8.19.23 ~ Gold Park
Hillsborough, North Carolina

Saturday, seventeen days after the last one, we woke up to a low humidity day and got ourselves outside for another walk. Because the UNC students are moving into their dorms for the fall semester there are signs everywhere warning about extra traffic in Chapel Hill. So we headed in the opposite direction, to a 24-acre park in Hillsborough. It was very busy there, too, with kids practicing soccer on a field and countless people walking dogs and parents pushing strollers and bicyclists zipping by. I learned later there is a fenced dog park somewhere on the property.

But we stumbled across a little gem, a pollinator garden with a bee hotel. In the garden we met a master gardener who was on her knees, photographing bees on the flowers. While we were talking with her a goldfinch landed nearby and a hummingbird quickly chased it away! After she shared a lot of her knowledge with us she told us about the Orange Master Gardeners website. (We live in Orange County.)

Bee Hotel

In 2016, Hillsborough became the 35th city to be named a Bee City USA. Dedicated in November 2017, the bee hotel provides a home for the 90 species of bees native to the area, many of which live solitary lives and seek a safe, tunnel-like dwelling to lay eggs and care for their young.
~ Orange Master Gardeners website

The website mentions that we are located in Ecoregion 45C, the Carolina Slate Belt, which sent me off on a web-search, wondering what on earth an ecoregion is…

An ecoregion (ecological region) is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than a bioregion, which in turn is smaller than a biogeographic realm. Ecoregions cover relatively large areas of land or water, and contain characteristic, geographically distinct assemblages of natural communities and species. The biodiversity of flora, fauna and ecosystems that characterize an ecoregion tends to be distinct from that of other ecoregions.
~ Wikipedia

Anyhow, after we were done chatting she kindly pointed us in the direction of Riverwalk, an urban greenway along the Eno River. We enjoyed the boardwalk and scenery. The rest of it was paved so it wasn’t really a walk in the woods. But it was nice to get out in the fresh air and sunshine and to move our bodies. (I’ve been doing a lot of yoga but I’ve missed the pleasures of walking!) I’m not used to seeing so many people.

black-eyed Susan
under a railroad bridge crossing over Eno River
a huge hunk of quartz (?)
railroad bridge
access to underground sewer pipes

A something in a summer’s Day
As slow her flambeaux burn away
Which solemnizes me.

A something in a summer’s noon —
A depth — an Azure — a perfume —
Transcending extasy.

~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #104)

part of Riverwalk

On our way back we passed by the pollinator garden again we spotted a flash of iridescent blue, the wings of this very large wasp. (above) I couldn’t capture the blue on camera. But I’m pretty sure it must be a great black wasp (Sphex pensylvanicus). It prefers solitude and is not aggressive. Nice to know it’s a helpful pollinator and goes after garden pests.

lots of eastern tiger swallowtails down here

Curiosity about ecoregions led me to discover that most of my life I lived in Ecoregion 59, the Northeastern Coastal Zone which is in the Eastern Temperate Forest. And now I live in Ecoregion 45, the Piedmont which is in the Temperate Coniferous Forest. Wikipedia has a map of ecoregions in the contiguous United States here. In which ecoregion do you live? (If you care to share.)

We are slowly getting our bearings here, still working on our to-do list, getting acquainted with new doctors, spending time with the little ones, etc. One nice thing that has become routine is visiting the fantastic Carrboro Farmers’ Market every Wednesday afternoon. It’s been a treat having fresh picked locally grown flowers (some familiar, some new to me) in my vase every week. Makes me feel at home.

47 thoughts on “ecoregions”

  1. I’m glad to hear you’re acclimating, Barbara. I read somewhere that it typically takes two years after moving before you really feel at home in a new place. That seems like a long time, but look how much you’re learning! From your map, I’d say I’m in ecoregion 54, central corn belt plains. That’s Central Illinois, in case you don’t want to look it up. And yes, it’s aptly named — we do have a lot of corn, ha!!

    1. I’m glad you mentioned that it takes a couple of years to feel at home after moving to a new place. I haven’t even lived through all four seasons yet, so far I only know about summer life here. 😉 I’ve never been far enough west to see the plains for myself, although we did cross the Ohio River and stay for a few nights in Indiana while attending a wedding in Louisville, KY. Wish I could have stayed and explored the Corn Belt outside the cities. Thanks for sharing your ecoregion, Debbie!

    1. We moved June 1st, Frank, but I was going on about it for months previously, while I was packing. I think you must have been away on your European adventure.

  2. Nice to see your post and that you are settling in, getting to explore the area when weather permits. More this fall, I expect, as the weather becomes more comfortable. We’re 58b… forested uplands, or as we refer to them locally, the Hilltowns. Lived here all but 19 years of my life and it is definitely home to me. 🙂

    1. Yes, I’m itching to experience fall and many more possible walks here. Never thought I’d be looking forward to days with temperatures in the high 80s as cooler weather. 🙂 (There should be one tomorrow before the steam bath returns.) I think I’m seeing four ecoregions for New England and I guessed yours would be different than mine was in southeastern CT. Thanks for sharing, Eliza!

  3. Another well written, well researched and most interesting post. Thank you for sharing your adventures in North Carolina with us. And thank you for teaching us about “Ecoregions”.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Rosie! I hope you weathered that freak tropical storm and earthquake safely and didn’t have too much property damage. It will be interesting to see how ecoregions evolve with climate changes.

  4. Hi Barbara! I’m in the #34 Western Gulf coastal grasslands, in the City of Corpus Christi, TX. The locals call it the Coastal Bend. I’ve lived in this area for 14 years. It must be home for me because I can’t seem to move away.

    My sale of the old house and purchase of the new construction fell through. Thursday I’m moving from the senior living facility back into my old house. So I it’s HOME!

    Although the Riverwalk wasn’t in the woods and too people crowded for you preferences, you did lovely sharing it with us. I am enjoying your discovery of your new home.

    1. Life is full of surprises, isn’t it? I hope your move on Thursday goes smoothly and will be thinking of you. I’m not sure how you’re feeling about moving back to your previous home but I hope you’ll be very happy there with Yorkie in your old dwelling place. I looked at some pictures online of your coastal grasslands and it looks beautiful, so vast and open and peaceful! I’ve been meditating a lot lately on how our ancestors must have felt, moving to places so far away and so different, and how they managed to find a way to feel at home wherever they landed.

      1. Hello Barbara, I’m feeling all emotions that humans can feel about moving back into my old place. I wrote more about it on Debbie’s blog. Mostly I feel stressed. And secondly I feel I am going back HOME. Third I feel Yorkie and me just want one place to live. The year 2023 has been the most difficult in my life. I’m still working through a very small debt from the hospitalization and resignation of my brother as my power of attorney. I feel sad about all of that situation. It’s a very small debt and I will be able to work through it before the end of the year.

        And as you might know I downsized donating most of my furniture and belongings. So I will not be moving back in exactly how it was because that’s no longer exists. I will only be using a small portion of the house and not refurnishing it. I will need to replace the washer and dryer and TV.

        The landscape here is beautiful. The temperature and humidity is more like where you live now in NC.

        Last night I had an unusual dream about visiting my mother in law’s ranch and she had planted flowers to attract the butterflies. There was a row of flowers with a butterfly on each one of them. She had instructed me to remove the flower and “dead” butterflies. I told her that they were not dead but sleeping. When I went to wake a butterfly to show her, the butterfly was indeed dead. So I spent the rest of that dream pulling up the flowers and dead butterflies. Now, Barbara, I wonder the meaning of that dream!

        Tropical Storm Harold is coming down hard now so I must go…

        I understand your meditation of previous ancestors. That is interesting to think about!

        1. Tropical Storm Harold has changed direction and has intensified. It is heading right at Baffin Bay which is the bay that I’m on! It has intensified speed and expected to hit here in one hour!

          I anticipated this because that is what Hurricane Harvey did in 2017.

          Even though this is a tropical storm I take it seriously.

          1. Oh my goodness, TD! I’m so sorry Tropical Storm Harold came to you! I do hope you made it through safely — I saw some pictures of your area on the news. Those of us who live, or have lived, by the sea certainly know better than to not take these storms seriously. I hope you didn’t lose power.

            You’ve been living with so much uncertainty for such a long time now it’s no wonder you’re very stressed. And medical debt has become a leading cause of personal bankruptcy so I’m glad you’ve found a way to pay that off. They say we’re all one major illness away from financial disaster. I do hope moving back home turns out well for you after the dust finally settles. Moving is such an upheaval, even in the best of circumstances. I imagine it will take a good amount of time for you to recover.

            That butterfly dream was a doozy! I never know what to make of dreams like that but I know I have more of them when I am stressed out.

            Thinking of you and sending healing energy your way. Please let me know how you made out in the storm. 💙

  5. Hi Barbara – it is like old times again, walking out in nature. I’m happy for you that you caught a break from the oppressive heat and humidity. Fall is on the way mercifully. Thursday will be 95 here – out hottest day in 2023. Enough already … time to move to Fall. I like your little jaunt and the big hunk of quartz may not have been an glacial erratic, but it was a fun find anyway. Great minds were thinking alike with the butterfly photos. Fellow blogger Rebecca also had butterflies in her most-recent post. I saw a lot of those yellow flowers you features in this post in my Saturday walk. That’s great you are spending lots of time with the little ones. I had never heard of ecoregion(s) either. My Southeast Michigan ecoregion is: 57b Oak Openings. Sounds like a neighborhood subdivision. 🙂

    1. However brief, it was a bit like old times, Linda! Going to new places always makes me a little anxious but I’m determined to work through it and explore. (I much prefer finding new things in familiar places…) Thanks for sharing your ecoregion. Oak Openings does sound like a neighborhood name. Our new neighborhood is called Bolin Forest. Temperature is supposed to be in the high 90s again today, with a short break in the high 80s tomorrow, what they call a cold front down here! I think those yellow flowers might be cut leaf coneflowers but I’m not confident about my identifications skills. Yup, I’m ready for fall. Larisa tells me to lower my expectations. She says she is chronically disappointed in the fall colors even after living down here for ten years. At this point I’ll settle for lower temps! 🙂

      1. Bolin Forest sounds like a woodsy name and you have the sweet fawns to prove it. My subdivision is Parkhurst, kind of blah sounding next to yours. Larisa is a realist – well you’ve seen the Fall colors for years living in a leaf-peeping venue, so you, like me, would be looking to enjoy the lower temps. I am more ready for Fall than I’ve ever been before … a stormy week for us and hot temps is not my cup of tea at all!

        1. I think I saw one of the fawns yesterday. All his spots were gone and he’s a lot bigger. 🙂 We’re toying with the idea of heading to the Blue Ridge Mountains this fall to see some New England type fall colors. I’ll have to bring my special foods in a cooler and hope I don’t have a flare-up en route. It’s about a 3 1/2 hour drive away. When I was a child we drove down the Blue Ridge Parkway in the summer when it was all green and I thought it was beautiful. I’m with you, autumn cannot come fast enough!

          1. Your “baby” is growing up fast. 🙂 A fellow blogger lives in Waynesville, NC and in the mountains … she often posts pictures of little day trips there. I hope you get there with no issues Barbara.

          2. Thank you, Linda. I’ll have to locate Waynesville on a map. Would you send me the link to he blog? I’m looking forward to when it gets cool enough to sit out on our deck and watch the deer — they’re all different ages. Tim’s already talking about putting corn in the woods for them so they don’t know it’s him that’s feeding them. 🙂 (I bet they’re smart enough to figure that out!)

          3. Barbara, I’ll bet those deer are smart enough to figure it out too -“oh the nice people who gave me blueberries from their hand!” Yes, I’ll give you Anne’s blog link in a separate comment in case it goes to SPAM here. I’m sure she can give you some pointers. Anne Mehrling and her husband lived in Long Island and retired to the mountains to Waynesville. Her husband John passed away last year, but her family comes to visit often (including one daughter who lives in Denmark) and her grandson lives with her and they often go on little jaunts to the waterfalls in the mountains. I looked up Waynesville and it says:

            “Waynesville is the county seat of Haywood County, North Carolina. It is the largest town in North Carolina west of Asheville. Waynesville is located about 30 miles southwest of Asheville between the Great Smoky and Blue Ridge Mountains. Population around 10,000.) She has such nice neighbors … I am envious of that and the beautiful scenery.

          4. Thank you, Linda. I will be checking out Anne’s blog soon. I have to wonder if being nice neighbors is a North Carolina thing. Ours are so nice it still amazes me, and even cashiers in the grocery store are ever so friendly. That’s been a big plus for us moving here. Everyone makes us feel so welcome. (Even the deer!) I have two cardinals that frequent the bush outside the window over the kitchen sink. The male gave the female a morsel of food the other day. It’s so much fun looking out the windows here.

          5. Barbara, my mom and I went to visit Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina about 20 years ago for a week’s vacation. I tried to convince her we should move there for the same reason, plus leaving the wintry weather behind, but she was reluctant to trade security for a new adventure and I admit I didn’t see any jobs for me in newspapers we bought. I do “get it” but I wished she had agreed. I worked with Southern people at the diner and a lot of our customers were Southerners – everyone was friendly. That does make a difference for you adjusting to your new life. I would love to see the deer and I am envious of you seeing the pair of cardinals … I had them visiting after their young fledged, but the squirrels would climb up between the bushes to eat their shelled peanuts and sunflower seeds. Now with my two trees down and neighbors on either side took down a tree apiece, the poor birds have nowhere close to go. I am sure Anne would love to give you some pointers where to go leaf peeping in/around the mountains.

          6. I can see how finding a job in a new place would be a big factor to consider when contemplating a move. Being retired now, we didn’t have to think about that. And much to our surprise, the cost of living down here is much less than it was in Connecticut so our fixed income goes a lot further. Moving south might still be an option for you when you retire — you never know! I tried commenting on Anne’s “about” page but my comment was eaten. I tried again and it said it detected a duplicate comment, but neither was showing. Sigh… Last night a big group of deer was in our back yard. One of the younger ones had antlers starting. I imagine he will go off on his own when he gets a little older. A couple of days ago a mom and her two little ones walked past and one of them was limping. It broke my heart.

          7. That’s interesting to know about the cost of living in North Carolina versus Connecticut Barbara. The weather was always a factor for me in moving somewhere warmer – no more ice and snow. The crime here gets worse by the day for everything. Oh, that would break my heart as well … sometimes Nottingham Nature Nook will show a fawn who lost its Mama and/or was injured and they’re rehabbing it – it just breaks your heart to see it. I don’t know why we can’t go onto blog sites without issue anymore. I wonder if you comment on a WP blog post if it just goes into moderation until she frees it? Otherwise, I’ll ask her to try contacting you through your blog. I’ll send her last post in a separate comment.

          8. I hear that every once in a great while they do get a bit of snow and ice here and was advised to stay put if it happens because there will be plenty of car accidents along with it. Perhaps it will be just enough snow to make things pretty for a few hours. I have mixed feelings about snow — the kid in me loves the wonder and magic of it and I used to enjoy shoveling out the car in the crisp chilly air at dawn so Tim could drive away to work. But the cold and tired adult in me is no longer thrilled with all that. It would be nice to get some deer-in-the-snow pictures from the warm comfort of home, though! Or one of our cardinals sitting on a snowy branch outside the kitchen window…

          9. I know Anne has posted pics in her blog of rime ice on trees … pretty but yes, ice is not my friend either. My car stays put when it s icy and I only go out in snow if the roads are clear and dry. When I was younger and worked at the diner, I had to park outside and had to be at work, on the floor, by 6:45 a.m. and would be out there in my short coat and short uniform, scraping ice and snow. Sometimes my manager would swing by and just pick me up … snow is pretty when it is freshly fallen. I hope you can get those pictures Barbara. I’ll bet the snow melts by afternoon the same day.

          10. Yikes, Linda! Scraping ice and shoveling snow in a short skirt and coat is something I’ve never had to experience! Brrrr…. I’m shivering just thinking about it… Half the fun of being out in the snow was being bundled up in cozy layers and then coming inside, peeling them off, and having a cup of hot cocoa, sometimes cocoa with a shot of Baileys Irish Cream in it. 😉 My version of hygge. Sadly, those days are long gone. I can see how your memories of snow and ice are not so fond.

          11. Your hygge sounds fabulous. I’d like to have that cocoa in front of a fire – we never had a fireplace, just an electric one which gave off no heat. When we were younger, snow was more tolerable … my mom would bundle me up and send me outside to play with friends and we’d be outside for hours on end, playing and making snow forts, oblivious to the cold, or we went tobogganing which I think was a more popular pastime in Canada than over here. I don’t mind walking in the snow as long as there is no ice underneath … when we were shorter, falling was not as big of a deal as it is now. Sigh.

          12. My parents never had a fireplace either. We have one now for the first time but I’m afraid to use it. I’ve seen so many with smoke stains on the outer brick and I don’t want to risk ruining this one in our rental. But I love visiting people who use their fireplaces. 😉 I loved all the same things about snow as a child as you did. Looking back I can’t believe how long we were out there, oblivious to the cold, as you say. We also had a swamp in the woods and would ice skate between the hummocks. Wonderful memories. Snow flurries at dusk, how I loved it when that happened!

          13. Years ago our neighbors had a cherry red gas fireplace that hung on the wall in their den. I remember going over there with my parents around the holidays and my mom saying “let’s get rid of this electric one and get one that actually gives off heat and it cheery looking instead of this artificial thing.” But we never did. We both have good memories of Winter from our youth … I wonder if kids today like sledding and ice skating on a pond and the outdoor fun that we enjoyed?

          14. My grandchildren do spend a lot of time outdoors, but I’m not sure about kids in general these days. I’m looking forward to the cooler months so we can spend more time out there with them. ♡

          15. I think your grandchildren are the exception to the rule – they enjoy their time outdoors – you can see it. I do see some people at the Metroparks take their kids bike riding on the paved trails, so that helps.

          16. I have to laugh. My camera doesn’t seem to like taking pictures indoors — I’m never satisfied with the lighting or the backgrounds or something or other. Pictures of people always look better taken outside, in my humble opinion.

          17. You have the natural lighting which is nice (if the weather is cooperative). I do best inside with the compact digital with just 12X zoom – better than the bigger camera to be honest.

          18. Maybe it does have something to do with artificial vs. natural lighting. My cell phone camera seems to do better inside for me.

  6. Thank you for the walking tour through the lovely park. We live in 58 ab within the Adirondack Park boundaries, and off of the grid, surrounded mostly by hunting camps.

    1. You’re welcome, Cindi! I’m glad you enjoyed sharing our little walk. You’re the second reader in ecoregion 58. I’m intrigued that you live off the grid in the Adirondack Park, which I had never heard of before. Found a website about it being a Forever Wild Forest Preserve.

      1. Hello Barbara,
        After moving from northeast Arizona to the Adirondacks a year and a half ago, I discovered there is so much family history inside the Adirondacks and in St Lawrence county NY.
        I hiked a trail in the Adirondacks last week that is named for my great grand father Jasper Day, Tim’s 2nd great uncle, through his marriage to Ella Aurelia Raven.
        The Jasper Day trail, leads to a lake inlet where the Days had a home, only some remaining bricks and rubble now. On the net, the trail is said to be haunted, I have not discovered why..I intend to spend time with the local historian at Inlet, Ny, where the trail is located, to discover why…

        1. So much there for you to discover, Cindi! Would you consider starting a blog to share your discoveries? Many of Tim’s ancestors put down roots in western New York. We took a research trip out there many years ago, to Albion, Cuba, Hinsdale and some other towns. It was exciting talking to the town historian in Hinsdale and she hooked us up with some distant cousins still living there. We saw a dairy farm that used to belong to a great-great-grandfather. It’s a beautiful state. Good luck with your exploring!

  7. Thank you for sending healing energy, Barbara. Yorkie and I are fine. Lost internet Wi-Fi TV news at the facility for 3 hours. I was in touch with my neighbor across the street from my old house and she said that the area lost power for about 3 hours but her family was fine. I will go over there late this afternoon to turn the AC to a comfortable temperature and see any damage if any.

    I placed information on the blue ridge mountain for 2023 calendar for you to read. In addition to your health challenges, I would be concerned about Tim with Heart and breathing challenges with the elevation change. My first husband lives on top of those mountains on 13 acres in Whittier NC and works his honey bee farm. It’s beautiful especially in the winter. During our young age he and I drove the blue ridge parkway. A very memorable lovey experience with him. I’m not trying to scare you away from the fall color trip, but being prepared will benefit both of you. I hope that you go and perhaps your daughter’s family might be able to join you.

    Thank you, TD

  8. Hi Barbara! I replied earlier, but it is waiting in moderation mode because I put a link on blue ridge mountains 2023. I think that you will enjoy. Thought I would let you know so it doesn’t get lost in spam space.

    1. Thank you so much, TD, for the link. It’s nice that they indicate when the colors will peak at different locations and elevations. It will be fun planning, even with all our encmuberances. That sounds like a wonderful memory you have of the Blue Ridge Parkway with your first husband. Bee keeping in the mountains sounds like a peaceful way of life, too. If we go I promise you we will be mindful of our health problems and how the mountains could affect them. We’ll be on our own because we want to go mid-week when there are fewer people and the kids have work and school priorities.

      I’m happy and relieved to hear that you and Yorkie are none the worse for wear after the storm. Phew!

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