Monday, June 29, 2015

Mt. Mitchell view

The air was quite clear today, post cool front pushing the heat from the Southern Appalachians for a while.

Here were two views from Mt. Mitchell today.

Click to see the larger images!

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Trees in sunset light

The late evening light illuminated the ravine forest in sunset.  Neither of my cameras (iPhone 6 or venerable Nikon D100) did it justice -- not surprisingly.

They were surprisingly equivalent in the flattened light that they captured.  This is a photoshopped version of the iPhone image.

Still not what I saw in the magical evening light.


Friday, June 26, 2015

More fireflies

They're flashing from ground level to canopy again this evening. Magical.

I poked around to see if I could find a decent image to share, with no luck (either highly enhanced images or not very good ones).

Certainly my camera(s) can't do justice to the biological flashing in the dark, programmed by selection to attract mates. It's lovely to watch and an unexpected summer treat.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

A pop-up flower shop

My garden group (an eclectic federated garden club) recently had a meeting where we created flower arrangements to go to a local hospice care facility.

One of our members is a nurse there, and a couple (that are new members) suggested the program.

It was delightful.

We all brought flowers and foliage from our own gardens, or snagged flowers from commercial outlets, and we created MANY lovely arrangements.

 It was a great experience, and hopefully brought some remembrance and respite to folks at the hospice facility.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015


It's not easy to get photos of fireflies, but just imagine their flashing from ground level to canopy.

We've been treated to evening displays for days now. Lovely, and unexpected.

Normally, we'd have sucessional waves, from ground to canopy over weeks, not days - so it's a treat to see the night sky full of flashes.

Years ago, in Maryland, we saw similar views in the canopy forest below the house we rented in summer (while during field work). Nice to see that again in our urban ravine forest behind the house.


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Morning view

Orchid, cyclamen and banana bran muffins


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Sunset at Beaver Lake

A favorite morning walk (at Beaver Lake in North Asheville) is also a wonderful evening stroll. 

The light and clouds were exceptional this evening, with Woody on a post-dinner walk.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Another bear saunters by

Eating dinner out on the deck this evening brought another bear sighting.  This fellow was larger, with an ear tag, so wasn't the younger fellow of a couple of days ago.

He checked out (the empty) bird feeder, poked around a bit, and headed up the ravine (towards town). 

I hope he turned around and headed back down, towards more woods and the larger neighborhood...

So this is the 4th bear sighting in our urban Western NC site.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A young bear helping himself

A morning fuss from Woody (our Golden retriever) had me looking from the deck (what was he barking so vigorously about?)

It turned out to be a young (presumably) male black bear, quite small, who was helping himself to the black oil sunflower seeds in the feeder.

According to our neighborhood list-serve, he must have just been wandering through our end of the neighborhood.  We're close to downtown, so don't normally get visits. 

This is just the third bear we've seen in 7+ years.  They've all involved the bird feeder -- so no seeds for a while...  He was so small, I just let him eat the seeds, without doing too much shooing away.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The power of water: Niagara Falls

We'd never visited Niagara Falls before.

It always sounded touristy; years ago, driving from Maryland to Toronto, I skirted the falls, avoiding what I thought would be tacky tourist stuff (the edges of town at that time were downtrodden, to be sure).

But traveling this time, from Western North Carolina to Toronto and back, visits on both sides of the falls were powerful experiences.  The falls are massive, of course, but standing next to some of the major "drops" (on the American side) are remarkable, both for power and sound.

I took a couple of videos (on my new iPhone), which recorded the sounds of the water, too.

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Toronto Music Garden: a remarkable garden experience

I was reminded while visiting one of North America's great cities recently (Toronto) how easily many city dwellers can become disconnected from nature.  Opportunities to experience nature become both more precious as well as perhaps more important, too.

A luminous visit to the Toronto Music Garden, listening to the wonderfully crafted audio guide as part of the visit, I was struck by a comment in an audio snippet (describing the dance forms).  The commentator mentioned that during Bach's time, people in Europe were very much still part of nature, even living in cities, where he said, birds, animals, and the more gritty realities of life were always evident.

Interesting to contemplate, in an antiseptic age where it's quite easy to see nothing particularly natural while walking along a city street, much less hear birdsong. 

So it's always a delightful experience to seek out those places that do remind us of the natural world, whether restored, created, or evoked.

The Toronto Music Garden and its surrounding restored wetland areas are places that give respite and restore the spirit, for sure.

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Sedums at Toronto Botanical Garden

These were delightful mixes of sedums and their friends in carefully planted boxes along the path.

They're largely the sort that need to be brought in over winter;  glorious, never the less!

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Dogs at the Evergreen Brickworks

Waiting for their humans to return.

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A luminous sculpture (of the Don watershed)

There's no way that my photographs can convey how magical this (living and dripping) sculpture was (at the Evergreen Brickworks in Toronto -- a reclaimed old brickworks space that was a wonderful and inspirational place to visit).

The sculpture depicted the Don River watershed in pipes, water, and plants -- dripping continuously.

It was remarkable.

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Monday, June 1, 2015


I've really enjoyed foraging serviceberries (Amelanchier spp.) that have been planted as ornamentals around our mountain town.  They hadn't been on our radar before, but the nearby visitor center has lots of trees (planted for their spring flowering interest), but often loaded with berries in June.

I managed to harvest berries from two sites, before leaving town.

Interesting to note the difference in cultivar color in ripe berries!

These collections were both converted to low-sugar jam....

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