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Nov 26 2012

Microadventure! Thrills! Chills! Defiant Dandelions!

The sun came out for more than ten minutes on Sunday. It came out on Saturday, too, but both the cat and I slept through it. Dunno why the cat preferred to hang about in bed than snooze in a sunbeam, but I can tell you exactly why I was spending most of the day unconscious:

Meanwhile...
Artist’s rendition of my uterus on Saturday. Image courtesy Heartfelt Posts. Thank you, Rebecca Watson, for alerting me to its existence. This picture expresses my experience perfectly!

In my brief moments of wakefulness, I read about Krakatoa blowing up and cursed my useless reproductive organ. Whee. (For the record: Simon Winchester kicks Alwyn Scarth’s arse, even with a tendency to get some things wrong and over-emphasize others. At least he puts actual damned geology in his books. Gah.)

But things improved dramatically on Sunday, and the sun stuck around. I left the cat happily basking, and went to go look at some interesting fungi I’d seen on the verge when my area director and I were scoping out the floods last week. They were still there, and I shall have a full report with about twelve billion photos shortly. Fungi lovers will swoon. Seriously. No matter what, I promise. Because if you look at them and go, “Yawn, those are soooo common where I’m from,” I can pluck one from the ground, bean you with it, and you will definitely swoon. They’re that bloody big.

Of course, that would be assault with a deadly fungi, so this will remain a strictly hypothetical situation.

I also have some awesome aftermath of North Creek flooding. But that, too, will wait. I’ve got to read up on Pompeii unexpectedly. Outtakes first, then!

The Pond
The Pond

The pond was looking particularly lovely today. Also, larger. And I love how the willow trees got the memo it’s winter, crumpled it up, and threw it away. They’re still decked out in their autumn finery. Which reminds me: I shall need more autumn songs stat. I got you some more autumn images. Some will make you gasp – there were some seriously stunning trees that also crumpled their winter memos, then burned them.

Heron the Firste
Heron the Firste

Good day for seeing herons. Wasn’t much else (although Trebuchet got us something nice, I’ll show you it soon). But the herons looked quite fetching, especially against the subdued colors.

Lovely sediment
Lovely sediment

I loved this pattern in the muddy sand. Imagine if I’d sliced in to it, I would have seen some interesting bedding patterns. However, I was wearing my new shoes, and hadn’t thought to put on the old ones for tromping round in muddy creeks, and it was also butt-ass freezing cold (by Seattle standards), so the idea of getting my feet soaked didn’t enthrall. If I was an actual field geologist, I’d get proper shoes. And then promptly forget to wear them on walks like this because all I’d really meant to do was photograph fungi on a lawn anyway.

Sigh.

Dandelion
Dandelion

I came across a very defiant dandelion, blazing away like the sun, with the real sun striking color from it. It instantly became my favorite flower of this winter. Mind you, there are a few others grimly clinging on, but they’re coddled cultivated kinds and for all I know were recently whisked out of a nice, warm nursery. This one’s got to go it alone, on the edge of a lawn, with mowers and weedkiller everywhere. And it hasn’t seen the sun in well over a week. Yet still it thrives. Reminds me a bit of George’s sturdy plant. Perspective, doncha know.

Wooly Bear
Wooly Bear

Last thing I expected to see in the path was a wooly bear. But according to Wikipedia, I should not have been in the least surprised:

The banded Woolly Bear larva emerges from the egg in the fall and overwinters in its caterpillar form, when it literally freezes solid. First its heart stops beating, then its gut freezes, then its blood, followed by the rest of the body. It survives being frozen by producing a cryoprotectant in its tissues. In the spring it thaws out and emerges to pupate. Once it emerges from its pupa as a moth it has only days to find a mate before it dies.

These little buggers are hardcore. I shall have to gather my myriad photos of them and do a proper essay someday. Perhaps after I’ve done with all the volcanoes. Ack.

Pretty moss
Pretty moss

Love this lovely bit of moss. It’s a gorgeous color, and when you have the combo of the weathered wood, freshly exposed wood, and the fall leaves in the background, well, it’s a shot you’ve gotta take. I love moss anyway. Did you know that moss was one of the first things to grow on the remains of Krakatoa? That’s according to Iain Stewart, and I believe him because of his Scottish accent. Well, that and because I’ve seen what moss will do in wet environments. Some that was scraped off our roof landed on my porch and still thrives there, living on nothing but air, sun and water. Well, it used to get a wee bit of cigarette ash, too, but it doesn’t anymore.

Pine cones version one
Pine cones version one

Then there were these quite nice pine cones with the spider webs on them. I like the way the sunlight silhouettes them, and the gleams of light in the blurred background. But then I started playing with exposures, and I like this one, too, although it washes out the subtle play of color in the little light dots.

Pine cones version two
Pine cones version two

One can have entirely too much fun playing with different exposures when one should be reading papers. Cough.

Heron the Seconde
Heron the Seconde

And then there was this fine heron, hanging out by the creek. I wonder if it’s the same one that flew over the car when my area manager and I were out looking at the floods? (At this juncture, I’d like to mention that my area manager rocks. We flooded five years ago, and the person in charge then didn’t keep an eye on the roads – the police had to come shoo us out, and by then, the roads were rivers of water up to the car doors. I’m from Arizona. I’ve had it drummed into me all my life not to drive into a flooded road, no matter how shallow or still it looks. People die doing that. So the fact that my area manager pays attention to this stuff and is willing to shut us down before it gets out of hand is a huge relief. I love the fact he actually did recon. It didn’t stop me from deciding to flee on the small possibility of it getting worse when the skies opened after lunch, mind, but knowing he wasn’t waiting for all routes to be cut off before allowing everyone to flee is awesome. And of course, it stopped raining right after I got home, and the city had cleared the gutters, and there were no horrible floods anyway. I’d show you the floods we did have, but I didn’t have my camera. Sigh.)

So there we are: a microadventure in winter. If it snows. we’ll have another adventure along North Creek, because I’ve already told the person I commute with that I’m not bloody driving with Seattle-area drivers in the snow. We will damned well walk. And I’ll bet you the scenery will be spectacular. I’m glad most of you are atheists. It means I won’t have to bean you with a huge fungi for praying for a blizzard.

10 comments

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  1. 1
    rq

    I left you two songs in the last post, but if you need new ones, I’ll email you the links so that you can surprise people. :)
    And I scrolled through this post disappointed. I was expecting fungi at the bottom – you know, outtakes as an intro, then the juicy, meaty chitin-covered main course. Ah well. :)
    I have, like, 2 fungal photos I could send you, because I’m crap with the mushrooms (except champignons and also chanterelles), even though the Latvian national sport is mushrooming. (It’s a bit of an extreme sport, since every year somebody dies or ends up needing a liver transplant from eating the wrong mushroom.)

    I love the second pinecone shot, but I’m wondering if you can (with photoshop) turn the brown/tan/reddish shades that much brighter, just tweak them a bit, for an even bigger POP. Because that photo is like a holiday card in the making.

  2. 2
    hexidecima

    I love wooly bears. Here in PA they are fairly prevalent and for some reason I can spot them crawling across the pavement long before one should be able to see something about an inch long. My grandparents were very much of the belief that one can forecast the comming winter by how much light brown and dark brown are on the caterpillars. :)

  3. 3
    wrp

    Nice!

    (On the off chance you’re planning to add conifers to your naturalist pursuits, the “pine cones” are Douglas fir.)

  4. 4
    heliconia

    Woolly bears! Moss! Herons! So many awesome things in this post!

    Since RQ brought up The Nutcracker yesterday, my contribution to the autumn song pool is Waltz of the Flowers, as performed in the movie Fantasia, with magical leaf fairies making the leaves change colour.

    And another Tchaik piece I just discovered, the piano solo “Autumn Song” from a suite called The Seasons.

    Also, here is a collection of autumnal artwork.

  5. 5
    Trebuchet

    Thank you, wrp, for picking that nit so I didn’t have to. I wouldn’t have been able to resist!

    At the risk of boring everyone, here’s my driving into a flooded road story.

    When I was in college, some flooding occurred in the valley north of town. It was a pretty unpopulated area so not a huge deal. The state hydrologist kept everyone up-to-date on the radio and we all became familiar with hearing him. (Only one station in town!)

    My roommate and I decided to take a drive and look at the flooding. I wasn’t paying attention and suddenly found myself driving into a river a couple of hundred feet wide running across the road. It was to late to stop so I stepped on it, steered into the current, and emerged from the other side. Half a mile later there was another such river, but this time I was watching and stopped.

    Effectively, we were on an island. Since I already knew we could make it across the first flooded area, we decided to turn around and go back. On the way, we noticed there was a single house, surrounded by sandbags, on the “island”. There was a name on the mailbox. It was the home of the state hydrologist.

  6. 6
    geocatherder

    Can’t beat Trebuchet’s story, but I did learn to drive on “wet” roads the hard way. I live in an area where it seldom floods except for extreme events, but I was across the country installing flight simulators at Pensacola NAS, Florida. It’s a long drive from the nearest decent motel to the air base, it was pouring rain one morning, and as I drove my rental car carefully down the road I was more than a little bit aware that the water was up to the running boards in some places. All was well until I hit my first red light in high water. I saw it coming, gently applied the brakes… and might as well have not tried. Thank goodness there was no cross traffic as I sailed through the intersection. I was still so shaken when I got to work that I could barely walk from the parking lot to the building.

  7. 7
    Lyle

    Just a nit one typically wears boots to the field not shoes, since they are basically hiking boots, ideally going above the ankles for protection. (it is easy to twist an ankle on rough ground, so the hiking boots protect against it) See this link for a summary: (note also that high top boots let you get into the mud a bit). http://suite101.com/article/geologists-field-gear-a266616
    Way back when at field camp it was boots about 10 inches high that were worn.

    1. 7.1
      geocatherder

      Indeed, *well-fitting* boots. Though my friends who did field camp at 10,000 ft (I couldn’t join them because of asthma) say that duct tape helps blisters immensely.

    2. 7.2
      geocatherder

      Oh, and the link to essential geologist gear misses the most important component, at least in my experience: sunscreen.

  8. 8
    Eskered

    The Pond looks familiar. NE Bothell in King near the Sno-King line? I believe the property immediately east of The Pond was purchased by a large hotel chain about 20 years ago, the hotel chain was told that the site was underlain by up to 15 feet of peat, that peat is highly compressible, and that they should pre-load the site for up to a year to induce settlement prior to attempting to develop it. The one year pre-load didn’t sit well with them. They did put the buildings on piles driven down through the peat and North Creek sediments, but the weight of the parking lot and vehicle traffic caused the site to settle up to 3 feet. Several buildings are pretty much on stilts now, but they do a good job of hiding the growing gap under the buildings. What they can’t hide is the ramps they are often rebuilding to access the buildings. Good example of what happens when corporate opening deadlines trump geologist recommendations. Buildings on stilts may not be a bad idea if North Creek floods though.

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