Thursday, June 28, 2012

Back to School....

Well, I did it, I'm back in school, in pursuit of a graduate degree. Oh my, it's been quite a month. Wish me luck: the last time I was in formal classes we used carbon paper. Yikes!  

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Between The Wet & The Dry

We’re officially four days into summer and the southern tip of the state is currently in a drought.  In the northern reaches of Illinois we are much drier than normal.  Lately I find myself in the peculiar mindset of rooting for the clouds to gather together and rain, and feeling dejected when - like today - promising looking storm clouds pass by leaving a sunny, cheery, and dry morning.

Over the weekend E and I traveled up to Moraine Hills State Park to hike around. Signs of the tension between dry and wet were easily seen.  The wetlands around Lake Defiance were quite dry. The boardwalks that skirted the lake rested in dried brown cattail stems.  The piers that jutted into the lake itself were surrounded by lily pads and duckweed. The late morning scene was very quiet, save for a couple of noisy Redwing Blackbirds. Possibly the most memorable sight was seeing a male Blackbird hopping from lily pad to lily pad, walking over the surface of the water with ease.

Off the boardwalk the trail led into a shady grove of small moraines.  The canopy overhead was dominated by oaks, growing quite happily in the ancient dry heaps of gravel and rock. The only clue of drought in view were patches of brown, knee-high umbrellas of Mayapples covering the forest floor.  They usually dry up come summer, but these seemed gone a little too soon.

Our walk was brief, a loop of maybe four miles.  One benefit of these dry times is the relative absence of mosquitoes. Flies would occasionally give chase, but I think we noted one or two skeeters along the route.   I kept my eyes open for blackberries, but we only saw a couple bearing fruit.  The blackberries were sweet, but seemed a little stunted from the lack of moisture.

Back home we returned to the normal summer pursuits of watering the gardens and firing up the grill.  The “midsummer” Fourth of July holiday looms and after sunset we hear fireworks set off by the neighbors.  One lone firefly blinked in transit across the evening lawn.  They say it might reach 100 this week, and people are comparing this to the (authentically)  bad old summer of 1988.

And we hope for the rains to return.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Afield #18

Cook County, IL :: 2012

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

This Old Hedge

I'm ashamed to admit that it's been a little while since I posted anything about hedgerows. This working for a living......oh, no excuses.... Okay, I hope this image scratches the itch like a nasty old hawthorn - ahem - like the lovely ones pictured below from distant Wales:  

A tip of the cap to Martin Evans for allowing me to share this image from the geograph website (a big favorite here at the world HQ).  I have come to learn that Mr. Evans also happens to be a member of the Telegraph Pole Appreciation Society.  How cool is that?!  I wonder if it's open to Yanks?

Kids, it's moments like this when my eccentric (for an American) affection for hedgerows pays off . Just look where this odd path led me today. This is simply an amazing world, I don't care what anyone else tells you.        

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Garden Visitor

Wilmette, IL :: 2012

Transit of Venus, again...

A projected image of the setting Sun - with Venus in tow - from last week.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

I never promised you a....

.... but this one looked pretty good , eh?

Cook County,IL :: 2012

Monday, June 04, 2012

Transit of Venus

Wake up North Americans! The Transit of Venus will take place tomorrow night for many of us. Wherever you are NASA will be hosting a webcast of our celestial sister as she parades across the Sun. Good stuff!

Image Credit: NASA