Time for another international guest post! Maddy sent me this absolutely beautiful photo essay from Australia, where it looks to be a lovely spring. I’m jealous, sitting here in the cooling, darkening US! Please enjoy her spring flowers, and then go check out her blog,Maddy At Home.
Thank you Bethany, for inviting me to post on your blog.
When people think of Australia, they think of extreme heat, the outback, and perhaps gum trees. They may not be aware of the wonderful flowers, shrubs and trees that we take for granted as we go about our business every day in the city.
My name is Maddy and I live in an inner suburb of Sydney in New South Wales. As the Northern Hemisphere heads into the depth of winter, I wanted to share with you the colorful springtime that we are privileged to enjoy.
Over the last few weeks I have been having a lovely view from my kitchen window. When the afternoon sun plays on the brilliant pink bougainvillea it is a sight to behold, but the photo really doesn’t do it justice. My outlook is otherwise not the best, but in spring it really is a treat! Moving round to the small garden in the front of our units, I have another bougainvillea in deep purple that you can see in one of the photos below. I have to constantly cut it back lest it completely take over my balcony. Many people find this colorful shrub to be a nuisance because cutting it back only makes it grow quicker. The job of pruning it is not a pleasant one because it has sharp thorns all along its stems.Continue reading Springtime in a Sydney suburb
In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Happy Place.”
The North Carolina Museum of Art is one of the places that, when I first moved to the Triangle, convinced me that I’d made a good decision. It’s a museum, obviously, with a large collection of art from an amazing range of time and space. As you would expect.
But there’s also an amphitheater where they hold their summer concert series. Their concerts are popular events: the bleachers fill up fast, but then people bring chairs and blankets and sit on the lawn. I usually sit on the retaining wall in the back. I don’t get a good view of the band there, but I can hear just fine and also watch the people mill around and the fireflies come out, and not get stepped on or bumped into. I’ve seen the Lost Bayou Ramblers, the Indigo Girls, and Iron & Wine there, as well as an impressive show by Paperhand Puppet Intervention.
And it has a lovely park outside, with miles of walking and bicycle trails where sculptures loom up along the way. Like these. They have real names (mouse over to see them) but I am not very sophisticated about art, so I think of them as the Corn Cob, the Stargates, and the Dragon Ribs.
The Corn Cob
The Dragon Ribs
And if you go on a cold, sunny afternoon when you have nothing pressing to do, you’ll follow a side trail until you’re away from the main part of the park and down the hill, so that even the giant Stargates are mostly out of sight. And then you’ll take a few more side trails off that, and you’ll come to this tiny dome-shaped building. It’s just out there in the woods. No big, obvious signs pointing to it. The trail is small and easily missed. The builder can’t have expected many people to see it, but there it is. Just for you, the aimlessly wandering person who happened across it.
The mole salamander (Ambystoma talpoideum) is not a glamorous-looking creature. It’s small, unassuming, and slippery. It lives in burrows and in small isolated ponds in the woods. It’s mostly dark brown or black, often mottled with a gray or blue lichen-like pattern. It has a broad, flattened head. It looks a little like some artists’ reconstructions of Tiktaalik, and it’s easy to picture it living back when animals were first starting to crawl onto land.
(Arachnophobia: fear of spiders and scorpions. Hemophobia: fear of blood. Ophidiophobia: fear of snakes.)
In any job dealing with wildlife in the field, you’re eventually going to have to deal with things many people find frightening, disgusting, or just plain creepy. I have caught and been bitten by snakes, walked through countless spiderwebs, and waded around in ponds with a thick layer of scum on the surface.
One of my projects in the summer was to trap, measure, mark, and release snakes. To that end, my co-workers and I set up giant X-shaped silt fence arrangements with a trap in the center and buckets as pitfall traps at each end. The buckets were covered with little plywood tables to provide shade. One day I lifted up one of the plywood tops and found this:
That is a pigmy rattlesnake in the bucket. Next to it is a very large wolf spider. On the underside of the plywood is a black widow spider and the dried-out corpse of a scorpion. An arachnophobe’s nightmare.