Showing posts with label Nature. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nature. Show all posts

Monday, April 18, 2016

Just Listen!


The earth has music for those who listen. - Shakespeare

The earth is constantly trying to get our attention. Every time a species is added to the endangered list. Every time the words climate change are uttered. Every time we read about a fish kill from contaminated water. We have but one planet and it's resources are not unlimited. Let us listen to what it is telling us.

Earth Day is Friday, April 22.



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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Vitamin Nature

This is Day 8 of the 20 Days of Chill writing challenge hosted by P. J. at A ‘lil HooHaa. Today's prompt is A dose of Vitamin N. Please visit the other participants for more interesting views on this topic.


What is Vitamin N? The answer is simple. It is Nature. You may be wondering why nature is now classified as a Vitamin.

Let's look at it this way. Think about how you feel after a walk in the park, a picnic by the lake, a visit to the zoo, or a camping trip. Okay so all camping trips aren't great, particularly when Mother Nature is not cooperating, e.g. rain. But still, you are out in the wide open spaces, building fires, playing ball, or whatever gets your nature-related groove on. You get the idea - you just feel better.

We are connected to the earth, grass, trees, sky and water. All of these are things we, as humans, are hard wired to love. It's in our DNA so to speak, and we can actually suffer from withdrawal when we are deprived. Our connection with nature helps reduce the stress that builds up in our technologically-powered lives.

Being one with nature is also good for the brain. While getting some exercise outdoors in the fresh air, we breathe more deeply thus supplying our brain with an abundance of oxygen. Did you know that your brain uses 20% of body's oxygen supply? Studies have even shown there to be a connection between ADHD and the lack of vitamin N. Children across the board respond to nature therapy with a reduction in symptoms.

There is even a term for the lack of nature in our lives. It is called Nature Deficiency Disorder? The good news is that it is totally curable.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and get yourself a big dose of Vitamin N, the ultimate natural vitamin.



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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

What Is That Scent?

This is Day 7 of the 20 Days of Chill writing challenge hosted by P. J. at A ‘lil HooHaa. Today's prompt is Summer Rain. Please visit the other participants for more interesting views on this topic.


Do you ever step out the door, sniff the air and say, yep it's gonna rain today? Do you wonder why you know this? I'll tell you. It is called petrichor, and is often used to describe the scent of rain in the air. More specifically, it is an oil from the earth that is released into the air just before a rainfall. 

It is a smell that most people are familiar with, whether or not they know why. It is suggested that we find this scent pleasing because we inherited our fondness for it from our ancestors who relied heavily on rain for their survival.

Right before a rain there is increased humidity which penetrates the rocks and soil and is just enough moisture to release the petrichor. This is even more evident when the rain actually begins to fall and the scent is carried on the wind. I notice this earthy fragrance most during an early Summer rain. 

Check out this video to see how this happens.





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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

I'll Fly Away



We were walking along the Marsh Walk in Murrells Inlet last week watching the wildlife and enjoying a nice fall day at the beach when this fellow decided I had gotten a bit too close. I managed to catch him before he got away. Some of the other posts were resting places for gulls and cormorants.

Here are some interesting facts about the Brown Pelicans:

They are sometimes the victims of theft. Gulls often try to steal fish from the pelican's pouch as they drain the water after a dive, sometimes while perched upon the pelican's head. How rude!

Pelicans incubate their eggs by standing on them. When startled, a hasty takeoff can cause them to crush their eggs.

Brown Pelicans are only one of two species of Pelicans that plunge dive for food; the other being the Peruvian Pelican.

They live on both the East and West coasts. They breed on the barrier islands of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, Mangrove Islets in Louisiana and Florida, and rocky islands off the West Coast.

Pelicans eat mostly small fish such as mullet, anchovies and herring, diving from heights of up to 65 feet. Their throat pouch can hold up to 2.6 gallons of water, which they drain before swallowing their catch.

Adults are silent except during wing-jerking displays that forces air out of their lungs and produces a rather hoarse sound. Like most birds, the young call for food when they're hungry.





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Monday, November 9, 2015

Another Rainy Day

A pleasant smile is the wisest comment, always interpreted favorably and rarely misquoted. - Robert Brault


Being at the beach always puts a smile on my face, so on this rainy November day, I look back, remember and smile. The gull in this picture is getting his smile on, too.



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Saturday, November 7, 2015

Just A Rock


There is nothing special about this rock. I did not sit on it in contemplation. It does not mark the site of a buried treasure - that I'm aware of anyway. It is just a rock in the woods along the Salem Lake trail. It caught my eye by the way the afternoon sun shone on it bringing out all the different layers of color and texture.



Posted for Photo Friday prompt - Minimalism, and yeah I know it's Saturday. 



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Friday, August 21, 2015

Photo Friday: The Mighty Oak


Giant Live Oak on Anastasia Island in St. Augustine, Florida
June 2015




Posted for Photo Friday prompt, Trees.






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Friday, August 7, 2015

Turtles Go Round and Round

We love to vacation in Florida, and Skipper's Fish Camp is one of our favorite stops along the way.  We go there for the food, which is outstanding, but we also love to just stroll around and enjoy the critters. Here are some of the turtles drifting lazily around the pool.

It was a beautiful sunny day, perfect for taking pictures.  I just love the shadows cast by the swimming turtles.



Hi there. Aren't you cute! I used to have turtles when I was a kid, back in the day when you could get turtles at the pet shop. I called them Perky and Flipper. Now I just enjoy them in their natural habitat, or in this case, their swimming pool.


Here's the little fellow, up close and personal. 

"Hey, where's my shadow?"

No, that's not a real alligator, although there was one in the river. I'll get to him in another post.



Please enjoy the turtles going round and round, and as always, thanks for visiting!

If you can't see the video, click here.





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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Spooning?

During our recent trip to St. Augustine, we had several opportunities to dine near the water. While we were having lunch at the Conch House restaurant one afternoon, this fellow was panning for his lunch in the shallows near the marina. 

This is the same location where we saw the manatee, pelicans, baby sharks and a sea turtle. Click the link to read about that...don't worry, I'll wait.

Okay, let's meet today's special guest.


This is a Roseate Spoonbill. From a distance we were reminded of a Pink Flamingo, except for his flat, paddle-like bill. For more information on the Spoonbill and hear what he sounds like, click on the link.

The Spoonbill is a wading bird of the Spoonbill and Ibis family, and is found in the Caribbean, Central and South America, Mexico and the Gulf Coast of the U.S.

They feed in shallow fresh or coastal water by swinging their bills from side to side as they walk, often leaving a trail behind them as they sift through the mud.

Their diet consists of aquatic insects, frogs, newts, crustaceans and fish too small for other wading birds.

After lunch, I got some video of him feeding and leaving a trail in his wake.


To see more of my videos, visit my YouTube channel here.


The music in the video is called "Squiggly Line" by Podington Bear found at http://podingtonbear.com.  I think you'll see why it is so appropriate for this video.



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Friday, July 10, 2015

Linda Meets the Manatee

Here we have a couple of Pelicans hanging out looking for a handout. Fishermen were cleaning fish and tossing the remnants into the water. They are competing with a couple baby sharks for their lunch. Also present at this party was a sea turtle.


The star of the show, however, is the Manatee. Unfortunately these gentle giants are on the endangered species list. If you boat in areas where you may encounter manatees, please take a moment to read this.


This manatee likes to hang out where he can get a fresh, cool drink of water.


Here you can see his tongue and whiskers, and the algae and barnacles covering his tough skin.


I turned up my pants and got down under one of the fish cleaning tables to get a closer look. The hose to the right of me is where the sink drains.

Photo Credit: Ashley Morris
Such a gentle creature for one so large.




Yes, I petted the Manatee, and to answer one of the most asked questions, no he was not slimy. Although he might have been where the algae was growing. I felt the whiskers and they are like very thick hairs, flexible and not at all sharp.

Photo Credit: Ashley Morris

Bye-bye Mr. Manatee.  It was an honor to meet you!

Photo Credit: Ashley Morris

I compiled the video we got so you can see how he interacted with people and how much he enjoyed the fresh water. They truly are magnificent creatures.




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Friday, June 5, 2015

Timber!

Before
It was a sad day when we had our old maple systematically disassembled. The tree was still full of life, but losing the battle with substance. It had a hollow so large we could have rented it out. 


It was outside the bedroom window and if it fell, at worst we could be squashed, at the very least it would mean major repairs. We had avoided that decision far too long for comfort. Each ice storm or wind gust took us closer to calamity.

The team of tree removal specialists got the job done quickly and efficiently, and cleaned up after themselves. Watch the video to see one of their trickier maneuvers.




After
All that was left was the trunk, which was taken down in sections.  This was done about two years ago. The stump remains and the grass is beginning to grow back in where it had died out because of the dense shade. I miss that old tree, but a couple Mimosa trees have sprouted along the fence - I'll take them in trade.



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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Lake Katherine at Reynolda Gardens


Constructed in the 1900s, and named for Katherine Smith Reynolds (Mrs. R.J. Reynolds), this 14-acre lake provided family and friends with fishing, boating and swimming. Silt from building and natural process began filling in the lake and by the 1990s, it was almost completely filled in. It is now a natural habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife. The dam upstream prevents this from returning to its natural state and it will continue as an artificial wetland.

On Easter Sunday afternoon, after strolling around Reynolda Gardens soaking up some natural Vitamin D, we paused to take in the beauty of this wetland. We sat on an old, weathered bench and watched birds flitting from branch to branch, sometimes clinging to the bark of a tree leaning toward the water. As we were walking away, we heard a splash and turned to see two ducks had just landed. 

While I have been to Reynolda Gardens and the surrounding village several times in recent years, I did not know there had been a lake there. There is always something to be discovered, sometimes practically in one's own back yard.

What discoveries have you made recently in your neck of the woods?



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Friday, March 13, 2015

Golden Fungi

Not being a connoisseur of mushrooms and rarely cooking with anything more elaborate than the grocery store white buttons, I had no idea what had sprouted in my yard. I was taking the garbage to the street when they caught my eye, almost golden in the late afternoon sun. I grabbed my camera to photograph yet another fungal find. To identify them, I searched on gold mushrooms on logs. As best as I could determine from the pictures and descriptions, my golden fungi were oyster mushrooms.

Most mushrooms seem to have a short life and are withered and gone within a few days or a week.
January 20, 2015
These, although past their prime, are still hanging on nearly a month later.
February 17, 2015

Having survived through a vicious winter cold spell with snow, ice and single-digit temperatures, this is what is left nearly two months after I first spotted them.
March 11, 2015
These mushrooms, being edible goodies, bring people out in the Fall to forage for them. While they can be found at any time, they are most prevalent in the Fall, growing on dead hardwood trees or logs in temperate areas all around the world, with the exception of the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. 

The Oyster Mushroom is often used in Asian cooking, and sometimes made into a sauce similar to oyster sauce. They have a soft, chewy texture with somewhat of a seafood taste, making them perfect for seafood dishes and stock. They are best harvested when young because as they age they become tough and unpleasant tasting.  

Oyster mushroom trivia:
  • Now cultivated around the world, they were first cultivated in Germany during WWI as subsistence food.
  • They are one of the few carnivorous mushrooms; they actually devour the nematodes residing on the host log. They hit them with a toxin then suck out their juices.  
  • Oyster refers to the shape of the cap which is similar to that of an oyster shell.




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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fall Fungi

A while back, I told hubby that I was doing another post on the interesting fungi I found in the back yard, and he said "Oh really, is that a bunch of fun guys having a party?"

So without further ado, here are the 'fun guys' I found hanging around my back yard.






I scanned hundreds of photos in an attempt to ID these fungal visitors.  Alas, I was unable to determine what they are.   So who's having a party in your yard this Fall?


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Friday, June 27, 2014

Fungus Among Us

This was such a bright splash of color among the green and brown of it's surroundings. It almost looks like a tomato on a stem.  After a lot of Googling and comparing pictures, I determined that this is likely an Amanita Jacksonii.

This beautiful mushroom is found in North America from Quebec to Mexico, and resembles the Amanita Caesarea, which is found mainly in Southern Europe and North Africa.

It is said to be edible, but it is not recommended because other members of this family are poisonous.  Here it is shown in it's just-emerged, immature stage.



Here is a pretty white, cone-shaped mushroom that sprang up on an old stump.  As you can see he has a unidentified friend nearby.  Until I started searching for what these might be, I never realized how many fantastic fungi there are in every shape and color imaginable.


I saw this one a few days later on another stump, and at that time it looked similar to the one above.  The picture below was taken today and you can see how it has changed.  As it matured, it opened up, flattened out some and developed brown spots.  These may both be Parasol mushrooms.  True Parasol mushrooms are said to have exceptional flavor, but again, not something you want to eat unless you really know what you're doing since they can be confused with toxic varieties.  



What is sprouting up in your area?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

When Hell Freezes Over

It is day 4 of the Third Second Annual 30 Minus 2 Days of Writing challenge hosted by Nicky and Mike at We Work for Cheese and today's prompt is When Hell Freezes Over.  Now skate on over to Nicky's place for more frozen treats.


Adverb*

  1. (idiomatic) never; not in this lifetime; not a chance.

    "Will you go out with him?"
    "When Hell freezes over!"

    *Source: wikionary
    Image Source: wstera2










Care to rethink that remark?

In reality, she probably doesn't have to worry about it.  Hell, as described in many religions, lies far beneath the surface of the earth. For the sake of argument, we will assume hell to be located at the center of the earth, way down at it's fiery core.

Obviously no one has taken it's temperature, but it is estimated at between 9,000 and 11,000 degrees Fahrenheit.  The earth's core is a solid iron ball about one-third the size of the moon, which would easily be melted at these temperatures if not for the weight of the planet pressing down on it.

It is pretty certain this isn't freezing any time soon!

Image Source:  Wikipedia





Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What is a Myrtle?

The Boardwalk at Myrtle Beach
Having just been to Myrtle Beach for a long-awaited getaway, we pondered this question as we strolled the new boardwalk which opened in May 2010.  Just what is a Myrtle, my hubby asked?  I thought maybe it was named after a woman.  If you ask people how Myrtle Beach got its name, you get a variety of answers from the Indians to someone's daughter.  All are good guesses.  The area has had many names over its history.  When the Waccamaw Indians inhabited the land, it was known as Long Bay.  You may recognize the name Waccamaw from the river and pottery named for it.  It was later known as Withers for a family who had had property there since the 1700s.  There was even a post office named for them.

In 1881 the Burroughs and Collins Company of Conway purchased much of the land long held by the Withers family and Withers was now called New Town.  As you can see there have been many changes and many names as is often the case with developing lands.

Getting to the story behind the current name, in 1900 a contest was held to choose an official name for their town.*   Credit is given to Addie Burroughs who suggested the name Myrtle Beach, named for the abundant growth of the Wax Myrtle bushes.  

Image Attribution: Mary Keim
The Wax Myrtle is a North American native, and is a small tree or large shrub depending on it's environment.  It is often found in landscaping, especially around the beaches but is also used in candle making, as well as having medicinal uses.

And that is how Myrtle Beach got it's name.
 
*Myrtle Beach officially became a town in 1938, then a city in 1957.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Beneath the Poplar Tree


I planted this tree a little more than 20 years ago as a seedling that I dug up from the woods next to our house.  It started out in a large soft drink cup and when it outgrew the cup and looked like it was going to make it, I planted it.  My guess is that it's nearly 2 feet in diameter and at least 50 feet tall.  Although the tree did all the work, I am very proud of having grown it from a mere sprout. 

So many people around here now are cutting down perfectly good trees and leaving their yards looking sad and naked.  It just breaks my heart when I see those lovely, healthy trees destroyed, leaving only ground out stumps and piles of sawdust.  I guess it is the fear of what might happen one day.

We are having a tree taken down, too, but for safety reasons only.  If it were healthy, that old maple, with all it's interesting character, would remain there shading the house for many years to come.  Fortunately, it is on the north side of the house and the neighbors have a large elm nearby so there will still be some shade. 



This is why it has to go.  It is so hollowed out it's a wonder it's still standing, but to look at the top of the tree, you'd never know it.  We (mostly me) have been putting this off for a long time but each year the hollow gets bigger and bigger and sooner or later, something will set up housekeeping in there, or it will go over in a big puff of wind...not a pleasant thought.  So Friday down it comes [sniff].

For now, cheers from beneath the poplar!



Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Freaky Fungi


I found these interesting looking critters under the dogwood tree this morning.  They are called Mutinus Elegans, more commonly known as Elegant Stinkhorn, and while they are found up and down the East Coast, I've never seen one before.  However, with the aid of Google I was able to identify these unusual fungi.

They are reported to have a foul odor but considering how close I got to take the pictures, I didn't smell anything.  The brown coloring is actually a slime which flies and other insects feed on which disperses the spores.  Yuck!  Because of their odor, they are not considered edible for humans.

Interestingly, in a study of a variety of mushrooms, the stinkhorn showed antibiotic activity against all six of the human bacteria tested including E.coli and Salmonella.


Has anyone else seen these or have them in your yard?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

In Plain Sight

Betcha can't see me now.
Do you see the spider...hidden in plain sight?  Some of the best camouflages are found in nature.  I think this one is a Wolf Spider, and he recently participated in a capture and release program.  He was captured in the basement and released into a natural area outside.

Here is his release photo.  The capture equipment consisted of a flat piece of metal and something to contain him during transport.  As you can see he has been accessorizing with items found in the basement.

Freedom!
He quickly departed the table for the safety of the ground below.  They are fast!

Oh what a tangled web...wait, that's not mine!
He did allow us to remove some of his new-found accessories so he could hasten his escape.  Hopefully he found suitable quarters elsewhere.

I'm planning a change in my blogging schedule, but at this time I'm not sure what days I will be posting - other than Monday's Quote of the Week.  Thanks for reading Roses to Rainbows, and I hope you'll stick around while I sort this out.

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