Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Newport News Park (10/19/2014)

Home in Newport News Park again.  The leaves have not yet turned, although they are on the verge.  It is amazing how we are two to three weeks behind the rest of the state.  This serves as evidence that we have such a long varied state, as I often mention in my classes.  We go from the coast and coastal plains to a place like Highland County which is the county with the highest average elevation on the east coast.  Yes, there are higher locations, but still that place is high and cold.  Being a bit of a nature geek, it really is fun at times to make the drive from Yorktown all the way to Abingdon, which is about a 6 hour drive (370 miles) and you are still in the same state.  You see all kinds of vegetation types, rock formations and even birds.  The first time I traveled to the hill from the coastal plains I was amazed to see all the plants I was so familiar with when we lived in Cincinnati.

Back to Newport News Park.  Sunday we took a 2 hour walk.  We went out our back yard into the park, walked all the way on to the Yorktown Battlefield and then followed a trail that take you by a swamp, a heron rookery, an area with huge trees with a pawpaw understory that almost looks like an old growth forest, and Grafton ponds.  You can see forested wetlands, ephemeral forest streams and ponds and all kinds of things that delight the soul.  This is my kind of spirituality!

On our walk we all the sudden noticed these green patches of green moss with bright orange mushrooms popping out of them: nice and contrasting (I know I recently did a mushroom post, but here is another one).  After teaching plant evolution at the college level, I am always hesitant to call this moss; a lot of these green patches may actually be the sexual phase of a fern also known as prothallus.  I experienced this first hand: I try to grow bonsai and here I thought I had a nice moss cover on my soil, until they all turned into ferns and my pot is covered by ferns.  Anyway, this is a picture of the moss.  I am also entering it in Cee's weekly photo challenge and this week’s theme is green, kind of a strange subject for fall, but so be it.  

One from last weekend, chanterelles popping out of moss

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