Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Calypso in the Woods


After spending some time photographing a beautiful old madrone I wandered into the woods to look for calypso orchids. The first ones I found were just buds, then a few more that had just barely opened. A little more searching finally brought me to an exuberant purple perianth. Its beautiful shape and coloration must seem very inviting to a newly awakened bumblebee, but it's all a trick. Apparently, there is no nectar reward. Yet the calypso orchid manages to carry on because enough bees will try their luck, and spread the flowers' pollen, before giving up on this tempting but mocking beauty.

From seeing the world through a macro lens I wandered back across a meadow and through a forest until the scene opened up to the landscape my wife was painting along Bolinas Ridge. I relaxed and took in the view which stretched from groups of hikers winding their way along the Coast Trail below, out to Chimney Rock and the Farallon Islands. Right across a nearby ravine I saw a Douglas fir with numerous cones at the tips of its branches. I was tempted to hike over there, despite the steep descent, to photograph some cones that hadn't yet fallen to the forest floor and were still relatively intact. And then I looked right behind me, where of course there were many cones within easy reach.

Duet in the Duff

The calypso is powered by its perennial underground corm and a single photosynthesizing leaf.

Painting on the Edge

Coast Trail Hikers

Two Cones

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