Thursday, June 9, 2016

Mellow yellow June day #phenology

There's a gentle breeze stirring the grasses in the yard, causing bright yellow blossoms of hoary puccoon, yellow hawkweed and goat's beard to nod in rhythm. More and more Large Beardtongues are erupting into pink blossoms. Several species of dragonflies cruise for mosquitoes above the grasses and flowers; yellow-striped bees collect pollen; a drab brown skittish hen turkey startles as she walks by, notices me sitting on the patio, and then walks directly away from me, pretending I'm not there, couldn't have seen her, and that she made an abrupt right turn just "because." Meanwhile, the first Baltimore Oriole of the year makes a brief visit to the grape jelly feeder and bright, bright yellow goldfinches arrive and depart from the sunflower seed feeders like cabs at a New York City train station while an occasional monarch or swallowtail butterfly flitters by. This afternoon, a young mama showed off her much younger offspring for the first time.

whitetail doe first appearance with her fawn
whitetail doe first appearance with her fawn
Photo by J. Harrington

Earlier today I tried searching our wonderful interweb to see if I could discover whether anyone has proposed an evolutionary reason that goat's beard closes its blossoms at mid-day when it's sunny.  In particular, I wondered if the mid-day closing was an effort to protect the development of its "dandelion on steroids" seed head. Thus far that specific search has been an utter failure. In searching though, I gained the impression that:

goat's beard seed head
goat's beard seed head
Photo by J. Harrington

Yet another reference noted that goat's beard shares with other flowers a characteristic of "opening and closing of flowers in the bed [that] would give a rough idea of the time..." I'd love to see that clock. It would go nicely with the lyrics sung by a folk singer of the last millennium, when I was young. The singer is Donovan and the song he wrote and sings is Mellow Yellow. Mellow yellow June mornings in Minnesota, such as the one I enjoyed today, are really hard to beat.


By Christina Rossetti

What is pink? a rose is pink
By a fountain's brink.
What is red? a poppy's red
In its barley bed.
What is blue? the sky is blue
Where the clouds float thro'.
What is white? a swan is white
Sailing in the light.
What is yellow? pears are yellow,
Rich and ripe and mellow.
What is green? the grass is green,
With small flowers between.
What is violet? clouds are violet
In the summer twilight.
What is orange? Why, an orange,
Just an orange!

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