Category: In Nature

My Birthday Orchid

Kate purchased this Phalaenopsis, at Home Depot, about a week before my birthday, in September. It soon made its way up to Maine, where it has mostly lived in my bedroom since it arrived. I did bring it to the dining room table around Thanksgiving for a visit.

Originally, there were two spikes, filled with blossoms, on the plant. They lasted a good long while, but eventually began to drop, until as I sit to write these words, there is one bloom left.

I believe Kate paid around twenty dollars for the plant; I am not unaware that that is a lot of money to spend on something as frivolous as flowers. But in the case of orchids, I think there is room for an exception.

First, I do so love orchids, as my Mother did before me, and so many of my orchids are gifts, many from people no longer with us. Secondly, long after it blooms, I will re-pot and feed the plant, and usually within a year, a new flower spike will appear. If all goes well, in a couple more years, the orchid will produce a pup or maybe two; continuing to give joy and even allow itself to be divided and shared. How can that not be viewed as a good investment of twenty dollars?

In Nature

First Snow

The first snow announces that winter has begun, regardless of what the calendar may say. There have been a few days of flurries this autumn, but this is our first snow of the season; and it has been a multiple day event.

My forest is covered in white fluffy snow, perfect for sledding, snow ball fights, and snow men!

The river is not yet frozen, but I do not think the ducks could find puddling room in the pond; it has gone to sleep until spring.

Changing seasons make one more aware of the passage of time; to everything there really is a season, and our days are appointed. It is good to anticipate blossoms of spring and the warmth of summer; but I do not want to let winter go by without living in this moment, as well.

I do not think a drink of water could be had today

Hard to imagine, but I predict at least one more bonfire this year.

A tree tall enough to stand under, it would offer shelter.

It looks so fragile; almost as if covered in ice, instead of snow.



The Great Salt Lake


The road should be immune from the clock, but unfortunately, there are times, as when the sun will soon be setting, and you must indeed surrender to the race. A return visit to The Great Salt Lake was one such time for us.

The Great Salt Lake and Salt Lake City are located only about twenty miles apart from each other, nevertheless,on our previous trips to Salt Lake City, since our initial visit to The Great Salt Lake, we had not made it out to the Lake, and this time, I had determined to stop and photograph it for these pages.

Central to the majesty of the United States is its natural diversity; Ms. Katharine Lee Bates correctly described this nation with her words to America the Beautiful: “Oh, beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, for purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain! America! America! God shed his grace on thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.”

There is a wonder standing at the rim of a magnificent lake, under an endless blue sky, surrounded by mountains, that leaves you in a state of awe.





Salt instead of sand



Beds of salt



The sunset we raced to beat


From Wikipedia:

“The Great Salt Lake, located in the northern part of the U.S. state of Utah, is the largest salt water lake in the Western Hemisphere, and the eighth-largest terminal lake in the world . . . In terms of surface area, it is the largest lake in the United States that is not part of the Great Lakes region.

The lake is the largest remnant of Lake Bonneville, a prehistoric pluvial lake that once covered much of western Utah. The three major tributaries to the lake, the Jordan, Weber, and Bear rivers together deposit approximately 1.1 million tons of minerals in the lake each year. As it is endorheic (has no outlet besides evaporation), it has very high salinity (far saltier than seawater) and its mineral content is steadily increasing. Due to the high density resulting from its mineral content, swimming in the Great Salt Lake is similar to floating. Its shallow, warm waters cause frequent, sometimes heavy lake-effect snows from late fall through spring.

Although it has been called “America’s Dead Sea”, the lake provides habitat for millions of native birds, brine shrimp, shorebirds, and waterfowl, including the largest staging population of Wilson’s phalarope in the world.”



Endorheic Lakes; also from Wikipedia:

“Endorheic lakes are bodies of water that do not flow into the sea. Most of the water falling on Earth finds its way to the oceans through a network of rivers, lakes and wetlands. However, there is a class of water bodies that are located in closed or endorheic watersheds where the topography prevents their drainage to the oceans. These endorheic watersheds (containing water in rivers or lakes that form a balance of surface inflows, evaporation and seepage) are often called terminal lakes or sink lakes.

Endorheic lakes are usually in the interior of a landmass, far from an ocean in areas of relatively low rainfall. Their watersheds are often confined by natural geologic land formations such as a mountain range, cutting off water egress to the ocean. The inland water flows into dry watersheds where the water evaporates, leaving a high concentration of minerals and other inflow erosion products. Over time this input of erosion products can cause the endorheic lake to become relatively saline (a “salt lake”). Since the main outflow pathways of these lakes are chiefly through evaporation and seepage, endorheic lakes are usually more sensitive to environmental pollutant inputs than water bodies that have access to oceans, as pollution can be trapped in them and accumulate over time.”



Actual grains of salt, how wild is that!


In Nature

A Stroll Through the Backyard

“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.”

~ Emily Bronte ~

“Why is it that so many of us persist in thinking that autumn is a sad season? Nature has merely fallen asleep, and her dreams must be beautiful if we are to judge by her countenance.”

~Samuel Taylor Coleridge ~

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

~ Lucy Maud Montgomery ~

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”

~ Albert Camus ~

“God made sun and moon to distinguish the seasons, and day and night; and we cannot have the fruits of the earth but in their seasons. But God hath made no decrees to distinguish the seasons of His mercies. In Paradise the fruits were ripe the first minute, and in heaven it is always autumn. His mercies are ever in their maturity.”

~John Donne ~

“As long as autumn lasts, I shall not have hands, canvas and colors enough

to paint the beautiful things I see.”

~ Vincent Van Gogh ~


My Container Garden’s Visit to the Sunshine



We decided to take the container garden outside this summer; the plants which live around the indoor pool.



There were plans of doing some painting in the pool room and we most definitely wanted to give it a good cleaning; but it was also time to do a lot of repotting and maintenance, which I felt would be easier to do outside.


(I wonder how the dinosaur found a home  in the Cuban oregano 😉 


Initially, I scattered the plants around the yard, and added a few annuals in pots. I very much enjoyed watching how happy the plants were in the sun, and even solved a mystery, well half solved it. This vine showed up, on its own, and I never knew what it was, I like that it grows in the conditions provided, but had no idea who he was; the sun and not enough water, in my opinion, actually brought him into bloom! He is a keeper!



When we decided to head west this summer, Kate created a watering system for the plants, thus they were all moved together.



Recently, I went out to sit in the midst of my container garden, wanting to enjoy a little sunshine too and the beauty of the plants; much to my delight a tiny hummingbird showed up to drink from the flowering basil. I am notorious for not caring my telephone with me, thus I did not get a picture of him, but I certainly enjoyed the visit. Later, standing inside, I saw him come say hi to the impatients; the quality of the photograph, shot through the window, certainly is lacking, but nevertheless, you can get a peek at him.



The nights are beginning to get chilly, and the first leaves have begun to turn and fall; it is time to bring the garden back into the house.



I feel a little bad for some of the plants, like the eggplant, who has a tiny eggplant forming; well more like she has put forward a beautiful purple flower, which will become an eggplant.



I hope she will have time to grow up; perhaps with a sunny enough spot indoors, all will be well.



I have so enjoyed how happy the herbs have been outside and of course watching the great-niece and great-nephews pick tomatoes, and eat them, was a delight!



I love the garden; I hate the limitations of time on both me and my plants, but if there is anything which reminds you to live in the present, while planning for the future, it is gardening – well, and children too.



The tomatoes were so happy to come outside.






Originally, I took this picture excited to see the baby Brussel sprouts; later, when I uploaded the shoot, I was particularly taken by the juxtaposition of this photo. I smiled at the very American Brussel sprouts, shadowed by the very Cuban banana tree.

In Nature

Petrified Wood



The first road trip souvenir Kate and I bought was a piece of petrified wood, which to this day, hangs in the house.




At the time, we were quite broke, and thrilled to have a little sliver of this fascinating material. When I was a child, I lived in Winslow, Arizona for six months; until my family revolted and told my Father he had to get us out of the dessert, we moved to Bell, California. But while we lived in Arizona, my Father did one of the things he did best, he took us site seeing!

Between the movies and the cowboy novels he read, my Father loved the “old west” and he loved showing us the sites. Thus we toured Old Tucson and the Painted Dessert, visited several reservations and of course the Grand Canyon and the Petrified Forest. I remember falling and getting a piece of petrified wood stuck in my leg, at the National Park; I have always been a klutz. My Mother could not get the wood, which feels and looks like stone, out of my leg; thus she mixed a compress of lard and baking soda, which she put over the piece of wood, wrapped my leg and told me to trust her. The next day, she unwrapped my leg, put the tiniest bit of pressure around the “wound” and out popped the splinter! I was so impressed, I could not believe it!

Anyway, when Kate and I left Ohio, in 1987, driving to California, our only stop was in Flagstaff, Arizona, where we were actually robbed, in our hotel; nevertheless, Arizona has held a special place in my life and in hers. Our go to vacation, when we lived in Long Beach, California, and the giant, plastic, Coke bottle bank would have enough money for gas and a hotel, was Motel 6, in Mesa, Arizona.

I would say my post about Nature has gotten away from me a bit; but I am not entirely sorry. To return to topic, petrified wood is literally wood that has become stone; and while in the states we think of it almost exclusively as being in our National Park, it can be found in various other states and in fact all over the world, and it is worth looking for!



“Petrified wood (from the Latin root petro meaning “rock” or “stone”; literally “wood turned into stone”) is the name given to a special type of fossilized remains of terrestrial vegetation. It is the result of a tree or tree-like plants having completely transitioned to stone by the process of permineralization. All the organic materials have been replaced with minerals (mostly a silicate, such as quartz), while retaining the original structure of the stem tissue. Unlike other types of fossils which are typically impressions or compressions, petrified wood is a three-dimensional representation of the original organic material.”


A Lunar Lander
At the Roadside

Not all roadside rest stops are created equal; you pull over to use the facilities and to stretch your legs, usually, though not always, in a park like atmosphere.


In Westonia, Mississippi, however, the beautiful magnolias come with an added attraction; the actual trainer used by the Apollo 13 astronauts, for their trip to the Moon. This is not a stroll through Nature you will easily forget!


Mr. Hays was born in Mississippi


Yes, Kate stepping into Fred Hays footprints!


In Nature

Market Square Park

This was my initial view of Market Square Park; and what drew me to take a closer look. I was not intrigued by overflowing flower beds or well groomed trees, rather the benches and table! I wanted to take a closer look; and I was not disappointed.


I happened upon Market Square Park, located in the Historic District of Downtown Houston, Texas, while looking for their 9-11 Memorial; which I will share with you in the future. This is not a vast, lush, green space, as one my expect for a major city’s park; rather it is a smaller, urban area, that brims with public art.

Yet what I loved was that it seemed to be designed to welcome people into the space, offering them a respite from what life can so easily become in our hurried world, as well as a touch of beauty that will not fade with the seasons.





For good measure . . . a dog!


And a fountain.


A Tempting Stroll Through Paradise

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden


A Tempting Stroll Through Paradise

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden


Broken Beauty

Can there be beauty in brokenness? I believe there can be and is; and I also believe that beauty is not just in the eye of the beholder.

When I bought this orchid, the stem was not bent; though a bent stem would not have been enough of an issue to disqualify the purchase. However, while transporting her home, the stem bent, before any of the flowers had opened.

I do not like to buy orchids in bloom, as I want to enjoy their blossoms, for as long as possible, once they come home. As I brought this plant into the kitchen, to study its wounds and to decide where it should live, I seriously contemplated what I should do about the stem. Would the weight of the bent stem unnecessarily stress the plant? Should I try to tape it or prop it up with a stake? Do I just take a deep breath and prune away what I believe is a stem that will never flower?

Other than the bud nearest the base, I was certain the rest of the stem would not open up; but I was wrong. How nice to be wrong!

I decided to do nothing, but to speak to my new plant and welcome her to her new home (yes, I do speak to my plants, just like I used to speak to my pets).

When the last bud opened, I was not surprised; but pleased. However, I did not expect the rest of the spike to bloom as well, but it did!

Do not despair if you find yourself with a broken promise of beauty; have faith my friend; you too may find yourself pleasantly surprised!