Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

One the Use of Patience as a Tool to Recover From Stupidity

Last Tuesday was my last full day in Colorado. John and I were planning to check out some higher elevation terrain northwest of Boulder. About a half hour into the drive, I realized that I had left my camera on John’s dining room table. I muttered bad words under my breath and felt really, really stupid.

It was a good collecting day. I got a nice snowberry sphinx moth as we began getting into the high country. Our initial destination proved to be a bust. The aspen trees were not even beginning to leaf out yet, and there was still snow on the ground. We wandered to lower elevation, and found an interesting looking spot at the St. Vrain Trailhead. It was crowded. There were lots of dogs. The trail wound through several campsites. But the calypso orchids were in bloom- a species I’d never seen before. Unfortunately, we had no camera. We both took some really bad shots with our cell phones. On the way out, we ran into a bunch of green-margined tiger beetles. We each got a nice series. They were even approachable- but as we had no camera, I got no photos.

The next day, John decided to forgo collecting. I was not leaving until 6 in the evening. It occurred to me that I could go back to the St. Vrain Trail and take some of the photos that I had missed due to my stupid move the day before. It was a chillier day, and as I drove up to Boulder, it started getting cloudier. And cloudier. And even cloudier. K-Country 99 was predicting clouds with rain by early afternoon.

By the time I started up into the foothills it was raining lightly and I was cursing myself. I had forgotten my camera on the last good photography day of the trip! Should I try to drive back onto the plains in the hopes for more sun? I decided just let it go and be a bit more patient with myself and the situation. I would continue with my plans in the knowledge that I would at least be able to get photos of the orchids.

Calypso Orchid

The rain had stopped by the time I got out of the car, and the flat light actually made photographing the orchids a bit easier. I decided that I’d just take a nice hike and photograph flowers along the way. As I got further in, I realized that by walking just a bit further up the trail than I had the day before, the campsites stopped and the scenery got much nicer.

Prettier forest- though somewhat somber


The plant life was pretty cool. I saw a whole bunch of a parasitic plant called pine drops. They were just sprouting and made for some interesting photography. I was especially surprised to find a pretty blue clematis in bloom. Despite being unhappy with the fact that I would surely miss out on photographing the new (for me) species of tiger beetle, I was in beautiful surroundings and having a very nice time.

Pine Drops

Blue Clematis

Maybe it was the blue of the clematis that did it, but just about the time that I snapped that photo, a patch of blue sky scudded overhead. I pushed onward, happy that it wasn’t going to rain on me. Then there was another patch of blue, and another. I noticed that there was clear sky approaching from the southwest. Realizing that I might have a shot at insect photography after all, I turned around and headed back towards the trailhead. Twenty minutes after I was the first bit of blue sky, I was standing in the Colorado forest in the middle of a beautiful sunny day. The woods looked even better on my walk out. The rest of the afternoon was beautifully sunny.

Cicindela limbalis habitat. They were crawling on the bare rock.
Note the complete lack of clouds in the sky here.

Patience. It’s the key to photography.

Green-margined Tiger beetle (Cicindela limbalis)

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At 21:02, Blogger cedrorum said...

dude, K-country 99? I remember you commenting that one of your guilty pleasures was listening to country music, but I didn't really believe it. Great pictures. I especially like the blue color of the sky on the picture looking up the ridge. The pine drop on the right looks like pink asparagus.

At 21:37, Blogger R.Powers said...

Yes, it is.

At 10:18, Blogger robin andrea said...

I'm so glad you took a chance and went back for these photographs. I love the calypso orchid. We found them scattered in the woods along the tidal estuary in Port Townsend. Quite a dainty beauty.

I agree with Cedrorum, the pine drop does look like pink asparagus.

At 10:26, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad it worked out for you. Any time in the Colorado mountains is a good time (even in the rain), but when the weather is perfect, everything else just falls into place.

At 12:08, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luck helps.

At 13:24, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too am glad you went back....streambead view is spectacular.....along with the orchids. Colorado is beautiful once you can get to the back country you were in.....I remember so much of it when I was a kid on trips to family reunions driving over all the passes...(Dad's family was in Manassa...and we came from Oregon). We saw a lot that country, and NOW, I see new detail.

At 14:35, Blogger Kathie Brown said...

Doug, what a great post! The shot of the creek is so refreshing. The one with the sky, beautiful. Also, your beetle photo came out spectacularly! It was worth the wait. BTW, from my experience of having lived in the northeast and several western states, including 6 years in CO, I would have to say that Colorado has the most changeable and unpredictable weather of any place I have ever lived! Glad it changed for the better for you (this time)!

At 10:36, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post! So nice to see the orchids and berries growing in the wild ... I just go to the gardens to learn about them.

At 19:45, Blogger Doug Taron said...

cedrorum- I'm chock full of contradictions. Country music is just one. The pink asparagus comparison had not occurred to me, but now that you mention it...

FC- Well, you've been there in a big way, and it shows in the fine photographs that you get.

Robin- This was my first experience with calypso orchids. Leon (who is from Oregon originally) took my excitement when I called him that night with aplomb. He's seen them a whole bunch.

Pablo- I agree entirely. Colorado is one place that I wish I could spend more time in. So much travel, so little time.

TF23- But of course.

Mark- those sound like they were wonderful trips. I''m glad to hear that Rodger is home safe and sound.

Kathie- yeah, it worked out really well this time. I'll email you soon, my plans for my Tucson trip are coming together.

Jyoti- Thanks. There are places in the Chicago area that you can see wild orchids. There not that far out of town.

At 22:13, Blogger Texas Travelers said...

Well, I have been on both ends of stupidity, and sometimes patient (but usually not).

This was a great story and I feel like I was along on the field trip.

I enjoyed it very much.

Now for the good part:

The photos were excellant.
The specimens were outstanding.
The reward for patience was well deserved.
Great balance of diverse photos.

Well done,

At 22:38, Blogger Carletta said...

All nice photos but that beetle is awesome!

At 23:56, Blogger Lilli & Nevada said...

great shot but they really do give me the creeps

At 02:24, Blogger This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Doug: Great set of photos, nice picture of the beetle.

At 06:44, Blogger Jane Hards Photography said...

Great collection of images.

At 11:00, Blogger Sandy Kessler said...

These wildflowers are a smorgasbord. Beautiful all of it sandy

At 13:37, Blogger ratmammy said...

wow, great photo!

At 18:21, Blogger Ur-spo said...

it was nice to see clematis in the wild; i tend to think plants that we regularly use in our gardens no longer exist out in nature.

At 20:33, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Troy= Patience is a bit unusual for me.

Thanks to all of the visitors from Camera Critters. Welcome to the Tapestry.

Spo- The clematis was very much a surprise on this hike.

At 20:45, Blogger Misty DawnS said...

This is a great, fun, and entertaining post. I can't tell you how many times I've went for a walk with my camera, only to realize I forgot to put the memory card in it!!! I feel like such a dumby when I do that (yes, I've done it many times).

Love the beetle - it's really cool. The flowers are gorgeous!

At 10:39, Blogger Texas Travelers said...

I was just looking at the Tiger one more time.

I am soooo Jealous.

Great find and terrific photo.

Your tiger hunting friend,

At 22:01, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Troy- Thanks. At the end of next month, I'll be at one of the world's premiere tiger beetle locations. It's hard to photograph there because it's very hot, so the beetles are really active. I'm going to give it my best shot.

At 01:00, Blogger Marvin said...

The blue sky shot is gorgeous -- and I really like the tiger beetle.

At 08:05, Blogger Tom said...

Unfortunately Tom is on bed rest today and for the first time you are stuck with me. I have my orders to visit as many as I can, and make sure the links are working and everyone is being good. I am sure you are all being good.
Tom and I thank you for Sky-Watching this week. I am sure that as soon as Tom's heart beat settles down he will be back here and visiting.



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