nature notes, September 12th

  • See that spiny thing? It’s a wild cucumber—inedible, invasive, and yet surprisingly pretty. I’d heard of them, but never seen one in person until this weekend. The spines are unexpectedly soft to the touch, more tickly than prickly.
  • The seed pods of Orange Jewelweed plants are coming into season! When they’re ripe, just brushing against them triggers them to pop, explosively releasing and spreading their seeds. They’re a lot of fun, and a remarkable example of the physical mechanisms that plants can develop—think of all that tension built up in those pods!
  • Leaves are just barely starting to dry up and change color, and I couldn’t be more excited. Fall is my favorite season, as cliched as that might be, and it’s undeniably the best season for walking in the woods.
  • I’ve been off my hiking game recently due to a mild ankle sprain and a bad case of the late-summer cold, which everyone seems to have right now.  It turns out that hiking requires both putting weight on my ankle and breathing with ease, so it’s been off the table. Being sidelined has been incredibly frustrating, particularly at such a nice time of the year.
  • Tomorrow, I’m (hopefully) heading out for my first all-day hike since the injury, bolstered by lots of rest, extra ankle support, and special attention to my gait. Thankfully, I have no problem with moving slowly—I notice more stuff that way!
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