Thursday, September 4, 2014

Virgin's Bower

September is a lovely month in New England. As I wandered about the backyard late this afternoon, among the goldenrod and raspberries and Joe pye weed, a little spring peeper was resting. I love seeing these small frogs in my yard. So much so that this wee one got promoted to the Spicebush Log headliner.

Between taking Kodi and Henna for a couple walks and monitoring a conservation easement for a nearby town, I was outside a lot today. Yes, I am fortunate. As we set out on our walk this morning, just at sunrise, a barred owl called in the distance. We've heard them calling during the night of late. We had a good rain two days back, enough to urge red efts to be on the move, so I had to help one across the road this morning.

A few hours later on a second walk with Kodi and Henna (yes, they are fortunate too), morning dew clung to spider webs woven during the night. Such beautiful designs, it made me wonder why, as a species, we humans are often afraid of spiders.
In an attempt to enjoy even more of this wonderful September day, I took my laptop outside to write up the easement monitoring report. While sitting on my Leopold bench, laptop opened, I was joined by a meadowhawk. With such inspiration, I was able to wrap-up my report in no time.
But what I really wanted to write about in this post was Virgin's bower. Also called devil's darning needles, woodbine, old man's beard. It is a native vine, Clematis virginiana. It's leaves are toothed and right about now the flowers morph into showy, feathery seedheads, which is what caught my attention this morning on the walk with Kodi and Henna before I took note of the spiderwebs.
This vine is fairly common around wet meadows and other moist places. What is interesting to me is that I don't remember seeing this plant while I was growing up in western Massachusetts. But now it is there too, common and growing along field and stream edges, at my childhood home where my parents still live. I'm curious if others see this plant more often now than say 30 years ago. 

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