Thursday, April 29, 2010

Auburn Farmer's Market

I called to find out when the farmer’s market on campus would open and was chagrined to find that it was not opening till the last week of May. If it closes in August , it will be open a short two months. At a time when USDA has a push on for local food , this seems an odd turn of affairs at best. All the early produce will be gone- strawberries, lettuce and most other salad greens and ingredients. The time when people will be planting in yards and gardens is largely over and most people have already acquired hanging baskets. (Mother’s day is the biggest single day of the year for plant sales.)
The reason for this short late season cannot be that there is nothing available as places as far north as Cornell have active markets starting the first of April and lasting through October.
Other places have a shed for farmers to set up under. The umbrellas once provided are gone and farmers are forced to buy their own or do without.
These facts lead me to the conclusion that the Extension Service at Auburn is supporting local farmers in name only. It is not possible to find anything helpful in the way this farmer’s market is being conducted.
I am sure that the answer that the Extension service will give is related to money. There are answers to every problem other than money. Please do not give me the tired song and dance about money. Maybe someone with creative juices needs to be assigned to the task of farmers markets. This is a time of financial uncertainty, and especially for farmers. Markets can provide an much needed additional revenue stream. Don't let Alabama get lost in the dust once again.
I hate to think that football might be a factor in consideration of the Farmer's market.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ruminations on Rainbow Falls

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On a trip to the Smokys we took one long hike (long to me that is). We walked to Rainbow Falls which was a round trip of 5.2 miles. I whined and complained a lot of the way up, at least to myself, because the path was very steep, rocky and root-filled, and there seemed to be only isolated pockets of the wildflowers I had come to see. In fairness though, the flowers were grand, and I saw dutchman's britches, squirrel corn (both Dicentras) in patches that covered a whole hillside, and several painted trillium. Rainbow Falls was a pitiful trickle by many standards, and having fallen on some rocks in a stream the day before, I elected not to climb over the boulders to the falls itself.I had only injured my hands in that fall, but was not anxious to tempt fate.
The passage of a few days has sweetened the experience, and now I am glad I did it. It was a challenge I was able to meet and although I may not go to THAT falls again, I will not be willing to forgo 5 mile hikes on the chance that I might see something as wonderful as rare wildflowers and show myself that white hair does not tell the whole story.
Later I thought about some life lessons that might be learned from this trail. When I am on the relatively smooth level parts of my journey, I wonder if there is something I am missing. Maybe I am not paying enough attention. What should I be doing to become more aware and deepen my relationship and understanding with the Spirit of Life itself?
When Mother was near the end she still had many boulders to climb before she reached the Falls, and there was very little that could be done to assist her. Mainly we just stood back on the trail and tried to shout encouragement. Sometimes we shouted for her to come back. After a time the noise of the falls became so great that she could not hear us any more, but the falls kept beckoning her on. By that time the Spirit of Life took over and helped her the rest of the way.

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him."

-John 14:1-7 (NRSV)

Thursday, April 22, 2010



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I have always enjoyed looking at Lichens and there are some interesting ones around my area. The first picture is the most abundant site for them that I know. Lichens are usually the first colonizers on newly formed or eroded soil. Think rocks, here, for newly formed.They are made of two different organisms, a fungus and an algae. The symbiotic relationship helps each individually. The algae manufactures sugars for use by the fungus and the fungus aids the algae in the uptake of water and nutrients. Even though a lichen like this one may feel hard to the touch when it is dry, put water on it and it instantly becomes soft. Lichens are useful for adding a little color and texture for terrariums. (Well, that is the not the only thing they are good for. They do start the soil making process). When they appear on the branches of a tree or shrub, they do not harm the plant but are usually an indicator that the tree or shrub is under stress. Removing the lichen will not help the plant at all, just as headache medicine will not cure a brain cancer. In the case of the tree or shrub, look to the roots for the actual trouble.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Circuit City

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This is a little something I made out of the guts of a non-working VCR. If you click to enlarge you can probably see more detail.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Confederate Rose Seed Pod

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My Confederate Rose has just put out new growth. I really meant to get it out of that pot and planted in the ground before the new growth started. I suppose I will still do it though. It's just a matter of selecting a good place for it. Now that it seems to be turning dry (not unexpected after all the rain we have had this winter), Digging a big hole for this 10 gallon pot will be more of a chore than it would have been before. The seed pods were collected during the winter and I think the detail on them is perfectly beautiful. I should have picked more. They would be great in a dried wreath where it would be seen up close.

On another note, in church today the organ and piano played a duet with the 1812 Overture and He Lives. It was spectacular. The congregation clapped which they never do except for children.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Peach Trees


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The peach trees have finished blooming now. They are worth having just for the spring show.Even if you do not care for all the spraying and protecting you need to do to get fruit, the flowers come on and provide enough enjoyment by themselves. When you are eating some peaches in the summer, just stick the pits in the ground somewhere that they can germinate and in about 3 years you will have something beautiful for almost no effort. This tree is one my mother grew. It is the little white fleshed clear seed ones like people in the south had long ago. Although there were a few worms in them, there were not too many as to make the crop worthless. Mother would break these peaches open without peeling , remove the pit and any worm eaten part and dry them in the sun on sheets of tin covered in newspaper. Dried peaches made wonderful fried pies in the winter.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Butterfly in the Surf at Caya Costa

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I found this Monarch in the surf, helplessly wet and unable to escape. I picked it up and set it on this dead tree hoping it would dry out and be able to take off again. It seemed sad that it had left the wintering grounds somewhere in Mexico and had almost made it to land after flying all the way across the Gulf of Mexico. And then maybe it dipped a little too low and a wave caught it or maybe it was too tired and fell into the surf right at land. I like to think that maybe I helped it survive and it may pass over Chambers County Alabama, maybe even my yard, sometime this spring as it is pulled northward by internal yearnings. What a strange and wonderful world we live in!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


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i love watching seagulls on the beach. I like to see them fishing, but i like them best when they are gathered in flocks on the sand near the surf. They tend to all turn in the same direction; maybe this has to do with the wind. And there are usually 2 or 3 different kinds in the same flock. the ones with the black heads got the nickname of "Dudes" because of the way their head feathers were swept back into a point behind. The way they walked around like they were profiling just added to the effect.
The gulls would just move off a little bit as we walked past. They did not want to get too close to us and get contaminated, but they were not afraid either.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Birds at Ding Darling Preserve

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The top picture is a great white heron in breeding plumage. He was so beautiful as he eased along slowly lifting his feet up high as he walked through the grass. He was looking at something tasty, maybe a frog. the one in the bottom picture is also a heron. I am a sucker for herons as you can see. The identifying characteristics here are the yellow bill and black legs and feet.
The morning glories in the second picture made such a nice sight on the rocks that were stabilizing the bank on the roadside. They would not have been better if they had been intentionally planted there.
The third picture of the wading bird with the downward curved bill is a white ibis. It has a reddish orange bill and the same color feet. It walks slowly through the shallows probing the mud with it's bill.
During the summer we saw flamingos at Ding Darling, but none this time that I remember. They were at a distance so it can be hard to tell. No alligators though.:(

Houstonia (Bluets)


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Houstonias (Bluets) are one of the first wildflowers that I see in spring and they keep popping out for a couple of months. A common name for them is Quaker ladies, and it is a good one. They are simple and beautiful.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Live Shells Exhibiting Movement

Here are a couple of videos I made at Sanibel Island showing live shells moving. If the banded tulip was on the sand, it could turn itself over. ">This one is a calico scallop and it can use this motion to move about in the water.. ">This one is a banded tulip

Friday, April 9, 2010

What Was on The Beach




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What lands on the beach varies from day to day and beach to beach. Generally there are lots of calico scallops and pen shells on Sanibel beaches. That was what was used to decorate the dragon sand sculpture. At Caya Costa we found the sand dollars, which were still beautiful even though they were chipped. The beach everywhere was loaded with sea urchins. Some still had their spines but most did not. They all had their smell though and we enjoyed looking and left them on the beach. From prior experience we knew it was not a good idea to try to take them back because they are fragile, and it takes a long time for the smell of dead sea urchin to clear. There were lots of murex on the beach, both apple murex and lace murex. Many of the shells we found were still alive, so we either tossed them back into the water or let them be. Some shells are able to burrow into the sand and keep moist till the tide returns and they have another chance to get back out.The one Hannah is holding is a young horse conch and it is alive.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Beach at Caya Costa

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We drove from Sanibel to Pine Island, about a 90 minute drive, and then took a ferry to Caya Costa, an uninhabited island that is a state park. It is a lovely place and I would like to camp there sometime. They have little houses so you do not have to use a tent and are up off the sand. The beach is beautiful and largely deserted. It is a prime place for sand dollars, although we did not find many there this time. The wind was too high and the water too rough to spend much time in.You can see from the sky that the clouds were menacing. we spent about 4 hours here and then went back on the ferry.

Birds Seen From Ferry

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The birds seem to think that any post is made for them to perch on.Why these poles were out in the water this way, I don't know but I have been past this place on the ferry 4 times and all the posts have a bird on them. The odd thing about this is, there are several different kinds of birds there. You can click on the picture and get a closer look at the birds.
The second picture is of some birds on a break water wall.
The pelican was sitting in the middle of the walkway back to shore from the ferry. Apparently it sits there a lot from the looks of the planks. As I edged closer and closer to him, he moved reluctantly but gave me the evil eye so that I knew when I had pushed him as far as I could. The yellow feathers on his head are breeding plumage I believe.
The last picture is of a frozen duck.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Kite Surfing

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Although this is a bad picture you can still see how fun this would be if you are brave enough. I hear that kite surfing is fairly common in Australia, but I guess if you are used to dealing with crocodiles and poison snakes and spiders, maybe this would not bother you.Maybe you could outrun a shark. But in the Gulf you do not have as many worries, and here the water is relatively shallow, 4 feet deep as a general rule.Eh-oow Run before the wind!!!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sand (and Shell) Sculptures



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This was the most spectacular sand sculpture that I saw on the beach. I talked to the man who made it (I think his kids helped) and asked if he ever did installations for malls and such. He said no that he just did it when he was on vacation.
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