the intelligence of a place

3.30.24 ~ ‘old blush’ rose
North Carolina Botanical Garden

It’s always a pleasure to be greeted by the roses dangling from their arbor each time we visit the botanical garden. It never gets old! Like sunrises and sunsets, I suppose. A steady presence. But we were on a new mission this day to locate a Virginia dwarf trillium, another tiny ephemeral we heard was blooming. Along the way we saw…

Spanish lavender
hermit thrush

This (below) was the only undamaged dwarf trillium we could find, surrounded by other kinds of plants. We had torrential rains for a couple of days and I think they did a number on the tiny trilliums. But I’m grateful we got a chance to see this one. It is much smaller than all the other regular size trilliums we’ve been seeing this spring.

Virginia dwarf trillium
spreading Jacob’s ladder
white-throated sparrow

Only by living for many moons in one region, my peripheral senses tracking seasonal changes in the local plants while the scents of the soil steadily seep in through my pores — only over time can the intelligence of a place lay claim upon my person. Slowly, as the seasonal round repeats itself again and again, the lilt and melody of the local songbirds becomes an expectation within my ears, and so the mind I’ve carried within me settles into the wider mind that enfolds me.
~ David Abram
(Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology)

yellow trillium (?)
twisted trillium
pine warbler
sweet shrub aka Carolina allspice
great white trillium (?)
tufted titmouse
red chokeberry
squirrel going out on a limb to reach maple seeds
what a mess he made discarding the “helicopters”
carpenter bee
(thanks to Eliza for the identification)

As we were making our way back to the parking lot this giant bee (above) was hovering over the walkway, blocking our path. Well, if it was just going to stay there I might as well get a picture of it. I don’t know if these creatures are unique to this area but sometimes they hover outside our windows and crash into them repeatedly. It sounds like someone is throwing pebbles at the window.

So we’ve lived here for ten moons I think, not very many so far, but our senses are slowly getting familiar with the seasonal changes.

24 thoughts on “the intelligence of a place”

  1. Lovely flowers and birds… makes me look forward to seeing the spring ephemerals here. That botanic garden is a treasure trove, a great resource to have close by.
    The hovering bee is a carpenter bee, probably defending its territory against other bees (generally won’t sting humans). Not a popular bee because it excavates holes in wood, fine in dead trees, not on your porch fascia! It also has the habit of tearing a hole in the base of a flower to drink the nectar, bypassing the pollination process, which is kind of like stealing your lunch instead of paying for it!

    1. Thank you, Eliza, we are so enjoying the spring season in this awesome botanical garden. And it will be wonderful to start seeing pictures of your flower garden soon!
      Thank you for the carpenter bee info! Just yesterday the Southern Piedmont Natural History Facebook page posted a picture of a carpenter bee preparing to tear a slit in the base of a blueberry flower, and another picture of the slit. As they observed, not all bees play by the rules of pollination! At least they are solitary bees. I’d hate to encounter a swarm of them! I hope they’re not excavating holes in our deck…

  2. I’m glad you’re settling in, Barbara. I’ve heard that it takes most people two full years before they become fully acclimated to new surroundings. I imagine that getting out and about so much has helped you feel a part of everything. I enjoyed seeing your birds and flowers — and had to giggle at that furry bee!

    1. I remember you saying that about the two years when we first moved down here and it seems to be true. This first year feels like a long introduction and I imagine next year will feel much more familiar. We’re even starting to drive around without needing the GPS for every errand. It’s been fun getting acquainted with the beautiful local library, too. Those carpenter bees are something else!

  3. My first thought was “roses already!” That is such a beautiful and perfect rose Barbara. It seems to be a never-ending sense of wonderment on your excursions at this venue. You are fortunate to see so many Titmice on your walks as well. That Pine Warbler and Hermit Thrush were sure up close. Despite being a Canadian, I’ve never seen a Trillium even though it informally known as Canada’s flower and I remember it was part of Brownies for badges and paraphernalia when I was in that organization. You have some beautiful and dainty flowers in this post and I like the passage as well.

    1. I know, it’s incredible. I saw the first rose on March 20 and yesterday the arbor was full of them! So many interesting things are happening in the garden each time go so we keep going back and haven’t been walking in the woods as much. It was so exciting (and lucky) when that titmouse landed on a branch right in front of me and the camera focused so well before it flew off. I didn’t know trilliums were flowers of Canada, apparently there are 5 species native in Ontario, and 7 down here in southern Appalachia. I think the first time I ever saw one was at the Connecticut College Arboretum not too many years ago.

      1. I hope to see one some day, but it seems they are more in northern Michigan and some parts of Central Michigan and they are protected plants, which I found interesting. It used to be that trilliums were part of the emblem of Ontario … you saw photos of it everywhere. It was probably one of the first flowers I recognized as a child living in Canada.

        1. Eight years ago on a cold December day we visited the Western North Carolina Nature Center while we were down here visiting Tim’s brother and sister-in-law. They had a trail there called Trillium Trail which we didn’t have a chance to follow. Wikipedia says there are about 50 kinds of them! “Trillium species are native to temperate regions of North America and Asia, with the greatest diversity of species found in the southern Appalachian Mountains in the southeastern United States.”

          1. That’s a lot of types of Trilliums. I sure hope I get to see one someday. All those types, it is a shame none are in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Speaking of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, there was an 84-pound wolf discovered. They have them in the Upper Peninsula and the DNR is trying to determine how it got there – the bridge connecting the Upper and Lower Peninsula is five miles long, so it likely didn’t swim across the Straits of Mackinac.

          2. Looks like Michigan has four protected trillium species. No wonder you haven’t seen any!
            I found this in The Guardian: “Wolves have taken up residence in parts of suburban Germany as densely populated as Cambridge or Newcastle.” Maybe someday you will have wolves in your neighborhood, but I imagine that won’t happen for many years. Who knows?

          3. This was an interesting article Barbara – thanks for forwarding it. I wouldn’t mind reading through this blog and I kept the site address, but it looks like they had stopped publishing in 2021. They direct you to Twitter and Facebook, but Twitter ended in 2021 and there is no FB site … too bad, but I will go back and read some of their posts. That is interesting about the wolves living in densely populated cities – they are not fearful of humans I guess. We get coyotes, especially in the more rural suburbs, but have them here in Lincoln Park as well. They warn people with small dogs or outdoor cats to be careful with their pets. Nature is amazing indeed. And …

            Also amazing is Mama Goose is sitting on a nest in the boulders near the covered bridge at Heritage Park again. I decided to go there this afternoon and see if she was there – this is the third year she has nested there (if not fourth, but third for sure) and always in early April. I have to monitor her and her goslings now that it hopefully is warmer and we’ve turned a corner on the snow. I remember when I photographed her off the nest, looking at the eggs and putting her downy feathers around the nest, that was Easter and we had a multi-inch snowstorm the next day.

          4. The Michigan Nature Association has a webpage and a Facebook page. If I lived there I would follow that page. It reminds me of the Southern Piedmont Natural History Facebook page I follow. Too bad the blog is inactive. We did see coyotes in our neighborhood back in Connecticut, but I haven’t seen one down here yet. There are plenty of deer here for wolves to prey on.

            There must be something about those boulders that makes mama goose feel like its a safe place to nest and raise her goslings. Looking forward to seeing you pictures this year! Now that you’re retired you can check on them more often. 😉

          5. They have some interesting articles which would be good for reference. Even their website had not been active for the same period of time which is too bad. I just had a fellow blogger start blogging again after almost three years. They post a photo a day about Detroit happenings, not nature related though.

            It has to be the same mama goose and yes, she must feel secure in between the boulders. She was facing toward the water so I had to wait until she turned her head (one measly time), then buried her head into her feathers for good. She no doubt thought “there’s that woman who keeps taking photos of me.” I’m happy for more time to get to Heritage Park and monitor her on the nest. They incubate the eggs 28-30 days. They lay one egg every 1.5 days, then when all eggs are laid, the 28-30 day incubation period begins. She could just be in the egg-laying phase. I’ll keep bopping by.

    1. Thank you, Ally. We’re trying to soak up every bit of this season in this place before the unbearable summer heat arrives…

  4. Gorgeous photos and looks like some gorgeous weather you are having to go along with it. The Carolina allspice is really neat looking! As usual your bird photos are wonderful!

    1. Thank you, Karma! We’ve got to make the most of this delightful weather before the summer heat and humidity saps us of all our energy. I’m going to go back and see if those Carolina allspice flowers will be opening up any more…

  5. I love the quote, especially the line, “the scents of the soil steadily seep in through my pores”. What an apt way to describe the familiarity you feel when you are familiar with an area. Only two more moons to go for you and you will have experienced a year, so the next year will seem more familiar to you, I am sure. ♡ I am so pleased you found the trilliums, and some very cute little birds as well. x

    1. I’m still getting used to the scent of the soil around here. Connecticut had a sandy loam soil and around here it’s a clay soil. We’re starting to think about what we could plant around our home but haven’t a clue about what works. I keep asking the locals but there is so much to learn! A little at a time… One thing I do love here is the moss we have growing abundantly around us — so much prettier than a lawn and no mowing needed. 💕

      1. Being near the coast you would have been likely to have once had rather sandy soil, I imagine. Our soil here is clay loam, so it can be easily broken up when it is damp and it drains well. Look at the plants growing in your neighbours gardens for inspiration, then visit a plant nursery to see what plants are in season. The moss sounds wonderful, so long as it doesn’t get too slippery if it is on walkways. I’ve heard that moss is one of the oldest plants too, so perhaps Katherine would be interested in learning more about it and passing on her knowledge to you. 🙂

A box for your thoughts...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.