I thought, just in case the world didn’t end on the 21st, that I’d take a few pictures for today. As usual, these are photos of things that didn’t seem to fit anywhere else.
When cirrocumulus or altocumulus clouds look like fish scales it is said to be a “mackerel sky.” An old saying says that “a mackerel in the sky means three days dry,” but whether or not it remains dry depends on the amount of moisture in the lower atmosphere. A mackerel sky in winter is said to mean eventual snowstorms and flurries, and that’s exactly what we saw here 3 days after this mackerel sky.
Mare’s tails are the uncinus (hook shaped) form of cirrus clouds and form high in the sky where it is cold and very windy. They are made up of tiny ice crystals and are often a sign of a cold front moving over a warm air mass. This can signal bad weather is coming and these appeared the same day that the mackerel sky did. Cirrus means “curls of hair” in Latin.
If you have ever been cutting up logs into firewood with a chainsaw and have run into a nail or piece of wire, then this scene will send shivers down your spine. This is a very dangerous set up for a future logger, not to mention the trauma caused to the tree. Loggers and arborists have found bullets, wedding rings, cannon balls, saws, garden shears, beer bottles, hubcaps, horse shoes, and just about anything else you can imagine inside live trees.
We’ve had snow, ice and freezing temperatures but these fungi appeared recently on a tree that is a favorite perch of red winged blackbirds. Unfortunately the birds might have to find another spot to roost, because fungi on a living tree almost always mean its death. I think these are late fall oyster mushrooms (Panellus serotinus.) Late fall yes, but I never expected to see them in mid-December.
When water vapor turns into ice crystals instead of liquid water, it makes frost. When the frost grows beyond the typical fine white coating and forms “needles” it is called hoarfrost. Frost forms similar to the way that snowflakes do, except that it forms near the ground while snowflakes form around dust particles floating in the air. I learned these fascinating facts by reading Jennifer Shick’s blog, called A Passion for Nature. It’s a blog that is worth visiting if you have the time.
I found this colorful oak seedling growing in an old lichen covered stump. I was surprised that it still had leaves at all, and stunned that they were still so colorful in December.
Two of the most invasive plants in New Hampshire are the multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora) and oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus.) Here the bittersweet twines around the rose in what will eventually become a death grip, with the bittersweet strangling the rose. Oriental bittersweet is strong enough to strangle and take down trees and that is why the forest service wants it eradicated. After fighting it for years as a gardener I have to say-good luck with that.
Another highly invasive plant that is found all over the state is Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii,) and these little red berries that are prized by birds are the reason for its great success. This plant is actually a native of southern Europe and central China that was imported as a landscape specimen. It is now scorned and considered a noxious weed because its sharp thorns impede the movement of wildlife. I can say from experience that they also impede human movement.
Leaf buds on beech trees (Fagus) are a favorite food of deer and one theory of why young beech trees hang on to their leaves says that the dry, papery leaves are unpalatable to the critters. According to the theory, this makes deer search for other food and leave beech trees alone.
Sometimes there is beauty even in death. I thought these dried bracket fungi looked like miniature white roses from a distance.
The birds have eaten all the seeds out of the bee balm (Monarda) in my yard, so maybe they should get some bird seed for Christmas.
Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn’t come from a store ~Dr. Seuss
Have a Merry Christmas, everyone. Thanks for stopping in.