Image #262 – Stewards of the Land

Image #262


Having dominion over the land and sea is not an easy task and recent history will call to question whether we are doing a good job of things. As for me, I do my best to keep things in order here on my little acre on Fawn Hill. Today that included trimming dead branches and leaves from the apple trees. The late frost of last April took its toll but, fortunately, not all the fruit. This year’s bounty will be no where near last year’s but there will still be plenty. There is evidence the deer are already enjoying the fruit of my apple trees.  I’m glad.  ❧

Image #252 – Redwoods

Redwood Collage

Today, dear readers, I present another collage because sometimes just one picture isn’t enough. We are also re-visiting the redwoods in northern California. I’ve been sorting pictures from my recent trip and today I found myself lingering on these images from the redwood forests. They are so majestic and they are also great teachers.  No matter how mighty or grand,  everything on this earth, in the immortal words of George Malley, “is on its way to something else.”  Redwoods fall, as these pictures clearly show. In the upper left-hand corner you can see the roots of a redwood, as big as a man’s thigh and ripped from the earth by the sheer mass of the tree. Yes, when this tree fell I believe there was a sound, even if no one was present to hear it.  In the lower left picture you can see how the fallen redwood has become a new home for ferns and other plants. It is a new world, a new ecosystem. It is all part of the circle of life.  ❧

Image #222 – Ancient Oak/Ancient People



Tango and I came across this incredible, ancient oak tree while exploring at Myakka River State Park last week. The base of the trunk was enormous and I would estimate that it would take three people holding hands to encircle it.  Its gnarly, pock-marked bark put me in mind of my cousin Bunny and a song that John Prine wrote and was covered by numerous people, including Kris Kristoferson and Bette Midler. Called “Hello in There” the lyrics go:

You know, Old trees just get stronger/Old rivers grow wider every day

But old people just get lonesome/Waiting for someone to say

Hello in there/Hello.

That describes my cousin Bunny perfectly.  She will be 94 years-old tomorrow (March 26) and she has a form of dementia that is so hard, for her and us. She cannot retain any recent memory. She awakens and her mind is blank.  She wonders where she is but when you tell her she cannot retain it. Things loop around continuously.  I am very patient with her and have discovered that if you are patient enough (and she must be patient too) you can get some things to “stick.”  Once that process happens you can dig deeper and things begin to emerge. She seems to have memories of 2005-2007 but not much beyond that. The fall that injured her pelvis and led her to the ALF occurred in 2010.  So for 4 to 7 years she has been floating in the dream-like world wherein she frequently is driving and she awakens thinking she has just driven in from New England or “the boonies.”  I asked her what the “boonies” are and she said “the Florida forest.”  I wonder what images she is tapping into because she has been coming to Florida since the 1940s.

It is wondrous on many levels but on a basic human level it is very sad.  Two days ago she got into a loop of asking if she had asked these questions before.

“Yes,” I reply.

“Today?” she asks.

“Yes,” I reply.

“Several times?” she asks.

“Yes,” I reply.

“Well,” she drolly replies,  “that must be tiresome.”

I could only laugh … and hope the tears in my eyes don’t fall down my cheeks. ❧




Image #215 – How are you lichen it?

SAMSUNG CSCLichen and mushrooms like to hang out together but they are different. Since I am without my reference books I can’t say definitively what all of those lovely colored beings are.  Mushrooms are the fruiting body of fungus while lichens are composite beings that have fungi and a photosynthetic partner growing together in a symbiotic relation. (Thank you Wikipedia.)  The pale green and the red & white growth are definitely lichen. But the tan colored growth has me stumped.  There are mushrooms that are similar to this so …. ?  This bark is on an old oak tree in the oak grove that I featured a couple of posts back (Oak Cathedral). ❧

Image #213 – Oak Cathedral

SAMSUNG CSCIt was really a beautiful  day here. Tango and I hiked to one of my favorite spots along the orange trail at Myakka, off Fox’s High Road. I call it Oak Cathedral.  Today it was particularly stunning with the new tree moss blooms shinning bright red in the sunlight, looking like stained glass windows.  It is so peaceful in this grove.  We lingered here for quite a while and many thoughts passed through my mind.  I have cousins and friends who are going through some difficult, grief-filled times. I wished I could transport them all to this spot. For the grieving soul there is no better place than nature. Long hikes are not required. It is as simple as sitting quietly in your yard or a nearby park. The comfort is there, waiting to be embraced. ❧

Image #200 – Seduction of the southern woods

Image #200
Nature walk at Trout Creek Wilderness Area in Tampa, FL.

Back in Florida for a spell. I managed to miss the mess that has happened along the Eastern seaboard this week. It hasn’t been a pretty picture, certainly not as pretty as this one. The Florida woods are beautiful now. It is spring here and, in the left hand corner, you can see some of that wonderful “new green” that occurs only in the spring. It is more than green…it is living color, full of promise.  Rejoice! Spring is on the march!  ❧

Image #152 – Opportunity!

On Friday we had some tree removal work done at Fawn Hill. There were two really bad problems–an 80 foot Poplar that was rotted at the base and hollow for about six feet up, and some limbs on a Black Oak that had died and were hanging precipitously over the house.  One piece of the Oak had already broken lose and, like a spear, pierced the roof.

The crew was here early and it was a good thing because by midday the rains had come in and the crew headed out, leaving massive quantities of lumber staged in my backyard and driveway, Image 152(1)awaiting the chipper that may arrive on Monday, weather permitting.

Saturday dawned mild and sunny. When I looked at the pile of tree debris in my backyard I thought of one thing–opportunity!  It’s not often that the opportunity to study macro-environments at 80 feet up falls into your lap. Normally you need to strap on a lot of climbing equipment and be strong enough to claw your way up a tree with your heels.  I have neither the equipment, strength or, for that matter, the interest to even try.  Another opportunity to accomplish this goal is to visit a few places, like Myakka River State Park, where there is a tree canopy walk and you can leisurely study the flora aloft.   In my case, on Saturday, I simply needed to walk out my front door.

I spent some time studying the downed pieces. There were many things of interest. Lots of lichen…or moss…not sure which. But the limbs from the Black Oak gave me something I could identify, another addition to the growing list of mushrooms I have become acquainted with here in North Carolina. In this case it is the Crowded Parchment (Stereum complicatum).  They are the orange fungi you see on the branches at the bottom of this first picture.

But here is a much better and closer picture.

Image #152 (2)

I had studied the dead limbs of the Black Oak with some interest before the arborists arrived but I can’t recall seeing the fungi. No doubt it was on the sunny side of the branch which was some 60 or more feet in the air.  Having photographed and identified it I then learned, via the Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms, that the habitat for this fungi is  “On dead deciduous twigs and stumps, especially oak.”   Seems the arborist made a good cut.  ❧

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