Friday, March 30, 2012

Spiderwort of North Carolina

I've discovered that spiderwort grows wild here along our lane, down the street, tucked beneath the various native shrubs and trees of North Carolina.  Most of the spiderwort here are a luscious blue purple.  Likely ignored by most, these jeweled wonders are grouped hither and  yon begging for closer inspection.

The macro lens brings to the forefront these sweet feathers!  I've never been this close to a spiderwort before - how remarkable!  It is true that spiderwort lacks a certain "wow factor."  They are tiny blossoms, made mostly of foliage trying to compete with flashier flowers.

This morning was slightly overcast so the colors really popped.  Bright yellow and brilliant, deep blue purple.  Can it get any better?

I'm thinking not.

And then I spy one that's more blue than the others.  I'm just stunned by their beauty.

Close by are these lavender mini-orchid wildflowers.  Teeny tiny blossoms spiraling up a slender, tall stalk.  The wind was picking up making shooting more difficult.  This is the best shot. 

The "lowly" spiderwort stole the show for me today - I just had to share them with you.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Live Oaks

Baylee and I are back to enjoying our morning walks.  This, above, is our favorite lane.  One block over from our house we enjoy old, gnarled live oaks that frame us as we stroll.  The undergrowth has been cleared, exposing the twisting, stately trunks and thick branches that underlie their beauty

Sunrise always strikes this particular grouping of live oaks.  While Baylee snuffles and shuffles beneath them following invisible trails of deer and rabbit, coyote and raccoon, I stand in awe, completely mystified by the sight.  Live oaks have always been my favorite trees.  These on the coast are smaller and more windswept than others I've witnessed more inland.  That's just an observation. 

Live oaks are found from southeastern Virginia through the lower Coastal Plain of North Carolina and southward.  Plentiful only south of Cape Hatteras, it is a tree with a wide-spreading crown and very gnarled branches.  Usually, these stately branches are covered with Spanish moss, but they also are a key host to resurrection fern.  Live Oaks are evergreen and long-lived, their tough leathery leaves make them extremely resistant to salt spray.  Their roots can withstand occasional storm surge salt waters. 

Live oaks don't grow particularly tall - usually no more than 50 feet in height.  However, it may have a crown span of 100 feet or more and open-grown trees may have trunk diameters of 6-7 feet.  The wood is very difficult to saw and dry.  Air-dried, the wood weighs about 55 lbs a cubic foot.   Once prized for blocks and ribs on sailing ships it now serves as a highly desirable tree for roadside and ornamental planting along the coast.   The U.S.S. Constitution was one of six frigates authorized in 1794 by President George Washington for national defense.  The ship was built primarily with live oak.  "Old Ironsides" owes it nickname to the live oak tree.  During the War of 1812 someone reportedly witnessed an iron shot bounce off the side of the ship and exclaimed "Huzza, her sides are made of iron!" 
Live oaks' huge canopy provides shelter for numerous species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians.  We find them lying in the sunshine on our deck, occasionally.  Tree frogs and lizards so far - hope that's all that visit.  Live oak acorns are a plentiful and desirable food for a wide variety of wildlife. 

Researching for this post I learned that the coastal maritime forest is among the most endangered of natural communities, facing threat from development in addition to climate change.  Nearly all of North Carolina's old-growth live oaks disappeared by the end of the 19th century.  today, all of the live oak trees in the state from either in developed areas or pockets of maritime forest that are in extreme danger.  Most of this information was lifted directly from "Live Oak" by Kevin Adams.  You can read his entire article by linking here.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Fog on the Beach

We sat on the beach,
Baylee on a leash,
to watch the fog roll in.

Roiling from the north
covering houses like smoke,
curling and smothering sound.

Muted waves crashed.
tide coming in, inching closer
to our toes wave by wave

Gulls stand with sandpipers,
standing on one leg
all in a line, watching

Sun glowed through,
a soft light bathed,
eerily creating fog shadows

Storm-grey blue and green,
bright white foam,
Tan sand and green grass

I touch my hair; it is dripping.
moist dots on Baylee's fur
like sequins.

 Wet thick fog envelopes.
wispy tendrils float
inland over the dunes.

Collecting shells, the sand flies
when we shake the towel
and head for home.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Northern Dewberry

Beach bums since Monday, our days have been filled with the busyness of settling in.  Not much time for relaxing or exploring, but those days are approaching.  During downtime I explore the yard.  These little white flowers are everywhere.  Wild and low, rambling along fence lines, peaking their heads up through low decking, they are bright white in the sunshine.  Sunshine.  I'd forgotten how bright the beach is, and how much I love the color of the light.  It's dazzling, and the roads have diamonds glittering within.  But I digress.  

This beauty buzzed by for a visit as I explored.  Gorgeous creature, but not sure exactly what it is.  A wasp seemingly, but the like of which I've not noticed before.  Fortunately, it was more interested in the flowers than in me.  

There are live oaks everywhere, which are one of my top ten favorite trees.  Scattered beneath them are all manner of rambling bushes and plants.  I brought my pruning tools but I've learned not to whack indiscriminately.  Each plant begs identification.  I've no clue what this is, above, but love the little blue berries.  

A yaupon holly is growing tall amid the branches of a live oak.  Until I clear out the underbrush I'm not sure what to do, if anything.  Why do anything at all, Bob asks?  A good question.

A garland of cat-brier vines drape over and within the live oaks' canopies.  They produce these gorgeous, fat, juicy blue-black berries that feed over 13 different species of birds.  Why not leave them there, Bob asks?  Another good question.  

The minutiae of curlicues and spines and bokeh provided by the various plants, blue of the sky beyond.  I just love this image.  

There is a huge palm tree planted out front that does indeed need some trimming before it takes out an eye.  That'll also wait...

Because today, the northern dewberries bloom, casting their shadows as they face the sunshine.  The sky is blue and filled with lines of brown pelicans gliding above the waves, cormorants scurrying northward, and all manner of gulls.  The grackles are making their beachy sounds.  This morning I rescued a box turtle who thought the roadway was a nice place to sleep.  Baylee and I have found a lovely lane lined with sodium lights and live oaks upon which to take our morning walks.  She loves the beach, and bounds and romps with the waves.  This morning I returned to the beach after our walk to watch the sunrise.  There was a storm way out over the ocean which made the sun late in its arrival, but once it came the water, sand and sky was filled with golds, purples, teal and peach.  Again, a glimmer of something began deep, deep within.  My camera rested within its case this morning.  The sunrise was just for me, and me alone.  For I was very alone on the beach.  No other person could be seen.  The Atlantic washing over my bare toes, treasured shells nestled in my drained coffee cup, I stood tall looking out over the ocean and communed with Spirit.  Let the healing begin.


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