Encounter with Sleepy Young Ravens
The other day, while taking a stretch break from the anti-ergonomic act of photographing tiny lichens on a rocky slope, I looked up to find I was being silently watched:
I could tell it was a juvenile raven because of the fleshy pink “gape flange” at the base of its beak.
I watched as it rested there: quietly preening, yawning and occasionally blinking its spooky nictitating membrane at me.
In Bloom: Nootka rose (Rosa nutkana)
An early morning stroll during May to July (according to the altitude) may discover the year's first Nootka Rose. Who has not then savoured the pleasure of the moment, the visual delight of the elegant buds, and the dewey freshness of the blossoms, the memorable fragrance—both of flower and foliage.
— Lewis J. Clark, Wild Flowers of British Columbia
Named after Nootka Sound here on Vancouver Island—where it was originally discovered—Nootka rose's thorny thickets make great habitat for birds and other small animals, and its flowers are loved by bees and butterflies. This qel'qulhp (Halkomelm for 'wild rose bush') has been traditionally used by many Indigenous groups for a number of medicinal and culinary purposes.
Path to Enlichenment | Part I: Sweet Pixie Cups
Meet the mealy pixie cup lichen:
As described in this well-written broadcast, these fairy-dust-coated miniature goblets do indeed look as though they were set on a table of bright green moss, waiting to have single raindrops fill the cups so they may be gulped down by tiny wood sprites.
Each Cladonia chlorophaea (Flörke ex Sommerf.) Sprengel is created from a symbiotic relationship between fungi and algae. Put simply, the fungi creates the structure, and the algae provides food through photosynthesis. Each granule of fairy dust, or soredia is made up of a few cells from each of the two organisms. The lichen are reproduced when the granules are spread, which can happen in a variety of ways: perhaps a strong wind, or a drop of water plunking into the cup & splashing onto the surrounding earth, or a passing deer trampling a patch of them.
More luscious pictures & thoughts:
Web Reads: Free wild birds & Creative processes
Being a full-time internet nature artist is great, weird, and lonely. This bird project felt more like being together than making art and I, who have never been up to the task of any sort of self-imposed daily practice, took dozens of pictures every day, sharing them with my internet friends. My friends became his friends, and I think caring about him became a way for them to care about me.
I came upon this heartfelt and entertaining essay about a city-dwelling human's friendship with Frank the scrub-jay through Robin Sloan's latest newsletter. Elisabeth does a fantastic job interweaving the emotion and humor of befriending free wild birds, and inspires me to want to write about my friendship with Patience—the only crow that I ever named, and who the stamp which serves as my bird-avatar here is based upon. Maybe at some point I'll post the results on this blog...
(On a side note: As I was reading Elisabeth's story, I realized that I've encountered parts of it before through her great dioramas.space project.)
~ On the pleasures of a creative practice that is uniquely your own
A funny coincidence: I was starting to put together a post about two sleepy juvenile ravens (stay tuned!) when I got side-tracked reading an interview on The Creative Independent (“a growing resource of emotional and practical guidance for creative people” that I check occasionally). Its title (above) caught my eye, 'cause I've been pondering my own creative practice around playing piano. It ended up being an interview with composer and keyboardist Roger O’Donnell (of The Cure), who happens to have just released a beautiful piano album, called—get this—2 Ravens. Full circle! I love stuff like that.
A bit from the interview:
It’s that abstract part of creativity that really interests me. When things are just flying around in your head and coming out. That’s what I find most interesting.
It’s when you have to make it palatable or understandable to other people that it becomes mundane. We all have these visions and sounds in our heads that are absolutely fantastic and amazing, but you then have to make them understandable to other people.
— Roger O'Donnell
Camas in Bloom: Beautiful Variations in Hue
Weed-of-the-Week: Sticky Willy
Stinky Bob & Sticky Willy — Forever personified in my mind as a pair of villains from an old Western film...
Over the past week, I've spent a fair deal of time tracking the now all-too-familiar scent of 'diesel and mint' around to discover the various shady hideouts of Stinky Bob (Sneaky Bob would also be appropriate...). Throughout much of that pursuit, a certain Sticky Willy has been frequently caught up in the mix with a lanky sprawl which got me wondering if these two are in cahoots to bully our native seedlings out.
Having previously read that despite being listed as regionally 'noxious', Willy isn't invasive, so I've let it be in certain areas. But after digging a bit deeper, I'm having second thoughts about this gangling herb.
Secret of the ghost swing
Known in some Salishan languages as the 'swing of the ghost' (or of the owl: q’ít’əәʔəәtsəәspəәlqwít’thəәʔ), this beautiful western trumpet honeysuckle provides food and shelter for at least 20 bird species in our area, and is also frequented by swallowtail butterflies. Likewise, amongst hominids, its nectar has served as a natural treat for children, its leaves and bark used for medicine, and its stems for building bridges.
Hum Hill Recipe Corner: Simple Banana Oat Pancakes
On a typical day here, we're usually munching down bowls of granola for breakfast (partially because we wake up at very different times). But when we want to have a fancy breakfast together, we whip up this nice simple pancake recipe which Seán's mom introduced us to (and accentuate it with granola, of course):
Seán's glorious stack for Mother's Day