Archives for posts with tag: nature

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I had to stay in town last night. My youngest had a doctor’s appointment, and my oldest was working the will call booth for the Def Leppard concert at the John Paul Jones Arena.

So, younger daughter and I poked about town and then went to a movie, trying to kill time before oldest daughter’s shift was over. She was hungry, so we stopped by Mickey D’s for a few dollar menu items for her and her dad, who had called and said he was hungry as well.

Upon heading home, we were traveling up a narrow, winding portion of Route 53 that passes both Historic Michie Tavern, and Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson. The land on either side of the road between both of these attractions has a steep slope, with many large, old that fight to keep their purchase in the Virginia clay year after year.

That night there was a strange thing in the sky…most likely a drone, with flashing red & green lights, and we were sort of fixated on it. As my girls were commenting on it, and I was grumbling about having to keep my eyes on the road, I heard a very loud crash, and exclaimed to my daughters “What the f#ck was that?”

Seconds later my headlights fixed upon the scene above. A very large tree completely blocking the highway.

We stopped, and sat dumfounded for a minute or two. Then a small commercial truck lumbered up behind me, his headlights fairly blinding me, and so close that I found it hard to try and turn around.

A man in a tuxedo walked up to the tree and began taking photos. He asked if we were okay, and I asked him if he got hit. His car was the last one to make it past the fallen tree from the other direction, and he said, “Yeah, we got hit.”

I did an Austin Powers 15 point turn…this road is very narrow, and even with my small Kia, I wasn’t taking any chances. Once turned around, I stopped behind the tuxedo clad man’s car and got out to look.

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The entire back of his car was squashed…the tree had caught the very rear of his car. Talk about lucky…this guy and his wife/girlfriend/date literally escaped death by split seconds.

And then I realized…my girls and I had been pretty lucky as well. You see, leading up to this incident, there were several things that slowed us up, perhaps keeping us from meeting our demise, or bad injury resulting in our car being under that fallen tree.

  1. Stopping at McDonalds. Our total was 7.06 and it took me a ridiculous amount of time to fish out the 6 cents from my wallet.
  2. Red Lights. We hit no less than 4 on the way to my husband’s work.
  3. Hubby himself. He was slow to meet us to grab his burger, and some time talking to the girls about their night while I was like, “come on, let’s go!”

But all that was nothing compared to the last delay. Because I am sure that had this not happened, I’d be blogging from a hospital bed, or not at all, ever.

As we were approaching Michie Tavern, there was a medium sized commercial truck trying to make a U-Turn. This caused the car in front of me to stop, and for me to have to hurriedly stop as well. The car in front of me slid past the truck, and after making sure it would be safe, I crept by too.

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The next thing I know, less than a quarter mile up the road, a mere 45 seconds later, there is a tree blocking my path… the car in front of me was the last car to make it past before it fell. That’s how close we were to getting crushed. I’m fairly certain if that truck hadn’t been trying to make a U-Turn, thus slowing us up for just a moment, my girls and I may have been in a much different situation today.

The cause? We had some torrential rain that morning, which most likely caused some serious erosion. I guess that old tree just couldn’t hang on anymore.

It’s sobering. I remember looking at the fallen tree, seeing cars stopped on the other side, and thinking like that tree separated two worlds. Quite frankly, I’m amazed that nobody was hurt. I mean, tuxedo dude has some serious car damage, but that’s peanuts compared to personal injury.

Yeah, I’m feeling pretty lucky, and pretty glad to be alive today.

 

Picture 1We have the cutest little apple orchard that is on the way home from school, and I simply love it.

I passed the place for years without stopping in. When we went apple picking we’d usually go to Carter Mountain, the larger orchard that’s way more touristy because of the stunning views, and way more expensive.

Last year the girls and I gave Fruit Hill Orchard a try, and I have to say that having an orchard so close and so accessible is going to make me very spoiled indeed. It is cute as a button, with it’s charming little cottage packed to the brim with homemade jams & jellies complete with a friendly kitty that you can give a good scratch behind the ears. They have apples and peaches that you can pick yourself, or you can just buy pre-picked produce directly from them.

To celebrate the end of the first week of school, we stopped and picked a few apples. Not a ton – just 7 or 8. The price? Two bucks and change – for fresh apples – right off the tree. As my girls ran down the grassy aisle amongst the trees laden with Gala apples, I thought to myself, “This is amazing.”

I never went apple picking as a kid – not too many orchards right outside New York City. And here I can take my kid whenever they have a hankering for fresh apples. It’s just a quick stop on the way home from school. How cool is that?

There are some good points to living in the sticks after all.

I’ve blogged about my little garden in the past. Today, while I was poking around to see if all was well and as it should be, I noticed that my garden is doing remarkably well this year. It’s really coming into its own. So I grabbed my camera and began to click away – and I’d like to share it with you.

Join me in a pictorial tour of my tiny, little garden…

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Rhododendron

Our first neighbor when we moved into our house was a landscaper who worked for a large garden center in town. Every now and then he’d give me a plant that wasn’t in that great a shape to see if I could revive it. I planted this rhododendron in a spot that worked great for it when it was puny – but now it’s getting fairly large. It may need to be moved this fall.

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Spirea?

This was another freebie from my neighbor that has thrived. I think it’s Japanese Spirea, but my leaves have a feathery quality, while online photos show a smooth edged leaf. In any case it’s done well.

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Ugly Little Sun Ornament

Hooray for the Dollar Tree! I find at least one semi-decent yard ornament there each year. Sometimes more!

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Grape Expectations?

This is one of two clusters of something or other on the grape vine I planted just this spring. I’m not sure if they are the beginnings of a grape cluster, but I’m super happy with this plants growth so far. It’s kicking ass and taking names!

IMG_2713I found this feller at K-Mart around 4 years ago. He was marked down to next to nothing in a fall clearance. He’s one of those solar powered statues, so at night his body lights up green. It sounds super cheesy, but he has been my front path sentry-man every since.

IMG_2703Ah Lilies. Don’t you just love them? These are the variety whose blooms last for quite a few days. I find them to be spectacular!

IMG_2701Lily #2 – with more to come in the days ahead.

IMG_2695My hydrangeas are just starting to spread out – you can see a tinge of blue along the edges of some of the petals. Unlike Madonna, I adore hydrangeas. They remind me of summers on Martha’s Vineyard, and my grandparent’s backyard.

IMG_2723My husband, while dismembering some of my garden chachkies, made this adorable little scene in a niche where nothing much grew due to a plethora of roots just below the ground. It was so cute and clever, I had a hard time staying mad at him for taking liberties with my ornaments.

IMG_2715Hostas. I LOVE hostas. Of course keeping them from turning into the all-night salad bar for area deer and bunnies is a chore. I’ve sprayed enough critter repellent that even my neighbors stay away! Notice my lush, green grass. A few weeks ago that was nothing but dirt and a few tufts of sorry looking grass!

IMG_2677Foxglove! This bloomed for the first time this year. I had forgotten what it was – this little mound of green leaves sat in my garden for all of last year doing nothing. But I knew something was brewing when it began to double in size this spring. Then one day it shot up a foot or more and soon thereafter, these beautiful bell-shaped blossoms burst from the stem. It’s a real showstopper. I may have to plant more!

IMG_2709My goofy little bird ornament.

IMG_2687I forget what this stuff is called, but I have it growing inside a little circle of stones that surround my dogwood tree. It’s grown so big it’s almost hiding the little green frog I have tucked in there.

IMG_2707Fishies! Our fish, that wintered in my daughter’s science class, seem very happy to be back in there sprawling summer home – our pond. It’s nothing more than a water trough for a horse, but hubby transformed it into our garden pond. It’s visited by frogs and other critters all summer long, and is our cat’s main source of water – luckily they leave the fish alone for the most part.

IMG_2685My twisted little snail. I can’t get his head to stay straight anymore, but that’s okay – I still love him.

IMG_2706This is the leaf of a wisteria that my husband killed, but mysteriously came back. It used to climb a large oak with a forked trunk and had vines that were at least 3 inches in diameter –  until hubby dumped some substance on it – pond solution or concentrated plant food. He’s killed quite a few things that way, but I yelled at him thoroughly enough that I think he’s cured of such shinnanigans. In any case, the vine popped up in a new location the next year, and I am trying to train it to grow in a spot that will work best. Shoo fly!

IMG_2688Impatiens are a garden must for me. I’ve loved them since I lived in New Jersey and they are in my garden every single year. Some years they do better than others. These are coming along just fine so far.

IMG_2728And finally, our cat Dodger helps keep my garden growing. He helps keep the pests that tunnel and eat and otherwise ruin my plant’s growth down to a minimum. But it’s not all pretty. There is one spot, behind my azaleas, that is his Dennys – his all night diner. We find feathers and squirrel tails and vole remains on a daily basis. Ick – hubby is good to have around…he scoops up whatever is left with a shovel and…disposes of it. ugh.

Our other cat Olive does her fair share too, but she roams rather far, and was not available to be photographed.

I really enjoy my garden. I love going out and weeding and pruning and trying to find growth and where things are filling in and where things need improving. It’s taken me over 10 years, but it’s starting to shape up.

Now I need to go cut my grass!

Mallard Duck Egg

Yesterday my girls and I took a trip to town to do a little shopping. After lunch, we decided to go to Target to see if there were any new Skylanders. I lucked into the first parking spot in the aisle, and proceeded to get out of my car. The driver’s side door was right next to a little island, freshly mulched with a few low, bushy evergreen shrubs. Sitting there in the mulch was an egg.

It was pale green – the color of an Easter Egg dying experiment gone wrong. I’ve seen it a million times with my girls. They dunk the egg in yellow, then decide on blue, then switch to pink; the result is a sickly greenish grey egg. This was the same color, and the same size and shape of a jumbo chicken egg.

I called to my girls, alerting them about the egg, and they both ran over and gawked at it in amazement. My guess was an old Easter Egg. I mean, Easter had only passed a few weeks back, and it was more conceivable to me that this was an abandoned hard-boiled egg than a bird egg because:

a) There were no trees with nests anywhere around us.
b) Why in the world would an egg be on a mulched parking median in front of Target?

My youngest grabbed a couple of napkins from my glove box and picked the egg up. We all looked at it with a mixture of wonder and puzzlement. Our curiosity getting the best of us, we wanted to crack it, but I did not want to do it by my car. If it was a rotten egg, I didn’t want it smelling up my parking spot. So we took it to a secluded area and passed it from person to person. Nobody wanted to be the one to crack it, so the task was left to Mommy.

Remember, I’m still fully expecting this thing to be a hard-boiled egg.

I gently tossed the egg on the curb of another row of shrubs, and the top cracked. Out oozed clear goo. And a little blood. And some orangey looking stuff.

This was no hard-boiled egg. My youngest began to wail “We killed it! We killed it!” Now, I know full well that no egg left alone in middle of a Target parking lot was a viable bird-to-be, but I still felt kind of shitty. We walked into the store and did our shopping the whole while trying to explain to my youngest that whatever was in the egg was already dead. I told her how animals know when an offspring is defective and how they usually kill it.

But I still felt really crappy. Why did we have to break the egg? Maybe there is some species of fowl that prefers to leave its egg in a sunny and somewhat congested spot, unattended. Maybe we did kill a poor little birdy. Ugh.

When we were leaving the store, the kids went back to look at the egg. Well, poke at the egg with a stick to be more exact. I felt too guilty to return to the scene of the crime and went over to our car. But my curiosity was still nagging at me. Where had that egg come from?

I looked down at the squat, dense little shrub that I had found the egg beside. My mind argued that there was no way anything could have a nest in there…it was too compact…too, well, bushy.

I looked under and saw the dim shape of another egg. I then pulled back a branch or two and saw the metallic blue feathers of a drake duck. I jumped back in surprise, half expecting the duck to fly out and attack me. It was a duck egg!

Some dimwitted duck had decided that a bush on the median beside the very first parking spot at Target was the perfect place to lay her eggs. I called the girls over and told them what I had discovered. I also told them to be respectful and quiet while they spied in the little bush to see the duck sitting on the eggs.

My youngest felt way better after that…she knew there was a nest with other eggs being watched over by daddy duck, and realized that what I told her was probably right. Mom had most likely abandoned a bad egg.

When we got home I had to look it up. I found article after article about ducks pushing eggs out of the nest for a variety of reasons, and I shared them with my girls. It made me feel a little bit better, but for some reason I still feel bad for that poor little ducky whose egg we cracked out of sheer curiosity.

I love ducks. I love how they waddle and quack and shake their little tail feathers. I love how they land on the water like little seaplanes, and how they stand tall and flap their wings.

It’s funny. I almost didn’t park in that spot. I was waiting for another parking place, but there was too much congestion in that aisle so I gave up and found another spot…a spot right in front, next to a freshly mulched little island. With a pale green egg.