Moonrises &
Leaf Collections
May 8, 2004

I made several nice trips to the woods in the last week. Around mid-day on Sunday the 2nd we all loaded up in the truck then went by to pick Brad up to help him find leaves for his Biology class leaf collection project. I figured it would be best to go after trees that you don't find around town, so we followed Highway 215 East beside the Mulberry then turned up toward Lick Branch. What we found there included Cucumber Tree, Umbrella Magnolia, Basswood, Beech, and the Hornbeams. (I picked up Smoketree on the way to Thunder Canyon the day before.) I think Stacey got more into it than I did. She drove Brad around town the next afternoon to get a lot of the local tree leaves.
Tuesday after work I drove up to White Rock Mountain for my first ever scheduled watching of the moonrise. I needed a reason to get out and become more familiar with my camera. I had planned on zooming-in more but once the orange moon popped up I was overwhelmed with all the camera bells and whistles and actually didn't notice that I'd forgotten to increase the zoom on the lens. So I wound up with a lot of fuzzy mountains and a tiny moon.
It was pretty dark on the hike back to the truck. Along the trail I noticed several tiny objects glowing brightly in the leaves. I've read about things glowing in the dark out there, but had never seen any. I managed to pick them up and put them in my shirt pocket. The next night I showed them to Cliff and he was excited to have something to look at under his microscope. The objects looked like grains of rice except they were flat and only a sixteenth of an inch in length. And they no longer glowed in the dark. Under the microscope they appeared to be some kind of insect larvae.
Friday after work I drove up to White Rock again, this time hoping to get some pictures of the pink Mountain Azaleas I'd seen on my last trip. The wind made that impossible, but I got to see a great sunset. There were some light clouds out on the horizon, that along with the haze made for a pinkish-purple glow that lasted thirty minutes after the sun went down. I just sat down on the rocks and enjoyed the views, the peace and quiet, and the warm breeze.
I enjoyed Friday evening so much that I had no problem getting up early the next morning to be out again.
I left the house at 5:30 Saturday in hopes of being somewhere along Highway 23 North when the sun came up. I pulled off the road beside a fog-covered field and got to see the sun light up the fog for a few fleeting moments.
After that the plan for the morning was just to drive up Morgan Mountain Road, collect more leaves for Brad and stop and take pictures of anything that caught my eye. Over the last couple of weeks much of the time I've either been in too much of a hurry or too tired to care to stop and take a close look at things along the way. I felt I had some catching up to do.
Up by our deer camp site I stopped to pluck a few leaves from the only Ozark Chinkapin that I know exactly where to find. I was only a few miles from Saint Paul by then, so I figured what the heck I might as well drive up to Kings River Falls to the only Hazelnut trees I know where to find also. This was my fourth trip to the falls since I finally found out how to get there a few years ago, and this was the first time the falls were running. There were a bunch of azaleas in bloom there too, and they filled the air with a thick sweet perfume.