Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Whispering Pines

Alone again, 
in the dry, sandy pinelands. 

without aim, 
in the sandy, silent barrens.


save for muted, melancholy murmurs,

the scarcely whispered secret-telling,
of the towering longleaf pines.

Alone cannot exist, 
nor silence,

beneath the lofty longleaf awning

where the wanderer 
walks and listens

'midst ipecac, thistle and rue. 

Life, though sparse, 
is thriving

in the dry and sandy spaces

betwixt the burly blackened bolls
of the ancient longleaf clan.

And with the onset of the gloaming, 
the mind as well may wander,

to a sunny far off childhood,
nigh forgotten;

where hours were whiled away 

in the lichen-covered, 
dry and sandy spaces, 

dreaming boldly of the future,
with sympathetic kin,

and the mysterious mumbled musings of the pines. 

Awakened from our reverie
by the late day chill,
we hear the whispers resolve
in syllables clear;

Welcome home, child.
Welcome home...

Thursday, May 4, 2017

A Big Little Snake - Another Storeria dekayi

This little snake seems to show up every year on Hoot Owl Karma. 

Known simply as brown snake, or little brown snake, it is quite common in the natural areas of our yard, and will occasionally make an appearance in a flower pot or perhaps meandering along the foundations of the house as it moves about in search of suitable prey.

In part because of its diminutive stature, 

rarely exceeding 12 inches or so in length, 

brown snake also shows up quite often on our Facebook feed,

sometimes dead,
and variously mis-identified as a baby copperhead, 
or baby water moccasin or baby rattlesnake. 

This individual has rather little in common with any of those snakes, 
but it is by far the largest of its kind we've ever encountered, 
measuring just over 16 inches in length.

Here's to the little brown snake that has lived to become a big little brown snake.

Don't you just love a Storeria with a happy ending!

Just the Right Spot, American Snowbells

On the short drive home from Mom and Jim's in Johnsonville, just an hour ahead of dusk, a mass of shimmering white blossoms beckons from the ditch.

This is a low spot, near where Wildcat Branch and Beaver Creek cross County Line Road;  

the ditches here are filled with ferns and sphagnum moss and all manner of wetland shrubs.

During a heavy summer rain, 
the creek bed might even join up with the road bed for an hour or so until things quiet back down.

Just the right sort of spot where you might expect to encounter this striking beauty on a perfect afternoon in spring, all gussied up in finest white for the local May Day festivities.

Styrax americanus, American Snowbells. 

We haven't encountered this gorgeous native shrub in the wild too often,

so we stop to savor the alluring fragrance and striking beauty of her simple and abundant blossoms.

Styrax is not one to shy away from getting its feet wet, and with the deluge of a couple weeks ago, it's plenty wet right now.

Even better for her, the timber on the adjacent tract was recently cut, so there's very little competition for sunlight in this perfect spot by the side of the road.

We've driven this road for years and never noticed her, but we're certainly glad she called us over today. 

And from the look of things...

she and we are not the only ones who think we've found 
just the right spot.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Of Grass and Trees and Fire and Seeds...

Solitary sassafras stands sentinel by the open gate, feet firmly planted in the snow white sand, 
as the filtered rays of morning incline through the pines to her east.

Her flaming leaves and those of her scattered and diminutive clan 
bear witness from the forest floor to the restorative powers of the pinewoods fire, 
and she gladly grants passage to the sympathetic wanderer,
keen to marvel at the fire's good work.

It is autumn in the land of the long leaf pine, 
and wire grass, 
chief torch bearer for April's scouring flames,

blooms expansively in the aftermath of spring's inferno.

The glorious plumes swaying beneath the pines as far as the eye can see,
pollinated by the summer breeze,

now bear the seeds of the forest's future,
vital ingredients in the continued recovery of this wonderland-on-the-mend. 

Scattered about the not yet century old longleaf stand, 
a few older souls play host to another ancient denizen of the southern pines,
red-cockaded woodpecker;

and our own souls thrill to think of a time 
when a new nesting cavity under excavation may be a thing far less rare, 
though no less wonderful...

Along the sandy sun-drenched path, 
near where falls the shadow 
of gentian's final faded flower,

other grasses and herbs offer their downy seeds to the fickle breeze.

On this day, though,
and for this hour, 
we only have eyes for Aristida's tawny plumes...

grateful for life, 
and kindred spirits, 
and this timeless moment, 
one with the grass and the trees and the fire 
and the seeds.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

October's Blue...

Yesterday, and tomorrow, 
and especially the day before,

October's blue.

The deep, 
hueless blue

of a billion billion breaths,
taken and not...

Breathless, thus,
and brilliant, 
October's blue...

bright, bright blue 
of dew-drenched bee and flow'r,

the warmth and the damp and the chill 
that is 
the blue autumn air.



October's blue -
the mystery.