Monday, August 31, 2015

Death of a Tree

The death of trees is easier to study than that of animals, just as trees are easier to study in the first place: they move slowly,* and change slowly.  Pay attention in the woods: you'll see trees in every stage of life, death and decay.  Birds and mammals often die out of sight or decay quickly; I can think of only a handful of times I've encountered dead birds (mostly juveniles) in recent weeks. 

A tree dies.  

Perhaps it was weakened by the effort needed to produce a second or even third set of leaves in the face of voracious caterpillars.  Perhaps it was  invaded by borer beetle larvae, which accidentally destroyed the tree's vascular system as they tunneled beneath the bark.  Lightning can explode a tree from within, though the damage may be confined to a strip of bark and not fatal.  Often there is no single cause of death, but a confluence of circumstances: a tree weakened by caterpillars is carried off by drought.

Even dead, the tree probably still stands, and its final act is yet to come. But whether the tree falls when it dies or years later, a gap has opened in the forest canopy, and sunlight streams to the forest floor.

The trees around us are in a long, slow-motion race for light.  Indeed, the whole purpose of a tree's trunk** is to hold the leaves out of the shadows of neighbors.  Sunlight is the power source for making food (carbohydrates), in the process called photosynthesis.  The Car Talk guys used to remind us that, if the engine won't start, it can only be three things: fuel, air or spark.  Likewise, the basic ingredients of photosynthesis are carbon dioxide (pretty abundant in the air), water (sometimes less available) and light.  Photosynthesis, because it allows plants to grow, also feeds those--animals like us, fungi, most bacteria, and a host of other tiny critters--who cannot make food for themselves.  Nearly every food chain on earth's surface begins with a plant or an alga.  Plants are the living world's "producers"****--everyone else is a "consumer."

That hole in the canopy represents an unused energy resource.  Who will come to use it?  There are understory trees just marking time, growing slowly in the shade of their betters, and waiting for the starting gun and their own chance at "life at the top."  But the dead tree's large neighbors are also able to fill it, and may have the best chance.  

Of course, trees have neither minds nor intentions, their lives have evolved to be fully automatic.  The tree does not "try" to reach or fill the canopy gap.  Leaves in sunlight make food and grow; it is, therefore, the food-rich twigs near the sunny gap that will grow fastest, filling that gap. 

Whether by canopy neighbors or understory trees, the gap is finally filled, "waste" of sunlight reduced, and the canopy restored.  

Until the next death.

This juggernaut nearly took out a neighbor as it fell
Such vulnerability is one of the hazards of the rooted life.

Death comes to the young (like this white pine sapling) 
as well as the old (like this much larger white pine).

It looks as if the gaps created by these deaths are still filling in.

How many years have these corpses lain here?

It's a little unusual for a tree to break in the middle like this.
I couldn't confirm either of my suspicions: insect damage or lightning.

From death, new life: dead black oak with stump sprout.

 Sometimes doom is written early: white pine seedlings have sprouted
in a thin layer of duff atop a boulder.

But surprising things can happen:
this tree also rooted on a boulder, but is now full sized.
On the other hand, with so little root area, isn't it vulnerable to wind?

What happens when my twin dies?  If you're a tree, perhaps nothing!

A dead tree a few inches in diameter with a stump sprout is one sign of a chestnut tree (Castanea dentata) facing another generation of death by chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica). From its accidental arrival in the US in 1904, the fungus nearly wiped out this important native tree over its entire range in a few decades.  Its spores invade the trunk through splits in the maturing bark, and and grow to girdle the tree and kill it.  Fortunately, chestnut grows stump-sprouts, each sprout maturing until it, too, is attacked and killed.  Thus the species barely hangs on, decade after decade, seldom producing nuts.  Confirm the identity by looking for long, tapered leaves with large, curving teeth.

Another chestnut.

Here is a tall, full white pine.  But a cancer grows lower down: the wood of the lowest few yards of the trunk in almost completely rotted out.  The tree is half girdled, but the bark edges have healed.  Even so, even a moderate wind from the wrong direction may fell it.
The full crown.

A stripe of rot is begins quite high up.

The remaining bark has healed somewhat,
but the damage to the tree's strength is irreparable.

This "standing dead" tree won't be for long.

*Mainly as pollen and fruit or seeds carried by wind or animals.  Only the adults mainly stay put.

**Vines cheat: by climbing other trees they needn't spend the resources for a strong trunk of their own.  But because they cannot grow taller than their supports, they can't entirely "win" the race, but only "draw."  

***Extremely Cool Free-floating Factoids: Lignin, the key ingredient in stiffening wood, is a complex polymer with building blocks that can be cross-linked in random ways, making it very difficult for fungi and bacteria to break it down.  The evolution of lignin in the Devonian is likely at least partly responsible for the vast coal deposits of the Carboniferous Period, in which millions of years of forest growth were buried without decomposing.  Because these ancient trees pulled carbon dioxide out of the air (while freeing oxygen), and stored it in resistant lignin, enormous insects evolved taking advantage of the high O2, while the low CO2 may have been a cause of a major ice age (via reverse greenhouse effect) in the Devonian.  The coal-forming period came to an end about 300 million years ago, probably with the evolution of white rot fungi with new enzymes able to digest lignin. 

 ****Producers make their own food by assembling biomolecules using an outside energy source, but photosynthesis is only one way to do this.   A variety of tiny Bacteria and Archaea  are able to do "chemosynthesis," that is, use (non-biological) chemical energy to fuel their food production.  Some use hydrogen sulfide given off by deep-sea vents, others use hydrogen from the breakdown of rocks deep in the earth.  Because the study of these creatures is relatively recent, we don't yet know how prevalent they are, or how much of the biosphere depends on them for food.  They are, however, EXTREMELY COOL and found in such unlikely places and inhospitable conditions that their existence fuels much optimism about the existence of life on other planets!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Doing the Wash

A truism* among nature enthusiasts is that our ancestors** were on average far more intimately familiar with the natural world than we are.  This has become even more true since the electronic revolution made us unable to see farther than our hands.  

I was reminded of that truism this afternoon as I hung out the wash.  

A  month or so ago the clothes dryer stopped getting hot, only endlessly tumbling damp clothes.  Having a certain confidence in my own abilites--not to mention much more time than money--I researched its inner workings with a very helpful appliance repair guru, got my tools out, and quickly found that I needed a new heating coil.  Meanwhile, I lassoed a bathroom vent pipe with a spare anchor line and tied the other end to the garage for a serviceable clothesline.  

We are not new to line drying, having done it for most of a year when we bought the house and hadn't money left over for a dryer.  It came to an end late in spring when a winter moth epidemic sent a rain of frass out of the overhanging tree onto our freshly-washed clothes.  The caterpillars came back in force for several years (spelling doom to two of my favorite oak trees) and confirming us in the machine drying habit.
Though it was only 4pm when I hung the wash, I had nearly lost the sun already, the shadow of the house falling on the clothesline so much earlier than even a few weeks ago.  (Likewise, the vegetable garden, which, in July got a full six hours of sun per day, is now down to four; the squash are long dead and the tomatoes won't hang on much longer.  Alas! we only have another week or so of juicy tomato sandwiches.)  Fewer layers of technology necessitate greater attention to the real: time of day, cloud cover, a possible shower, changing seasons.  Clothes dry faster with a bit of breeze, with dryer air, and most of all with direct sunlight--especially if the clothes are not white, reflecting away the warming sunlight.  Towels dry rather slowly, but denim is about the worst.  Even so, with luck I can get a wash load dry in an hour or so--about as long as the next load needs in the washer.  (It helps that our "energy star" washer has a very high spin speed, so the clothes have little water left.)  On the other hand, poor planning, unexpected wet weather, or carelessness might be paid for in mildewed clothing. 

I know only one other household in the neighborhood where wash is hung outdoors.  The home is a few minutes walk away, and the family includes several young children, and a young mother of, I think, Asian extraction.  Hanging out the laundry is an almost daily event, year-round.  The dad is handy, painted the house himself, and did a professional job building a large shed.  The yard is the sort that hints of regular construction projects.  The children play on the porch, or help their parents in the vegetable garden.  The family works and plays together, often outdoors.  I wish I knew them.

When the new heater coil arrived ahead of schedule, I was a little disappointed.  Then I decided that I wanted to see the difference in the electric bill of not using the (electric) dryer.  (Unfortunately, the freezer chose that same time to begin leaking heat, driving the bill through the roof.)  Then I decided I simply liked being outdoors fussing with the wash.  Maybe a Zen thing.  An unexpected bonus was the reduced washing: some of the teenage contingent wash their clothes constantly--until it becomes a little more onerous. 

I dragged my feet on the repair for a good month, and finally got around to it during a rainy spell, as wash--some already wet--waited impatiently for attention.  When I got it all back together, the dryer heated up nicely--and then refused to shut off when it reached operating temperature.  I could stand there and nurse a wash through, judging the temperature and changing settings accordingly, but it was annoying.  I was not too put out, though: back to the clothesline!

I know the languid summer will soon end and time become tighter.  I also know how long it takes to dry wash as the weather cools.  And one good rainy spell will send me back to the basement to install the new thermostat--which I hope fixes it.  And a new spring might bring new caterpillars.  Even so, for now I will enjoy communing with the sun and breeze, basket and clothespins in hand.

*a truism has been defined as something "everybody knows," but which nevertheless is, in fact, generally true!

**Notwithstanding rumors that Thoreau, during the two years he lived in the cabin he built at Walden Pond, used to bring his wash home to his mother.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Sixth Extinction: Reading Notes

I just finished Elizabeth Kolbert's Sixth Extinction, about the the five mass extinctions of living things known from the fossil record, and the one that appears to be underway right now, courtesy of human activity.  I bought the book almost by accident (wanted Amazon free shipping on unrelated items); it came highly recommended, but I expected it to be very depressing to read.  Instead, it is so artfully written that I wish the subject were one for more optimism.

This is not a review of the book, but rather a sort of summary--as much for me as anyone, so I don't lose track of the most important details.

Kolbert organizes the book into thirteen chapters each of which focuses on a species that is, or likely soon will be, extinct.  Some, but not all, can be laid to our doorstep.  The order of the chapters is not chronological, but arranged to tell a series of overlapping stories, beginning with a recent extraordinary extinction that spurred Kolbert's interest, passing into the history of the idea of extinction, then the discovery and research into mass extinctions and their causes, and then other recent and future extinctions that tell something of the dangers we have created for myriad species.  Within each chapter the organization is loose, and woven around Kolbert's own travels to explore current research around the world.  She gets up close to people and species, but is never in the way.    She views her topic with clear-eyed compassion but without undue optimism.  She ends her prologue: "If extinction is a morbid topic, mass extinction is, well, massively so.  It's also a fascinating one.  In the pages that follow, I try to convey both sides: the excitement of what's being learned as well as the horror of it.  My hope is that readers of this book will come away with an appreciation of the truly extraordinary moment in which we live."

Chapter One: The Sixth Extinction

Panamanian Golden Frog (Atelopus zeteki) recently driven into extinction with breath-taking speed by rapidly-spreading human-imported chytrid fungus (really alga) (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) that is still wiping out amphibians to this day.  Kolbert visits the El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center, and goes frog-hunting with the Panamanian director valiantly trying to save endangered frogs on a shoe-string budget by keeping captive populations free from the fungus.  Kolbert briefly explores the concepts of mass extinction and background extinction rates.

Chapter Two: The Mastodon's Molars

American Mastodon (Mammut americanum) died out at the end of the last ice age, though most likely at the hands of the first Americans.  Bones discovered in Ohio went to famed French anatomist George Cuvier, who was the first to prove conclusively (President Thomas Jefferson's hopes notwithstanding) that living species had, in fact, become extinct.  Legions of amateur "fossilists" brought to light more and more bones of animals that no longer lived on Earth.  Inspired further by new geologic maps of the Paris basin, he declared that extinction was not a slow event, but brought about by sudden "revolutions on the surface of the earth."  Cuvier's catastrophism put him at odds with Charles Lyell's uniformitarianism, and his intimate knowledge of "correlation of parts" of each living thing led him to reject Darwin's natural selection.  He deserves to be remembered for much more than these.

Chapter Three: The Original Penguin

The Great Auk (Pinguinus impennis) was driven extinct largely by sailors who provisioned their ships with the easily-captured bird of North Atlantic shores.  The last birds were killed only a few years after Charles Darwin journeyed around the world aboard HMS Beagle as captain's companion and ship's naturalist, and Charles Lyell wrote his three-volume Principles of Geology that so influenced young Darwin.  Kolbert visits Iceland, whose offshore islands hosted the last few auks, and explores the uniformitarianism of Lyell, and wonders at Darwin's seeming disinterest in species extinction.

Chapter Four: The Luck of the Ammonites

The ammonite Discoscaphites jerseyensis died along with all ammonites, dinosaurs, and others in the end-Cretaceous mass extinction.  Kolbert tells in depth the moving story of the Alvarezes and their discovery of the impact that most probably caused it, the resistance by the paleontological establishment due partly to tribalism, and partly to an inherited dislike of catastrophism.  She discusses the change in the "rules of the survival game" that come with a mass extinction: that, in effect, "time and chance happeneth to all things," so that being well-adapted is no hedge against extinction in the mass extinction crap-shoot.

Chapter Five: Welcome to the Anthropocene

The graptolite Dicranograptus ziczac went extinct with many others in the first of the known mass extinctions at the end of the Ordivician, an extinction probably linked to glaciation.  Kolbert explores the discovery of the big five mass extinctions, and the paradigm shift of "what is sometimes regarded as neocatastrophism, but is mostly nowadays just regarded as standard geology, [which] holds that conditions on earth change only very slowly, except when they don't."  She discusses the "Nemesis hypothesis," noting a brief tendency to attribute every mass extinction to an impact.  She delves a little into the current theories of the causes behind other mass extinctions.  She discusses the newly-named Anthropocene, and the mass extinction now underway in it.

Chapter Six: The Sea Around Us

The limpet Patella caerulea, like most calcifiers, is endangered by ocean acidification resulting from increasing levels of atmospheric CO2.  Kolbert dives near Ischia in the Mediterranean, where CO2 seeps provide a natural laboratory for exploring ecosystem changes caused by acidification.  She explores the nuances of the issues faced by calcifiers--any organisms from coccolithophores to mollusks to echinoderms--that draw carbonate from seawater to form part of their structure.  The speed at which humans are putting carbon dioxide into the oceans probably exceeds even that during the Permian extinction. 

Chapter Seven: Dropping Acid

Acropora millepora is one coral in the Great Barrier Reef endangered by warming ocean water as well as ocean acidification. Besides the usual issue with calcification, the warmer temperatures cause the symbiotic zooxanthellae algae the polyps depend on for food to produce dangerous concentrations of oxygen free radicals, and the coral polyps respond by evicting them.  Coral reefs are the oases in sterile tropical seas, creating the basis for highly diverse and productive ecosystems.  As one researcher told her, "if you don't have a building, where are the tenants going to go?"  Reefs have a long history on earth, but they have been built by various animals from rudist bivalves of the Cambrian to stromatoporoids of the Silurian to rugose and tabulate corals of the Devonian.  Since the Permian extinction, more familiar corals have taken over.  Periodically coral reefs disappear during mass extinctions, finally being built again after millions of years.  In addition to the big dangers, corals face the usual suspects: over-fishing, agricultural runoff, deforestation, and dynamite fishing. 

Chapter Eight: The Forest and the Trees

Alzatea verticillata, a tree that is the only species in its family, is among the thousands of tree species Kolbert encounters journeying among Miles Silman's seventeen two-and-a-half acre study plots that dot a mountain ridge in the Peruvian Andes.  Because of their highly-limited altitudinal ranges, each plot--lying at a different altitude--could have an almost entirely different flora.  Silman laid out these plots in 2003, and already had interesting results after only a few years.  Study of the tree census data from these plots shows that the forest is already in motion, as tree species migrate toward higher elevations in the face of climate change.  Since species vary in their response, ecosystem structure will change, and some existing symbioses be broken.  Kolbert explores the species-area relationship, "which has been called the nearest thing the discipline has to a periodic table."  The much-publicized 2004 study seeking to get an estimate of extinctions caused by climate change used the SAR in combination with current ranges of a thousand-odd plant and animal species, and a range of assumptions on how mobile these species were.  Although much criticized, further work has found its conclusion (that somewhere between about ten and thirty percent of species could be gone by 2050) is not unreasonable. 

Chapter Nine: Islands on Dry Land

Eciton burchellii is an army ant that can be found in some of the Amazonian "island" reserves of Brazil's Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project (BDFFP)--one of the largest and longest-running experiments.  Amazonian landowners seeking to develop their properties were persuaded to allow researchers to preserve "islands" of forest in satisfying the legal requirement that fifty percent of a property remain undeveloped.  (Other areas of undeveloped forest serve as controls.)  Kolbert discusses the idea of replacing biomes with "anthromes" totalling 39 million square miles versus unpeopled "wild lands" totalling 11 million square miles.  In light of the fragmentary nature of much of even this minority of Earth's surface, the forest fragmentation studies are even more important.  Further developing the species-area relationship, Kolbert notes that, for example, BDFFP reserves don't show the assumed diversity drop to a new equilibrium, but instead have dropped in diversity steadily with no end in sight.  As populations become smaller, they become increasingly vulnerable to bad luck: drought, storms, disease, and the like.   BDFFP reserves that are big enough to support a few army ant colonies don't support the obligate ant-birds found elsewhere: the army ants become dormant for periods of time, and when by chance the few ant colonies in a reserve become dormant simultaneously, the ant birds are eliminated.  American naturalists Carl and Marian Rettenmeyer, spending more than half a century studying Eciton burchellii, listed more than 300 species that live in association with them.  

Kolbert further discusses estimates of current extinction rates and their flaws.  Terry Erwin's pesticide fog-fueled estimates of as many as 30 million species of arthropods on the planet has been trimmed to a still-impressive two million to seven million insects--possibly because he overestimated the number of species-specific insects (one-fifth, by his results).  E.O. Wilson's famous calculation of a extinction rate 10,000 times the background has not been borne out by observation: it may be that slow "relaxation" has led to an "extinction debt," or that habitat destroyed might regrow, or simply that the many unknown species of e.g. insects mean that we are missing many of the extinctions.  Or any combination of these. 

Chapter Ten: The New Pangaea

The Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus), among many other American bat species, is doomed by the White-nose Fungus, Geomyces destructans, that comes from Europe.  It was first discovered in a cave not far from Kolbert's own town.  So begins her treatment of the problem of alien invasive species; our mixing of species willy-nilly likened to rejoining all the continents into a single land mass.  (Which would not be as destructive as what we've done: in a true Pangaea many barriers to migration would still remain.)  Even ignoring the many species of non-indigenous pets that yearly cross borders (more that the number of natives in toto), vast numbers are moved accidentally.  Applying the species-area relationship to a virtual new Pangaea shows that we stand to keep only a third of Earth's mammals and fifty percent of its birds--from that single cause alone.

Chapter Eleven: The Rhino Gets an Ultrasound

Attempts to conserve the Sumatran Rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) were a tragedy of errors.  (For example, four of the seven sent to US zoos died before keepers realized they needed fresh leaves and branches, and couldn't survive on hay.)   There are now probably fewer than a hundred animals left in the wild.  Of the four other species of rhino, only one is not threatened or endangered.  The rhino is one of many examples of animals that are "two big to quail"--safe from most predators from an early age.  But large animals have suffered disproportionate extinction in the Anthropocene--we have changed the rules of the game.  Kolbert discusses the arguments--going back to Lyell, Darwin, Wallace--for climate change vs. our ancestors as the chief cause.  The preponderance of evidence now implicates humanity.  Jared Diamond commented, "Personally, I can't fathom why Australia's giants should have survived innumerable droughts in their tens of millions of years of Australian history, and then have chosen to drop dead almost simultaneously precisely and just coincidentally when the first humans arrived."  A study of spores left in sediments from fungi that live in large animal dung shows that, prior to any climate change, humans doomed Australia's giants simply by increasing their mortality enough to tip them into decline; and their end led to build-up of fuel and fires that then changed the vegetation to fire-tolerant species.

Chapter Twelve: The Madness Gene

Homo neanderthalensis was our closest remaining relative until its disappearance thirty thousand years ago.  Kolbert discusses our imagined relative--from bent-over brute to flower child to something a little more evidence-based (and even one given a shave and a suit).  Svante Paabo's sequencing of neanderthal DNA and his discovery that most humans have a modest amount of neanderthal DNA (and later discovers the Denisovans) leads Kolbert to compare modern human and ape capabilities, concluding that, for all their intelligence, chimps don't collaborate the way we do.  Paabo points out that, although Neanderthals spread widely, they never crossed water big enough that they would have been out of sight of land.  But "we never stop," he says.  And, "we are crazy in some way.  What drives it?"  

Visiting a cave famous for its paintings, Kolbert says, "It is often speculated that the humans who sketched on the walls of the Grotte des Combaralles thought their images had magical powers, and in a way they were right.  The Neanderthals lived in Europe for more than a hundred thousand years and during that period had no more impact on their surroundings than any other large vertebrate.  There is every reason to believe that if humans had not arrived on the scene, the Neanderthals would be there still, along with the wild horses and the wooly rhinos.  With the capacity to represent the world in signs and symbols comes the capacity to change it, which, as it happens, is also the capacity to destroy it.  A tiny set of genetic variations divides us from the Neanderthals, but that has made all the difference."

Chapter Thirteen: The Thing with Feathers

Homo sapiens is endangered by itself: Richard Leakey warned that, "Homo sapiens might not only be the agent of hte sixth extinction, but one of its victims."  By disrupting the biological and geological systems on which we depend, we're putting our own survival in danger.  Kolbert visits the Frozen Zoo belonging to the San Diego Zoo, which stores cell cultures of nearly a thousand species, some of which are no longer extant.  (With time that proportion will grow.)  then she visits next door with a lone Hawaiian crow and the dedicated keeper who is trying to get sperm from him to increase the captive population.  Although she applauds the dedicated efforts to preserve individual species, they do not change the overall pattern of extinction.  She muses over the root cause of the Sixth Extinction: "To argue that the current extinction event could be averted if people just cared more and were willing to make more sacrifices is not wrong, exactly; still, it misses the point.  It doesn't much matter whether people care or don't care.  What matters is that people change the world."

She ends, "the Sixth Extinction will continue to determine the course of life long after everything people have written and painted and built has been ground into dust..."

Monday, August 17, 2015

Pond Flowers

In a new annual tradition, we spent an August week in a cabin at the Appalachian Mountain Club camp on Ponkapoag Pond's eastern shore--our third annual stay. Ponkapoag is in a little corner of eastern Massachusetts' wonderful Blue Hills Reservation, near enough to two highways that, when the insects and frogs take a breather, you can hear the hum of the traffic.  

 Our first full day there was a rainy one, but no one minded.

 This is a boating crowd--mostly human-powered.

 After three years, this is "our" cabin.

 There is something very relaxing about a rainy day, Beatrice and Golda agree.

 The boys would chime in, if they weren't so busy.

Lots of things in flower in Ponkapoag Pond, Canton, MA.  In fact, more of the true pond plants appear to be in flower than not.  In a few hours of paddling over several days I managed to photograph most of them.

 White water lily (Nymphaea odorata) is our most fragrant and perhaps most beautiful pond plant.

 I was surprised to see a pink water lily for the first time ever.  This turns out to be
a form of the same species that's usually white.  Since I didn't see it the last two years,
I expect it is the same plant, but triggered by the environment to produce the pink color. 

 The yellow-flowered asterisk-like plants in front of the pink flower are bladderworts (Utricularia inflata) that get nitrogen by sucking tiny creatures into their tiny underwater bladders.  White branches filled with air (hence the Latin name), keep flowers where pollinators can reach them.

Yellow water lily is in the same family as the white, though you wouldn't think so 
by looking at the flowers.  Outside the flowering season, you can tell them apart 
by leaf shape: leaves of white are nearly round, those of yellow are larger and oval. 

 Fanwort (Cabomba caroliniana) usually grows entirely underwater as long stems covered 
with lacy leaves with forking branches (the whole effect giving it another common name: 
coontail), but at flowering time the growing tip begins producing simple, oval leaves 
and emerges from the water to make its white and yellow flowers available to pollinators. 

Floating heart (Nymphoides cordatum), though in the same family as the two water lilies, has smaller leaves than they do, and a bundle of roots suspended below the leaves.  It is not in flower now.

Wild celery, aka tape grass (Valisneria americana), is neither a celery, nor a grass, but a member of the Frogbit family.  Its long strap-shaped leaf has lateral divisions that give it a chambered look.

Water shield (Brasenia schreberi), differs from pond lilies in having oval leaves with the
leaf stem attached at the center of the bottom of the blade.  It is not in flower right now.

 Half the Michals-Brown armada was in residence a the camp, including the sail/rowboat Bebe, above, and below Serendipity (green) and Musketequid (blue, dead center).

On our last day, Beatrice joined me for a paddle around the entire pond. 

I have ideas brewing from the pond for future posts.