Monthly Archives: March 2015

Quote of the Week #13

AT-5205For this week’s quote, I feel compelled to step outside of the box and share my thoughts, rather than just do as I always do and offer a one or two sentence quote. This because I am in the midst of an amazing weekend that has left me bursting with gratitude.

As some of you know, this weekend The North Carolina Arboretum hosted their annual Orchid Show which attracts hundreds of people and fills the Education Center with an astonishing array of exquisite orchids whose beauty can take your breath away. My gosh! The colors and shapes, the smell that fills the building, the perfection in the leaves and graceful curving stems, in the flowers that seem more like art than something that grows in the ground.

With my photography on display in the same building, one floor up, I thought it would be fun to meet and chat with those visitors who ventured upstairs and so have spent my time this weekend doing just that. How wonderful! Perhaps you were one of the people I stood talking with, me sharing with you and you sharing with me. Perhaps you were one of the ones I exchanged a hug with when it came time to part, having felt that instant recognition of a kindred spirit despite our brief encounter. Talking with strangers is delightful! Every person knows so much that you don’t and maybe much that you do, but isn’t it fun to peel back the layers and open the path for discovery?

If you met me you may have noticed I have an immense passion for nature and for photography. What you may NOT KNOW is how much it means to me to learn that my photography and the quotes and writing on my labels moved you, that it touched your soul, brought tears to your eyes, showed you new ways to look at ordinary things. It has been incredibly rewarding for me to get this feedback, giving me even more joy than when I experienced the moment in the first place and captured it with my camera. It is like getting to open a gift again and again. For that, thank you; I feel blessed.

And that brings me to this week’s quote, a revelation I had more than once this weekend as I chatted with someone I’d never met before:pair-


Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another:
“What! You too? I thought I was the only one . . .””
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Sometimes, as we go about our daily routines, we neglect the opportunity to talk to strangers. (This makes me think of another weekly quote) We are too busy or too stressed or just never think of it, not considering that maybe this person has something in common with us or that we could learn something from her/him. I first learned the value of talking with strangers during my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail and was reminded of it again this weekend.

Weekly Puzzler Answer #53

wood-0126Does this call remind you a bit of Woody the Woodpecker? I think this is the bird the call from that cartoon was modeled upon. The call is from a Pileated Woodpecker, our largest woodpecker at 15.7-19.3 inches long with a wingspan of 26-29.5 inches. Nearly crow-sized, this handsome woodpecker is quite impressive, especially when you see it up close or through binoculars. Do you know what’s special about its feet or how come it doesn’t get a headache or injury from all of that repetitive drumming on trees? Know how to tell a male from a female pileated woodpecker? For these answers and more, check back next week as this will be the next Creature Feature.

Until then, happy weekend! Here’s the next Weekly Puzzler.


Weekly Puzzler # 54

I spent last Saturday at The North Carolina Arboretum, walking around with my camera and chatting with people attending Nature Play Day. At the entrance to the Bonsai Garden, I heard a familiar sound and detoured left to visit with an “old friend.” Oh, how I love the sounds of spring! A handful of people were there, looking around and wondering who was making this sound. Most of them finally found the singing soul, but few identified him correctly, choosing one of his relatives instead.

Here’s the sound… Do you know what animal is making it? (If you were at my Animal Sounds program, this was one we talked about) Click HERE to learn the answer!

More About Earthworms–Are They Good or Bad?

So last week I did my Weekly Creature Feature about Earthworms and one of the points I made was that even though people associate earthworms with being “good for the soil,” many are in fact not good for the soil at all, especially if they woods-0072live in forests. One reader wrote in and asked how to tell the difference between a “good” and a “bad” worm.

Perhaps you had this thought too as you were reading the post. It is certainly a little known truth–that earthworms could actually be non-beneficial and invasive. All of our lives it seems we were lead to believe just the opposite–that the presence of earthworms was a wonderful thing as these legless creatures provided us with a number of free services including aiding in decomposition of organic material and aerating the soil.

But research by scientists shows that we are wrong in a lot of ways about the way we think of earthworms. Native earthworms disappeared 10,000 years ago in all areas north of Pennsylvania. Any worms that you find north of that imaginary line are non-native and often invasive. Scientists define non-native as not originating FROM here and invasive as being non-native AND causing damage to our economy, our environment or our health. Many earthworms fit both definitions.


Orchids, like this Showy Orchis, actually REQUIRE fungi in the soil. Without it, they will not grow.

There is no such thing as a “good” worm or a “bad” worm as all worms just are what they are: That is, they eat decaying organic matter and leave behind changed soil. Everyone knows that having worms in your compost is a good thing. The worms break down all the organic matter, changing the structure, chemistry and biology of living organisms in the soil.  Interestingly, those same worms that are in the soil in a FOREST are not good. Northern Forests where earthworms are present lack the thick layer of organic material on the surface, called duff. Many plants and animals thrive, and even require, this thick layer of duff. When worms invade the soil and run through this layer in no time flat, those same plants and animals suffer. In addition, scientists find that in forests where earthworms are present, two other negative effects are less diversity and abundance of fungi. And while this may not seem all that important, it actually is as many plants and animals depend on that fungi.

Below are two wonderful videos detailing why earthworms are not always a positive thing: This first one if from the National Science Foundation and really gives clear evidence of a forest with no worms present, compared to a forest where earthworms ARE present. The difference is amazing! Check it out here: Video

The other video is from  The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center:

Don't leave unused bait out  in the field. Throw it out instead.

Don’t leave unused bait out in the field. Throw it out instead.

So if you are reading this and you live in one of the northern states–north of PA, then YOU can help stop the spread of invasive worms by:

  • Throwing out any leftover worm bait after fishing instead of “letting them go” out in the woods or by the lakes where you are fishing
  • Help spread the word about the importance of stopping the spread of these worms into our forests
  • If you do compost, DO freeze your compost for at least 1 week before spreading it in your garden or outside. Freezing will kill any earthworms or eggs.
  • Do not move leaves, mulch, compost or soil from one spot to another unless you are certain no earthworms or cocoons are present.

If you live south of PA, you can take the same steps, especially if you live in or near a forest, even though in many, if not all areas, worms already exist.

Hopefully this cleared up some questions and provided a bit more information. Please use the comment box if you have something to say or ask.

Quote of the Week #12

at-Success is walking from failure to failure with NO LOSS of enthusiasm.
–Winston Churchill

Welcome Spring! A One Minute Movie

Weekly Puzzler #53

Here’s a sound you might hear as you are hiking in the woods or even out doing yard work, depending on where you live. I live in the middle of the woods and hear this sound regularly. It makes me smile and look around…. do you know who is responsible for this sound? This is a fun one! Click HERE to see if you are right! Until then, have a wonderful weekend.