Monday, December 14, 2009

Winter Walk

Welcome to my world.

Walking along my favorite trail on Saturday I stopped to take a photo of the Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) next to the last bit of snow. It just looked so pretty I couldn’t resist. I think they are called Christmas ferns because they stay green all year long and in the past were used as part of Christmas time greenery. It was the first fern that I learned the name of and still remember it to this day. You see the pinnae (little individual leaf like parts) have a lobe on the base that makes them look like a mitten, a Christmas mitten and that is how I remember.

The spores are produced on the small pinnae near the end of the fern frond and are called fertile pinnae. They are smaller than those at the base and once the spores are spread into the wind they shrivel up and turn brown but I don't see any here.

On down the trail I came to the tree with the three mushrooms growing on the side. Remember I wrote about it last month and thought you might like to see how they are progressing. You can see the original post HERE. They are melting away.

I went further up the trail than I have been going lately and ventured into the first meadow where I found some tracks in the snow. The snow was still pretty deep here and I was not able to figures out what made the tracks and I am just learning to recognize tracks.

This same meadow is surrounded by Virginia Pine (see previous blog) and I found a good example of cones showing one closed, one partly open and one fully open.

Back on the trail I went still further up to the larger meadow and found some Bittersweet (Celastru orbiculatus). I’m not sure where the name came from but it seems appropriate to me because the seeds look beautiful and are fun to collect for winter decoration on wreaths but after the season is over the seeds that dropped to the ground are near impossible to pick up and they begin to grow where you don’t want them. It is very invasive and best to leave in the woods. When it climbs up trees it can smother them and actually break some of the smaller trees from the weight of the Bittersweet fruit. I read that it was introduced in the 1860’s and often associated with old home sites. And it just so happened that I was in an old home site or what appeared to be one.

Close up of the Bittersweet.

You can see here where fencing from the old farm has become a part of this tree as the tree continued to grow. This is a common site on this land. At first it looked strange to see a fence coming out of the tree but now I am used to seeing it. Isn’t it wonderful how trees do their best to keep growing and not give into our neglect? I love to find evidence of these old homesteads.

I found the fence because I was off the trail taking a photo of this Running Ground Pine (Lycopodium clavatum). They are part of the Clubmoss family Lycopodiaceae.

The sky was starting to get an overcast so I headed back to the car. While I was in the parking lot a Red Shouldered Hawk flew over and landed on a nearby branch. It stayed while I tried to get a good photo and then flew off. I wonder if it was the one I saw this summer and shared a moment with. You can read about that one HERE. Saying goodbye to the hawk I drove on home after a wonderful day in the woods.


Sylvia K said...

What a lovely, wintery walk! Thanks for sharing the fun and the beauty, Squirrel! Delightful photos!

Have a great week and stay warm!


Stine in Ontario said...

Nice post. I was in the forest near me today and saw green ferns too. Now I will have to look at it more clearly to find out if it's Christmas fern.

The bittersweet is probably the Asian variety and not the native one if it is invasive. You are smart to NOT use it as a decoration.

I very much enjoyed this post.

Photo Cache said...

Nice post. I feel the chill.

Riet said...

What a great post and I love your pictures

Valerie said...

You have such a lovely blog. Great information and nice pictures. Thanks for sharing so much!

Woodswalker said...

There's always SOMEthing neat to see on a winter's walk. Thanks for taking us along on yours. I was taught that the pinnae of Christmas Ferns look like little Christmas stockings. But mittens work just as well. I was glad to learn about Virginia Pine. We don't have that one up here in northern NY.

Di said...

I know your excitement with regard to the hawk for one landed in the Doug fir outside my window on Friday morning. So beautiful and I was not quick enough to catch him in flight.

Indrani said...

No snow around here in this part of my world. Your shots are very cool. :)

Powell River Books said...

You live in beautiful country. We just got our first snow this week as well here in the Pacific Northwest. I want to get home to Coastal BC but will wait another day for better road conditions. I just bought an interesting thermoelectric generator from a company called TEG in Morgantown, WV. Is that near you? - Margy

Carolyn Ford said...

Such a beautiful walk. Your photos are amazingly striking.

Misalyn said...

Thanks for the winter walk Judy. I enjoyed looking at your photos, something that I have never seen before (unfortunately, there's no snow here in UAE and even in the Philippines).

Have a nice day.

JOE TODD said...

Lovely post. I have many photos very similar to yours. I think we both go on the same kind of hikes. Really like the photo of the fence attatched to tree. I did a post once on the "old line fence" I really like your part of the world. My wife and I visited Harpers Ferry,Gettysburg and Antietam last spring.

squirrel said...

Sylvia, Stine thank you for your nice comments.

Photo Cache, Riet, Valerie, and Carolyn thanks for the compliments on the photos. I love to take them and even more to share them.

Woodswalker, I have heard about the Christmas stocking, I guess I just remember what I first learned. It actually fits with the Christmas theme better.

Di, I am learning to attach my camera to my body where ever I go. I never remember my cel phone but I do better with the camera.

Indrani and Misalyn I would like to visit your worlds some day.

Powell, Morgantown is about 4 hours west of me. I am in the tip of the eastern panhandle at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers.

Joe, yes Ohio does share a lot of similar terrain with us but WV is the Wild and Wonderful state. ;-) Come back any time.

Barb said...

Wonderful photos - I enjoyed my walk with you. I believe the tracks are canine and could be coyote - they seem too far apart to be fox. Both coyote and fox tracks have a one foot in front of the other (necklace-like) pattern.

Dirkjogt said...

Great pictures of the surrounding nature. Thanks for sharing this.

squirrel said...

Barb, it could be a cayote. Someone asked me yesterday if I had seen on the mountain. He had seen one on his farm. I will keep looking for signs.