Fragments from Floyd Photos and Front Porch Musing from Floyd County Virginia Tue, 23 Jun 2015 12:28:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Minnewaska: Ulster County NY Catksills Tue, 23 Jun 2015 12:28:31 +0000 Continue reading Minnewaska: Ulster County NY Catksills ]]> IMG_0450SteveFlyBranch480Sorry, we have house guests and such so only a link to some images from the recent NY trip this morning.

First use of a new “story-telling” app called Grapewise. Maybe I missed some of the potential for this tool on first use, but will need to see more from this to be tempted to use it further.

A few images at Grapewise. Seems you can’t click from one to the next. Meh.

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Catskills Part One: Kaaterskill Falls Thu, 18 Jun 2015 11:34:52 +0000 Continue reading Catskills Part One: Kaaterskill Falls ]]> Upper Kaaterskill Falls
Upper Kaaterskill Falls Creek, a rock cairn accents the view, mid-stream

Kill this. Kill that. Fishkill. Peekskill. Fresh Kills. Say what?

Okay. It’s a Dutch term meaning creek or waterway (a vestige of the area’s colonial past) and found its way into Catskill–ONE name for this dissected assortment of variously protected natural areas in New York State. The geology seemed familiar in places to me as someone familiar with the Ridge and Valley and Allegheny Plateau geology:

Geologically, the Catskills are a mature dissected plateau, a once-flat region subsequently uplifted and eroded into sharp relief by watercourses. The Catskills form the northeastern end of, and highest-elevation portion of, the Allegheny Plateau (also known as the Appalachian Plateau).

Although the Catskills are sometimes compared with the Adirondack Mountains further north, the two mountain ranges are not geologically related, as the Adirondacks are a continuation of the Canadian Shield.

Similarly, the Shawangunk Ridge, which forms the southeastern edge of the Catskills, is part of the geologically distinct Ridge-and-Valley province, and is a continuation of the same ridge known as Kittatinny Mountain in New Jersey and Blue Mountain in Pennsylvania.

The reference to the “CAT” of the region’s name is in some debate, and there have been many who argued for something less Dutch and more distinctive in contrast to the competing mountains in nearby states:

The locals preferred to call them the Blue Mountains, to harmonize with Vermont’s Green Mountains and New Hampshire’s White Mountains. It was only after Washington Irving’s stories that Catskills won out over Blue Mountains, and several other competitors.

And so Kaaterskill Falls inherited a name early on when the mountain label was still being established. It is the highest waterfall in NY state, and most likely, the most dangerous for the typical tourist to reach, as it requires a death-defying cliff-hugging scamper along a massively-busy Winnebago-traveled highway over the quarter mile that separates the parking lot from the trail at the base of the falls. Caveat emptor.

What we didn’t know until later that day was that traffic was WAY up because an impending major music festival (25k strong) near Tannersville–our original destination, aborted for less-traveled places that evening and the next day. And more on that, anon.

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Klingon Devil Pods: Trapa natans Wed, 17 Jun 2015 11:01:02 +0000 Continue reading Klingon Devil Pods: Trapa natans ]]> IMG_4349devilpods480And it turns out that the name we gave it– “Devil Pods”– is one of the historically-used “common names” for this plant. It took us a while to finally conclude that it was indeed a plant, since the pods seem to be made of a very hard alien material rather than any botanical matter we’d ever seen.

So had concluded at first that these were actually baby Klingons, dropped at Kingston Point Park along the Hudson. But then I knew that I had seen images of this bizarre thing from the web on Planet Earth, so as we drove towards our next destination (Massawaska State Park) I attempted to ID the six (empty non-viable) pods we brought with us.

And in this I failed. But my friend’s daughter back home that evening googled “Catskills black seed” and it was the first item listed. Go figure: the range extends from Virginia to Canada. And a friend for dinner that night–a kayaker–recognized the pods immediately and with some loathing as “Water Chestnut.” And it has both a good and a bad reputation–the former, back in Asia from which this invasive derived, the latter among those who fancy open surfaces on  waterways.

Also called water caltrop, water chestnut, buffalo nut, bat nut, devil pod, and ling nut, this water-rooted plant can quickly choke waterways.

“Water chestnut was first observed in North America near Concord, Massachusetts in 1859. The exact path for the introduction is unknown. It has been declared a noxious weed in Arizona, Massachusetts, North Carolina and South Carolina and its sale is prohibited in most southern states.

“Water chestnut can grow in any freshwater setting, from intertidal waters to 12 feet deep, although it prefers nutrient-rich lakes and rivers. Presently, the plant is found in Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania, with most problematic populations occurring in the Connecticut River valley, Lake Champlain region, Hudson River, Potomac River and the upper Delaware River.”

I should mention that we found these botanical land mines on a sandy beach near the volleyball nets. I still think they were dropped on our planet with sinister intent. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Water Chestnut (Trapa natans)

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The Creature (Dis)comforts of Air Travel Tue, 16 Jun 2015 11:36:48 +0000 Continue reading The Creature (Dis)comforts of Air Travel ]]> It had been months in the planning. A college buddy invited me to his home in Westchester County, NY. On Saturday I would speak at the Pound Ridge Reservation Trailside Museum. On Thursday and Friday he and I would hike in the Catskills. But there were issues at both airports that made getting there an ordeal.

First there was the altercation with TSA that resulted in the letter below, crudely typed in flight while I was still fuming and indignant. Then at my destination, I suffered the consequences of the airline cavalierly moving my flight FOUR HOURS earlier than scheduled less than 24 hours in advance of departure. My friend’s day did not let him blow off planned meetings to fetch me home. So I sat and waited. Sort of.

I got to spend three hours like a street person at LaGuardia, where when you pick up your baggage, they want you OUTTA THERE and provide no place to sit except where you see me splayed out in the window. Color me disgusted with air travel at that point.

But in spite of some other glitches, we landed on our feet in the Catskills, and perhaps more about that soon. I offer my letter, just as a way of venting, and can’t imagine I’ll bother to pretend that sending it would do anything more than add all my personal details to a database watch-list and risk of future harassment, should, God forbid, I EVER have to get on an airplane again.

To Whom if May (or May Not) Concern at TSA

A micro leather man tool on my keychain was confiscated by TSA. It included a blade maybe an inch long and this was deemed a sufficient threat to do what? Somebody could do more damage with a large paper clip. Are paper clips “illegal”? Hair pins? Please offer some common sense maximum-permissible blade length that is determined by potential lethality.

I find it hard to believe that no effort has been made to provide convenient  access to prepaid mailers at public airports. If available these could be purchased quickly so that when small items of great personal value are confiscated at check-in they do not end up for sale. I was told taken items are sold, and this is disturbing.

Taken items should be incinerated so that opportunists with government contracts do not profit. Found items are one thing. TAKEN items should not benefit anyone–especially any entity doing business with the government.

This Leatherman tool was a special gift from my daughter and when it was taken I was given no real option other than to miss my flight to prevent this from being held and sold. That is unacceptable. Please arrange additional options for mailing personally valuable items to our homes rather than having the only choice be  “you can run it back to your car” parked a half mile across the blistering asphalt with 20 minutes before boarding. I am not O J Simpson. My checked luggage was by then already out of the terminal.

I saw your sign asking for input to TSA and have the faint hope that our tax dollars pay for someone at the other end who both listens and has the will and the authority to respond appropriately to disturbing experiences like what has just happened to me on June 10 at 115pm at the Roanoke VA airport.

I encourage TSA to rethink their rules to avoid making airports into increasingly threatening, obnoxious places for peaceful travelers while doing less than necessary to protect us from true threats. Please devote more of your time to consistently detecting truly lethal items and less to the harassment of law-abiding passengers for such low-threat items as a one-inch fingernail-pick.

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Homeland Security: Locally Intact Mon, 15 Jun 2015 13:00:46 +0000 Continue reading Homeland Security: Locally Intact ]]> I know how anxious you have all been during the silence at Fragments since last week, but want to assure you that all is quiet on the western front, and I come back from my adventures in NY state to find the homelands secure.

I will, perhaps, have a story of my encounter with TSA and post my letter to them for your approval, or for you to tell me I’d be crazy to send it, or “why bother.” But hey, there was a wall sign imploring me and my fellow travelers to tell them how they are doing. Boy, will I tell them.

I’ll have stories, possibly, about places and plants and word rambles along the way and the usual ruminations that end up every time (once every 5-10 years) that I travel.  But, there is indeed no place like home. And on the Fortinet Threat Map, I am relieved to find that not a single cyber-attack from China or Russia is focused on Goose Creek.

As for the rest of the world as we know it, there are rumors of war. Do take a quick peek at this real-time cyber-threat map and imagine what it will look like when the skirmishes of the past blossom to all-out web-infrastructure attack. It’s only a matter of time.

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The Cry of a Baby, The Big Eyes, The Innocence Mon, 08 Jun 2015 11:09:25 +0000 Continue reading The Cry of a Baby, The Big Eyes, The Innocence ]]> A fleeting glimpse of a mother and her baby
A fleeting glimpse of a mother and her baby from my image archives, 2005

Since the severe snow-covered winter of 2009, the “rats on stilts” as I used to call them have not been the constant army against us that they once were.

So now instead of fifteen deer of an evening browsing cavalierly at the end of the pasture, we’ll see a couple now and then, or none at all.

They have even left us our hostas and rhododendron alone, items that were once on the menu of our Deer Salad Park, as I used to refer to our garden and landscaping.

The deer population–at least in our remote corner of Floyd County–is certainly in better balance than it once was. The increasing coyote population may also play a role in that. Even so, deer are still one of our chief disturbers of forest diversity, eating the ginseng, the morels, the young browse of hardwoods , and committing acts of terrorism against our Floyd County Subarus.

And so given all this, I have to question why my wife and I acted so urgently and quickly out of parental instincts to save a fawn from  the annoyances of our dog yesterday. The pitiful bleating triggers the “baby crying in the next room” kind of reflex, and we rushed to protect the innocent, even though it was the young of an animal population still not quite in balance with the forests and fields they live in.

The fawn suffered no trace of physical injury from the dogs persistent pursuit, but will likely be in therapy for the rest of its days from the trauma of being chased in and out of the creek bed near the pasture where its mother had left it yesterday afternoon.

With considerable inelegant thrashing about in the creek to corner the dog, in the absence of a leash, I tied the sleeve of my red Goretex raincoat to Gandy’s collar.  Ann gathered up the tiny deer out of the cold water.

As I escorted the dog back to the house, she looked back over her shoulder often to follow what was happening. Ann carried the passive bundle of stickly legs, big eyes and spots back to the place on Nameless Creek where it had flushed when the dog almost stepped on it.

I was looking back, too, because if the mother deer was close by, she would be aggressive–as we have experienced before–in the defense of her fawn. It’s a little unnerving to confront a full grown deer that is snorting and stamping and full of maternal hormones and hard-wired to defend her baby.

The pasture grass is shoulder high. There may be a half dozen baby deer hidden in our field. So for the next few weeks, we will carry a leash–each of us, just in case.

We need not risk our necks if the choice is saving Bambi or saving our old bones. But we probably will rush to the rescue, and we know it. I mean really: what are ya gonna do?

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Forget Me Not Likes Its Feet Wet Thu, 04 Jun 2015 11:46:58 +0000 Continue reading Forget Me Not Likes Its Feet Wet ]]> IMG_0397forgetMEnot480
Click to enlarge at Flickr

This summer wildflower has been abundant in the years when it was not absent entirely.

It grows with its roots saturated in creek water, and when spring and early summer is dry, we don’t see this yellow-eyed sporadic along Goose and Nameless Creeks.

I’ve photographed it before, but it has been a while.

Touch Me Nots on Goose Creek 2007


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Our New Summer House Guest Tue, 02 Jun 2015 10:17:38 +0000 Continue reading Our New Summer House Guest ]]> IMG_0406kingsnakeGandy is good to let us know when there are snakes around. She’s not particularly disturbed by them, and even goes nose to nose, every time we round the corner of the barn, with a stout brown water snake. They have an arrangement of mutual curiosity.

So yesterday the dog offered her “come look at this one!” bark, and I came up the rock steps to find this large black rat snake on the walkway out the back door. It will be easy to identify as THIS particular snake because it has some markings (old injury?) near its tale.

It moved off slowly down along the branch, but it wasn’t ten minutes later Gandy spotted it as it disappeared under the corner of the back porch. She could either smell it or hear it as it traveled the length of the single-step porch and came out the other side for what apparently was one of several trips around the house, just checking it out before possibly committing to stay on as a regular.

In this picture, I stood in its path near the foundation to see where it would go. I was fine with it moving between my legs but thought for a second it was going to explore up my pants leg, and I tried to think how I should handle that experience.

Ann went out later to work in her flower bed and met Elvis. The King (snake.) I have a notion he will become one of the Summer of 2015 Goose Creek familiars, or Particulars as I call those creatures we know by virtue of their irregular relations with us–our neighbors and members of our community.

I’ll have more to say about that before long.

[Check out the Snakes in a Tree link below!}

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Ganoderma: More Than Skin Deep Mon, 01 Jun 2015 12:17:41 +0000 Continue reading Ganoderma: More Than Skin Deep ]]> IMG_4262Ganoderma480
Click for larger image at Flickr

I had to look it up, to know what the “gano” part told about the derma or skin of this fungus. It means “shining” and in this case, it certainly fits.

I’ve known the genus of this familiar pore fungus commonly seen around here on Eastern Hemlock–back when there were Eastern Hemlocks. That species was host-specific and named Ganoderma tsugae, after the genus for hemlocks (and as a few may recall was the commemorative name we gave our pup, Tsuga, named after a favorite once-upon-a-time tree.)

So when we found these lacquered and colorful ear-shaped specimens on a Goose Creek meander last week, I felt confident of my identification to genus, but looked it up anyway. Maybe I’d learn something. I did.

Seems that Ganoderma has a long history of use for an astounding variety of purported health issues. Some efficacy may even be supported by fact.

When the kids grew up, we also frequently found another Ganoderma species commonly known as “artist’s conch” because its off-white pore surface would scratch from light to dark with the stroke of a match, nail or stick. The kids wrote their names or drew pictures on them. You could trim the bottom of one broken off its host tree so that it would sit upright on the mantel for display.

So here are some Ganoderma links for me to come back to. Feel free to poke around yourself.  And you might check out the Google images to get an idea of the variability–which is considerable.

Ganoderma Lucidum for curing Diabetes. | Serenity Corner

Ganoderma Lucidum-Nutritional-Supplements

Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi) – Herbal Medicine – NCBI Bookshelf

Dangers of Ganoderma | LIVESTRONG.COM

Ganoderma applanatum – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Artist’s Conch

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UnWettable: Water on a Bed of Nails Thu, 28 May 2015 11:45:29 +0000 Continue reading UnWettable: Water on a Bed of Nails ]]> IMG_4238Spicebush480
Click to enlarge image

As I have confessed freely on these pages over the (13) blog-years, I am easily delighted and amused, and also perplexed for that matter.

So in the details of bejeweled beading water drops on the local plant life I have previously expounded and gushed effusive. See More reading below.

Add to that delight a little science. Watch water drops bounce and either splatter into a shower of tiny round beads or coalesce into larger super-drops on an “unwettable” leaf surface. Why is that?

It is because the leaf is designed so that the water does not actually touch the leaf but rides on a “bed of nails” created by the leaf cuticle micro-structure.

Watch the three short videos at the following link. Then sit out in the rain and take in the dance of raindrops. The finest of details your eyes cannot see create diamond unwetness around you.

The Amazing Micro-Engineered, Water-Repelling Surface That Lives Outside My Window | WIRED

See More on this topic Fragments from Floyd

► Dry and Warm: No Easy Matter for Plucked Chickens | Fragments from Floyd

► Water Off a Duck’s Back, Botanically Speaking | Fragments from Floyd

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