August 25, 2008

Summer endings

Posted in blogging, photography tagged , , , , , , , , , at 4:20 pm by czygyny

 

The sweetest of Springs has now past, a smokey Summer of freedom is passing away. Some blue-oak leaves are beginning to show drought-induced senescence, and the Canadian geese are starting to practice their migration flights, strengthening the wings of this year’s offspring to complete the long journey ahead.

The evenings are sneaking up earlier, and the nights are spangled with stars that have been veiled all summer. The symphony of crickets still fills the night air making me I wish I had access to a top notch recording setup to bottle up their song for silent, dark winter nights.

The garden has matured, looking a bit haggard by the insect invasion that attacks every leaf and stem. Pumpkins, melons and winter squash peek out from the broad leaves and the tiny winter veggie seedlings begin their little green lives under cover of row cloth to keep the melting sun at bay.

The luxury of sleeping in has passed, school comes around again, and its up at a dark 5:30 in the morning now, instead of 7 or 8. It is just as well, the days are still so hot it is better to be outside working in the early morning than to wait until it hits 90° or more.

I haven’t completed my list of things to do: I haven’t had my big yard sale, yet. My sheep haven’t been sold, no firewood provisions made, nor do I have hay in the barn. Where did the time go?

It’s been a great time of being home, life’s busy-making has filled in every niche and opening of time. But, money is getting tight enough to need to look ahead in a few months. Hopefully with the coming cold, dark and wet season, life will slow down to allow me to pick up the job search again.

But, lately I have let my worries get a hold of me when I look at the state of the world, today. We seem on the brink of disaster, our way of life has never seemed so tenuous. My thoughts turn to survival, not business-as-usual. The world’s weather seems to have become a foreign force, floods, fire, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes in various places and in ever larger magnitudes. Unrest in nations, the financial health of banks are suffering, the rock-solid investment in real estate has proven a foundation of sand.

I have a feeling that the next few years will be a testing time for all of us.

But, for now, the year turns on the downhill slide. Soon, blessed rain will fall, trees will bare their branches, birds will depart for warmer climes. The winter coats and mufflers will come out of storage, and the summer of abundance will pass its torch to the cleansing time of winter, with the brief and colorful interlude of fall as a prize to enjoy before darkness falls.

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“Yeah, but what about the photographs?”

Well of course, I have been taking pictures!

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Is this a bee, a wasp or a fly?

It is a wasp-mimic fly, as the large compound eyes that touch one another proves. Cute little guy.

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Now this is the real deal! This red ground-hunter wasp has the most unique smokey, irridescent wings that reflect the blue of the sky. She looks potent and I believe it! I fished her out of the pool, so I had the opportunity to take a series of images of her before she gathered enough strength to fly away.

A relative of hers, a larger, black and irridescent green ground-hunter proves too elusive to get a good picture. She recognizes me, too, unlike the other species who ignore me. When I draw close she hovers in front of my face menacingly, all 2 1/2 inches of black venom! Maybe I can share her later. I hear they really pack a whallop in the sting business.

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I don’t see these formations very often, lines and lines of cumulus undulatus. I more frequently see higher, smoother undulating clouds.

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This is a close up of one of my Astrophytus cacti. This star cactus has a wonderful shape and is covered with tiny dots of white. Close up makes for a good abstract image.

Thanks for dropping by!

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August 9, 2008

Potpourri pix

Posted in blogging, photography tagged , , , , , , , at 3:35 pm by czygyny

This is just a small mixed-salad of photos I have taken lately, life through the eye of my camera.

Water drop on an Aquilegia or Columbine leaf.

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A curve of light and shadow on Shasta Dam

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Solanum rostratum, Buffalo Bur. Just one of those odd volunteers that come up in my garden. It has fascinating prickly seedpods. This is a wildflower that hails from the south, so I haven’t a clue how it came to me.

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I LOVE rusty stuff! This is the door of my 45 Chevy dually flatbed, a rare model. It needs a new home. (hint, hint)

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Howz about that for a pretty sunset! Look at those cloud shadows!

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I can’t pass up a good dry mudpuddle, and this one had great geometric shapes created in the drying film of mud.

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This enterprising bumblebee on a nigella flower has her pollen sacks crammed full of sustanance.

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Botroyidal formations of sulfer and salts forming on the sand of E. Stillwater Creek.

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This last image is from a series I did exploring the bleached roots of a grand old white oak. The porthole led on to more textures and patterns of grey, like dusty hills.

August 1, 2008

Wildflowers in August? In Redding!?

Posted in blogging, photography tagged , , , at 7:28 pm by czygyny

Recently, I took the dogs down to East Stillwater Creek, which flows by my property. Thanks to beavers, there is still plenty of water in spots, with bullfrogs and dragonflies, herons and ducks enjoying the last haven of water. This is the time of year when the air is heavy with the resinous smells of plants that are tough as nails and that bloom during the driest and hottest time of year. Here are some that I found on my walk.

When the north state is powdery dry and withered, it may come as a surprise to local folks that wildflowers do indeed bloom in August. The oak trees may be hardened off to a blue-green, the manzanita parches away and the grasses are as golden as straw, but here and there you will find splashes of wild color. This Madia elegans grows where most of the late summer flowers are to be found, in dry gravel washes alongside waning creekbeds.

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This next lovely flower has the unfortunate common name of ‘Clammyweed’ due to its sticky plant parts, the Polanisia dodecandra  has an unpleasant odor when brushed. It grows in my garden so well I have to pull out several throughout the season. It resembles cleome, to which it is related.

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These next plants are Hemizonia, the species I am not quite sure of, but these hardy plants have a strong, resinous odor I find appealing.

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This buckwheat, Eriogonum vimineum is a delicate flower that you need to get up close and personal to see its beauty.

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A personal favorite native shrub is the Buttonwillow, Cephalanthus occidentalis. You find this shrubby plant only by areas with water close to the surface, right along side creek beds. It has a spicy fragrance that eludes definition. I use this in my water gardening.

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Now, I dare say that anyone that has been out walking down a country road has seen this lovely sky blue flower, chickory or Cichorium intybus, a relative of the Endive.

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This stunning flower is about 4″ across and sits atop a lanky, sticky plant. It is Blazing Stars, otherwise known as Mentzelia laevicaulis. I also call it Velcro-leaf, for the fact that it will so determinly cling to my clothing that the entire leaf will behave as if it was glued on.

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Not all that is colorful is in bloom. This noxious, but lovely plant is Poison Oak, the bane of kids and dog owners everywhere. It frequently turns red during this time of year as it approaches dormancy.

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This willow has the most interesting green/silver bi-color effect. I believe this is Salix lasiolepis, or Arroyo willow, but I may be mistaken. It makes pussy-willow catkins early in the spring. The beavers find this tree delicious, I find it fascinating.

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Even in death, beauty can be seen. This is the Seepspring Monkeyflower seed pods, looking like tiny paper lanterns. This common yellow wet-land flower, Mimulus guttatus, can be found along side creeks or even ditches alongside roads.

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There is something serene and quieting to a dry-grass display like this. Hare’s tail grass, American brooklime and Mimulus all come together to compose a lovely everlasting bouquet.

The California poppies may be gone and the lupines just a memory, but the determined wildflowers of our area continue on despite the arid weather, all you need do is look.