Crow’s Nest: Summer love

June 30, 2020

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager.

Photo: Daniel Barringer

While I’m not nuts about high heat, humidity, or insects swarming or biting, I do love summer. It’s an easy living time of year. I don’t have to be up for hours before daylight the way I do in the winter, nor spend 20 minutes layering up for working outdoors. I can sit on the porch in the evenings. I regard the preserve as a summer vacation spot (good thing, this year!) even though I can still see all the work that needs to be done.

There is so much to discover on the preserve that I wish I had more time to walk around and observe. While pruning on the Creek Trail I saw this stern-looking sentinel, an American toad (Anaxyrus americanus; last time I typed this genus name it was still Bufo).

Photo: Daniel Barringer

In the woods I came upon this spotted wintergreen (Chimaphila maculata). This is the way we usually see it, looking down on it. It is also called striped wintergreen, striped prince’s pine, spotted pipsissewa, ratsbane, or rheumatism-root (according to a Wikipedia entry on the species). This webpage further explains that the word pipsissewa is reportedly derived from the Creek Tribe (Muskogean language) “pipsisikweu,” meaning “breaks into small pieces” relating to the supposed ability to break up gallstones and kidney stones.

I also wanted to look at this plant from a different side, so took a photo from below:

Photo: Daniel Barringer

Finally, the catalpa tree (Catalpa speciosa) is blooming in our yard right now, and you can see it as you walk up the trail (gray trail arrow signs) that leads past the house. Perhaps even more charming than the short-lived flowers is the gnarled form of the trunks. That we can enjoy any time of year, which also makes me glad that we experience such a dramatic change of seasons.

Photo: Daniel Barringer