Saturday, July 28, 2012

Friday Flora Famous Last Words Edition

I can assure you that we have flowers here. Summer is setting in, and things are finally drying out and the days occasionally move beyond warm into the realm of hot. Nonetheless, a couple of orchids are blooming under the seasonless lights, and there's still Tritellia and Clarkia and Vicia species hanging on in the main field, clinging to the last of spring. Weather like this moved me and brother M. to explore the creek that runs through our property.
Oak Creek runs below our house, running perpendicular to the shale bedrock that underlies our property. Walking in the center of the stream avoids one big problem: there is lots of poison oak. However, the underlying rock makes for another problem: different layers of shale erode differently. Sometimes, the creek is shallow and has a ridged bottom with a floor of sand, which supports the historical reports of fish runs in the creek. In other places, the rock is little more than condensed clay. This erodes easily, making deep pools. Walking up the creek, there is an alternation of shallow riffles and deep, still pools.

The clay layers in the shale have another interesting characteristic--the creek erodes them into an extremely fine, almost greasy silt, which suspended by water makes a phenomenal lubricant. So, famous last words? I am reminded of the last words of the Union Civil War general John Sedgwick, speaking of Confederate snipers: "They couldn't hit an elephant at that distance." I was walking along, past a tiny little twig dam that had toothmarks suggesting that it was the work of beavers. I turned to brother M. and started to say something to the effect of "gotta be careful here, this clay is amazingly slippery." This is the next thing:
I went all the way in, and so did my camera, and my dark glasses are somewhere in there. The camera seems to be kaput, alas, so no new picture. Fortunately, I have a bunch of pictures from Crater lake. So, here's a really neat Ceanothus species that was growing near the crater rim--it's a creeping plant, spreading over the ground, and I had no idea what it was till I saw the flowers.

I suppose it could have been worse. Far better to slip and fall into Oak Creek than to do the same into Crater Lake.

1 comment:

  1. You got a smile to my face. So I guess a new camera will now be sought.