An Acquired Taste
Dr. Treebeard prescribed a walk in the warm sunshine for my cold so yesterday we went for a short jaunt into the swamp across the road from the house. Did I mention that the new house has swamp on three sides? Perfect!
I didn't get many pictures because we were walking west into a fierce winter afternoon sun. Being a bit under the weather, I didn't feel like futzing around with camera settings to compensate. As a result, there are no images of the kinglets, chickadees, white-throated sparrows, red-headed woodpeckers, brown thrashers, cardinals, etc. to share with you this morning. Nor do I have any photos of the swamp stretching out in all directions. All I have to offer is the image of a partially eaten bald cypress cone.
Bald cypress, Taxodium distichum, has to rank as one of my all-time favorite trees. It is beautiful in any season and has a number of intriguing traits. It is a deciduous confier (hence "bald") and produces knobbly knees (true function as yet undetermined) under the proper circumstances. It also produces hard round cones that are tough to open until fully mature. Squirrels, of course, are not deterred by the toughness. They seem to enjoy the challenge. We found quite a few dismantled cones on our walk.
Now wouldn't it be neat if some of those cones had been dismantled by yet another creature who was undaunted by the challenge? Alas, that particular creature, the Carolina Parakeet, is now extinct. What must it have been like to see a flock of those birds working on opening cypress cones? One can only imagine...