Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Woodland Sampler II

roundleaf violet, Viola rotundifolia

Carolina spring beauty, Claytonia caroliniana

American toad, Bufo americana

bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis
amongst wild leeks, Allium tricoccum

Monday, April 20, 2009

Woodland Sampler

sharp-lobed hepatica, Hepatica nobilis var. acuta

common garter snake, Thamnophis sirtalis

eastern leatherwood, Dirca palustris

trout lily, Erythronium americanum

Thursday, April 09, 2009

This Town's Not Made For Walking

Tonight is my last night in this hotel room in the bustling sprawl of a town named for the nearby estate of First Leader, outside of Capitol City. Not that I’ll have time to tour the mansion or the gardens, or to go into the heart of the city and see any museums or monuments. We are here for a job, and having completed it today, will spend all day tomorrow driving home.

I like traveling, and traveling for work is no exception. It gives me an opportunity to see new places, to do different things, to meet interesting people. However, if there is a drawback to business travel, it is the tiny taste, the cruel tease. I have never spent time in this area before and it certainly seems worthy of dedicated exploration. We drive by the signs, but there is no time for touring. This afternoon we finished up a little earlier than expected, and returning to the hotel, my co-worker declared his intentions for a nap before dinner. It was 65 degrees and sunny, and even though we’d been outside all day, when I walked into my dark and stuffy room, it didn’t seem right. Every cell in my body screamed to go back outside. So I decided to go for a walk.

Four miles later, I’m back to the hotel room, and feeling a little better about being here. This town is just not made for walking. The hotel is on a busy four lane road, with a constant roar of traffic. I took the first possible side street, and finding no sidewalks, turned into a residential neighborhood at the soonest opportunity, looking for lighter traffic. Many streets ended at cul-de-sacs, with fences preventing foot traffic through to adjacent neighborhoods (and no dead end signs to warn the casual passerby). Sidewalks were almost entirely lacking. Except for a friendly woman walking her small dog, I saw no other pedestrians.

As much as I long to see the sights, I wouldn’t want to live in a place where roaring automobile traffic is the only means of conveyance, where pedestrians have been entirely squeezed out. Call me crazy, but I like to walk.

Friday, April 03, 2009

'Tis the Season

I disdained the umbrella on the walk to the bus stop this morning, lifting my face to the light rain, which almost felt warm. A carry over from yesterday, perhaps, for yesterday was a glorious spring day, sunny and warm and filled with birdsong. I was practically skipping along the street on my walk home, eager to change into jeans and take a walk in the woods, to pull some weeds and dried vegetation from the greening flower bed. Imagine my joy when I spied the neighbor's red maple! I've been watching that tree for weeks now, watching and waiting.

Yesterday was the day I'd been looking forward to: my first budburst observation of the season. Having tracked the phenology of this tree last year, I knew it would flower any day now, but that just heightened the suspense. When it comes to spring flowers, I'm like a kid counting down to Christmas. That makes Project Budburst so perfect for me. Whee! Someone cares about the tree I saw flowering!

Project Budburst is designed for anyone and everyone to participate. The target plants are common and easy to identify, and the site provides lots of great resources to help the novice. And you need not be surrounded by nature, as many common landscaping plants are included. Even denizens of the most urban areas likely see a lilac bush or street tree regularly. For returning budbursters, the website offers some major improvements: on the results page, you can download data reported last year, and see the 100 most recent reports mapped in real time. If you like gardening or wildflowers, or just get geeked up on little changes in your outdoor world, I encourage you to check it out. Is anyone else out there playing along?