Category Archives: Flora

Trees, Part 2: Photos

I’ve had plenty of time on my hands and I haven’t been reading as much as usual, (except for the coronavirus news). As I mentioned in an earlier post, I haven’t been going to the condo gym and exercising in the living room hasn’t been too interesting or invigorating.  Anyhow, to soothe myself, and maybe you, I thought I would put up some more tree photos with little narratives to go with them.

Well, I found the photos I wanted, but the little snippets sounded like I was back in high school journalism class (if not junior high journalism class).  The writing needs work, but I don’t have the words right now.  However, Virginia’s Governor, Ralph Northam, just gave us the stay-at-home order. I want to send the trees out now with the promise of some words soon.

Please stay safe; please stay well.

Trees

Yoshino cherry (Prunus x yedoensis) in the neighborhood, Arlington, Virginia

Garden of the Gods

Rocky Mountain juniper (Juniperus scopulorum) Garden of the Gods,  Colorado Springs, Colorado

smoothbark Arizona cypress

smoothbark Arizona cypress (Cypressus arizonica), Sedona, Arizona

Congaree National Park

old growth bottomland hardwood forest, Congaree National Park, South Carolina

Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) at sunset, Joshua Tree National Park, California

Transept Canyon from Widforss Point

ponderosa pines (Pinus ponderosa), Transept Canyon from Widforss Trail, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Shenandoah National Park

mixed forest, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

American elm (Ulmus americana) in front of the Museum of Natural History

American elm (Ulmus americana) in front of the Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.

 

cottonwood near Canyonlands National Park

cottonwoods (Populus fremontii) near Canyonlands National Park, Utah

redbuds (Cercis canadensis) and gravestones

redbuds (Cercis canadensis) and gravestones, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia

old growth white pine (Pinus strobus), Cook Forest State Park, Pennsylvania

Trees

treehugger, Inyo National Forest, California

I love–and I don’t believe that is hyperbole–many kinds of trees. When I was a small child,  I loved the Colorado blue spruce on a nearby street in my Detroit neighborhood.  Even as a little kid, I think I knew what an excellent blue spruce it was and at Christmastime there were holiday lights on it.

In my mind, I see the trees of our home on the lake almost as vividly as I see my dad raking the leaves or my mom taking care of the petunias in the window box by the door (later, as the trees grew ever larger, I think she had to put in impatiens). Mostly we had oaks–my Dad said they were black oaks– and hickories.  We had a sassafras down by the lake and, for a while, a cherry up by the mailbox.

Once I traveled west in 1970, I loved the ponderosas, pinyons, junipers. aspens,  bristlecone pines, and many others. When I moved to Virginia, I fell in love with the tulip poplars.

pinyon pine, Canyonlands National Park

pinyon pine, Canyonlands National Park

 

aspens, La Sal Mountains

bristlecone pine, Great Basin National Park

tulip poplar, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia

What I can’t understand is how I failed to focus on sycamores for so many decades. I started noticing them about six years ago in Arizona.  Then, back here in Virginia, I finally noticed that sycamores stand sentinel along the Potomac and the Shenandoah Rivers (among others). Wild, ragged, and ghostly:  Sycamores make me think about the tangled beauty of this world.

Arizona Sycamore (Platanus wrightii), Ramsey Canyon Preserve

Arizona Sycamore (Platanus wrightii), Ramsey Canyon Preserve, Arizona

sycamore on the banks of the Shenanandoah River

American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) on the banks of the Shenandoah River, Virginia

The News I Need

I started  compulsively reading The Washington Post online the morning of September 11, 2001 in my office in Northwest Washington, D.C. After the attacks there were the anthrax letters and the snipers. My office was only a few miles from my home, but it was across the Potomac River. I used to fantasize about how –if Chain Bridge were blown up–I could swim across.  I didn’t need to resort to that and things returned to an uncomfortable new normal.

The last few days, I have been reading the  paper compulsively again. Sure enough, almost every time I log on, there is a new red (or sometimes black) breaking news banner. I am resolving to control myself. Tom and I plan on going camping tomorrow.

The News I Need Today

Although people will not be able to see it for awhile (the Smithsonian Institution is closing for now), there is a lovely exhibit at the Smithsonian American Art Museum: Chiura Obata: American Modern. Obata’s art and his words are the news I need today. Please be well.

Sequoia feet

Sequoia feet

 

 

Today (EST)

About thirty minutes ago I gave myself the choice of spending the afternoon finishing Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, watching an afternoon NFL football game, or–now that summer appears over–putting up some final summer flower photos.  I think the novel is wonderful, but it is too emotionally challenging for me today.  I love football, but I was in the stands when Michigan beat Maryland yesterday; that is enough.  So, I am posting some photos. With them, I send my (still) hopeful wishes for us all.

tulip poplar flower, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia

pitcher plant, Bartholdi Park, Washington, DC

Dutchman’s pipe vine, Mary Livingston Ripley Garden, Washington, DC

bee on phlox, Mt. Cuba Center, Hockessin, Delaware

monarda

unidentified, June 14, 2019

at the National Arboretum, Washington, DC

pickerel weed, Punderson State Park, Ohio

pinkweed, Punderson State Park, Ohio

pussy ears, Mary Livingston Ripley Garden, Washington, DC

toad lilies, Bartholdi Park, Washington, DC

swamp titi (Cyrilla racemiflora), USBG Regional Garden, Washington, DC

Pleasant Peninsula

Introduction 

I have always felt lucky to have grown up in Michigan. I always bought into the state’s motto: “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.” I spent my childhood looking about me: Higgins Lake, Kensington Park, Lake Erie, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron (I think I only met Lake Superior when I was a bit older). The Detroit Zoo, Belle Isle, Boblo, Greenfield Village, Scotty’s Fish and Chips, Cape’s Ice Cream in Milford:  the list is diverse and goes on and on. A few weeks ago, Tom and I were lucky enough to take a trip to the Lower Peninsula. Below are some photos of the trip.

Mackinac Island

Lake Huron

Lake Huron

milkweed pod, Mackinac Island

milkweed pod

rocks, trees, steps, Mackinac Island

rocks, trees, steps, Mackinac Island

Sleeping Bear

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan

pine needles and fungus

pine needles and fungus

shore, Sleeping Bear National Lake Shore

shore, Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

Detroit

at the Rouge Plant, Dearborn

at the Rouge Plant, Dearborn

from Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry Murals, Detroit Institute of Art

from Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry Murals, Detroit Institute of Art

Cotswold Cottage, Greenfield Village, Dearborn, Michigan

Cotswold Cottage, Greenfield Village, Dearborn

 

at Scotty's Fish and Chips

at Scotty’s Fish and Chips

 

 

Coat, Hats, and Words

I am still here.  However, it has been 82 days since I last wrote in this space.

First, some words about clothes, and then some other words.

Clothes:

In the winter, especially when I wear my pink coat and my little aqua hat (rimmed with pink), people sometimes offer me their seats on the Metro. Some of the people who offer me seats seem pretty old themselves. Most of the people who offer me a seat are immigrants. I am learning to either politely accept or politely decline.  It’s difficult, but I am what I am–older than I used to be. It’s just that I wish that that fact wasn’t so apparent to everyone on the train.

pink coat, aqua hat

In the summer, I mostly wear two hats. I say mostly because my daughter gave me a third lovely broad-brimmed summer straw, but I almost lost it to the wind walking across Key Bridge, so I hesitate to wear it much. Instead, I wear a Michigan ball cap and when I wear it I look like Michael Moore. I like Michael Moore, but perhaps it is not my best look. The other hat I wear is a loose, rustic straw hat.  When I wear this hat, I feel like Ma Kettle.  Now, I just googled Ma Kettle and I see that she wore a variety of hats.  In any case, I feel like a rube and I can only hope to emulate Ma’s good sense.

broad-brimmed straw hat

Michigan ball cap

country straw hat

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other words:

  • I have had a good spring and summer, so far. I have walked with my beloved one in many lovely gardens. Actually, we have also walked in the same gardens many times over and watched the plants change week by week.  I have visited with many friends and family here in  Washington, D.C. and Virginia and also in Ohio and Michigan. Tom has been on a cooking spree from Francis Lam’s kimchi and Spam fried rice and Jacques Pepin’s paella to Ruth Reichl’s chocolate jewel cake. It’s good that we spend so much time walking and going to the gym.
  • And yet, there is a pall on my heart and in my mind. I feel like I am  wandering in Minas Tirith when the darkness from Mordor starts to roll in.  Let me see if I can explain. Every day on Facebook, I click furiously on angry and sad emojis: destruction of our lands-click; rampant racism-click; women’s (and everyone else’s) health and well-being assaulted-click; children ripped from their parents and put in cages-click, click, click; mass murders of innocents-click, click, click, click. You get the idea. I pray–and that is hard for an agnostic–for the light to come in the morning, I want to be as brave, cheerful, and effective as a hobbit. I am not, but I try.
  • Some are sick and some are well. I am not the only one growing older.  A friend dies unexpectedly and a sweet baby girl is born.
  • Some days my glass half-full mantra irritates even me.  That my close to the ground cheerful wishes could stand up against all the lies and the forces of hate? Do I really believe that? Well, yes, much of the time.  I believe in kindness, generosity, earnestness, hard work, bravery and good humor. I see it in my life and I hope to die before I give up on such ideals.
  • Beauty helps me, so I will end with that.  See you in the gardens, mountains, lakes, and deserts and at the marches and maybe on the ramparts. Maybe I will be wearing a hat.

in the Mary Livingston Ripley Garden

Natural Bridge, Virginia

robin’s eggshell and plants

bee on phlox, Mt. Cuba Center, Delaware

in the gazebo, Gotelli Collection, National Arboretum

 

Spring 2019

Although it has been 74 days since I lasted posted an article, I have not  been hibernating. It was more like being in a fitful sleep full of bad dreams: children in cages, floods in the countryside,  the demise of civil discourse, and lies, lies, lies. That’s in the night and also when I compulsively check the latest news throughout the day. Otherwise, Tom and I take lots of walks.

A Good Sign Every day for the last four days I have caught myself sounding like my mother.  When she was happily focused on a task, my mother sometimes vocalized a low, mostly tuneless, hum.  It seemed to be the sound of contentment. I have been humming as I work around the condo and as I pull up invasive weeds in the nearby parks.

Spring has come to the Washington, DC area.  Everywhere I walk, I see extravagant and exuberant beauty. I see the beauty not only in the flowers, but also in the commuters, the joggers, the protesters, the school groups, and other visitors to the capital city.

I try to look at the glass as half full. Some days and weeks–especially in our current social and political climate–that is difficult for me. Thinking about my mother and walking through the springtime helps restore my optimism. Below are some photos from recent walks. Happy Spring.

purple pansies

Spring, U.S. Botanic Gardens

Four Mile Run, Arlington, Virginia

REDress Project, National Museum of the American Indian*

hillside, Belvedere Park, Arlington, Virginia

pink tulips

American hollies, Rosslyn

early azaelas

Mary Livingston Ripley Garden

hellebore, Mary Livingston Ripley Garden

redbud, U.S. Botanic Garden

Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building

dwarf fothergilla

tulips and a dandelion

Virginia Bluebells, U.S. Botanic Garden

in the neighborhood

  • You can find more information about the REDress Project here.