I have, in fact, been sticking with my commitment to take my camera along on walks. It somehow prompts more attention to details like this tree, whose catkins have tassled up delightfully.
Then there was this holly growing up through a tall cedar and loaded with bright red berries.
Here’s where the warning part comes in. In order to get these shots, and some of a gnarly old apple tree still hanging on to aging, bronzed apples (that didn’t turn out), I found myself scrambling up brushy embankments. A day later, my face began to itch something fierce. Before long, I looked like a victim of something between jungle rot and teen acne. Now, I know what poison oak looks like. My cousin Billy was my partner in crime in the early years. We found some fabulously shiny and colorful leaves in the woods one fall day, and thought that armloads of boughs would please our mothers no end. Quite the contrary, as soon as they spotted us they snatched us up, branches flying, stripped us down and scrubbed us raw with lye soap. We got out of it scot-free, but Aunt Florine swelled up until her eyes were mere slits. Lesson learned. Poison Oak sports oak-shaped leaves with a surface that gets its shine from the sap that causes all the trouble. I didn’t spot any on this expedition, but it must have been lurking there somewhere. My advice is to stick to trails at least until things leaf out and you can tell what you are getting yourself into. Regular applications of tea tree oil have calmed down the itch enough that I can resist the scratching that spreads it around.