Sunrise 97: Ault Park (Misty Mountain, Compass Flowers, Beetles, Oak Stump)
I’ve skipped the last several wet overcast mornings but today at 7:00am I ventured out into the humid streets to Ault Park. The sunrise this morning was at 7:22am, the latest so far. Looking back, Sunrise 1 was at 7:14am. I’ve broken through the calendar symmetry and am now proceeding into new territory! I never regret going out in a misty morning, especially on such a temperate day as today. The temperature was in the mid sixties, and other than some light fog here and there I didn’t get too wet.
It’s amazing how heavy my legs felt after taking a few days off. The climb up to the park was a good workout, and by the time I got up there I was ready for my coffee and a break. I discovered several new happenings at the Overlook, including a new replacement bench for the one that was destroyed by vandals, and it looks like the park service cut down the dead oak tree.
I came up with a great idea for what to do with the dead oak tree, but unfortunately it looks like my idea came about a week too late. I realized that this dead oak would have been an excellent opportunity to create one of those stump carvings that I’ve seen in the neighborhood. The stump is probably too low now to do anything with. It would have been a beautiful piece of art. Here’s an example that I found on the way home:
I ended up making up for lost time and took about 40 pictures this morning through the gardens and around the overlook. I’ll just go ahead and put up the front page disclaimer now!
If you’re on the front page, please click to continue reading. I do this so that the front page doesn’t become too slow for older computers with lower amounts of memory. Click over here to check out the other 30 pictures: —>
The misty basin of the valley; Armleder Park
I found a friend on the bench. This is a harmless “Grand Daddy Longlegs”, an insect that is not actually a spider. Also known as a Harvestman.
I counted between 89 and 92 rings. That’d place the age of this oak tree to within 10 years of Ault Park’s founding, seeing as how Ault Park recently celebrated its 100 year anniversary. One of the original trees planted by the first park crew of Ault Park.
I’d like to think that the lines that “burst” out from the center of the tree are stretch marks from a young oak tree growing quickly at the top of Ault Park in the late 1920s. I imagine that the tree was watered by hand in the early years of its life, before the root system was mature enough to tap into the water table. I wonder what we can tell about the funding of the park service by how large the early rings are in this tree?
An overly dramatic picture featuring the silhouette of the shaft of the dead oak tree. I hope they leave it to rot. As the fungi and micro organisms tear apart the wood, it will return the carbon back to the local ecosystem.
As I reach for my helmet, I start to brush away a “tuft” of hair that was just inside. Good thing I double checked, I wouldn’t want to hurt our friend Mr. Harvestman. I picked him up (they don’t bite, you know) and dropped him off in the bushes.
Before heading home, I swung through the arboretum. The grass and leaves wore a deep and healthy shade of green. With a wet spring and the last two weeks of rainy season, the plants are certainly going through a second growth spurt. By now the late summer flowers are blooming.
On my way out of the Arboretum, this view caught my eye. The garden was overflowing with these tall yellow flowers. Upon close inspection, I realized that these are the same flowers that are blooming beautifully, and in the wild, down in Armleder Park. I even took several pictures of them just the other day as their fresh blooms shone against the morning sun.
When I found them in the prairie, I called them “prairie sunflowers”. With a bit of general googling of terms such as “yellow prairie flowers” with a touch of “late summer bloom”, I uncovered through an image search that these are actually what are known as “Compass Plants”. They are often compared to sunflowers, and they are native to the Central East of North America. Their Latin name is “Silphium Laciniatum” and they are considered to be “classic prairie flowers”. I think it’s neat that Ault Park’s flower gardens contain species of local flora. Surprisingly, or perhaps not due their hardy nature, the flowers down in Armleder Park’s prairie look just as healthy as their cousins up here in Ault Park.
A macro shot of the compass plant flower. Here we see more evidence of the Fibonacci spiral
Did you know that these bumblebees get “drunk”, in a way, on the pollen? They don’t care one bit that I’m up close and in their business. I can even reach out and pet them on the back. It’s quite a comforting feeling, knowing that there is almost zero risk of being stung. Yellow jackets, on the other hand, I could do without.
The bumblebees who had a penchant for purple were busy paying these purple flowers a visit. They must be able to smell pollen, or at least undisturbed pollen, because they would peek their head into a purple flower but quickly pull back and try another one. Or maybe they’re just picky.
This is actually my chili plant given to me by my buddy Tom. A Puerto Rican Aji Caballero. It just *loves* this weather and it is exploding in new growth and flowers. No one told it that Autumn is coming. I’m trying to water it several times a day and feed it once a week just so I can hopefully harvest this round of peppers, which I think I’ll get at least 60 or more, before the first frost.