Back to the future

I put my photos where I can see them.

Often, that means putting them in a slide show on my computer desktop, so that a bunch of them scroll through. It draws my attention back to images I may have forgotten about. Here are a few of them I’ve been reminded of lately, which has been really refreshing since I’ve been at my desk instead of out in the field quite a bit lately.

at Babcock-Webb Wildlife Management Area

The simplest plants are my favorites to photograph. This is a thistle, an ordinary roadside or ruderal weed. I took this picture on a recent hike with my husband in the Babcock-Webb Wildlife Management Area. He had not been there before, but it was a formative place for me. When I first decided to nurture and cultivate my sciency side, I began teaching myself plant identification and wetland delineation. There is a seasonal wetland at BWWMA that is considered a reference wetland by the state, so I took myself there and taught it to me. (The weird grammar is intentional.) Sharing that with my husband, revisiting that place before I move away, that was important. That little wetland was where I overcame my own fears of being alone in the woods, of running into dangerous snakes on every palmetto frond, of being something. Going there, learning those things made me into something new and different than what I had been before.

Notice how much energy the plant devotes to the prickly parts…the prickly parts are as important as the pretty parts…

The amazing color and details of such an ordinary flower…aren’t we all like that?

"mouse skin"

I put my finger close to this thing for some scale. It’s pretty small, buff-colored, soft and furry.

When the kids were little, we’d find these in our yard. At first, it was a real mystery what they were. Kind of stiff, curled, and so furry… We decided that they were the skins of mice that met some kind of strange and unfortunate demise.  Then, one day, I paid attention to context. The mouse-skins were always near a very old, somewhat sickly, but valiant magnolia tree in the front yard. I looked up. Mystery solved. They were covers from the magnolia flower buds. I’m sure there’s a proper botanical name for them, but I don’t know it.

When I saw this in Maclay Gardens in Tallahassee a few weeks ago, I was on a quiet walk to clear my head and calm down after getting started down the new job pathway. I had walked through the Gardens for a while and was on a more informal path when I saw them. Once again, I was temporarily stymied. Then I was thrown back in time. Those days when the children were little and full of wonder, wide-eyed and willing to walk in the low-tide mud with me and pick up almost any creature we found.

They are still like that, thank God, still in wonder of creation and picking up creatures. The middle child even has her own bug collection and the oldest impresses professional naturey-type people with her extensive knowledge of plants and Florida habitats, an avocation for her.

As I watched the oldest take her last (pretty much) carload of stuff to her new apartment in her new town, three hours away, I thought about mouse-skins and Girl Scouts and Peter Pan/Robin Hood costumes and jelly shoes…and thought about how fast and how slow and how precious those days have passed.

One thought on “Back to the future

  1. I would imagine that mouse-skin is called a peduncle or peduncular bract. I used to chase girls with those “Mouse-skins” in elementary school. Little boys are sooooo stoopid, I know!

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