On Today’s Walk: No Bears Detected

At the start of the year, I stated my ambition to explore as many local walking paths and trails as possible. That has…not happened much. But I had the day off work today, the temperature was perfect, my to-do list had several things crossed off, and my son-in-residence was willing to join me. No excuses not to go exploring.

These photos are from the Bear Creek Trail in Columbia, MO. We found the creek, but no bears (because there aren’t any in this part of the state so far as I know.) Not pictured are the spots where we discovered an unofficial connector between two trails by navigating rock-to-rock across a narrow part of the creek, in the process startling dozens of tiny toads on the opposite bank. It was a good old-fashioned nature walk after all.



Be still my heart — not just one, but two wooden footbridges! I have an unreasonable attraction to wooden bridges. I must have been a troll in a previous life.


All in all, a very satisfying 2.3 mile micro adventure. The jaunt wasn’t too short or too long, not too hot or too cold, not too scary or too boring, but in every aspect just right.

On Today’s Bike Ride: Beware the Poison Hemlock

Poison hemlock plant
Beware!

Despite seasonal allergies, a slightly sore back, and the need to report to work this afternoon, I got out on my bike for a short ride this morning. I ended up at a wetlands area I frequent because there’s a nice shelter house, yet it’s at a spur off the main trail, so few people seem to stop there.

Thanks to a recent Facebook post from a friend, I realized this morning that there’s an abundance of poison hemlock growing there, and not harmless Queen Anne’s lace as I had always thought. I used the Seek app to verify the species. Since I don’t aspire to die like Socrates, I’m glad I never touched any back when I was misidentifying it!

One clear way to tell the difference between the two plants is the stem. Poison hemlock has smooth stems with purple spots. Queen Anne’s lace has hairy stems with no purple. I found a helpful article that provides more information.

Now you know. If you see this plant, make like anyone who is not Socrates and avoid it.

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On Today’s Walk: Wildflower Challenge Complete

The goal is to find and identify ten varieties of flowers…

Seek badge for iNaturalist wildflower challenge.
I’m a winner!

My son accompanied me on today’s walk. We’d just received a good amount of rain, so we didn’t seek out any trails, but simply stuck to ambling about the neighborhood. I was able to hear how his work is going and also find enough flowers in bloom to complete the iNaturalist Wildflower Challenge on the Seek app.

The goal is to find and identify ten varieties of flowers, and I had already done seven before setting out. On our stroll, I found three more.

Challenge complete.

Completed: wildflower challenge. Seek, April 2022
Completion.

Woohoo!

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On Today’s Walks, Plural

The last time I posted, I’d been looking at some fake skeletons. This morning, I found a real one. Some work colleagues and I participated in a city-wide cleanup effort. We were picking up trash along a busy roadway that had a line of brush a few yards back. In the midst of blown plastic grocery bags and other debris caught in the scrub, I stumbled upon some bones.

Animal bones, possibly possum, in brown leaves.
Fake skeletons last week, a real one this week.

I sent the photo to my oldest son, who knows quite a bit about wildlife. He believes this was an opossum once upon a time. I’ll go with that, as on first glance, I thought it was someone’s little family dog that had probably been missing for a long time. I left the bones in place. It seemed like the natural order of things.

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My second walk took place this evening right before sunset and was dedicated to enjoyment rather than civic improvement. How about these magnolia blossoms creating a perfect frame for the moon?

Half moon framed by magnolia flowers
Magnolia moon: photographic alliteration

My little phone camera always shows the moon a little blurry, but I like the shot anyway.

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On Today’s Walk: Photos and Verse

I haven’t been taking many walks due to days of cold, drizzly rain and a hurt back. All has improved now, though. The son and I went out for a two-mile stroll on this fine spring day, and I was so revivified I wrote a little poem about it.

First the photos:


Late Spring Walk

Forsythia and daffodil
Hellebores, Siberian squill,
Yellow, yellow, pink, and azure
After winter, winter, and winter
White and gray and gray
Spring returns one day
As we have faith it always will.
    

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On Today’s Walk: Visitor to the Neighborhood

I nearly didn’t take a walk today. It’s cold and I had to work yesterday, meaning I’m behind on weekend household stuff. But see what I would have missed. This is the reward for my effort.

Great blue heron
First time seeing a great blue heron in this park

I went to the park near my house, the one I’ve walked through hundreds of times. As I approached the footbridge over the creek, something with an enormous wingspan flew down to the water. I’ve seen a variety of birds around here over the years, but never before a great blue heron.

I watched it for a long time as it waded down the length of the creek, bobbing its head into the water occasionally, once coming up with food it swallowed. The Audubon Society website says this is its normal mode of feeding. After a while, I moved off the bridge and, using all my stealth, made my way down the path wending by the water. I stalked that heron like I was David Attenborough.

Eventually, a couple of other walkers came by, one with a dog and the other playing an audio book out loud. The heron decided to take its leave. Ah well. It was time for me to go home and do something about dinner, anyway.

I’d like to thank the world for the fun surprise today.

On Today’s Walk: Rowing Out of My Rut

Park path
For anyone wondering what filter I used, it’s called Smudge on Lens

Well, I’ve gone and done another 2022 goal. I explored a path I don’t usually traverse on my walks. It’s not brand new to me. In fact, it’s in my old neighborhood, where I used to live twenty years ago. But I haven’t walked over there in a minute or two.

For some bonus exercise I got a bit of rowing in.

I’m not sure if I followed all advisories. ???

Instructions
Not suitable for people with general health conditions.

I only have specific health conditions, so I’m probably okay.

I survived to continue my journey, and encountered a majestic tree.

Leafless tree

Oh, I can never resist a wooden pedestrian bridge! I wonder what’s around the curve on the other side.

pedestrian bridge

Uh oh!

Into every life path, a little ice must appear.

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On Today’s Walk: Rock Bridge

I’m using up some holiday and vacation leave this week while my oldest kid visits. Thanks to climate change probably, the weather is warm enough for many long walks.

Today we went to Missouri’s Rock Bridge State Park. There were a few other walkers there, but very few. We had most of the wonders to ourselves. Of course, the first thing we had to see was *the* rock bridge for which the park is named.

Rock Bridge
That’s my cohort there in the distance.

Here’s another view of the rock bridge, this one from above:


We made our way down the Devil’s Icebox Cave, but the water was up too high for us to explore it much. We also neglected to bring flashlights.


Next, it was off on the trail that leads to a disused stone grain silo built 100+ years ago. As evidenced by the artwork, plenty of people have been here before us.


I found a friend inside.

Toad
Howdy, friend!

Silo interior
View from inside the silo

A little research told me this festively colored fungus is called fulvifomes robiniae.

Fungus

It is nice to get out of my own neighborhood occasionally. Missouri is a state with a lot of natural beauty, so I don’t have to travel far to find a pleasant hike.

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On Today’s Walk: Talk of Sycamores and Ancient Greek Sculpture

Son the younger, who is currently living with me and the hubs, accompanied me today on my walk. We stopped to marvel at some large American sycamore trees, notable for their size and the fact that the bark sheds off, revealing stunning white wood underneath.


According to the Missouri Botanical Garden site, the American sycamore “is generally regarded to be the most massive tree indigenous to eastern North America. It is a deciduous, usually single-trunk tree that typically grows to 75-100’.” Indeed, I left the houses and cars in two of the photos for scale. The trees looked especially magnificent against the vivid blue, cloudless sky.

I know what you’re wondering about now, dear reader. When does Ancient Greek sculpture come into this story? The answer is, right now.

Son II commented that the peeling bark and white wood reminded him of some articles he’s been reading about statues from Greek antiquity. I learned some things from him during this conversation, notably that for centuries, scholars believed said statues had always been white. However, new scientific examinations reveal traces of pigment ingredients, showing the sculptures had originally been painted.

He also told me he believed from the images he’d seen imagining the original colors were off the mark. He thought artists who were so skilled and took such great care when carving wouldn’t have then made their creation garish. When I came home and looked on the internet, I saw what he meant. But I guess we can’t really know. Still, it’s fascinating to read about how a misconception is being revealed after all this time. Here’s a good article I found. The authors must know about culture, because they use British spellings, right?

Anyway, today’s walk was educational in more ways than one.

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