Spring Gems in the Woods

Eastern redbud tree blossoms

Today was another chilly, windy day.  We walked through the woods and found the usual unbroken brown landscape.  But when we got back to camp, the sun was low in the sky and illuminated something I had missed before.  Behind the skeleton of a shrub still clinging to some of its brown leaves was this glorious young redbud tree!  I was stunned that I had missed it earlier!

Arrow leaf ginger flowers

Thrilled with that discovery, I turned to leave when I noticed green arrow leaf ginger leaves among the leaf litter below.  Curious, I followed the long stems with my fingers where they disappeared beneath the leaves, and dug around in the leaves.  And for the first time ever I saw their purple, urn-shaped blooms!

The blooms hide beneath the leaf litter from critters who would eat them, and are pollinated by ants and other ground-dwelling bugs.

This is what the ginger looks like on the forest floor -- giving no hint of the blossoms hidden beneath the leaf litter.

Here's a closeup of leaf and flower detail

I took photos of several other tiny flowers, but they didn’t turn out.  But one of the photos displayed unexpected magic when I downloaded it to my computer.

The sun shining through the leaves made them look like they contained fluorescent fire! You may have to click on the photo to enlarge it to see the fire.

The brown leaves on the ground glowed fluorescent scarlet from the sun shining through their backs!  It was a day for magic!

Oh… I almost forgot!  After I found the ginger, I found a trillium with a large bud almost ready to bloom!  If I had found it first instead of the ginger I would probably have written half a page about how gorgeous it was!  🙂

Beautiful trillium almost ready to bloom

The storm the other day left the lake water muddy and thick with leaf debris, so we didn’t attempt to go fishing today.   Maybe tomorrow.

This evening we had another wonderful campfire.   And I grilled chicken wings, sprinkled with mesquite seasoning.  They were the best wings we had ever had — crispy and spicy on the outside, and melt-in-your-mouth on the inside.

I’m including a few “brown” photos, taken before I discovered the flowers, just so you can get an idea of what we saw on our woods walk today.

It’s supposed to be in the low 30’s tonight, then warm up nicely tomorrow with wind 10-15 knots.  I am looking forward to warm weather and sunshine.  I hope the forecast is right!

Magnificent tree roots

A little stream that looks more like a ditch!

One of many fallen trees.

Another fallen tree.

I just thought this log looked cool!

Sweetgum balls

Tatting on the Wall

This is a bookmark that I made displayed as a picture.

I’ve been tatting flowers and motifs and putting them in picture frames.  Some of them don’t look great.  So far the flower garden bookmark looks the best.

I’ll keep replacing the ones that don’t look so great until I have a nice wall grouping.

The frames aren’t black… they just came out looking that way in the photo.

I’m still not smoking, and feeling better every day.  My chronic cough is gone.  One symptom of quitting that I didn’t expect was depression.  It was pretty severe.  But I’ve apparently turned the corner on that, too, because I feel good this morning.

It is so cold, but it is supposed to warm up this weekend.  So I’ll probably take the tarp off the camper Saturday and start cleaning and packing.  Then probably Tuesday or Wednesday we’ll head home to Florida.

I am so ready to get on the road!

Flower Garden Tatted Bookmark

Down the Garden Path tatted bookmark.

I finally finished the Down the Garden Path tatted bookmark last night — except for working in the ends.

I wanted the greenery to look very lacy and ferny, so I made giant picots.  I like it–but the size of the picots may have made it look more weedy than ferny!  🙂

I’ll work in the ends this evening.

The pattern is from the book Tatting Treats Three.  I found it online several places, but since I love Handy Hands Tatting, here is a link to it at that site.

The pattern also includes a diagram for a corner, so you can use it as a flowery edging if you prefer.

I’m planning to get one of those nice matted picture frames from Hobby Lobby that has all the different sized openings for pictures in it and put several small, brightly colored tatted pieces in it for wall decor.  This is one of the items that I plan to include in it.

New Tatting Pattern Books

Awesome tatting pattern books!

These two AWESOME tatting pattern books arrived today.

I wasn’t too impressed with the cover of Mary Konior’s book, but when I opened it up, I couldn’t believe what a treasure it turned out to be.  The patterns are elegant, and as modern as tomorrow.

Tatting Artistry in Thread by Helma Siepmann has stunning flowers, blossoms, leaves, deciduous trees, evergreen trees….  the photos are gorgeous.  I have been dreaming of all the beautiful things I can create with them!

So they will definitely go with me on the trip to Florida.

 

Rural Ramblings

Tonight Ron and I were sitting on the back deck right before dark.  We looked up and saw a most unusually colored deer browsing the  tender weeds at the edge of the clearing.  She was darker than a normal whitetail and had even darker markings that looked like shadows in the dusk.

Sunny barked, and she kept on grazing.  But then I scolded Sunny and told him to stop barking, and she eased back into the woods.

My flowers all died while we were on our last camping trip.  I used to love vegetable and flower gardening, but learned that you can’t garden and camp a lot.  The two are mutually exclusive activities.

That’s okay.  I’ll take the camping.  I can feast my eyes on the breathtaking wild gardens we encounter on our travels.

While we were gone, someone around here shot some more dogs.  It’s a periodic problem around here.  Usually they shoot dogs that roam whose owners won’t keep them home.  But this time they shot two fenced dogs.

We are keeping a close eye on Sunny.

I am having camping withdrawals.  I can’t wait until we are back on the road again.

Camping Next Week!

I just made our reservations for the R. Shaefer Heard COE campground at West Point Lake. It looks like our site will have a panoramic view of the huge lake. We will be leaving July 7 for 8 days.

I can’t wait!

We got new all terrain tires on the truck today.  Lack of traction had been a real problem at some of the places we have taken the camper.  So these should have plenty of grip without being too bumpy or noisy on the road.

soot on the inside of our screen room

The result of using a citronella torch inside the screen room

We do have to clean our screen room.  We used a citronella torch inside to help discourage bugs on our last few camping trips.  It worked, but now we have a cleaning job to do.  I plan to spray it with Greased Lightning and hose it down, and hope it takes the worst of the soot off.

I unsuccessfully looked for mushrooms again today.  The rain we got was apparently not sufficient to make them pop up.

Maybe we will hit another mushroom bonanza on our camping trip like we did on the last one.

I’ll close with pictures of flowers I took in the yard today.

peach colored gladiola

Gorgeous colors!

pink gladiola

These gladiolas are volunteers from last years bulbs that were not lifted over the winter.

unsprayed roses

These roses have never been sprayed, yet are almost bug free. Amazingly, the Japanese beetles have found the blackberries, but haven't touched the roses.

Country Road & Beaver Dam

Down my rural lane

My country road

Late yesterday afternoon Ron and I took a walk to check out the beaver pond about 3/4 mile from our house.

Wild carrots grow all along the road.  They fascinate me.  Such intricate clustered white flowers — each one with one tiny purple flower in the very center.  I used to enjoy dipping the flowers in batter and frying them for an unusual treat.  But since I’m trying to eat wiser, I just admired the flowers this time.

wild carrot flower

Wild carrot flower

But even more interesting than the flowers is the birds-nest form the flowers take on as they go to seed.  At first, it looks just like a cupped birds nest, but they progress into a completely closed cage-like formation.

Funny…. when I was younger I thought studying plants was the most boring thing on earth.  Now I find it endlessly fascinating.

The wild daylilies blooming season is past.  I found one single flower remaining.  The rest of them look like straggly bunches of grass now.  I used to thoroughly enjoy fully exploiting the edible parts… corms, shoots and flowers.  But it has been so hot this year, I haven’t had much desire to go digging in the dusty clay or bushwhacking through tall weeds to get to them.

wild carrot flower birds nest

Wild carrot birdsnest fully closed

I think, too, once you have learned a plant and its uses, that simply taking photographs can be as rewarding as eating them.

When we got to the beaver pond, we were disappointed and saddened.  The water is WAY down.  And it looks like someone sabotaged the dam.  There were large rocks on top of it that someone must have put there.  And the dam had fallen into disrepair.  I am afraid that something happened to the beavers.

beaver dam

Due to the low water level, grasses and weeds are growing, and the dam appears to be abandoned and in disrepair.

We did get a good bit of rain last night, so the water level might be up a little.  I’ll check the dam again soon and see if it has been repaired.

On our way down to the pond, one of the neighbors’ aggressive dogs ran out and accosted us.   I am not usually afraid of dogs, but this time I was really frightened.  One of the owners’ kids came out, gathered up the dogs, and assured me, “They won’t bite you.”  Yeah, right.

They are supposed to be fenced or chained, but no one enforces the laws out here.  On our way back, again the dogs came out at us, but the kids rounded them up again.

daylily flower

The one remaining daylily bloom

I used to enjoy taking long walks, but I am feeling less and less safe.  The only place I really enjoy walking anymore are the trails when we go camping.  It’s so sad, because I do live in a beautiful area with so much to take in on long, leisurely walks.

Whew!  This post is getting long!  I’ll quit talking now and just share some of the photos I took.

[Note 8/8/2010:  The beaver dam is in complete disrepair.  Apparently someone killed the beavers.]

erosion and tree roots

This eroded tree root by the side of the road looks like something out of "The Hobbit"

groundnuts

Groundnuts plant

wild quinine

Wild quinine

wild carrots by beaver pond

Wild carrots by the beaver pond

red clover

Red clover looking a little heat stressed

buttonbush

Not a great picture, but I included it because it is the first time I have seen buttonbush flowers growing here.

Figs, Blackberries & Flowers

figs on our fig tree

Figs on our tree

I’ve been feeling stressed about all the ramifications of the Gulf Oil Spill, the methane, the dispersants, and the unfathomable implications to sea life, the environment, and our lives.  No, not just stressed.  I was really letting it get me down.

So late this afternoon I went outside to see what was growing, figuring it would cheer me up.  It did.

ripe blackberries

Blackberries are beginning to ripen

One of our fig trees is producing more figs this year than it ever has.  It’s loaded!  I ate one the other day, and today enjoyed two more that were ripe.

A few years back they only had a handful of figs on them.  An elderly aunt (who has since passed on) told me to buy a can of lye, poke holes in the can, and bury it near the trees.  I did, and the following year they just exploded with figs.  Apparently our ground is too acid, and the lye corrected the ph.  Every time I enjoy a fig from our trees, I think of her.

Also, I discovered that the wild blackberries are beginning to ripen.  I only found a few ripe ones,  but did get enough to make blackberry cobbler later this evening.  There are still many, many vines with unripe berries on them, so we will have plenty soon.

rose

One of our climbing roses

It appears that I missed the wild blueberry season.  It goes so fast!  That’s what I get for staying inside in the air conditioning instead of combing the edges of the woods for them in the heat!  Maybe I’ll do better next year.

Some of the flowers looked a little heat stressed, but they brightened my spirits and reminded me to be grateful for the beauty and grace that fills my life — today.

And not to worry about the future.  If I can remember to stay in today, then I won’t dwell on the problems the future may bring.   And my life will be richer and more satisfying, too.

new guinea impatien

New Guinea impatien... thrives in hot weather

white periwinkles

White periwinkles -- heat tolerant and self cleaning to boot!

orange marigold

Bright, happy, dependable marigolds

yellow marigolds

Yellow marigolds. I love their sturdy, heat-tolerant little faces!

pastel daylilies

How can anything so hardy be so beautiful!

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