Expeditious ladybug navigates the vinyl-cladded chain link fence that encloses an abandoned parking lot along Marginal Street this morning. Gray-green leaves and pink flowers of Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) backdrop are part of one of those beauty-in-unexpected-places "Unplanted Gardens" Fred First has been writing about.
We headed out for walkies this morning, camera in hand, with Fred's Unplanted Gardens: America's Roadside Bloomery project -- blogged here yesterday -- in mind but quickly found his simple and reasonable-sounding requirement that "all images would include in their composition a road of some kind, just to place it," too restrictive for our particular brand of photographic vision, which tends to go for the up close and personal, not to mention the Cartier-Bresson "Decisive Moment." Take the ladybug on the chain link fence above, for example. To get Marginal Street -- which was behind us as we clicked the shutter -- in the picture, we would have had to gain access to a locked parking lot. Had that even been possible, the ladybug, crawling precipitously in and out of our camera's field of vision, would have been long gone.
Know what these are? We didn't when we discovered them the other day milling about, newly emerged from their eggcases, on the underside of a Common Milkweed leaf in our volunteer weed garden in front of the fence at the edge of the yard. Inspired by photographer, writer and naturalist extraordinaire Bev of Burning Silo -- who had advised her readers that "Milkweed is always one of the very best plants to watch for insect and spider activity" -- we had been looking for spider mothers and their young when we stumbled upon the nurseryful of six-legged creepy crawlies above. Googling today, we discovered they were ladybug larvae. Update: Or are they green dock beetle larvae?
Like its kissing cousin, Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata), fellow grape-family member Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), above, is a lovely native woody vine widely grown as a climbing ornamental to cover the façades of masonry buildings. According to Wikipedia, "This usage is actually economically important because, by shading walls during the summer, it can significantly reduce cooling costs." Maybe Al Gore could use it on that Tennesse trophy mansion that uses up more energy in a day than most of us do in a year.
We caught another Decisive Moment (above) as the sun emerged from unsettled, partly cloudy skies to backlight the five-parted compound leaves of a single stem of another roadside garden volunteer, Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) against the darker green of unlit branches behind, clinging to yet another of Marginal Street's ubiquitous neglected chain link fences.
More light play with Virginia Creeper on its rusty roadside chain link "trellis," with some sort of heavy equipment (blue with white letters) behind. We should have taken notes.
Crepish lavender Common Chicory (Cichorium entybus), pale pink-and-white Bouncing Bet (Saponaria officinalis) and tall, tawny grasses conspire to turn a roadside concrete drain pipe section left over from a recent infrastructure project along Marginal Street into a container garden. Large-leaved Common Milkweed lends contrast, stage right.
Back for an encore, Common Chicory, Bouncing Bet and the tall grasses arrange themselves with wit and whimsy around an abandoned truck accessory or some such cast-iron relic made by the Buda Engine Company of Harvey, Illinois and left along the roadside a ways down Marginal. Their landscape solution called to mind a war memorial of perhaps Civil War vintage, in this case a remembrance of victims of the eternal war of supply and demand.
All this talk of Milkweed and allies brought us, via Google, to our post of a year ago, "A toxic mix of malcontents," where we had captioned a photograph of an insect flitting about a Common Milkweed in relation to the news of the day:
There is a place for spinelessness in this world -- check out the 10th Circus of the Spineless at Science and sensibility to see what we mean -- but our species are supposed to have backbones. Multicultural elites "gripped by self-loathing," in Amir Taheri's words, need not apply.
"This Islam is an ideology masquerading as a religious faith," writes Amir Taheri in a most enlightening Wall Street Journal commentary on the occasion of the first anniversary of the London bombings. "According to intelligence sources quoted by the British press, some 8,000 persons, all 'British born and bred Muslims,' are under investigation as 'al Qaeda sympathizers'"
Will we finally get it this time?
Update: Stopping to smell the imail:
She: Bit by bit, you are helping people to stop and view the Joe Pyeweed. I almost felt guilty during my weeding.
We: I always do. Especially when I come upon babies of my Silver Maple. Or anything I can identify, which is just about everything.
She: LOL. Yes, maples are the hardest to kill. Whatever happens to you in your life, Sis, you are as great an artist as any.You have that "thing" that true artists have -- and I mean artists in any of the seven lively arts -- an eye that others don't have, but can occasionally be shown a glimpse of.
Here's lookin' at you, kid.