Monday, November 3, 2008
These two birds are a perfect match for my wildlife photography skill level- posing patiently in their bronze glory while I take thirty different images right up in their faces. I'm not sure who they are supposed to be, great blue herons, maybe? The pair, in their sweetgrass nest, mark the entrance way to a new development next to my neighborhood. The developers put in all the infrastructure, including retention ponds and landscaping, before being stalled by the housing slump. What can I say? There loss is our gain as we now have a combination stroll park and dog park and are all loving it.
Isn't the sweetgrass surrounding the birds almost unbelievably frothy? Sweetgrass (muhlenbergia capillaris or muhly grass) is a workhorse most of the year, surviving with little water, providing a bit of vertical accent but not much wow factor. In the fall, however, when the sun is lower in the sky and shines through its delicate blooms the workhorse becomes a showhorse.
Our town has mass planted sweetgrass in the median of the main drag, maybe in part a tribute to 'the basket ladies' who have for decades made sweetgrass baskets at roadside stands on the same road, practicing a craft handed down from enslaved ancestors who worked the rice plantations along the coast. There is a bit more history and some pictures of baskets here:
I found this little sweetgrass basket (hold on a minute while I get the glass cleaner for that mirror) in a neighbor's trash! Any locals, or tourists, who have ever priced the baskets know what a true find that was. A day in the trashpile left it a little lopsided but otherwise none the worse.
Just this fall I put 15 clumps of sweetgrass in a ridiculously sandy, dry, and sunny strip outside my fence where nothing else will grow. Hopefully in years to come it will thrive and put an end to my multi-year quest of what to do with that space. So far, so good.