Thursday, April 24, 2008

Moonshine deja vu

The night after I took the photos below, the moon was still in good form, so I decided to work harder on getting a good shot. I changed the aperature leaving the shutter open up to 15 seconds, used the tripod, and had some good company and fantastic food to enjoy the evening with (thanks Mom!). I think leaving the shutter open for 8 seconds worked the best. Here's what I got:

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Here are some experimental shots of the moon with my new camera. Any suggestions on how to make them better?

And a beautiful sunset:


So the garden is underway and a few things are beginning to pop up. Including radishes:
And yummy spinach:
And here are the rhubarb plants in full foliage already!
More gardening to come; potatoes go in next!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Birth of the Mayapple

It is the beginning of April and already, a plant named the Mayapple is popping up through the leaf litter and making it's debut. Here is the lifecycle of the Mayapple thus far in April:
Notice that there is an acorn in the background. These shoots are tiny!

The leaves slowly unfurl to reveal this:

The Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) is in the Berberidaceae family. This is a two leaved plant which vaguely resembles an umbrella and is also known as a Devil's apple. It will flower in May and form into a berry which ripens in late summer and is the only part of the plant that isn't considered poisonous. The plant's rhizome is being studied for it's anticancer properties. Native American Indians were known to gather the rhizomes in autumn, dry them, and grind them into a powder which was eaten or drank as a laxitive, to treat intestinal worms, or as a poultice to treat warts and skin tumors. Another interesting fact - Although this is an abundant plant in the forests of the northeastern US, it is endangered in Florida.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

More Springtime Adventuring

Also on our springtime walk in the woods we came upon some jelly fungi growing on a log crossing a creek:
And some newly sprouted multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora), an extremely aggressive invasive species. It is a thorny perennial shrub found along disturbed edges which form impenetrable thickets and exclude native plants. And look how cute and unassuming this little bugger looks when it first emerges:
Happy Spring!

Springtime in the Woods

It's the beginning of April, rainy, cold and breezy. Not gorgeous weather, but beginning to tease us with a hint of what springtime will be like once it gets into the full swing of things. I'm a sucker for teasing, so of course this tempted me into going for a hike to see what was waking up under the cold dead leaves of fall. Here's what we found:

My big brother and I ventured out into the woods to play in our old stomping grounds. It was like we were little kids all over again, playing in woods, finding dead things, finding new growth, and most of all, getting very muddy and enjoying every moment of it!

These are the skunk cabbages (Symplocarpus foetidus) that are out in full force along the creeks and forested wetlands on our property. Sure, they're a little smelly, but to us it's the smell of the death of winter! And really, they are something beautiful to behold.

Skunk cabbage was used by the Native American Indians to treat convulsions, whooping cough, toothache, and other conditions. The root is used as a poultice for wounds. Even modern physicians have used it for epileptic seizures and severe coughs. The leaves contain calcium oxalate crystals which, if eaten raw, can burn your mouth and the roots are considered toxic raw. To remove these properties, the leaves and roots can be dried and reconstituted in soups and stews.

These are not the only signs of spring. We also heard the spring peepers begin singing their mating chorus, the barred owl is seeking a domestic mate by calling her with "who cooks for you", and the turkeys are gobbling through the valley.