First Blush of Fall

from Chris

The first faint blush of fall has crept into the leaves at the Ridge. We’re getting a few random yellow leaves blowing into the pond from the surrounding forest, but the trees directly around the pond are all still full green—except, that is, for a single small blush of dark crimson. See if you can spot it!

 

Look Closer!

from Chris

While walking the trails Thursday afternoon, I happened to stop and take a closer look at a small tree growing next to the trail. It looked as though it had been struggling mightily beneath the shaded canopy to grab what sunlight it could from the much, much taller trees that stood nearby.Luna 01

As I was about to resume my walk, though, I had to do a double-take: there, hanging from one of the branches as though it were …

 

 

 

 

Jaws the Snapping Turtle

from Chris

We continue to have several turtles who take daily sunbaths in our pond—mostly painted turtles who slide up onto the fountain, which acts as a little island for them.

But somewhere in the murky gloom lurks a mega-sized snapping turtle who occasionally rises to the surface. He soaks up some sun, then slides silently beneath the water leaving behind nary a ripple.Jaws the Snapping Turtle

I refer to him as the “Jaws” of snapping turtles. He’s big—so big, I can hear …

 

Tulip Poplars Shed Their Blossoms as Spring Turns Toward Summer

Tulip Poplar Blossomsfrom Chris

When the tulip poplars drop their blossoms in early May, it’s like a little taste of autumn in the freshest time of the year. Little dashes of orange, yellow, and honeydew-green sprinkle the trails.

Tulip poplars, common in Virginia, are the tallest hardwoods in North America, reaching as high as 150 feet. Their leaves look like webbed, six-fingered palms, symmetrical in design. Their blossoms look like little tulips—which is where the trees get their name from—although by the …

 

The Snow Goose

from Chris

We’ve had a pair of Canadian geese that have made Stevenson Ridge their home this spring. Over the weekend, they played host to a cousin of theirs: a snow goose.

At first, it was hard to get a good look at the new feather friend, who seemed to stay on the far side of one of the Canadian geese. All we could tell was that the new visitor appeared very duck-like but was much too big to be …

 

The Christmas Cactus predicts six more weeks of…Christmas?

February Christmas Cactusfrom Chris

Each year, the Christmas cactus in our office bursts into bloom in late November, serving as a sure sign that the holiday is on its way.

But last week, we noticed that the cactus seems to be ready to burst into bloom again!

Does that mean it has opted to skip February-October and just jump right to November again? Or perhaps, because it’s been about six weeks since Christmas, the cactus is just acknowledging six more weeks of …

 

Ice, Ice Baby

from Chris

We’ve had our first real cold snap of winter this week, with temperatures at the Ridge dipping into the teens overnight. The wind made it feel even colder! When we awoke today, we found the first skim of ice on the pond.

First Ice On Pond

 

Most of the water remains open, and temperatures this afternoon should warm enough to keep the rest of the pond from freezing, and the forecast for the rest of the week suggests warmer temps again, …