Gone to Seed

In honor of the harvest season I decided to dedicate this morning’s walk to seeds.  I had to pay attention, scanning the edges of this black-topped former railway easement, because they are more quietly beautiful than the flowers that begat them.

The woods and fields are a cornucopia filled with tints and tones of brown…

a bountiful array of shapes…

and sizes…

There’s still plenty of green foliage for seeds to hide behind but hungry wildlife are motivated scavenger hunters (so am I, even though I wasn’t searching for breakfast)!

 

Share thoughts, observations, and images of your own seedy neighbors in the comments section below!

[Thanks to the following photographers for making their work available through the Creative Commons license: Anne Worner, CameliaTWUAntinephalistVicki DeLoach, gautsch., Larry Krause, Michael Levine-ClarkDavid SandilandsSo nice, Sunny & Cool!, Joy, Becky McCray, Gilles Gonthier, and Jen Goellnitz© 2017 Sidewalk Zendo. Reprints welcomed with written permission from the author.]

A Room of One’s Own

Insects are all about population-level survival of the species. Life is hard for individuals, starting right out of the egg-gate. You won’t ever catch young preying mantises, stinkbugs, caterpillars whining to Mom about the over-crowded nursery… she’s long gone.  If Mom was around she’d likely say (in her buggy way), “If you don’t like it here, disperse!”

Dispersal is probably a good idea for reasons other than personal space. Non-social insects are serious about eating and if the meal that’s close at hand is a lover, or a sibling, or a child, well, let’s just say that bugs don’t need to be hangry to bite someone’s head off.

But I was reminded recently that there are some members of the six-legged set who appear to have an affinity for what Virginia Wolfe so memorably termed “a room of one’s own.” Dash had stopped to see if some smell was worth rolling in, and I took that opportunity to peruse my immediate surroundings. That’s when I noticed the tree in front of me had leaves with an interesting speckled pattern. I turned one of them over and saw those spots were the result of some insect squatters.

As terrier-boy and I continued on our way, I started watching for other signs of leafy residences with solo-occupants, and found several that demonstrate even larval life-forms like to decorate to suit their own aesthetic preferences.

It never fails to amaze me that there are a seemingly endless number of little universes, right here on the home planet. We don’t even have to build a spaceship and escape gravity to find them. For the most part, all these myriad Earthlings are completely unaware of each other’s existence, despite living side-by-side in the same three dimensions… at least until, for a brief moment when a dog catches a scent and stops to investigate, and his person takes that moment to do a little undercover work of her own.

We don’t have to look far to discover worlds within worlds within worlds.

What weird and wonderful lifeforms have you seen while traveling through the Great Outdoors? Share your thoughts, experiences, and photos in the comments section below!

[Thanks to the following photographers for making their work available through the Creative Commons license: Vlad Proklov (lime nail gall mite), Martin Male (caterpillar tent), Katja Schulz (Ocellate gall midge), Jason Hollinger (maple leaf), and gbohne (cherry oak galls).]

Verdant

The summer of 2017 has been a mild one here in southwestern Virginia, even now, in mid-August. There’s been enough rain but not too much. Temperatures have been temperate, with a tinge of cool in the air most mornings and evenings, and a light breeze to counter the sun’s warmth in the afternoon. The dominant color of my two-a-day walks with Dash has been green. However, that single and admittedly accurate word hardly begins to capture the kaleidoscopic diversity of leafy hues along this one-mile stretch of suburban trail.

The cusp of back to school has reminded me that Mother Nature’s wardrobe of shamrock, fern, mint, moss, pine, and laurel will soon be replaced with goldenrod, pumpkin, and bittersweet tones. I love autumn but I want to make the most of the verdant season so my intention for this morning’s walk was to steep my retinas in green.

Do you have some favorite example of nature at her most gloriously green?  Share photos and comments below!

[Thanks to the following photographers for making their work available through the Creative Commons license: Andrew Cannizzaro, Emilian Robert Vicol, John, MiwokSonny AbesamisJudy Gallagher, Alix May, Stuart Williams, Sonny Abesamis, and Racineur.© 2017 Sidewalk Zendo. Reprints welcomed with written permission from the author.]

Perfectly Imperfect

Now that summer is in full swing there are fewer flowers vying for my visual attention along the deeply shaded section of the Huckleberry where Dash and I walk. Since I’ve learned it’s good to set an intention prior to these excursions, I decided to spend the morning wabi-sabi spotting.

A counterpoint to the conspicuous consumption that had become the prevailing aesthetic of 15th century Japanese culture, wabi-sabi (侘寂) is the art of seeing beauty in imperfection.  In other words, it’s the antithesis of standardized, assembly-line, up-to-spec production for a mass audience that came to prominence in the 20th century.

Wabi-sabi is in the eye of the beholder, a singular perspective. Since my phone is the only camera I own, however, and I don’t like to bring a digital device along on these walks, I’ve included the work of other photographers below to demonstrate the kind of beautiful imperfection to be found in a remnant hardwood forest that meanders through the suburbs of a small university town in southwestern Virginia…

Care to share some of your own examples of imperfectly perfect nature?  Use the comments section below!

[Thanks to the following photographers for making their work available through the Creative Commons license: Dietmut Teijgeman-Hansen, Lisa Brown, Yogendra Joshi, Alyson Hurt, geopungo, bobistravelingVivian Evans, cobalt123, Damon Charles, saiberiac, and Phillip Winn© 2017 Sidewalk Zendo. Reprints welcomed with written permission from the author.]