"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hiking Weather.

 It's hiking season! We went out for a good trek this weekend, warming the boys up for our upcoming visit to Yellowstone National Park. They're good little trailblazers, running in short bursts down the path ahead of us, and always excited to look for "treasures" on the way.
 We have a Nature Shelf in our dining room china cupboard, for just these sorts of finds. The rule is that if you carry it home yourself, then you get to keep it. I haul no booty for the crew, only my own treasures. But I am generous with my shelf space and allow any little feather or rock or stick a place if it is lovingly hauled back in the pocket of a young collector.
 We saw a few live creatures on this hike...like this beautiful little orange Eastern Newt...the only newt we have in our state, apparently! He held perfectly still while we all crept up close to him for a good look and then, Dee even stroked him with an outstretched index finger and he still sat stoically. We'd have stayed longer and tried holding him if the mosquitoes had allowed it.
 We saw a whole bunch of mating pairs of sexton beetles, like this one, on a tree stump. After I little research at home I found out that this meant that the beetles had found a dead animal somewhere nearby and the males had sent out pheremone signals to attract wives and all the new couples would now fight it out for ownership of the corpse where the winning pair would lay eggs and raise young. Just a little woodland drama for you! They are really pretty insects, if a bit macabre.
 Then we saw this snake....just about to cross our path when we startled it into high-tailing back into the woods. It's a rat snake, and was pretty long although very slender. A and I guessed it was between three and four feet in length...longer than Ru is tall. Handily, it is non-venomous, and also shy. I'm pretty certain I saw a rat snake one other time when we lived at the condo, last year or the year before....it was whirling it's way up a tree, looping around the trunk in quick spirals. Apparently this snake is an agile forest dweller that is adept at both climbing and swimming, able to get around cleverly wherever it finds itself.
Just before we finished our walk, Dee sat down to rest on a rock by the trail and found this little, glinting dragonfly wing. Quite an impressive souvenir for a three year old to spot! My inner outdoors-woman was very proud. I'd say the boys will do just fine Out West.
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