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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

(Late) Winter Rainbows II

A number of years ago when I was teaching a Sunday School class the kids and I made up a devotional exercise called "Summer Rainbows." During the week they would look for something in nature with each color of the spectrum. They wrote down each find, and thought of something to thank God for that related to each item. It's a little harder in the winter, but I've found a set again recently, and I'll share it with you. I wanted to make one more winter rainbow- had a hard time with yellow, but it's a pale yellow. When spring starts to pop, this will be easy again.

red osier dogwood twigs
moss sporophytes
crusty pale yellow lichenspinulose fern in winter
crusty blue-gray lichenblack raspberry canes

The twigs of the red-osier dogwood are really RED at this time of year. With the light hitting them at a low angle they really shine. It is a wetland shrub, very common here on damp ground that has occasional standing water. I found these on an undeveloped lot right in town. Thank you, Lord, for the wild places that remain hidden, even in the city, where frogs sing and birds may build nests.

The moss is starting to reproduce. These ORANGE stalks are the sporophytes growing up like fingers from the green moss. With this picture next to the dogwood shrub there is no sense of proportion. These are less than an inch tall! I'm really grateful that there is such wonderful variety in the natural world to keep exploring.

I've had everything for this rainbow except YELLOW for two weeks. This crusty lichen is a pale yellow, not quite white. Lichens are good environmental indicators- they won't grow where there is a lot of pollution. I don't know much about lichens, but just learned that there is a local man who does and he is writing a column in the paper every month about them. Thanks, God, for other people who find joy in discovering the hidden treasures in creation.

This spinulose fern picture was taken in New York on my hike with Irene. I had to choose between a closeup of the leaf or this long shot with the three fronds. I like the way it fans out from the base, so I chose the long shot. This fern stays GREEN all year under the snow, even when beaten down. Now there is a lesson from God if there ever was one! Thanks for the reminder, Lord!

BLUE is another crusty lichen. And it's blue-gray. If we want real blue we'll have to wait for the crocuses and windflowers- they will be here soon! Well, I don't know exactly what to say about this one. Lichens just make me smile because they are a mystery of cooperation between a fungus that needs food and an algae that needs water, so I'm grateful for things that make me happy.

I also found this very PURPLE black raspberry cane on the walk with Irene. Black raspberries have medium thorns and very reddish-purple canes with a pale bloom on them that can be rubbed off with your fingers. I am very thankful for friends who love to take hikes. Watch over Irene for me, Lord!

I'm sure that will be the last winter rainbow this season! Not that upper Michigan will escape instantly into spring, but probably by the time I collect another set of pictures the change of seasons will be becoming very evident.

See Winter Rainbow I
See Letchworth and Gibsonville


rainfield61 said...

A good idea to present nature in this manner. The kids should have a lot of fun from it.

WiseAcre said...

I was getting a bit tired of posting moss pics but seeing the sporophytes you posted might tempt me to put up my own.

Glad you got to see Letchworth State Park. I haven't been there since I was a kid but I can still see it in my mind. It does make quite an impression.

I'm also happy you stopped by my blog. It might be a keeper but I want it back :)

Anonymous said...

I love the colours of the winter, all the more enjoyable for having to look more carefully for them.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy reading your blog... Can I put this to my blogroll?


Rick (Ratty) said...

Finding the colors of a rainbow is a nice quest for any time of year. I've never tried it before, so it could be fun.

Sharkbytes said...

Thanks rainfield- the kids did like it, and I find that I have continued to do it occasionally, over the years, just for myself!

WiseAcre- Hey! Thanks for coming over. Post all the moss pictures you want, I love 'em. I grew up in the Finger Lakes, and still have a good friend there, so I get to see Letchworth and its many wonders fairly often.

A - yes, I especially like making a game where I have to hunt for things and be observant. Although today's post (as in the day after this one) makes me look like a blind idiot!

Hi Ice- I'll PM you.

Ratty- You are such a good observer that I'm sure you would get into the game!

to all- sorry I have been kinda late responding to your great comments today. I have had more work (for actual money) this week, and need to do that when I have it!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful photos! You have quite a discerning eye. I am watching the buds begin on the forsythia here in Pennsylvania. I am ready for spring!

Sharkbytes (TM) said...

Hi Cherlock- Thank you so much! Our buds are just starting to swell... hardly changing color yet although I like to think I can see it if I squint!