It’s a Moider! Moider, I Tells Ya!

Actually, it’s a double-feature! We’ve also got Blue Heron Noir. Stay tuned after the film!

B brought turkey over for Thanksgiving. He arrived just at dusk (which is 4 bloody 30 in the pee-em at this time of year), which is when the local crows begin gathering before they head off to roost. The roads, trees, and ball fields begin looking like an Alfred Hitchcock film. B’s never seen quite so many at once, so he came bouncing in wanting to go walk with corvids. I was totally down with that.

So we headed down to the creek, where clouds of corvids flew overhead, and turned the trees black.

Image shows a few crows clinging to the tops of poplar trees.

They even flock to poplar trees, although the branches are super-skinny and it’s really hard to get a grip.

They also fill the ball fields. Alas, it was so close to dark, it was hard to get a good shot, but we tried.

Image shows a baseball field with a murder of crows upon it.

I don’t think they’re playing ball…

We gotcha enough footage for a wee video. It’ll give you some small idea of what it’s like to be walking down a path between trees full of hundreds of cackling crows. The sound is just overwhelming, and the motion as they wheel overhead is exhilarating. It can either scare the shit out of you, or it can make you feel like you’re a little kid again, and leave you nearly screaming in delight.

We might’ve gotten you more clouds of crows if we’d been brave enough to actually agitate them, but we’re not planning on moving away any time soon, and corvids tend to remember people who annoy them. We like to stay on their good side.

After filming our moiderous film, we finished a fairly brisk walk along the creek, and found ourselves coming back in the dark. The ducks had gone to bed. But we heard a rather large-sounding rustle on the riverbank, and a bit of a splash. There wasn’t quite enough light to make out what it was, but B suspected a blue heron. Since blue herons and ducks aren’t reputed to hold grudges against people who piss them off, I decided to risk a wee bit o’ flash photography. I pointed the flash away from the UFD, so as not to interrupt it too badly, and took a chance.

Image shows a vaguely-illuminated heron standing in the creek.

Heron Noir

Blue herons are badass. This one didn’t even twitch. It gave precisely zero shits. I had no idea their eyes reflect like that, but I suppose if they’re out fishing at night, it makes sense they’ve got something to make their night vision better. Is it a tapetum lucidum? My google-fu was inadequate to the task of determining for certain. Perhaps one of you know – ya’ll are better at birds than I am.

I’m arse-deep in books to review, B and I will be working on some fun little geologically-themed gifties for the holidays, and I may brave the crowd at Staples later and see if they have any nifty desktops at a price I can afford. I’ll probably return. Probably.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Carnivorous Plants of Oregon

It’s that time in America where many of us stuff ourselves full of deceased birds and other foodstuffs. Not everyone is carnivorous, but these plants are.

A nice clump of darlingtonia at the Darlingtonia Wayside, Oregon.

A nice clump of darlingtonia at the Darlingtonia Wayside, Oregon.

That, my darlings, is our old friend Darlingtonia californica, the lovely cobra lily. You can also call it the California pitcher plant if you’re feeling boring. Totally understandable if you are. You’re probably completely lethargic. It’s not the tryptophan, mind – it’s the carbs.

Betcha cobra lilies don’t get drowsy after a big meal.

I love those little beards they've got. Well, it also looks like a cobra tongue, right?

I love those little beards they’ve got. Well, it also looks like a cobra tongue, right?

I love the Darlingtonia Wayside. Did you know these are the only carnivorous plants with their own state park in Oregon? Pretty neato.

They love ultramafic soils. Good thing Oregon has so much GDB*, right? Although I think the Wayside is a sphagnum fen. One of these days, I’d do some actual research on that.

A nice Darlingtonia profile, there. I love that sunlight turning the beard such a lovely ruby red.

A nice Darlingtonia profile, there. I love that sunlight turning the beard such a lovely ruby red.

All right, I’ve also got something for the vegetarians in the audience. Prepare to squee at this little chipmunk!

A darling wee chipmunk inna pine tree on the coast. All that's visible through the branches is its face, which has the distinctive stripes that tell us it's not a ground squirrel.

A darling wee chipmunk inna pine tree on the coast.

I have no idea if it’s the Yellow-pine or the Least chipmunk, but it’s adorable either way. It was hanging about in a tree at Cape Perpetua, and of course, I knew I had to grab a photo for you. Because I love you, of course!

No matter where you are, whether you’re celebrating a holiday or having just another day, I hope it’s happy and full of good things and singularly lacking in unpleasant family interactions. If you’re stuck with that horrible relation who insists on forwarding awful right-wing conspiracy theory emails, just imagine them being turned into a bug by their own angry god, and plopped in the middle of a Darlingtonia patch. You swoop in to rescue them just as they’re discovering there’s no escape from a pitcher plant that has got treacherous hairs and false exits galore. They are so grateful to you that they immediately discard all their irrational thinking, and devote themselves to a life of freethought and social justice work. Next family gathering, the only thing you argue about is whether that horrible dessert invented by the relative who had to make do with war rations should continue to be served out of a respect for tradition, or reverently retired, which is exactly the sort of debate that keeps things interesting without raising blood pressure, considering no one eats the stuff anyway. It’s the best family meal in living memory.

Have a happy, my darlings!


*God Damned Basalt. This is the technical term, derived from your sentiments after seeing yet more basalt everywhere you look.

Baked Geology: Shelli’s Rainbow Fault Cake

I’m back with more yummy geology. Literally yummy. This is geology you can really sink your teeth in to (as long as you brush them after).

We’re not talking that ginger licking of a rock and perhaps nibble on a corner that geologists sometimes do to determine what they’re dealing with. Trust me when I say it’s gritty, tastes like lithified dirt, and leaves you briefly wishing your job entailed something more delicious, like wine tasting. Well, most geologists would prefer beer tasting, but the point still stands.

Sometimes, however, geology can be quite tasty. I’ve shown you before how you can have your geology and eat it, too. Recently, my supervisor Shelli provided another mouth-watering example of geofood. Behold the Rainbow Fault Cake!

Rainbow Cake and expertly-executed fault by Shelli.

Rainbow Cake and expertly-executed fault by Shelli.

This is one of the billion reasons I love my supervisor – she cooks the most delicious treats. Each layer of this cake was a different flavor, corresponding to the color, courtesy of flavored gelatin. So moist and rich! I couldn’t even finish my piece. So much yum!

The cake started out as a replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa (pro tip: don’t listen to your loved ones when they say your cake isn’t crooked, but your expert eye is telling you something’s off. Unless, of course, you want something quirky and awesome, which this was). Then, after many slices, a spectacular diagram of a dip-slip fault shone at me in all its rainbow glory. I stared at it in delighted, speechless fascination for a moment before I remembered that I’d actually brought the camera, and could commit it to pixels as well as memory. Huzzah!

I’ve drawn you a nice little diagram showing you what this cake is so ably illustrating.

Diagram showing what Shelli's Rainbow Fault Cake is portraying.

Diagram showing what Shelli’s Rainbow Fault Cake is portraying.

We can be reasonably sure this fault is dip-slip because it’s very nearly vertical. This one’s an extensional fault – it’s caused by the crust extending. We can tell because it’s a normal fault. The hanging wall’s slip-sliding down relative to the footwall. This indicates the crust is being pulled apart – if it was getting squeezed, a reverse fault would have resulted, wherein the hanging wall would be sliding up. Here’s a quick and easy diagram showing what’s what:

Normal and Reverse Faults. Image courtesy Cferrero and Heron via Wikimedia Commons.

Normal and Reverse Faults. Image courtesy Cferrero and Heron via Wikimedia Commons.

Pretty easy to tell which is the hanging wall – it’s the one left hanging.

So you may have noticed that some of the cake layers are straight, while others are curved. This illustrates drag folding – part of the rock bending under the strain without quite breaking as the two sides of the fault move. Here’s a very nice example of it that looks remarkably like our cake, albeit less rainbowy and certainly less edible:

The "faille des Causses", a geological fault in the Grands Causses, as seen from Bédarieux (Hérault, France).

The “faille des Causses”, a geological fault in the Grands Causses, as seen from Bédarieux (Hérault, France). Image and caption courtesy Xhienne via Wikimedia Commons.

That’s almost eerie, it’s so similar. Cuisine imitates nature – or is it the other way round?

You never know when your food is going to provide a Geological Teaching Moment, so keep your camera close and your utensils closer. When employing edible examples, endeavor to photograph before eating. And ixnay on the uiltgay. You can work off the calories in the field.

Rainbow Fault Cake Recipe

  • 3 boxes yellow cake mix, prepared according to box instructions
  • One small box each of Grape, Berry Blue, Lime, Lemon, Orange and Cherry Jello
  • Frosting of choice

Divide cake batter into 6 equal portions. For each portion, mix in about 1/2 of a small box of Jello. Pour each portion into 8″ round cake pans and bake according to the box instructions. When cakes are baked and cooled, trim the crust off of each. Stack them using frosting to cement each layer, and cover the whole with the remaining frosting. Then slice until you’ve got a nifty fault!

I dedicate this delicious cake to all of the hard-working geology teachers, no matter where or how they teach, and invite them to make free use of the above cake photos. Also dedicated in all its rainbow glory to those couples who got handed a double-victory by the Supreme Court this past week. Happy weddings!

Muchos gracias to Shelli, who made this geocake possible.


Originally published at Rosetta Stones.

The Bonny Swans: Compleat with Images, Music, Literary Analysis, and Funny Stories

Juanita Bay is the winter home for a lot of awesome birds. I think my favorite are the swans. I’m not sure when they arrive, but B and I got to see them a few days ago when we went walkies. They were lovely!

Image shows a line of swans floating in the water. There's a bit of sunset-orange making the water near them blush.

Bonny swans!

This is so much better than a few years ago in February, when Cujo and I saw a bunch of them, but they were all being boring. The most exciting moment was when one tipped over a bit.

Image shows a line of swans in the water, most with their heads tucked into their wings for a good nap. The one on the far left has tipped over with its head underwater.

Sleep-eating, mebbe?

But still: swans! I’m always excited to see swans. Swans were things that happened to other people, back when I lived in Arizona. I thought they were elegant and awesome. I’d grown up on stories like The Ugly Duckling, and then there was Swan Lake, and really, they just sounded incredible. The ballerinas of the animal world. Much too elegant to exist among the plebeian ducks and so forth.

They were even majestic in fairy tales.

I always knew things weren’t right in that family, but it didn’t strike me until today just how effed up the relationship between the lady who became a swan and then a harp and her sister Anne was. I mean, really, check this out:

A farmer there lived in the north country
a hey ho bonny o
And he had daughters one, two, three
The swans swim so bonny o
These daughters they walked by the river’s brim
a hey ho bonny o
The eldest pushed the youngest in
The swans swim so bonny o

K, so we have three daughters. The oldest one gives the youngest the old heave-ho, which I’m given to understand by my friends with siblings isn’t all that unusual. Cruel pranks? Yep, that’s siblings. So far, not that odd. But here’s where it gets really bloody strange:

Oh sister, oh sister, pray lend me your hand
with a hey ho a bonny o
And I will give you house and land
The swans swim so bonny o

All right. I get having to possibly bribe your sibling to pull your soaking wet butt outta the water, but what does it say about your relationship when you have to offer them real estate? Seriously? Something’s really very wrong in that family.

And even that’s not enough for the eldest:

I’ll give you neither hand nor glove
Unless you give me your own true love
The swans swim so bonny o

Criminy. They’re trading men, now. And the eldest just lets her youngest sister drown cuz she can’t have the dude. And the middle sister doesn’t do a thing about it. She was there – the song said so. But not a peep. Not a single attempt to rescue her baby sis. That family has issues, people.

Now, of course, this being a fairy tale, the youngest gets her own back. She gets made into a harp, and is able to play herself, and the harper takes her to her father’s court so she can tell her story. She proves she recognizes all the family, finishing with a sick burn:

And there does sit my false sister, Anne
with a hey ho and a bonny o
Who drowned me for the sake of a man
The swans swim so bonny o

I’m sure there was some consternation, there. One likes to believe that the harp went on to have a nice life, perhaps traveling the world with her handsome harper, while Anne got thrown in the dungeon.

So, a bit grim, or perhaps Grimms, but still, swans. Awesome.

Crop of previous image, showing more detail of the swans. Two have their heads together.

The two facing each other look like lovers, don’t they just?

It wasn’t until Connie Willis introduced me to Jerome K. Jerome that my faith in swans being the absolute most elegant and awesome creatures ever to glide serenely across a lake began to be shaken. This anecdote from Three Men in a Boat* didn’t reflect reality as I understood it.

Harris had a sad expression on him, so we noticed, when we got into the boat. He gave you the idea of a man who had been through trouble. We asked him if anything had happened, and he said-


It seemed we had moored close to a swan’s nest, and, soon after George and I had gone, the female swan came back, and kicked up a row about it. Harris had chivied her off, and she had gone away, and fetched up her old man. Harris said he had had quite a fight with these two swans; but courage and skill had prevailed in the end, and he had defeated them.

Half-an-hour afterwards they returned with eighteen other swans! It must have been a fearful battle, so far as we could understand Harris’s account of it. The swans had tried to drag him and Montmorency out of the boat and drown them; and he had defended himself like a hero for four hours, and had killed the lot, and they had all paddled away to die.

“How many swans did you say there were?” asked George.

“Thirty-two,” replied Harris, sleepily.

“You said eighteen just now,” said George.

“No, I didn’t,” grunted Harris; “I said twelve. Think I can’t count?”

What were the real facts about these swans we never found out. We questioned Harris on the subject in the morning, and he said, “What swans?” and seemed to think that George and I had been dreaming.

Could they really be such arseholes? My beautiful, elegant swans? Apparently, English authors think so, for P.G. Wodehouse came along** to shatter my final illusions. Bertie Wooster’s encounter with an enraged swan that trees him on a roof kind of put paid to my mindless worship of the creatures. Now I watch them warily. But they’re still lovely. And I always love seeing them on our lake.

Image shows the portion of the bay with the swans, sunset on the water, and a couple of people on the dock sort of thing beyond watching them.

They’re bonny at a distance.

Just. Y’know. Don’t get too close.


*To Say Nothing of the Dog is the only book I’ve ever read where the author pulled an actual clever trick with first-person narration. It’s also hilarious. And an excellent love story. And an adventure tale. And a fantastic time travel novel. It’s like everything you ever wanted in a book but didn’t think you could ask for in one. Go read it right this instant.

**This is absolutely a book I recommend for those looking for outstanding British humor. It’s like Monty Python in Victorian England going for a boat ride.

**The Most of P.G. Wodehouse. That’s the book to buy if you want a thorough sampling. He’s one of the best comedic authors I’ve ever read, and this has got a little of everything that makes you happy to curl up on a rainy day and escape to a time when butlers were brilliant, tall tales were taller, and the misunderstandings merrier.

Unidentified Flying Dinosaur: You Guys Jealous of Seahorses or Something?

Winter generally isn’t my favorite season, but there are a few compensations. When the leaves are off and the plants have died back, you can see the geology better. There’s lots of night-time in which to write, which is awesome for a nocturnal person. The cat gets cuddlier the lower the temperature drops. And there are winter visitors. Like these little guys at Juanita Bay.

Image shows a bird with a brown wing, black back, white chest, black face, and white head that looks oddly like a moonpie with all but a single stripe of chocolate along the edge munched off.


There’s usually at least one group of birds around I’ve not seen before. I’m always on the lookout when we got walkies for something new (to me – one of you has probably already identified the above birdie). Our leisurely ramble around Juanita Bay a few days ago didn’t disappoint – these were very eye-catching specimens, both in appearance and behavior.

Image shows a back view of the same bird, showing off the white stripes on its wings.


There were two of the above variety, and one that I’m relatively certain is a female of the same species, based on the fact the guys were acting like idiots around her.

Image shows two males clustered together, looking toward another bird who is darker with a burnt-orange flare of feathers on her head.


It was getting on close to sunset on a cloudy day, so the light wasn’t the best, and she was too dark to really stand out well. But hopefully this shot gives you a general idea of what she looks like.

Image shows same female bird. The head feathers are much different, looking more like a mohawk than a moonpie, but she's of a similar shape to the others, with similar white stripes on her wings, and a nearly-identical beak.


The dudes were doing their best to impress, swimming around her, showing off. They’d swim a bit, then rear their heads up out of the water and curve their heads and breasts back, looking for all the world like avian seahorses. And they’d make a really odd noise I’m having a hard time describing. Good news is, I don’t have to! I took a video for ya. Just turn up the sound, and when they rear back, listen closely: you’ll hear a kind of hollow creaking noise.

That’s them. They sound like sound effects in this Pharoahe Monch song. (If anybody knows what that sound effect is, please enlighten me. It’s now driving me mad.)

Such birds add enjoyment to a winter excursion. Hopefully, we’ll see many more awesome birdies this winter. If global warming’s good for anything, it should be good for sending new and different birds our way, eh? Although these could be regulars I’ve just never noticed.

The whole trio, with one of the males stretching its neck.


I’ve put the full set up at Flickr for those who haven’t gotten enough yet. Enjoy!

A Water Ouzel at Lunchtime, With Bonus Hygiene Footage

You confirmed our suspicions, my darlings – Lockwood and I did indeed see a water ouzel at Clear Lake. Bloody odd for a water ouzel – RQ says she can’t find any other footage of them swimming, and from what I’ve read, I do believe it’s rare behavior. I’ve seen them several times in the wild now, and I’ve never until that day seen them paddling around like any ol’ waterbird. Generally, they’ve been flying into waterfalls and walking boldly into swiftly-rushing water. Like Trebuchet says, it’s “quite amazing.”

Trebuchet’s remark actually reminded me I’d got footage of one at McDowell Creek Falls County Park a little over a year ago. Lockwood and I went there on a lovely May afternoon, and while we were kicking around one of the waterfalls, he spotted a water ouzel. We first saw one or two of them on a ledge up by the falls.

Image shows a water ouzel standing on a wet ledge of rock beside a waterfall.

Water Ouzel, Waterfall.

The little bugger flew straight into the waterfall, I swear to you. I think I even caught a shot of it – you can look here and see a dark little smudge to the left of the right-most branch hanging over the falls. It caught my eye because my camera shot that scene twice to get a better exposure, and that smudge wasn’t in the previous shot. The next photo has got the ouzel landing happily atop the waterfall. Alas, my camera thought we were doing branches, so the ouzel’s blurry. (Yes, I should get a DSLR, but I’m not fond of bulky cameras.)

Lockwood wandered down to the creek below the falls, while I messed about with the rocks and flowers a while longer before following. He pointed out another ouzel, or perhaps the same one, now fishing in the swiftly-flowing water downstream.

Water ouzel fishing in the creek. It's in a relatively shallow part. Behind it, whitewater is towering above it.

That is one brave bloody bird.

Alas, I didn’t get any shots of it walking underwater, and my luck wasn’t in whenever it buried itself in the whitewater. Lockwood got a shot that gets the point across, though.

Image shows the water ouzel in whitewater. Its head appears to be buried in the water, and a wave had broken over it in a splash of droplets.

Fearless Avian Menace to In-Stream Edibles, by Lockwood DeWitt.

The water flow was so fast and full that it looks almost fake in the videos I took. But there’s that bird, unconcernedly wandering around munching. Here’s a video I shot of it lunching for your viewing pleasure.

Of course, before that, it took its own sweet time getting cleaned up. Here’s the bonus video showing water ouzel hygiene routine.

And if you just can’t get enough of this ouzel, there’s a whole photo album full of it for ya. If fortune smiles upon us next summer, I may even be able to get you some more intense water ouzel shots. I fully intend to get back to McDowell Creek with Lockwood and B. I hope our water ouzel is there, washed up, and ready to demonstrate the full range of its native awesomeness for the camera.

Holy Cat

More Misha in sunbeams. Some would take this as a sign from God.

Image shows Misha lying on the floor in sunshine. Shadow on the wall is in the shape of a cross.

We skeptics of course know it is the inevitable result of sunshine shining through one of those windows with the rectangular thingies meant to make it look like it’s got lotsa fancy panes. But shhh. Don’t tell the it’s-a-sign folk. Quick! Look holy!

Same image as before, but Misha has turned her head, looking a bit like she's bowing it.

She’s got that false humility pose down, don’t she? I should take her to church. Imagine their faces when I tell ‘em it’s my cat who’s the Christian. Although I’m pretty sure she actually worships herself.

Why Am I Torturing Myself With Twilight?

Are you going to make it worse?

The reason I ask is because I’d got rather addicted to this Twilight sporking by Das Mervin. All right, so the homophobia and gendered slurs make me wince, and I wish she wasn’t so Catholic that she refrains from giving religious fuckery a good pounding when necessary, but I still couldn’t stop reading. I couldn’t stop even though I kept kicking myself over spending time with this when I had other things to do. I couldn’t stop even when I was screaming along with her at the sheer bloody awfulness of these books. I don’t even remember exactly how I got started – something about wanting to know a bit more about Twilight because of Fifty Shades, but not wanting to go through the agony of reading the actual books. I mean, I appreciate good books. Everyone I’ve ever loved and trusted have said these books are horrible, even the people who like them. They’ve told me enough about them for me to know I should never read them. I will end up like Mervin, tearing out my hair, doing other violence to myself, and screaming myself hoarse over the lack of plot, the horrific grammar, the awful storytelling, the abusive relationships, the g-rated rapes, and other awfulness I can glimpse only dimly through the protective glass others have placed between me and these books.


I’m actually tempted to read them myself, just to see how horrific they really are.

Image shows a white and gray cat, sitting on a table with its paw on an open book, looking at the camera. Caption says, "Sparkly vampires? Why you read this crap?"

Alone and unshielded, I would read every damned word, and report my findings to you, so that you may laugh at my pain. But it’s only worth it if you want my impression of these things. Otherwise, I will set temptation aside, and aside from sporkings, never touch it again.

What do you think? Do you want me to do this? Do you have certain themes you want me to look for and expound upon? Would you like these books thoroughly savaged, even if you love them? Do you want me pointing out where she got the local geology laughably wrong? If you ask me, I will do this for you. Because I love you. But not like Edward loves Bella, because that’s just dysfunctional.

Image is an extreme close-up of a cat's face. Caption says, "Edward kitteh watchez you sleepz. You smell liek bacon."

Along the way, I’d be reading some better fiction, and giving you reviews of it as an antidote to Twilight. Also, we’ll take a trip to Forks, and poke around the local geology while we tip our hats to the locals’ ability to mine shit for gold. (I’ve been through Forks, once. They’ve branded everything with Twilight crap, and the fans apparently eat it up. We’ll see if everything’s still Twilight-branded now or if they’ve decided cash isn’t as crucial as dignity.)

So, what do you think? Want this done? I’ll do it under one condition: one of you will have to send me the books. I’m not going to buy the damned things. I don’t want you buying them for me, either. Stephenie Meyer has made enough money from this drivel. But if you’ve got copies haunting your house, and you haven’t wanted to take them to the used bookstore because you’re a better citizen than to release that tripe into the community, then let me know, and I’ll pay the shipping for you to send them to me.

We’ll mine their rich veins of fail.

Then I’ll figure out something useful to do with them. Perhaps turn them into pet bedding, or use their crumpled pages as packing material as I ship you the rocky trinkets you’ve ordered from the Etsy store I swear is coming soon and will probably be called Dana Hunter’s Gneiss Schist because I can’t bloody resist a geological pun. Or perhaps you’ll come up with an even better fate for them.

So let me know at dhunterauthor at gmail whether you want me to murder brain cells like this. And if you do, we’ll get started just after I finish setting up stores and bleaching my brain with some good fiction.

Also, if you wish to donate small amounts of cash for the copious amounts of alcohol it will take to survive this, or larger amounts for the diligent medical attention it will take to recover from the alcohol poisoning, feel free to make enthusiastic use of the donate button in the sidebar.

Late Roses

It’s been a rather lovely fall, up until the last couple of weeks, during which nature has decided to make up for not raining enough during early and mid October and has rained nearly every day. Some of the local roses didn’t seem to want to let go of summer. It’s always nice to be able to stop and smell them when the leaves are changing.

Now, I’ve seen October roses in Oregon before. I’m always delighted to see them again. When we went to visit Lockwood, we stopped at the rest stop just outside of Albany, and the bushes there were enthusiastically abloom.

Image shows a red-orange rosebud just beginning to open, surrounded by younger buds.

A lovely set of buds.

And, for those who are fans of the single:

The same bud from a slightly different angle, with the other buds cut out.

A single half-blown rose.

But that’s not the most interesting rose. There was one that intrigued me. See if you can spot why:

Image shows a rosebush that has a variety of roses on it: some red, some pink, some red-orange.

A very interesting rosebush.

Here’s a different shot that may make it clear:

The same rosebush from a different angle, clearly showing the different varieties.


See how many different colors there are? I’m not sure if this bush is a lot of bushes planted together, or if they were grafted to the same root stock, or something else, but it was odd and fun to see all those different kinds of roses popping out from what appeared to be a single bush.

Turning now to more local roses: some of our natives planted up by the creek have been enthusiastically blooming this fall. You got a sneak-peek when I showed you one that bees were hanging about on. But I took shots of a bunch, and they were lovely.

Image shows two dark pink wild roses blooming side-by-side. There's the remnants of an older bloom between them.

Native roses.

Some of them were in full bloom, while others were just getting started.

Image shows a dark pink rosebud, most of it tightly closed, but with a couple of petals beginning to unfurl.

Rose. Bud. Extra points to whomever gets the Rocko’s Modern Life reference.

Some were just on the verge of unfurling.

Image is a single dark pink rosebud, looking down into its opening petals.


And the scent, people. I’m telling you, our native wild roses put a lot of cultivars to shame. Yeah, I buried my nose deep in to the ones that hadn’t got insects in them. Inhaling the last of summer, right there by the roadside. I try to set a good example for my fellow citizens.

Here’s one that’s nice and inviting. You can put your schnoz close to the screen and imagine, right?

Image is a single dark pink open rose.

Smell me!!

Notice the brilliant red rose hip there just below it. Love it when they’re all ripe and vibrant like that.

Fate intervened in the form of a kidney infection, or I may have been out there sniffing away as often as I could. But I got one last chance when B and I ventured out for a gentle walk to photograph fly agaric last week. There were still a few roses in bloom, despite the fact their own leaves were turning.

Image shows a different dark pink native rose in bloom, which has fewer petals than the other. Many of the leaves around it are still green, but a fair number have turned bright yellow.

Last brave roses.

See the raindrops on the petals? That’s my northwest, right there.

I had to take a last lingering look at that rosebush, blooming whilst turning yellow, and with a tree turned brown behind it.

Image shows the rosebush from the previous picture, with a tree behind it. The tree's leaves have all turned a russet brown.

Fall couplet.

I love how things hold on around here. Life was rather more sparse and cautious in the desert where I’m from, even up in the more alpine parts of the state. Here, the stuff grabs hold wherever it can, and generally holds on til the very last instant. There are almost always flowers. And it gives you plenty of opportunity to smell the roses, from early spring to late in the fall. I don’t think I’ll be trading this for anywhere else any time soon, unless someone’s got a little cottage on the Mediterranean they want to set me up with. In that case, I suppose I can relocate for a few seasons. But I’d want to come back here. Between the geology and the biology, it’s one of my favorite places on Earth.