Saturday, February 20, 2010

Smokies hike

Kenny and I met our friend Chris, her daughter Amanda, and sister-in-law Belinda in the Smokies today. They were visiting from Wewahitchka, FL to see the snow --- they have not been disappointed! We stayed in the lower elevations and hiked to the Greenbriar School and the Walker Sisters' Cabin. Teachers should never complain about their classrooms when they see something like this! One teacher taught all grades in this one room. Those wooden desks would not have been very comfortable!

The 5 old-maid Walker Sisters refused to leave the Greenbriar area when the national park took over. They were allowed to live out their days in this cabin until the last sister died in 1965. They were highly self-sufficient and ran a successful farm by themselves. Some other hikers took our photo on the porch of the cabin. From left to right: Kris (me), Belinda, Chris, Amanda, and Kenny.

As we were hiking we enjoyed seeing the plants, fungi and lichens along the trail. Here are Dog Pelt and Smoky-eyed Boulder Lichens on a rock along with some pretty moss. Chris and Amanda are interested in nature and photography, so we had a lot of fun even though there were no wildflowers in bloom yet. Amanda and I spotted a log spanning a creek that had fresh bobcat tracks in the snow on it. The great thing about being a "nature nut" is I can always find something interesting when I'm on a hike. Nature is never boring if you just keep your eyes open. It is even more fun when it can be shared with others who are as interested as I am! :) Chris and I met through my website when she was looking up Florida wildflowers, we started corresponding and sharing photos of flowers last year. Kenny and I got to meet her family when we were in Florida in Dec. So, that proves that it is possible to meet nice people over the internet! :)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A promise of spring!

What a nice surprise it was to come home from my classes this afternoon to see some flowers blooming in the yard! The sky is a brilliant blue, the sun is shining and it is actually above freezing! The TV meteorologist said earlier this week that this has been the coldest February in a very long time. I had to go out and get some pictures of the flowers. The Winter Aconite (left) is always a treat to see with its brilliant yellow petals. Over the years this patch of purple Snow Crocus has multiplied so it looks like a bouquet when they bloom. Does that make them a "croquet"? ;)

The Lenten Rose (left) plants have been blooming for a while now, they had snow on the flowers earlier in the week. I really enjoy seeing their pretty flowers, but I always have to dead-head them to keep them from going to seed, otherwise I would have nothing in my yard but them!
Another nice surprise was to see a honeybee diving head first into a white crocus blossom. She was gathering nectar and pollen to take back to her hive. I don't know if she is a wild bee or if someone around here has hives. The little early daffodils are in bud, so they should be blooming in another week or so.

As much as I love the flowers, I must admit, I hope we get a couple more snows. Yesterday I bought an easel to hold my velvet board for the snowflakes, I'd like to get the chance to try it out. No more propping it up on the grill and the house!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Happy Mardi Gras! In honor of this festive day, I "doctored" some snowflakes I caught this morning! Have a great
"Fat Tuesday"! These photos are cropped very hard, so they will look better at this resolution instead of enlarging them.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Snowy Presidents' day!

For once, the meteorologists got it right! We woke up to about 1.5" of heavy, wet snow. It was so pretty, every twig was outlined in white. The trees looked especially pretty with the dark clouds in the background early in the morning. I wanted to get photos of holly berries in the snow, but when I looked at the bush on the side of the house, it had been stripped, not one berry remained. I guess the robins had a feast last week!

Of course, I enjoyed watching the birds in the tree behind the house. I felt sorry for a little Downy Woodpecker. He had taken a peanut from the feeder and wedged it into a furrow of the tree bark. Just as he was getting ready to enjoy it, a Blue Jay flew up screaming in its raucous voice and drove the woodpecker away. It seemed to really enjoy its ill-gotten meal (right)! He (or one of his relatives) did strike some nice poses on the tree so I could get some nice photos later.

Some of the other birds I saw were Black-capped Chickadees (right), Tufted Titmice (left), Cardinals, Towhees, various sparrows, and a Goldfinch.

It's a good thing I didn't have to teach today, I have had a sinus infection and laryngitis the past couple of days. That is no fun! I still bundled up and went out to try and photograph some snowflakes today. I didn't have much luck, either they were broken or the wind kept blowing them off before I could get any good shots. That was frustrating! Some snow days are better than others for photography.

I had an interesting weekend. Kenny and I went to Nashville on Thursday. I had been invited to give a presentation on wildflowers to the Davidson County Master Gardeners. I decided to talk to the group about the middle Tennessee Cedar Glades. Those areas contain several endemic (and endangered wildflowers), some of them grow in only 3 counties. The talk was well-attended with 80 - 90 people. I enjoy getting the opportunity to speak to adults for a change! :)