Friday, June 29, 2007

You Were Warned

Readers were warned last week that I like to take photos of farmer lilies and that you were likely to see more on this page. So you shouldn't be surprised by today's photo.

That said, the real reason you're seeing this photo today is that the weather hasn't yet cleared after storms ovenight, so getting an interesting photo this morning wasn't possible.

I was lucky last night. The storms were neither intense nor long-lasting. The rain was odd, though. Last night my Maine Coon cat Ben (who should be named Total Destruction) had to go to the vet's for a routine shot. Naturally, just as it was time to leave, the skies opened up in a torrent of rain. The rain held off until I opened the cabin door to leave. By the time I reached the car door just 10 steps from the cabin, I was soaked and carrying a very unhappy cat. By the time I'd driven to the bottom of the lane, about 1/8 of a mile, there were puddles. By the time I was out the gates and starting up the hill, water was streaming down the road and the gullies were nearly full. I almost pulled off the road as I could barely see to drive.

But I kept going, and in another half mile the sky looked a bit brighter. The vet's is just a 10 minute drive away, on the other side of the mountain. And as soon as I got to the other side of the mountain, the road was dry. They hadn't had a drop of rain. I arrived soaked to the skin. As the crows fly, the vet's office is about 2 miles from the cabin. And in that short distance the difference was no rain versus hoping I still had Noah on speed dial and that the ark hadn't left yet.

When I got back to the cabin just 20 minutes later the cloudburst was over. I'd had just under three-quarters of an inch of rain in about 10 minutes or so. Weird, huh?

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Last night I picked the first of this season’s black raspberries, which are possibly my favorite berry. I didn’t get a lot in this first picking, just a heaping half-cup or so. This year’s crop will be an improvement over last year when I barely got enough for a few servings. It’s not, however, going to be large enough for me to freeze any, I’m afraid.

It will likely be the weekend before the next batch is ripe enough to pick. The good news about this season’s crop is that the berries currently appear to have a wide variation in their level of ripeness. I saw everything from black to red to just barely pink to hardly formed. I’m hoping that means I will get to enjoy them over a wider length of time than is typical.

Dog enjoys them too, but since they are my favorite berry, I don’t let him have many. One time two or three years ago I was picking berries with Dog in tow. He saw me pick one and pop it into my mouth. He immediately did the same thing, pulling a berry off a lower stem with his teeth, leaving the leaves and stem intact. I was floored. Who would ever think that even a very smart dog like Dog would immediately decide that my picking and eating a berry would result in his attempt to do the same thing the first time he saw it? And do it so carefully without damaging the rest of the plant? And in the third place, who would ever think that a dog would like black raspberries? Another reason I keep him from picking raspberries is that he makes little differentiation between ripe and unripe berries. He may be smart but his palate isn’t well developed.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Summer Days

My photo today is yet another plant that has multiple names. I think the correct common name is purple ironweed, but in this area it’s more usually called purple butterfly weed. The kind of butterfly weed you’re most likely to see in a garden is orange or sometimes red. The flowers of those are densely packed, and butterflies love them. The purple ironweed or butterfly weed is also a big favorite with butterflies, though the flowers aren’t nearly as dense.

Summer is settling in at Roundtop. The weather is now regularly turning hazy, hot and humid. So far, the evenings have cooled off well enough. I don’t have air conditioning, though the tree canopy protects me from much of the hottest weather. The temperature drops 3-4 degrees as soon as I am out of the city, and drops another 3-4 degrees, at least, as soon as I enter the cover of the woods. I have all the cabin windows open, and even the slightest breeze is welcome. Last night a hawk moth of some species fluttered against my bedroom window, attracted by my reading light. These are lovely, large moths, not quite as large as a luna moth, but not much smaller either. I couldn’t make a specific identification of this one as I only saw its underside from inside the cabin. So far, I haven’t been able to get a photo, but I’m working on it.

The first of the wild black raspberries are just about ready to pick. In fact, if it doesn’t storm this evening, (and it well might) I will likely pick a few to use on my oatmeal tomorrow morning. Some years I harvest them by the boxful, but other years they are scarce. Last year they were scarce. I think this year will be better but I’m not expecting to get boxes of them.

Mama raccoon has finally brought out her baby and invited him or her onto my front deck, much to the outrage of Baby Dog. I knew as soon as I heard mama’s soft whistle that junior was in tow. The sound is one I’ve only heard a mama raccoon make when the babies are along. So I peeked out the front door and saw the young one, who wasn’t brave enough to come fully onto the deck, but settled instead on the top step while mama checked the deck for bits of food.

Summer is a lovely, slow time on the mountain. Most activity is restricted to the cooler hours of early morning and near sunset. None of the animals or birds seem in much of a rush to do anything. The pace is slower and at least appears relaxed. I try to mimic that pace and that feeling, though I am not as successful as the creatures around me.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

An Oddity

Deer are all over the place at Roundtop but I don’t usually see them out in the open next to the parking lots. This doe was likely getting water from the pond that’s just out of this picture. It was a bit odd that she was in no hurry to leave once I approached, though. It’s possible that she was enjoying being away from the deerflies.

Deerflies are nasty, biting and persistent flies that are out in force right now. It’s their persistence that’s the worst. I’ve often had the same one circling my head the entire time I’m out walking Dog or Baby Dog. I can walk a mile out of the woods, and the same fly is still there, buzzing around my face, looking for an opportunity to land and bite. They are worst in the woods, and usually, eventually, leave when I am well out in the open. So I can appreciate, at least a little, why a deer would want go get away from that annoyance. At least I can go inside the cabin to get away from them. This doe doesn’t have a fawn with her, but she probably has one or two hidden nearby.
And yes, it really is as hazy this morning as it looks in this photo. Summer is definitely here for at least the next several days. Hazy, hot and humid is the forecast until the next round of storms comes along to clear it out.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Gypsy Moth Damage

I hope you can see the brown areas in my photo. I was on the way to town one day this weekend when I came over the hill and saw this in front of me.
The brown areas are gypsy moth damage. The moths prefer oak trees, and in this area most of the trees are oaks.
Roundtop is on the south side of the valley from this mountain and so far is unaffected by the moths. And it's because I am currently unaffected that this scene, just 5 miles or so to the north, was so surprising. I hope Roundtop remains unaffected, but I know how these moths work, traveling several miles each season, leaving devastated areas behind them. Roundtop is likely safe for the rest of this year, but next year is a big unknown. This may be the picture of what is to come in my neck of the woods.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Farmer Lilies in Bloom!

In this area, these flowers are called farmer lilies. Apparently, nearly everywhere else they are called tiger lilies and apparently also “ditch” lilies, which certainly is a good, if not elegant, description of where they like to grow. This variety is a native plant and is both hardy and perennial. It grows happily in wetter areas (like ditches) and seems to prefer poor soil. The plant has few if any insect or disease problems, though snails and slugs can damage it.

The roots were eaten by native Americans for medicinal use, mostly for nausea apparently. There is also a non-native cultivated flower with the same name that grows from bulbs. This native version is tuberous and can simply be divided and planted where you want them.

I’m assuming the local name of farmer lilies came because this was a plant preferred by farm wives, who likely had little extra cash to buy flowers but soon learned that this plant could be dug up from the local cow pasture and planted in front of the farmhouse. The plants are certainly the showiest of the local wildflowers. It isn’t uncommon to see them lining the edge of a roadside for half a mile or more, hundreds of flowers in bloom at once. It doesn’t get any showier than that!

The flowers bloom for weeks, closing up each night and opening again in the morning sun. I find them all over the place, even on the mountain at Roundtop. I find them along roads and paths, at the edges of the slopes, all over the place but I never get tired of seeing them. Or photographing them, so let's just say I'm giving my readers fair warning that this won't be the last photo of them you are likely to see this summer.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Summer Solstice

Today is the year’s longest day, which frankly, this far south isn’t all that long. Sunset is about 8:45 p.m. (at least at my cabin where the sun goes behind the mountain to the west). It’s pretty dark in the woods by 9 p.m., though the sky stays too light to see many stars through around 9:30 p.m. or so.

On the shortest day of the year, it is dark by around 4:45 p.m. Of course, by then we are back on the ever-shrinking “standard” time, so the difference in the amount of daylight in the evening direction between the longest and the shortest day is really just 3 hours.

In the morning, it’s now fairly light by around 5:15 a.m., though sunrise isn’t until 5:45 or so. In winter, sunrise is around 7:30-ish a.m. (but again on standard time). After I account for the time change, the total difference in daylight hours between the longest day and the shortest one is really just a bit more than 4.5 hours. In other words, it’s not all that much, though the time change helps to make it seem like more.

My photo today is a view back towards the slopes of Roundtop from a nearby orchard. It’s the first orchard I come to, the first open land after leaving the mountain. In fact, this orchard is still on a fairly high piece of ground (but orchards like that good drainage). The valley is still 500 feet or so in elevation below this point.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night..

Boy, was it ever!
What a storm! I felt like I was in The Wizard of Oz. I got home from work just moments before the big thunderstorm hit. I quickly took the dogs outside the moment I arrived, urging them to hurry while the lightning lit the sky and thunder crashed in the not-very-distance.

If I've ever had a worse thunderstorm I can't remember it, though memory is an odd thing. The passage of time makes storms from previous years seem less intense than the most recent one. I feel safe in saying that this was by far the worst thunderstorm I’ve had in several years, but for accuracy’s sake I probably shouldn’t say it was the worst one ever. (But I think it was)

At 5:30 p.m. it suddenly got as dark as midnight--and this is no exaggeration. I started thinking about the possibility of a tornado and turned on the weather radio. No tornado warnings were posted, which made me feel only a little better. What if the tornado was forming over my head? That wouldn’t be on the weather radio yet, would it?

Lightning was close and got closer with each flash. The storm seemed to be all around the cabin. It wasn’t the kind of storm that I can hear coming from the north or the west, that passes overhead and then continues on to the south or east. This storm was all around, and all of it was close, with multiple lightning strikes within half a mile. Then I saw a huge flash through an east window, heard the crack of wood splintering followed by the sound of thunder so loud it was like an explosion. The strike sounded as though it was at the end of my driveway. I figured that any resulting fire would be doused by the torrential rain that was falling, as I certainly wasn’t about to go outside to investigate. The lights went out but miraculously came back on almost immediately. The storm went on and on. I thought it would never end.

Eventually, finally, the storm went past. I had just under 2" of rain in about an hour. This morning was the first I could investigate the outside in daylight, but I didn’t find anything out there in pieces. None of the trees looked as though they’d be split by lightning. Nothing lay in pieces on the forest floor.
This morning I've decided it got so dark during the storm because I must have been inside the thunderstorm cloud. Since I'm up on the mountain I'm higher than elsewhere, and I think I was inside that black cloud. There's downed trees, wires and flooding all over the local area. I'm lucky I didn't have any damage. Boy, what a night!
My photo today was taken after I got off the mountain--where it was still too overcast and dark for a photo. The view is looking to the northwest, still overcast but already with hints of clearing.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Summer Shadows

Summer brings a different quality of light to the Appalachian forest. It’s not just the season’s leaves that alter the pattern of shadows. The sun is as far north on the horizon as it will ever be, so the sun shines at a higher angle than it does in the winter. It is this steeper angle of sun that creates different seasonal lighting effects throughout the forest, as much as the presence or absence of leaves.

So all this is simply the explanation leading up to what it means when I say that now it looks like summer in the forest. It’s not just the leaves. It’s not just the temperature or the hazy skies. It’s the sunlight and how it looks that now says “summer” to my eye.

Monday, June 18, 2007

A Weekend Walk

I took a walk into the woods on Sunday, a warm hazy day that felt like the first true day of summer. I followed one of the old dirt logging roads that winds across the mountain and then down towards its base and along the valley. For this walk, I stayed higher up on the hill and didn’t go down by the creek. Deerflies are starting to be annoying right now. By staying higher on the hill, even a faint breeze helped keep them at bay. I saw several deer, including a buck who’s antlers were already above his ears, and with just a wide knob where the tines will branch. I’ve also been seeing a doe who comes out of the woods and walks down the pond. I think the deerflies were bothering her too, as she seems to be spending more time in the open than she was just last week. I’m sure she has at least one fawn in the dense thicket, but she hasn’t brought them out into the open yet.

I also saw a doe with two smaller deer—not fawns but likely last year’s fawns. It was not long after dawn, and they came out to the big new pond for water. After they sipped as much as they wanted, they ran around the bank, chasing each other and running, apparently just for the enjoyment of it.

The woods are very dense right now. I can’t see more than 10-15 feet into them unless I find a spot where a few downed trees create a bit of an opening. All weekend long I’ve been hearing the yellow-billed cuckoo calling all over the mountain. I suspect it hasn’t found a mate. Unfortunately, this isn’t a surprise as the birds are pretty uncommon. I hear it in the early morning and again in the evening. It really doesn’t make a sound that in any way says “cuckoo.” If anything, to me it sounds a little bit like a single “coo” similar to a dove’s. Except that this “coo” is loud, and even “coo” doesn’t describe it very well. I haven’t seen this cuckoo at all this year. But I will hear it call constantly for a minute or two. Then it will be silent but I’ll hear it again in a different spot a minute or so later. Sometimes it’s nearer, sometimes further away. Sometimes I hear in on the north side of the mountain, sometimes to the south or west of me. But I only ever hear one.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Goose Parade

The Canada Geese babies were out for a walk last evening. The babies are growing fast, though they are still down-covered. Apparently, it takes a village to raise goslings as well as children, as all the local geese were out helping to shepherd the three babies between the ski slopes and the pond.

Although it is not yet summer, the greenery is already losing that bright, almost neon green shade of early spring. The greens I’m seeing now are a deeper shade, the rich emeralds of early summer.

I am anxious to head deeper into the woods this weekend to explore. This past week the weather was uncooperative, with storms nearly every evening, so today I find it has been almost a full week since I have gone much beyond the cabin door. That is an unusual length of time for me to be so limited, and I an anxious to see what I’ve missed. The weekend is calling. The mountains are calling, and it is time to answer that call.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

After the Storms

More storms pushed across the mountain last night, though I was snug and dry in my cabin. This morning the sky is clearing, with patches of sun showing through, only to be covered up by clouds a minute or so later, followed by drizzle a minute after that, and then more sun. I took this morning’s photo during a brief sunny moment, with the long shadows stretching across the rain-soaked grass near Roundtop’s upper entrance.

Before I got back to the cabin, the drizzle started again. I didn’t mind getting a bit damp. The gentle drops felt comforting and made me feel more a part of the landscape than I would have had I been shielded from it. Instead I was sharing in the bounty of the rain with the forest around me. The drops on my face were more moisturizing than the best department store concoction.

The air has freshened now that storms are finally through and reminds me of a northern coastal area—Nova Scotia, perhaps. I can almost imagine a fog horn in the distance. Instead, this morning the Appalachian birds were in full voice. Even songs that had quieted with the start of the nesting season were raised with the clearing weather. I heard bluebirds, ovenbirds, wood thrush, indigo bunting, crow, towhee, chipping sparrow, peewees, phoebes, cardinals, mockingbirds and even the local Canada geese got into the act with some drama of their own. Of course, geese don’t need much excuse for drama, but that’s a topic for another day.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Foggy Mountain Drama

It was simply too much to hope that one day of no drama (see yesterday's post) might soon be repeated. Yesterday and last evening, storms rolled over the mountain, bringing heavy rain and a dramatic sound and light show that rattled the windows and made the cats run under the bed. This morning, the sky was still thick with clouds. Whether you prefer to call the result a smoky mountain or a blue mountain, both were true this beautiful morning.

Any day this fine calls me to spend the day outside, searching out its mysteries. And there are always mysteries. And every day is this fine.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

No Drama

I can easily understand why summer days are called “lazy” days. True, it’s not officially summer yet, but the woods already have that feel to it. I have no high dramas to report, no more foxes barking in the driveway, no unusual birds to identify. I haven’t seen any new fawns yet this year, though barely a morning passes without seeing at least a few deer. This morning Dog spotted several far up on a slope and was hoping to give chase, despite the leash and me on the end of it.

Summer’s lazy days are more than just a natural reaction to higher temperatures. The local birds are nesting, so they are quieter and less obvious than was typical earlier in the year or even in winter. The deer that have fawns are keeping them close and not bringing them out into the open where instinct tells them that danger lurks. The spring flowers that were so brilliant just a week or so ago are already fading or being overwhelmed by the amount of non-flowering greenery that grows ever taller and ever thicker.

The woods are quieting, the drama of spring diminishing, the drama of fall yet far away.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Thunder in the Distance

This weekend I found myself drawn, photographically at least, to things that weren’t green. I have nothing against the color green, but there’s so much of it the woods right now. And for the most part, the green is pretty monochromatic. Not the stuff of great photos, at least not for the mood I was in.

So my photo this morning is of a storm cloud against the blue sky. Friday night I had quite a storm, though I missed it all. I was away from the cabin on my weekly grocery run for a mere 50 minutes, and just 7 miles from the cabin. It was mostly sunny when I left the cabin, and when I came out of the grocery store the sky looked as though a storm was brewing. But as I was driving back, perhaps two miles from the store, I first saw a damp road, then a mile or so further and I started seeing puddles, Another mile further and suddenly I’m seeing water rushing along the road. Another mile after that and water is rushing across the road, leaving muddy tracks and various bits of greenery behind. When I got back to the cabin, the sun was out again. I’d had nearly .75 inch of rain in what must have been just a few minutes. I’d missed it all.

Other than the storm, the other bit of excitement happened Sunday morning around 4:30 a.m. I was awakened by the sound of a fox bark. It sounded as though the fox was under the cabin, though I think it was right beside it. The bark woke up the dogs, who joined in the barking. The fox barked several times again, each time a little further away. I believe it was running up my driveway. Dog and Baby Dog were still barking. The cats ran. So much for sleeping in.
Several explanations for the fox(es) are possible. One is that the foxes were out hunting in the early morning. Another is that they are a mated pair and were possibly out exercising the kits. Certainly, there was a lot of barking involved, as though added communication was needed. I never did get back to sleep afterwards.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Roundtop's Newest Residents

These little cuties are baby Red-winged Blackbirds. I expect they are only a few days old.
This morning is hazy and foggy--and not in a good way photographically. A storm is to come through later today and clear things out, but in the meantime I needed something for today's post. So I was out looking for something to photograph that the haze and humidity wouldn't impact adversely. I was vaguely intrigued by a stand of cat o'nine tails along the edge of one of the ponds and thought the gentle curves of the plants might make an interesting photograph.
As I neared the spot, a male Red-winged Blackbird flew out of the cat 'o nine tails, which was hardly a surprise. The cat o'nine tails are the only spot on Roundtop where I can find Red-winged Blackbirds. So I kept walking. At the edge of the pond, the blackbird racket suddenly increased dramatically, and I realized a nest must be nearby. I stopped, unwilling to go any closer or disturb them any more than I already had. And then I saw the nest.
The nest is only a few inches above the water line, in the base of the cat o'nine tails. I'm sure there are two babies in the nest, possibly a third. I didn't want to get any closer or move the plants aside to check for sure, so I just grabbed a quick shot and retreated.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Bird on a Wire

My photo today is an Eastern Kingbird, a bird of grasslands, not a forest. Here at Roundtop, the "grasslands" are the ski slopes, which apparently are suitable enough for the kingbirds. In some years, I've only seen a single pair but this year multiple pairs are around. Perhaps they are birds who were fledged here, perhaps not. In any event, this species is plentiful this year.

And speaking of plentiful species: as much as I think Chipping Sparrows are cute little things, I'd really like to see more variety in the sparrows around the mountain. If I see 500 sparrows here in summer, 499 of them will be chipping sparrows and one will be a song sparrow. Even cute wears a bit thin after a while.

I've been hearing a Yellow-billed cuckoo in the mornings when I walk Dog. The bird hasn't been all that close--certainly not close enough to try and locate it. They are uncommon to rare around here, and I rarely get to see one. From what I've read, in years past they were once more common locally than they are today. Today, they are somewhat more common to my north. I've seen or heard them frequently in the lower Adirondacks, but in this area, anyway, they are considered a declining species. Habitat loss is one of the reasons. And lately, whenever a once common species is still common to the north of me, I always wonder if planet warming is another cause.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Arrival of an Unwelcome Visitor

A bit of a cold front moved through last night, with clearing overnight. This morning is clear and bright, the kind of morning where I'd have enjoyed spending more time outside than I had before work. But it was time enough to find something unexpected and different from just the day before. Gypsy moth devastation.

Literally overnight, the mountains to the north and across the valley from Roundtop are no longer green, but brown in several places, mostly across the tops of the mountains. I'd heard that gypsy moths were on the move again, but until this morning had seen no sign of that. So far Roundtop is spared but I know that may well not last. And given how these things spread, it may not be spared to the end of the week. And even if I am spared for the moment or even for this month, well, if not this year, then the next.

Gypsy moths often attack beech trees first, for some reason, then oak trees, which are the predominant trees (plus hickory and tulip poplar) in this area. The last time the moths came through, Roundtop was somewhat spared. The infestation was not as severe here as it was across the valley. And though the area directly across the valley was hit with moderate severity, a few miles to the south the mountains were devastated, with long-term damage and many trees killed.

When you're in an area with a severe infestation, you can actually hear those caterpillars chewing around you, a weird effect that I don't care to hear again. It's actually noisy with chewing. From what I've been told, trees can usually survive their first defoliation, especially if, as now, the leaves are already fully out and developed before the infestation begins. Naturally, the defoliation weakens them, but they usually recover. The real problem comes when the moths don't move on the following year. Two or three years of gypsy moth infestation in the same spot is more than even healthy trees can survive, especially when the second defoliation takes place just as the new spring leaves are appearing.

So suddenly, it's a bit like having the sword of Damocles approaching, if not quite yet hanging over my head.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

A Dream While Walking

The woods are so heavy with the scents of honeysuckle and multflora roses that it feels almost narcotic. After the rain the air is thick with humidity, thick with scent, and it's like walking though a greenhouse. This is a greenhouse, nature's green house, and it's tempting to let the scent overwhelm me and nod off in it, as though I was drugged.

It is as exotic a scent as any found in Africa or some desert marketplace. No perfume on a counter can come close to it. It is the scent and the humidity together that creates this feeling of heaviness, that gives the experience such depth and complexity, like a Beethoven sonata.

Humans are not known for possessing much in the way of scenting ability, but I find that strong scents create emotion in me in a way that sights or sounds rarely do. Is that why we better developed our other senses? Perhaps the power of scent was so strong that it threatened to overwhelm our fledgling intellects, so it was better not to have it, not to give scent that power. But sometimes, in some places, at some times, I am reminded that its power is still there.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Sunday Promenade

I don’t know what’s going on with turkeys around here, but on Sunday morning I ran into another flock of them that fall into the “dumber than dirt” category. Around 8:15 a.m. I was on the way to the Laundromat and was several miles from Roundtop when what should I see but a small group of promenading turkeys up ahead, marching down the middle of the road. I pulled up right beside them, and they didn’t run away. They just fluffed their feathers and gobbled at me. Another car approached, and they still didn’t move away. A third car came by, and they still held their ground. Finally, they moved enough to the edge of the road that I could inch by. What’s the deal here? Suddenly, there are dumb turkeys everywhere I turn.

The first fireflies made an appearance at Roundtop on Saturday evening. I didn’t see many, but some were out in the humid weather ahead of a thunderstorm. I still have the feeling that their arrival is several days later than usual, but in the overall scheme of things, a few days here or there likely isn’t very important.

Roundtop did get some rain this weekend—not enough to replace the 3 inches I didn’t get in May, but some. Two storms with intense lightning and some rain came through on Friday night. Another storm skirted the mountain on Saturday evening, bringing rain and a little thunder. Sunday brought the remnant of tropical storm Barry, though only the barest of remnants. From mid-day Sunday and onward into this morning, it drizzled or rained lightly. It was somewhat breezy in a way that seems peculiar to hurricanes, though I’m having a hard time finding words to explain exactly how that way looks. It has to do with how the trees move in the breeze and the way the air feels, but why any of that should be any different than any another storm, I can’t say. Perhaps it’s simply the direction the storm comes from, compared to the usual run of storms that come into the area. I’m still not sure, but I’m also still convinced that hurricane weather systems have a different look and feel to them. Maybe I’ll figure it out next time.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Enemy

Sometimes I find it difficult to accept that such a beautiful plant like the multiflora rose really is an invasive enemy. The plant is everywhere this year at Roundtop, and eradicating it looks to be an impossibility. Anyplace that isn’t deep forest is vulnerable to its attack. Even a small clearing created by the natural fall of a moderately sized tree lets enough sunlight into the woods that the plant is likely to spring up there.

On my morning walk with Dog today I counted 23 different clumps of it, some quite small, others huge and overflowing thickets of blooms. I have no idea what the solution to this one is. I have neither the time nor the energy to clothe myself in canvas and attempt the pull the plants from the ground myself. Around the mountain are likely hundreds of clumps. And so the roses continue to bloom and spread everywhere on the mountain. Their scent fills the air right now. Lovely and lethal to native plant life without a solution in sight.