green woods laughing with joy

4.22.24 ~ Johnston Mill Nature Preserve

Six months ago, in the autumn, we visited this gorgeous nature preserve for the first time. It turned out to be equally enchanting in the springtime. It was so green! We started at the other end of Robin’s Trail. It was cold out, however. After days in the 80s on this morning I was back in my winter coat and wore my gloves the whole time.

When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy,
And the dimpling stream runs laughing by

~ William Blake
(Laughing Song)

lots and lots of beech leaves
wild sage
New Hope Creek

Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.
~ John Muir
(The Wilderness Essays)

sunlit ripples in the creek
wildflowers and orbs at the forest’s edge
zephyr lily

As it was last time we visited, a very pleasant spring morning ramble along the creek and in the woods. 🍃

the great surge of life

3.20.24 ~ hermit thrush, North Carolina Botanical Garden

I lack roots, I cannot fly on my own wings, and I do not burrow into the earth. But I am a part of something vastly bigger than myself. I am a part of the enduring force, of life itself. And the great surge of life occurs every springtime. It is this that I am made aware of now.
~ Hal Borland
(Hal Borland’s Book of Days)

fragrant sumac

Another favorite walk in the botanical garden, savoring every possible moment of this memorable spring flowering. Longtime locals have been telling us that this spring has come earlier here than it has in previous years. The last rose I found on this bush (below) was in November and this one in March is the first rose since then.

first ‘old blush’ rose of the season
Venus flytraps poking up from the soil
wild blue phlox
Carolina wren
white trout lily
 limestone bittercress aka purple cress
‘finch’s golden’ deciduous holly

I’m planning to get a once a month picture from this spot (below) on the boardwalk. The areas on either side here were part of a subscribed burn sometime after we found the seedbox plant in January.

Coastal Plain Habitat boardwalk in March
3.20.24 ~ Courtyard Gardens
Spring Equinox (8 seasons series)

Spring has returned — and now the earth is
like a child who has learned her poems by heart.
So many, so many … and for all her hard
and lengthy studies now she takes the prize.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke
(Sonnets to Orpheus)

eastern redbud cauliflory

Cauliflory is a botanical term referring to plants that flower and fruit from their main stems or woody trunks, rather than from new growth and shoots. It is rare in temperate regions but common in tropical forests.
~ Wikipedia

Learning something new every day… I’m trying to remember the word cauliflory by thinking of cauliflower. (I’m still having trouble remembering the word marcescence even after using it countless time on this blog…) This wonderful botanical garden is never the same twice.

dimpled trout lilies and other small spring things

3.3.24 ~ Piedmont Nature Trails
dimpled trout lily

On this Sunday morning my friend Susan and I set out to find dimple trout lilies at the botanical garden, only to find the gates would be closed until 1:00. No matter, we decided to saunter along the nearby nature trails for a couple of hours. And there turned out to be plenty of the tiny lilies in the woods. They are so tiny they barely poke through the leaves on the forest floor. They are native here in the Piedmont.

dimpled trout lily poking up through the fallen leaves

This post has way too many pictures but I couldn’t bring myself to cut out any more than I already did. The woods still looked like it was winter, unless one looked down and more closely at the leaf litter for tiny spring ephemerals.

Virginia spring beauty?
Meeting-of-the-Waters Creek
moss spores?
remembering to look up sometimes
a lone hemlock in the hardwood forest
eastern gray squirrel
tufted titmouse way up high
dimpled trout lily
rue-anemone
hepatica
little sweet Betsy (a trillium)
common blue violet
dandelion

The Dandelion’s pallid Tube
Astonishes the Grass —
And Winter instantly becomes
An infinite Alas —
The Tube uplifts a signal Bud
And then a shouting Flower —
The Proclamation of the Suns
That sepulture is o’er —

~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #1565)

When the botanical garden gates opened we went in and found more dimpled trout lilies and what looked like more kinds of trilliums coming up.

North Carolina Botanical Garden
more dimpled trout lilies
hepatica
bloodroot

What a wonderful time we had enjoying springtime’s opening act in this part of the world! I’m sure there will be many more flowers coming soon.

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.

woodland treasures

8.15.22 ~ Beebe Pond Park

Scenes from a wonderful late summer walk on an incredibly beautiful day. No humidity, comfortable temperatures in the 70s, and no mosquitoes, no doubt thanks to the continuing severe drought.

hiding in plain sight
walking over roots and around boulders to get to the pond
great blue heron way across the pond
tiny flower with orbs
Beebe Pond during severe drought
water lilies carpeting the low water level
buzzy
no standing room
a giant
(there’s a little chipmunk sitting on the rotting wood under the erratic)
hiding under the giant
as far as the eye can see, an endlessly rocky trail
the space between
impaled
marcescence
marching to the beat of a different drummer
the lofty oak

When we had arrived at the park we saw two cars from a dog day care business and wondered what situation we might encounter on the trail. Much to my relief we crossed paths with two women walking eight medium-sized dogs on leashes. The dogs were well-behaved and minding their own business. (No tugging, lunging or barking.) Cesar Millan would have approved. 🙂 I was impressed!

colonial flower garden

7.27.22 ~ Fort Griswold Battlefield State Park

A gray catbird greeted us when we got to the Ebenezer Avery House at the bottom of the hill at Fort Griswold. The last time we visited was in January a year and a half ago. Of course there was nothing growing in the small garden at that time. But this time the air was filled with a pleasant fragrance that must have been some herb or flower I didn’t recognize.

We had a nice walk all around the fort and then it was a delightful surprise to find this little front yard garden surrounded by a picket fence. We lingered here for quite a while, enjoying the colors, smells and visiting butterflies. The flowers were in all stages of life, new ones blossoming right alongside the fading beauties. Please enjoy!

eastern tiger swallowtail
monarch

After we had our fill we made our way back up the hill and past the fort to our car. It was a good workout. 🙂

looking up the hill to the fort

I started to imagine what the people who were in this house during the Battle of Groton Heights might have witnessed from their vantage point that tragic day in 1781.

a walk in the park

8.4.21 ~ Wilcox Park, Westerly, Rhode Island

For our walk on Wednesday we went to Wilcox Park to enjoy another nice weather day. It was cloudy but not humid yet — yay! (And no poison ivy!)

nonbreeding male mallard

“The people shall have a park.” So saying, in 1898 Harriet Wilcox purchased and donated to the Memorial and Library association the seven acre Rowse Babcock estate in the heart of Westerly’s business district. Established as a memorial to her husband Stephen Wilcox, the moving force behind the building of the library, the park was expanded through several smaller additions until 1905. At this time, the purchase of the adjacent nine acre Brown estate essentially fixed the park’s boundaries as we know them today. … Wilcox Park features a beautiful landscape defined by an open meadow area with surrounding trees, a fish pond, monuments and perennial gardens.
~ Wilcox Park website

very old white oak

This white oak, above and below, is the oldest tree in Wilcox Park. The second picture is taken from the top of a hill. We climbed many granite steps to get to the top of the hill on the steep side, and then followed a path down the more sloping other side.

white oak from top of hill
a sugar maple with personality

This solitary little pink water lily caught my eye from a distance. When we got close to the pond to take its picture we were subjected to a disturbing tirade from a windbag pontificating against masks and vaccines. Talk about shattering a peaceful scene. Ignoring the know-it-all, we quickly moved on to the other end of the park.

back at the fish pond
fading rose
I don’t know what this is…
…but I fell in love with it

I don’t think we were the only ones who had fled the scene. There were lots more people strolling around near the lovely gardens where we ended up.


On the way home from the park we could see an osprey sitting in a nest on the osprey platform in the marsh in Paffard Woods, a preserve of the Avalonia Land Conservancy. By the time we pulled safely off the road it had flown away but we waited a while and then the osprey came back. My camera’s poor zoom lens was maxed out and overworked again!

8.4.21 ~ Paffard Woods, Stonington, Connecticut

In the last picture it looks to me like it’s trying to decide if another stick with moss on it is needed to finish off the project. A much more pleasant ending to our outing.

at the same time

4.20.21 ~ red maple seeds
Connecticut College Arboretum, New London, Connecticut

Yesterday we took an amazing walk at the arboretum! A long one, for an hour and a half. We concentrated on the wildflower garden and the bog, both bubbling with the delightful signs of springtime.

the world’s emergence

The person who practices this exercise of concentration sees the universe with new eyes, as if he were seeing it for the first and the last time. In his enjoyment of the present, he discovers the splendor and mystery of existence and of the world’s emergence; at the same time, he achieves serenity by experiencing how relative are the things which provoke anxiety and worry.
~ Pierre Hadot
(What is Ancient Philosophy?)

skyscape
red maple

Edgerton & Stengel Memorial Wildflower Garden

striped maple
Canadian white violet
yellow trout lily
Virginia bluebells before opening
bloodroot

Can words describe the fragrance of the very breath of spring — that delicious commingling of the perfume of arbutus, the odor of pines, and the snow-soaked soil just warming into life?
~ Neltje Blanchan
(Wild Flowers: An Aid to Knowledge of Our Wild Flowers & Their Insect Visitors)

Virginia bluebells

Glenn Dreyer Bog

moss covered hunk of something
underwater art
tadpoles!
Glenn Dreyer Bog
tadpole and tadpole shadow
red maple
tree scars
peaceful pond
Canada geese

In the light shed by the best science and scientists, everything is fascinating, and the more so the more that is known of its reality. To science, not even the bark of a tree or a drop of pond water is dull or a handful of dirt banal. They all arouse awe and wonder.
~ Jane Jacobs
(Dark Age Ahead)

black-crowned night-heron

6.25.20 ~ black-crowned night-heron
Elm Grove Cemetery, Mystic

Another early morning walk, definitely the bird hour. I was taking pictures of the pond when this black-crowned night heron flew up from the water and perched on the evergreens. I had to use the telephoto lens but he seemed well aware that I was looking at him and seemed determined to stay right there until I went away. He won! After moving myself to different vantage points and taking five zillion pictures I finally left him there. Most birds fly away before I can get a good shot.

water lily
pond full of water lilies
from a slightly different angle
and then it changed positions
a sidelong glance
across the Mystic River

The restlessness of shorebirds, their kinship with the distance and swift seasons, the wistful signal of their voices down the long coastlines of the world make them, for me, the most affecting of wild creatures.
~ Peter Matthiessen
(The Peter Matthiessen Reader: Nonfiction, 1959-1991)