seachange

We get little hints of cooler weather, then heat, as though the tease did not exist at all. There is a strange phenomenon I have heard of but had not seen called seafog. At least not until moving so close to the ocean. This strange and thick mist appears for apparently no reason. It happens on the shoreline as well as inland.

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You can see it at a distance, walk into it, then right out of it as if it wasn’t even there. Like a ghost. Ghost fog.

I am glad now there are more cooler days than warm. Rescue dogs Lily and Lulu are happier, I sleep better, walkies are more interesting rather than an endurance challenge.

Yet fall still has its little surprises of flowers, not just the beautiful changing leaves.

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Most of these I don’t even know what they are. This looks like a single-headed messier version of ageratum (old man’s beard), same basic color but untrimmed.

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This looks like a bloodroot but it has needle-like leaves, not broad leaves, so I don’t know what this one is, either.

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Ibis are silly birds to me. But they eat all sorts of grubs and bugs we don’t much want in our lawns, so they can look as funny as they want. I am glad for them.

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spring fervor

Normally it’s fever. This year somehow the garden centers suddenly have exploded with all manner of shrubs, trees, bedding plants, vines and border plants. The stars (perennials and annuals) have not made their appearance yet, maybe not until May. But the colors! Bright reds and magenta, pinks, blue, lavender and vibrant green in every shade imaginable.

And the pollens!

Everything is coated in a dusty yellow pine pollen film. We had a good, hard soaking rain a few nights ago and most of the pollen dust washed away but it’s never ending until after April. Sneezes going off everywhere. Anonymous “Bless you”s quickly follow.

This morning on our walk Lily, Lulu and I went rogue off our neighborhood property onto the adjacent electric company’s property. We followed the rutted road as it curved around a retention pond, and amongst the bramble and blackberry tangle found an unkempt wild wisteria vine

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I brought a cutting home to see whether it would root. This is a maniac of a vine and will easily take over an arbor in a summer or two in this climate but if tended properly is very pretty with pendulous, grape-like, heavily scented flower clusters.

I was given some pittosporum seeds a year ago which I started in small pots. It’s a pretty shrub with a lovely creamy white flower that has a light fragrance. So far I have a few that have rooted but are not yet ready for the unpredictability of the outdoors

IMG_0901.JPGMaybe next year, if I can keep them alive through another winter inside they can be planted.

I have scattered more wildflower seed since nothing came up last year, I have tomatoes, some herbs, coleus and other plants for flower pots. But we are warned of yet a few more nights of maybe frost or close enough, so I’ll wait another week or so.

Meanwhile, Lily has let me know it is time for walkies.

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So planning and plotting where I will plant things, place flower pots and trellis tomatoes will have to wait.

For now.

 

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impressions

This was one of those weeks that can only be described as a gift. The little coastal town I live near doesn’t get anything most people can call winter, but it gets cold enough. Even some snow and ice some years, just not this year. Not yet, anyway.

But apparently winter gave a reprieve to some areas this past week, here too. Days were 60s-70s and nights did not get much below 45. So electric bills will be lower. Abundant sun, expansive blue skies, wispy playful contrails and clouds decorating the air.

IMG_0870.JPGCape Fear, upriver

Mindful of Emily Dickinson’s lovely poem, “There’s a Certain Slant of Light” (…Winter afternoons–…)

IMG_0866.JPGRed oak clinging to what is left of autumn

IMG_0867.JPGa closer look at leaf veins with the sun behind the tree trunk

So according to askabiologist.com* the leaves turn when temperatures get colder and the tree starts “breaking down the chlorophyll into smaller particles”, leaving more room for other colors (carotenoids) to make the orange, reds and yellows. Other trees (maples) have anthocyanins that create red, pink and purple colors.

The theory I grew up believing was that leaf colors changed when the days got shorter and there was less sunlight to make green. So that always seemed plausible but days get shorter all over the world and leaves don’t change color in warmer climates. So the cold theory makes more sense now.

I just never thought about it.

It’s interesting when we accept ideas unquestioning. Especially when they are about non-personal things, like nature. Facts are applicable to everything but so much seems subjective. So my ideas about why leaves change color, that I have believed for years (evidently I didn’t pay close attention in botany class) has been corrected.

It makes me wonder how many ideas, theories, concepts I am still holding true without really having it right.

0.jpgPileated woodpecker, base of far left tree hunting insects

Rescue dogs Lily and Lulu always get things right. And they are generous in their opinions, whenever I am at a loss.

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https://askabiologist.asu.edu/questions/why-do-leaves-change-color

winter sleep

It makes sense, the days are shorter, it’s colder (in most places), plants go dormant. So there’s more inclination to sleep, or to want to sleep.

Not for me this week. Hurricane Florence took out a couple of fence panels that I had to replace. The installer guys said the wood had to cure for 6-8 weeks before I could paint so I did that this week. I forgot how long it takes to paint a fence!

I thought I’d get a jump on Christmas card and package mailing. Everybody had the same idea. Probably a good idea to avoid the post office from Thanksgiving till New Year’s.

An email this week had one of the coolest (no pun meant) pictures I have ever seen. There are many places I want to see before I can either no longer get around or see in general. I have been to some, the Grand Canyon was the top of the list, and another isn’t really a place so much as a thing. I would love to see auroras. So this picture is a phoenix aurora–

unnamed.jpg The picture was taken someplace over Norway recently, the photographer is Adrien Mauduit. Auroras are ephemeral, they shimmer and move with beauty. If you visit this photographer’s twitter page there are nothing but auroras, some in motion.

So though plants and most of nature sleeps, geomagnetic storms (coronal mass emissions from our sun) do not. And every summer throws its tantrums in the form of thunderstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, and all seasons have something to keep us awake. Right now it’s a winter storm making its way across the midwest to the NC mountains. At least I sure hope it stops there.

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When I took rescue dogs Lily and Lulu to their favorite walking park today, a nature preserve about 15 miles north, I noticed the overpasses and bridges have all been salted but not the roads. Which usually means not much in the way of icy is expected.

I hope this is true. Anyway, staying home sounds like a good idea this weekend.

He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” Psalm 121

it’s cold

I think I have never been so happy to see the end of a summer.

I love summer. Lazy, humid afternoons, cicadas singing, birds preening, flowers virtually drooping with the heat. But storms. Rains. This was not a typical summer. The entire month of July had one day with no rainfall here. We received our entire annual total in that one month.

Tonight will be kissed with frost in places. Grass will sparkle with it in the dawn sunrise. Sea oats will be fringed with shiny tassels of ice crystals.

Meanwhile nobody can give a chain of custody of tens of thousands of election ballots in Florida. Final results for several states’ elections won’t be known for days.

Southern California is in process of being incinerated.

Hate groups are singling out specific individuals and are terrorizing them in their homes.

Crazy people get their hands on guns and everyone decides the only answer is to take guns from everyone, even those who respect them and do not use them for insanity.

My son has assumed a persona of someone I do not recognize. I suppose to make his girlfriend happy, I can’t imagine any other reason, not that this is a good reason. I have never felt I could not relate to him.

So my world, or what I see, hear and read about, appears to have turned into a hostile, foreign place, unrecognizable.

Maybe it is appropriate that this Veteran’s Day marks 100 years since the armistice that ended the Great War. My mother’s father was a Captain in the Army. He fought in that war. I have the strategic map he used in France, pencil markings for his company’s maneuvers in the Argonne. I have the German helmet he mailed home to his father with the address hand-written on medical tape stuck to it. I have the bayonet he would have affixed to his rifle.

I have memories of his singing the refrain lyrics to “Mademoiselle from Armentieres, Parlez-vous?” Only the refrain. Not that I would have understood any of the rest of it but my grandmother always stopped him.

We would watch twin-boom military aircraft that we’d see occasionally and called them Scotch airplanes. I have no idea why.

I loved my grandfather. I often wonder what he’d think and say if he were here now. Or my Dad. He was a straight thinker. No one ever wondered where he stood. On anything. Without these men in my life sometimes things seem confusing, distorted, horrible.

But God.

Because of God I have hope. I can cling to One who is true, real, and reliable to be who He is, to keep His promises, to be just, and to love.

Thank God.

And I thank Him for the cold.

proxy.duckduckgo.jpgfree stock photo — public domain

 

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven:”  –Ecclestiastes 3:1

it has to stop

Just an ordinary week in October. Yet it was not.

I could not keep a grip on things in daily normal functions. My toothbrush. The dogs’ medicine bottle. Spilled dog food. Picking up dog toys to clean the floors I stood too fast and slammed the back of my head under the counter. The washing machine died. I probably paid too much for a new one. How would I know? I never bought a new one before.

Thousands of migrants leaving their homes because their countries are destroyed and instead of fixing it they are coming here.

The pipe bombs.

So today, 10 days before the elections I refuse to  watch television. Any programming at all. I refuse to look at twitter. Back in April I deleted my facebook account. I just got tired and depressed from all the anger.

I needed silence.

I busied myself with stuff I figure I can’t hurt myself doing. It’s beginning to get colder so I am gradually moving plants inside the house from outside and on the porch. Spraying for bugs, finding spots of sunshine for them inside.

I scrubbed the bathrooms.

And cooking. Sometimes I bake bread, sometimes I make comfort food. Today it was the latter. Roasted vegetables, chili, spaghetti based on my mom’s recipe. She could cook anything better than anyone or any restaurant. Not gourmet, just good, hearty food.

I won’t have to cook again for weeks.

Rescue dogs Lily and Lulu watched me through all this activity, hoping I would notice it also had stopped raining and a walk in the park would be kind of fun. So off we went.

As she often does Lulu found a spot on a bench and jumped up to rest and watch the world. My phone dinged so I checked it. Nothing important but I tapped on a news icon.

Another shooting. A synagogue. People celebrating joyous life events, when out of nowhere a nightmare explodes in their lives. I wanted to scream at that very moment, but instead I prayed.

I prayed for the dead and their families. For the wounded. For the crazy insane man that shot them. And then I realized.

It’s not Trump’s fault. It’s not Maxine Waters’ fault. It’s not Christine Blasey Ford, Justice Kavanaugh, Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton’s fault.

It is us.

No matter what another person may tell us to do or not to do, no matter how much we may dislike someone or something, no matter how unfair life seems. We each one of us is responsible for ourselves. What we say, do, the choices we make.

Not Maxine Waters.

Not Donald Trump.

Not anyone or anything else.

Us.

God help us.

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11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  –Jeremiah 29:11

 

 

 

chance, luck, coincidence

I don’t believe in that. When I was a little girl filled with mythical romantic fairy tales I did. I’m not jaded. We have turns of events in life that surprise us, none more humbling than as the result of things we contrived ourselves that failed. Or those that became real.

Maybe that’s why I cling to nature. It has its own rhythm. What happens there always has a reason. So even though this might not be their 7th year we have an abundance of newly hatched cicadas. Now. Not from May or June, now.

They crawl up out of the earth where the previous generation laid eggs and they grew into grubs. They crawl up tree trunks where they split their skins and emerge, these beauIMG_0534.JPGtiful googly-eyed insects 1-2 inches long and make a deafening song until they become ant fodder at their life’s end.

These abandoned exoskeletons are stuck all over different trees. They are not attractive larva. You seldom see them before they are empty shells. But this is their metamorphosis. Probably not painful so they  are not reluctant to go through this process, unlike people who resist change almost constantly. Until at least a certain age where we have either built up enough strength and resilience to survive it, with senses of humor, or indifference that hardens and encases us like the abandoned shells the katydids leave.

Caterpillars are the same. I can’t imagine snuggling into a cocoon is anything uncomfortable. But I wonder, are the caterpillars awake when they begin and complete their beautiful transformation to a butterfly?

IMG_0526.JPGanother swallowtail butterfly finishing off a stem of fennel

One of my favorite places to volunteer is a public garden here. It is 7 acres on property that at one time was a private elementary school. Several different sorts of gardens have been developed: native plants, veterans memorial, forest, herb and kitchen, children’s, rain gardens and several others. Each week stalwart souls gather in unimaginable heat and humidity to sweat among the weeds and flowers for 2-3 hours doing various chores. One of my favorites is weeding. There is something so gratifying about pulling a clump of nut sedge or chamberbitter or smilax root and leaving loose rich soil for the phlox, cone flowers, maypops and others. The garden spiders start quite small, and late in the summer become like this that I straightened from pulling weeds to see

 

IMG_0532.JPGharmless garden spider unless you are a fly

What I guess I marvel most at is that there are few anomalies in nature. Oak trees grow acorns, not cherries. Spiders eat flies, moths and other insects. Each living thing in the natural world has its own purpose and lives to fulfill it. But then there are no freedoms either. They do what they do because it is what they were created to do. We people were given freedom. Free will. A brain that we use to function, or allow to confuse us .

And then there are storms. Four actually, in the Atlantic right now. Each one is steered and guided by so many factors, the temperature of the ocean, wind and water currents, high or low pressure systems in the atmosphere. Like this one, named Florence

unnamed.png(https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/refresh/graphics_at1+shtml/?#wcontents)Natl Hurricane Ctr

This may not have my little NC coastal town’s name on it but we are in the “cone of possibility”. Not strange. This time of year is the peak season for these storms. And we are told how and when to prepare in case it comes too close. There are no hurricane shelters here because no place will be safe.

I lived in different places in Florida from 2004-2006, 2005 being the year Katrina hit New Orleans and there were so many named storms that year they exhausted the alphabet and began over with AA, BB, CC. The season went long into December.

So last year was not a good year, either, with Harvey, Irma, Maria. I guess this year is catching up from having no storms in August. Maybe it’s better to get them all over with in one week.

Assuming that is, that we will.

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So while we batten down the hatches against whatever may or may not come, enjoy the last drops of summer. Notice the turning of the leaves. The bite in the air that is a harbinger of Autumn.