We started with a reading from Janisse Ray describing the Altamaha River as a library, which Hugh read.
This river (The Altamaha) is a library, full of biota. In these stacks, everything is written in different languages. There is a dialect for motions at the surface of water, ripples and waves and mini- volcanoes and sometimes only a shimmering of wind. Each species has its own vernacular, rasps and howls and bellows and flutelike songs. Fish have a lingo of puff and plop, and wild speech falls off the tongues of amphibians and reptiles. There is also a language beyond sound.
In this library, one shelf is for mussels and one is for bream that live in submerged bank roots. There is a cabinet for the life of canopies and a dictionary of grass. This library contains a reference for butterflies, a catalogue of birds. It offers a concordance of arthropods, a circulation of seeds.
The river runs and runs. It runs until it makes a circle, half in the sky, and finds itself again. It runs not simply to haul rainfall out of Georgia.
Not only to water the land.
Not only to nourish these forests.
Not only because it is a storehouse of life.
The river runs because it is the keeper of mystery. It is the bearer of what cannot be humanly borne. It is the course of transformation. It is a sacred urn that, once opened, changes everything.
(From Janisse Ray, Drifting into Darien (Athens: UGA Press, 2011), pp x-xi.)
Bob Walker showed photos of the Gulf Fritillary that emerged from the chrysalis that Dale brought last week and which Bob took home to protect and see what emerged.
Our ramble today was through the International Garden to the Purple Trail and then back by way of the Orange Trail. Went around the Beaver Pond on the Orange Trail and took it all the way to the Upper Parking lot.
What did we find? There was so much -- In the Southeast Section we discovered:
Ironweed (Vernonia gigantea),
Seashore mallow (i called it swamp mallow)(Kosteletzkya virginica)
Obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana)
Late-flowering Thoroughwort (Eupatorium seratinum)
Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana)
A mystery plant showed up along the walk to the Endangered Plant Garden. But we did see a St. Andrews Cross (Hypericum crux-andreae)
In the Bog Garden were
White topped pitcher plant (Sarracenia leucophylla)
Red pitcherplant (Sarracenia rubra)
Yellow Trumpets (Sarracenia lava)
Pale Meadowbeauty (Rhexia mariana)
In the Endangered Plant Garden we found Mountain Catchfly (Silene ovate)
On the way from there to the Purple Trail we found Skullcap (Scutellaria sp) which we first called a lobelia until Don showed me a picture which was obviously a skullcap. We also saw Royal fern (Osmunda regalis), which is a wet area plant and seemed out of place in the dry area. It was not as robust as when one sees it in its preferred habitat.
Along the Purple Trail we discussed trees: hop hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana) with bark that looks like a cat scratched it. Northern red oak (Quercus rubra) which has white streaks like ski tracks. But Scarlet oak (Quercus coccinia) also has ski tracks but is found on drier ridges like up on the white trail near the deer fence. All the red oaks have bristles on the points of leaves. Beech (Fagus grandifolia) had beech aphids (white dancers) with their droppings on the ground and on branches below the aphids were sooty mold. We also noted the very tall persimmon tree (Diospyrus virginiana). Passing through the deer fence we smelled the crushed leaves of Georgia mint, or Georgia basil (Clinopodium georgianum, synonom: Satureja georgiana). There did not seem to be much fragrance. At the end where the Purple Trail joins the Orange Trail we discussed the difference between muscle wood (Carpinus caroliniana) and hop hornbeam. It is a great place to do this because both trees are growing near each other.
Along the Orange Trail:
Leafy stem elephant's foot (Elephantopus caroliniianus) which grows along the river in the floodplain, whereas the elephant's foot (E. tomentosus) grows in drier ridges in the natural areas of the Garden.
We marveled at the size of the river birches along the Oconee River.
In the beaver pond duck potato (Sagittaria latifolia) and jewelweed or touch-me-nots (Impatiens capensis) were blooming.
Sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis)
Winged elm (Ulmus alata) where we could actually see the wings on the branches and twigs low down.
Jump seed or Virginia knotweed (Polygonum virginianum)
Green-headed coneflower or cut leaf coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata)
Smoky-eye Boulder Lichen (Porpedia albocaerulescens)
Climbing hydrangea (Decumaria barbara) that Martha pointed out.
An unknown mushroom way up the hill that some hiked up to view. It was the same orange color as a Chanterelle, but it was on wood. Not good.
Naked Flower tick trefoil (Hylodesmum nudiflorum)
High bush blueberry (Vaccinium elliotii) with green new growth stems
Beechdrops (Epifagus virginiana)
Broad Beech fern (Thelypteris hexagonoptera)
Rattlesnake fern (Botrychium virginianum)
Grape fern (Botrychium biternatum)
We looked for a spittle bug so that Emily could share her reading of "Bubbles," but we never did see one, so she read it when we arrived at the Upper Parking Lot at the end of the ramble.
Emily read a poem by Joyce Sidman from her book, Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets:
bubbles of pearl,
all in a clustery,bubbly swirl
Bubbles I blow
from my own bubble-spout
I’ll never come out!)
bubbles of foam
snug bubble –home
keeps my skin tender
saves me from drought
I’ll never come out!)
bubbles of spume
guard me and hide me
in my bubble-room
Until I am a grownup
and wings fully sprout
I’ll never come out!
What am I?
After which we retired as usual for conversation and snacks at Donderos'