I was looking for a course, a way and meaning in my life and thought the answer could be found in all that wise men wrote. And they are surely not to blame if I ended up no wiser. That mystery so clear, so deep, is not to be found in books. It was in your eyes, shining, blue, that I first saw it once. Eternity opened a tiny crack, And earth and heaven sang. ~ Olav H. Hauge (The Magic of Fjords)
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.)
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.
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)
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.
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.
When I woke up yesterday morning the dew point was only 61°F and the temperature was only 65°F (18°C)! Surprise! I couldn’t believe my eyes!! Perfect walking weather. Where on earth did it come from? Canada, the TV meteorologist informed, and it wasn’t going to stick around. So off we went, determined to make the most of a seemingly rare opportunity.
In the rush to get out the door I was so focused on not forgetting my hat that I forgot my camera! (How was that even possible???) So I made do with my cell phone’s camera, which I found very awkward to manipulate, especially since I couldn’t hang it around my neck with a strap and have my hands free whenever I wanted them. But it didn’t matter — I was OUTSIDE and enjoying every precious minute.
The flowers that sleep by night, opened their gentle eyes and turned them to the day. The light, creation’s mind, was everywhere, and all things owned its power. ~ Charles Dickens (The Old Curiosity Shop)
I couldn’t find identification tags for many of the flowers and plants we saw, but some of the ones I matched up had very curious names.
I found this specimen of eastern hemlock, my childhood spirit tree, in the Mountain Habitat section of the gardens. Looking at a range map I see they do grow in the mountains of North Carolina, but not naturally here in the Piedmont region. It seemed scraggly but trying its best to grow in this locale. Notice the tiny new green cones growing above the brown ones.
It was such a refreshing morning saunter. And the low humidity stuck around for our afternoon visit to the farmers market, adding another pleasant outing to our day. Last week, when we went to the market for the first time on Wednesday, it was in the 90s and very humid. Two days later, when we picked Katie up on Friday, her last day of camp, it was 95°F (35°C) with a heat index of 105°F (41°C)!
Except in magnificent floral displays, August is not a favorite month with the naturalist. The characteristic features of summer are well-nigh over, and when we linger in the shade of the old oaks, our thoughts are more apt to revert to what has been, than to become centered upon what is. And yet how prone we are to forget the character of the seasons, once they are passed! ~ Charles Conrad Abbott (Days Out of Doors)
Contained in this short Life Are magical extents The soul returning soft at night To steal securer thence As Children strictest kept Turn soonest to the sea Whose nameless Fathoms slink away Beside infinity ~ Emily Dickinson (The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #1175)
Paradoxically, life is long and brief at the same time. The more we know, the more questions we have. At some point we come to accept that there will always be limits to what we know and that no matter how long we get to live so much will remain beyond our grasp. After many years of searching for something I couldn’t name, I am at peace with not knowing. Magic is everywhere, as all children know, and science keeps almost-finding explanations for it.
This week our granddaughter is going to a Woodland Fairies & Elves day camp and we get to pick her up every afternoon and hear all about it. Recently this delightful little eight-year old, formerly known as Kat, changed her nickname to Katie, the one I began calling her when she was born. (Longtime readers of this blog will remember this.) But, when she was about 2 years old, we noticed her parents were calling her Katherine so we followed suit. A couple of years ago Katherine started calling herself Kat and now she has chosen to go with Katie.
At camp the children got to choose a moniker, too, so when we go to pick her up, “Snail” is called on a walkie-talkie to come to the pavilion to collect her belongings and then Katie/Snail shows us around the fairy village the kids are creating. Katie was very excited about an exoskeleton she had found and incorporated into her fairy house design. In my clumsy attempt to get a picture of it I accidently knocked over one of the little structures! But my granddaughter was very gracious and reassured me that no harm was done as she carefully reassembled it. Phew!
One day we got a tour of the garden where Katie picked a fairy cucumber for us. It took her a while to find one because most of them had already been harvested. That day a counselor had brought in homemade fairy pickles for the campers to enjoy.
We’ve been so busy that keeping up with blogging has proven almost impossible. I am happy to report that we now have North Carolina drivers licenses and the car is registered with a NC plate. There are still things left to take care of on the “to-do” list but I am hoping by the time the hot weather relents we will have settled enough to get outside for our nature walks once again. Even the small amount of time we spend outside picking Katie up is very taxing for Tim. One day the “feels like” temperature was 98°F. Tomorrow the forecasters are calling for the hottest day of the year so far…
It’s been a while! We moved into our new place a couple of weeks ago and then the POD arrived with all our worldly goods a week after that. Dima & Larisa and a couple of their friends unloaded the POD on that hot afternoon. The next day friends and relatives came by and got us started reassembling bookcases, etc. We’ve been unpacking and taking empty cardboard boxes to the recycling center ever since.
We found a lovely little one-story townhouse to lease. The neighbors are so welcoming! Next door is a woman who also moved down here to be near her grandchildren. Another neighbor came over with a homemade pecan pie to introduce herself. And another brought sunflowers and cherry tomatoes from the farmers market!
I’m loving having everything on one floor. And we’re located close to our grandchildren, a six-minute drive away. 🙂 We are nestled into a cul-de-sac in a very quiet and heavily wooded neighborhood. There are so many trees here, and so much wildlife, that I decided to change the name of my blog to In the Woods!
It’s hot, too, as expected. The other day the heat index reached 103°! But we’re grateful for the central air conditioning. With dewpoints in the 70s every morning we probably won’t be taking any walks for a couple of months.
The above picture was taken from our front porch, looking up. Moving from a noisy city to this peaceful neighborhood has been such a blessing. And now I’m looking forward to settling in and then catching up with my blogging friends as soon as possible!
On this twenty-first of June, the hinge day of the seasons, the yearly tide of light reaches its flood. Tomorrow, it will begin the long rollback to the dark days of December. … And so this longest day in the year comes to an end with silver mist and low-lying land and the smell of the sea. Twilight here is doubly impressive for we are face to face with twin mysteries — the mystery of the sea and the mystery of the night. We, as diurnal creatures of the land, are looking into foreign realms, into worlds other than our own, into the mysterious dark and the mysterious depths. ~ Edwin Way Teale (Circle of the Seasons: The Journal of a Naturalist’s Year)
Late yesterday afternoon we snuck away and visited the Piedmont Habitat in the North Carolina Botanical Garden, a little side trip while we were out doing errands. I’ve been itching for a chance to use my camera. It was the first garden near the entrance so Tim didn’t have to do any strenuous walking. What a wonderful place! I’m looking forward to exploring all 15 gardens and the 4 nature trails in the coming months.
It was a lovely and refreshing little break from house hunting!