Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fall Trails

Fall leaves can make walking a trail or path a bit difficult. First off, they hide the trail, making it harder to locate if you're not so familiar with the pathway. But if it has rained recently, leaves also make the path slippery, especially going downhill. I have plenty of ups and downs along the trails around my home! Downed trees can also create a dilemma. Which path is best? Because the leaves hide the terrain, I am unsure which way to start a new path because I don't want to disturb areas where the lady slippers or trilliums tend to bloom, or the soft coating of mosses. Nevertheless, I continue, enjoying the shape of the land and long view of the mountain behind me.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Whole lotta shakin' goin' on!

Well, it's been an exciting week here in Franklin County. My daughter Kaitlin has returned to UMW and immediately lost power in her apartment due to a severe storm in Fredericksburg. Thankfully, all of her belongings made it to the 4th floor before the storm and power outage (the elevator was working). We are anticipating hurricane Irene to bring some stormy weather to the east coast over the next few days, so that is being monitored. But the big news? Earthquakes! Shaking and groaning earthquakes! Tuesday's 5.8 magnitude quake centered in Mineral, VA was felt by many up and down eastern North America. That matched the previously held record from Giles County. Following that have been at least 4 aftershocks, one of which woke me up from a good night's sleep! Thursday morning's 4.5 magnitude tremor caused enough shaking of my house to awaken me, cause the beams in my house to creak, and glassware to tinkle in the cabinet. Those moving plates are stressing out Virginia's old faults. And you Californians shouldn't scoff too loudly-our old solid rocks are passing on the seismic waves much farther than the young San Andreas rocks! Besides, on Tuesday, 8/23/11, Virginia had the strongest quake of the day in North America!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Amazing plants

I am always amazed that plants, especially trees, can grow just about anywhere! This fairly good-sized maple has spread its roots around the boulder, then down into the soil. The mosses and ferns located around the tree base usually take hold first and help break down the rock into sediments, eventually into soil. This tree just couldn't wait for that to happen, so it adapted to its situation and grew!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Afternoon summer thunderstorms are very common here. Hail seems to be occurring more often this summer. This five-minute storm of hail tore holes in my hostas! A few young sunflowers were knocked over as well. I put one in the freezer in order to measure and observe; it's marble-sized!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Another reason I love the beach is because of the sea shells. I really can't explain the obsession I have with collecting them. I have thousands, yet every time I go to the beach I must collect more. Maybe it's because each one is unique, maybe it's because they are free. For whatever reason, when I begin walking along the beach, I must stop and inspect shell colors and look for unusual shapes. This trip, I have decided that since I already have so many, I will take this year's collection back to school with me and share with my students. Some students have probably not been to a beach, and might be happy to have one of my beauties. I just hope I can share!

Rhythms of Nature

One reason I love visiting the beach is because nature is so predictable there. The waves come up to shore and back out consistently all day long. The breeze blows all day long. The plovers and sanderlings scurry along the water and gulls float overhead on the breeze. My stress sinks into the sand as I lie on my back and listen to the waves and birds. No electronics necessary.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Signs of Spring

After such a dreary winter with little snow but lots of grey, I was thrilled to get a glimpse of color a few days ago. There are also yellow crocuses blooming in another area of my "yard"* that I saw this afternoon, and the forsythia are budding out. I also discovered buds on my plum trees, which are great producers for the squirrels and blue jays in my neighborhood! They seem to like the plums a little sour, so I don't get any. The warmer temperatures are coaxing out some green in the other yards around the neighborhood. It's definitely nice to live in a temperate zone and not more northerly or westerly, where winter still has a strong grip.
* I do not grow grass in my yard, but I have lots of moss, and currently leaves!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Mountain ridges

I live below the northern sloping ridge of Lynville Mountain. This is a view I have from my driveway. I like the fact that in the winter I can see the shape of the landscape. It makes the mountain seem a little less intimidating-maybe I can hike up that mountain one day when it's a little warmer! On this particular afternoon, the sun created a nice contrast, along with a few clouds rolling by. I hope it stays pristine the way it is now, with no cell towers or houses, roads or windmills, to tarnish my view.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Recycled trees

We have always enjoyed cut trees from local tree farms for Christmas at my house. This year was a lovely Fraser Fir that held on to its needles the entire three weeks it was decorated in our home. Because it was still so lovely, the week after the holiday when all decorations were removed, the tree was placed on our deck. I think it added a fresh look to the deck. In fact, I have considered getting a live tree next year so I can keep the tree! A few birds used the outdoor tree as a temporary home. They flew away when we exited onto the deck. But, I have now placed the tree in the woods to give better cover to the birds and other animals. I know some people mulch their trees. In Roanoke, the city does the mulching and spreads it throughout town. All of you who use fake trees to conserve trees and your own money, my hat's off to you. I just love the smell of the real thing and am glad to support the local farmers.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Everyone's ready for Spring!

With temperatures rising near 50 degrees F today, the forest and farm were busy with all kinds of creatures out and about. This lone turkey vulture was quite a sight. He was taking advantage of his wide wingspread and sunlight angle to absorb as much warmth possible. It was an intimidating sight to see such a large bird with wings outspread just standing there! Almost like he was daring me to come closer.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snowflakes and such

We're suffering together this wet winter weather. But it can be beautiful as well as an inconvenience! When water molecules freeze, hexagons form. Their molecular bonds form the six-sided snowflakes. Snowflakes are among nature’s loveliest things. These flakes are unique, no two alike. In air that’s more humid, or drier, different shapes grow: needles, columns, and plates form and can be alike, not so unique. Other forms of precipitation: Sleet’s just a raindrop that froze on its way down. Wet rain that falls at supercooled temperatures and then freezes on surfaces is freezing rain. And of course, plain old rain also fell on Wednesday morning. Rain is melted snowflakes!