May 312014
 

Early this afternoon, I stopped at a patch of daisy fleabane along Piney Woods Church Road, discovering a variety of flying creatures busily at work gathering nectar and pollen and, in turn, pollinating the daisies.  Perhaps daisy fleabane is merely a common weed to many,  but right now along this stretch of roadway, it is virtually the only flower actively blooming, providing much-needed nourishment for bees and flies alike.

 

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May 312014
 

I hobbled my way down Piney Woods Church Road today, having pulled a muscle in my leg a couple of days ago and managed to pull it a second time for good measure earlier this morning.  I was restricted to what I could see at eye level (sitting down being out of the question), and I only traveled part of the road, from Rico Road to the (dry) drainage ditch at about the halfway point.  I found more spiders and other insects.  I also noticed the brilliant red of new growth from a roadside red maple sapling (Acer rubrum).  We tend to think of new growth as happening in early spring, but many trees continue to put forth new leaves well into the summertime.

 

New Growth

May 302014
 

Another orchard orbweaver spider from today’s walk down Piney Woods Church Road, this time as viewed from the underside.  I know that spiders can have, for some, a terrifying aspect.  But I find myself entranced by the rich colors and patterns on their bodies.

 

The Jewel in the Net

May 302014
 

More than a month after the wisteria blooms have shriveled and petals fallen onto the roadbed, the Chinese wisteria along Piney Woods Church Road is putting all its energy into producing large, fuzzy green seed pods.  Except for in one isolated spot, where a plant that appears to be out of step with all the others has produced a single cluster of blossoms.  As our climate warms, perhaps there will someday be two blooming events for Chinese wisteria in Georgia every year.  This might be a harbinger of things to come.  But for today, I will just appreciate it for its rarity and lovely colors, and try not to let any other thoughts come to mind.

 

Wisteria Again?

May 302014
 

In this humble photograph, a lone tree catkin dangles from a barbed wire fence by silken threads.  It is Day 150, and there is so much more of the commonplace yet to be encountered — things like this catkin that I continue to pass over every day, until one day I will glimpse them, as if for the first time.

 

Catkin

May 292014
 

A neighbor and good friend who lives along Piney Woods Church Road emailed me today with exciting news.  While clearing out part of his property for eventual use as horse pasture, he discovered a Luna Moth (Actias luna), probably female, that had just emerged from its cocoon.  By the time I arrived with my camera, it had already puffed out its wings and hung nearly motionless, apart from twitching one of its antennae (which remind me of fern fronds) every couple of seconds.  I took quite a few photographs, entranced by its alien beauty, unlike any other moth native to this region.    Tonight it will take wing, find a mate, lay eggs…and die only a few days afterward.  Luna Moths lack mouth parts; their only tasks are to mate and make the way for the next generation.

 

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May 292014
 

Another image from my Piney Woods Church Road ramble this afternoon.  I glimpsed this ladybug dining among the daisies — feeding on some sort of insect larva beneath the bloom of a Daisy Fleabane, near the intersection with Rico Road.

 

Dining among the Daisies

May 292014
 

This Eastern-Daddy-Longlegs (Leiobunum spp.) is quite the grizzled veteran, having lost two of its eight legs.  Daddy-longlegs (also known as harvestmen) lack venom and are harmless to humans.  Although often grouped with spiders, they belong to a separate order of organisms, Order Opiliones, one with a lineage reaching back 400 million years.

 

Grizzled Veteran

May 292014
 

This tiny, rather nondescript purple flower carries a grand name indeed — Clasping Venus’s Looking Glass (Triodanis perfoliata).  It is an annual herb, native to most of the eastern North America.  I recently glimpsed a couple of isolated individuals, each bearing aloft a single five-petaled flower about half an inch across, near the Piney Woods Church Road intersection with Rico Road.  They offer practically the only patch of purple along the road right now, surrounded by a sea of green leaves.  Scotts Lawn Service offers to “fight” this plant with “systemic weed control,” “killing it completely, root and all.”  Am I the only one that is baffled by this assertion?  There are so many battles we need to engage in throughout our lives — fighting against injustice, poverty, industrial air pollution — but is this really one of them?

 

Clasping Venus's Looking Glass