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I'm in Wisconsin; My Blog's Still in Pennsylvania

Monday, May 21, 2007

Yes, I'm peregrinating, and there's a bit of a lag from one trip to the other as I scurry around planting and watering and weeding and downloading photos and shuttling the kids to and from sports events. Agggghhh. I never even unpacked my Pennsylvania suitcase before I had to pack for Wisconsin (I'm headlining the first annual Chequamegon Bay Birding and Nature Festival May 18-20). There was so much happening in Pennsylvania on the weekend of May 10-13 that it's flopping all over my trip to Wisconsin, and even I'm confused. Sitting in the rockin' Duluth airport, on my way home again from WI, with FREE wireless Internet (hear that, stingy ol' Columbus?), sending a canned post your way. I've got to download the Wisconsin photos on my home desk computer or risk melting my laptop...you'll be hearing about boreal birding in Wisconsin later in the week. In two words, Wisconsin ROCKED.

I'll be hitting you with some real boreal stuff, wildflower and bird, but for now, here are some more northwest Pennsylvania wildflowers...here's dwarf ginseng, Panax trifolium.Do you know who this is?

Breeding Blackburnian warblers sing a song so high-pitched that it spirals up out of the range of my hearing at the end, and that's the single best way to identify it. I couldn't get anything but this tiny burning coal, straight overhead. Ah, well, you can tell what it is. Oh, to live where Blackburnians breed, that would be a very fine thing. Not complaining, mind you; Kentucky and cerulean warblers are fine, too.
We've got these, the wandering juvenile phase of the red-spotted newt, known as the red eft. Earlier this spring, I posted about our nearby newt pond. I was delighted to find this little creature moving through a mud puddle, on his way who knows where. Efts can travel for miles, spreading newt genes far and wide. They're gene-dispersal machines.
Blue cohosh, with its interestingly-hued flowers and leaves of glaucous blue
I wasn't in the hellebore swamp for long before I heard the annoyed squeal of a yellow-bellied sapsucker, a bird I should have expected, but which took my by surprise. Of course they'd breed here, tapping sugar maples! About a mile farther down the trail, I found a glorious male, drumming his unique broken-staccato song. Oh, what delight to hear it ringing through the quiet woods!
The woodland was nearly flat, and the trails looped around on themselves. I wasn't at all sure where I was going, but I kept walking, hoping that they formed a loop, fighting the thought that they'd lead me away from my car to parts unknown. It was drizzling and I couldn't even tell where the sun was to orient myself. Needless to say, I got back to my car in a couple of hours, and was mighty glad to see it. That little flutter at the breastbone was part of the magic of being alone.
A young sugar maple surges upward, in the shade of its parent's corpse. I had to stand and look at this for a long time. The mature tree had broken off in the wind a couple of years earlier, and its child was wasting no time going on with life.

I'll be flying and hanging out in airports for the rest of today. Bill of the Birds is home from his weekend at Mohican State Forest in central Ohio, and he sounds really tired. I don't have the stay-up-late gene, and there was nobody to talk to but the birds, so I tucked myself in by 9:30 each night, and surprised myself by sleeping soundly for eight or nine hours at a stretch. This tells me that there's something going on with my life at home that keeps me up. Well, it's not something, it's probably about ten million things. But it's nice to know I CAN sleep like a normal person when I'm out of context. That the systems all work; I've just got to pare away some of the worry and work that keep me running like a hyperkinetic shrew from dark of dawn to midnight. Hmmm. Travel, if you do it right, is good for creating perspective.

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