At the lower elevations, the northern California forest in September is a dry and dusty place, but it still holds many sights to see and ponder over, if you are lucky enough to be with my daughter Pippin, as I was last week.
I had long hoped to travel the several hours to celebrate little Ivy’s birthday with the family, but business here at home kept me up in the air about my plans until the last minute, when I realized that it would be possible for me to make a quick trip up and back. On my one layover day we three “girls” walked in the woods. We chose to drive to a little park not far away this time, instead of making our outing to the woods right behind their house.
I’ve written before about how Pippin has always had her senses keenly tuned to the natural world; when I am outdoors with her she stops to notice many details of flora and fauna that I am blindly passing by.
I doubt I would have seen these slugs descending from a tree on their slimy rope, but once I saw them I had to record them with my camera.
And the way their line was attached so firmly and invisibly to the tree…
Pippin told me that this plant is called Pinedrops, and is similar to Snow Plant in that it lives symbiotically on the fungi that in turn live on tree roots; for most of its life you don’t see it above ground.
While my eyes were probably on my boot tops, Pippin noticed a large wasps’ nest in what she took to be a dogwood in the stage of bearing fruit. I wondered how many wasps might live in that large house.
We also stopped by a fish hatchery where Ivy fed the various species of trout, and I spied a commonplace wild sweet pea that I thought uncommonly healthy and pretty.
Back at the house, I took up the challenge I never can resist: trying to photograph the crabapples. They make me wish I were a real photographer, so I could capture how gorgeous they are. At Pippin’s they have two or three varieties, and the Professor shakes the trees from time to time in the fall and winter so the fruit will fall on the lawn and feed the deer.
Pippin is a gardener as well as a naturalist and her dahlias are worth the drive north just to visit them. This trio she had just brought in for the birthday party table.
I didn’t entirely ignore the grandboys, but because it was Ivy’s birthday I didn’t feel bad focusing on her this time. Given that I have eleven grandsons and “only” three granddaughters, you might understand my feelings for the girls.
This year it was a Dragon Cake she wished for, and her parents were obliging. They added a castle for context. Happy Birthday, Ivy!