guides"-- the lines on the petals that direct insects to the petal bases-- show darker purple and translucent:

After insect pollination, the petals drop off:

Leaves: 4-5", palmately divided into deeply toothed lobes, long-stalked:

Height: 1 - 2'

Flowering: April - June

Fruit: Elongated, beaked capsule, splitting into five, upward-curving strips still united at the top.

Habitat: Rich, moist woods, thickets, meadows and along roadsides. Prefers edges with light shade.

Other: The common name "Crane's Bill", as well as the genus name, from the Greek geranos
("a crane"), refer to the beak-like capsule. These long, beak-like pistils eventually develop seeds and spring them loose, like a catapult.

Watch out! Another little bee just "zoomed" in here:

This last shot is a "poster" for all the artists out there:

Thank you for viewing. Please come again. Bring your friends.


National Audubon Society Field Guide To WILDFLOWERS - Eastern Region

The Book of Forest and Thicket - Trees, Shrubs, and Wildflowers of Eastern North America

Michigan Wildflowers by Helen V. Smith - Cranbrook Institute of Science

Monday, May 28, 2012

How Quiet ?

How Quiet ?

We sat on the deck
as evening calm
gathered around us
with tea
our books
and each other.

So quiet
we heard
an eggshell
cracking open
from the
Phoebe's  nest below.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Solomon's Splendor

"Solomon's Splendor"

Your zig-zag stalk
arches gracefully
from forest soil
bringing nourishment
from the roots
to the leaves
reaching for sunlight.

Your alternating
deep green leaves
are elliptical
lined with distinct
parallel veins
pointing to
a tapering tip.

Your small flowers
are gathered
in a pyramid
like tiny clusters
of white stars
in the shade.

Wildflower:  Solomon's Plume or False Solomon's Seal  (Smilacina recemosa)

Photo Location:  Stony Lake, Oceana County, (Oceana County)Michigan

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Brief Visit with a Hoary Puccoon

Corollas with five flaring lobes.

Typical-sized clump growing in sand.

Clusters of tubular flowers.

Newly emerging.

Narrow leaves with fine, soft hairs.

Habitat: Interior dunes among native grasses.

Bonus view: Lake Michigan horizon!

Photo Location: Private Lake Michigan beach. Thanks Jonnie!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Photo Haiku - Michigan

wind-blown sand smooths stones
balancing cairns on the beach
Lake Superior

thundering river
Upper Tahquamenon Falls
must see in U.P.

 massive steel structure
 linking two peninsulas
 Mackinaw Bridge strength

steel cables stretching
from lower to the upper
silver water shines

Left foot Lake Huron
Rich standing in two Great Lakes
Right in Michigan

red and white and blue
guiding Lake Michigan ships
Point Betsie Lighthouse

View:  "Photo Haiku - Michigan U.P."   July 17, 2012

Photo Locations:

("Pure Michigan")

1. Whitefish Point, U.P. Michigan

2. Upper Tahquamenon Falls, U.P. Michigan

3. Mackinaw City, Michigan

4. St. Ignace, U.P. Michigan

5. Mackinaw City, Michigan

6. Point Betsie, Michigan

Monday, May 21, 2012

How I Found the Lady's Slipper

I was sinking slowly in black muck springs; up to my calves in my twelve-and-a-halves. I had already captured some photos of Cinnamon Fern:

And Buttercup:

But look too long through the lens, and the wetland will want to claim you. As I was tugging my right foot out, I felt and heard that familiar sucking sound that anglers, duck hunters and all swampwalkers recognize. The sudden release caused me to lurch, landing on a wobbly tussock too small for my big feet.

I'm sorry that I cannot combine: knee boots, graceful, and soupy muck into a believable sentence for you. But at that moment, a couple about my age approached, walking comfortably, at a good pace, on the elevated boardwalk.

They greeted me with a pleasant "Good morning", as if swampwalkers were a frequent sighting for them. Regaining a semblance of balance, I good-morning-ed them back.

"If you're a photographer," the woman said, "you should see the Pink Lady's Slippers." I climbed the support timbers, and pulled myself up to their level. While straddling the steel hand-rail, my wide boot got wedged between the steel vertical rails. The man helped me out of my predicament by nudging my foot free. I completed my hop onto the boardwalk and introduced myself. They had never heard of Father Nature before, only the legendary Mother.

So, it was Ron and Lois who explained in precise detail where to find the famous slippers. They said they walk that particular trail often, and haven't seen these orchids flowering in about five years. I have run that hilly trail through the Red Pines several times, but usually in the cool weather of autumn.

Since we were all retired, we had time to talk for awhile. They were very kind, courteous, and friendly. I could tell they loved to walk together, in quiet, natural settings. Ron and Lois, I thank you again, publicly this time, for the opportunity to observe the orchids.

Was this serendipity? No, I believe God brought us together at that place, at that time. Thank you God, for setting up the "meeting", and thank you for creating Pink Lady's Slippers.

I hope you enjoy these images.

You know who to thank.

Scattered in their habitat.

"Young Lady" in Red Pine needles.

(Click on any photo to enlarge)

Photo Location: Townsend Park, (Townsend Park)  Kent County,   Michigan

Friday, May 18, 2012


Scientific name: Arisaema triphyllum


Erect, unbranching, smooth perennial, 1-3 feet tall.
An upright, rigid, curved spathe enveloping an erect, club-shaped spadix beneath large leaves.

Other Names:

Indian turnip, wild turnip, marsh pepper, bog-onion, brown dragon, starchwort, wake robin, dragon-root, cuckoo-pint.

Spadix: (the "Jack") slenderly club-shaped (2-3" tall)

Spathe: (the "pulpit" and "canopy") tubular below, shallowly corrugated with a narrow flange above, becoming expanded and arching over the spadix. Streaked or mottled; greenish or purple to bronze with pale greenish stripes (quite variable in coloration and markings).

Leaves: Usually two, long-stalked, tri-foliate (3-parted), pinnate veination, deep green.

Flowering: April to June (in Michigan)


The flowers are usually unisexual, but are hidden from view at the base of the spadix. You can't tell male from female without prying open the pulpit base to examine the spadix. The insect-pollinated flower produces no nectar. The spadix base produces a fungus-like odor that certain insects find irresistible. The rest of the reproduction story is seriously complex, so let's give it a rest. Just know that Jack-in-the-Pulpit adapts its size, coloration and sex to environmental circumstances.

Fruit: Bright scarlet and shiny berries clustered on spadix. Fruiting late summer to fall. A low-quality wildlife food consumed by Wild Turkeys and Wood Thrushes.

Habitat: Damp woods and moist thickets. Often near swamps.


The name "Jack-in-the-Pulpit" was originated by a clerical-minded New Englander, Clara Smith, from Medford, Massachusetts. She sent a "flowery" verse to poet John Greenleaf Whittier for his approval. He tinkered with it, finally publishing it under his own famous name about 1884. Thus "Jack" suddenly became a good (if somewhat plagiarized) New England Calvinist flower.