Columbus Zoo, August 12

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Today we ventured to the Columbus Zoo. Every time I visit a zoo, I noticed that pregnant women are very well represented. What is it about zoos that attract expectant mothers? When I myself was pregnant sixteen years ago, I visited the Tacoma Zoo several times. There’s nothing quite like pregnancy to make one fall to earth and see that we very much belong to the natural world, no matter what lofty heights our minds may reach.

The crowd was very dense today. I felt lucky that I was able to linger long enough to steady my camera in front of some of the animals. I reside in a fairly small town, and I don’t know how folks from large cities grow accustomed to heavy crowds and thick traffic.

My daughter and I were hoping to see the supremely puffy Pallas cats frolicking about, but they were resting both times we visited their area today:

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This tiger was likewise occupied:

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The avian population looked as splendid as ever:

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We managed to secure a good standing place for the Cheetah Run, where we learned that cheetahs can accelerate to top speed in as little as three seconds. The cheetahs at this zoo also have a Labrador companion who tries his best to sprint like his feline friends:

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After I’d returned home and reviewed all the pictures I’d taken, I realized that I didn’t capture any good pictures of family¬†members who joined me on this trip. In this one, a¬†concrete feline looks like he’s planning to eat my dad’s arm:

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Wetlands Photo Walk, July 24

I capped a busy Monday with a quick walk through my neighborhood wetlands. These shots were taken within an hour of sunset, and the long light reigned as I walked past thousands of tall thistle that have begun their subtle blooming.

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Garden, July 22

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Heavy morning rain yielded to high humidity and gusting wind in the early afternoon. I didn’t see reliable sunshine until well into the evening. At this point, the star of this show is definitely my pink hibiscus. It will open its hundreds of blooms over the next month, and I will photograph many of them, hoping to see them anew each time.

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Wetlands Photo Walk, July 15

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The neighborhood wetlands are thriving in the wake of recent heavy rain. Gray-headed coneflower and its drooping petals are dominating that landscape. There were thousands of them in bloom as I walked through the wetlands this morning:

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I also spotted chicory, which blooms in abundance around here, both in drought and heavy rain:

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Every year when I first see chicory, I remember the summer of 1988, when so little rain fell that I worried it might be the only plant to survive. That was the summer my dad began working as a church groundskeeper, but the drought gave him no reprieve from mowing. The chicory was so abundant it could be mowed.

So far the summer has established a pattern of cloudy weekdays with sunny weekend mornings. I could use more sunshine during the week, but I hope the Saturday and Sunday light persists.

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Sawtooth Sunflower (Helianthus grosseserratus)
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Gray-Headed Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata) fluttering in the breeze
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Sawtooth Sunflower
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Gray-Headed Coneflower

Elusive Orange Milkweed

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Purple milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is easy to find here in Ohio in June and early July. Its lavender flower clusters can be found in ditches and home gardens alike. Orange milkweed, also known as butterfly weed or Asclepias tuberosa, is more elusive. If I spot in a prairie, it is far from the margins. I have yet to see it as a specimen plant in a public garden.

Today I spotted two large orange milkweed plants at a local wildflower prairie. My view was obstructed partially by bee balm and other wildflowers that aren’t so photo shy.

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The Pond at Kendrick Woods

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Here’s another shot of the wildflowers nestled into the pond at Kendrick Woods. I wish I was savvy with video so I could convey more of the peacefulness of this place. I took a super short video of the pond with my phone that includes some of the birdsong I heard this morning:

Wetlands Photo Walk, June 19

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Today is a vacation day for me, so I was able to squeeze in a quick morning photo walk around the wetlands that border my backyard. The wetlands are now lush with birds, wildflowers, and tall grasses. This is one of those places I cherish most, a touch of the wild so close to home. As walked around the path within it, I thought of a portion of Oberon’s speech from A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2.1.235-239):

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite overcanopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk roses and with eglantine.

There were wild roses in bloom today, but they resisted capture through my lens. They were tucked into the deeper parts of the wetlands. Black-eyed susans are now in bloom, a sure sign that summer is conquering this area.

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Daisy with guest
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Red-Winged Blackbird
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Black Eyed Susan, picked by wildlife (I hope, if not, who does that?)
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Black Eyed Susan
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Thistle Leaves
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Cattails