Archives for posts with tag: nature
I spy golden trumpets.

I spy golden trumpets.

My parents bought an old farm when I was in high school. The barn area had masses of daffodils fanning out like the sea from land-locked oaks and magnolias. Picking yellow ‘til I was blue in the face was a ritual. I miss that annual carpet of happiness.

Daffodils are hard to pin down. The late-16th-century word for what you see above went through several linguistic twists but is rooted in the Greek asphodelos, which in turn is of unknown origin.

Daffs are sort of stuck on themselves. In a fake, self-love-practicing kind of way. Their Latin name? Narcissus pseudonarcissus. (Why, thank you, Carl.) 50% ego; 50% not.

Daffodils are sneaky. So where did these yellow-crowned, graceful ballerinas spring from? Who gave them that tenacious d-? Sources say the Netherlands are to blame. Specifically, the Dutch language: its definite article, “de,” hooked up with the affable bulb, affodil. And there you have the story of stunning, sunny glory.

You say Autumn, I say Fall.

You say Autumn, I say Fall.

The yellows this season have been spectacular: Ginkgos, buckeyes, chrysanthemums, hickory trees, poplars and aspens, to boot.

The reds and purples cannot be bested: Dogwoods, Japanese maples, burning brush bushes, mountain apples and sorghum.

Orange is the new neutral: Jack o’ lanterns, fothergilla, oaks, mini pumpkin trees, Chinese lanterns, red kuris and butternuts.

Green is the hang-on color: Pines, green hubbards, magnolias, acorn squash, cha cha kabochas and jarrahdales.

Brown and black won’t be left out, either: Acorns masting and brittle leaves descending — those aerial concerts; bark and branches don’t get much respect.

And finally, white not? Casper and great white pumpkins and snowball mums stir us to what’s next.

Tie-dye foliage…none of which blues me. Now, just who will bottle this?

One of nature's floral water vessels.

One of nature’s floral water vessels.

Once upon a time there was a bed of flowers past its prime. On a sunny winter day walking around Agnes Scott during a break from a short course, I came across these. I think they are hydrangeas. So glad the college gardeners found the shrub’s sculptural beauty worth leaving for others to admire.

Curiosity got the best of Little Miss Etymology.  The Greek hydr- from hydor meaning “water” was obvious. But it wasn’t until I got to peering at the dark brown clusters on my screen that I connected -angea (from angeion for “vessel or capsule”) to what are actually cup-shaped seed pods.

Ice cream that doesn’t break a sweat.

Dreamstones, as they are commonly referred to, are essentially “nature imitating nature” in vertical canvases of rock. So highly regarded were these naturally occurring Cangshan蒼山 deposits from Yunnan Province (Southwest China) that the town where much of it comes from, Dali, lent its name to the Chinese word for marble: da4li3shi2, roughly “big texture stone” or 大理石。What a coincidence then that the Spanish great, Dalí, was principally a landscape artist.

First prized by scholars and the like-minded, the marble also formed a type of tribute to the Imperial Court. Unfortunately, along came a revolution, and the stones and most everything associated with them was destroyed, their romancers nearly silenced. You see, you don’t just cut a slice from the quarry, mount it in wood and call it art. There’s technique, knowledge and an eye for color and pattern that go into choosing, classifying and interpreting the marble. Raw stories in the massif; collected stories waiting to be polished.

The Imperial Moth, Eacles imperialis.

Not sure what drew this beautiful creature to the Shell station, but it was huge — easily the length of my phone— and did not move the entire time I was there filling my tank. I think it liked the heat; it surely was not there to hear that annoying recording promoting the current soft drink promotion. Thank goodness for the mute button. Come Fall, you would not be able to tell this hyper-winged thing from a tulip poplar leaf.


Or is it the curb-matching tree? Whichever view you take, this specimen never holds back.

Rudbeckia beckons me.

The 2010 night slugs got most of these, but this year they have come back strong.

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