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Author Topic: Moods and Walks- Ponderings and Meanderings in Alberta  (Read 11652 times)

cohan

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Re: Moods and Walks- Ponderings and Meanderings in Alberta
« Reply #60 on: September 14, 2020, 11:48:02 PM »
I mentioned above that I was looking for a patch of ferns, which I had not looked for in several years. I did, happily find them-- one or two fronds at first, then more :) the colony seems still healthy and likely still spreading gently.. A little digging, suggests *probably* this is Gymnocarpium / Oak Fern ( Ironic name, in an oakless land!  but then we have various 'maritima' species, thousands of miles from the ocean...).. probably G. disjunctum, which was previously a subspecies of G. dryopteris. These are tiny things no more than 10-20cm or so tall. they grow in the moist shady north edge of a mixed wood area bordering an open wetland strip on one side, and more open, mesic woods on the other side. They grow among  long fallen willows ( the locals, with trunks never more than a few to 6 inches diameter) , moss and other forbs- Cornus canadensis, Viola renifolia, Mertensia, Fragaria, Equisetum, Carex. The fairly deep shade means not a lot of vegetation to attract cows, which has likely been important in preserving their habitat.
1-3 views of the plants

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4,5 views of the habitat-- standing just south of the ferns, in the edge of the mesic woods, with denser ground cover; the ferns are under the trees, where less groundcover is seen; past the trees is the grassy wetland area.

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cohan

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Re: Moods and Walks- Ponderings and Meanderings in Alberta
« Reply #61 on: September 15, 2020, 12:04:10 AM »
In the poem I mention the covens of Robins (American Robin / Turdus migratorius - more closely related to the English Blackbird, I think) in an old field. The way they grouped, looking up to keep an eye on me, while hunting for their meals really had an uncanny look :) Among our most characterful birds, for sure. This small field ( in the family it was always call the Little Field) is off on its own, far from the other cultivated areas or farmyard, out in the middle of the 'bush'. When I was young, there was an old threshing machine parked outside it ( no idea when or by whom that was moved-- there is a place up the road where someone has a collection of them rusting away lining a field). In those days it was a regular field, sometimes cultivated then alternately sown to hay... The fence has long since been removed, and it is no longer tilled or hayed, just part of the pastureland (mix of meadow/woodland/wetland). It remains popular with the cattle that are on the land over the summer season, and is grazed lower and more evenly than most of the farm. There is a nice large colony of Antennaria out there, which has been there since my teen years, with plants with both white and pink flowers, my first exposures to the tiny silver delights of that genus.

1,2 Robins up to their arcane business, the air full of insects and thistle fluff.. longer bits of grass likely indicate bits of wood and/or piles of cow dung!

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cohan

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Re: Moods and Walks- Ponderings and Meanderings in Alberta
« Reply #62 on: September 15, 2020, 12:16:18 AM »
Last set.
1- I've seen 3-4 scattered plants of Cotoneaster in the bush on the farm, presumably bird-sown from plants in someone's yard. Not sure if anyone has them nearby, or if they are from hedges in one of the towns... Not sure of species, they have black fruit and really nice fall colour.( I most often notice them in fall, when they stand out from the vaguely similarly shaped Shepherdia, which does not change colour much). The one closest to home seems to have been seriously eaten back this year, whether by cows or moose I don't know.. this was a new individual to me...



2-Potentilla norvegica; not the showiest of Cinquefoils, and can be a bit weedy, though it is no problem for me in the garden-- I sometimes leave them in spots that are underplanted, they are pleasant, and create a lot of biomass to be absorbed back into the soil. Although they can grow anywhere with disturbed soil, and are not at all fussy in the garden, in the wild they are most likely (but not exclusive) to be in wetland/edge. As we see here, they can get some nice end of season colour.

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3- I've mentioned the number of Ribes species here-- in general they are good for signs of life early in spring, and great fall colour in many different shades, from early in the season. In the first photo, it was probably a damaged branch, since the rest is green..

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5- One of the several dragonfly species that have been numerous this year, this one is  a smallish red.

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Hoy

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Re: Moods and Walks- Ponderings and Meanderings in Alberta
« Reply #63 on: September 15, 2020, 08:44:13 PM »
No shortage of ferns here! I think I have at least 10 different species around here.

I too hate to disturb the lichens! I always get bad conscience when I have to cross some of the hills covered by fruticose lichens.
Trond Hoy, gardening on the rainy west coast of Norway.

cohan

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Re: Moods and Walks- Ponderings and Meanderings in Alberta
« Reply #64 on: September 16, 2020, 05:30:39 AM »
No shortage of ferns here! I think I have at least 10 different species around here.

I too hate to disturb the lichens! I always get bad conscience when I have to cross some of the hills covered by fruticose lichens.
I looked for another fern on this walk, a larger species, where I had seen exactly one plant over a few years, I wasn't able to find it, not sure if it is gone, or I just missed it....  There are other species in the foothills and mountains, probably some other species that could grow around here, I suspect they are another thing that does not appreciate cattle, and do better in ungrazed areas... We do also have Botrychium around, including on the acreage.
Usually here the foliose lichens are easily enough avoided when walking, since the growth is not so extensive... there are some large patches on the acreage in mowed areas, and these are tough things-- I walk on them, run the mower over, etc, they are just fine..

Hoy

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Re: Moods and Walks- Ponderings and Meanderings in Alberta
« Reply #65 on: September 17, 2020, 07:24:51 AM »
I looked up your Robin. It has the same colours that our Robin has but is bigger. And it looks more like a blackbird in form. Our Robin is very trusty. It is often sitting on my spade when I dig in the garden! Have to be careful not to hurt it.

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Trond Hoy, gardening on the rainy west coast of Norway.

cohan

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Re: Moods and Walks- Ponderings and Meanderings in Alberta
« Reply #66 on: September 17, 2020, 05:10:22 PM »
I looked up your Robin. It has the same colours that our Robin has but is bigger. And it looks more like a blackbird in form. Our Robin is very trusty. It is often sitting on my spade when I dig in the garden! Have to be careful not to hurt it.

Yes, American Robin is Turdus, which I think is the same genus as European Blackbird (we have an entirely different genus called Blackbirds here, they are marsh birds). They are quite  used to people, especially in towns, no doubt, but not so much as to sit on the spade! I think in places where they are really used to people ( all country birds are more wary than town ones) they might hang around looking for you to dig up worms-- they can follow tractors in the field for that..

cohan

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Re: Moods and Walks- Ponderings and Meanderings in Alberta
« Reply #67 on: September 18, 2020, 10:09:25 PM »
In many recent years we've had significant smoky periods in summer, from fires in other parts of Alberta, B.C. and/or the U.S.-- often partly or mainly very far away-- quite shocking how far major amounts of smoke can travel! This season having tended to be cool and wet in much of AB and B.C., plus covid lockdowns reducing the number of people in the backcountry (in particular, reductions in off road vehicles, I've read) reduced the human caused fires, so it has been a quieter than usual fire season in western Canada, unlike the western U.S., so we've had no smoky periods until now!
We had several days of chilly, damp (but no significant rain) cloudy weather, with haze starting to drift in, now it is sunnier and warmer, with the haze/smoke increasing-- today it actually looks orange from inside.. a couple of photos from the car, wed and thurs... May not yet be that smoky here, but a co-worker yesterday was already complaining about the smoke affecting her asthma... imagine for those actually in the fire zones, serious health problem..

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Looking out the window a little after noon... hard to capture accurately, but looks about like sunset colour, not that dark, though... (Yes, this rock garden needs weeding...lol)

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Hoy

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Re: Moods and Walks- Ponderings and Meanderings in Alberta
« Reply #68 on: September 19, 2020, 08:13:39 AM »
We rarely have smoky air here but they say we probably will see the smoke today - high up in the atmosphere we will not smell it but the sunrise and sunset will be redder than usual. (If it is not too cloudy!)
Trond Hoy, gardening on the rainy west coast of Norway.

ashley

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Re: Moods and Walks- Ponderings and Meanderings in Alberta
« Reply #69 on: September 19, 2020, 08:16:51 PM »
Here too the evening sun was extraordinarily red.
Ashley Allshire, Cork, Ireland

cohan

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Re: Moods and Walks- Ponderings and Meanderings in Alberta
« Reply #70 on: September 21, 2020, 07:25:51 PM »
Hard to get an accurate photo-- the sun was very red, sky darkish, gloomy but not dark at ground level, this was still at least a couple of hours from sunset, 3 days ago.... it has since cleared a lot with change of wind direction, we'll see what it looks like out on the road...

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Hoy

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Re: Moods and Walks- Ponderings and Meanderings in Alberta
« Reply #71 on: September 21, 2020, 08:11:59 PM »
Smoky air has been seen in S Norway but not here at the west coast because it is too cloudy and rainy.

BTW your Cotoneaster looks like the C. lucidus I have in my garden.
Trond Hoy, gardening on the rainy west coast of Norway.

cohan

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Re: Moods and Walks- Ponderings and Meanderings in Alberta
« Reply #72 on: September 26, 2020, 06:42:33 PM »
Smoky air has been seen in S Norway but not here at the west coast because it is too cloudy and rainy.

BTW your Cotoneaster looks like the C. lucidus I have in my garden.

I saw a satellite graphic showing the plume of smoke crossing the Atlantic... scary and impressive! Much clearer here recently.

C. lucidus sounds kind of familiar, probably someone suggested it before.. whatever it is, they are commonly planted as hedges in towns, so  not too surprising the birds eat some berries there and come poop out here!

cohan

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Re: Moods and Walks- Ponderings and Meanderings in Alberta
« Reply #73 on: September 27, 2020, 05:38:21 PM »
Another turning of the seasons has come, occasions that have come to be more interesting and meaningful to me than some of the mainstream commercial/ex-Christian holidays-- some of you will have seen that I've been digging into the 'old ways' via my mom's Latvian heritage, and other bits. My aim is not to literally worship any pantheon or literally resurrect a way of life from pre-history, but rather to learn from people who (with their own set of foibles and errors) were clearly more directly connected to the natural world around them- by necessity if nothing else! I find paying attention to the rhythms of the seasons gives interest, beauty, calm and a reminder that we are never really stuck in one spot (or weather!) in life for long!



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Autumn here is lovely, with colour beginning in the forbs, shrubs and grasses, spreading into the trees where it reaches a brief glorious peak and settles back into the understory for weeks more before gradually slipping into the more subtle palette that leads into winter. At the same time, in this cold climate, there is an undercurrent of expectation of winter-- another beautiful season, but with extra work (cutting wood, shovelling snow), extra stress (driving conditions, though we are pretty lucky here) and extra time spent daily on simple things like getting dressed to go outdoors! So for me there is a certain tension with the beauty of autumn.
Add to that the fact that my mother passed away on Sept 23, a couple of years ago, and the Equinox now marks that anniversary for me as well.

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So, I marked the occasion (under bright sun and blue skies for the first and only day in a little while!) by making an altar or offering, to honour the season, the land, my mother's memory, with things chosen from the acreage specifically for one or all of those purposes.

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More details of the altar, thoughts on Equinox observances, and other photos in my blog post-
https://cohanmagazine.blogspot.com/2020/09/autumn-equinox-offering-and-celebration.html

cohan

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Re: Moods and Walks- Ponderings and Meanderings in Alberta
« Reply #74 on: September 27, 2020, 05:45:40 PM »
More images from that day's wandering on the acreage-- plucking stems, leaves, flowers, thinking about the bounty of the land and my mother's life... these are all natives growing wild.
1- Cornus canadensis and Maianthemum canadense

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2- Eurybia conspicua-- sometimes called Wood Aster, but don't be fooled, it will not generally flower in shade, though it will make nice vegetative stands of robust foliage which turns all sorts of colours in autumn.

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3-Cornus canadensis again-- which can turn brilliant colours or not at all, depending on the site-- with Petasites frigidus palmatus and aspen leaves

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4- Viburnum edule (which turns brilliant red in sun, interesting pale colours in shade, this one is mid-range) with Eurybia conspicua (also turns from whitish, to pink, gold, deep purples and reds)

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