Saturday, February 25, 2017

Botany and Barley




Stooping to free myself from a tangle of greenbriar on this early morning walk, I checked for Barley. Fifty paces back, he was a statue in the forest, nose glued to the ground, gathering information about the night shift. The level area around me was above the creek, where supple-jack grows in profusion, green and brown vines intertwined, the new green spirals winding around unwary cedars and dogwood trees. A thin spiral of supple-jack will start up a tree, subtle as sin, then grow and bring the tree to its knees before eventually uprooting it. Of course, the supple-jack comes down with the tree. Make of it what you will.




Don’t get me wrong; I don’t mean to disparage supple-jack completely. Many wild birds, including wild turkeys and bobwhite quail, dine on the fruit. The vines also make good perches for birds. A vine harvested last year formed an arching perch over our birdbath. It was broken recently, and the remains were useful only as something for Barley to carry around. I cut a few strands to take its place.




The walk up the hollow used to be an easy one, but since the 2009 ice storm, much of the area is obstructed with downfall, bleached bones of once stately trees. Searching for a clear path, I had turned up the bank from the creek bed and walked through shoulder high weeds along a deer highway that widened into a bedding area, then split off into narrow paths. One of the trails led back toward the bottom to the flat area where I now stood.




A few steps down from the flat was water, and Barley had come to life and found it before I did. It doesn’t take much to make him happy. A spring gurgles out from the rocky hillside and forms a creek that flows into pools where polliwogs and watercress grow. There are many springs here, but the kind that run all year are referred to as everlasting springs. The presence of watercress is a mute testimony to this.




Years ago, up a little further, I found wild hibiscus growing out of a rock ledge beside the creek. I’m not sure what I was hoping to find Sunday, but the clock turned me back before any notable discoveries were made. Though, on the way back, I saw several black and white feathers scattered on the ground, about 7” long. From the number of them there, it seemed likely that the bird they came from wouldn’t be needing them any more.

Back home, Don and I speculated about what kind of bird gave up the feathers. Don guessed a red headed woodpecker, or possibly a pileated. “Or maybe an ivory billed”, I suggested. “Good luck with that one”, Don grinned.

One of my college professors gave an assignment each semester for students to go out in the country on a clear night, lay on the ground for an hour facing the sky, and think about God. (The times were safer, and they didn’t have ticks there.) It was a worthwhile exercise, and I came away with even more awe of the One who scattered the stars in space.

I get the same feeling in the hollow, this place without distractions, surrounded by God’s creation. I came back refreshed, and with only one tick, a reminder that we are in this world and not the next.




Linking with Wild Bird Wednesday



13 comments:

Felicia said...

the supple jack is interesting. love the bluebird shot.

Lady Fi said...

Gorgeous shots of the birds - and, of course, of beautiful Barley.

hannah said...

Masterful and joyous.

Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Beautiful images, well done.. Cheers

Mary Cromer said...

Your dog is always such a beauty and I know he has as much fun on your walks as you do. The Bluebird is delightfully lovely. Yes those look much like Pileated feathers that I have seen when the Hawks take one and leave the feathers below. Have a blessed week Connie~

Brian King said...

Those are gorgeous photos! Love the vine as a perch!

eileeninmd said...

Hello, cute birds and I love your dog Barley! The bluebird is one of my favorite birds. Great photos. Happy Tuesday, enjoy your day!

Sue (this n that) said...

Hello Connie, it was lovely to read what you had to say about your countryside.
The supple-jack sounds like it can be lethal to trees but has other uses... pretty as a posing perch for those gorgeous birds. Barley is a beautiful dog - it's a lovely photo with his twirly stick!
So nice to visit you, cheerio for now :D)

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

A fantastic photo of the bluebird on the twisty vine (supplejack I think you said, a new one to me)

Judy Biggerstaff said...

Nice shots of the bluebird, titmouse and dog. Interesting.

Stewart M said...

What a great post - liked the words and pictures.

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

Chris Rohrer said...

Beautiful shots around that little twisty vine. I love the pooch!!!

Anita Johnson said...

I could barely get passed the photo of the bluebird...wow...love the curly sticks.....we have some corkscrew willow in the wetland. I like to look at the stars too....I think about God speaking the world into existence. And singing over us.
I'm so glad I stopped by here!