they got snow!

2.13.23 ~ after the nor’easter in Connecticut

My sister estimates they got 9 inches of snow from Tuesday’s nor’easter, which left a winter wonderland behind it. I loved the pictures she sent me from the woods surrounding our childhood home.

eastern hemlock
the birds have found food here since the 1960s
the shed my father built more than 60 years ago
the wheelchair ramp my son and brother-in-law built for my father in the 2000s
(the house my parents built is barely visible behind it)

photos by Beverly

throwback thursday

1.20.24 ~ hemlock in the snow

Yesterday I posted a picture of a tiny cone on a hemlock tree struggling to survive at the North Carolina Botanical Garden. Today I’m sharing a picture my sister took last week back home in Connecticut. The snow covered branches belong to one of the few remaining hemlock trees my brother-in-law has been fighting to save.

And below is an illustrated poem someone shared of Facebook, Dust of Snow, written by Robert Frost.

image credit: Suzanne Schafer Bakert

Playing around and meditating under the hemlock trees in winter kept my heart full of joy all the winters I spent growing up there!

brown thrasher

11.14.23 ~ North Carolina Botanical Garden
‘Old Blush’ Rose

It was a gorgeous autumn day when Janet and her mom came to see us in our new digs. The visit included a late afternoon walk in the botanical garden where we encountered a new life bird for my list! My first life bird located in North Carolina.

Brown Thrasher, #77

It can be tricky to glimpse a Brown Thrasher in a tangled mass of shrubbery, and once you do you may wonder how such a boldly patterned, gangly bird could stay so hidden. Brown Thrashers wear a somewhat severe expression thanks to their heavy, slightly downcurved bill and staring yellow eyes, and they are the only thrasher species east of Texas. Brown Thrashers are exuberant singers, with one of the largest repertoires of any North American songbird.
~ All About Birds webpage

Autumn is still peaking here and there are still many touches of summer lingering. I’ve come to the conclusion that fall comes much later here and has a different feeling than New England’s, yet is very pretty in its own way. And it lasts a lot longer, with not all the trees changing at once, or so it seems to me.

Narrowleaf Whitetop Sedge
a fly deftly avoiding the pitcher plant’s pitfall trap
an unopened pitcher plant
Oakleaf Hydrangea
“Octopus” by Mac McCusker
3rd Place ~ Sculpture in the Garden People’s Choice Awards
hemlock needles and cones with autumn color backdrop

Loblolly pine bark provides a nice contrast to golden autumn hues…

The challenge of life, as I see it, is to find the beauty where we are, in the circumstances we’re in, and to focus not on what’s missing, but on what we have. When we’re awake and present in the moment, not lost in the trance of storylines, we may find that the traffic jam, the office, the crowded shopping mall, the toilet, the temple and the forest are all equally holy, equally worthy of devotion (or loving attention). Everything is sacred.
~ Joan Tollifson
(Facebook, December 10, 2021)

what could be more autumn-y than a mum?

Here’s to finding the beauty where we are and to finding new birds and to sharing experiences with friends.

do not use trail when flooded

9.15.23 ~ Bolin Creek Trail
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

At last, walking weather arrived Friday morning! We decided to try Bolin Creek Trail. It was a pleasant enough walk, but it was paved, which is hard on Tim’s back and hip. He needs uneven terrain to walk at all comfortably. And there were many joggers out and lots of people. There were cars zooming by on the road on the other side of the creek. It didn’t feel at all like a walk in the woods!

a burl on a loblolly pine tree

Still, we were delighted to be out getting some fresh air and moving our bodies for an hour. I doubt this will become one of our favorite walks but it was nice to get more familiar with what we have for options in our vicinity.

Hurricane Florence must have been a doozy back in 2018. Apparently Bolin Creek floods quite frequently but I haven’t been able to find out how high it was during that storm. I was standing on stairs leading up to the road to get the next three pictures. The tunnel goes under another road.

Tim standing under the high water mark
(see sign below)

There were some interesting tree roots along the mostly shaded creek.

bits of sunshine poking through the leaves
playing hide and seek with this squirrel
can you find him?
very tiny hemlock sapling trying to grow in the dark understory

Like Gold Park in Hillsborough that we visited a month ago, this trail had an urban feel to it. I think we’re going to have to venture farther from home to find some more woodsy walks to explore. I’m getting excited and hopeful about the possibilities.

seven weeks later…

..we take another walk
8.2.23 ~ North Carolina Botanical Garden

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.

American bladdernut
yellow pitcher plant (carnivorous)

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.

♡ eastern hemlock ♡
plumleaf azalea
eastern tiger swallowtail
stokes’ aster
this large patch of oregano smelled yummy

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)!

’tis the season for birds

12.13.21 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum

Not the greatest pictures I’ve ever taken, but I was thrilled to see more birds than usual on this winter walk. Interesting that we didn’t encounter another human being on this day. Maybe everyone is shopping for the holidays. Not us! It was a sunny day with light westerly winds, a relatively comfortable 44°F/7°C with a feels-like temperature of 39°F/4°C. Connecticut’s positivity rate yesterday was 8.16%.

back of an American robin
back of a blue jay
blue jay, way high up in the tree
female northern cardinal on the ground
female northern cardinal, collecting wood chips?
white-throated sparrow bathing behind the reeds
white-throated sparrow, it was a quick bath
American robin, sitting very still but obscured by many twigs
tulip tree bark
the arboretum pond
hooded mergansers, second sighting!
hooded merganser
the only mallards shot I could get
my beloved eastern hemlock seed cones
view from the gazebo where we rested

The Brain — is wider than the Sky —
For — put them side by side —
The one the other will contain
With ease — and You — beside —

~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #598)

the first touch of winter

“At the First Touch of Winter, Summer Fades Away”
by Valentine Cameron Prinsep

The days move more swiftly now, too, with late dawns and early dusks. The days march toward the winter solstice like a winter farmhand with the wind at his back. And the long nights become the sleep of the earth itself, the rest, the waiting. The fox barks in the night, in the glitter of winter starlight. The deer shelter in the hemlock thickets on the mountain. The woodchuck sleeps, breathing only once in five minutes. And that hurrying wind whistles in the naked maples. November is at hand. This is the hurrying, impatient wind of winter that I hear in the night.
~ Hal Borland
(Hal Borland’s Book of Days)

persuaded to live with trees

5.14.20 ~ The Merritt Family Forest, Groton, Connecticut
a colonial stone slab bridge crosses Eccleston Brook
This property was acquired by the Groton Open Space Association
in May of 2008
5.14.20 ~ robin in the Merritt Family Forest
I loved the way this tree was growing on a flat stone “stage”

The tempered light of the woods is like a perpetual morning, and is stimulating and heroic. The anciently reported spells of these places creep on us. The stems of pines, hemlocks, and oaks, almost gleam like iron on the excited eye. The incommunicable trees begin to persuade us to live with them, and quit our life of solemn trifles. Here no history, or church, or state, is interpolated on the divine sky and the immortal year. How easily we might walk onward into opening the landscape, absorbed by new pictures, and by thoughts fast succeeding each other, until by degrees the recollection of home was crowded out of the mind, all memory obliterated by the tyranny of the present, and we were led in triumph by nature.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
(The Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson)

living with trees

The Merritt Family Forest is part of a large block of forested open space. The upper portion includes a steep, rocky, wooded upland with a mature hardwood forest. Descendants claim the forest remained uncut since the family acquired the property in 1848. The lower portion includes a meadow, and hosts a Tier 1 vernal pool and two Class A streams – Eccleston Brook and an intermittent tributary. Eccleston Brook flows into Palmer Cove, Fisher’s Island Sound and Long Island Sound.
~ Groton Open Space Association website

glacial erratic
moss
ferns
5.14.20 ~ Jack-in-the-pulpit, side view
5.14.20 ~ Jack-in-the-pulpit, front view

I had an especially good time enjoying the paths through the trees on that lovely, warm spring day. And I had an enjoyable afternoon creating this post today, a month later. A pleasant memory to savor. It’s been rough the past few weeks, battling the poison ivy. Tomorrow will be my last dose of prednisone and it will be nice to say goodbye to its side-effects, for me, anxiety and a headache. It’s no fun being up half the night with a panic attack! I’m ready to start living again. 🙂