Category Archives: Flora

Traveling On

Tom and I like to go on road trips. We are on a road trip now. In the 25 days since we began this journey we have:

  • stopped in Pittsburgh to see our son Robert (Rebekah was working). Note: We saw Billy and Sarah and Mike before we started out. We just wanted to tell our children, “we love you.”
  • visited my dear brothers and sisters-in-law (in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan).
  • camped above the Straits of Mackinac and took the ferry to Mackinac Island.
  • smelled forest fire smoke through Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah.
  • visited the Ingalls Homestead in DeSmet, S.D. (Little House aficionados: we camped by the slough)
  • we took an “easy” 3.4 mile hike at Wind Cave National Park and discovered that all of our city walking really wasn’t the same as hiking a rocky track on a warm, sunny afternoon.
  • we listened to an Oglala Lakota NPS ranger from Wounded Knee tell us a strong story about the importance of naming. From now on, for us,  Devils Tower is Bear Lodge.

Note: I have many more items for this bulleted list, but I will continue it another time soon.

We are old now, but Tom and I like to keep traveling on. Now, the early mornings are cold (unless we are staying in a motel). We don’t even light the camp stove. We drink our coffee cold.

We keep traveling on because we want to see the country and family and friends along the way–while we are still on this side of the great divide. We want to keep learning. We see, listen, touch, and smell the beauty all around us.

Here are a few photos:

catbird in catalpa, Cuyahoga Valley National Park

catbird in catalpa, Cuyahoga Valley National Park

flower (?), St. Ignace, Michigan

flower (?), St. Ignace, Michigan

monarch, Mackinac Island

monarch, Mackinac Island

Lake Gogebic State Park, Michigan

Lake Gogebic State Park, Michigan

playing music, Ingalls Homestead, DeSmet, South Dakota

playing music, Ingalls Homestead, DeSmet, South Dakota

Devils Tower, AKA Bear Lodge, Wyoming

Devils Tower, AKA Bear Lodge, Wyoming

chokecherry, Sinks Canyon State Park, Wyoming

chokecherry, Sinks Canyon State Park, Wyoming

near South Pass, Wyoming

near South Pass, Wyoming

Bear Lake State Park, Idaho

Bear Lake State Park, Idaho

 

Vision Quest

For almost two months I have had an idea for what (I had hoped) would be a clever post.  In the  end of April, I bought a new pair of binoculars for bird-watching. These new binoculars promise to help my old eyes better spot the lovely birds that still remain among us.

Diamondback binoculars

Diamondback binoculars

Right away, I began to think of the other binoculars I’ve had.  About 18 years ago, Tom and I bought binoculars for our son, Billy, to take to the Amazon. I think they got wet there, but I am not sure. Note: Bill just told me that it was the camera he dropped in the water, not the binoculars.  In any event, those binoculars don’t work well.

Nikon binoculars

Nikon binoculars

Then, I began to think about my first pair of binoculars. I can’t find them to show you.  I may have finally recycled them. I haven’t used them in decades.  However, I brought those binoculars (Tasco, I believe) along wherever we went because my Dad had given them to me. Dad gave them to me for either Christmas 1970 or 1971, after I had begun my adventures on the Colorado Plateau. I remember trying out the binoculars on a hike with my Dad at Kensington Metropark near my home. The binoculars worked well and Dad and I had a fine walk and talk.

My idea was to write about double vision: seeing the world as it is here now; seeing the world as it was in my lucky childhood.

I can’t seem to write about my childhood as clearly as I want to.  I want to tell you about

  • the spyglass my Dad kept on the living room table.  I felt like a pirate when I used it to spy a great blue heron;
  • trilliums in the yard back when we still saw deer tracks by the shore;
  • moonlight on the water–night after night and year after year. I don’t have the words to share this vision;
  • the early morning fog out my window as I dressed for school, and so much more.

When I see photos of so many children and parents in pain because of the Trumpian practice of separating families at our southern border, I can hardly write about my childhood. When I look backward, I see my happy childhood with my mother and father there to care for my brothers and me.  I want all families to be safe.  That’s only a vision, I know, but I am not the only one.

Maybe I can only see the present clearly right now.  Below, are some photos I took yesterday on the Summer Solstice at the United States Botanic Garden in Washington D.C.

See you later, I hope.

bee on Stokesia laevis (Stokes' aster)

bee on Stokesia laevis (Stokes’ aster)

 

Cephalanthus occidentalis (common buttonbush)

Cephalanthus occidentalis (common buttonbush)

Cercis canadensis (redbud)

Cercis canadensis (redbud)

Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed)

Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed)

Hypericum (St. John's wort)

Hypericum (St. John’s wort)

Pontederia cordata (pickerelweed)

Pontederia cordata (pickerelweed)

 

 

 

March 2018: Washington, D.C.

Happy spring!

daffodil

daffodil

gulls, people, and Potomac River

gulls, people, and Potomac River

Potomac, Key Bridge, and Rosslyn

Potomac, Key Bridge, and Rosslyn

clivia, National Gallery

clivia, National Gallery

forget-me-nots (?) Rosslyn

creeping speedwell (?), Rosslyn

arms are for hugging

arms are for hugging

March for Our Lives, Mach 24, 2018

March for Our Lives, March 24, 2018

cherry bark, Tidal Basin

cherry bark,Tidal Basin

blossoms from the bole

blossoms from the bole

magnolia blossom and sedum

magnolia blossom and sedum

reflection, Tidal Basin

reflection, Tidal Basin

Tidal Basin

Tidal Basin

Enid Haupt Garden, March 24, 2018

Enid Haupt Garden, March 24, 2018

Statue of Sakakawea, U.S. Congress

Statue of Sakakawea, U.S. Congress

view eastward, U.S. Congress

view eastward, U.S. Congress

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

daffodils near Arlington National Cemetery

daffodils near Arlington National Cemetery

Excuses, Spring is Coming, and One More Staircase Story

day planners old and new

day planners old and new

Excuses Although it is March, I still haven’t transferred all of my phone numbers, passwords, and other data from my 2017 Audubon Birder’s Engagement Calendar to my 2018  Audubon Birder’s Engagement Calendar. This transfer usually happens early in January (see Old Year, New Year: Flexibility, Part 3). Part of the delay may simply be that there is so much minutia scrawled in the 2017 book that I am daunted by the task of transferring it to the new book.

I think the real reason might be more fundamental, though. I have been sitting here — each day at once agitated and inert–waiting to see what happens next to our country. My own version of Potomac fever, I am afraid. And I am afraid: I used to tell my children that our country had had difficult times before and had gotten through it. Now, I believe the current regime and its attendant problems are by far the worst in my lifetime.  I went to one march so far this year and will soon go to another. I sign petitions. I walk. I do my weights and stretches, and sometimes I even do my planks.  I photograph flowers and trees.  On TV, I watch cooking shows and basketball games. I think spring is coming. I believe my hibernation is ending and my hope is growing.

oak leaves and crocus

oak leaves and crocus

scilla, Mary L. Ripley Garden

scilla, Mary L. Ripley Garden

Happy Interlude  In early February, Tom and I camped for three nights in the Big Cypress National Preserve and for one night in Everglades National Park. We saw alligators and manatees; anhingas and egrets, mangrove islands and dolphins, and much more.

gulf fritillary, Big Cypress National Preserve

gulf fritillary, Big Cypress National Preserve

great blue heron, Shark Valley, Everglades National Park

great blue heron, Shark Valley, Everglades National Park

Spring is Coming Wood frogs are mating in vernal pools here in Arlington, Virginia. Salamanders are on the move. Daffodils are blooming and so is the witch hazel and some forsythia. Almost two weeks ago a cherry  tree was blossoming at Arlington National Cemetery. Tourist groups are massing on the National Mall. I think it is time to put aside my 2017 almanac and rejoin this year, this fight, and this life.

sign, Gulf Branch Nature Center, Arlington, Virginia

sign, Gulf Branch Nature Center, Arlington, Virginia

witch hazel, Mary L. Ripley Garden

witch hazel, Mary L. Ripley Garden

early cherry blossoms, Arlington National Cemetery

early cherry blossoms, Arlington National Cemetery


Staircase to Heaven, again

1972–1973 (North Rim and environs)

Did I ever tell you about the time I got dropped off at Pipe Springs National Monument? I was on my way from the North Rim to my friend Anita’s wedding reception in Salt Lake City. Someone drove me to Pipe Springs–on the Arizona Strip–87 miles from the Grand Canyon Lodge where I worked.  I tried to hitch a ride from Pipe Springs to Cedar City, Utah so I could catch a plane to Salt Lake.  At least back then, Arizona State Road 389 was not a well traveled road.

After some time, Pipe Springs National Monument closed for the day. It got dark and I felt forlorn and probably a little scared.  I settled down in the ditch beside the road. I wasn’t about to take my chances standing on the side of the road through the night. I worried some and I slept some.  Morning came, someone picked me up, and I made my flight to Salt Lake and the wedding reception.  I was an idiot back then, no doubt, but all that expansive sky, sand, canyons, and forests made me feel that all was possible, all was good, and I would not be harmed.

Angry and sad aside: Most of my life now, this Grand Staircase, this Colorado Plateau, has been for me not only the land of the beautiful, but also of the good and hospitable. I want to scream and cry and kick and yes, hate, as I see people and entities want to destroy this land. I don’t do those things: I am still trying for the beautiful and good.

So many more stories to tell, but I think I am finished for now.  I wanted to tell you about Hop Valley, the double rainbows on the snowy road to Bryce, pine nut gathering at Cape Royal, the smell of the ponderosas in the sunlight, and Chesler Park in late winter.

Now, I will march, I will sign petitions, I will walk.  In the end of summer, we may be at North Rim again, and, in November I will vote.

Thank you for listening.

Here are some photos:

aspens, La Sal Mountains

near Chesler Park, The Needles, Canyonlands National Park

near Chesler Park, The Needles, Canyonlands National Park

In the Needles District, Canyonlands National Park

In the Needles District, Canyonlands National Park

clouds, Natural Bridges National Monument

clouds, Natural Bridges National Monument

our camper in Capitol Reef National Park

our camper in Capitol Reef National Park

ponderosas on the North Rim

ponderosas on the North Rim

 

 

 

 

Staircase to Heaven, Part 4: More Photos

When we were hiking back in Zion in 1970, my friend Pat noted that–even with the technicolor, in-your-face canyon vistas surrounding us–I spent a certain amount of time looking down at the ground. I still do that.  Below are some plant photos from the Grand Staircase and environs.

cyanobacteria with flowers, Canyonlands National Park

cyanobacteria with flowers, Canyonlands National Park

columbine, Cedar Canyon Campground, Dixie National Forest

columbine, Cedar Canyon Campground, Dixie National Forest

bluebell, Red Canyon, Dixie National Forest

bluebell, Red Canyon, Dixie National Forest

roundleaf buffaloberry, Natural Bridges National Monument

roundleaf buffaloberry, Natural Bridges National Monument

Indian paintbrush, Kolob, Zion National Park

Indian paintbrush, Kolob, Zion National Park

cliff rose, Cape Royal

cliff rose, Cape Royal, North Rim, Grand Canyon National Park

cactus, Pine Valley, Dixie National Forest

cactus, Pine Valley, Dixie National Forest

juniper, Needles Overlook

juniper, Needles Overlook

pine cones, Red Canyon, Dixie National Forest

pine cones, Red Canyon, Dixie National Forest

pinyon pine, Canyonlands National Park

pinyon pine, Canyonlands National Park

cottonwood near Canyonlands National Park

cottonwood near Canyonlands National Park

Note: My next post will be mostly words, not photos.  I wonder if I can help convince Secretary Zinke, Senator Hatch, Congressman Bishop, and others to preserve our beautiful land.

Staircase to Heaven, Part 3: Photos

Happy New Year!

Below are some photos from the Grand Staircase area of the Colorado Plateau.  Plant photos to come soon, and then, finally, words.

Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park

Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park

Altar of Sacrifice, Zion National Park

Altar of Sacrifice, Zion National Park

Trail to Angel's Landing, Zion National Park

Trail to Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park

Zion near the East Entrance

Zion near the East Entrance

Wahweap Creek, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument

Wahweap Creek, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument

Wahweap Hoodoos. GSENM

Wahweap Hoodoos, GSENM

Moccasin Mountain Dinosaur Tracksite, GSENM

Moccasin Mountain Dinosaur Tracksite, GSENM

dinosaur track, Moccasin Mountain Dinosaur Tracksite

dinosaur track, Moccasin Mountain Dinosaur Tracksite

Vermillion Cliffs, Kanab, GSEENM

Vermillion Cliffs, Kanab, GSENM

 Red Canyon, Dixie National Forest

Red Canyon, Dixie National Forest

The Needles, Canyonlands National Park

The Needles, Canyonlands National Park

Southeastern Utah

Southeastern Utah

Natural Bridges National Monument

Natural Bridges National Monument

Hovenweep National Monument

Hovenweep National Monument

 

Earth Days: Past, Present, and Future

daffodils

daffodils

Since January 2017, I have belonged to a Facebook group, March for Science. This group has been focused on organizing Earth Day (April 22) marches in support of science. In my life I have been mostly an English teacher, not a scientist. On my registration form for the march, I checked “science enthusiast.”

For months, March for Science group members have been posting “Why I march” comments. I loved almost all of the comments I have read and sometimes I cried about the stories. I never laughed because the current repeated attacks on scientific truth are deadly serious.

I love—I really do—the scientific method. I have read about, known, and admired many scientists.  I admire many of my mentors in the Rivanna Chapter of Virginia Master Naturalists. In literature,  John Wesley Powell, who scaled canyon walls with one arm, is one of my heroes.  Farley Mowat, who railed against the decimation of human and animal populations in Canada, is another. However, my reasons for marching next Saturday in Washington, DC are, perhaps, more in keeping with my English major sensibility.

Exploration

The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons

Why I Will March for Science on Earth Day

I attended the ENACT (Environmental Action for Survival) Teach-In on the Environment at the University of Michigan in March 1970 (see https://blogs.lib.msu.edu/red-tape/2016/mar/march-11-14-1970-university-michigan-holds-environmental-teach/ for more information about the teach-in). I was a young idealist then and I am old idealist now. I won’t give up.

I march in honor of my mother. I planted my first garden with my mother: popcorn and radishes against the side of the house in Detroit. Counting that garden and the one I grew with my brother George, that’s 45 years of gardens, most of them organic. Food and beauty. I won’t give up gardening now.

swiss chard, "Rainbow Mix"

swiss chard in my garden: “Rainbow Mix”

I march in honor of my father. My father taught me how to fish, skip stones, rake leaves, and shovel snow. He put up a hammock between two tall oaks, so we could see the sky, the water, and the leaves while we rested and dreamed. I won’t give up the dreaming.

Scenic Lake, Michigan (my brother's lake; I don't have a photo of mine)

Scenic Lake, Michigan ( my brother’s lake; I don’t have photos of the lake I grew up on)

I march in honor of Michigan and the Great Lakes, my first home. They want to cut EPA research for the Great Lakes by 97%. I want them to hear my “no.”  I remember the crayfish and the sunfish in the sunny shallows of our lake. I remember the power and strength of Superior. I will not let them destroy our lakes without a fight.

Lake Superior

Lake Superior

I march for the Grand Canyon, Zion, Glacier and all the rest of the federally protected lands.

Transept Canyon from Widforss Point

Transept Canyon from Widforss Trail, North Rim of the Grand Canyon

I march for the Kaibab squirrels of the North Rim, for the condor who glided past us on the South Rim, and for all the crows and ravens everywhere. I march for the bees, and for the butterflies, and for the American hornbeam that we planted in our yard last month and for the ponderosa pine, iconic tree of the North Rim (and food for the Kaibab squirrels).

butterfly with black-eyed and verbena bonariensis

butterfly with black-eyed and verbena bonariensis

I grow old. I do, in fact, sometimes wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled, but I will not stop now.

I have many more things to say. Maybe I will write about them another time or maybe not, but I will march and I will not stop.

Happy Spring.