In the details

Sometimes, there is beauty in the big picture. Sometimes, it is in the details.

Signs of spring

Spring is slowly, but surely, shuffling its way onto the mountain. It’s good to see the usual spring things beginning. For example, the crested iris leaves are pushing into the sunlight, the poke sallet is beginning to wave its green flags and cedar apple rust, one of the more spectacular looking plant diseases, is in full “bloom.”

We were somewhat concerned that the irises might not make it this year. With the hundreds of trees damaged from last year’s snow, and the subsequent efforts to trim and remove debris from the road, we feared the irises might be disturbed or buried under pine logs and brush. It was great to see yesterday that those leaves had emerged.

Post No. 500

We’re surrounded — in a good way — by tens of thousands of acres of trees. However, two years of drought put the woods of the Ouachitas* under stress, the kind of stress that can leave trees vulnerable to disease, insects, death and wildfires. As trees went dormant to cope with the lack of water, summer’s leaves tumbled to the ground en masse, looking like fall, but with triple-digit temperatures. So there was plenty of speculation about whether there would be any leaves left for the state’s forests to give its annual foliage show. The trees prevailed.

*”Ouachita” is pronounced “WASH’-it-tah.”

Checkered future

The spell of desperately hot, dry 100-degree days has been broken by a couple of cold fronts, bringing rain and temps in the 70s and 80s. When the rain finally stopped, wildlife emerged; deer wandering the woods and a young hognose warming himself on the stones lining the driveway. Hognoses wear an enormous variety of colors and have a very unique set of defensive behaviors that include, at one end, playing dead. At the other end of the spectrum is its cobra-like threat that has earned it the nickname “puff adder.”

WARMING — A young hognose emerges for a bit of a warmup after hours of cooling thunderstorms.
SCALING THE ROCKS — Hognose eventually wound his way back into his lair.

Local color

Some random shots of local color.

CATERPILLAR - Wandering around the driveway.
SUMMER TANAGER -- He's back and he's red. Hard to miss him in the canopy.
DAISY -- Shadows of taller wildflowers fall across the daisy's face.
ORANGE -- Tiny flower peers up from the grass.
GRAPE EXPECTATIONS -- Grapes ready to bloom.
FLASH OF RED -- Ruby-throated hummingbird shows his colors from his favorite perch in the sumac.


Like Eurydice following Orpheus, spring keeps trying to emerge.  The thermometer hit 70 here in Ferndale. However, Orpheus has turned and we are expecting another 1-3 inches of snow by 9 a.m. tomorrow.

”]69.8 degrees
reflections in the lake
Just a few hours earlier, snow still lingered on the north sides of the ridge.