This day, as our hill turns to snow globe, I remember this early morning, March 2007, on the edge of spring.
As winter changed to spring I noticed the first greening of the limbs and, each November, the eerie form of the limbs revealed. I call the tree an “elm” though I am not certain. There are other lone survivor elms nearby, the leaves are right for an elm. Some elm species/specimens have the same shape.
The many names for this plant are reflective of how wide spread it is. Called Arisaema triphyllum (scientific name), jack-in-the-pulpit, bog onion, brown dragon, Indian turnip, American wake robin, or wild turnip this secretive plant flourishes in moist soils across eastern North America, everywhere north to south. I say “secretive” because the varieties I am familiar with hide the flower under the leaves, three of them growing from a stalk.
Those of you who know Georgia O’Keefe may be familiar with the form and coloring of Jack-in-the-pulpit from the series of six oil canvasses from 1930, her time in the east living near a spring. There is a spathe, the pulpit, strongly colored in dramatic vertical, flowing stripes, wrapped around a spandix, the “jack”, being a stem covered with male and female flowers.
Around the time my photography habit started in 2002 I was surprised by the jacks growing from the walls of Fillmore Glen, spying the distinctive forms flowing a bit above eye level under the three large leaves. Seeing them was like recognizing a friend in Halloween disguise, the exotic O’Keefe shapes in a known place.
From this gift, an awareness of the possibility lead me to recognize “jacks” in many other places. I have yet to exhaust the possibilities.
2015 I acquired a Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 L IS USM lens for our cruise around South American. It proved very useful for an unending combination of situations. Here, it allowed me to frame this specimen, the former covering of three leaves now sere brown and collapsed, the berries revealed in startling clarity among evergreen ferns, Christmas red and green. The strangely named Dry Creek, the driving force of Fillmore Glen, flowing below this humus layered shelf moist with a constant flow from the gorge walls.
The park trails make for a pleasant choice at the start of each excursion. This day, Pam and I visited Cowshed Falls at the foot of the glen, climbed the north rim trail to walk among the hemlocks, listening the leisurely calls of Hermit Thrust like breaking crystal. The time of mushrooms was past in late September, instead we enjoyed the Indian Summer sun and breeze safe in knowing it will not last.
“Jacks” are part of the known lore of the Native American woodland tribes. These berries are poisonous, so beware of handing them. Wikipedia tells me a ploy was to mix the berry juice with meat to leave for enemies. Hidden by the meat flavor, the heartily enjoyed poison lead to death. The plant grows from a thick root, a corm. Correctly dried and prepared, the corm is food. I can imaging these plants an entities haunting the forest, choosing to reveal themselves, or not, to knowing souls. Maybe this is was drew O’Keefe to these woodland shapes growing around the springs of her summer homes. Leisure and an open, wandering glance are important, anyway, for noticing them. Most strangers wander by, engrossed in conversations, memories, evanescent distractions.
This quiet nook is hidden along the Oak Creek Canyon trail, though easy enough to find.
I visited there just at dawn when the air was still and the usually busy site deserted.
Oak Creek Canyon is named for the native, evergreen oak species unique to desert environments. The leaves conserve moisture: small, thick. I remember camping at the Chiricahua National Monument on November. All night the acorns fell onto the metal picnic tables, a loud metallic thunk.
The post header is a primrose flower growing on the bank of Oak Creek.
Recognize the rock from “Oak Creek Mandala”? This is farther up the Oak Creek Canyon trail, “photograph by Pam Wills.” I am in my warm weather photography kit of the time having passed the camera to Pam for the shot.
Here the red rock of the northwestern corner of the Navajo Nation was pulverized into sand by the action of wind, water, sun and cold. The red sand flows here over a water-shaped bench, having blown into the darkness of a narrow canyon, called a slot.
I waited in the dry darkness of upper Antelope Canyon for the perfect moment to capture the spirit of the place.
Under a crystal blue September sky, my wife and I climbed into the gorge of Bear Swamp Creek to the foot of this waterfall past the site of a distillery where, years ago, locals used to frequent using a “jug path.”
The creek is strictly protected as part of the water source for Syracuse, flowing from the Skaneateles Highlands past historical villages such as “New Hope.” Before merging with Skaneateles Lake, the creek traverses this 90 foot fall, call Carpenter Falls.
You need to climb the steep slopes of the gorge for this unobstructed view.
It is even possible to climb to the ledge behind the water. Standing on the ledge, the stream passes 50 feet overhead. It is a lovely view down the gorge in all seasons.
On that morning, May 21, 1879 the two Chilean ships blockading Iquique port were surprised by two Peruvian warships from the port of Callao, the monitor Huáscar and armored frigate Independencia.
Arturo Prat commanded the Chilean corvette Esmeralda. Carlos Condell de la Haza was Covadonga’s commander.
The Chileans are outgunned by the Peruvians in armored ships. Condell fled in the Convadonga, pursued by the Independencia. This was the wiser course and most militarily effective because, following the Convadonga into shallow waters the deeper draft Independencia lost advantage when it ran aground and was lost.
Prat stood ground in the middle of the bay, any canon shots simply bounced off the heavily armored Huascar. The Esmeralda suffered shot after shot until the command of the Huascar, Captain Graf, decided to ram the Esmeralda to force a surrender and safe useless death.
At the first ram to the stern, as the ships were in contact, Prat ordered an attack, “Let’s board, boys.” In the confusion only two seamen joined Prat. One failed to board, Prat and Petty Officer Juan de Dios Aldea attacked. Dios Aldea was mortally wounded. Prat continued to advance alone, to the amazement of the Peruvians, awed at his courage. Prat was gunned down on the deck of the Huascar.
He crew watched in horror. When the Esmeralda was rammed again, this time in the bow, Sublieutenant Ignacio Serrano lead of 10 Chileans to board for an attack with machetes and rifles. They were massacred by the mounted Gatling gun, only Serrano survived.
The example of Prat and his crew is taught today. Arturo Pratt is the most common street name, as well as plazas, buildings. Four major warships were named after him. The current active ship is the frigate FFG 11, the Capitan Prat. The Chilean naval academy is named Escuela Naval Arturo Prat. His portrait is on the 10,000 peso Chilean note.