Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Wildlife ate my perennial flowers every year, so to spite them I planted spring onions all around the house where flowers should go, and the onions grow unmolested and naturalize into huge crops, ready just now. An Asian cookbook showed me several new and strange recipes using scallions and other store-bought vegetables and fruits I'd bought too much of, simply because spring makes me do that, and I had to get cooking today.

In the photos, please see:

Korean Stir-Fry Noodles (cabbage, carrot, mushroom, scallions, with bean thread noodles and black sesame seeds); Hot and Sour Soup (with tofu cubes); Scallion Flatbread (unleavened, skillet-fried); and Two-Banana Salad made with bananas and banana peppers, thus its name; a taste sensation with lime juice and soy sauce, it definitely requires the use of bananas less ripe than mine, and chopped peanuts to top it off; it was the day's only misfire. Asian Asparagus-Spinach Salad I'll make tomorrow; today I made one familiar recipe, the Italian-flag Antipasto Bowl with steamed asparagus and mozzarella. Also shown, an inspirational bunch of homegrown scallions.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Just Add Watcher

As I walked along the road, fleabane--a favorite perennial wildflower from the aster family, which doesn't ban fleas--bloomed, here in white, there in pink and in between, with shadings. Attempts to conclude or prove that the pink tinge indicates particularly alkaline soil in that specific spot kind of fell apart, so it's a surmise, but I observed that all flowered at the road's edge and within a few yards of each other, which I wouldn't have noticed from a car.

Clover, also appearing in shades of pink, is more definite: It's one or the other, except in cases that look (and probably taste) like strawberry sundaes, especially to tiny bugs:

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Is This Pollution?

Knock me over with a feather, this little pool way back in the woods turns out to have all-natural soap suds. As you know, soap is made from plants. Running enough water over decaying leaves and logs releases "surfactants" like the those in your Joy and Suave bottles that lift and dissolve oils. The woodland surfactants form a near-invisible film on top of water, most of the time. But pool the rushing water and churn it in a cove or a tiny pool like this one, and do it for a while, and suds appear naturally.

Most times in unpolluted conditions these natural suds are 99 percent water and air and 1 percent surfactant, so foam appears only under exacting conditions, and cannot be used as soap. It's just for looking at. This foam is white, but it can be off-white or tan. So relax. Unpolluted spots on earth still exist!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Wet Woods

May in Missouri is known for its dearth of mushrooms after April's rush for morels--which I ended up buying, 10 ounces at $2 an ounce. That's all I wanted: a mere taste. The question is, when their season is over, what's next?
Some corkin' thunderstorms poured and hailed on us the last few days, and in the saturated woods, enjoying water as it rushed down rills and waterfalls, incidentally eyeing every tree and square inch of earth for edible fungi that I knew would not be there until June, today found only buggy and waterlogged oyster mushrooms on my favorite oyster log, and some inedibles: fawn mushrooms and turkey tail. But then my eyes alit on this elegant ivory-colored creature, about nine inches long. According to the handbook, because it was living in wet forest-floor leaf litter it could be a Rough Earth Snake or Western Earth Snake, or a juvenile version of another kind of snake. It was patient while I took several different glamour shots. I was lucky to have been looking at the ground, and pleased to have met  it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Almost a Walk at Glassberg

The new Nikon came in a bag, not a box, and it looked and felt so flimsy, so disappointing, next to the (3x more expensive) 2004 camera it replaced, but compact and light, it has wireless capability, and even a socket for a tripod, which was what sold me, and a 20x zoom lens, positively staggering zoom power for a camera of that price. Furthermore, the 256MB memory cards for the old camera are scarce--256 GB is more common these days--and as a nature photographer I'd rather have 20x zoom than the old camera's 8x zoom.

So I took the new flimsy thing on its inaugural nature walk at Glassberg, or the Glassberg Family Conservation Area, 429 acres with three established trails to choose from. First I find that the camera doesn't even have eyelets for a neckstrap, only a wrist strap. It's like the horror of carrying a clutch purse all evening, or a water bottle all the way through a hike.

Rather too near the point at which recreation becomes diminishment (too much work! too much working out! too many phone calls!), the new camera gave me the motivation to at least walk as far as I could and try it out. And it took these photos, exclusive to springtime, of an unnamed brook that feeds into the mighty LaBarque, and a small lively swimming pool for tadpoles. I'd love to know what they're thinking. Next, after I spend a few days in bed: an attempt at night photography to capture the exclusive-to-spring meadow knee-deep in fireflies. The genius of Creation is in its excess.