This attractive tree goes by a few names: shadbush, shadblow, serviceberry, and Juneberry. The reference to shad stems from more ancient knowledge of recognizing patterns of nature. Many years ago shad, a species of anadromous fish, was significantly more abundant than today…
Fine spring days have me clipping and raking in the garden. When the weather starts to warm we tend to clean up our homes inside and out, putting winter past us and readying our “nests” for a new season. Outside this is not so much a chore for me, but a pleasurable activity as I am also looking for signs of rejuvenation.
I always marvel at the carpet of moss on the berm of the Marsh Trail on the Scully Estate. Its verdant hues are especially welcome in the muted landscape of a winter’s walk. There is something seductive about moss that makes me slow down when I see it brightening grey boulders, draping on decaying stumps or lining a shady path.
While recently working at my desk at the Scully Mansion I took a momentary break from reading about water quality issues, to turn around to gaze from the 2nd floor window to see if anything was happening outside. Well, my timing was perfect as robins were what was “happening”, big time in fact.
While walking through the woods at the Scully Estate, I came upon an unusual sight. Amidst the forest of lovely white birch and black tupelo was a single birch tree smattered with large, pale mushrooms. The tilt of the tree and the lack of leaves, at this early fall time of year, indicated that the tree was dead or dying.
The species names spill off the tongue quickly – “Oh, that’s a Pink Lady’s Slipper…. or a Green Darner….or a Round-leaved Sundew or Great-crested Flycatcher. Perhaps its a Brook Trout….or Eastern Chipmunk or a Diamondback Terrapin”. These names, and hundreds of thousands of others, are the scientifically established common names for these creatures, useful because they help to establish order, definition, and identity.
Picture a beautiful beach day at Fire Island National Seashore. The sun is shining, the waves rolling, and beachgoers rest upon the sand. Now imagine that you are working, not vacationing, at the beach. Every August, while everyone else is jumping into the ocean, National Park Service (NPS) staff spend hours walking in hot, soft sand, in search of a very special plant: seabeach amaranth.
Fall foliage is different.
Mark Twain once said that the difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. His point is well made. But it leaves us with the question of what is the right word for the insects that make our summer nights sparkle? Twain referred to “lightning bugs,” but many of us call them “fireflies.” So which is the right word?
As long as I can remember, I have always been attracted to cacti. I believe I imprinted on these bizarre plants during the accumulated hours of spellbound time passed as a kid in darkened movie theaters, transfixed by the endless procession of desert-strewn cowboy-and-Indian Technicolor westerns.