Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Winter Woods---and Wind

Fall woods are so obviously beautiful. In-your-face beautiful. Winter woods like those we trekked today have a much more subtle beauty.


We went to Chattahoochee in western Gadsden County in search of trilliums. We found them ---and much more. Trilliums are only found in Florida in some places in the panhandle, though they are common in more northern states. Trilliums have three leaves, hence the name. They are among the first plants that arise in the woods in spring. There were dozens and dozens of them up today. In a few weeks, a flower will appear in the center of the three bracts. This picture was made last February.


Today, B spotted a rare one:


So do we call this one a quadrillium?

And later he spotted this one:


A bi-illium? All the others had three bracts. We do not remember ever seeing any variation before.

We came across a black racer (we think) sunning on this chilly day. He looked as though he might have recently eaten.

100_1130 He was probably 4-5 feet long.

Most of the leaves were down in the woods, though if you looked up you might see the occasional golden sugar maple and this swamp chestnut oak that was down-right gaudy in its chartreuse, yellow and orange get-up.


The beech cling to their brown, papery leaves until late spring and only drop them when the new ones are coming out.


We found a few of the giant swamp chestnut acorns. One had been split and upon closer investigation, we saw that a race was in place. The acorn had begun to grow, but so had a weevil larva. The weevil eats the inside for its nutrition, but it is almost time for it to be leaving to go underground to pupate. Will this acorn still have a chance to grow into a tall oak tree? We will never know. But of course if all acorns or even most acorns grew into trees, where would we be?


This pine shows where a sapsucker, a kind of woodpecker, has been at work.


After leaving the woods, we went to see the dam nearby that creates Lake Seminole. The wind was really crazy there and the water was being blown off the top of the dam in large sheets that became spray.


We watched a man catch an enormous striped bass.


And the wind there never stopped.

What a great New Year's Day!

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