It seemed simple enough. On the Blue Ridge Parkway on the way back from an oil change yesterday, and in no particular hurry. I pulled off to the shoulder of the road and grabbed my camera (which you can also use as a phone! Really!) and walked back a hundred yards to a nicely-lit display of surrealistically-orange Butterfly milkweed. I grabbed a couple of shots and brought them home. But as so often happens, looking and thinking back to this ordinary moment with this …

Pollinia: How Milkweeds Do It Read more »

…and the answer to yesterday’s Puzzler, below. But the flower you see here is one I don’t know to species. It looks like Monkshood (see the cowl?) but is a weak climbing vine. It was growing supported by various wet-meadow annuals like cinnamon fern and such in partial shade. If I don’t figure it out, I’ll ask an expert at the “bioblitz” in Rock Castle Gorge next weekend. Somebody will know it and I’ll have added another one to my life-list. YESTERDAY’S PUZZLER: We’ve …

Friday Nature Unknown Read more »

So I had this notion a month or so back that my experience as teacher, speaker, field trip leader and engaged citizen would mesh nicely before small groups of folks who come to Floyd County lacking any depth to our natural or human communities here. Well, you know about plans. Mr Murphy is always ready to give us a ground in The Way Things Are. If you plan something so well that nothing can go wrong, something will. Before you can do what it …

Traveling Hopefully Read more »

If you drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway in late May and early June, you’ll be missing the forest for the trees if you don’t stop your car, get out, and walk along the forest edge. You’ll see, hear, smell or otherwise learn something just about anywhere you do this. Walking speed allows our senses to work for us. Even the parkway’s slower-than-usual 45 mph is nowhere near slow enough for full comprehension of the full nature of any place along its 450 mile …

Black and White: Mt Laurel Read more »

I’m hoping I’ll have a reason to travel to Chateau Morrisette this week (to leave note cards for sale in the Winery Tasting Room store.) The native pink azaleas (Pinxter Flower, or Rhododendron nudiflorum as I learned it, now R. periclymenoides) was just beginning to bloom when I was over that way last week, but should be at peak in some places in Floyd County’s high-country parts of the Parkway. Click for larger view. Ferns are springing up everywhere in the wetlands where the …

Blue Ridge Parkway in Bloom Read more »