sun-drenched wings and petals

5.21.24 ~ North Carolina Botanical Garden
sun-drenched female northern cardinal

It was a borderline-humidity morning, between comfy and muggy, and Tim was still coughing from the cold he caught in Italy, but we decided to chance a walk anyway. This is the time of year when the sun feels too bright and my camera sometimes responded by turning the blurry bokeh effect into solid black.

pipevine swallowtail butterfly

We forgot the bug repellent and I came home with two mosquito bites, one on each forearm. But the pretty (and non-biting) insects were out enjoying the sunshine, too! I’m not 100% sure of all my identifications here, but I’m giving them my best guess. Some of the butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies seemed new to me.

fire pink
common whitetail dragonfly
oakleaf hydrangea
dusky dancer damselfly on hemlock needles

Summer, for the cold-blooded, represents the Elysian days. Warmth brings life and animation. Their blood responds, literally, to every rise and fall of the mercury. Chill is synonymous with sluggishness, cold with immobility. The sun directly regulates the intensity with which they live.
~ Edwin Way Teale
(Grasshopper Road)

white waterlily
ebony jewelwing (aka black-winged damselfly)
grass pink orchid
mating silver-spotted skipper butterflies
tulip prickly pear
variable dancer damselfly
stokes’ aster
chamomile
downy wood mint
Coastal Plain Habitat boardwalk in May

Even though it isn’t technically summer here yet, either meteorologically or astronomically, it can now be called summer for all intents and purposes!

worlds of difference

5.14.24 ~ Via Calimala, Florence, Italy
photo by Tim

Now we need a new definition of the self: I am not what I know but what I am willing to learn. Mystery waits in the mirror. Curiosity and learning begin before breakfast. Growing, we move through worlds of difference, the cycles and circles of a life, fulfilled by overlapping with the lives of others.
~ Mary Catherine Bateson
(Full Circles, Overlapping Lives: Culture & Generation in Transition)

the electric hum of cicadas

5.16.24 ~ North Carolina Botanical Garden
American columbo, going to seed?

Tim is back from spending an amazing week in Florence, Italy, with some of his brothers. They attended a cooking class and a three tenors singing performance, took a wine tour, ate at many great restaurants, visited museums and caught colds. (Not covid, thankfully.) While he was gone I tackled more of my family history boxes, sorting through and organizing.

The morning after he got home we took a quick peek at the botanical garden, and as expected, the columbo flowers had gone by, so I’m glad I got the blossom picture I did on that rainy day. Meanwhile…

new growth on the hemlock
new blooms on a rhododendron
tadpoles turning into frogs
a little Carolina rosebud
asters waiting to bloom
a spittlebug inside its foam shelter
(it will become a froghopper)
New Jersey tea flourishing

“The electric hum of cicadas, which was a low drone” continues. Tim says it sounds louder than it was when he left. If so, the sound must have increased so gradually that I didn’t notice it from one day to the next. (The quote is from a book, which I haven’t read, Abandoned Sulphur, Louisiana, by Mike Correll.)

The heat and humidity are creeping up now so there won’t be as many posts from me in the coming months. I will concentrate on my yoga and the massive family history project. But, I will post here on the rare occasions when the weather permits a walk and photos. And there might just be a few more frequent art and quote combinations…

throwback thursday

5.24.23 ~ Tim on the Charles W. Morgan
Mystic Seaport, Mystic, Connecticut

A year ago we were busy packing up to move to North Carolina and visiting as many of our favorite places in Connecticut as we could get to before we had to leave. This post was meant to be about the last one of those visits, but I ran out of time to get it written and posted. Mystic Seaport is an amazing living history maritime museum and it was also the venue for many special exhibits, performances and festivals that we enjoyed over the years.

stern of the Charles W. Morgan

The Charles W. Morgan is the main attraction, the last wooden whaleship in the world, and a National Historic Landmark. (more information here) It was a 15-minute drive from our home and we were long-time members of the Seaport. In fact, my parents were members and brought me here often when I was growing up, when we lived an hour away.

deck prism lying flush in the deck,
it refracts and disperses natural light into the space below deck
harpoons tucked under a ceiling
ship’s wheel
luxury for the captain
captain’s quarters
first and second mates’ shared quarters

Life onboard consisted of long periods of boredom; for weeks, even months, no whales would be seen. The crew would repair gear, write letters, play games and music, and carve scrimshaw — pieces of whale bone or tooth — to pass the time.
~ New Bedford Whaling website

Whaling voyages lasted about three years. I was watching Space: The Longest Goodbye on PBS’s Independent Lens the other night. NASA is concerned about the mental health of astronauts being separated from their families for a three-year mission to Mars. The space explorers are not going to able to communicate with loved ones in real time! As if families have never had to do this before… Many of my ancestors did.

crew’s quarters
deck prism bringing in light below deck
whale blubber was cooked in big iron pots above deck,
the extracted oil was stored in casks below deck
port side of the Charles W. Morgan

Every year on July 31-August 1 there is an overnight event on the Morgan, a marathon reading aloud of Moby Dick by Herman Melville. I regret we never managed to participate! In the Seaport Village, Schaefer’s Spouter Tavern was named for the one found in the classic American novel.

many pleasant summer evenings we spent outside dining and listening
to live acoustic musicians performing outside at Spouter Tavern

Our final visit to the Seaport would not be complete without a visit to the Small Boats building.

spritsail boat built by my 2nd-great-granduncle,
Edward Ellsworth Swift (1861-1964)

I was 7 years old when Uncle Ed died at the age of 102. My grandparents, the late Mr. & Mrs. John E. White mentioned above, took care of Uncle Ed & Aunt Flora in their old age. My grandparents were also caring for my great-grandparents at the same time and I well remember our countless visits to the six of them at the house on School Street in Woods Hole on Cape Cod.

I will miss my visits to the little boat my grandparents donated to the Seaport, which connects me across time to my ancestors.

So many memories: live music performances we attended, the visits of the Íslendingur (2000) and the Draken Harald Hårfagre (2016) Viking ships and how excited we were when the Draken decided to stay, the yearly By Land & By Sea Antique Vehicle Show, the exciting Viking Days encampment, the restorations of the Mayflower II and the Amistad, making and printing our own Christmas cards at the village Print Shop, watching costumed historians cooking on open hearths, blacksmiths at work in the forge, and so many more. The Sargent, Whistler, & Venetian Glass: American Artists & The Magic of Murano special exhibit we saw in February 2023 was unforgettable!

image credit: Ukrainian Dancers USA ~ 8.20.22

An extra special memory is an Arts on the Quad evening, when we took Katherine to see Ukrainian dancers at Mystic Seaport, seen above performing on the porch of the Thompson Exhibition Building. We were so very lucky to live so close to this treasure trove of history and culture. It is deeply missed.

two days later

5.4.24 ~ North Carolina Botanical Garden

Two days after we visited the columbo it was raining. Grateful for the rain, which we do need, I still had a gut feeling that the columbo might be blooming. We grabbed the umbrella and made a quick dash to the botanical garden. At the top of the flower stalk it was still mostly buds, but a few purple-speckled, greenish flowers with yellow stamens were opening!

Most of the images of the columbo found online show it standing straight up. But the top of this one is bending over, as if all those buds were too heavy.

American columbo
with raindrops and orbs

Still in a rush to get out of the rain, I couldn’t help noticing a mountain laurel starting to bloom…

mountain laurel

There are many times I do wish I had a waterproof camera! There is so much beauty to be found in a garden on a rainy day.

buzzzzzzzzzzzz

4.29.24 ~ Piedmont Nature Trails

The periodical (every 13 years) Great Southern Brood of cicadas are fascinating creatures and they are everywhere! Walking in the woods we found the one (above) sitting on a sign post. When inadvertently disturbed it flapped its wings and landed down on the leaf litter with its wings spread out.

4.29.24 ~ Bolin Forest

Returning home, we noticed our dogwood tree was covered with the empty nymph cases, still clinging to the twigs and leaves.

We wondered about the noise they were supposed to be making, but in a few days we started hearing a faint buzz outside which got a little louder each day and soon could even be heard from inside the house. The buzzing is constant. To me, it sounds like a lawnmower in the distance, not at all like the jack hammer some folks were suggesting. But who knows? Maybe they haven’t reached their peak yet.

A few days later we stopped by the botanical garden to check out the American columbo and to take a May Day picture of the trees at my eight seasons spot. It was a very bright and sunny day and for some reason my camera decided to give me a black background for this sun-drenched iris.

Much to my delight the mountain laurel is starting to bloom!

When we got to the American columbo plant the flower stalk looked like it was about three feet tall now. It’s kind of hard to make out in the third picture here, with all the other greenery surrounding it. It looks top heavy, with the bundle of buds bending way over.

American columbo buds
marshallia (aka Barbara’s buttons)

The next picture is my scene for Karma’s “same location for all 4 seasons” photo hunt. I made it an 8 season endeavor, including Groundhog Day, May Day, First Harvest and Halloween, which fall between the solstices and equinoxes. If you want to join in please see her instructions at the end of this post HERE at Karma’s When I Feel Like It Blog.

5.2.24 ~ Courtyard Gardens
May Day (8 seasons series)

I can’t believe the difference from the first two pictures I took and this one. It will be fun to post them all together at the end of the year. And I will keep on checking the American columbo! It’s getting hot. It was almost 90°F that day, above the average mid 70s, and Tim didn’t last too long. (I was finally in a short sleeve shirt with no jacket!) And the drought monitor officially has us at abnormally dry. It should be an interesting late spring and summer.

the purposeless life misses nothing

4.24.24 ~ North Carolina Botanical Garden

On this visit to the botanical garden there wasn’t much change in the American columbo’s flowering stalk, but we’ll keep checking back. In the meantime there were more new blooms to appreciate as spring continues along its way.

common sage
onion

Paradoxical as it may seem, the purposeful life has no content, no point. It hurries on and on, and misses everything. Not hurrying, the purposeless life misses nothing, for it is only when there is no goal and no rush that the human senses are fully open to receive the world.
~ Alan Watts
(The Way of Zen)

Stokes’ aster starting to bloom
narrowleaf blue-eyed grass

Back in Connecticut we had eastern blue-eyed grass.

I heard a towhee singing “drink your tea” and was determined to locate him somewhere in a nearby tree. At last I spotted him and did my best to get a picture of the elusive bird. My last attempt was in 2020, when we heard one rummaging around in the brush on the ground. If you’re interested see this post, eastern towhee. What a treat to get a picture of him singing!

It is only when singing that the Towhee is fully at rest. Then a change comes over him; he is in love, and mounting a low branch, he repeatedly utters his sweet bird s-i-n-n-g with convincing earnestness.
~ Frank Michler Chapman
(Life Histories of Familiar North American Birds)

eastern towhee
wildflowers in a sassafras sapling grove
marshallia
(these reminded me of the Sno-Caps candy I used to love)
Georgia false indigo aka Georgia indigo bush (rare)

As for the wild spontaneous Flowers of this Country, Nature has been so liberal, that I cannot name one tenth of the valuable ones.
~ John Lawson, describing North Carolina in 1709
(Carolina Comments, January 1982)

downy woodpecker
female house finch
male house finch

The finches seemed to be a pair. He kept coming down from the tree to the feeder but she wouldn’t follow him. Wish I could have gotten a picture of them together. And so ended another lovely morning in the garden.

of leafing and blossoming

“Chestnut Tree in Blossom” by Vincent van Gogh

Beltane is the joyous time of leafing and blossoming. This festival celebrates sex and the transformation that comes when we open ourselves to another at the deepest level. This alchemy can also happen when we allow ourselves to be profoundly touched by nature. When we open to and merge with our environment, we can discover sacred union with the world itself.
~ Maria Ede-Weaving
(The Essential Book of Druidry: Connect with the Spirit of Nature)

green woods laughing with joy

4.22.24 ~ Johnston Mill Nature Preserve

Six months ago, in the autumn, we visited this gorgeous nature preserve for the first time. It turned out to be equally enchanting in the springtime. It was so green! We started at the other end of Robin’s Trail. It was cold out, however. After days in the 80s on this morning I was back in my winter coat and wore my gloves the whole time.

When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy,
And the dimpling stream runs laughing by

~ William Blake
(Laughing Song)

lots and lots of beech leaves
wild sage
New Hope Creek

Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.
~ John Muir
(The Wilderness Essays)

sunlit ripples in the creek
wildflowers and orbs at the forest’s edge
zephyr lily

As it was last time we visited, a very pleasant spring morning ramble along the creek and in the woods. 🍃