Bee with the last of the day's sun

Sun-Dappled Day with Spicebush, Burdock, Beezus, & More

There’s been so much chilly rain and storm cloud here lately, and we have last year’s firewood stacked and ready by the front door.

But some days are sun-flecked, brindle-bright, and dappled.

I love walking in our holler, being bathed in hundreds of leaf-mottled sundrops. There’s something wonderful about dappled, wonderful about speckled, sun-stippled, and sparkling woods.

The deep green leaves of our Appalachian spice bush trees (Lindera benzoin) are just now beginning to fade toward lime, and they have a few bright yellow leaves here and there.

The spice bush trees themselves are dappled!

I hiked out to my favorite one to see the progress of the berries (which I pick, dry, and grind for spice), which are fat and green right now. But by next month they should be turning red, and the leaves of the tree will be nearly all yellow. Once you know what to look for, and when to look for it, you suddenly see them all over the mountain.

Fat, glossy, unripe spiceberries
Fat, glossy, unripe spiceberries

And burdock, sigh. Every year I try to cut all the ones along our trails down before they bloom, but I always miss some.

Once they bloom—and the blooms are admittedly lovely—then I spend an inordinate amount of time picking the needly spines out of my dog’s fur, then out of my own clothes. And out of my fingers! Burdock burrs are no fun to deal with. But they are lovely in the dappled September sunshine, so long as you don’t touch them.

burdock in bloom
burdock in bloom

I’ve mentioned before how our hickory trees produce nuts that are too bitter and small for us to harvest. But that doesn’t mean the critters don’t eat them.

All over the forest floor right now you’ll find freshly-fallen green hickory nuts, and you’ll also find ones that have had the thick green hull nibbled away and the nut extracted. It’s some work to get in there, but our squirrels, chipmunks, and mice get the job done.

hickory nuts emptied
hickory nuts emptied

Finally, here’s Beezus, looking lovely in the last of the afternoon sun dapples.

Bee with the last of the day's sun
Bee with the last of the day’s sun

Oh, and Rocky! Who elected not to come on today’s dappled hike.

Rocky on the couch
Rocky on the couch

 

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