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Festival of the Trees #26

August 1st, 2008

It’s time for the August 1st, 2008 edition of the Festival of the Trees!  This week I find myself off traipsing (is that really a word?) across the north-central U.S. straggling from park to campground while seeking wifi connections.  We’ve ventured through oak-hickory forests, flooded farmland and endless cornfields.  No matter how often I’ve traveled this or another country, I’m amazed at the changing nature of the land (and especially the plant life) around us.   But here from the road is the Festival of the Trees.

As we enter the warmest days of summer, we are thankful for the shade of trees. The mornings have been cool, and the evenings bring a welcome respite from the heat of the day.  But could we ever imagine what our world might look like without the magic of trees?   It might look like those endless cornfields, or the pasture beyond the trees with a nice grassy meadow that is cut for hay every year.  But quite empty!

Of course deserts and oceans have their magic, yet I find that trees bring a unique contrast and perspective to life and somehow provide an extension of our vision and imagination.  This picture for example, taken by a 7-year old, sought the blue sky through the canopy of White Oak leaves and reaches through treetops for something more.

Blue sky through White Oak canopy

We so often lose our childlike wonder as we grow older, but seeing nature through the eyes of children allows us to remember it.  Seabrooke shares such wonder from children of the past and the heritage of The Royal Oak posted at The Marvelous in Nature.

Silvia, aka Salix Tree of Windywillow, shares a beautiful stand of Beech Woods.  Few trees strike such a magical chord within… I could get lost for hours among such gnarled branches!

And Wendy at Naturally Connected finds A Tree with a Special Message Inside, wondering if anyone else has seen something similar?

If you’ve ever been among the Giant Sequoias you almost feel messages of a different kind, and are humbled by the thousands of years they have stood tall among the moments of time on earth.  How does one grasp any sense of perspective while laying among the feet of these sentinels and looking up for hundreds of feet?

Laying among the Giant Sequoias

Rebecca from Pocahontas County Fare shares a more reflective view of Coleridge and how our imagination is often different from reality with This Basswood Bower My Prison (and those Rain Lizards are pretty neat too). 

Sometimes the same trees bring understanding and joy in new ways.  Shai Gluskin from EveryDayandEveryNight.com reflects on the personal history of a neighborhood tree with Linden Light and Shadow.

Yet so often our imagination reigns supreme. Jean at Tasting Rhubarb shares some shadowy Tree Creatures from the past.  They remind me of autumn, not so far off now, and becoming dizzy with flickering light and shadow while driving down a tree lined drive. 

Jane at Wrenaissance Reflections wonders Is There an Xfile for Trees?  I’ve seen many a storm damaged tree, but is there an explanation for this one?

And what would the roads of life be like without trees and forests?  I love a road that disappears among the trees for it conceals, for a moment perhaps, what new wonders lie beyond to surprise our fancy and stir the heart.

The road disappears among the trees

Sometimes we know little about the journey in the same way that we know little about a tree.  Yet it’s the journey that often reveals so much.  Pam Johnson Brickell  falls in love with a Loblolly Bay in the Low Country Wild, and has the chigger bites to prove it!   The pictures reveal her beautiful artwork and notes.

Mary Farmer shares her love for the science of trees with Deciduous Trees in the Tropics posted at A Neotropical Savanna.   Her site is an amazing labor of love, and an educational bonanza for those who want to learn more about plants and trees.  Count me in… or maybe I should just take a trip to Panama!?

Maneesh from Bangalore, India doesn’t share much about the trees, but he does share some amazing pictures about his beautiful country and the Singara Tea Garden.  

Jade Blackwater presents a New Book Release by Dr. Nalini Nadkarni, Between Earth and Sky: Our Intimate Connections to Trees posted at Arboreality – Tree Blogging.  Dr. Nadkarni’s book explores the countless ways that humans relate to trees in every aspect of our lives. Arboreality has so much about trees it’s amazing, and she shares the posts of several other bloggers below.  Thanks Jade!

In Stream of Thought at Anita’s Owl Creek Bridge we see a shadowy picture of a tree along a stream with equally shadowy thoughts.  I love the picture, and most of the poem….  Very creative and, ah, somewhat disturbing! 

Yet where some see shadow, others see light.  I am always amazed too by the size and shape of leaves.  Here we see Mulberry leaves glowing in the afternoon sun.

Mulberry leaves in July

Kate shares the connections she finds with Trees posted at Seeing is a Verb, and reaches even deeper to explore Trees, Roots and Suffering.

And Ash shares some interesting facts about Rock Whitebeams in Holyrood Park posted at Treeblog.  I didn’t even know there was such a tree!

The wonder of sharing our photography is that so few words are really necessary.  Something I forget at times, but Lene of Counting Petals reminds us quite simply that sometimes all we know of trees is what is left behind.  Almost like driftwood?  That might be a neat idea for a future edition of the Festival of the Trees, with pictures and stories of driftwood.

Yet today there is nothing left behind, and I thank all of the contributors for sharing your thoughts and creativity. I look forward to seeing you again… down that tree-lined road of our imagination.  Best wishes!

Flutterby in July

July 27th, 2008

We’re on the way to mid-summer and after all the rain it’s so nice and green!  And hot! And humid!  Ah, but with all the growing things we have lots of butterflies around.  Sometimes I don’t see them and wonder where they are, and then I’ll start noticing them everywhere.   That intentional thought thing perhaps. 

Have you ever been interested in a particular kind of car, and then for the next 3-4 days you see them everywhere?! 

And I saw a fox yesterday for the first time this year.  They’re always around, but we don’t see them often.  I didn’t have the camera, but the fox was running along the dam toward the woods.  I thought, “What’s Kuma doing down at the dam?  Wait… that’s not Kuma, that’s a fox!”  It quickly disappeared into the woods.   If you like dogs, you can read about our indefatigable Kuma here.  He really does look like a fox!

Speaking of foxes, our cat Princess has always been wary, but even more so it seems since Sparky left us last month.   We’re not sure, but he may have encountered a fox or coyote one night.  He still made it home amazingly enough, but something bit into his hind quarters.  He spent almost a week with a veterinarian, but in the end he couldn’t be helped.   There are lots of predators about, which indicates a healthy biodiversity in the area.  But sometimes it’s a little too close to home.  And yes, we let cats run around outside most of the time.  It’s a rural lifestyle, and the cats love to be outside. They also help keep mice and moles away. 

Of course the only predators I see chasing butteflies is the yellow lab.  Sometimes he’ll see one on the ground, stalk it slowly and then lunge at it.  He doesn’t catch them, but has a goofy look on his face that seems to imply it’s just for fun. 

One of our more common butterflies is the Giant Swallowtail.  These guys are fast but don’t seem to mind letting you get a good look at them.  

Giant Swallowtail butterfly

Now I’m not trying to make this “the insect blog” or anything, it’s just that there are so many around right now!  It’s not too difficult to get a picture of a butterfly on the ground, but to catch one in flight was another story. 

This guy was more like a “flutterby” as he danced around quickly in circles.  I probably took 30 pictures to get this one in focus.  I wonder if there are any aerodynamic lessons to learn from butterflies? 

Giant Swallowtail butterfly in July

I know that throughout the world butterfly “souvenirs” can be found in many cities.  Which is not necessarily a good thing, especially if some of the species are threatened due to habitat loss or overcollection.  But some of the collections for sale are amazing in the diversity of species and colors.  Collecting insects is generally a fine hobby and quite educational.  I remember taking an entomology class years ago and amassed quite the collection of creepy crawlies.  Not sure what happened to it, but that’s probably a good thing!

And if you’ve read this far, it’s well past time to say thank you for visiting.  I appreciate if you have time for a comment, but if you’re just passing by, that’s okay too.   Sometimes blogging can be discouraging when it seems like one is “writing into the wind” so to speak.  But as Ron has found, there are many wonderful “lurkers” out there… good people that stop by for reasons we may never know or understand.  I’m glad Ron’s back at it…   I don’t know how long I’ll continue to write or share pictures, but hopefully we’ll continue the journey for a good while.

We’re off on a traveling adventure this week and I may or may not get a chance to post.  There are so many other wonderful blogs out there and I’m really amazed and humbled with the stories and relationships that blogging fosters.   And yes!  Next week we’ll be posting the Festival of the Trees.  See you soon.

New Discoveries, Old Friends

July 16th, 2008

At least once a week I try to take a closer look at the property to see what might need done.  We all keep lists of “things to do” it seems, but I find it can be discouraging if you’re prone to writing a giant list of “things I would like to do” instead of focusing on what really needs done.  I always tended to write those big lists in the past, but now I’m finding out that as I get older I forget more often… so it all balances out! 

One of the good things about looking around is the chance to discover something you didn’t know about before.  We’ve been by some trees near the young boy’s “secret spot” many times in the past, but never noticed any with fruit.  The boy saw it first the other day, and noticed that red fruit was dropping to the ground.  Turns out it’s a Red Mulberry tree that I never knew we had. 

Red Mulberry tree

I remember thinking this looked like a mulberry, but never saw any fruit on it in the past.  Could it be because of the bees this year?   I don’t really know, but most mulberry fruit turns almost black before falling ripe, so I’m not sure why these were dropping early.  It’s a tall tree so I don’t expect to gather any fruit.  Good for the critters though.

Here’s a picture of some of my best friends in summer- the dragonfly.  These guys may look funny, but they cruise around at high speed looking for other little bugs to eat.  Their favorite?  Mosquitoes.  I’m all for anything that makes a dent in the mosquito population, especially around the water.   Plus it brings back fond memories.

Dragonfly in summer

One time as a kid I was fishing up north one summer with my father and my brother.  That week was my 16th birthday and we had a grand time.  I remember one night that a lone fisherman had not returned from a day on a remote lake, and everyone was worried about him. 

It was very late at night as we sat around the lodge, finally hearing the high pitched whine of a small boat engine approaching in the darkness.  The man tied up and got out, taking a little ribbing for being gone so long.  He was tired and disheveled looking, and said he got lost and then couldn’t get the motor started at sunset.  While he tried to get the motor started, he said he was attacked by giant clouds of mosquitoes and it was awful.  Then he heard this droning noise, and didn’t know what it was.  Before long, he said waves upon waves of enormous dragonflies came cruising to his rescue like attacking fighter jets, darting all throughout the mosquitoes for a good half hour and clearing the air.  He finally got the engine running and found his way home.  That was a pretty neat trip, and a neat birthday. 

Shades of Green

July 6th, 2008

Trees.  Those amazing mostly green things we so take for granted.  What would we do without them?  They bring to the world clean air, strength, beauty, shade, biodiversity and even help supply our energy needs in winter.  So much more than a simple list of course, but even so we usually just look at them, or through them.   Lately we’re enjoying the shade from our trees as the summer heat sets in.

Trees in summer in Missouri

But on August 1st we’ll look a little more closely while hosting the Festival of the Trees right here at Fox Haven Journal.  Nothing fancy, just an eclectic mix of pictures and words shared by creative people who appreciate the wonder and magic of Trees. 

So you are most welcome to join us, even if you think writing about trees is crazy.  But you’ve got to admit, they’re pretty darn useful.   If you have a treeish blog post to share, you can submit it through the online submission form, or through our Contact page.

Maybe we’ll find a pattern in the mix of submissions, and perhaps some kind of theme will emerge.  But don’t count on it; I’m still trying to put the puzzle of my own life together.

Always Hope, Always Dream

July 4th, 2008

When you think everything is hopeless,
A little ray of light comes from somewhere!

Always have hope! © Fox Haven Media 2008

      I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think,
all the walks I want to take,
all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see.
The longer I live the more my mind dwells upon the beauty and wonder of the world.

                                                                    John Burroughs

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Colorful Evening

July 3rd, 2008

There were heavy rainstorms all through yesterday evening and last night, but the sun came out towards day’s end yesterday highlighting a beautiful double rainbow over grassy hay fields.  We raced out to get a few pictures, and enjoyed the evening.  The camera focus didn’t quite work out, so I modified the photo with a watercolor look.  But it really did look like this; the natural lighting was spectacular, and the rainbow one of the brightest I have seen.

Rainbow over the hay fields

Sour Grapes

June 29th, 2008

The change of seasons is welcome, and with the beginning of summer we find ourselves looking at the garden and landscape a little differently.  The plants are maturing and bring new flowers while the weeds try to march through everything.  The grapes are growing nicely on the arbor, and I think of using them for jellies or even wine someday. 

Grapes

But the insects are also now out in full force.  We’ve been chasing fireflies and avoiding mosquitoes, and we just deal with bugs as a matter of course. But some of them are strange and pesky critters such as the Japanese Beetle.  I’m told these little beetles were not around this area until just a few years ago.  They apparently were introduced to the U.S. around 1916 on the east coast, and have spread a few miles every year.  Last year was the first we had seen of so many around our area, and they decimated the grape leaves.  The fruit just shriveled up as they sucked the juice from the leaves (see the little brown spots?) and the whole plant just withered.

Japanese Beetles

I’ve noticed them over many different plants this week, but they don’t have any natural predators apparently.  Does anybody know any good control techniques?  I’ve heard you can get a trap, but some people think that just attracts more of them.  I’ve also heard someone’s rooster liked to eat them, and someone else collects them by hand.  Ours are in so many places, and high and low, that I couldn’t begin to collect them all.  I did try spraying some tea tree oil soap on them… didn’t seem to bother them in the least.   I’m not inclined to use harsh insecticides around the house, so I’ll keep trying different things.

I suppose like many things we’re just going to have to get used to them.  Or maybe we’ll get those chickens next year after all!

Ode to a Cat

June 26th, 2008

We found you in a pile of unwanted kittens,
And brought two of you to our home.

 Sparky the cat when young

You brought us love and joy,
And a bundle of cat energy that
Wanted as much to explore as
To be cuddled in a lap.

Sparky exploring

You were spirited and fun,
With a personality so full of life.
Sometimes you seemed more like a dog.

Basset Hound and Cat walking together

And you didn’t hunt very well,
But you jumped at birds in a half-hearted manner,
Flicking your tail,
As if to show that, Indeed! You were a Cat.

Sparky the cat

Yet to a boy you brought so much more;
A big fuzzy kitty that he could
Drape over his shoulders,
To carry and hug and play with.

Child and Sparky the cat

And you didn’t mind.
He loved you most of all. 

Farewell Sparky

Farewell Sparky.





The Garden, the Lab and the Honey Bees

June 22nd, 2008

My goodness the weeds and grass can really grow while one is gone, and to see how fast it all grows in the space of a couple weeks is amazing. We’re catching up at home this week after a trip with the family, and have returned to see many parts of the central U.S. inundated with flooding from the Mississippi and other rivers. The rivers are cresting now, and several towns are waiting to see how much more flooding there will be. Many of the levees have failed, but others are still holding with water right to the top. Our hearts just go out to those who will begin working to recover from all the flooding this week. There are also a few thunderstorms about, but strangely in much of our area the topsoil is becoming quite dry.

We are thankful to live a little higher and have started watering the plants around the house and garden now. And it’s time for vegetables as we’re picking the peas, beans and lettuce that is doing so well. I’m surprised the peas and beans have not grown higher up the supports, and I wonder how long they will produce this year. But it has been a cool week in terms of temperature, so that helps keep them flowering and producing.

Fox Haven garden in late June

I think the corn looks great in the garden and I thought of a dumb question today since we have not planted hybrid corn before… How many ears of corn can we get from one stalk with our garden variety hybrid? I’ve seen some of the field corn growing in our area with 2-3 ears per stalk. But a little web research indicates we’ll probably get 1-2 ears from most smaller hybrid plants. We’ll see how it turns out in a month or so as the tassels are just forming at the top of the stalk now. But the tomatoes are also coming along- small and green, and soon we’ll have more than we know what to do with.

An early morning yesterday as we went across the pond dam to check the property. The yellow lab was like a kid in a candy store after coming home from the kennel. He did very well while we were gone, and didn’t miss a beat when returning home. Maybe a little too much energy saved up for romping around the property. Come to think of it I could use a little of that extra energy… the grass on the pond dam needs cut for the year again!

Yellow Labrador Retriever on pond dam

By the way, the bees are doing pretty well so far. I’ve put on a second super (hive body) for both hives and the bees are working like crazy each day. One of the hives appears much stronger in terms of numbers of bees, so it will be interesting to see how they do this year. Today I removed the entrance reducers I had placed last month while the new hives built up their strength in numbers of bees and stores of food. They didn’t fuss too much and (all anthropomorphism aside) actually seemed to enjoy the opening being wider. I probably left the reducers on a little too long while we were away, and today it was like seeing a little traffic jam of bees getting in and out of that smaller 3 inch entrance slot.

Working with honey bees at Fox Haven

So to remove the wooden stick that blocks the entrance, I took my hive tool and pried up the corners and under the reducer to loosen all the joints. Then as I wedged and held up the hive slightly, I slid a stiff hooked wire through the hole and gently pulled out the wooden reducer. The bees didn’t seem to mind a bit. So now both hives have a full entrance on top of the bottom board (actually a screen) to come and go. And it was fun watching the returning bees covered in pollen… a welcome sight. It’s also great to see them covering so many flowers around the property. Keep working little bees!

 

Life, Strife and Something More

June 18th, 2008

As I read about the flooding across Iowa, northern Missouri and Illinois it’s difficult to reconcile the peace and comfort of one region to the struggle and suffering happening in another.

Of course it’s like that everyday all across the world. We know that places within Africa and Asia have such terrible poverty and strife yet they are far away, out of our reality most of the time. There’s flooding and earthquake recovery in China, volcanic eruptions in Chile, war and starvation in Somalia and Kenya and estimates of more than 100,000 dead or missing in Myanmar after a cyclone last month. And the middle east… so much more.  Through all of it, how many of us really think about what takes place across the globe?

But our busy lives are lived in the present, where we stand each day. And although we know intellectually of the challenges that exist for other people, it’s hard to understand or see these events as real at times. We shake our heads and say a prayer or two and return to our lives. Maybe that’s as it should be, and serves as a survival mechanism where as humans we work harder to appreciate and maximize our own lives and circumstance while trying to empathize with the misfortune of others.

At some level, don’t we understand that it could happen to us too? It’s hard to watch a natural disaster unfold. From a different view it’s also inspiring to see the courage, determination and faith that so many of these good people are displaying while they work to help protect and rebuild their homes and communities. It really is a small world and anything we can do to help is something. Something that may make a difference.

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