Friday, April 30, 2010

The Vegetable Venture

B was taking squirrel #19 for a ride to the woods and happened upon this sign last week.102_1115

As it is only about seven miles from our house, he decided to look into it.

So Saturday morning, we met Mr. Lott at the site and B signed up for a Lott plot. Mr. Lott immediately began retilling two 30X60 foot spaces, one of which became ours.




At this point, he was about half done.


We like that there is water included with the monthly lease.

B says it’s a blank canvas.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Acquiring An Aquilegia

Columbine is one of those delicate little blossoms that signal late spring here. We have a couple of the red and yellow variety (Aquilegia canadensis) in the back that we have had for several years. They have been blooming for a while and are winding down now.


Summer before last, I took my mother to her class reunion in Kentucky. As we were flying out of Lexington, I was struck by the beauty of blue columbine in large planters outside the airport. I collected a few seed pods. Sometime last year, B planted them in pots. I knew that we had two pots of them that had grown  and were in the little bed near the other columbine. However there is also quite a bit of spiderwort in that bed and its blue flowers  were all that I had noticed until Saturday afternoon when the spiderworts were closed up for their siestas. There it was in all its glory! The Kentucky blue wonder!


It looks to me like an Aquilegia rosendale, but most places just refer to it as blue columbine.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Seeing the World While Staying at Home

We are fortunate at my school to have a very diverse mixture of cultures represented by the families whose children attend. I enjoy inviting the families to come in and share with us to help us learn more about their countries of origin and their customs.

In the winter, we celebrated the Chinese New Year in my classroom with the families of our two Chinese girls. (The pictures below were actually taken a few years ago, but we dragon dance each year that I have a Chinese family.)

Week before last, as part of our study of Africa, we enjoyed a lesson about Ethiopia from a mother and sister of another student in our class. Here are some of the beautiful children’s clothes they brought in. Each is entirely hand-woven and hand-sewn. Each child was invited to try them on with jewelry and I took pictures that I emailed to their parents.


This past week, a mama from India brought in some of their clothes for the same activity.



She also brought two Indian foods for us to try and included a great deal of information about India in her presentation. One of the highlights was a little video clip of Indian dancing. The children just had to join in!

102_1062 Yes, we are blessed to have such resources.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mailbox Monday: Privy Postbox

On a drive through Wakulla County, we noticed this outhouse mailbox.


Yet another comment on what to do with all the junk mail.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Friday, Pie-Day

Our school participated in the Jump Rope for Hearts fundraiser for the American Heart Association. Several incentives were set up to encourage children to get their parents to help them collect money. No child is to go door-to-door alone. One of the incentives was that the child in each grade-level who raised the most money, would get to throw a pie at the PE teacher of choice. We have one full-time PE teacher, one part-time and one intern. This past Friday was pie-day and one of my kindergartners was a pie thrower.

The pies are made from shaving cream. The teacher sits in a chair and dons eye goggles and the child pushes the pie into her face. The audience went wild!!

This little girl got to pie her own mother.





Towels were offered.



Our PE teachers are good sports, don’t you think? (And also good at sports!)


Saturday, April 24, 2010

In Love With Lady Banks

I think that this is the second Lady Banks rose I have had, but until now I have never had the right spot for it. You know the saying, “right plant, right place.” Last year, B built this rail fence for the roses and the Lady Banks bloomed some. This year, it really took off.



The original Lady Banks rose dates back to 1796 but this double yellow (Rosa banksiae lutea) is a youngster from only 1824. It grew originally in China and is named for Lady Banks, the wife of the chief scientist on Captain Cook's expedition.

Friday, April 23, 2010

More Critters at the Okefenokee

We went to see the reptile show in an amphitheatre. The guy who did it was a character. He presented himself as a Seminole Indian.


As you can see, he did not just stand on the stage. He walked through the seating and allowed folks to touch what he was holding. This was a king snake.


This baby gator was making its “mama!” call.


At the end of the show, he invited kids up to have their parents take their picture with the baby gator.


Whether or not he is of Seminole lineage, he knows his swamp critters.

Three big black bears were living in a sizeable pen. They are viewed from a room in a building. The other two bears were asleep. This one was foraging.


There were other penned animals besides some gators.

This medium-sized snapping turtle came up to inspect us.

Probably looking for a “hand out!”  No, really! Don’t try putting your hand anywhere near these guys.


I had to laugh when I saw the green algae on its head. I have written this story before but it is the reason I was laughing.


A couple of years ago, I had rescued a baby yellow-bellied slider from a busy road and had put it in an aquarium in my classroom. It was covered in long, flowing green algae. A mother whose daughter I was tutoring remarked when she saw it, “I’ve never seen a turtle with green fur!” She was dead serious. And my only thought was, “Lady, there is a reason I am tutoring your child.” And then the teacher in me was required to give her a short (but kind) lesson on the differences between mammals and reptiles.

So our little trip to the Okefenokee was  OK-fun! OK? 


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pond Cypress

Pond Cypress (Taxodium ascendens) was the predominant cypress we saw in the Okefenokee Swamp. I have never been sure whether I was looking at Pond or Bald, so this entry, while it may be helpful to others, is an effort to correct this for myself. That is part of who I am: I like to have a name for the things I see.


Pond Cypress and Bald Cypress may be present in the same place. But Bald Cypress prefer nutrient-rich water and Pond prefers nutrient-poor ground water found in shallow depressions. Generally, the water in these “ponds” is more acidic than where the Bald Cypress is found.

Its peely bark is one identifier for Pond cypress.


Fire is more frequent in the dryer pond cypress habitat and pond cypress has thicker, more fire-resistant bark. But both pond cypress and bald cypress need a dry period for successful seed sprouting and survival.

This pond Cypress was just getting its new needles.


I found the picture below on a public page. The needles on the Pond Cypress are round and the ones on the Bald Cypress are flat.


I think this last bit of info is probably the most useful to me.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Okefenokee May Have More Gators Than Gainesville

This is the walk from the parking lot at the Okefenokee Park.


Yes, it was alive.


We later saw it swimming.



Our boat guide, pointed out this alligator nest that is no longer in use.


Our train ride took us past a mama gator and a few babies. If you look carefully into this fuzzy picture taken while the train was moving, you can see one baby in the tannic water and one in the upper left nose toward the water.


Here are a few more mature ones.



This big boy was hanging out with some friends in a large pen.(Most were not in pens.)

I took his picture and then….


I swear, he waved--- without even opening one eye!


B had remarked on the hand rails on the gator dock.

You will notice the lack of such on the human boardwalk.


Hmmmmm….. Is it all part of a devious plot to feed hungry gators?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Two Swamps in Ten Days

Having just returned from the Everglades, we went with friends to the Okefenokee. It was the first time for B and me to see either of these places. We could drive up there to Waycross and see the swamp in the Okefenokee Park and return all in one day and yet we had never been. This is a private, non-profit park on the National Wildlife land.

We took the one-hour boat ride. The Carolina Skiff felt very stable and wide through the sometimes very narrow canals. Our guide was extremely skilled in steering.


It was a cool-ish morning and the bugs were not a problem.

A couple of years ago, an enormous wild fire raged back and forth through the swamp, shifting directions with the wind. The devastation is still quite evident. The scene below was once a dark cypress forest. 


The scrub is coming back.


A long section of the boardwalk was also lost to the fire.102_0981

The fetterbushes (Lyonia lucida) were in full bloom and their perfume was heavy in the air. I described it as a buttery sweetness. These plants were growing in the water.


Our guide was wonderful and so knowledgeable about the flora and fauna he took us past. He told us about the floating islands created by decomposing vegetation in the swamp. The swamp has been called the “land of the trembling earth.” This is because, these islands may appear solid until one might attempt to stand on them.

After lunch, we took a narrow gauge train for a fun and breezy 45 minute ride. 102_0957

The Okefenokee is the source of the Suwannee River.

More posts about the park in the coming days.