Notch Trail (Badlands I)

Let’s begin to approach the landscape of the Badlands appropriately, through layers.

This is the beginning of the Notch Trail, a short hike that gets you intimately close to the rock formations, if we allow for it. Not yet, though.

I hiked this trail twice, first on a cloudy afternoon, and then the next morning accompanied by some fog, giving me layers of time and weather.

Here we just follow the trail up, looking forward and backward.

Near the end there is a choice. We can enter a side canyon that narrows

and allows to climb up,

or we can reach the notch – the end of a world.

All this is already fascinating in its otherness, but there are more layers that reveal themselves when we look differently.

Starved Rock

On my way Northwest I stopped at Starved Rock State Park in Illinois.

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This is a scenic and much photographed place, so here is a slightly different perspective. 

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Above you see the holes made my water droplets in the eroded rock. These holes are deep enough to create resonance not unlike organ pipes, but of course using tones from a grown scale. Together with the constant drone of the nearby waterfall this was a wonderful peculiar experience.

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Time has created larger pits. Don’t fall down there. 

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Instead, let’s meditate about water. If you take two of these little water droplets, can you tell them apart? Can we hear the difference when we listen careful enough, at the moment when they hit the ground?

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A Week Later (Brood X – 4)

A week after the first emergence, the cicadas from Brood X are still coming, they and their exoskeletons are everywhere.

There is no point of hiding.

Instead, leaving the exoskeletons for the birds creates an essential diversion.

That the birds live in the land of plenty this year allowed me to harvest for the first time the cherries from my weeping cherry. Tiny, tart, and tasty.

They just have three weeks. Every second counts. Maybe we should live like that, too.

Up Close (Brood X, Part 3)

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So here is one of our new friends, up close, with the two big eyes and the three small ocelli.

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Reduced distance to the unknown is disconcerting, so I turned off color to create the illusion that we are seeing something abstract, not a living being.

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As in Julio Cortázar’s short story Axolotl, the question arises who is looking at whom here.

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Are we as different to them as they are to us?


The Morning After (Brood X, Part 2)

After a glorious night, most of the emergence is done, or at least paused, as it is a cold morning here.

The imagos have matured over night and blackened. I didn’t know that they can have different eye colors.

The one of top decided to move a little, and to let go:

Some of them look weary into the future. The birds have been particularly loud this morning.

Here is one I rescued after it falling to the ground.

Time passes.

We Are Back (Brood X)

After a few cold nights it finally got warmer, and the cicadas from Brood X are finally here. Some of the nymphs need directions.

The shedding of the exoskeleton takes about an hour and is a dramatic spectacle.

When I saw the m it was already getting dark, so I had to help a bit with the light. Below they are half emerged, but still use the support of their shell.

When dry enough, they emerge completely, and rest for another 15 minutes.

When the wings are dry enough, the imagos will move away from their exoskeleton and start unfolding.

There is no looking back … Life can begin, again.

Wildflowers II

Here is the second part of the pre-frost wildflowers, in their perfect whiteness.

All gone now…

Rue Anenome (Thalictrum thalictroides)

Drooping Trillium (Trillium flexipes)

Star Chickweed (Stellaria pubera)

Squirrel Corn (Dicentra canadensis) and Striped Cream Violet (Viola striata)

Paradise Lost

Snowfall overnight in late April is rare here, but has its own strange appeal.

Unfortunately I had other obligations this morning, so I couldn’t go on a longer expedition, so I paid our campus a visit.

While the trees have mostly managed the extra burden, most flowers did not.

It’s not all sadness. Hours later, the snow was all gone, and the recovery has begun.

In the afternoon I went on a short hike at Pate Hollow. Many wildflowers were gone here, and tree blossoms have fallen. Grayness has returned.

But there still is life,

and thus hope.

Spring Wildflowers I

Imminent snow will ruin the wonderful wildflower display we had the last week. Here is the first batch.

Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)

Woodland Phlox (Phlox divaricata)

Fire Pink (Silene virginica) and Prairie Trillium (Trillium recurvatum) in its rare quadrillium mutation

Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia)