Archive for December, 2014

Among the Fossils

Buffy and I commonly walk loops around the backyard. The loop passes solitary rocks, piles of rocks … rocks and more rocks.

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This particular loop walk took me by a small pile of fossil rocks. I turned the longest rock over to see what fossils were on the underside, and there was a teeny-tiny spider.

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It’s body was 3/16th of an inch long! The stripes on its abdomen became obvious when I turned the rock toward the sun.


The rock was filled with brachiopods (shells) and the round discs of crinoid stems.

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 It looked as if the spider was over a cavity. I wondered where it would spend the winter. Would it even survive the winter?

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After a little research, I now think it was an immature daddy-long-legs. Its legs were definitely LONG!

I was so surprised to find a spider on the 17th of December, especially such a teeny one.

Stone Creatures

January of 2005, my mother and I were hiking in southeastern Illinois. We met another hiker and somehow got on the subject of yellow lady slipper orchids (whose locations are usually top secret.) This gentleman told us where a small colony of them grew.

Needless to say, we went there, with plans to return in the spring when they would be blooming.


It was cold. It was a remote area. It was beautiful.


I took this picture because of the designs in the rock. While going through picture files recently, I came across this picture and realized it had several “stone faces.”

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I cropped this picture to better show the stone creatures.

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This and the last picture show two other sections of the rock.

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The more I looked, the more creatures I found.

I do have to wonder how so many faces were created in a such a relatively small area.

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A band of sandstone and iron created much different designs.


These designs are called liesegang rings (or bands) and can be quite dramatic at times. These look like hieroglyphics on a scroll. Wish I could interpret.


It was difficult to head for home and leave all the beauty and solitude.

A Fascinating Design


Designs in nature can be so fascinating.


Especially this intricate design in a chunk of a long-dead tree.

Eagle Mountain

I’ve waited and waited for a sunny day so I could take a picture of the range of hills called Eagle Mountain. Today I finally gave up and took several pictures anyway. The arrow points to roughly to where the road starts up, and the road continues on past the right edge of the picture a little ways.

It’s a sad time now where Eagle Mountain’s concerned.


A strong thunderstorm early last summer washed out deep gullies in the road up the first hill. There is the option of going in from the opposite end of the road, which is 30 miles from here. The county doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to fix the road. Of course, I don’t blame them with all the use it gets from ATVs, off-road mudding trucks, etc. The road is roughly four miles long, — four adventurous up-and-down miles, according to the weather. The land is a mixture of private and Shawnee National Forest land. Turkey and deer hunters flock in during the hunting seasons.


So, at this time, all I have are memories and files of pictures.


Buffy’s look, “What’s taking you so long?


This is a wet-weather creek, meaning the creek can be dry, shallow as above, or so high and fast there’s no crossing it.


The creek narrows as the elevation gradually increases.


Ripples create yellow-rimmed shadows.

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Ripples in the ice create the yellow designs and the shadows in between.


Trees growing along the creek need a strong extensive root system. Heavy rains result in high, fast-moving water.


Mosses and lichens are quite common on the rocky slopes.


Yellow ochre results from the iron designs in some of the rocks.


Obviously, there’s red ochre too.


This was a fresh spring morning, with birds singing.


Obviously, this was a beautiful fall day.


This hill is around the corner in the third picture in this blog. It’s steep, rocky slope makes it difficult to climb up from any direction.


One time Buffy and I went up to the bluff, then to the left and found these rock designs, called liesagang bands. There were so many that it was a momentous occasion, which I blogged:


And … the walk back toward the truck.

A Little-Known Bird Fact


I came across these blue jay feathers on a short hike recently.

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They reminded me of the robin that nested near where I often sat under the catalpa tree in our backyard last summer.

This reminded me of all the years I worked with kids — Girl Scout leader 9 years, gave programs at schools and science fairs. Not to mention all the years my kids and I hiked and camped often … real often.


Teachers often mentioned taking bird nests to school to show their class.


The point of all this is …

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 makes it illegal to possess live native birds, bird feathers, nests and eggs. This also includes road-kills.

 Legally taken game birds, like ducks, dove, geese are an exception during their hunting season.

Pine Cone Pattern


The cloudy morning


didn’t cast shadows to alter the attractive patterns of the pine cone.

Under a Full Moon

I know these pictures are a tad strange and suggest leaning back to view them.

Back in the early 90’s I wrote and illustrated weekly nature articles for several local newspapers. This meant I spent a lot of time hiking and camping in nature. I illustrated each article with an ink drawing. I also own 33 acres that is now a registered land and water reserve, translating to one step below a nature preserve.

My goal was to see the different plant communities in different weather, at different times of day and in the different seasons.

One winter full moon started out cloudy, and I had planned to go to my land and paint small watercolor pictures by moonlight. The sky partially cleared. I suited up and hurried the seven miles down there.


Water ran in the creek, and snow blanketed the ground.

No flashlight was used. This first picture was viewing across the creek, with moonlight hitting the water, and trees casting their shadows across it.


This was painted after I crossed the creek and where a trail started up the hill.

I painted with colors I couldn’t see.


The night was humid and the paint didn’t dry.


I became immersed in the night, the full moon … heard a barred owl hooting and coyotes calling.


My last painting was of the grassy barrens with the wooded ravine in the background.

That night stayed with me for a long time. These pictures hang in my bedroom, and occasionally take me back to that special night.

Backlit Fall Leaves

I came across these fall pictures while looking for other pictures. They were taken the end of October.


The combination of the colors, patterns and backlighting of the sumac leaves


created dramatic results.


I admired them for several days then,


and felt like sharing them today for a pick-me-up on this a cloudy, rainy, cold fall day.

Persimmon “Patch”

We have a 2-acre yard with a thick overgrown shrub border edging the back part.


A persimmon tree grows against our neighbor’s fence.


Every time Buffy and I go outside, she heads straight for the persimmons … and has selective hearing when I call her.


The persimmons are drying and wrinkled now. With many still remaining on the tree, she and other wildlife will probably enjoy them for a while yet.

Ice Encrusted

Luckily, a recent ice storm didn’t produce the amount that was forecast.

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A thin layer of ice encrusted most surfaces.

While walking a loop around the backyard, a short dead tree with lots of lichens caught my attention. One of my lichen books calls this a blister lichen, and my other one calls it a star rosette lichen. It also goes by Physcia stellaris. It is commonly found on deciduous trees.

 A lichen is actually two plants living in a symbotic relationship — a  fungi and algae. The fungus provides a moist habitat for the algae to live in, and it also supplies the algae with nutrients as it decomposes the surface it’s growing on.

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Nature has such artistic abilities.