when the sun comes out

2.6.24 ~ Parker Preserve, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

When the sun comes out the world brightens up, even the browns and grays in the winter woods. It was a very sunny morning the other day, but too cold for a walk. So we opted for an afternoon walk. Even then it was still cold, Tim wore a coat, and I was bundled up with hat and mittens, too.

We found a new place to walk, another property belonging to the North Carolina Botanical Garden, Parker Preserve. It connects to the Mason Farm Biological Reserve we had explored back in December. At the beginning of the trail is Parker Meadow, the site of the former home of Bill & Athena Parker.

American holly
coming soon!

The huge bench above is one of two sitting in the meadow, where a 19th century log cabin was destroyed by a fire in 1995. (I assume it was the home of Bill & Athena.) After noticing what we presume to be dozens of patches of daffodils about to bloom, we headed into the woods, following the Woodland Trail.

late winter shadows
marcescence highlighted
this leaf was probably stranded here all winter
moss with sporophytes

Off in the distance we saw a huge log, covered in moss with sporophytes sprouting out of it. I used maximum zoom but could only manage the fuzzy picture above. We have been warned repeatedly about copperhead snakes so I resisted every urge to go off the trail and wade though the leaves to get a closer look.

in the spotlight: a maple leaf surrounded by oak leaves
illuminated roots from a tree that fell long ago
I’m calling this a ghost stump

The disadvantage to taking an afternoon walk is that the traffic on the way home is very congested and slow. We found ourselves sitting in the car for a very long time at a traffic light near the James Taylor Bridge. From the road this bridge is unremarkable, the only hint that a bridge is there is a small sign identifying it and a short cement wall with a low fence on either side of it. But it’s located a mile from JT’s childhood home and it goes over Morgan Creek, which he wrote about in one of his songs, Copperline. We’ve encountered Morgan Creek a couple of times on our walks. This is all of particular interest to me because James Taylor was my idol when I was a teen, and he was the first singer I ever went to see in concert. I had all his albums. It’s a small world.

Half a mile down to Morgan Creek
I’m leanin’ heavy on the end of the week
Hercules and a hognose snake
Down on Copperline
We were down on Copperline

~ James Taylor
♫ (Copperline) ♫

24 thoughts on “when the sun comes out”

  1. Interesting note about James Taylor. One of my favorites growing up too.

    I enjoyed your “Coming Soon!” title of the spring bulb. It gave me a giggle. 🤭

    1. It’s going to be pretty amazing having daffodils blooming in February! All those bright yellow sun-bonnets. ☀️ My daughter says, for her, spring is the longest and best season here. 🙂

      1. The white or purple Irises show up first here in our neighborhood. I’ll have to keep an eye out for daffodils. Yesterday our grocery store had a big supply of annual flowers for those who want to start planting. We can still get a hard freeze up until March 31. But with some many yards getting hit with the hard freeze a few weeks ago, I’m sure that there will be buyers willing to take the chance (not me). It still looks like dead of winter here, but we are having lovely warm weather! We have been walking almost every day for a week. My focus will be my St Augustine. Because I have not been well for so long to maintain it, the St Augustine is being taken over by Dandelions and Clover. My yard keeper only mows and weed whacks. I believe that I’m walking and well enough to begin the weed and feed and rake the St Augustine again. I know that my body is too old for plantings, so I’m very happy with grass and oak trees! Are you glad that you are free of yard maintenance?

        1. Irises — I love them. I wonder if I’ll see any around here. Looks like our last frost date is April 4, not sure about a hard freeze date. I’m glad to hear you and Yorkie are getting out for so many walks — it must feel exhilarating to get out and enjoy the weather even if the scenery hasn’t caught up with spring yet. 😉 I never heard of St. Augustine grass before so I looked it up. It is wonderful being free of free of yard maintenance and I love looking at the pretty green moss that covers my little front yard.

  2. I liked James Taylor, too! Cool that you’re right in in the middle of his old stomping grounds! The holly is pretty, and I find the tree roots to have a nice crown-like shape. I’m with you on the snakes, though. Even garter snakes cause me to squeal like a little girl!

    1. Apparently JT’s father was a doctor and served as dean of the Medical School of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill from 1964 until 1971. It was the shape of those tree roots that appealed to me, too. I’m wondering how I will react when I do finally cross paths with a copperhead…

  3. Cool walk through the woods! Knowing you’re originally a New Englander, would I be correct in guessing that JT concert was at Tanglewood? He still performs there every 4th of July

    1. The concert I went to was in February 1971 at the Bushnell in Hartford, CT. Carol King joined him on stage for a few numbers and I became a fan of hers, too. I was 14 years old and will never forget that night!

    1. Thank you, Eliza. I know JT has lived on Martha’s Vineyard and now in Lenox, Mass, but I found this on the Life magazine website:

      James Taylor was born in New England but raised in North Carolina, then returned to New England equal parts Beacon Hill and Chapel Hill, the son of a “Down East Yankee,” as his mother described herself, and a Down South doctor. “James Taylor,” as Time magazine noted in its cover story in 1971, “managed to grow up in two of the most beautiful places in America.” As such, Taylor sings equally in thrall to the country roads of Carolina and the Massachusetts Turnpike between Stockbridge and Boston.

    1. Thank you so much, Ally. I’m so happy you appreciated what the sun was pointing out to me that afternoon. 🙂

  4. How nice to get in a walk on a sunny Winter day Barbara, which is exactly how I felt last Sunday with my morning, then afternoon walk and I still hated to come home. I’m not sure where I’ll go tomorrow, but it’s another precip-free day, so I’ll figure it out in the morning. Nothing out to see, except ducks and geese if I am lucky. I like how you captured marcescence (my new word learned courtesy of you) and I like how that leaf is doggedly hanging on. Seeing your holly reminds me I took pictures of it finally.

    1. Those are the walks we live for, the ones you don’t want to end and then have to go home. Sometimes just the weather is enough to make it memorable, even when there aren’t any exciting pictures to take. Sometimes marcescence is the only magic out there. What I found interesting about the American holly was its oval leaves without the multiple points that most holly leaves seem to have. But there are over 570 species of it!

      1. Well as wonderful as last Sunday was for me, this Sunday was a letdown. I’d have gone out yesterday when it was sunny to a bigger park, but they called for the same weather today. The sun was out until I drove to Elizabeth Park and dark clouds rolled in. Not one goose or duck was out – very unusual, so I drove around and drove home. I had already walked at Council Point Park, so I came home and wrote next week’s post. I have been wishing I could be a post ahead all Winter. So finally I am. I have to transition to the new laptop which will be a pain as I have alot on this one. That has to happen in the next two weeks, so I’ll have to mess with moving things around at home, plus my boss brought all my stuff from my office here and dropped it off last Sunday – there is stuff everywhere. So I have “house stuff” to do. So, I couldn’t see the wisdom of taking pictures on such a gray day. That’s amazing that there are that many types of holly. My holly had very few berries. I looked for the photo to send you and can’t remember where I put it. I have what I call “mish-mash folders” where I put things like that holly, or the gutter seam leak pic to send to the the handyman and a picture of the tree that dropped the branch and caused the fire. Then I can’t remember where I put them. I don’t have a storage area for my photos. They are on my old computer and I e-mail them from my Google mail account to my Comcast account. But sometimes I misidentify them.

        1. Well, at least you got a post ahead, a little bit of consolation for the clouds and no ducks or geese. 🙁 Sometimes we just have to make the best of things — there’s nothing we can do about the weather. Transitioning to a new laptop sounds like a daunting task. I wish you the best of luck with that! I’m also wishing for more sunny days for pictures. Spring and autumn have the best sunlight usually. I have way too many pictures stored and Tim had to buy me more space on “the cloud,” so I’m starting the huge project of deleting all the duds I’ve taken over the years…

          1. I have intended to archive my post/pics for months and now will have to put this computer in a corner of the kitchen. The only good thing is that I will stand in that corner. Right now I start work at 11:30 and I am on here until 5:30 with a short break, then online until 10:00 … that is a lot of sitting, which is not good for you and even the morning walk does not cancel out those long hours. I prefer this laptop – it is like an old shoe to me? I use the original laptop which is missing a few keys for when I upload pictures. I also have all my pictures in there. I tell myself when I spend an afternoon sorting photos that I take too many (and too many duplicates on top of it). You’re right, that is a daunting task.

            How is Beverly faring in this nor’easter? I keep hearing how bad Connecticut is, but I’ve seen some photos online of Central Park which look like a Currier & Ives print.

          2. Beverly thinks they got about 9 inches. She sent me some pictures which I think I will post tomorrow. ❄️
            It’s kind of strange. When I stand in one position for more than a minute or two my sciatica will flare up, but I can sit or walk for hours with no pain. Tim is the opposite, when he walks his sciatica flares up so he has to stop frequently and sit or stand still. I got him a portable chair for Christmas since there usually aren’t too many benches for him when we walk in the woods.

          3. That is a hefty snowfall for sure, but you two grew up with nor’easters so are old pros with that much snow (or you were anyway). :). Well that was a thoughtful gift for Tim for all your walks in the woods. As to the sciatica, I am sore on one side after sitting here, in place, on workdays from 11:30 until bedtime. I start shifting around like crazy. I do what my mom did – trying out different chair pads, trying to figure out the perfect one – I have not really find one yet. I finally had to get rid of the one that was on the chair that broke in half as it ripped open the cushion when it split in half. They don’t make them like that anymore.

          4. It’s interesting how sciatica problems hit everyone a little differently. Tim’s brother can drive for hours with no problem, but has a lot of trouble when lying down. But Tim’s flares up when he drives for too long and has no trouble lying down. I sympathize with you trying to find the right cushion! My aunt used to say “they don’t make them like that anymore” all the time about various products she used to use. We used to laugh and tease her about it but now that we’re older we find ourselves saying the exact same thing!

          5. That is so true and I find myself saying that all the time. I sit on a kitchen chair and when I first started working from home my boss asked if I wanted to have my desk chair at home. Well it had casters and I would have tripped over the mat and the kitchen is bigger and brighter than rooms down the hall, so I declined – maybe I should not have. But I could picture myself wiping out on the plastic floor mat or it damaging the floor.

  5. First, LOVE James Taylor too and and very cool to be near Morgan Creek and reminiscence with Copperline and those teen days we had! 😉 How fun to discover more and more trails and then to return each season to see it’s new bounty. The “coming soon” photo is lovely, one of my neighbors has a small patch of blooming daffodils right now, I cannot believe it, so glad to see, for sure it means Spring is coming soon! Fabulous walk shots, and love that bench, how great to have to stop and rest. I am usually looking for a log to blop on, hehehe!

    1. Those teen years seem so far away yet every time I hear one of JT’s songs I’m right back there again. So nice to know you love his music as much as I do! 💙 It’s kind of exciting realizing the significance of Morgan Creek in his life, I didn’t make the connection right away. We’re slowly finding our way around the natural areas here and it’s starting to feel like home. It’s still near freezing some mornings but there are daffodils blooming now in the woods behind our house, making me eager to discover what wonders springtime will be bringing to us. Tim misses all the glacial erratics he used to blop on in CT. 😉

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