Sunday, June 27, 2010


This old Mother Nature always gets it right. While we spend our energies and our focus on pointing out how we are so different, she shows us how beautiful we are when we come together, when we help each other, and when we share.

I truly wish we could all be this way and be willing to compromise just a little in life.  Try to understand why your enemy is so adamant in his ignorance.  Try to understand how Pretty Patty is so much an airhead, but she does smell nice.  This stinky garlic blossom is so lovely next to this swallowtail butterfly.  They have worked it out.  Why can't we?

Here are two nectar suckers sharing the same Echinacea blossom.  There is enough for all.  Really, there is, we just have to be a bit more frugal.

Share something with someone today.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Don't Touch! That is Not a Sea Anemone

This sparkley, prickly, delicate looking "wet fur" was something I photographed recently while walking through a natural tourist attraction.  According to the guide there are only three known places on this immense globe where these can be seen.  The story of their discovery is even more interesting.  It involves a researcher, a shovel, and lots of mud.  The researcher/explorer was digging out mud to follow a cavern opening.  When the researcher put his shovel into the mud it became irremovable!  It was just like the sword in the stone.  He pulled and pulled and the shovel would not become free.  He actually had to get a number of friends to help him pull out the shovel and when it finally broke free his watch and hat were sucked off of his body and into the vacuum that had been released by the hole in the mud left behind.  When he widened the hole, the delicate hairy spikes are what he found on the ceiling of the cave that was revealed behind the wall of mud and shown in the photo above.

These are cave formations called Anthodites which is taken from a Greek word meaning flower-like.  They are calcium carbonate forming aragonite crystals.  Exotic sounding and precious.  Because of their delicate nature and rareness they are protected by Federal law.  It takes 7,000 years for an inch on these to form, but because these are no longer in a vacuum, they are no longer growing.  These have been around for a long, long, long, long time.  Hard to get my mind around that.  One of them was 18 inches long.  I guess we all missed that time in history even though it was much much later than the big bang.

There is a new book out called Blind Descent by author James Tabor (no relation).  The author discusses caving and one of the deepest caves which is 7000 vertical feet!  I have not read it, but it sounds very intriguing.  

Caves have such a garden-like thing going on and cave researchers are such poets in naming cave formations.  According to E-notes. com "One-hundred and two cave minerals are known to form coatings and crusts, 57 form stalactites and stalagmites, 23 form moonmilk, 15 form anthodites, 14 form helictites, 12 form Angel hair, 7 form coralloides and pearls, and 6 form cave balloons."

It is so magical this earth of ours.

Monday, June 21, 2010

In the Heat of the Summer I get Visitors

As the summer dials up the oven temperature all the little creepy crawlies (entomological treasures for some and 'unable to ignore' pests for others) have begun arriving along with their families.  While hiking in a nearby woods I came across this little 'nest' of orange baby spiders.  I could find momma no where in sight.  I blew gently on the group and they spiraled down like miniature parachute jumpers in a delicate dance closer to the ground, but soon returned to their home when the carbon dioxide 'breeze' stopped.  (Click on photo for closer views, of course, and remember they are just photos!)

This little congregation of aphids in the photo below was holding their late spring war convention in the green lobby of my back yard the other day. They were discussing strategies and priorities I am sure.  Which area to invade first might also cross their tiny red brains.  I didn't kill them because they were meeting far from my flower beds...perhaps planning their attack on the newly planted roses?  I leaned closer but could hear no battle plans.

As I my face filled their blue sky, oddly enough, they look like they were circling the wagons preparing for a bird or wasp attack perhaps.

And of course, I cannot leave this post without posting at least one photo of the hundreds (thousands?) of pollinators that are humming around my sage and my lavender and everything else that has blooms.  They are drinking all the summer honey wine and usually hanging on in a gluttonous stupor the next morning covered in the mist of cool dew.  These guys hit the bar all day everyday.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Japanese Orgies

Japanese Beatles
barely exotic
Cling in opalescent disregard.
They dine with
refined tastes 
on only rose petals
and crepe myrtle leaves.
They don't speak the
ignoring my pleas.
Holding open orgies
between the petals of
the pink Savoy Hotel 
too drugged to see
 my dismay
at the confetti-ed
they always leave behind
when the party
at long last ends.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Nursery

Each new season I spend in my woods, I am charmed by the local residents. Last spring a turtle laid her nest of eggs just below a basil plant in my herb bed. I placed a protective fence around the nest, but the little ones never hatched. Too much rain?...too hot? with Mother Nature is sometimes  unforgiving.  We are now entering the season of the box turtles.

Yesterday after a long and violent rain I opened the front door in the early morning with coffee in hand and saw this gal making her way toward my hosta bed across my new paver sidewalk.

She was a stunner in colorful beauty. One of the most striking box turtles I have ever seen, a newcomer. 

She has all her parts, which is sometimes not the case for these gentle creatures.

I went back inside and finished some housecleaning and then decided to walk around the house to see if the storm had created any damage. There had been some pretty high winds along with the downpour.   I rounded the corner to my newly created liriope grass bed that lines the side of the garage.  This new bed was part of the work from the changes to the driveway and retaining wall made this spring and gives some grace to what was a grass-less pathway to the water along the garage wall.

I was a little shocked as was this gal when we happened upon each other.  She was a different turtle, more faded in color and a little larger.

I soon realized that she was working on a nest (click on photo below for better view.)  Once again my home has been blessed by its selection as a box turtle nursery. I hope these little ones do better than those from last year.

When I returned an hour later you could not tell that anyone had disturbed the earth. It was perfect!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Deceptive Beauty

One man's weed is another man's nightmare.   By early June, the woods at either side of my house are thick with all kinds of invasive green, glowing, and growing plants.  This one above is one of them.

This lovely plant is the very sturdy Smilax rotundifolia.  There are some lovely inns and restaurants through out the United States named after this vine as its common name is Greenbriar Vine.  Before you fall in love with its spring beauty, I must let you know that it is invasive and can form impassable thickets.  It has nasty argumentative thorns and with bursts of energy climbs trees without pause.  The vine is strong enough to pull down young saplings.  The leaves become a pale waxy green with age and their heart shape grows quite large.   I even read on the internet a story by one person in Texas who said that a small dog had become entangled in a Greenbriar thicket and he had to go in and  rescue it!  If you declare battle with it, you will not come out unharmed.

I must admit that I have pulled or dug up a number of these plants at the edge of my lawn as they creep toward my yard.  I never got down to the root which is supposed to look like a potato.  This photo above, taken at the edge of a swamp in a nearby park, is most deceiving but perhaps worth framing?

Below is another beauty that grew just a few yards away at the edge of the same water feature.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Slow Food

By early June the strawberries are done. We have picked our 'bushel' or so and made our jams and syrups and frozen bags for later recipes.  We are satiated on strawberry smoothies and sliced berries on top of vanilla ice cream.  We are more than willing to let the last strawberries remain on the vines.  It is nice to know that the slow food set helps with the clean-up of the those we missed.  He/she need not look so guilty as we are now working on the raspberries and blueberries.

Sunday, June 06, 2010


Resiliency. I try to remember that animals have resilience.  Two weeks ago I left the sad news about the oil spill and its toxic claim on beaches, estuaries, coastlines and ocean life and headed outside to ease my heavy heart.  I needed the good news of a warm spring day to assure me that Mother Earth was continuing her natural way.  As I was on my knees, as if in supplication to Mother Earth and asking her forgiveness for mankind's greed, I focused my camera on the many new white mushrooms that were dotting the edge of my lawn.  Just above my head I heard lighthearted birdsong and looked up to see this juvenile titmouse singing with such energetic youthful joy while perched on the cage that protects the hardy kiwi plant.

I think he was singing, "I can fly!  I can fly!  Mom, look!  I can fly!"

He looked at me with what could only have been the silly self-confident smirk of a young one and then with such ease flew up into the nearby tree knowing full well I could not join him.  Mom must be very proud at this spring graduation ceremony.  (Of course, now he really begins to get into trouble!)  As always, you can click on the photos for a closer view.

Friday, June 04, 2010


These are the babies that were abandoned during the time we put in the pavers and the asphalt driveway. The nest was about 30 feet away and the noise and dust for 5 days were just too much for Mrs. Bluebird. I must admit that it was almost too much for me.  Another (?) Mrs. Bluebird was seen bathing in the bird bath near the birdhouse a day ago; so we are hoping she found somewhere near to start a second nest. :-(

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

M. Erythrocephalus

A few weeks ago I spotted this eyecatching woodpecker on a snag overlooking the marshland in a local county park while walking the marsh's edge and watching a resident beaver eat the leaves of the water lily plant in the marsh.  Spring was well on its way and the marsh land was a stunning lime green in the angles of the golden sun.  I looked up at the brilliant blue sky and this fellow was very easy to spot even without a bird call.

These redheaded woodpeckers eat both meat and plants but they do like their meat fresh.  According to the Cornell bird site this fellow will store live grasshoppers by wedging them in the wood so that they cannot escape before he decides to eat them.  Sounds like some horror movie!  He also is a robber of nests and killer of the eggs inside.  A real horror movie lead.

A little fact you may not know is that these woodpeckers have an exceptionally long tongue, up to 2/3 longer than their bill.  This tongue is used as the padding around their brain to prevent concussive damage when they are hammering away at that hard old tree.  I wonder if Darwin knew this?  I must search to see if I can find an anatomical diagram of this.