First Day

Spring Equinox

Thank You for exploring with me the South Rim trail of Taughannock Falls State Park on this first day of Spring 2023.

Photographs with video from this walk, with nature sounds and music in 4K HD
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Click me for another Taughannock post, “Cuteness Break.”

Lake on Early Spring Afternoon

Out of Season Dandelion

A willow, nurtured by Cayuga Inlet waters, with a bench.

All photographs are from the Apple IPhone 14 ProMax, raw format and perfected on the phone.

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Stenciled on asphalt pavement along the Cayuga Lake Inlet, the white paint delimits dandelion flower stalk and seedhead, mostly denuded, with floating seeds held aloft by the pappus.

A circular bench that has seen better days, a hollowed out tree trunk repurposed as a children’s playgound house, picnic benches and, in background, a portion of the Farmer’s Market pavilion, to the right is Johnson Boatyard, Cayuga Inlet and lake. This is the Steamboat Landing, historically the southern port on Cayuga Lake. The entire area is long overdue for a facelift.

Painted on the side of restroom building, various shades of blue, black outlines, something or other holding a trident surrounded by fanciful fish.

On the trail to Lighthouse Point, this tree is in fine winter form on this early spring afternoon in March. Newman Municipal Golf Course

Cayuga Lake Views from Lighthouse Point

Copyright 2023 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Typha

cattails

These two views of Imogene Powers Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity across Sapsucker Woods Pond on a March afternoon are separated by 12 months, a year. Wilson Trail, Sapsucker Woods, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, Tompkins County, New York.

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2023 using the IPhone 14 ProMax triple camera, raw format, edited on the phone

In the foreground is the cattail plant, the North American species Typha latifolia.  There are over 30 species in this useful genera. 

2022 using the IPhone 7 back camera

Culinary

Many parts of the Typha plant are edible to humans. Before the plant flowers, the tender inside of the shoots can be squeezed out and eaten raw or cooked. The starchy rhizomes are nutritious with a protein content comparable to that of maize or rice. They can be processed into flour with 266 kcal per 100 grams and are most often harvested from late autumn to early spring. They are fibrous, and the starch must be scraped or sucked from the tough fibers.  Baby shoots emerging from the rhizomes, which are sometimes subterranean, can be picked and eaten raw. Also underground is a carbohydrate lump which can be peeled and eaten raw or cooked like a potato. The plant is one championed by survival experts because various parts can be eaten throughout the year. Plants growing in polluted water can accumulate lead and pesticide residues in their rhizomes, and these should not be eaten.

The rind of young stems can be peeled off, and the tender white heart inside can be eaten raw or boiled and eaten like asparagus. This food has been popular among the Cossacks in Russia and has been called “Cossack asparagus.” The leaf bases can be eaten raw or cooked, especially in late spring when they are young and tender. In early summer the sheath can be removed from the developing green flower spike, which can then be boiled and eaten like corn on the cob. In mid-summer when the male flowers are mature, the pollen can be collected and used as a flour supplement or thickener.

Agriculture

The seeds have a high linoleic acid content and can be used to feed cattle and chickens. They can also be found in African countries like Ghana.

Harvesting cattail removes nutrients from the wetland that would otherwise return via the decomposition of decaying plant matter.  Floating mats of cattails remove nutrients from eutrophic bodies of freshwater.

Building material

For local native tribes around Lake Titicaca in Peru and Bolivia, Typha were among the most important plants and every part of the plant had multiple uses. For example, they were used to construct rafts and other boats.

During World War II, the United States Navy used the down of Typha as a substitute for kapok in life vests and aviation jackets. Tests showed that even after 100 hours of submersion, the buoyancy was still effective.

Typha are used as thermal insulation in buildings as an organic alternative to conventional insulating materials such as glass wool or stone wool.

Paper

Typha stems and leaves can be used to make paper. It is strong with a heavy texture and it is hard to bleach, so it is not suitable for industrial production of graphical paper. In 1853, considerable amounts of cattail paper were produced in New York, due to a shortage of raw materials.[33] In 1948, French scientists tested methods for annual harvesting of the leaves. Because of the high cost, these methods were abandoned, no further research was done. Today Typha is used to make decorative paper.

Fiber

Fibers up to 4 meters long can be obtained from the stems when they are treated mechanically or chemically with sodium hydroxide. The stem fibers resemble jute and can be used to produce raw textiles. The leaf fibers can be used as an alternative to cotton and linen in clothing. The yield of leaf fiber is 30 to 40 percent and Typha glauca can produce 7 to 10 tons per hectare annually.

Biofuel

Typha can be used as a source of starch to produce ethanol. Because of their high productivity in northern latitudes, Typha are considered to be a bioenergy crop.

Other

The seed hairs were used by some indigenous peoples of the Americas[which?] as tinder for starting fires. Some tribes also used Typha down to line moccasins, and for bedding, diapers, baby powder, and cradleboards. One Native American word for Typha meant “fruit for papoose’s bed”. Typha down is still used in some areas to stuff clothing items and pillows. Typha can be dipped in wax or fat and then lit as a candle, the stem serving as a wick. Without the use of wax or fat it will smolder slowly, somewhat like incense, and may repel insects.

The flower stalks can be made into chopsticks. The leaves can be treated to weave into baskets, mats, or sandals. The rushes are harvested and the leaves often dried for later use in chair seats. Re-wetted, the leaves are twisted and wrapped around the chair rungs to form a densely woven seat that is then stuffed (usually with the left over rush).

Small-scale experiments have indicated that Typha are able to remove arsenic from drinking water.[37][38] The boiled rootstocks have been used as a diuretic for increasing urination, or mashed to make a jelly-like paste for sores, boils, wounds, burns, scabs, and smallpox pustules.

Cattail pollen is used as a banker source of food for predatory insects and mites (such as Amblyseius swirskii) in greenhouses. The cattail, or, as it is commonly referred to in the American Midwest, the sausage tail, has been the subject of multiple artist renditions, gaining popularity in the mid-twentieth century. The term, sausage tail, derives from the similarity that cattails have with sausages, a name given to the plant by the Midwest Polish community who had noticed a striking similarity between the plant and a common Polish dish, kiełbasa. 

Copyright 2023 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Nature and Big Names

barns by other names

View of Imogene Powers Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity from an unnamed boardwalk on an unnamed path from the parking lot. Sapsucker Woods, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, Tompkins County, New York

From an unnamed boardwalk on an unnamed path from the parking lot. Sapsucker Woods, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, Tompkins County, New York

An iced over, thawing in the March sunshine, leads to a view of Kip’s Barn that, I believe, is named for Austin Kiplinger (Cornell Graduate of 1939) the longest serving trustee in Cornell history.

Click me for more information https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2015/11/legendary-cornellian-austin-kiplinger-39-dies-age-97

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Copyright 2023 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Stippling

After the farm

All photographs are from the Apple IPhone 14 ProMax, raw format and perfected on the phone.

Click Me for more photographic art from my OnLine Gallery, “Finger Lakes Memories.”

I wanted a shot of manifold vertical lines. I think the landscape orientation develops the texture of snow stippling. The elevated wooden walkway traverses wetland, these young trees established on slightly higher ground.

Portrait orientation emphasizes these young trees reach for the sun, rising from former farmland, off West Trail

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Copyright 2023 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Holding On

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day

Elms throughout the understory of Sapsucker Woods provide late autumn golden color, here on the West Trail after snowfall, holding on until spring. Cornell University Lab of Ornithology Sapsucker Woods, Ithaca, Tompkins County, New York

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Copyright 2023 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Habitat

Home to frogs and turtles, this perennial pond is part of Sapsucker Woods of Cornell University Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, Tompkins County, New York

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Copyright 2023 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Thermogenic

Plant Identification

Can you spot the Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus)? Hint: the plant emits heat, melting surrounding snow.

I cannot remember, don’t recall (?), the identification of those long stalks. Dear readers: can you identify?

Eastern skunk cabbage belongs to a select group of thermogenic plants for its capacity to create temperatures of up to 15–35 °C (59–95 °F) above air temperature through cyanide–resistant cellular respiration (via alternative oxidase) in order to melt its way through frozen ground.

One mechanism behind maintaining heat around the plant is the thermogenic oscillation of the spadix: Independent of light, a precise thermal regulator is produced by an oscillatory temperature-sensing model in the spadix under dynamic external temperature variations. An equilibrium between heat production and loss, due to heat radiation, evaporation, conduction and convention is maintained in the spadix. Additionally, the airflow around the spathe effectively maintains heat generated by the spadix.

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Reference on the thermogenic features: Wikipedia, “Skunk Cabbage.”

Copyright 2018 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Home to Birds and Trees

Fuertes Bird Sanctuary / Renwick Wood

This large sign found along the Cayuga Waterfront Trial at the entrance to Renwick Woods. It provides the origin story (floodplain, delta of Fall Creek), how it came to be conserved and the importance of the place to birds.

The original entrance to the Fuertes Bird Sanctuary, now called Renwick Wood, was marked by this arch, designed by Louis Agassiz Fuertes, dedicated June 10, 1917.

The professor was born February 7, 1874, at Ithaca, the son of Prof. Estevan Antonio and Mary Stone (Perry) Fuertes. He was graduated by Cornell with the degree of A.B., in 1897, and married Margaret F. Sumner of Ithaca, in 1904. Since 1898 he had been a painter of birds.

Professor Fuentes illustrated such volumes as “Birding on a Broncho,” “Citizen Bird,” Song Birds and “Water Fowls.” His permanent work included habitat groups in the American Museum of Natural History; 25 decorative panels for F.M. Brewster, at New Haven, Conn., birds of New York at the State Museum, Albany; murals in the Flamingo Hotel, at Miami, Fla., paintings for the New York Zoological Society, Bronx. (Source: Find a Grave)

Misshapen tree trunk on the shore of Fall Creek, Renwick Woods

The flowers of this small shrub identify it as a member of the Rose family. The berries I captured in the following photograph are edible (non-poisonous), though astringent. Autumn time, the leaves turn red. It is native to eastern North America. I found these berrys along the Renwick Wood trail.

A pair of Mallard ducks foraging along a Fall Creek bayou on the edge of Renwick Woods where Stewart Park begins.

Ithaca Fire Department was training at their facility on Pier Road, next to Newman Golf Course, and across Fall Creek from Renwick Woods.

Copyright 2023 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Happening on Cayuga Lake

Wave Riders

Pam and I have sailed past Crowbar Point, the arm of land projecting into the lake on left, so we know this end of Cayuga Lake well. The lake reach northward is deceiving as the bulk of the 39-mile reach is north of the headlands of the west lakeshore visible in the distance as the apparent end of the lake.

I love the pale blue of late February / early March skies.

Also known as White Willow, for the white undersides of the leaves that flash in the wind. These flourish on the southernmost shore of Cayuga Lake.

Here is a video of a large gathering of Canadian Geese, multitudes landing to ride lake waves on an unsettled, windy March afternoon.

Copyright 2023 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved