Monday, September 03, 2007

Twenty miles for a merit badge...that's parental dedication.

Ian is a Life Scout, and one of the merit badges he needs is his Hiking merit badge. He had everything done except the "Hike 20 miles in one day" requirement. So early this morning, we got up and took off from the trailhead (our front door) abd hiked to the Military Ridge Trail, which runs southwest of Madison. It's normally a bike trail but we saw quite a few pedestrians too. It was warm (hot actually), with decent humidity, and we're all drinking like fish to get back ahead of the hydration curve.

Aside from the obvious physical challenge, it was wonderful. 7 hours of walking gives ample time to chat about life. College is four years away, and we talked about school, his aspirations (he would like to invent something that pulls carbon out of the atmosphere and makes fuel out of it to solve global warming and power our vehicles), etc. When he's not solving the energy crisis, he would like to be a Shakespearian actor. Or an architect.

It is so wonderful to be young and to dream. Whatever he decides, he'll be great at it, I am sure.

This late in the season, the wildflowers are all dead and brown. Except for a splash of red in the wild rose hips, it's pretty brown out there, except for this wonderful late bloomer, the bottle gentian (Gentiana andrewsii). These aren't buds, these are flowers...they don't really open up. This means that they're pollinated primarily by bumblebees, the only insect robust (or persistent) enough to penetrate the corolla.*

Anyway, I love them. They are easy to spot in low marshy areas, and unlike the ornamental gentians from the nursery who die if you so much as look at them with a disapproving scold, these self-seed and do quite well, thank you very much.

*Corolla is a fancy name for the combined structures of the petals and calyx. On a rose, the corolla is pretty much an open book. On these gentians, not so much...

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