Red Berries

Jack-In-The-Pulpit one June Day

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.

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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.

Here are other “shots” from the same day.

Here is another posting about the Finger Lakes of New York State.

Copyright 2018 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

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Oak Creek Mandala

early one still morning

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.

Click this link for my Fine Art Photography gallery. You can find Oak Creek Mandala in the Arizona gallery.  The gallery description gives more information about the site.

Click this link for another Arizona post, “Cochise Dawn.”

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Bench Sitting Nature Watch

a monarch in steady progress south

On a sunny autumn morning we set out, my soon to be three grandson Sam and I, to the Lime Hollow Nature Center near Cortland for an adventure.  For the first time I brought a newly purchased iPhone 7 instead of the usual slr camera.  The phone can be carried in a pocket and is simpler to us, to allow me to give full attention to Sam.

WillsSamuelJackBenchsitting20181014-1

At the start is a large, today sunlit, field with an “art trail.”  There are various anthropomorphic transformations on the trees and a very large sculpture of a blue face.  Here is a tree from another place near here, to give you an idea.

PumpkinFarmTreeFace2012

I do not point out the tree faces to Sam.  His Mom likes to say he enjoys being frightened and, when the blue face came into view, he turned back and said, “home.”  Sam was mildly anxious, so I carried him and tried to turn him up the trail away from the face.  He turned to keep an eye on it while I assured him it could not move.  This and a climb up a 230 foot hill were the only times he didn’t walk the half mile to a open grassy knoll with a bench.

WillsSamuelJackBenchsitting20181014-2

There we sat for 30 minutes, still and watching, Sam and I talked about our sightings:
1. The sunlit sky of clouds, from a milky blue towards the north to, overhead, a bright robins egg blue.
2. A circling hawk, shadow crossing over us.
3. One blue jay in a maple turning red, loudly calling over and over.
4. A little while after a second jay, landing in a tree turned yellow, drawn in and giving answer.
5. A monarch butterfly’s steady progress south. Such a strong gliding path.
6. A yellow butterfly who did not leave us, fluttering round and round.
7. Four honking Canadian geese flying north east, turned to check out a nearby pond, the returned to the original heading.
8. The sound of wind through the trees, listening to the sound made by each tree.
9. The late season golden rod, now dried gray.
10. A distant chittering red squirrel.
11. Distant peeper frogs in the swamps at the foot of the hill.

Sam did not want to leave the bench, eventually we headed on to the pond the geese checked out.

WillsSamuelJackBenchsitting20181014-3

I used the “panoramic” feature of the iPhone 7 for this shot. On the hill we were sheltered by trees and bushes from the steady northeast wind. Here, on a bench by the pond, that direction was open to the wind. The sun kept us warm. It was clear why the geese did not land, the water surface was deserted, filled only by rippling wind driven waves.

On our walk back we sat on a bench on the edge of the art trail field, the blue face out of sight. A woman, the only other person encountered, emerged from one of the trails cut from the brush, camera in hand. She was collecting images for a Cortland Historical Society publication and asked to take our photograph. “OK,”, I said and gave the story of living here for 25 years in the house on Fall Creek where my son’s family lives now. She replied, “My daughter is in San Francisco. We don’t know who will have our house when we are gone.”

Click me for “Celestial Geese with two haiku by Issa”.

Copyright 2018 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Lucifer Falls on an Autumn Evening

celebrate Halloween on Lucifer Falls

 

Lucifer Falls from Rim Trail Overlook
The full sweep of Lucifer Falls on an autumn evening, the sun hidden behind the gorge walls. Here the Gorge Trail emerges from the shelter of the gorge, emerging into a dizzying view.

A reader’s comment to this blog, thank you “Urban Liaisons” prompted me to explore the word, Lucifer. “Lucifer”, in Christian tradition, refers to the devil as it was in a time of glory before the fall from grace. The original, ancient meaning of Lucifer is the planet Venus as it rises just before the sun at dawn.  In this sense, the name refers to the bright beauty of the spot.  The effect is heightened at midday when the hiker passes from the relative gloom of Devils Kitchen to the full light and sweep of the waterfall chasm.

Standing next to the falls on the Gorge Trail, the stone wall of the Rim Trail Overlook is overpowered by the grandeur of the 300+ foot cliff. The falls photographs were taken from behind the wall.

Lucifer Falls Overlook from the Gorge Trail
The cliff topped by the Rim Trail Overlook wall.

Occasionally, we have experienced individuals climbing over the wall to stand on the other side. “Why?”

Summertime thick stands of tiger lilies flourish on the cliff face. Can you find the withered leaves?

Lucifer Falls from Rim Trail Overlook
The Rim Trail includes this overlook of Lucifer Falls with, upstream, the Devil’s Kitchen waterfall, the walway of the Gorge Trail in between.

This session I finally “cracked” the puzzle of the Devil’s Kitchen Waterfall. I posted the results to the online gallery yesterday, for your enjoyment. Click the link to go there.

Click link for my fine art print “Devils Kitchen.”

Copyright 2017 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Thin Leaved Sunflower

Farm Journalist

“Out in the meadow, I picked a wild sunflower, and as I looked into its golden heart,such a wave of homesickness came over me that I almost wept.  I wanted Mother, withher gentle voice and quiet firmness; I longed to hear Father’s jolly songs and to see his twinkling blue eyes; I was lonesome for the sister with whom I used to play in the meadow picking daisies and wild sunflowers.”

from “Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farm Journalist, Writings from the Ozarks” edited by Stephen W. Hines”

Click me for Part 1 of this hike on the gorge trail of Treman Park.

Photography Copyright 2017 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Autumn Evening Hike, turning home

through Devil’s Kitchen to Lucifer Falls

In this third part, we continue hiking Treman gorge, approaching Lucifer Falls, viewing another waterfall further downstream and returning to the trailhead.

 

 Tiny Trumpet, unknown

I have never achieved a satisfactory capture of the waterfall in the Devil’s Kitchen, a place where the creek flow is diverted south by a projecting ridge. Less than 100 feet later the easterly direction is regained where the water plummets over Lucifer Falls.

The annual in fall of rock in Devil’s Kitchen uproots and crushes plants growing there. There is scant soil, the roots of this shiny purple trumpet bloom took hold in a microscopic crack. The plant is so thin, the flower so tiny it is lucky my gaze found it.

Tiny Flower
This tiny trumpet growing alone is easy to overlook.

Click link for my fine art print “After the Rain: Showy Lady Slippers.”

After searching all my plant identification references, this plan is unknown to me.  Please help with identification. The bloom is 1/4 inch long.

Not far away, these asters grow from a slightly wider crack.  Pam pointed them out to me. I was drawn by the striking color difference of the heads growing from a single stalk.

Pams Asters
Aster heads are many florets with coloring different than the rays.

Click link for my fine art print “Purple Asters.”

As trail winds around the ridge a stone wall rises on the right and for good reason.  The stream shortly reaches the brink of Lucifer Falls, 115 feet high.  Gorge walls fall away, the trail steepens.  Here is the view from the trail next to the brink.

Hikers
I am standing aside Lucifer Falls. Here the path steepens. The hikers provide perspective.

At hand, on the right, a growth of ferns has survived many seasons.  Flowering plants are, in geological time (across billions of years), a relatively recent development compared to these non-flowering ferns.  The first flowering plants appears 120 million years ago compared to the first ferns, 360 million years ago.  Oddly enough, the spread of flowering plants affected evolution of ferns, an increase of fern speciation in parallel to the rise of flower plants.

Ferns with previous growth
The dried fronds are evidence these ferns survived multiple seasons in this place.

While descending the stairs next to the falls brink, look to the right to see this ecosystem, a result of water seeping from the sedimentary rock stratification.

Wall of Moss, Grass and Flowers
Nurtured by trickles from the lip of Lucifer Falls, a luxuriant wall of moss, ferns, grass and fall flowers thrives.

Here you can see how, at lower flow levels, the inactive sections of the fall lip become a garden.  In our climate, the entire brink is active for rare and brief intervals during spring thaws.  Note how, closer to the active brink, the grasses give way to mosses.  Where grasses grow the brink is almost never active.

The trail wall is a lighter color than the cliff, this is how you can see, on the right, the steep trail descent.

Lucifer Falls and Gorge Trail
Gorge Trail clings to the margin of creek where the gorge opens and falls.

Pam and I turned around here.  This is some work I did August 2014 of a notable fall downstream from Lucifer.  I used the 24 mm Canon lens here, cropping the image.  My goal was to include the stair, for interest, with sunlight on the upper stairs; the water in shade.

Woodland Falls in August
Click link for my fine art print “Woodland Falls.”

Forest Path
Myrtle borders the trail as it rises from the gorge entrance.

Old Growth Hemlock Trunks
Tree trunks fallen from the gorge walls are left to decay, restoring the soil.  The trunks are covered by moss among a thick growth of myrtle and a few ferns.

To finish, here is an image that may broaden your understanding of sunflowers.

Thin Leaved Sunflower
These smaller, ornamental sunflowers are, at first, difficult to place. Look carefully at the center, composed of many tiny flowers (florets). In crop sunflowers each of these becomes a seed. In this image, shiny beetles are feasting.

The End of this Evening Hike in Treman Gorge

Click me for Part 1 of this hike on the gorge trail of Treman Park.

Click me for more postings of Autumnal Beauty

Copyright 2017 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Autumn Evening Hike Part 2 of 3

Water runs through it

 Portrait of Mill Falls

In part 2 of this series, we return to the starting point. Siting of a water mill requires immediate access to the potential energy of falling water, something called “head.” Upper Treman Park was once a prosperous hamlet with the mill as the kernel. Today, the head that drove the mill is a lovely cascade behind the substantial and intact mill building. Easy walking distance from parking, this is a well known park feature.

Here are three versions of a portrait of Mill Falls using different lenses for varying effects. All were taken in the same season and approximate time of day, being early evening.

Mill Waterfall, evening, low flow
Full waterfall environment captured using the 24 mm lens with a 0.6 nd filter.

Click link for “Mill Waterfall at low flow”, a fine art print from my gallery.
Mill Falls
Portrait of multiple waterfall cascades using 70 mm lens, UV filter.

This is the uncropped image used in part 1 of this series. I found the secondary cascade a distraction. Exposure of the secondary is difficult to balance against the primary and more shaded primary.

Mill Falls
Portrait of the major waterfall cascade.

Click link for “Mill Waterfall Primary Low Flow” fine art print.

Stone Span

Let’s return to where part 1 left off, the stone bridge across the eastern side of the gorge entrance gallery.

Foot Bridge
The bridge is a necessity, at this point the southern side becomes difficult to navigate.

This segmental arch is an illusion, the beautiful stone work is the facing of the concrete structure that carries to load of the stone, itself and visitors.

Stone Bench
A limestone bench at the foot of a sedimentary cliff, layering so fine it is difficult to make out the strata.

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My composition emphasizes the mass of rock wall above the bench and into which it is placed.  The limestone slabs are from a different source, they are not built from the material removed from the cliff.

Seeds and Flowers

EveningWalkTremanGorge-11

A dandelion on steroids.  If you can help with identification of this plant, please post a comment.

Asters
A shower of floral stars skattered throughout our walk.

Click the link for my “Ad Astra” fine art print, in my gallery.

Blue Asters
Blue asters, multiple stalks branch out from the main.

Click the link for my “Purple Asters” fine art print, in my gallery.

Look Back!!

Footbridge and Gorge
This is the footbridge at east side of gorge gallery entrance, seen from the east where the trail descends.

Many first time visitors do not look back to appreciate these scene.  When we give advice, our recommendation is to return on the same gorge trail.  The different viewpoints make for a fresh experience.

Mr. Toad

Toad on Gorge Steps
Toads hide from passing feet at the base of step risers, among the plants and dried leaves.

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The are like people, sitting there.  Kenneth Graham’s genius, in writing “Wind in the Willows”, was to recognize the likable characteristics of the toad.  I find myself concerned about their survival, although they must survive.  Earlier in the season they are pea sized.  I resist an inclination to move them to what may be a more promising location, preferably with a stone house and chrome brilliant motor car.

Stone work and asters
A fine limestone wall, asters. I need help naming the white flowering plants, there is a vine, mosses and much else in view.

Continued……..

Click me for Part 1 of this hike on the gorge trail of Treman Park.

Copyright 2017 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved