Memorial Day

IMG_9629 I love living in a small town. Events have a very personal feeling and Memorial Day has always been an important observance in my hometown.

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It is a solemn occasion honoring veterans, marked with prayer, speakers, boy and girl scouts reciting famous speeches, bands playing patriotic songs and a parade procession to the cemetery’s war memorial for heartfelt speeches and a gun salute honoring fallen comrades.

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As two trumpets poignantly play and echo Taps, children lay flowers on the graves of men and women who have served in the armed forces. It always saddens me to think of young soldiers sacrificed in their prime and the pain felt by those they left behind. Harder still are the ones who return broken in heart and body.

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Rather than glorifying war, Memorial Day serves to remind us that peace is our utmost goal and that each of us must work to keep peace in our hearts and radiate it out to the rest of the world. We and our future generations depend on it. May you and your loved ones always walk in peace.

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Free Style Writing Challenge

pen in handI was tagged by Sue Vincent at Daily Echo to participate in a free style writing challenge.

I chose to to set the timer for ten minutes (I am not as fast a typist as Sue, so I figured I’d need the longer time! As it is, I ran out of steam almost two minutes before the timer went off.)

My question was: If you could visit, for just one day, in any era and location, past, present or future, where would you go and why?

Albert Bierstadt - Sunrise, Yosemite Valley

Albert Bierstadt – Sunrise, Yosemite Valley

I would go back to pre-colonial America. I would love to see what our land looked like when only the Native Americans possessed it.

I read once that you could travel from the Atlantic coast to the Great Plains under tree cover, except for crossing rivers. I would love to see and experience that! See what birds, animals and plants were native and untouched by invasive species that we are plagued with today.

Yosemite Valley - Bierstadt Albert

Yosemite Valley – Albert Bierstadt

The first eyewitnesses told of great abundance of wildlife. I wonder what that would be like? The air would be so fresh, the rivers, clean and drinkable. Virgin timber, hundreds of years old. Great, massive trees reaching for the sky. What a wonder that must have been.

American bison

American bison

Or head out West and see the sequoias before 90% were cut down. See the Plains teeming with buffalo and antelope. The rivers and streams filled with fish. Pure Eden. Migrating birds filling the skies, flying over for DAYS at a time, in the clean, fresh air – oh, to see that would be so amazing. I dream of earth in its untouched splendor, undisturbed by the hand of man. Buildings, farmed land, roads, industrial blight, all destruction, gone. A fantasy, but it would be amazing to see!

(230 words)

These are the rules, and if anyone would like to participate in this fun, short exercise, please feel free to do so. I get to tag another five bloggers, who have no obligation to join in unless they so choose!

So I shall nominate: Woodland Gnome, Silver in the Barn, Elizabeth de Grazia, Ellen Shriner and Being Margaret.

Your mission, ladies, should you choose to accept it…

1. Open an blank Document

2. Set a stop watch or your mobile phone timer to 5 or 10 minutes, whichever challenge you prefer.

3. Your topic is at the foot of this post BUT DO NOT SCROLL DOWN TO SEE IT UNTIL YOU ARE READY WITH YOUR TIMER!!!

4. Once you start writing do not stop until the alarm sounds!

5. Do not cheat by going back and correcting spelling and grammar using spell check (it is only meant for you to reflect on your own control of sensible thought flow and for you to reflect on your ability to write with correct spelling and grammar.)

6. You may or may not pay attention to punctuation or capitals.

7. At the end of your post write down ‘No. of words = ____” to give an idea of how much you can write within the time frame.

8. Do not forget to copy paste the entire passage on your blog post with a new topic for your nominees and copy & paste these rules with your nomination (at least five (5) bloggers).

When you have the document and the timer ready to go, scroll down to see your subject…

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If you could meet anyone real or fictional, from the past or present, who would it be and why? What would you talk about?

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Ferns Unfurling

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Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis)

The unfurling of fern fiddleheads in spring is one of the things I look forward to every year. To me, each one is a work of art. Above is a lovely reddish-bronze Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis) named for its quick demise when touched by frost.

Fiddleheads are perfect examples of a Fibonacci spiral, a mathematical sequence that builds from 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, etc. Each number is the total of the previous two. The whole Universe can be defined mathematically, the way plants grow, our body works, everything, which I find pretty fascinating. But I digress…IMG_5119 IMG_5120 - Version 2 IMG_5121 Above are several examples of Interrupted Fern (Osmunda claytoniana), that start out quite wooly, unfolding into rough, chartreuse clusters of beaded mini-ferns before opening their fronds completely. The name comes from the fertile pinnae that occur about halfway up the stem, which mature and fall off in summer, giving an ‘interrupted’ look to the frond.

IMG_5137Above is an unfurling Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina), a delicate, lovely thing. Have you ever seen such perfection?

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Interrupted Fern (Osmunda claytoniana)

Even though there is an evergreen Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) frond from last year in the background of the above photo, the white wooly fiddleheads here are Interrupted Ferns. Below are Christmas Fern fiddleheads, which unfurl symmetrically to form large circular mounds.

Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides)

Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides)

Lastly, are Cinnamon Fern fiddleheads (Osmunda cinnamomea), also wooly, but with a reddish-brown tinge to them. Some claim the name comes from the fertile fronds that rise up separately in early summer, looking a bit like cinnamon sticks, but technically, it refers to the brown fibers near the base of the plant.

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Cinnamon Fern (Osmunda cinnamomea)

Above are our most common woodland ferns, but there are many more that I either didn’t see or missed photographing in the few days when they were emerging. Many make great additions to the garden, preferring shady, moist soil that is rich in humus, like that found in most woodlands.

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Four Seasons

Spring - Bullitt Reservation

Spring – Bullitt Reservation

This weekend we took a ride to Bullitt Reservation to take my fourth and final photos in a series showing the four seasons from the same vantage point. Along with the ground blackberry that kept snagging and scratching my ankles, the black flies were out en force making me hop and yelp the whole way. The insect repellent that I put on earlier in the day had worn off, I guess. Needless to say, we didn’t linger long. I hope you enjoy the latest in the series, I donated a bit of blood to the cause!

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Here are photos of the other seasons with the links to their entire posts. Summer, Fall and Winter.

Summer - Bullitt Reservation

Summer – Bullitt Reservation

Fall - Bullitt Reservation

Fall – Bullitt Reservation

Winter - Bullitt Reservation

Winter – Bullitt Reservation

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Renewed

Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides)

Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides)

It is such a joy to be outside these days with the birds calling from nearly every tree and bush, I’m thrilled to be alive to witness the renewal of another spring. After this past, bitterly cold winter, these warm, sunny days and blue skies are balm for the soul.

Red-wing Blackbird

Red-wing Blackbird

I hear a redwing blackbird call from the river’s edge and the warblers, who returned a few days ago, sing from the woodland trees. Flashes of yellow, they establish new territories and hunt for insects in the thick brush. I hear and see robins, cardinals and catbirds and I heard my first wood thrush last night, always a highlight to my day when I hear their melodious song.

Trout lily (Erythronium americanum)

Trout lily (Erythronium americanum)

Along the woodland paths, the dog-tooth violets/adder’s tongues/trout lilies (Erythronium americanum) bloom. Their many common names refer to features like the fang-like shape of the bulb and the brown and gray-green mottled foliage.

Another wildflower currently blossoming are red trilliums/wake robins/stinking Benjamins (Trillium erectum).

Red Trillium (Trillium erectum)

Red Trillium (Trillium erectum)

The latter common name refers to their unpleasant scent, which attracts carrion flies that pollinate them. ‘Trillium’ suggests the three petals and leaves of this common woodland native. Their rich, red color is a sight to behold.

Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)

Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)

With the warm weather we’ve been having, the leaves are unfurling almost overnight. The long vistas we enjoyed over winter are about to disappear for the next six months as the leaves extend to exploit every bit of sunlight. The woods will become hushed, shady retreats once again. I look forward to hearing the whispering of the wind as it gently tosses the leaves, a sighing sound that holds peace for me.

Musical accompaniment

Musical accompaniment

The waterfall adds its quiet rushing to the music of our yard. The spring melt, which always swells its flow, has finished and it is not as noisy as it was. The stream and river are  a blessing, attracting wildlife to our land.

Pastels in Sunlight

Pastels in Sunlight

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Striped Squill (Puschkinia libanotica)

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Tulipa biflora

Clean laundry flaps on the clothesline, nature’s free drying service that offers the freshest of scents. Nearby, violets and self-sowed spring bulbs dot the lawn. With no chemicals to knock them down, our lawn is alive with color and scent. Monocultures are not healthy for us or the land, and I find them rather disturbing and boring when I see them. Nature’s way works best for me.

I love this time of year, as the whole of the warm season lies ahead of me. Months of open windows, breathing the fresh air, with days spent outside in sunlight and under shady trees, drinking in all the abundance that nature generously offers. What a blessing!

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Silent Sunday

Bachelors: Sleeping mallard drakes and lone Canada goose

Bachelors: Sleeping mallard drakes and lone Canada goose

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Carolina Spring

Pink Dogwood (Cornus florida)

Pink Dogwood (Cornus florida)

Here are some of the photos I took on my recent trip to the Carolinas. Since the only thing blooming in my yard when I left was snowdrops, it was like leapfrogging six weeks ahead into full spring.

Dogwood trees (Cornus florida)

Dogwood trees (Cornus florida)

It was wonderful to see all the beautiful blooming trees and shrubs. All of these photos were taken on the campus of Furman University in Greenville, SC.

I was pleased to see that most of the landscaping used native plants. There also was a large kitchen garden, but not much was growing at that point.

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Fountains, Furman University photo: C.M.King

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Iris cristata

  IMG_4874 There was a large pond around which we walked, taking in the park-like beauty while enjoying the mild day. A swan, regally paddling in the goldfish pond, looked for handouts.

IMG_4873Robins, mockingbirds and Carolina wrens called from the trees. Families with children, bicyclists and joggers also were out enjoying the beautiful spring weather.

 

Bank of Azaleas

Bank of Azaleas

Carolina Silverbell (Halesia carolina)

Carolina Silverbell (Halesia carolina)

Azalea

Azalea

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wisteria floribunda

Wisteria floribunda

 

 

 

 

It’s a beautiful campus, open to visitors the year round and a great place to idle away a lazy Sunday afternoon.

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Pink & white azaleas

 

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