7/18/21: Delaware Water Gap w Dan, Tammany Red Dot Trail.  Fork of the Appalachian trail

Land: A mountain.  Shady and rocky and with acidic soil, some areas were sandy.  Spotted a lot of ericaceous plants and acid loving plants.  A lot of water probably flows through here but doesn’t stand.

Plants (suspected and confirmed):
Tsuga canadensis (Canadian hemlock), Juniperus communis (Common Juniper)/(my first time hearing this species name and I have a twinkle in my eye), Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip poplar), Quercus spp. (oaks), Hamamelis spp. (Witch hazel), Pinus pungens?, Platanus occidentalis?

Shrubs: Vaccinum spp. (blueberries), Viburnum spp., Lindera benzoin (Northern spicebush), Kalmia latifolia (Mountain laurel), Rhododendron catawbiense, Gaultheria procumbens (wintergreen), wild blackberry

!!Perennials: Rudbeckia spp., Pycnanthemum spp. (Mountain mint.  So awesome to see this there), Asarum canadensis (wild ginger), touches of Solidago, Mayflower, Wood aster, etc.

Invasives: Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stilt grass), Rubus phoenicolasius (Wineberry), Multiflora rose (I think).  Not a ton of invasives compared to natives which is great.

Mushrooms (Dan would confirm):
Boletes, Amanitas, Chanterelles.  The coolest Chanterelles were the super tiny ones in vibrant oranges and reds and yellows.  They said “we don’t need to be big or even medium or even small we can be extremely small we’re extremely colorful!”

!!Spotlight!!: On the drive up, to my delight, surprise, etc., I saw Monarda fistulosa on the side of roads/highways.  How totally awesome, I don’t recall ever seeing that before.  It’s much less surprising to see roadways that are covered in invasive species.  The monarda was always generous in its distribution*. 

I love Monarda fistulosa’s color, a gentler lavendar compared to its family member Monarda didyma’s bright, yet just a touch subdued, red...like when you suck some liquid out of a red ice pop.  Just a little bit, though.

Sometimes I think it might be futile to consider and ultimately determine the character of a plant, but it’s also sometimes fun and I gotta pose:  Is one of the above Monarda more radical in its physical form than the other?  Which one is more shocking?  And to who?

The lavendar of fistulosa comes to mind when I think of the popular** myth of fairies and sprites, of Rococo-ness.  And the flower of both spp. is quite airy in form, and nearly see through, nodding to the plant’s tendency for powdery mildew.  It gets damper the moment it gets damp...and looks almost as if clouds of humidity are stamped on it (thanks to us, though, for making powdery mildew resistant species)

Then I start to think they’re both equally radical...the red of didyma is different than the red of Ilex verticillata fruit or Calycanthus blooms...and Monarda spp.’s scent is certainly not Daisy by Marc Jacobs.  Most plant’s scents aren’t.  It’s peppery and oregano-like, thickly masking mint underneath, which then makes me think the flower is more spikey and in my face than frilly.  Then again, Rococo can’t NOT be in my face.

*For some reason I wanted to use the word “swath” to describe this which is actually the path created by swinging an axe or scythe.  It’s substractive which can be the opposite of abundant.  I wonder why this came to mind.
**By popular, I mean to me as is and what first comes to mind, without researching

There was a very intense storm the night before. 
Typically the relief of SE PA summer humidity comes with daily thunderstorms and downpours, even if they are just a couple minutes long.  It had not rained heavy in about 5 days and was super hot.  Lightning flashed like a strobe for about a half hour, resulting in flash flooding and a strike very close to Dan’s house, booming to tell us it was there.  The onset of the lightning happened as we started a Ted Fujita documentary.

The next day the humidity was whipped out of existence, too scared and embarrassed to come back for at least a day.  The air in the city felt good, which is rare in July, and it felt even better when we went up to Delaware Water Gap.  The hike up was a good workout that took about an hour. 
Dan showed me mushrooms and spotted a dying luna moth.  It had an injured wing, wasn’t moving much, and its mint green was a bit more opaque than I’ve seen before.

Moths eat ~30,000x their body weight as caterpillars.  When they turn into gorgeous moths without mouths to eat, they live a week, fuck, and die.

At the top we painted and watched rain pass through.  I used very old liquid water colors found in a Kelsey box that I cleaned out a couple weeks ago, throwing away most of the contents.  Realistically the paints could’ve been from before I was 10.  The viridian green had changed and faded like the luna: portions of it dried out a little bit, evident as an overcooked pea green. 
I tried to keep my painting as wet as possible as a technique, and when the rain came, green water pooled up on my painting.  I ended up running some off.

I believe the paints had lost quality through time and neglecct.  When they dried the color was very faded, looking like overexposure, no matter how little I diluted the paints.  Dan painted the storm as it happened and his palette was a gorgeous combo of greys browns blues and purples.

Kelsey Skaroff
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As Things Always Change, The Nature of Nature Remains the Same
November 15th, 2020.  The Ecological Landscape Alliance.

Kelsey Skaroff
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Kelsey Skaroff
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Photo by Nick Yates

Kelsey Skaroff
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