May 3 – more wildflowers and bugs

I took my plant class to the Burton Cave Nature Preserve.  It’s near Quincy, but not many people know about it.  I used maps to get there, but it was difficult.  One of the students was driving her little Honda, and the last road was little more than a muddy track.  It turned out to be a bonanza of spring wildflowers, nearly as good as Fall Creek. 

Trillium was in abundance.

We’ve been seeing Red Admirals fairly frequently.

Jack-in-the-Pulpit.  They were huge in there.

Strange purple bracket fungus.

I know this one is edible, but I can’t remember its name.  Looks like a pancake.

The common, local, terrestrial snail.

Devil’s Urn, Urnula craterium.  It’s a common spring cup fungus.

We never did find the darn cave.  Next time I’ll go with someone who knows the place.  We saw a snake, but it was just another red-sided garter.  As we were walking along, one student asked, “Could we find mushrooms here?”  I looked down and at that moment spotted a morel.  I said, “Yes, we can!”  I found one more a few minutes later, but that was it. 

Wednesday the Environmental class went out to Lowell’s.  We put up some bird nest “boxes” that were not actually boxes but hollow logs I had scavenged last summer.  We hung them on posts Lowell had already put up out in a meadow.

This skipper was sunning itself.

These are the flower buds of fragrant sumac.  They’re fuzzy.

Another tiger beetle.  I can’t resist them.

Most of the students left when we were done, but Shawn stayed and we fished one round of the lake.  I think I caught two bass and missed 3 other bites.  Lowell caught a bluegill.  We hunted mushrooms after that, but all I found was a couple of rotten ones.  I picked three ticks off my back and neck later. 

Thursday the plant class went to Quinsippi Island.  There’s mostly silver maples and cottonwoods there, but we did see a few new plants.

This common green darner was taking a rest.

They cleared all the trees from the front of the light house.  Now its easy to see and photograph from the south end of the island.

Saturday we went to Quincy for plant sales and garage sales.  We got a few good plants.  I’m probably the only one who bought horsetail ferns, but I love the things and hope I can get them to grow in the wet part of the yard.  We were looking through the garage sales in the classified ads in the paper, and found one that listed “Poo bedding.”  I sure hope they meant “Winnie the Pooh bedding.” We got some good deals at the garage sales.  I picked up a Kenwood CD changer that I thought would plug into the Taurus, but it won’t.  It only cost me $1.  I got a wine concentrate kit (a shiraz) for $5.  The cheapest one I found online was $80.  I won’t start it until the pear wine is done.  The pear is the strongest fermentation I’ve had in years.  We went to the grand opening of the Petco.  Gretchen had fun meeting people, but she still had bad manners with some dogs.  She got down and practically cowered in front of a little toddler.  I was amazed.  Normally she puts her front feet up on people.  The toddler touched her hair and stuff.  It was cute.  We bought an insane amount of toys.

Sunday we stayed home and did yard work.  We planted the plants we had gotten on Saturday.  I went around and weeded as much as I could.  There were a lot of new bush honeysuckle seedlings coming up.  I took some downed branches to the brush dump and brought back a full load of firewood.  I found there also a nice wooden fishing rod rack.  Too bad it only holds 8 rods.  For those who don’t know me, that’s not nearly enough.  I thought I was all done in the yard when I realized I still had to mow the lawn.  I was almost done with the front part when I heard (over the roar of the mower and my earplugs) a squeal as a car pulled over to the side of the road.  I thought sure they’d had a blowout.  But when the guy got out he said they didn’t.  I went over to look.  The outer tie rod end had come off it’s ball, leaving the right wheel unsteerable.  Good thing it didn’t happen on the highway at 65 mph.  I got out my crowbar and turned the wheel with it so they could back up and get off the road more.  Then I thought maybe I could get the tie bar back on the ball at least temporarily.  It took two attempts, but I had the guy turn the steering wheel until the ball and cap were aligned, and I knocked the cap down on to the ball with the crowbar.  I followed them down to senior housing and it held.  At least they didn’t have to get a tow on a Sunday.

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