Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Oaks and hickories

That land of mine in Kansas has nothing on it but oaks and hickories, hickories and oaks, and maybe two maples (if you don't count all the evergreens of course). Oaks are nice and shagbark hickories have that lovely bark but since I've never lived with either one close by before, I wasn't expecting anything that I didn't already know.

On Saturday I saw a lot of these buds(?) on small trees that had not leafed out yet. They looked like magnolia buds but the magnolias in the area had already bloomed and it wouldn't make much sense to have that many magnolias spread out over so many acres in the country anyway. Turns out they belong to the hickory tree. I don't even know what to call them but they were big and I was curious to see what would happen next...

The following day, this one opened to become this...

Arms reaching for the sky, her pale orange and lime green tutu fluttering in the breeze, happy to finally be free because this inexplainable something was born to dance.

"Yes, I am quite the something else. Let me take a bow."

"Yes. I am very beautiful. Thank you, thank you very much."

I also didn't know that when oaks send out their fresh leaves in the spring, they're all fuzzy and soft...

...also with the delicate reaching pose of a seasoned ballet professional.

The leaves looked like dyed velveteen from the Victorian era.

Soooo pretty.

When I go on these walks with my camera (and Aussie) I usually run across one or two oak galls. Galls form when a wasp lays her eggs in a leaf bud in early spring. The oak tree will then grow the gall to protect itself which in turn protects the developing larva. Late summer the young wasp crawls out of the gall and the whole cycle starts all over again.

I found this one hanging on a tree.

I usually find them on the ground.

I like to pick them up and carry them with me with the intention of collecting a whole bowl full one of these days. But I always get distracted. I set them down, usually in weird spots like a crook in a tree, and when I remember to retrieve them, they are always gone. Who knows where they go. They weigh nothing so they've probably rolled themselves down a hill somewhere.

Doesn't matter. That's the fun of exploring the woods in spring, to just enjoy the prettiness and newness of everything around you, even if you go home with no souvenirs.


Sandra said...

This was really nice to read and see! I see oak galls all the time but didn't know the what and the why. It's good to learn something new every day. Great shots!

Mental P Mama said...

Always a wonderful adventure in here....

Maureen said...


Toon said...

Tell these guys to keep their pollen to themselves for a bit. I'm dyin' here!

Leenie said...

Sorry to all who suffer from pollen. STILL...I find your posts very interesting and informative. I've never lived with any kind of hardwood tree. This is cool to see and know! Also well photographed and written.

Linda said...

Another very interesting post. I enjoyed it very much.

Maria said...

Sandra-I'm learning too! I had no idea a wasp was responsible for those things. :-P

Mental-Thanks. I know. It always is an adventure because there is something new to discover every single time I'm out there. Without fail. Every single time. :-)

Maureen-I know. Aren't they beautiful? They probably only last a day too.

Russ-Hey, I sit on "manly cough and double sniff" row. Tell me about it.

Leenie-Never lived with any kind of hardwood tree????? Oh're really up there. Any hint of spring yet? I think it's midsummer down here now.

Linda-Aw, thanks. :-)