Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bugs, Birds, Rocks, and Walks

The Engineer and I went for two epic walks over the weekend. We did six miles on the Falling Waters Trail in Jackson on Saturday and 11 miles on the Lakelands Trail in Stockbridge and Gregory on Sunday. Both paths are converted railroad beds, so they are level and straight. They also pass through some lovely countryside and are uncrowded and peaceful (features on which I place great importance, as I find it more enjoyable to be where crowds are not). The weather was spectacular for Michigan in November and we just didn't want to be indoors!

Here I am perched on a glacial erratic alongside the Lakelands Trail. Erratics are rocks that were left behind by melting glaciers. In Michigan, this occurred during the retreat of Late Wisconsinian glacial lobes from 16,000-10,000 years ago. These rocks are called "erratics" because they do not match the local bedrock; they were scooped up elsewhere and traveled great distances in the embrace of a glacier. In this area, the erratics' most likely provenance is Canada, and a great number of them are granite (such as the one I am sitting on).

Don't take erratics for granite.
This is a picture of me next to the Madison Boulder (New Hampshire), which is regarded as one of the largest glacial erratics in the world. I convinced my family we HAD to visit the boulder when we were on vacation in nearby Melvin Village in the summer of 1995. My college geomorphology professor had told our class about it. If you suspect I was overcome with glee upon seeing the boulder, you would be correct.

I get excited when I see an unusual bird (the Engineer was there when I saw an indigo bunting for only the second time in my life and I yelled, "HOLY SHITBALLS it's an INDIGO BUNTING!") and even more excited when I find an unusual rock. My hometown friend Ellen has a great story about the time I nearly peed my pants and passed out when I found a GORGEOUS, perfectly preserved rugose coral in a creekbed in her backyard in 1993.

The Redhead could tell you about the time I saw a green heron up close while we were out walking over the summer and I became so animated with excitement I whacked her boob with my flailing hand as I squealed, "oh my god it's a GREEN HERON!". I call this "having a birdgasm." It happens a lot.

At home I have a cabinet devoted to special items, many of which are science-related. There's a whole shelf of important rocks I have collected over the years, including my Favorite Rock of All Time: an oblong hunk of serpentinite I extracted from a western Ireland beach in 1997 during my geology field camp experience

So, yeah, Nature nerd. This is an established fact.

I also like bugs...to a point. I can't stand those nasty-smelling Asian lady beetles that invade my house every year about this time. If I see a house centipede on the floor, that thing is headed for squishville; I don't care how beneficial it is. Spiders indoors? NO.

However, I do love fat, fuzzy caterpillars, like this big guy I found on Sunday:

Eeeee! It's on my hand!
Yes, those are my birdwatching binoculars around my neck.

I later identified the species as the caterpillar of the Giant Leopard Moth.The caterpillar was fun to observe, but I would have been even more excited by the adult moth. Unfortunately, they're nocturnal.

So, yeah. Nature nerd, and proud of it.


Jen Feeny said...

*NERD ALERT!!!!!!!!!*

J/K I love your nerdy ways and that boulder is pretty epic. Your birdgasm cracks me up, seriously, you spotting something geology related or bird related is one of my favorite things about you. You're like a kid in a candy store when it happens. Or a junior high girl around Bieber.

Shellyrm ~ just a country runner said...

Sounds like a great time with nature! I loooove that giant rock. I would freak out seeing too. And my family would wonder what the big deal was. They just don't get it!