Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Unsolved Mystery: the Rock That Came From Nowhere

I spend a lot of time wandering about the overgrown, honeysuckle cloaked woods that lie past Out Beyond, along the interstate; watching the birds, hunting mosses, making trails, gathering morel mushrooms in the spring, walking meditations, sometimes just being in Mother Nature's's sacred space. I know that woods intimately, every tree, every stone, every groundhog hole, every hawk nest and fox den. So it came as a complete and astonishing surprise one day to find a huge stone, what in this Ozarks mining country is known as a mineral egg, lying on the ground where it was not the day before. A "mineral egg" is a type of geode, often round or egg-shaped, sometimes hollow in the center but when it is solid all the way through, it is called a nodule. Usually they are pretty small. I had never seen one bigger than my head, but this one is some 60 or 70 lbs, and at least a foot and a half thick, maybe 2' tall.

No idea where it came from. I thought at first possibly from the direction of the interstate, maybe it had rolled down hill when the state highway mowers came through with their brush hog, but that was too far away to be realistic, besides there was too much brush in that direction. Down the hill from the back neighbor's property into the shallow ravine where it came to rest? Except there is a fence. Down the hill in the other dirrection from the woods? Noooo, I would have already found a rock that big. There was no sign where it had been settled in the ground, it was perfectly clean all the way around, resting on top of the dry leaves in the ravine. There was no sign where it had rolled down any hill, no crushed plants, no broken limbs, no disturbed ground. It was as if it had materialized from another dimension or floated gently down to earth from the sky.

 Having gotten previous permission from my elderly neighbor who owns the neglected woods to collect interesting stones from her property, it just remained to figure out how to get it home. It lay there a couple of weeks (during which time I fully expected it to have disappeared as quickly as it had come) while I thought about the logistics of carrying it, before I had a duh! moment. It's round! Round things roll!

Even as big as it is, it came home pretty easily with me. Being nearly round, it rolled very well up the side of the ravine, up the trail, and halfway home before it got stuck behind a deadfall log that I couldn't lift it over, and Jim came to help get it the rest of the way.

It now has a place next to the gate by the lower pond, where it keeps company with others of its kind, though much smaller; that came from a pile of stones with much less mysterious origins under a tree in my front yard.

When it was formed from the mud millions of eons ago, it rested on scallop shells that left fossil imprints on the tip, like a bow. How cool can that be?
Do you see a face in here? I think it is smiling at me!

I'm certain I will never know how it materialized in the woods like that. But it seems very much at home as guardian of the gate!

                  "If there were no mystery to explore,
                life would get rather dull, wouldn't it?"
                                                 --Sydney Buchanan

Friday, December 10, 2010

What the Heck IS That???????

The light and the angle were just right the day I climbed the hill Out Beyond with my camera, looking for good shots of birds, late flowers, interesting fungi, anything that would make a good photo, when I looked up towards a deadfall tree that I have seen a hundred times before, to be startled enough to make me jump by the image I saw. even though I knew what that was! There are deer out here, and that was my first thought before I recovered what was left of my mind and burst out laughing at myself! This dead tree really looks....well. not dead!

You lookin' at me?

Perhaps imagination is only intelligence having fun. ~George Scialabba

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Baby It's Cold Outside!

As is typical for Ozarks weather we went from
70F  a couple of weeks ago to 12F forecast for tonight, and tomorrow it's supposed to bounce back up in the 50's, with snow on the slate for this coming weekend. It's no wonder the plants and small denizens of the garden are confused! Most of the more sensible ones have gone dormant, but I look out and still see Japanese maples with most of their leaves, white violets that insist on blooming with the first ray of sunshine, an echinacea with one brave flower, and even a hosta that has a couple of green leaves. A lot of the garden seems to be stuck betwixt and between, and I worry that the low teens are going to do some damage to plants exposed without full dormancy or at least a good snow cover to protect them until they finally give up and go to sleep for their long winter's nap.

None of the violets seem to be ready to give up
yet, and oxalis was even blooming a bit yesterday.
There are still Knockout roses in full leaf with a few flowers. As I was pulling some errant honeysuckle vines down out of a bridal wreath spirea, I noticed buds had formed and were about to open on some branches. Daffodils are poking their leaves up in sunny spots already, and that doesn't usually happen until the end of January. I haven't looked yet, but I have a suspicion I'm going to see a bit of yellow on the forsythia before Christmas!

On sunny days,
garter snake
can be found sunning itself under the crabapple tree by the pond. It must have been cold, because I got this close with my camera: even stroked it with my finger. It raised its head and regarded me with suspicion, but didn't move away. It stayed until the sun began to go down.

I wonder if this huge stick bug will find a warm place to spend the winter? I don't think I have ever seen one this big!

As climate change causes our ocean currents to change, which drive the jet stream, which in turn drives our weather, I expect we will see more and more things in nature that will seem puzzling to us. It has been going on for a several years now, but only lately is it obviously noticeable in temperate regions that have gotten colder, less rainfall in areas that used to get a lot of moisture, hotter summers and definite changes in the winters as natural cycles continue, accelerated in part by human activity. Whether or not we can actually do anything to slow down or reverse climate change, we are probably going to see more drastic swings in the weather for years to come. It didn't start in a day, and it won't end in a day. It promises to be challenging, frustrating, sometimes sad, perhaps exciting, certainly scary but interesting to see what gardening is going to be like in the future. Indeed, life on this planet!

One of the most fun things, a soft furry red kitty belly can be found, soaking up the rays in a sunny spot on the deck! Sooo tempting but a ticklish cat can be a dangerous thing if you dare to touch!

It's worth the risk! I love kitty bellies!

"The time has come, the Walrus said,
To talk of many things:
Of shoes-and ships-and sealing wax-
Of cabbages-and kings-
And why the sea is boiling hot-
And whether pigs have wings."

                        Lewis Carroll
                                              "Through the Looking Glass"