Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Little Bit of Ugly

There is something so magical about sunflowers. Everyone loves them: bees, butterflies, birds (goldfinch and hummingbirds), rabbits, groundhogs, and people. It is a wonder a few of my 30 survived at all. Each day I go outside another sunflower (Helianthus) has been brought to its knees and pretty much denuded. 

Above if you look closely are three stalks of sunflower plants that I carefully staked against a storm and which rabbits or a groundhog had for lunch leaving only the fibrous stalk.  (The rock is an artificial cover for our natural gas tank.)

 I am not holding my breath to see the blossom of this bud in the photo above.

 And here they left me a little baby flower... for today.  Life is so ephemeral.

This lovely species has lingered in my mind ever since I saw on TV a sunflower field at the edge of where workers were searching for bodies from that Malaysian plane that was exploded by a Russian missile.  The flowers did not know they had become a graveyard for children and they kept smiling and blooming on into oblivion. 

I am lucky to have a few bloomers with which I photo-play on this breezy afternoon where no bombs, missiles or planes are currently falling from the sky, only dry yellow leaves from the tulip tree.  Amazing how these flowers keep their optimistic smiles in this world of chaos!

 Will they be here after we are long gone I wonder?

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Princess and the Toad

Some children find the outdoor world a frightening and unpredictable place. It is full of goopy, smelly and wild stuff. My granddaughter used to be much like that. Bees created terror and she absolutely could not look at bugs of other kinds. Yesterday, we were working on a play-doh picnic and below in "photo story" is how much she has grown and changed this summer. 

Up went the shade umbrella and into the light hole went our resident toad.
After a while he got pretty bored.
We had finished creating the picnic and I leaned over to offer the plate to granddaughter.
As my head leaned closer, Toad got very brave and made his giant leap for escape.
Notice I did not photo-shop my wrinkles!
Because I was giggling as I caught the toad she was in wonder.
And thus the Princess made a new friend.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

On Wings

If you read my other blog...and of course, who doesn't dare,  you will see that I am busy flying about these days.  So of course it has to be photos only.

Here are some others being busy along the same theme.

Within all of us is a varying amount of space lint and star dust, the residue from our creation.  most are too busy to notice it, but it is stronger in some than others . It is strongest in those who fly—and is responsible for an unconscious, subtle desire to slip into some wings and try for the elusive boundaries of our origin.  - K. O. Eckland,  Footprints on Cloud

You  haven't seen a tree until you’ve seen its shadow from the sky.
- Amelia Earhart

“When you're down, remember your triumphs. [...] Sometimes you get in trouble and crash. Other times: just a bumpy landing.”
― Ellyn Bache, The Art of Saying Goodbye: A Novel

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Be like the bird in flight . . .
pausing a while
on boughs too slight,
feels them give way beneath her,
yet sings,
knowing yet that she has wings.
- Victor Hugo (1802-1885),

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Fungus Among Us

Today my post is all about Fungus, a living thing more closely related to animals than plants. Like our American vultures, fungi play an important role in devouring and breaking down dead organisms and providing nutrient recycling.  They provide food for man in the form of bread and beer (yeast) and tasty mushrooms.  They were famous for a while in the 60's when the majority of young were into psychotropic drugs made from mushrooms.   Fungi are also so powerful that they create toxins that kill plants and animals and mankind with great efficiency, and of course, they can play a role in medicine.   Most recently a fungus from Nova Scotia may have a role in improving antibiotics that are becoming less resistant to bacteria.

The Kingdom Fungi has been estimated at 1.5 million to 5 million species, with only about 5% of these having been formally classified.  There is a huge variety in shape and size and most fungal beings cannot be seen without a microscope.  If it is your field of study you would never lack for subject matter!

For some interesting man-made fungal architecture...go here.

Now for some photos of mushrooms in my neighborhood after the recent rains.

Isn't it a little close in here?

Now, for some reason I am hungry for steak.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Osprey Redux Summer 2014

I have been negligent this summer.  I have forgotten to keep up on the gossip of Fred and Ethel and report on it.  If you are new to this couple, and have a long free afternoon go 
#1 here #2 here#3 here#4 here  and most recently #5 here for background on them.

If you lead a busy and full life you can read on and catch up later.  This year the couple came early as written in the last recent post linked above.  I was too busy to watch their sex lives (as I am sure you are relieved in reading) but they seemed to be working hard at improving the prior winter damage to their nest.

They continued to use the top of our boat as a staging ground, but did not leave the sticks for long.

Ethel sat on the nest and Fred watched from the top snag of the nearby dead tree.

Ethel sat some more and Fred watched some more from the snag of the nearby dead tree.

Ethel sat in rain storms, scalding heat, beautiful afternoon sunsets and Fred watched.

Once in a while I would head down to the dock and Ethel would screech and give me the evil eye while I tried to get a decent photo.

But nothing ever happened!  I do not know whether she had laid legs and they failed or she did not lay eggs.  Hubby had seen some angry discussion between the osprey couple and two vultures and even an eagle in early summer, so perhaps there was murder and theft involved, but there are no fledgelings to watch this year.  So sad.  Our friend up the river has four little ones learning to eat and growing!

The osprey couple would disappear for lengthy periods and unusual guests would show up with no one there!  They would rearrange some sticks and then leave.

But as we who love the cycles of this great earth know, the world will give them another chance next spring.  They still sit and guard the nest and will for another few weeks until all osprey up and down the river are fledged and concentrating on fishing and then heading south.

 NO, this is neither Fred nor Ethel, but I thought if you read to the end of this post you deserved at least one photo with some excitement.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Orange You Glad to Be Alive?

There is an old saying that nothing really rhymes with orange.  Eminem (remember that rapper) suggested door-hinge as one possibility.  But I cannot think of a way to put these two together.

The old-fashioned metal door had rusted to orange
When I moved the handle there was a cry from the door hinge.....!

Oh well, below are some photo paintings for an orange day.  They would look nice on a wall of  room where the accent is orange, if you like orange.  (click on photos if you want to smell the flowers.)

A gift from Daughter-in-law

I will miss these warm colors this winter.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

It is always free.

I can hear them tuning up long before the house lights go up.
They clear their throats and stretch their necks.
While they are all not in the same rhythm they are all in tune.
There is no song more silver than that of a thrush.
There is no drum more resonant than that of the woodpecker.
There is no bass more interesting than that of the bullfrog.
There is no aria more moving than that sung by the wren.
Some days I get the whole symphony and other days it is just the chamber
and one can never see the conductor .
This moving free orchestral presentation greets me as I greet the day.
The concert hall is enormous.

Yet, each seating gives one a sense of intimacy
and this inspirational and sometimes heartbreaking art
is always free!

Monday, July 07, 2014


Thus I save a few orbs of sunshine from the rabbits and the one ground-hog and perhaps even a squirrel or two.  I could not catch one greedy thief in the act.  But each morning what was left was either a vertical or horizontal long fuzzy stem, no leaves, no flower heads, nada!

When I cleaned up the remains I did notice a nice nutty smell to the foliage and I guess that is what attracts them all.

The vegetable garden now has a new electric field around it and maybe the beans, green and soy, will bounce back.  We do have a long summer for growing.

I guess I do not like living things that do not share, whether it is Americans at their borders or cute fuzzy mammals in my woods.  No one side has to take it all.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

The Season of Truth

Aging is an ever-schooling process with regular tests.
Extreme aging is the important test on all that was learned.
The luck is in being able to show up for that test.

I search those independent stars for answers
Then down against the ink-black shadows of the woods to the twinkling fireflies,
stars themselves, dancing with a glow that is fickle.
I mournfully accept that another summer
is already mid-way gone.

But even now with brown freckled hands
covered in onion-skinned parchment
I still have no answers to the most important questions.

Why this tiny point in the Cosmos?
Why me?
Where do I fit in this paradigm?
Was there a Master plan?
Can I ask more questions?

As the velvet morning creeps in,
I listen for an answer and hear only the song of the frog.
I hear only a dry leaf dancing with the breeze.
I hear the staccato machine-gun chirp of the cardinal
Waiting for his morning coffee.

I can ask all the questions that I want.
I bargain for more time.
Maybe this autumn will bring my answers.
I hug each season greedily to my heart
as if it were my last.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Where Have They Gone?

Midsummer is sojourning here full of admirable color and heat.
The soil is baked to ashen dust, yet a powerful storm is on the way.
Some flowers do not fade in the heat of the blinding sun.
Some flowers stand tall and strong against the winds.
These are the few that I can photograph with consideration and patience.

Others blossoms are flighty and easily swayed
Having no firm convictions about place
While dropping petals with the smallest breeze.

The birds still sing, but with less energy and compulsion.
Their reward for abandoned love-making
Is endless food shopping and delivery.

As I pause resting on the edge of a stone
I hear a gentle repeated tapping/scratching just beyond my ear
And turn to see the fading sunflower leaf.
Ants harvesting seeds that have fallen caught on the raspy hairs,
Sunflower seed hearts so small from such a tall plant.

I see Mr. Bumble walking on his bed of nails
Extracting nectar from the crown of echinacea.
But where are the honey bees?

I see a fritillary drinking deeply from
A long purple flacon, all alone.
Where are all the butterflies?

It is always the little signs like these at the first, isn't it?
Such little signs.