I noticed how similar the shape of a cicada wing was to the shape of a maple seed. In this sculpture I decided to merge the two. ~ Sam Spiczka (“Cicada Maple Seed” sculpture)
This is my selection for Karma’s Before & After Photo Hunt. The sculpture was taken down shortly after the second picture, much to my disappointment, as I thought it would be great for a four season series. But it will do well enough for this before-and-after autumn. Most of the leaves on this beautiful southern sugar maple have stayed on the tree for the winter, a good example of marcescence. It’s become my favorite tree in the North Carolina Botanical Garden.
Although winter is still with us, we sense the subtle renewing of life at the edge of our senses, visible in the growing light and the first greening shoots. Like a seed germinating in the dark soil, we, too, feel the bright spark of life that burns within us. Its call will soon drive us from the warmth and safety of the dark to the ever-quickening call of the light. For now, we must sit at Brigid’s hearth, dreaming and drawing nourishment and comfort from it until the lighter, warmer days. At Imbolc we honour those dreams and the inner fire that will create the world anew — we, too, shall soon become the spring. ~ Maria Ede-Weaving (The Essential Book of Druidry: Connect with the Spirit of Nature)
Every day the North Carolina Botanical Garden Facebook page adds a post about something currently happening or growing in their gardens. Recently they posted a picture of a square seed capsule with the following information:
This funky plant grows in wet areas like ditches and freshwater tidal marshes. Its small yellow flowers drop their petals quickly, sometimes after just a single day, but we get to enjoy the beautiful seed capsules through the fall and winter. You’ll find seedbox alongside the goldenrods and ferns in our Coastal Plain Habitat.
So I decided we would hunt for this interesting looking seed capsule. We had no idea what size it would be but we headed for the Coastal Plain Habitat and searched and searched with no luck.
We then looked for identification signs for goldenrods and ferns, found some and located what looked like a promising patch of dried up vegetation near them.
Then Tim googled seedbox and found out that these seed capsules were very small, about 1/8 in. cubed. So my eyes kept inspecting the area ever more thoroughly…
We did see lots of pretty dry plants…
And then, at last, I found some!!! In the picture below the seedbox capsules are tangled up with another kind of plant.
Tim used his walking stick to move one stem of the capsules away and turned them so we could see the tops of them. Cute little cubes. I imagine there is a seed in each box. Seedbox! So tiny! (picture below) Our persistence paid off and I doubt we would ever have noticed these little gems if we weren’t looking for them.
After that bit of excitement a hermit thrush flew by us and landed in the bushes. It stayed put for quite a while and I thoroughly enjoyed the photo op.
The botanical garden also has a bird blind with bird feeders in the Children’s Wonder Garden so we walked over there, spotting some cardinals and lovely trees along the way.
And lo and behold, there on the feeder was a new life bird for me, a Carolina Chickadee!!! I couldn’t zoom in fast enough before it left but I was happy to spot one. 🙂
John James Audubon named this bird while he was in South Carolina. The curious, intelligent Carolina Chickadee looks very much like a Black-capped Chickadee, with a black cap, black bib, gray wings and back, and whitish underside. Carolina and Black-capped chickadees hybridize in the area where their ranges overlap, but the two species probably diverged more than 2.5 million years ago. ~ All About Birds website
A Carolina wren kept us amused for quite a while with his antics on the feeder.
There was much to see in the winter garden, many delights for the eyes. It was only 32°F (0°C) when we left the house so I had put on my thermal leggings and wool hat from Norway and managed not to get too cold.
The hunt for seedbox was good stimulation, exercising our brains along with our bodies.
This is the season of the long night and the leafless tree. The cold seeps into our bones and life sleeps beneath the soil. ….. We know that the worst of the winter is yet to come, and we must endure this, but the solstice sun is reborn and, with it, our hopes for growing light and warmth. In the depths of winter, summer plants its seed and the dark stillness explodes with starlight. ~ Maria Ede-Weaving (The Essential Book of Druidry: Connect with the Spirit of Nature)
A year ago we were enjoying a different outdoor sculpture exhibition by the sea in Connecticut: Open Air 2022. This September we visited the 35th annual Sculpture in the Garden at the North Carolina Botanical Garden. It also features the work of local artists but it has many more installations! We didn’t even see all 86 of them but I am sharing a few of my favorites here. It was a lovely walk.
Because I’m so drawn to them I bought a little guide to dry plants in winter called Winter Weed Finder by Dorcas S. Miller, illustrated by Ellen Amendolara. It will be fun to learn about pods, capsules, siliques, calyxes, bracts and burrs.
I noticed how similar the shape of a cicada wing was to the shape of a maple seed. In this sculpture I decided to merge the two. The result is a subtly whimsical form that appears more delicate and fluid than the industrial rebar would seem to allow. I love the unexpected and even paradoxical result. ~ Sam Spiczka
My favorite sculpture is “Cicada Maple Seed.” Something about it captivated me; finding the figure hanging from a tree was an unanticipated pleasure. I’m also fond of maple seeds. You may remember how many pictures I post of them every spring!
Many young leaves are dotting the trees now, spray and foliage both showing. The woods are quite green; the rapidity with which the leaves unfold between sunrise and sunset, or during the night, is truly wonderful! ~ Susan Fenimore Cooper (Rural Hours)
We got our second covid bivalent booster on the 25th, recommended to those of us over 65. This will make me feel a little safer traveling to North Carolina and being around more people in the coming months. We had our first bivalent booster back in September. I wonder if we’ll be getting one every six months from now on…
On this, the shortest day of all the 365, I wander over the covered paths of the garden hillside. I wade through the drifts along the swamp edge. I walk over the snow-covered ice among the catttails. The wind is gone. The day is still. The world is decorated with unmarred snow. This is winter with winter beauty everywhere. Autumn is finally, officially, gone. Like the evening of the day, the fall has been a time of ceaseless alteration. Cold, in the autumn, is overcoming the heat just as darkness, in the evening, is overcoming the light. All around, in recent months, there have been changes in a thousand forms. The days of easy warmth were passing, then past. Birds departed. Threadbare trees lost their final leaves. Nuts fell from the branches. Pumpkins and corn turned yellow in the fields. For animals and men alike, this was the time of harvest. The phantom summer, Indian summer, came and went. The chorus of the insects died away in nightly frosts. Goldenrod tarnished; grass clumps faded from green to yellow. Milkweed pods gaped open and their winged seeds took flight. The windrows of fallen leaves withered, lost their color, merged into one universal brown. Now they are buried beneath the new and seasonal beauty of the snow. Autumn, the evening of the year, is over; winter, the night of the year, has come. ~ Edwin Way Teale (Circle of the Seasons: The Journal of a Naturalist’s Year)
It was time to dust off the camera and resume taking our walks again. The big project is, for all intents and purposes, finally completed. But, I haven’t figured out how to write about it yet, so that long story will have to wait until after the holidays. Now to prepare for the coming visit of our darling grandchildren!
I added a layer of thermal leggings under my jeans for the first time this season and then we enjoyed the winter scenery along the Poquonnock River Walkway. We might be getting a coating of snow this afternoon. I love the cloudy light before snowstorms.
But the winter sun was shining brightly for the day of our walk, illuminating the tops of the reeds in a magical way.
Let us dig our furrow in the fields of the commonplace … and leave to others, more favoured by fortune, the job of explaining the world’s mechanism, if the spirit moves them. ~ Jean-Henri Fabre (The Life of the Fly: With Which are Interspersed Some Chapters of Autobiography)
We came across a large flock of house sparrows flitting around in the bushes along the boardwalk — how commonplace can it get? But a couple of them actually stayed put long enough to get their portraits taken.
It felt very good getting out of the house again and enjoying the ordinary, simple things the natural world has to offer.