Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mooresville, Alabama

Yesterday, I got out and away for the first time in a long, long, long time. My road trip bestest buddy Carroll, she of Eagle and White Pelican fame, called to invite me for lunch. We agreed to meet in the middle as The Hubs is now capable of spending some time by himself. He was probably as grateful for the break as I was! The Middle is Mooresville, Alabama, where they have a delightful cafe called Limestone Bay Trading Company.

The day was sunny and Just Right temperature-wise. Warm, but low humidity and low 80's. Perfect for gad-abouting and meeting a good friend. You've read my former posts about Mooresville and know how I love the place. I was looking forward to seeing it all duded up for Autumn, but apparently we were too early for autumnal decorations. But then again, the place is picture postcard worthy without decorations, and we were there to eat and gab anyway.

The pink muhley grasses were gorgeous! Mine have never, ever bloomed so I think a windy lakeside environment is not their favorite place to grow. Here, though, coupled with yellow lantana, merlot coleus and a sage (I think it was a sage) they basically steal the show.

Limestone Bay Trading Company's front porch.
Tall, aluminum containers held zebra grasses.
I loved this!

Cool-o, neat-o birding decorations dangled in the breeze, welcoming us.

An outdoor party area was surrounded by a forest green picket fence adorned with all manner of cuteness.

Separating the outdoor area from a party area was a tall rustic wooden fence fitted with pretty stained glass windows, topped with wisteria.

Garden-y decorations were everywhere.

After our yummy lunch - we both opted for the salad trio - we strolled one of the nearby streets. We were careful to stroll no faster than 15mph and knew a permit wasn't required for our purposes.

The original blacksmith barn, which is nestled in behind the original stagecoach stopover building. We imagined a saloon was involved as well in some capacity. Beer and bread.

Rustic ladder hanging on the side of the blacksmith barn.

That's the original stagecoach house on the left. A bus of senior citizens from Georgia was visiting on this day - you can see some of them walking way up ahead. It was the perfect outing with a delightful friend on a glorious day. I am beginning to feel more like myself again.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Virginia Sweetspires

Virginia Sweetspire
"Henry's Garnet"

One of my favorite native plants is called Virginia Sweetspire. The variety I planted is called "Henry's Garnet," named for the rich garnet red stems that can stop traffic during the winter. Leaves of this variety turn a deep rich velvety merlot color in the fall, wearing well the diamonds of frost.

Virginia Sweetspire naturalizes through root-suckering process, which can become a nuisance if planted in the wrong spot. Full sun keeps them more compact with the promise of scads of spring blooms. Springtime leaves are bright, chartreuse green that mellows and remains a light green throughout the summertime. Tassels of white flowers attract butterflies and bees, while the arching branches dance in the winds.

A Question mark butterfly dines
on Virginia Sweetspire in the spring

Virginia Sweetspires are perfect native plants for naturalized gardens and especially grand for erosion control. Drought doesn't bother them. I miss my Virginia Sweetspires and vow to plant some here this autumn so that I can bring some LIFE into this yard. Without flowers ones yard is simply lifeless. Birds, butterflies and bees just don't bother visiting. That will change.

Enjoy my autumnal and springtime Virginia Sweetspire pics!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Scenic Sunday

Bald Eagle watching in Waterloo, Alabama. We saw only one eagle, but fell in love with the multicolored hues of clay topped with bright green mosses. Gray roots dangle like Rastafarian's hair. My favorite shot of the day.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Butterflies and Bees

Hackberry emperors are everywhere. They flitter through the air, dangle from leaves, stick to the side of the house and decorate my patio. One hitched a ride in my hair. This lovely guy was cold yesterday morning early, spreading his wings to catch some rays. Because he was cold he was mine to photograph.

His eyeball watched me carefully. What was this strange creature with a long, black cylinder sticking out of its face? The Canon with its macro and I crept closer, kneeling on the patio. His tongue must have needed warming, too.

He didn't budge, didn't blink, didn't move his antennae. Only his eyes traveled, mimicking my moves.

So how close can I get?

This close. My, what pretty eyes you have!

Later I head to the mailbox to see what's there and here's this lovely copper winged bumbler hanging on. Yes...this is our mailbox post and I offer no apologies. Normal people would have sanded and painted it but I'm partial to the lichens and mosses and its textured appearance. It reminds me of the forest and my lake so it remains despite the neighbor's imagined turned-up noses. Doesn't the bee look nice there? He was immortalized from all directions and never budged. Later, I went back to check on him and he was all warmed up and buzzing elsewhere.

Nature offers spirituality up in so many forms, so may ways. We have but to open our hearts and minds. Have a lovely Sunday.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Skywatch Friday!

Hurricane sunrise. Bands of leader clouds of a hurricane far, far away caused this brief but luscious sunrise over Wheeler Lake. Some may know the Hubs is still healing and I'm housebound and currently participating in Skywatch Friday using past favorite photos. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Above the Waterfall
Sevierville, Tennessee
Sony Cybershot
July 2003

Hubs and I took the offspring, at that time eleven years old (oh my!), to Sevierville, Tennessee, to visit some relatives and friends. Our friends, Steve and Beth, live in an artistic jumble of a house nestled - I swear - in a hollow. Steve turns scrap metal into pieces of art, which can be seen throughout their yard of rambling perennials. Beth's heart lies in social work, working with children. Their home is an angular frame home Steve built piece by piece, backed into a "V" of a mountain. You can practically touch each hill through windows on both sides. Wild maidenhair ferns and ferns of all manner grow wild along the mountainside and act as natural outdoor curtains. My favorite part of their home is the skeletal remains of a piano Steve playfully mounted on the outside wall. Mallets are close at hand and the children loved to rap the strings, making their own rusty music.

Sevierville is just down the road a piece from Gatlinburg, the tourist's Mecca and not my cup of tea at all. Sevierville is a calm place filled with winding roads and artist's cabins and holds a bit of magic. I adore it.

My trio and the Hubs oldest daughter and her family met us here for a long playtime weekend. One of the places Steve and Beth took us to was a local water playground called "The Y." Here, the children (big and small, old and young!) could tube down a low, tumbling waterfall. They would hike a trail far up into the woods, set their tube down into the frigid water which would gently take them down to the waterfall where they would bump and spin downward, yelling with glee, only to do it again and again. When they tired of that they would swim across the narrow ribbon of water to a huge cliff on the other side, climb up, up, up, up, up and jump into the water. Ick to THAT I say but to the kids it became a Badge of Courage.

I did none of that. Instead, I explored paths, picked up rocks and took some photos. Above the waterfall was this little waterfall, above. There I sat surrounded by the sound of tumbling water, the laughter of children way off in the distance. My bare feet played in the icy mountain stream and it was one of the happiest times I've ever had. The entire visit was Bliss. Thanks, Steve and Beth, for such wonderful memories.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New England Asters

Gulf Fritillary
New England Asters
October 14, 2002
Sony Cybershot

We moved to the lake house in December 2001. Before the house was built I'd marked areas where flower beds would be created so that the sod guys wouldn't lay sod there. Right by the garage, in the showiest corner of the yard, I planted these New England Asters. They were a passalong plant from my mom, who had an original from her own mother's yard. These are family plants growing and blooming several generations later.

As best I know the term "passalong plants" might'a been coined by Steve Bender (Southern Living Magazine) and Felder Rushing (King of his own domain). They wrote a book together, published 1993, called Passalong Plants. My mom gave me a copy long ago. I've seen both these gentleman give talks at Master Gardener events and the like and I've never laughed so much in my life. They are truly artists at giving talks about that which they love best - gardening. They are both Characters, completely deserving the capital "C!" But, I digress.

This passalong plant was at first completely well behaved but over time it grew huge and ungainly, and even began dying in the circle so now it looks like a big donut. Every July I whack it nearly to the ground, whereby it pouts for a bit before bushing up perfectly rounded in time for autumn, filled to overflowing with blooms. And it's a good thing, too.

Because the butterflies and bees adore this plant! The second year it was in the ground it bloomed heavily, profusely, abundantly. That is when I discovered butterflies, really. Never noticed them much before, but when this Gulf Fritillary landed and began sipping I was enchanted. The Sony Cybershot was fairly new then and had an annoying shutter delay but eventually I got this shot. Only 5 megapixel and the colors are a little wonky, but it's a cool shot filled with wonderful memories of that first October at the lake house with my passalong New England Aster, discovering butterflies. Ah, bliss.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Spiritual Sunday

Wheeler Lake
July 2003

"I thank you God for this most amazing day,

for the leaping greenly spirits of trees,

and for the blue dream of sky

and for everything which is natural,

which is infinite,

which is yes."

e.e. cummings

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Gulf Fritillary

Gulf Fritillary nestled among my heavily fruited possumhaw holly, a deciduous holly native to our area. An early, crisp autumn morning this fritillary and others were dangling from the plants along our walkway, hanging for all the world like holiday ornaments. Such a sight, such a sight.

Since I'm home bound for a spell while taking care of the Hubs that means I'll be sharing some of my favorite photos with everyone. While doing so I think perhaps participating in some of these popular memes might be sorta fun for a change. This is my first Camera Critters entry.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Skywatch Friday!

My first Skywatch Friday post ever. This is sunrise over Wheeler Lake, a great widening of the majestic, ambling Tennessee River, in Northern Alabama.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Moss & Stone

Cold, drizzly, wintery, gray day at Joe Wheeler State Park. New macro lens. Playin' around.

I confess to loving winter. This fact may stem from Fleetwood Mac's "Bare Trees" album long ago. Fleetwood Mac wasn't one of my favorite groups at the time but a good friend of mine had all their albums. (Vinyl!) Flipping through them one day the title of this particular album intrigued me. More importantly, it made me consider winter trees for the first time. An album by a reputable group was named after them so they must be special. I'd never given winter trees any thought at all before that day.

And they are special. I discovered at that young age the beauty of naked limbs reaching for the heavens, or twisting themselves into an artistic knot, all silhouette against whatever color of sky was delivered on any particular day. Upon closer inspection the textures and colors of bare, winter trees became even more interesting. Shaggy barks, mottled barks, red barks and the usual brown and gray barks adorned with nature's minutia of lichens and mosses began to fascinate. Even later came the discovery that birds live in dead snags and can be seen during winter much easier than in summer, and thus began a journey into birding.

Isn't it fascinating how one small thing in the mind of a child or teenager can create a hunger, a passion that follows into adulthood? Anyway, looking back at last year's photos of the mosses of Joe Wheeler State Park taken on a gray day while seeking bare trees I just got to thinkin' back.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Cold Front Approachin'

Wheeler Lake Sunset
Carroll Adams

Hurricanes can cause vivid, striking sunrises and sunsets on our lake. My friend Carroll took this photo of the sunset during Hurricane Earl's journey up the east coast. These aren't hurricane clouds, but instead (according to Mz. Adams) "just the cold front that came in from the northwest that pushed the hurricane out to sea." It's sorta yummy, like peach sherbet or a pina colada. Thanks for sharing, twinnie.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

October 26, 2004

Sony Cybershot
Wheeler Lake

This was one amazing sunrise. It's called with great fondness the Bozo Sunrise due to the vase-shape of red light emanating from the bright white sun that resembles the famous clown's hair. Since my photo days are limited, as are my energies, I'm going to trip down memory lane and revisit lots of photos from My Lake and River for some time. Please to enjoy!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Brand New Day

Spicebush Swallowtails in Love

The past couple of mornings I've waken up to the repeated high pitched call of a single large bird. That's an assumption of course because I cannot see the bird but can indeed hear its single, shrill, loud, sharp ear-splitting call over and over and over for about 30 minutes. Two mornings in a row in the pre-dawn gloom, the only light in the room filtering in gray and flat through the blinds, and this single-minded vocalization reverberating through the skies.

So I lie there and listen until the song is finished. Afterwards, I rise as the other birds begin nervous twitterings.

Yesterday, I watched two nuthatches clamber up and down a tree in my front yard.

There are dirt fairy circles in the yard. Perfect circles made in the dry earth by some creature, about the size of a frisbee. I've no explanation.

The cardinals are feeding in the backyard. Squirrels are gathering nuts.

One early evening I saw bats flying. I adore bats. Lord knows we've enough mosquitoes to keep them happy.

There are entirely too many chipmunks here. They dig up my flower pots and scurry across the patio driving Baylee wild.

I've seen butterflies galore. The spicebush swallowtails above, a red spotted purple, hackberry emperors and scads of sulphers looking for all the world like pats of butter.

Soon, I'll begin fitting the backyard with bird-attracting feeders and a birdbath. Wouldn't a fire pit be fun to have on the patio? Time to embrace this place as we'll be here for a while. It's not a bad place it's just not my place, but for the time being it is the perfect place for us to heal and be. Nature is all around me, even in the city limits. I must be still and open my eyes and heart.

Finding ones bliss by accepting things as they are, then "bloom where (one) is planted," seems key to happiness. Enjoy the transition of the seasons.


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