Finding Beauty

I am, by my very nature, someone who seeks ‘connection’ in the world around me. I revel in time spent swinging in the hammock swing under the ancient live oak in my backyard.  Staring at the leaves, noting how much the spanish moss has grown since I first ‘introduced’ it to the oak tree five years ago, listening to the vast array of bird songs.

I thrive on walks on the beach, the feel of warm sand under my bare feet, the scent of the ocean, unexpected treasures to be gathered, or moments of wonderment in the sea and coastal critters we share these beaches and tidal marshes with.

https://passyingbyphoto.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/531a9778.jpg?w=474&h=379  Endangered Wood storks have returned to the coast after a long absence.

And the easily missed, once common and now making a slow comeback, Sea-beach amaranth can be found if you know what you are looking for…and are open to the tiny humble details to be found in nature.

Today I didn’t go anywhere unusual. I puttered about the house and yard. As I was clearing small downed branches from the week’s storms I spotted this lovely hiding near the bushes.  An Island glass lizard, I see them every once in awhile about the yard and love seeing the tiny babies when they hatch in the summer.

Always something beautiful to see here.  The white azaleas are in bloom in the yard, saved by their later bloom time from the late season frost which decimated most of our early bloomers.  The camellias are still heavy in flowers and the wisteria has joined in.  By the time the magnolia blooms, it will be swathed in soft purple wisteria blossoms.

Everyday miracles.  Every day…wonder.

 

 

 

Stormy weather

As I’m sure anyone who knows me will attest…there’s a bit of a storm chaser in me.  I love the scent of rain, a good hard storm with thunder that shakes the vaults of heaven, and lightning slashing the skies.

Here in the Lowcountry we get our fair share of storms and tonight we had a very lovely one. It began early in the afternoon, gusting winds shaking the trees, and a good steady rain.  Just what our newly growing gardens and landscaping needs this time of year.

And just when it seemed the forecast for severe thunderstorms was fruitless…BAM!  The house shook.  The yard shook!  Woo hoo! Here came the main event.

The dogs took shelter under the furniture.  The parrot muttered to herself. I think she finds such displays more annoying than scary.  The shaking and thunderous claps disturb her conversations and requests for…well…whatever she is wanting at that particular moment.  And no one interrupts Scooter.

It brought back fond memories of chasing tornadoes on my rural paper route up in Ohio. Watching the rain come sideways, the lightning outlining the clouds. I do miss those twisters.

But this was a nice storm, not so big a rush as those…but fun.

Rain came down in torrents.  The street filled quickly and was soon spilling up into the yard and driveway.  As the storm moved over us out to sea, the lightning changed from blue and silver to pink.  A show worth watching as each passing moment provided an even more breathtaking display.

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Who wouldn’t be mesmerized by such power and beauty?

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And all too quickly, in just a few short hours, it passed.

They say we may get another front later tonight.  I hope so.  I love sleeping when it storms.

 

 

April foolishness

A gorgeous day in the Lowcountry…mid 80s, clear blue skies and bright sunshine. Wisteria is coming back from the frosts that killed its first flush a couple of weeks ago, camellias and azaleas are offering a scant but determined final bloom and all around my neighborhood there are pinks, reds, corals, and soft purples rejoicing in Spring’s renewal. We have all the windows open every day and night and the fresh air is such a joy after the claustrophobic chill of winter.

The dogs spend a lot more time outdoors.  I spend more free time at the first wave of farm markets.  Last week’s excitement was over asparagus.  This week I am giddy over the prospect of first crop green (spring) garlic (as farmers thin their fields) and sugar snap peas.

Spring’s bounty in Asparagus, leek, and green garlic soup

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The bluebirds are nesting in the backyard. I love watching them skim across the open flight path between the azaleas on one side, the shrubbery on the other, over the ancient wisteria to their little houses along the back fence.  As we are contemplating the possibility of moving from this lovely old house to a smaller place the one thing I should truly miss the most is this yard.  Most people miss their homes…apparently for me home is the outdoors, not the in.

Which means I probably should not be surprised at little environmental themes that seem to be continually popping up in my writing. Who knew dragons had such an important environmental niche to fill?  (okay, so that doesn’t really surprise me as they would be an apex predator and as such a linchpen in their cycle…. I just hadn’t really given it much consideration till they showed up)  Glad they did.

 

Intertidal Magic

My friend, Melodye Shore, is quite the Renaissance woman… a gifted writer, an amazing photographer, a friend to bees, hummingbird ‘whisperer’, and now a budding expert on the intertidal zone, tidal pools and their amazing inhabitants.

So imagine my delight tonight when, in my usual eclectic way, I was perusing all the weird and widely divergent things that amaze and delight me…and here was this fascinating article on a critter from her neck of the woods… the lovely Lined Shore Crab.

http://awesomeocean.com/2016/12/28/meet-dr-jekyll-mr-hyde-intertidal-zone/

Shore Crab

Immediately I thought of Melodye…and how magical such small places as our tidal pools are…on her western shore or here on the shores of the Lowcountry, or in other countries around this tiny blue world of ours.  So much precious life.  So much we don’t yet understand.  So much magic to be lost if we don’t protect it fiercely.

I vote for magic.  The more we can find and share… the richer our world….and our lives….become.

 

 

Daylight Savings…!

So thrilled Daylight Savings has returned.  It really should be the only time, because it makes the best use of daylight hours.  And I LOVE my daylight hours. More time to be in the yard, in the garden, enjoying my azaleas and camellias, more time for the kids and critters to play outdoors. Perfect.

Image result for red and white striped camellia

Except…sadly…this year’s change is accompanied by a very NOT usual for this time of year cold snap.  Chilly.  And I do not, as everyone who knows me even casually knows, like to be chilly.  Ever.  So here I am, eating my big ol’ yummy salad with spicy avocado-lime ranch dressing and enough peppers to warm me up, dogs curled up underfoot to keep my feet warm, and working diligently at my four zillionith attempt at a synopsis.  That will keep the brain cells firing.

 

Gardener–minus the Garden

It’s a hard thing for me to deal with this spring…yes,  February is the beginning of our spring planting season here in the Lowcountry…and here it is March and I have precious little in the ground save the quickie crops…radishes, etc.

This spring…we are thinking we will be moving.  If not right now, as soon as school ends, which is long before most crops will be grown and ready to harvest.  How then to have a decent garden at a time when the uncertainty of the months ahead makes it ever more important to have my own source of vegetables?  The pear tree is covered in blooms.  If we are here long enough, there will be bumper crops of pears, blackberries and black raspberries.  The blueberries are still in pots, I got them last winter on sale, and didn’t want them in the ground till I could be assured of no strange weather eccentricities.  Now would be the perfect time to put them in…but…ya know, moving.

Herbs aren’t so difficult, they do well in planters as long as they have room to spread out.  So this weekend, pots of Mexican oregano, tarragon, white sage, lots of new starts off my very old rosemary. I still need marjoram, cilantro, and basil (probably a couple of kinds, variety is the spice of life) as well as nasturtiums.

And then there is the entire issue of which crops to plant now, which I can pot and transport, which we will simply have to do without this season.  My much loved pod peas will be grown and ready to harvest in no time.  Things like cauliflower and broccoli?  Sigh.

The obvious alternative would be to see if I can budget a share in a CSA.  This might be the best option…particularly in a transitional period where I will most likely need another year to get the garden itself ready for proper planting, and when our hectic lives are better suited to some crops than others, a CSA would provide a better range of produce.  I am checking it out now and will let ya’ll know how it goes.

 

 

MARCHing toward spring

And as we begin a new month, and look hopefully toward a new season, things here get more and more complicated.  Life is never dull.

Everything is in bloom now, it seems.  Azaleas in reds, pinks, corals, fuchsia, and white blaze across lawns.  Camellias are still in bloom and jasmine scents the air.  The dogwoods are in bloom, my pear tree’s abundance of tiny white flowers offers the promise of a bumper crop of fruit again this year.  The wisteria trail along fences, and wind through trees and shrubbery borders, spring bulbs have begun to open, and everywhere there is new green.

Beautiful yellow Sulphur butterflies were among the first arrivals and flit about the garden en mass now, along with small white butterflies and the first monarchs.

Lateral view of adult male cloudless sulphur, Phoebis sennae (Linnaeus), nectaring at smallfruit beggarticks, Bidens mitis.

Bumblebees are out on the warmer days, and I have seen some very small bees I haven’t identified yet that look like honeybees but perhaps half the size.  Anyone know what these new arrivals might be?

I have begun to see in my writing how my passion for nature colors settings: description of waves crashing against the shore, the scent of a salt marsh, details of plants and forests and landscapes…and beyond that, the way these environments influence the people and the story itself. It seems a very ‘natural’ thing to me for that connection to be present on the page just as it is present in our lives.

Then I look around and find that same connection in my pottery.  I love to create pottery. The feel of the clay,  opening to reveal the shape within.  Pots with flowers dancing down their curves,  imprints of seashells or coral, playing with natural firing techniques, finding a glaze that is exactly the right color to make a piece sing a song of the ocean, or forest, or a lovely spring day like today.

That flower child who became an earth mother seems to be finding that connection in all the things I choose to fill my life.  That is a blessing beyond measure.