At Lady Autumn’s Command

It’s getting annoying. The constant, imperious interruptions. Can’t a girl get some peace?

I have been promising Wild Edge readers a Finger Lakes series for weeks. But every time I try to sit down and edit the photos, something else intervenes. From outside my window, the call comes, beckoning – no, demanding.

GO OUTSIDE. BRING YOUR CAMERA. NOT LATER.

NOW.

I tried, but failed, to resist the siren song of September. October was no different. It’s the trees this time. Changing day-by-day to brilliant gold and crimson. The march of the seasons goes relentlessly on, no matter what. One ignores it at one’s peril.

Once again, I am at Lady Autumn’s command.

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Pteridomania: Fiddling Around with Those Fantastic Ferns

Have you caught Fern-Fever yet? Are you now seeing ferns everywhere when you wander through the woods?

In this series so far, we’ve been learning how to identify ferns. We’ve also taken a deep dive into the complicated world of fern reproduction by spores. Now that you are an expert, here’s a little pop quiz.

TRUE or FALSE…

Just kidding! There’s no quiz. It’s time to leave all the botanical nitty-gritty behind, and meet some new ferns. Join me in a fanciful field trip to get to what really matters: the wonder, beauty and just plain weirdness of those fantastic ferns.

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Pteridomania: A Sori Subject

In the throes of Fern-Fever, my friends and I spent countless hours trying to identify ferns in the field. The divisions and shapes of the pinnae, the form a cluster of ferns takes and the habitat where it lives all offered clues to a fern’s name.

But I quickly developed a habit of turning the fronds over to look at the underside, for I knew the strange structures found there held the key to the identity mystery. What was I looking for? The “fern-seed” of Shakespeare?

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Pteridomania

It was just a little over two years ago that my friends and I came down with a severe affliction. Don caught it first and in no time Robb and I were infected. The symptoms were unmistakable: feverish minds, euphoria, aching backs, frequent confusion, blurry eyes, obsession…

What dread disease plagued us? Why, pteridomania, of course…

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Milkweed Morning

It was a dark and steamy morning…The clouds offered conflicting gifts. Limited light made photography a challenge. On the other hand, with dew points in the 70s, the absence of the blazing sun was a relief. There was a dense layer of mist hovering over the surface of the creek, and the woods were cool. But my destination this morning was the meadows where patches of milkweed could be found. Continue reading

Paradise Island

Location, location, location. In real estate, it’s what everybody wants. When it comes to coveted property, Great Egg Harbor Bay has it all. Centrally located and convenient, with a wealth of nearby dining options, the bay is dotted with islands large and small. Most are sandy salt-marsh, nice enough for shorebirds. The discriminating wading bird will be searching for a little bit more. Something with trees, thickets of vines and shrubs, security, and privacy. Perfect condos in which to raise one’s young.

Hi, folks, I’m Harry Night-Heron, real estate reporter for KRTR 99.9 FM, Critter Radio. Welcome to A Home in the Wild where we take a look at the best properties available in the area! What do we look for in a rookery? Location counts, sure, as do the little amenities. But I’ve always said that the mark of a high-end property is the company it keeps, and this neighborhood keeps plenty of it.

Today we offer you a little community that I like to call… Paradise Island. Let’s meet the neighbors, shall we?   Continue reading

Catskill Reveries: Beyond the Catskills

My friends and I came to the Catskill Mountains with preconceived beliefs, only to find our admittedly low expectations far exceeded by the beauty of the region.

Although the Catskill Mountains were the center of attention during our week-long vacation, they aren’t the only attraction in southeastern New York state. We’d visited the Hudson River Valley, but smaller ranges like the Taconics, the Shawangunks and the Helderbergs tempted with their own unique charms. Still, with our trip at its end, Robb, Don and I were out of time to explore any of the rugged places beyond the Catskills.

Or were we?   Continue reading

Catskill Reveries: In the Hall of the Mountain King

The Summer Queen looked dubiously at the knights-apprentice kneeling before her. “You want to take them where?” she inquired of the wood elf beside them.

“To Dibble’s Quarry, Your Majesty.”

“You would take them to the Hall of the Mountain King? Why?”

“Because it’s time, Your Majesty. They have served you well, and deserve the chance to prove their mettle on this quest. Besides, I think they’d enjoy it.”

“ENJOY IT?!” the Queen convulsed in gales of laughter. “Oh, child, you do amuse me! Very well, for your pluck alone, I shall grant them this quest. Perhaps the Mountain King will find them amusing as well. Please bear my greetings to His Highness. But be sure you do not return without his token! Though I will be surprised if you succeed in this quest. It’s a rare visitor to his Hall that has the fortitude to win such a boon.”

“You… you don’t think the King will be there, surely?” the elf asked in a quavering voice.

“I know not. The Mountain King is no consort of mine, he does not answer to me. I bear no responsibility for what may come to pass should you find him at home.”

For the first time, the respectfully lowered eyes of one knight-apprentice looked up from the ground. “We are prepared, My Queen, and ready for all challenges. What could go wrong?”

As the travelers turned to leave, the Summer Queen wiped tears of mirth from her eyes. “What could go wrong, indeed!”   Continue reading

Life Interrupted

The change was so drastic and unexpected, my head still spins. One day I was happily reliving last summer’s Catskills adventures, while dreaming of the approaching spring and all the places I’d go. Jenkins Arboretum and the preserves along the Susquehanna for the spring wildflowers. National wildlife refuges for warblers and nesting shorebirds. The Pine Barrens for – well, just because it’s the Pine Barrens. The White Mountains in May. Texas in June to see Mexican free-tailed bats.

Just as quick as turning out a light, it all went away. Wiped out by a microscopic virus. One day, the world is my oyster; the next, that world has shrunk to a grain of sand. My life, interrupted.

What’s a nature girl to do?   Continue reading

Catskill Reveries: Living on the Edge (Part Two)

Recap: In the previous episode, our intrepid Expeditionary Team had scaled enormous boulders, braved overhanging cliffs, and fought off voracious wild beasts (inchworms) to reach Artists Rock in the Catskill Mountains. When we last saw them, they were perched precariously at the edge of the world.

What’s next for our wandering, wondering heroes? Continue reading