i'm beginning to like the arnold arboretum in jamaica plain more and more. i've always thought it was a poor man's version of cambridge's historical mt.auburn cemetery (established in 1831; arboretum founded in 1872). although larger in size (265 acres arboretum compared to the 175 acres mt.auburn), the arboretum doesn't seem to have quite the variety of plants as the mt.auburn cemetery. however, as i've recently discovered, what the arboretum lacks in quantity it more than makes up for in quality, being the home to some rather rare plants.
my trip to middlesex fells with bruce got postponed because he felt sick this morning. this gave me the opportunity to go to jamaica plain, where i had to drop off eliza's baby shower present (a for crying out loud! cd), but could also revisit the arnold arboretum again.
i went to the arboretum basically to look for two asian flowering trees: the dove tree (which i saw last week) and the paulownia tree.
i wasn't satisfied with the dove tree photos i took last time and wanted to get some better snapshots and to get a good look at the tree now that i've done on research on it. a teenage couple wandered by, admiring the white flowers. i dropped some dove tree trivia on them (for instance, how it blooms every other year) but they seemed to be more interested in taking photos of themselves. a pair of middle aged women showed up next, admiring the tree as well. i gave them the same song and dance while taking some photos of the flowers. the dove tree bark is really distinctive, almost looks diseased. i also noticed that the tree itself is actually not the original tree; all that's left of the main trunk is a stump, while the current tree itself is a result of an offshoot.
next i searched for the paulownia tree. i didn't see it last week, but according to the online map one exists on the chinese path very much near the dove tree. walking around, i noticed a few purple flowers on the ground. it took me a minute to make the connection that these were fact paulownia flowers. the tree itself isn't tagged at all and because the flowers are up so high they're hard to see. examining the flower, the sepal looks like a brown felt cap, resembles somethin more artificially crafted than something natural. the flower had already wilted but in full bloom resembles a foxglove. and the fragrance! indescribably sweet and delicious! even now, looking at just the photo, i can still smell it.
for those with a good memory, my love affair with paulownia started last spring, when i discovered a beautiful purple flowering tree in my neighborhood. i probably smelled it first before i actually saw it, one of the perks of being out on a motorcycle and being able to sniff the landscape. i haven't noticed the nearby paulownia tree blooming yet, but hope to collect some seeds this season so i can grow my very own paulownia.
the arboretum was pleasantly lacking in people today. other than the few i met initially, i hardly saw anybody else. i had the place all to myself, going from flower to flower, taking photos. besides all the colors, there was also the natural perfume of flowers. days like today i wish scientists could invent a camera that could record smells.
what a difference a week makes! that pretty white mountain witch alder combination with the purple redbuds i saw last week is now only showing traces of its former glory. that's just a reminder how ephemeral flowers can be. and a note to everyone to go outside and enjoy the best of spring before they're all gone.
back at home, my father brought over his laptop for me to take a look at. despite our effort to backdate a recovery after i accidently unleashed some trojan horse viruses onto his new laptop, the computer was still behaving badly. for one thing, drag-and-drop functionality wasn't working right, and dragged files would leave lingering ghost images. so it was decided that we'd wipe the drive and install a fresh new OS. the machine came with vista home basic but i had a copy of vista ultimate so i installed the improved version instead. 30 minutes later things were back to normal, with the except of the wireless card and the trackpad, which i easily remedied by downloading the latest dell drivers online. my father left with his newly minted machine. later in the evening i received several phone calls from him. apparently the laptop was still behaving badly, this time something different: upon waking up from a sleep, the display would be all covered with noise. only after a restart would the problem fix itself. i told my father to try updating vista, and if that didn't work, try installing the dell video driver (although during the install, it was able to match the video with the driver without any problems). the other phone calls were in regards to not being able to connect to their home wifi. this was the same problem i had to make an emergency house call last week, but over the phone i couldn't figure out what i did to fix it. in the meantime, it's wired internet. if it is a vista ultimate issue, i told my father he could re-install the dell-certified basic edition cd-rom that came with the laptop. however, from the sound of it, it looks like he prefers all the bells and whistles the ultimate edition has to offer.
in the early evening i attended this lecture at the harvard museum:
Bat Colonies around New England
In recent months, over a quarter million bats in Western Massachusetts, Vermont, and New York have perished from a deadly disease called white-nose syndrome. Tom French, Director of the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program at the Massachusetts Division of Wildlife and Fisheries, will discuss why we should be concerned about bat mortality and the effect it could have on insect populations and other ecological issues.
super interesting, the speaker was a bat scientist with a great southern accent. it almost felt like a town hall meeting, where the local sheriff is alerting the townspeople about some impending menace. the lecture was peppered with horrified gasps as the speaker gave out some bat death statistics as a result of this mysterious white-nose syndrome. as of now they still don't know what's causing this massive bat die-off. it could have something to do with all the west nile and equine encephalitis spraying of mosquitoes, which then get ingested by the bats. the use of these new supposedly safer pesticides might be interfering with the bat's immune system or their metabolism. the white-nose itself is just a symptom; what's really causing their death is the bats are coming out of their caves during the middle of winter (when they should be hibernating), malnourished and looking for nonexistent insects to eat.
later julie came over with wings. i was going to make some chicken fruit salad to be eaten stuffed inside of pita bread, but for the second week in a row that dinner plan was dashed. the reason this time: apparently julie doesn't eat mayonnaise (just another item on a long list of things she won't eat). unable to resolve this conflict, i decided to go with her suggestion and get some wings instead. we watched the red sox game, boston beating kansas city again for the third time. after she left, i switched over to the NBA, where the lakers beat the spurs. the NBA would explode if the lakers met the celtics in the finals.