sun-drenched wings and petals

5.21.24 ~ North Carolina Botanical Garden
sun-drenched female northern cardinal

It was a borderline-humidity morning, between comfy and muggy, and Tim was still coughing from the cold he caught in Italy, but we decided to chance a walk anyway. This is the time of year when the sun feels too bright and my camera sometimes responded by turning the blurry bokeh effect into solid black.

pipevine swallowtail butterfly

We forgot the bug repellent and I came home with two mosquito bites, one on each forearm. But the pretty (and non-biting) insects were out enjoying the sunshine, too! I’m not 100% sure of all my identifications here, but I’m giving them my best guess. Some of the butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies seemed new to me.

fire pink
common whitetail dragonfly
oakleaf hydrangea
dusky dancer damselfly on hemlock needles

Summer, for the cold-blooded, represents the Elysian days. Warmth brings life and animation. Their blood responds, literally, to every rise and fall of the mercury. Chill is synonymous with sluggishness, cold with immobility. The sun directly regulates the intensity with which they live.
~ Edwin Way Teale
(Grasshopper Road)

white waterlily
ebony jewelwing (aka black-winged damselfly)
grass pink orchid
mating silver-spotted skipper butterflies
tulip prickly pear
variable dancer damselfly
stokes’ aster
chamomile
downy wood mint
Coastal Plain Habitat boardwalk in May

Even though it isn’t technically summer here yet, either meteorologically or astronomically, it can now be called summer for all intents and purposes!

to the small things hardly noticeable

3.7.24 ~ North Carolina Botanical Garden

Another lovely midday stroll through the botanical garden, noticing many small things. This has definitely become our go-to place, visited as often as we used to visit our little city beach back in Connecticut. We find ourselves checking out some regular spots, like the little patch of sandhills pyxie-moss, which is filling in nicely.

sandhills pyxie-moss with pine cone left after a prescribed burn
bloodroot
limestone bittercress aka purple cress

If you will stay close to nature, to its simplicity, to the small things hardly noticeable, those things can unexpectedly become great and immeasurable.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
(Letters to a Young Poet)

golden ragwort
little sweet Betsy (a trillium)
patch of little sweet Betsy
bottlebrush buckeye

It is always safe to dream of spring. For it is sure to come; and if it be not just as we have pictured it, it will be infinitely sweeter.
~ Lucy Maud Montgomery
(The Story Girl)

Red-shouldered Hawk, #86

We heard a hawk calling and Tim finally spotted it. These were the best pictures I managed to get of it before it flew away. Turns out it was another life bird for me, even though I’ve seen them in captivity before I’m counting this one because it was in the wild.

Whether wheeling over a swamp forest or whistling plaintively from a riverine park, a Red-shouldered Hawk is typically a sign of tall woods and water. It’s one of our most distinctively marked common hawks, with barred reddish-peachy underparts and a strongly banded tail. In flight, translucent crescents near the wingtips help to identify the species at a distance. These forest hawks hunt prey ranging from mice to frogs and snakes.
~ All About Birds website

‘lemon drop’ swamp azalea buds
(looking about the same as they did five weeks ago)
oakleaf hydrangea
tufted titmouse

After being delighted to finally get a photo of a titmouse closer to the earth and to my camera, another life bird suddenly came into the picture! What a sweet surprise and wonderful way to end this lovely spring walk.

White-breasted Nuthatch, #87

A common feeder bird with clean black, gray, and white markings, White-breasted Nuthatches are active, agile little birds with an appetite for insects and large, meaty seeds. They get their common name from their habit of jamming large nuts and acorns into tree bark, then whacking them with their sharp bill to “hatch” out the seed from the inside. White-breasted Nuthatches may be small but their voices are loud, and often their insistent nasal yammering will lead you right to them.
~ All About Birds website

gray day

12.13.23 ~ North Carolina Botanical Garden

It was a gray day for a walk.

Christmas fern resting on moss
“Cicada Maple Seed” sculpture by Sam Spiczka
squirrel peeking at me from under a holly bush
holly holiday colors

Surprise! A gray catbird in December! North Carolina must be one of the places they migrate to in the winter. I’ve never seen one in Connecticut after September or before May.

He begins early, and makes up his song as he goes.
~ Mary Oliver (Catbird)
His black cap gives him a jaunty look, for which
we humans have learned to tilt our caps, in envy.

~ Mary Oliver (Catbird)
oakleaf hydrangea

But it was a great day for a walk. A good break from busy, busy, busy…

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.

shades of scarlet, saffron, and russet

10.24.20 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum
New London, Connecticut

Autumn that year painted the countryside in vivid shades of scarlet, saffron, and russet, and the days were clear and crisp under the harvest skies.
~ Sharon Kay Penman
(Time & Chance)

a copper and butterscotch harvest

The Connecticut College Arboretum Facebook page invited us over to check out the fall colors in all their glory. We were not disappointed! I had been reluctant to visit because New London was a designated coronavirus “red alert town” but now that Groton is, too, we decided we didn’t have much to lose.

black oak

One very nice feature of an arboretum is that many of the trees have identification tags on them.

fringe tree

In June, the above fringe tree has spectacular white fringe-like blossoms. (Janet may remember them!) To see a picture scroll down to the last few pictures on this post: late spring in the woods.

sweet gum
tulip tree
a maple (no tag)

But autumn leaves have another than their natural history — like autumn sunshine they have merits that concern the rambler, who cares not a fig for their botanical significance — what may be called their sentimental history.
~ Charles Conrad Abbott
(Days Out of Doors)

russet majesty
grove on top of a hill
evidence of the severe drought in the pond
blueberry growing out of glacial erratic in the middle of the pond
glacial erratic framed in saffron
(probably) ruby slippers hydrangea spent blossoms
(probably) ruby slippers hydrangea leaves
thanks to Melissa for help with identification
we got a little bit lost in there
heritage river birch

This might be my favorite tree in the whole arboretum. It is so tall there is no way I could get a picture of all of it. The texture of the bark is a pleasure to behold. The trunk splits in two and the view between them is spectacular. I love its energy. I have a dwarf river birch in my garden. It’s not nearly as tall.

looking up
looking out over the arboretum

We had walked for over an hour and I came home finally feeling satisfied that I hadn’t missed anything this autumn had to offer. 🙂