Drawn by the water reflection, I took this photo last year from the docks of Confederation Basin Marina in downtown Kingston. I have since learned that this is a Martello tower, one of four built along the St Lawrence River, to defend Kingston and the entrance to the Rideau Canal leading to the capital city (Ottawa). Back in 1847 there were still border tensions. Martellos were small armed forts built by the British to defend their interests around the world. Pointed roofs were not typical but were added to Canadian towers for snow protection.
Limestone construction is a common sight in Kingston, a city steeped in history. Needless to say, Shoal Tower is a National Historic Site.
Postscript: This week I took many photos of scenes framed by trees or grasses in response to the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: ‘Frame’—and have been enjoying seeing photos of framed views taken by other challenge participants.
Friday morning, when I looked out the window around 7 AM, the sun was shining. When I got up around 8:30 and pulled the curtain open, I was in for a surprise: a white mist had descended. I stepped out onto the front porch and there a huge spider’s web was suspended from the front railing across the porch for about three feet. I tried to take a photo but there wasn’t enough contrast to highlight the gossamer web. Then came the biggest surprise: I stepped out into the front yard and there, a multitude of webs were suspended from the stalks of chicory plants. I have never seen anything like this!
I tried to capture the event using my humble Iphone camera and wrote a haiku:
Lately, storm clouds offer no guarantee of rain. We’ve had no rain for at least a week and though The Weather Network predicted a 70% possibility of precipitation Friday night, none fell on our patch of ground. Standing outside in 30 degrees, throwing precious groundwater on the garden feels totally futile. Yes I am complaining.
P.S. I saw dark clouds all Saturday after taking this morning photo—there was no rain–not a drop.
I finally identified this wild plant as Mullein, not from thumbing through a field guide, but with one quick internet search for a plant that ‘looks like corn’. Its visual profile resembles corn, but with velvety leaves and a flower spike, it’s not like corn at all and is a member of the Snapdragon family.
Some people love these plants and grow them in flower gardens. There are many varieties. For herbalists, Mullein are known as a source of traditional remedies. For me, the young plants, even younger than shown in my first photo, are quite attractive. As they mature location becomes a factor. They are so huge that sometimes a towering stalk can feel like an obstruction–in the fall the stalks become hard wooden sticks.
Mullein is also known as: Velvet plant, Verbascum Flowers, Woolen Blanket Herb, Bullock’s Lungwort, Flannel Flower, Shepherd’s Club, Hare’s Beard, Pig Taper, and Cow’s Lungwort.
Yesterday I looked up while working in my garden and was surprised to see a rainbow. We were expecting rain, but only a few tentative drops had fallen—in the end there was no rainstorm that evening. There is probably a scientific explanation for the rainbow, having to do with high humidity and rainfall not far away, but I prefer to remain mystified, feeling that something special happened: a rainbow without a storm.
Butterfly Flower, Silkweed, Silky Swallow-wort, Virginia silkweed, Common Milkweed. These are all names for the same plant, known where I live in southern Canada as Common Milkweed. The only common aspect of this plant is that it can grow everywhere, even on a gravel driveway—as shown in the photo I took this weekend.
In recent years milkweed has gained attention as a plant to cherish if we want to continue seeing monarch butterflies. This is why I nickname it ‘Royal Milkweed’. Its leaves are monarchs’ cradle. Monarch butterflies carefully lay their eggs on the undersides of broad milkweed leaves so their progeny (caterpillars) may feed on the green flesh and white sap–no other food will do.
Milkweeds also flourish behind my garden, where every spring sprouts emerge from rhizome roots. Their perfume is intoxicating.
Milkweed flowers are amazingly beautiful–comparable in their complexity to orchid flowers (says Wikipedia).
Milkweed is a plant of many contrasts, some of which I have noted in these haiku: