Life from Death

while trillium

Taken with a Canon 100 mm “macro” lens, a Kodak digital single lens reflex body, a Manfrotto tripod and ample time and patience.

Enjoy!

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Trillium rise from the decaying tree roots.

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Are White and Red Trillium a different species?

A question of speciation

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Questions about speciation of flora can be complex and are so in the case of trillium. A straightforward answer is “yes,” white and red trillium are different species with distinct characteristics, as can be seen from the first photograph.

The white trillium below are in the species Trillium grandiflorum as evidenced by coloration, the shapes of the flower petals and anthers. For this discussion I will focus on the flower petal shape and coloration. The grandiflorum petals are broad at the base and wavy, compared to the more blade-like red trillium, Trillium erectum, straight-edged petals.

There is the obvious difference of color, but Trillium erectum has a white form, not seen here.

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Then, there is this specimen, below, with a stippling of red on blade-like petals with wavy edges. Here is where the experts differ and, in summary, many believe trillium species are an interrelated complex with the possibility of hybridization, sharing of genetic material between the different species to produce fertile offspring. This specimen may be an example of this hybridization.

Click me for another Trillium posting

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Massed White Trillium Blooms

Wonder of the northern spring forest

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I came upon this display April 2004, a wonder of the northern spring forest.

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Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Wintergreen?

aspirin-nations

Capturing photographs and videos on the fly using an Iphone, we visited Fillmore Glen State Park, Moravia, New York with our granddaughter, Nia. This is the seventh post of this series. Click me for another springtime post.

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Growing up on Long Island provided limited exposure to the great variety of animal and plant life on planet earth. I remember Canesteo, a town just off the western edge of the Finger Lakes in Steuben County, after moving there in the 1980’s, had a marvelous abundance of different plants in the lawn. It was a welcoming feeling to notice this before the term “monoculture” was circulated.

These days the exuberant variety of ferns and mosses in the Finger Lakes are still alien in the sense noticing the small differences between species is still beyond me; or, rather, I have yet to know well all the later arrivals on the scene, the flowering plants and these command my attention.

Close by the Sorrell of my post “Glen Shadows” is this inconspicuous flower, common name Shinleaf, seen here growing in spite of the the wet rip rap of shale at the base of the glen wall on the footpath. Much of the characterization of this plant is from the inconspicuous basal leaves from which the raceme of flowers springs.

Evergreen Pears

Moss and Shinleaf are associated in these groupings, I could conclude the moss provided a place for the tiny seeds of the plant to lodge and take root. The plant is a perennial and stays green throughout the winter, leading to another conclusion: there is a substance in the leaf cells that resists freezing. The latin meaning of the (scientific name) genus Pyrola means “Pear”, the shape of the leaf.

Look closely at the flowers to see the small flowers, the style extending beyond the petals like a bell clapper.

The common name, Shinleaf, is from England where the plant is credited with providing relief for minor injury. I am unclear on the grouping of this plant as a wintergreen. Shinleaf might be included as a wintergreen, and possibly attributed with healing properties, because “wintergreen” in the past was a synonym for “evergreen.”

There are species of wintergreens, in a different family, with leaves containing methyl salicilate that metabolizes (changed in our bodies) to a substance related to aspirin and more potent. I am reconsidering my identification of “cranberry” in the previous post “Red” to be a type of wintergreen high in methyl salicilate and growth close to the Shinleaf.

This abundance of life variety must be cherished and preserved, it can be a source of survival for the human species.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Bridging the Lethe

notes from November 2231 AD

Hook

Ancient legends speak of the River Lethe, crossed by departing souls.  The waters of the Lethe wash away memory, allowing for spiritual rebirth, reincarnation, a return to the world in new form.

SycamoreGrove20170404-10

This memory implant represents a bridge over the Lethe.

Footbridge over Enfield CreekFor those chosen to cross over to the new land in return for

Sycamore Grove

their treasure, lives and selves.

Sycamore Grove

Description

This virtual monoculture glade from the long time of forests,

Sycamore Grove

a place of happy gatherings, of families, plentiful food and water.

Sycamore Grove

These sycamores grew over centuries, through thousands of days, wider than 10 people,

Sycamores

white with age as the outer covering, called bark, falls away.

Sycamores

forked, trunks

Sycamore Trunk

climbing to the sky.

Sycamore Sky
Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Life and Death

Rumination on wild flower blooms

Click here for my Online Gallery offering of trillium.

An access road, now blocked with huge boulders by the State Park, leads to this dam at the head of Fillmore Glen. I stop here for reflection at times and have climbed behind the dam for photographs. It is possible to drive up the south side of the glen on a poorly maintained road and park next to the boulders. In this season (spring) the surrounding forest is carpeted in wildflowers. Hepatica, trillium, dutchman’s breeches. One day, years ago, I pulled in behind a late model convertible with a license plate holder advising the owner was a member of the 10th Mountain division and a World War II veteran.

They were a well dressed and groomed couple. The white haired driver, in his late 80’s at least, patiently waited while she, a frail woman, walked the margins of the forest, enjoying the wildflowers. It was my impression this was a ritual for them, developed over the years. One of the few spring outings left to them.

Wildflower displays develop over hundreds of years. The massed trillium are on land not disturbed for thousands of years, since the last ice age. These same spring wonders were certainly enjoyed by the Iroquois before us.

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On the gorge slope below the parking area, in a hollow on the north side of a large (I recall) oak, one early sunny spring morning I discovered the last resting place of a deer. Only the bones and some fur remained, the visible portion resembles the Capitulum and trochlea of a human arm bone and, indeed, there was a scapula close by. The season is evoked by the unfurling fern against the based of the oak.

Dark, Unwritten Forest Secrets
Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

The Thaw at Taughannock Falls

A Friday Evening Stroll through a February Thaw

Pam and I were drawn outside the day after Valentine’s a bit of sun, an unreliable warm breeze, a promise of exercise. Our expectations were disappointed for all but the last at the foot of the Taughannock Falls gorge trail.

We had a reminder mid-February marks the start of avian mating behavior with this addition to the view from Taughannock Creek, the first large waterfall. For the cold, drizzly excursion I chose the IPhone, in a waterproof case, for the images. The fanicful birdhouse inscription reads “The Old Birds from Pa.”

Click the photograph for my “Finger Lakes Memories” Online gallery.

The winding gorge takes a general east, southeasterly direction. Where the sun cannot reach the snow was reduced to a treacherous slushy ice mix more nasty than dangerous.

View from the Overlook on the way to the trail. This is the endpoint of our hike, viewed from the gorge rim.

Of all the area hiking experiences, Taughannock Gorge Trail is the only one available year round. The gorge is wide with enough room for the footpath to avoid the cliff edge. Today, there were places were ice formations were throwing large ice chunks down the slope. The park ranges place tree trunks along the cliff base, with warning signs to stay away. Still, there are visitors who stray too close with fatal outcomes reported by local news.

Pam was fascinated by the appearance of snow and ice accumulated on the talus, here seen from the Taughannock Falls viewing bridge.

Click photograph for my “Finger Lakes Memories” online gallery. Photo by Pam.

You can just pick out the viewing bridge in the Falls Overlook video.

Click photograph for my “Finger Lakes Memories” Online Gallery.
Photo by Pam.

Taughannock Falls bound by ice is a most dramatic sight. I need to post photographs from a 2005 visit during an especially frigid February. Here, the falls have thrown off the ice, leaving this house-size chunk.

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The surrounding gorge walls are continually frost coated by the mist.

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210 foot Taughannock Falls from the viewing bridge.

In more clement seasons the Gorge Trail ends much closer to the falls. Today, it was closed as, during winter and especially thaws, blocks of the sandstone cap break away to fall with great force across that part of the trail. This viewing area is visible in the Falls Overlook video.

Taughannock Gorge Trail late winter hike

sights during a 4 mile hike on icy trails around Taughannock Gorge

Wednesday afternoon this week my exercise was a 4 mile hike around the Taughannock Falls Gorge on the north and south rim trail. I parked at the Overlook and took in a view of Taughannock Falls in the gorge below.

The video and pics are from my Apple IPhone.

I then headed south on the North Rim Trail. It was slow going because the trail was solid ice in many places. Throughout the walk was evidence of the great work of the park maintence crew preparing for spring.

A bridge over the creek transitions from the North to South Rim trails. Here is an overview of the dramatic site below this bridge.

The trail ice forced me off onto the Gorge Road that parallels the trail. Even without the ice, a portion of the trail is closed for the winter due to dangerous conditions. There are interesting sites along this road.

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Walking downhill only this medium-sized bark is visible, the road curves around to bring into view a tiny farmhouse, now abondoned, dwarfed by the barn.

I took a detour to explore a small cemetery just off Gorge Road on a shelf above the Taughannock Farms Inn.

Overview of this small cemetery overlooking Cayuga Lake

The lower falls is another worthy detour before I rejoined the Rim trail to climb up the north side of the gorge.

One of many Rim Trail overlooks. That is the Gorge Trail, below.

In this approximate 4 miles there is a 2088 foot change in altitude (1044 up and down). I took my time for an enjoyable 2 hours.

An Afternoon’s Exercise Around Taughannock Gorge

Yesterday afternoon was bright, sunny enough for me to break out of the winter exercise routine for a walk around Taughannock Falls, a New York State Park 7.5 miles from the front door through farmland and small villages with views of Cayuga Lake.

The route around the gorge, following the North and South Rim trails with a side trip to the edge of Cayuga Lake is 3 miles with a modest elevation change of about 500 feet.

My route began at the top with a cell phone, from the Falls Overlook, there is a gradual slope, until the end where flights of steep stone steps end at the gorge floor. The steps were free of ice and snow.

These photographs are from the cell phone. Here is the lake and a portion of the gorge. Yes, the lake is a dark blue on sunny days and is ice free this year. Another trail follows the gorge floor to below the falls, I opted out of the additional 1.5 miles today in the interest of finishing well before sunset.

Click any photograph to visit my Fine Art version of Taughannock Falls.

Taughannock Gorge and Cayuga Lake from the North Rim Trail – CLICK ME for my Fine Art version of Taughannock Falls.

I have a few versions of these South Rim Trail stone steps taken at this perfect time of day, the low sun through the trees. Built in the 1930s by Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corp, the steps and the entire trail are a work of art.

Climbing up from the gorge to the South Rim Trail – CLICK ME for my Fine Art version of Taughannock Falls.

The far view of Taughannock Falls always fascinated me. I’ve never done it justice. There are several view points from the South Rim, overlooking the gorge were it bends to the south with only the upper third of the falls visible. The flow today was photogenic. I used the cell phone zoom to catch the view between the trunks of two trees.

View of the falls from the South Rim – CLICK ME for my Fine Art version of Taughannock Falls.

The top of the south rim was the only ice. It is there through April some years. Here is the closest, full view of Taughannock Falls from the North Rim. It is the same view you will find in my Fine Art version of the falls.

View of the falls from the North Rim – CLICK ME for the Fine Art version of Taughannock Falls.

And a cell phone video of the falls for the full effect.

Enjoy!!

Last Hike

A sllideshow

Thank You for exploring the South Rim trail of Taughannock Falls State Park on the last perfectly sunny autumn day of 2019.

A sunny November Walk

Click photograph for a larger view. To do this from WordPress Reader, you need to first click the title of this post to open a new page.

Click me for the first post of this series, “Cuteness Break.”