Gloomy Day Mystery

Sunday ended up being another cloud-covered day, with intermittent drizzle. I decided to go for a hike and ended up being the only one at Jones Lake.

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I followed the lake trail. Rose hips on the swamp roses added a little color to the gloomy day.

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 The clouds continued to increase during my hike, which changed the appearance of the rose hips on my way back to the truck.

It always amazes me how drops of water invert the view.

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 Here is my real mystery. I can’t explain why the light bands are reflected vertically on the water. Where did they come from?  The tree-covered hill would have a more solid appearance. The clouds wouldn’t be in bands either. I don’t see how my height compared to the water level would make a difference. Maybe there’s a scientific reason that would be way over my head.

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On darn, (being facetious) guess I’ll just have to come back to see if these reflections are still here.

Glide in For a Landing … and More

Today started out sounding like spring with a robin loudly singing in our front yard, and a great horned owl hooting to the north.

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The kitchen sink isn’t exactly my favorite place to be, but I often see interesting things while there. The window faces west.

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 Strands of silk drifted in on a light breeze and landed close to the porch. The silk measured approximately 3 1/4 inches long.

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I first suspected an adult spider had spun it because of the size of the silk … only adult spiders wouldn’t do this.  Spiderlings produce silk but don’t build a web.

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 Maybe it was the spiderling of a larger species of spider. Today turned out to be a sunny day with the temperature reaching 67. An eastern phoebe repeated its name in the backyard this afternoon.

So…. our days finally look and feel much more like spring is here in southern Illinois!

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The spiders had a surprise waiting for me in the evening.

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 The sun was getting lower, and I noticed spider silk reflecting the sunlight. I hurried out in the front yard with my camera.

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A light breeze added movement to the single strands of silk.

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The camera seemed to have a mind of its own as to how the pictures turned out.

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 I just snapped and snapped pictures with the light quickly changing.

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Then I noticed the dramatic effect on the other side of the highway. I stood on our hill and zoomed in for closer pictures of across the road. The speed of the sun lowering in the sky didn’t give me much time to do anything but quickly snap pictures. The reflected light shimmered with a light breeze.

Everywhere I looked, and as far as I could see, there were strands of spider silk.

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The breezes moved the spiderlings’ strands in the trees, grass and other dried vegetation.

I took thirty-eight pictures in eleven minutes before the sun sank to the horizon.

Then, when I remembered to check the next day, every bit of the spiders’ silk was gone.

I can’t imagine what the sky looked like with so many ballooning spiderlings! I sure wish I’d seen it!

Did I Take Those!

I don’t know what happened here — I actually took focused bird pictures.

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Three Canada geese stayed relatively close as Buffy and I followed the lake trail at Glen O. Jones Lake.

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 I had hoped to see a red-throated loon that was reported here Saturday. No luck.

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Loons are rarely seen in southern Illinois on their migration.

It took me 3-4 years to see my first loon after I started birding. A birding friend of mine called one afternoon, saying a common loon was at Jones Lake. Davis was in first or second grade. I called school, and they gave me permission to take him to see the loon. We ran out to the Blazer. I hurried after we got out of town. We were both on the edge of our seat. I screeched (not really) to a halt when I got where we could see the lake. And, there was the loon– not close and not far. We had no witnesses to our enthusiasm.

Common Split Gill

 The weather has finally moderated and I actually worked in the backyard this afternoon.

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This odd mushroom easily caught my attention and was easy to identify:

Common  Split Gill

Schizophyllum Commune

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It has no stalk, the cap measures 9 to 30mm wide, and it  grows on decaying wood. Apparently it’s whitish-gray when it’s dry and a brownish gray when moist.

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Its range includes Maine, south to Tennessee and west to north Dakota.

I don’t remember seeing one before, and will definitely keep an eye out for this small delicate mushroom from now on.

Bang, She Was Special

Everyone called her “Bang.” Apparently she broke several bats, playing baseball when she was young. She was my Girl Scout leader through high school.

Spring wildflower hikes were one of her favorite activities. She knew exactly where certain flowers grew and when to visit them.

I got married, moved away for six years and then returned to Harrisburg. Her husband passed away during that time. They had no children.

I was a Girl Scout leader for eight years until both my girls graduated high school. By then Bang was housebound with emphysema. Friends brought her food and ran errands for her. She wouldn’t let me. I was her entertainment — I’d hike alone or with my kids, and then fill her in on all the details. She relived her experiences through mine. Many of the places were ones she’d told me about.

Her health continued to deteriorate. She wanted one more outing. It had been years since she’d hiked. My husband drove us. (I definitely wanted a man along on that trip.) We topped the hill where the road deteriorated and became an adventure. Ron stopped at the top so Bang could take in the view of the wooded hills, down across the low part, over a small bridge and start up a rugged hill.

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Bang sat on the edge of her seat. Ron drove slow so she could see everything. The woods were all leafed out. He pulled up into camp and parked the blazer facing south. Her eyes were so big. She was transported to a place of her own.

I walked off. Ron did too. I returned two or three times with a flower to show her up close. So, virtually, she was alone in nature with her thoughts. We were probably only there fifteen minutes until we had to get her home. We were seven miles from her house.

I can still see the sheer joy on her face. Those few minutes transported her into nature, and her nature “friends” came to see her.

She passed away about a month after our outing.

These were a few of her favorite wildflowers.

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 Jack-in-the-pulpit

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Celandine poppy

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Virginia bluebells

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Twayblade orchid

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Shooting stars

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Purple trilliums

Fog Two Ways

The ground’s finally thawing after our last heavy snow … which wasn’t too long after the first heavy ice/snow event.

The warming and yesterday’s rain resulted in a dense fog this morning.

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The truck’s headlights are near the edge of our yard. If you look close at the back end of our neighbor’s shrub row, you’ll see another semi coming toward us.

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 It’s 9 a.m. and the fog still shows no sign of lifting.

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 There’s fog and then there’s fog.

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I took several pictures of the fog from the front porch at 6 o’clock this morning.

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I set my camera on the low light setting and used the flash to take orb pictures. It can be a fun experiment.

Abstract Water

A light rain alternated with mist, and the temperature reached 60 degrees this afternoon. Since tomorrow’s forecast included falling temperatures, rain and strong winds, Buffy and I headed to Stone Face for a short outing.

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Snow geese were in a corn field and

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 flying above it.

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Water flowed with an urgency in the wet-weather creek at Stone Face.

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I didn’t see all these details when taking the pictures.

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The contrast created abstract patterns,

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and a lot of movement.

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It sure looked like the water spirits (the undines) were having a lot of fun.

I know Buffy and I were.

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