I found this delightful little American witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) in bloom on the tiny island I used as a lunch stop a little while ago. The petals look like thin strips of yellow paper. I don't know of many other trees that put their flowers out this late in the year - perfect for being fertilized by winter moths!
Sunday, October 31, 2021
Witches: Brooms and Hazels
Saturday, October 30, 2021
The noisiest part of my day was the sound of my windcheater scraping dryly against my sides as I paddled, and of my hard shelled kayak negotiating the screech of dried out pickerelweed leaves.
I could see out from my little island with a 360° view of the water, lily pads, and banks of glowing trees. I found iridescent red berries ready for winter wildlife, a beaver lodge, gorgeous soft mosses and baby scrub oaks.
Friday, October 29, 2021
Wait! Whaaaat? Vegan leather? No! What does that mean? My first facetious response of course, is "don't tell me you're going to eat it!" (okay, I'm obviously referring to a dietary vegan)
But secondly, I can't get my mind to grasp the concept - I understand organic leather, indicating it was raised in an ethical way, but vegan? It's a tautology, right? Really, who are we trying to kid? Leather comes from animals. According to my dictionary, it's "a material made from the skin of an animal by tanning or a similar process."
So what is vegan leather? It's made from artificial or plant material - it is NOT leather, by definition. It mimics leather, but is not leather. I can only guess that the term 'faux leather' or 'artificial leather' is not as appealing to the market as vegan leather. Why must we pretend it's leather? Clearly it's because the characteristics of leather are unique and prized - it's a special material.
The underside of this floating leaf may LOOK leathery, but it wouldn't hold up as a handbag!
Come on! Be real - be honest, and use words appropriately instead of blowing smoke in our faces in order to line your pockets!
Thursday, October 28, 2021
A Beautiful Book
I'm re-reading The Overstory by Richard Powers, having just finished it. I found it compelling, relatable and enlightening. I can see that it's not for everyone, that it may expose me as a crackpot (as some of its kooky characters are, but that's common in many stories, not just those about trees), and that many readers may find it boring.
To me, it's an amazing piece of work about our disconnect from nature. It's about human characters and old growth forests, of their community and connectedness, but told as a piece of fiction! Powers is incredibly skilled at weaving forests and trees into people's everyday lives and relationships. It's so moving. I LOVE it. The factual information expressed through the characters' dialogue and experiences often hit me in the gut and strike a sensitive chord in my soul.
One of his characters exclaims, "Improve forest health! As if forests were waiting all these 400 million years for us newcomers to come cure them."
One tree-hugging character lets us know that planting new trees to replace what we can allowably cut each year, is like "putting in babies so they can kill grandfathers" - a way to gain 'good citizen points' and ease our consciences. In the case of redwoods, some of these grandfathers can be between 500 and 700 years old. Where's the morality in that?
Wednesday, October 27, 2021
I love to bake! And to experiment, too. After watching the "The Great British Bake Off" on Netflix, I've realized how much knowledge I already have in my mind's arsenal. And it's given me the confidence to be a little more adventurous. I must admit though, that the producer's attempts at inserting corny comedians into the mix riles me.
Yes, the results of my creative efforts do 'show' in my physique, but I mean, how else would I know if my food explorations were any good if I didn't try them? Since my GP didn't chastise me about my weight gain at my annual physical this month, I think that eating the products of my labor are ... deserved! (As an aside, he DID compliment me on my cholesterol index - saying I had values that most people would love to have! Of course I told him it's because I eat healthy food and no processed, convenience stuff, but I declined to mention my baking craze ... okay, so I admit, this was just a ruse to boast about my triglycerides and good cholesterol values. How silly and vain am I to be so flattered by his comment!).
So here is one of my healthy experiments. I used mashed bananas instead of the cup of sugar this recipe called for, and it's made solely with wholegrain flour. No sugar at all. They make a delicious breakfast muffin, warmed in the microwave for a few seconds and then moistened with a dab of butter:
Nutty Wheat Muffins
1 cup boiling water
1 cup raisins
1 cup mashed bananas
1 Tbsp soft margarine
2 cups wholewheat meal
1 tsp Baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 -1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
Pour boiling water over raisins and allow to cool slightly. Mix the mashed bananas and margarine together.
Add the wholewheat flour, and sifted baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the raisin mixture. Mix well.
Spoon the batter into greased muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes in a 350 F oven.
Serve hot, sliced and buttered.
Tuesday, October 26, 2021
I have a short story called The Interminable Search in this publication - so excited! It's my first submission that has been though a selection process and survived to be seen in print (hmm, not that I've been diligent in submitting very many).
Goose River Press is in Waldoboro, Maine, close to the Goose River. The editor and her spouse came from the area, and they raised their family there as well, hence the name of her press.
Monday, October 25, 2021
I paid for my laziness today! I was setting out to survey some secluded coves in my kayak, and thought I could cut out a huge chunk of kayaking by 'putting in' at the opposite side of the 'groomed' launch area (I was on a narrow peninsula). This brainwave would save me having to paddle all the way up one side of an island I'd already surveyed to get into the enclosed collection of still water coves. I wanted to cover as many inlets as I could in one afternoon. As you can see from my photo below, there was a very slight breeze disturbing the water's surface.
Since my intended launch spot had an abrupt drop-off at the water's edge into the lake, I checked first to see if I'd be able to get a solid footing on the lake bottom in order to step into my kayak. I held on to one of the trees in the foreground and tested it. I was wearing my trusty wellingtons so I didn't have to get my feet wet in the cold water. The substrate was firm, and held my weight. I could see that the shallow part was narrow and the slope dropped off quickly into deep, black water, but I only needed 2 feet's worth of space. I was pretty pleased with myself for having thought ahead to check this out, and of course, for thinking of a more efficient way of reaching my goal location.
Sunday, October 24, 2021
Saturday, October 23, 2021
Arrowheads in Fall
Friday, October 22, 2021
What Lies Beneath
Looking intently through the water allows the hidden treasures and obstacles to be revealed. It's a little like looking out into space - an apparent barrier that isn't really there if we look closely enough.
Thursday, October 21, 2021
Colorful seed husks
Variegated, held aloft
By floating rush strands.
The shapes and colors
Remind me of fennel seeds
A breath freshener!
Wednesday, October 20, 2021
Tuesday, October 19, 2021
Hmm, could this be a close up of elephant skin?
Monday, October 18, 2021
I took these photos of what looks like I drove into a kayak (or that a kayak came through my window) after my aborted attempt to open the back hatch of our compact little car at the end of my invasive plant survey.
For some reason, at random times, the back hatch won't open, and we haven't quite discovered why, or how to overcome it in a secure, foolproof and consistent manner - it usually just requires a lot of key-in-lock jiggling, latch clasping and unclasping, fiddling with the latch mechanism from the inside, banging on the chassis, or spraying lubricant into the lock.I was tired and dying to get home for lunch, and none of the tried and tested 'tricks' had worked. I felt as if I was going insane - we're all familiar with the quote, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." So after about 20 minutes of insanity, I decided to try a new approach that would not require asking for help, knowing that it would probably take Dale's touch just 10 seconds to open it!
Sunday, October 17, 2021
A Selection of Turtles
I often see turtles sunning themselves, but they're usually very quick to disappear as soon as I'm within 'shooting' range.
This one's already on its way under
Looks as if this one's balancing on its shell with its feet splayed
Saturday, October 16, 2021
I think this is a white heath aster, or Symphyotrichum ericoides, a nondescript native adored by bees, flies, wasps, skippers, moths and butterflies. It puts on a brilliant show in its abundance.