A mystery: 24

Linda adjusted her position to face the trees…. The powerful drum of a beak against dead bark carried through the woods and she scanned the overstory for a pileated woodpecker. It flew a series of arcing loops and landed in the boughs of an ash tree. Below it grew crinklefoot ferns. A row of Queen Anne’s lace swayed in the ditch.

—Chris Offutt, The Killing Fields (2021), pp. 132-133

Any idea what Offutt means by crinklefoot fern? Anyone? The only thing botanical that turns up for me is Crinkleroot (Cardamine diphylla)—not a fern by any stretch.

“Lakeland, Florida but they will deliver it to your door step”

Ed Solomon keeps a text-message spammer-scammer going for an hour and a half.

10:41 A.M. “Richard Weeks”
i got $150,000 delivered to me when i applied for the grant and you dont have to pay it back.. you can also apply

10:41 A.M. Ed Solomon
shut up. no way—are you serious??

10:42 A.M. “Richard Weeks”
I’m very serious and am not pulling your legs. I’m so happy cuz when i received the Money from Ups, I quickly paid off my bills and saved the rest to the bank. Though, currently thinking on Investments

And so…

11:24 A.M. Ed Solomon
thanks. okay. and tell me honestly. and i promise i won’t tell her. Is SHE the one who gave you the rash? (cause i was wondering why you and i both have the same thing)

11:26 A.M. “Richard Weeks”
yes shes the one

Ah, the power of saying, “yes, and.”

Haze figuring

Hilarious but true: a category of rubbish research papers, run through a word-for-word thesaurus in an attempt to avoid detection of plagiarism and duplication, can in fact be easily detected. Holly Else reports on a preprint posted in July by Guillaume Cabanac and colleagues. Some juicy howlers, called “tortured phrases” by the paper’s authors: counterfeit consciousness for artificial intelligence, irregular esteem for random value, and flag to commotion for signal to noise.

Clifton Institute wildflowers

pond at HQthru the upland meadowA lovely morning walk through the upland meadows of the Clifton Institute for fall wildflowers, led by Bert Harris and staff. I got good photos of Field Thistle (Cirsium discolor) and found Hog Peanut (Amphicarpaea bracteata) in flower. The group met Slender Bush Clover (Lespedeza virginica), Trailing Lespedeza (L. procumbens), and Green Milkweed (Asclepias viridiflora)(called Green Antelopehorns by iNaturalist). Bert explained how to distinguish New York Ironweed from Upland Ironweed—this is the first time I really got it, with an example of the yellowish pappus of Upland in hand.

Crescent Rock and Limberlost Trails

crossroadsLabor Day means a hike in Shenandoah National Park. I made a keyhole loop with the Crescent Rock Trail and the Limberlost Trail. I was going at Grandpa pace today—mostly my intention was to scout Limberlost for a future project. Common Katydids (Pterophylla camellifolia) were calling at mid-day in the Crescent Rock parking lot.

There are a few of the Limberlost’s famous hemlocks hanging on. There’s a big patch of what appears to be Sweet Birch (Betula lenta), perhaps replacing the hemlocks?

I did find a bit of Tall Milkweed (Asclepias exaltata). And iNaturalist suggested IDs of Silvery Glade Fern (Deparia acrostichoides) (I couldn’t find fertile fronds, dang it) and an ichneumonid wasp, Limonethe maurator.

3.4 miles in 3:30, 120m elevation change.

Problem solved

When I’m puzzling out the ID of a hairstreak or swallowtail, I depend on Cech and Tudor’s essential Butterflies of the East Coast: An Observer’s Guide (2005). The book has one significant flaw, however: to look up a species, the index doesn’t indicate the page where the main entry appears. No boldface or italics. The index for Monarch cites 24 different pages.

So, I fixed it, in part: Index to Cech and Tudor, Butterflies of the East Coast: An Observer’s Guide, main entry, by common name.

On deck: 21

Bookshelf August 2021With a little determination (and self-control in the bookstore), I am back to having only one shelf’s worth of books to read.

And yes, I have become the person with two cast recordings of Anyone Can Whistle, two electric hedge trimmers, and two translations of Du côté de chez Swann.

Virginia getaway 2021

My road trip took me to several spots in the Roanoke vicinity.

either wayFirst off was Poor Mountain Natural Area Preserve, known for its population of the hemiparasitic Piratebush (Buckleya distichophylla). I set off down aptly-named loop trail. Some determined peering under foliage turned up two female plants beginning to come into fruit. I also became reacquainted with Galax (Galax urceolata); met a ferny-looking plant that turned out to be Canadian Wood Betony (Pedicularis canadensis); and stumbled across an American Chestnut (Castanea dentata) maybe 10 feet tall.

Buffalo Mountain Natural Area Preserve in Floyd County was recommended by Chris Ludwig as one of the best NAPs to visit in August—he steered me right. I arrived early on a Friday morning, before the tiny parking lot filled up. Oh, so quiet. I heard Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla) (and got a visual) and Scarlet Tanager’s (Piranga olivacea) chick-burr. Not looking for anything in particular, I found a couple specialties of the house: hot pink Allegheny Onion (Allium allegheniense) and Roan Mountain Rattlesnakeroot (Nabalus roanensis) just coming into flower.

barrensstay on the trailBarrens at the top (about 160 m climb from trailhead) revealed Mountain Ash (Sorbus americana) and an oak that I’m not so sure about.

For fun, I’m trying the state parks trail challenge, so I added two parks to the road trip. Fairy Stone State Park in Patrick County delivered some interesting looks on the Whiskey Run loop: a huge clone of Fan Clubmoss (Diphasiastrum digitatum), Common Elephant’s Foot (Elephantopus tomentosus), and the iNaturalist community pinned down the first robber fly that I’ve found for myself: Red-footed Cannibal Fly (Promachus rufipes).

The trail I intended to take at Smith Mountain Lake State Park was closed, so I followed a trail closer to the lake. The area is very… recreational. But some Blue-fronted Dancers (Argia apicalis) showed up.

Bonus butterfly for the trip, and it proved to be a lifer: On my way home, I pulled up at the Nelson County Wayside south of Charlottesville to stretch my legs and fiddle with the CD player. I chatted with a guy who had stopped to do much the same. But I caught a glint of yellow flickering along the gravel. After the fellow left, I pulled out my camera and snapped away. When I got home, I keyed out my first Sleepy Orange (Abaeis nicippe)!

Back to a hatchback

first road tripSay hello to Dr. Hardtacks on his first road trip, already a little dusty from the drive. We’re at the trailheads for Buffalo Mountain in Floyd County, early enough to pick our own space before the parking lot fills up (and it did, on a Friday morning).

With multiple new safety features and an automatic backy-uppy parking trick, the doctor is definitely smarter than me. His surname comes from the name of a turtle that Aaron Posner likes to work into his scripts.

For the first 1000 miles, we’re doing 66.5 mpg.