Friday, June 21, 2013

Ah, Nature . . . Serenity . . . and Devastation

Here are a few June shots from around
the Loyd homeplace (in NC).
Here's an update on our beloved Firepink,
with even more blooms than last time I showed it.

This is one of the healthiest clusters of Pipsissewa
I've ever seen.  At Camp Cherokee that was my
Indian name, and it was a plant I always had my
nature students learn to identify.

This dainty thing is a new favorite of mine and Judy's.
It is called Orange Milkwort.  It grows exclusively in
a narrow patch on our trail to the stream.  When
picked, the blossoms stay fresh for many days.

A full day after the torrential rains of two weeks ago
our stream was still at flood stage.  The tiny waterfall
was "raging" and we could not step from the bridge to
our island without getting extremely muddy.  The floods
have since subsided and I retrieved some of our playthings
that had washed downstream, getting snagged on branches.

Our prickly pear cacti have beautiful waxy flowers.
They are now forming their edible fruit, but I haven't
dared to try to harvest any.  Their minuscule prickles
are hateful and difficult to see, much less remove.
Now for the devastation.  If you were in 
Moore County on June 13, you likely witnessed
the power outages, fallen trees, and property 
damage that result from a quick-hitting storm.
We were fortunate.  Three large trees fell, but
none in the direction of the house.  Firemen and
locals with chainsaws helped clear the totally-
blocked Murdocksville Road in a matter of minutes.

This fireman is removing the chain with which he
dragged the large oak out of the roadway.

This deputy stops traffic until the top half of the
tree can also be removed.  I cut a few limbs and
raked debris off the road.  Even I small oak branch
can puncture a tire.  They are very unyielding.

This is the exposed stump of the huge oak that you
may have seen my grandchildren gazing at in previous
blogs.  They also liked holding my hands and jumping
from atop this peak.

A few days later faithful highway workers came
along with their mulcher and chewed up and recycled
the piles of limbs that lined both sides of the road.
They were happy to allow me to cut up the main
trunks for firewood (process now complete).

Deep in our woods, another massive tree fell.  I had
been watching this one for a couple of years, knowing
it was beginning to rot.  I had not cut it, thinking it
must provide homes for many animals.  I now plan to
remove some of the limbs and leave the main trunk for at
 least a couple of years.  It should make another great play
 space for the children-- and I'm well stocked on firewood.

Like with the other trees, this one was just snapped
off near ground level.  You can see the substantial rot.

Several smaller trees were bent nearly to the
ground by the fall of this giant.  Trees like this are
sometimes called "wolf trees."  During their prime,
they tend to dominate a sector of the forest, sapping
more than their share of sunlight, nutrients, and space.
Their ultimate demise opens a huge clearing in the
woods, and I imagine there is great rejoicing among
the more lowly plants that have lived in their shadow.
I'll be interested to see what plants assert themselves now.
 Here's some more of the storm's devastation
in our outdoor playground.
Oops!  It looked like this before the storm!
Me and the grandkids are responsible.  Sorry.

Anyway, here's the impressive pile of future
firewood that oak and a medium-sized hickory
supplied me with.  I'll remember those trees
fondly a couple of winters from now as they
warm us or heat up our soup.

What unexpected event will happen next?
If I knew, it wouldn't be unexpected!

"School's Out for the Summer" ~ A. Cooper

I'm sure you recognize the quote in the title.
Yup, around here school's always out.  But
there are some activities that are best suited
to summer.  You'll see those at the end.
Here's a June sampler.

Hunter likes the new Transformer airplane/blaster.
He takes on the dinosaurs single-handed.

If you haven't already viewed this video of
Hunter and the dinosaurs, take a minute now.
Or watch it again.  His sound effects are hilarious.

Bri has collected a half dozen large millipedes from
our water meter.  She likes to visit with them every
week, but this is the first time she put them in her
critter box.  We released them the same afternoon.

Everybody just look natural, okay?

Evan proves he's man enough to handle the
Transformer plane, too.

Claire and Evan get a real kick out of my sister
Caryn's vintage fishing game.  We improvise with a
 couple of magnetic pointers in lieu of the original poles.

WOW!  I caught a big one! Is it purple or blue?

Evan pops in on Grandma and Claire to introduce
his new monkey friend.

The kids loved sitting on the trunk of the giant oak
tree the recent storm brought down.

Standing is pretty fun, too.

Grandma, I didn't know you were about to take my picture!

At least give me time to pose!

Ah, to be young and carefree!

Hunter was plenty impressed with the huge hollow
of the fallen oak tree.
(Editor's note: this picture was not taken in the fall,
but Bri and Hunter had just gotten out of the pool
and wanted to wear jackets.)

I'm going in.  If I'm not out in five minutes, come
get me, Son.

Tree huggers.

Say "AHH."  I mean say "CHEESE."

The Great Wallenda at work.
Hopefully not the Tumbling Talbert.

Don't get too attached to this tree.
It's in Grandpa's woodpile now.  But don't worry.
We've got an even bigger tree that fell back in the woods.
June is pool time.  Although Hunter and Bri
christened our new pool a day earlier, I didn't
have the camera.  So let's let Claire and Evan
show how much fun it can be.

Grandma, are you sure it's above 32 degrees?

Let's see, how much sugar goes in Daddy's coffee?

If this is Muscle Beach, I'm your man.

Do you know how much courage it takes to lie
down on your tummy in this ice water!?

And Mr. Jonah, if you're bad, we throw you
overboard, see?

Since when is Evan such a daredevil?
Since NOW, I'd say!

Claire was delighted we had kept the old pink pool
for a makeshift water slide.  Perfect form, too, Claire.

And perfect form for you, too, Ev Man.

More pool time coming up.
After all, today's just the first day of summer!

The Belated Blogger: Back to Louisville

There's just enough of June remaining for me
to update you on why I've been belated on blogging.
Trips to Louisville to visit friends, then Atlanta to
visit family are the primary reason.  So let's dive in!

Here we are with dear friends Charlie and Liz at one
of Louisville's many public parks.  We walked many miles
 on the lovely trails, catching up on things as we strolled.

I'm always drawn to rock formations.

Settings like this are very soothing to the soul.

A footbridge at another Louisville park
This historic railroad bridge from the 1880's has now
been reopened as a pedestrian bridge, spanning the Ohio
River from Kentucky to Indiana.

This pedestrian ramp is on the Kentucky side.  The
Indiana side is not quite completed, but you can cross
the entire river.

Charlie and Liz

Ken and Judy

A view of Louisville's main skyline from the bridge.
A still-used traffic bridge is also seen here.

This view shows a small island, a riverboat, and a
small portion of the vast riverside park.  We visited
the bridge two evenings.

The view of the river was terrific, and the cool
evening air and the sight of happy families were refreshing.

X marks the spot.  And presumably, keeps the bridge
from falling down.

Let me explain this ramp.  A retired CIA guy who
liked skateboarding and surfing came up with a new
sport . . . ................................................................


At Carter Caves State Park in eastern Kentucky, we
enjoyed some hiking and breathtaking views together.
Don't bother to tell Liz to be careful.  It's no use.

This unusual formation carved out over eons is
called Smoke Hole.

The Fearless Four
Crazy, but fearless.

In this park, cave entrances can be spotted all over.
A couple were striped, but that's another story.
(Tribute to Mike, Tim, Charlie, et al)

This is Natural Bridge, which also has a paved road
crossing far above it.  This is not to be confused with
Virginia's well-known attraction of the same name.
This one is free!

I suppose the thing that amazed me the most was that
one slender log could hold the whole vast formation up.

Let's say goodbye to Carter Caves -- and whatever
may lurk inside!

Besides meeting a fox up close and natural,
observing a raccoon scavenging beneath our balcony,
and watching a multitude of lightning bugs emerge, we
had one more surprise in store -- this fine Luna Moth.

When Judy and I were just an hour from home, where
 more than six inches of rain had fallen in our absence
 this perfect rainbow was just the welcome home we needed!