Monthly Archives: April 2016

Weekly Puzzler Answer #108

Were you one of the ones who guessed that last week’s puzzler was a ring-necked pheasant? Did you recognize those beautiful feathers from the bird’s back?

ph-0478If you’ve ever seen one up close though a scope or binoculars, you know their feathers are amazing! When the light hits them just right, they can be iridescent purple, green, blue and red! So spectacular.ph-0519

I was lucky enough to see several on my recent road trip to Nebraska, including one that was close enough to get some full-frame shots of. Talk about an impressive bird! It seems to me like it is North America’s equivalent of the resplendent quetzal.

Do you know much about these birds? Have you ever seen one? Do you know where they live or what they eat? Are they native to the US? What do the females look like? All of these and more will be answered in this week’s Creature Feature. Check back soon!

Here is the next Puzzler!

Weekly Puzzler #109: Who Says Churrrr, churrr?

Hello and happy Saturday! I hope you are having a fabulous weekend.

Check out this sound:

Do you know who makes it? Who says “churrr, churr?” or sometimes, “chuck, chuck, chuck?” It’s this week’s puzzler! If you have a guess, use the comment box below… if you are correct, your name will be entered in the next drawing–on the first day of summer! Check back next weekend to learn if your guess was correct.

Quote of the Week #61

The famous Biltmore Estate brings in lots of visitors!

The famous Biltmore Estate brings in lots of visitors!

Rather than heading to the gym each morning as is my habit in the winter months, I have been spending mornings outside–doing what I most love, which is looking for beauty that I can capture with my camera. In the past few weeks I have been spending time in the gardens and on the trails of the Biltmore Estate where it is not unusual for me to be crawling around on the ground, face-to-face with the unfurling ferns and newly sprouted greens. My knees are usually dirt-covered, my pant-legs dew-soaked and my focus clearly not on the bigger picture that everyone else is focused on. I do look at and appreciate the magnificent house, the blooming azaleas and other flowers but it is the “little wonders” that thrill me most.

Have you seen the way the water drops sometimes line the leaf edges? Or noticed the art in the unfurling of a leaf?

Everyday that I am out with my camera is a good day and I can always find something worth capturing. The challenge comes when I try to describe it to others, not just the thing I photographed, but the feelings associated with it.

Here then is my quote for the week along with two of my favorite Ansel Adams quotes:

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“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” – Ansel Adams

“The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.” – Ansel Adams

What great photographs have you made lately? What stories do YOUR pictures tell? Where do you most love to spend your time? What “little wonders” have you noticed recently?

WaveCurvesHanging flowersLoveLooking skywardSpiderSitting prettySuspendedArt

Weekly Puzzler Answer #107

iris-0711 The lovely flower from last week’s puzzler is a dwarf crested iris, Isis cristata. In western North Carolina, it is blooming right now and you can see it at lower elevations in the Smokies. It is found mostly on open slopes, growing 4-6 inches tall. As you can see from the photos below, the color is variable, from a light purple to a rich blue.

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Have you seen it? What is your favorite wildflower?

Click HERE for this week’s puzzler.

Weekly Puzzler #108: Colorful Feathers

Let’s move away from the wildflower puzzlers for a while, starting with this “mystery” from the grasslands of Nebraska.

pu-0498Do you recognize this? If so, use the comment box below to enter your guess for a chance to win the next quarterly prize–given on the first day of summer. The more guesses you have, the higher your chance to win!

Check back next weekend to see if you were correct!

Until then, have a lovely week…do get out and enjoy spring–it will be summer before you know it!

Earth Day Inspiration, Plus 5 Ways to Help our Planet

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Happy Earth Day, friends! Are you doing anything special today? Will you spend some time outside enjoying this beautiful planet that we live on? Will you make any changes to protect Mother Nature?

In honor of Earth day I want to share with you some moments I have captured in the past week. As I’ve said again and again, We live in an amazing world! And beauty really IS everywhere. On this Earth Day and always, I hope you take time to BE outside and that you help spread the word about just how amazing our world is and how much impact each of us has.

Spring blossomsNew leavesPretty in pinkUnfurlingErect TrilliumHairstreak on tulipWater artTrunk decorationsPerfection!New leavesSimplicityHanging heartsMagnolia blossomSpring waterJapanese red mapleFoam flowerRainTulipsTulip reflectionCinnamon fernRed buds

Did you know Earth Day was the idea of a US Senator from Wisconsin named Gaylord Nelson? He says, “For several years, it had been troubling me that the state of our environment was simply a non-issue in the politics of the country…Suddenly, the idea occurred to me – why not organize a huge grassroots protest over what was happening to our environment? “After seeing the devastating effects of an oil spill off the coast of California in 1969, Gaylord helped the United States celebrate the first Earth Day in 1970. In 1990 the day was recognized and adapted worldwide.

Here are some cool facts about Earth Day, taken from Alabama.com:

  • In 2009, Earth Day was officially renamed by the UN to International Mother Earth Day.
  • On Earth Day 2012, more than 100,000 people rode bikes in China to reduce CO2 emissions and save fuel.
  • Organizers hope to plant 7.8 billion trees during this year’s Earth Day activities.
  • Earth Day has its own flag. It features a picture of the Earth taken from the Apollo 17 spacecraft on its way to the Moon.

And finally, here are 5 simple things YOU can do to make a difference:

1.Take your own bags to the grocery store. I bet, like me, you have seen plastic bags stuck in the top of trees along the road. Think of the difference we could make if EVERYONE brought their own bag to the store! In some countries, like India, Rwanda and New Zealand, stores don’t even provide plastic bags! Customers must provide their own, or juggle all of their purchases. Bringing your own bag is not hard, especially once you get in the habit. Just keep a handful of cloth bags in the back seat and remember to carry them into the grocery store. (Read more facts about plastic bags HERE.)

2.Recycle! It is amazing how much of today’s “stuff” can be recycled. Where I live we recycle plastic,glass,metal, cardboard,junk mail,newspaper, and much more. (Learn more HERE) Learn what materials are recyclable where you live.

3.Be conscious of packaging and choose wisely. When you are in the grocery store, choose products with minimal packaging. Yes, that melon, cantaloupe, orange, and pineapple might be easier already cut up, but buying it that way encourages unnecessary waste. Choose products with minimal waste.

4. Stop using Round-up and other harmful chemicals in your yard. These have a devastating impact on wildlife, including butterflies and bees.

5. Bring your own water bottle rather than buying bottled water. Like the reusable grocery bags, it is simply a habit to get into–once you do it a few times, it will be easy to remember. You can start today! (You can bring your own coffee mug too)

Here are 40 more things you can do! Or HERE are 10 SIMPLE things you can do to help the planet.

Before you go! A last reminder--If you live here in western North Carolina and want to plant MILKWEED in your garden this summer, or buy some ground covers, come out to join me tomorrow, April 23rd at the French Broad River Garden Club Foundation’s annual plant sale. This event features 20 local vendors who will be selling a variety of shade-loving, full-sun and deer resistant ground covers. From 9-2pm at Clem’s Cabin at 1000 Hendersonville Road in Asheville, I will be there talking and showing pictures and videos about Monarchs and Milkweed and selling a few things including greeting cards and my new blank notebooks. I hope to see you there!

Have a wonderful day! What changes have you made to contribute? What things can you add to these lists? As always, I’d love to hear from you!

Quote of the Week #60

I recently attended the most amazing concert of my life, wearing blue jeans and a fleece, rather than the traditional cocktail dress and heels.

Do you know what a sandhill crane is? Did you know that 80% of the WORLD’S POPULATION of sandhill cranes migrates through Nebraska two times each year? That amounts to half a MILLION sandhill cranes!! Talk about a spectacular event!

Recently I traveled from my home in western NC to the Platte River in central Nebraska to witness this amazing spectacle. Having been on my “bucket list” for years, it far exceeded my expectations. I am constantly being amazed by the free concerts that Mother Nature puts on regularly–be it the frog chorus in the spring, the birds singing every morning, prairie chickens on their “dance floor,”or half a million sandhill cranes. Have you been to a good one lately?

Check out this video of the cranes coming in to roost in the shallow Platte River–towards the end they fall from the sky like leaves, singing all the while. Make sure your volume is up! Talk about a show! Wow, this is a sight to see!

These sounds, these birds, this place… made my soul dance. Here then, is the perfect quote for this week:

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I wish to live a life that causes my soul to dance inside my body.

What makes your soul dance? Have you had any of these experiences lately? (Click HERE to read another post about this)