Posts Tagged 'nature'

Holidays where the air is clear

Kites at Harkness Memorial State ParkA while ago, I visited New England, staying with friends where the air is clear. It was hot and a bit humid during the day, but it would settle into cool temperatures by 1 AM, which is clearly a huge benefit of living up north, in the hills. It was one of those long weekend holidays, with somwhat stressy driving on either side of solid days of beautiful weather and really good seafood.

There was time for sketching, late night reading (my friends have an enviable library of mysteries of the “cosy” sort), and drowsy attempts to identify which frogs I heard through the open windows. There were trips to parks, where I sketched in the shade.

I goggled at the giant frogs of Willimantic (on the bridge… very large, with shiny gold eyes). Go to this article to read more about it: Bridge Ornaments. A friend and I visited a museum up there, that was housed in a section of the old American Thread Company (ATCO). I’ll possibly post pictures from that part of the trip in my Flickr (in the sidebar).

I regret nothing… not even coasting home at 2 AM to cats who had lost all hope that even the house sitter would return. [They were thrilled by their people arriving at a weird hour, and then they gave me the stink eye for the next 2 days.] I do regret leaving the cool weather and coming back, but I did have work to do and cats to feed.


Spring peepers – the Chorus Frog

During a meeting late this afternoon, I could hear spring peepers in the background. The chorus started as a coworker droned on into the dinner hour over his slide presentation that may have been of interest to me*, but I just got distracted.

I began mentally estimating how many spring peepers can support themselves in the drainoff “pond” in the mist of the section of the office property with trees on it. And also, what does it sound like when everyone in the office park leave and the spring peeper chorus really gets started? Their song is a true sign of spring. The crocuses are also finally blooming in the front yard, so I hope that soon it will be time for afternoon walks again.

[Link to the sound here.][Link to the Department of Natural Resources article about the Northern spring peeper here.]

*Or it may not have. I’ll leave it a mystery.

The hellebores of Cylburn Arboretum are blooming

Lovely things…

Hellebores in the small garden, underneath evergreens

Hellebores in the small garden, underneath evergreens

Yes, the day was a little bit chilly and windy. But we got out of the house, got to sniff the blooming witch hazel, and searched for crocuses and snowdrops in the grass. If you’re in the northern hemisphere, I hope winter is easing a bit for you, and you get to see some of the excitement of spring soon.

I wandered lonely as a cloud

daffdilsketchThere have been gusts of golden daffodils at the back door. I sat and sketched one at the back door on Saturday, before the snow came and crumpled their petals. And still, they bloom on.


Praying mantis, September

Praying mantis, September by rjknits
Praying mantis, September, a photo by rjknits on Flickr.

The bees are such a delight this time of year, and the praying mantis loves to lie in wait for them among the flowers.

Cat adoption — a success story, of sorts

Our cat Leia, spent a good bit of her first year in our house, under a bed. She didn’t know how to play. She didn’t know what we were.

Most of the time, she looked like this:

The Eyes of Reproach

The Eyes of Reproach

And then, Leia became more friendly, and able to purr and play. So even when we packed up for vacation, she looked like this:

I see you're leaving.... again.

I see you’re leaving…. again.

And today, she has forgiven us for one week with our cat sitter, and purred while I held her before treats. Leia’s an example of a 6 year-old cat who’s finally recognized this is her forever home, even if she still thinks “outside the box” sometimes. Although I know she’d leave us in a heartbeat for a fling with Pavarotti — she loves her opera.

Lightning bugs

The lightning bugs have returned to the corner of Church and Graveyard, just as the mulberry trees are dropping their fruit. They drowse on screen doors, blinking their signals on then off, or rise like slow-motion fireworks up from the grass in the graveyard.

Every lightning bug (or firefly) group seems to have different light patterns, and I assume an entomologist has studies why, exactly. I’m also pretty sure someone has written up a regional map of where people say “lightning bug” and where they say “firefly” (which I hadn’t realized was the same bug — just thought it was a British bug with similar habits, but what do I know?).

There are some nice pictures from the Web world to look at:

Fireflies in Asheville, NC

How to take photos of fireflies, per Jim Richardson writing for National Geographic.

More science than you might want about fireflies at “HowStuffWorks”, with a lovely photo closeup of a firefly/lightning bug on a soybean plant.

So, do you have lightning bugs near you, or are you in one of the regions where they aren’t “showing off”?

Virginia spiderwort (Trandescantia virginiana)

Virginia spiderwort (Trandescantia virginiana)

These grow wild near a marshy bank, in among wild mustard and other plants. What a delight to see so many spread out among the green grass of springtime, when I was walking on a Northern Corridor Railroad Trail. Spiderwort are apparently beneficial to bumblebees and native bees. When I browsed a Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower article, I found out that “The genus is named after John Tradescant (1608-1662) who served as gardener to Charles 1 of England.” Read here to learn more:

Under a flowering pear tree

theireyes“She had been spending every minute that she could steal from her chores under that tree for the last three days. That was to say ever since the first tiny bloom had opened. It had called her to come and gaze on a mystery. From barren brown stems to glistening leaf buds; from the leaf buds to snowy virginity of bloom. It stirred her tremendously.” — Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God.
Time to revisit a classic. My copy is from Harper Perennial in 1990. The cover artwork was done by the very gifted David Díaz.

Wishing everyone a happy Easter

Lenten Rose

Lenten Rose

Hoping you have a wonderful Easter day — whether you celebrate it, or you’re just hoping to enjoy the start of Spring. I won’t be hiding Easter eggs anywhere (the cats aren’t interested in them), but I will probably be outdoors enjoying what sun we get before the rain comes back.

For those of you who would like a few treats for Easter, here’s a virtual “Easter basket” of links:

An Easter rabbit to knit (link is from Ravelry)

Pictures of Pysanky eggs at a Ukranian Museum of New York City

Easter Parade, with Judy Garland and Fred Astaire (or just listen to the song…[link])

Candies from my childhood: Peeps (candy dioramas at the link)