Only in the Ozarks – Photo Journal Entry #3

When the weather in southern Missouri turns 70 on the last day of January, there is only one thing to do – GO OUTSIDE!  Nature has a way of writing a slightly different story every time you walk outside, even if you are traveling the same path.  I suppose it’s like watching your favorite movie over and over again.  You never get tired of it and you always find something new – or you cry again at the same sappy love story chick flick.  Either way, it’s still irresistable and there is something about it that draws you back again and again.

This time I headed out with the family to the south side of Busiek State Forest, located just north of the Branson Zipline on US 65 HWY.  We had been here last week just after the weather gave us some ice and snow and even though we took the same trail, the landscape wrote a whole different story.

spring-above-waterfall

This is turning out to be one of my favorite places.  A small waterfall flows between these rocks.  As an artist and photographer, my eye was drawn to the moss growing on the rock and the contrast between the dark green and the bright pumpkin orange patches.

little-waterfall

And here’s the picture of the little waterfall.  Crystal clear water and the calming sound of water trickling through the rocks.  I could stay here all day.

greenshield-lichen

It seems that the moisture from the ice and snow combined with the warm day was the perfect recipe to revive life into the forrest floor.  Looking about, various colors of green from deep hunter green to bright chartreuse were in abundance.  I love the texture of this Greenshield Lichen.  Lichens are different from moss in that they are not really plants, they are fungus and algae.  The fungus and algae grow together because they provide something the other needs.  Super cool how natural species works together for the betterment of the environment.  Wish humans could figure this out  too…

seductive-moss

The “seductive moss” as it’s called was in full bloom all over the forrest floor.  Bright green moss contrasted with it’s burnt orange colored stalks.  It’s the first moss of the year and I can tell you it was lovin the weather!.  You can read more about it here.  It’s a tiny little plant but super cool and beautiful under a microscope – who knew?

Reindeer-lichen-and-Caribou-Moss

Still another color of green I spotted was,  what I at first thought was a moss, but on reading about it, it’s actually a lichen.  It’s known as the Reindeer Lichen or Caribou Moss.  Unfortunately, Missouri is not home to any Caribou,  but in areas such as Alaska, this is primary food source for them. Reindeer lichen has the ability to survive brutally cold temperatures where it will just become dormant.  They are among the few animal species able to process raw lichen because of the enzymes that they have in their digestive system.  Humans can not eat it raw.  In Scandinavia, it is processed down into a powder and used to thicken soups    Some cultures boil it into a tea to help with diahrrea and others have used it to treat illnesses like the flu.    It’s also used by miniature railroad hobbists as shrubs and landscape for their train scapes. Pretty cool huh?SPIDER-EGG-SAC

Finally before finishing our walk and coming to the end of the trail, I found this spider egg sac, or at least what I believe to be a spider egg sac.  It is large and measures about 5cm.  At first I thought it was from a brown or black widow spider, but after researching, I don’t believe their egg sacs are quite this large.  If you know, please leave me a comment below.  Regardless, it made for a beautiful picture.

Of course, what perfect day would be complete with out a gorgeous sunset?

SUNSET-JANUARY-31

A perfect ending to a perfect day.

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