Posted in Bogs, Trees, tagged bogs, canada, ecology, forests, Joni Mitchell, nature, Nova Scotia, Trees, wildlife, William Blake on May 6, 2011 |
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The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity… and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.
~ William Blake
It may be the way of humans to want development to cease once their home is built on the edge of the wilderness but I still shudder every time I see tracts of land cleared. I realize that before my home was built on this spot, many wild creatures made this acreage their home. Trees once stood where my driveway now covers the ground with gravel.
Yesterday I went looking for amphibian eggs in a spot where I had seen them in a waterway near the bog years before. Chainsaws tore through trees in the vicinity throughout the afternoon.
I also looked for Boreal Felt Lichen, an endangered species that seems like it would thrive in this neck of the woods. Though none was found yesterday, I did find a cluster of foliate lichen that I had seen earlier this year. Unfortunately, this time, the tree was on the ground, freshly sawed into pieces, a casualty of the surveyor’s line.
These lands are likely slated to be developed soon. yet, fresh evidence of porcupine, hare and deer activity was everywhere to be found. It’s a shame that so many animals will be displaced and that all these lichen-covered trees will eventually be covered with weedless green lawns and paved driveways.
Bogs are often considered wastelands by developers who want to fill them up. That saddens me just as much as the demise of the trees. New trees can be planted on cleared land but a bog can’t resurface once it’s been filled with rubble.
Throughout the walk, my friend Sybil who accompanied me kept repeating lines from Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi…
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone.
Her singing was barely audible over the roar of the chainsaws.
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Posted in Trees, tagged adventure, enchantment, enid blyton, forests, magic, nature, Nova Scotia, Trees, woods on May 3, 2011 |
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Old trees can easily conjure up memories of times past. Covered with lichens, mosses and fungi, they are witnesses to history, quiet observers of human events and animal activities. Their silent demeanor makes them privilege to secrets told beneath their branches. Perhaps it’s because we expect trees to know so much that they spark our imaginations.
A favorite book from my childhood was The Faraway Tree Adventure by Enid Blyton. (My copy was the french translation: DEUX ENFANTS DANS UN SAPIN). The story involved the magical encounters experienced by two children who follow an elf up a tree. My imagination was sparked by the idea of a tree so wonder-full that it could act as an enchanted gateway to other lands and fairy folk.
Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.
~ John Muir
Two spruce trees I recently saw standing side by side in the forest reminded me of that magical tree I had read about years ago. They were wrapped up in mist and entwined in each other’s branches, still erect while others of their size were overturned by strong winds.
Their older lower branches were bare of needles but looked strong enough for climbing. As a child, I’d always been unable to reach the lower branches of the trees I believed held magical worlds in their canopies. At what age do we stop trying to climb up trees?
The magic that eluded us as children because we didn’t have arms long enough to reach the next branch, eludes us once again in adulthood as we become more and more attached to safe ground. The trees must find us odd indeed, but in their wisdom, say nothing.
What tiny creature do you suppose lives in that hole among the roots?
In the tradition of She Said, She Said, Sybil of Eastern Passage Passage has also written a post about these same trees. You can find her post here along with marvelous close-ups of the wonderful worlds she captured with her lens.
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Posted in Flora, Fungi and Lichens, tagged april, Flora, Flowers, fungus, may, mayflower, nature, Nova Scotia, spring, wild flowers on April 28, 2011 |
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Mayflowers c. 1840 by Maria Morris Miller
April showers bring mayflowers. Sometimes in May… sometimes in April.
It’s raining today which is good news for all things green and growing. Mayflowers (aka trailing arbutus ~ Epigaea repens) are among the earliest native blooms to appear in Nova Scotia. Half-hidden on the edge of the woods, their leathery leaves may look ragged and browned in spots, but the flowers are nonetheless fresh and pristine. Their petals fade from light pink to white as spring progresses.
Mayflowers enjoy the moist, acidic environments that are typically found near bogs. They are also shy plants, with a preference for shade.
Over a century ago mayflowers were designated the floral emblem of Nova Scotia. Found throughout most of eastern North America, this native evergreen plant is now considered an endangered species in Florida and vulnerable in New York.
Unbeknownst to many gardeners who unsuccessfully try to transplant them, the roots of mayflowers have a secret relationship with fungus. In this mutually beneficial liaison (also known as a mycorrhizal association), fungi gain direct access to carbohydrates through the roots of the mayflower. At the same time, the fungus makes the mayflower more resistant to disease and drought.
In the language of flowers, mayflowers mean welcome. Welcome to Nova Scotia. Welcome to spring.
The image of mayflowers at top left was scanned from a postcard I purchased at the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History over two decades ago. I photographed the mayflowers just a short walk from the bottom of Flandrum Hill Road last week.
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Posted in Fungi and Lichens, Trees, tagged canada, forest, hiking, nature, Nova Scotia, Trees, wilderness, woodlands, woods on April 8, 2011 |
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For every beauty, there is an eye somewhere to see it.
For every truth, there is an ear somewhere to hear it.
For every love, there is a heart somewhere to receive it.
~ Ivan Panin
Messy woods that consist of a tangle of fallen trees are seldom considered worthwhile exploring. Yet there are wonders waiting to be revealed in the most unlikely places…
Though it’s now barely noticeable underfoot, millions of years ago, the creeping club moss shown above grew much larger. The swamps that were filled with these club moss trees during the Carboniferous period were eventually transformed into the coal that’s mined today.
Did a flicker make this hole? Standing dead trees (snags) in old growth forests offer places for wild creatures to nest. If flickers nest here this year, they’ll be looking for tasty ants, their favorite food, to feed upon in the neighborhood this summer.
Who treads the delicate stairs of this stair-step moss? Utilized in the past as a covering for dirt floors and a gap filler between the logs of log cabins, it’s now being studied for its anti-bacterial properties.
The porcupine teeth marks on this tree reveal a delicate pattern. Could we be missing a woodland delicacy by not including inner bark in our diet? It might be worthwhile trying in a survival situation.
Could this delicate creeping vine be partridge berry? Its rich red hue will turn to green later this spring when it will blend in more with the mosses surrounding it.
The forest is reflected in a woodland pool that will sustain a diversity of life before it dries later this summer. Do the faeries sit on this log at the end of day to relax and chat about the day’s adventures?
And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.
~ Roald Dahl
These photos were taken on a most enjoyable walk in the woods yesterday with my friend Sybil of Eastern Passage Passage who posted a very different version of our adventure on her blog You can read her post here.
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Posted in Trees, tagged Biodiversity, canada, ecology, environment, forests, nature, Nova Scotia, Trees, values, woodlands, woods, Year of forests on January 14, 2011 |
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A clever way for thieves to steal from a store is to switch price tags on items, putting low prices on items of higher value. The thieves then purchase the items. This technique works best in stores where cashiers are oblivious to the true value of the merchandise and too busy to take notice of obvious discrepancies.
Like the pre-occupied cashiers, we don’t know the value of our natural resources and are too busy to notice that they are grossly undervalued. We might be tired and overworked, or so distracted that we don’t clue in. Developers keen to turn a quick profit are the ones who stand to gain.
This happens in third-world countries where rainforests brimming with biodiversity are razed to make way for single crops that strip the soil of its nutrients and contribute to erosion. It also happens in wealthier nations where scrub lands with shorter trees are filled with concrete by residential and business park developers focused on turning a quick profit.
In resource-rich Canada, we take for granted the cleanliness of our seemingly endless supply of clean air and water, not fully realizing the role trees play in their presence. In one year, a large tree can supply enough clean air for a family of four to breathe and a single medium-sized tree can filter over 2000 gallons of water. We cut down old growth forests and pat ourselves on the back when we fill the bare spaces with tiny seedlings that will take several lifetimes to mature. We fail to appreciate how much trees buffer noise, create windbreaks, intercept rainfall, hold and create soil, absorb carbon dioxide and provide a habitat for wildlife. Even their beauty is uplifting. But because we have so many trees here in Canada, we take them for granted.
The law of supply and demand dictates that our trees will increase in value as they become less abundant. But why do we have to wait until then to appreciate them? The United Nations has declared 2011 to be the International Year of Forests in an effort to heighten awareness of their value to mankind.
If a 24K bar of gold weighing 28 lbs is worth approximately half a million dollars, what is the value of a single tree?
For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver.
~ Martin Luther
Gold bar photo credit: Sybil Nunn
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Posted in Flora, Nature's Colors and Shapes, tagged art, color, colors, colour, colours, Josef Albers, light, nature, Nova Scotia, painting, september, Van Gogh, warmth, yellow on September 13, 2010 |
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September’s flowers reveal varying hues of yellow in the marsh, along the roadside and in the garden. Some, like the Sunflowers, are bright and bold, while others like the Sea Radish are pale and barely there.
Traditionally it is women who are considered best at discerning subtle differences between colors. Often attributed to women’s historic role as fruit and nut gatherers, it’s no surprise that the ability to select safe and ripe foods is so closely tied to the skill of correctly choosing and remembering colors.
Yet, it was two males, the colorist Josef Albers and the painter Vincent Van Gogh, who made the greatest strides in harnessing the wonders of yellow in art.
I was for years in the yellow period, you know.
~ Josef Albers
Above, a sampling of yellows found in just six species of wildflowers reveals a marvelous variety. September’s warm light gives them a cheerful disposition despite the approaching cold.
The names of some flowers are inspired by their colors as in the Butter and Eggs shown above.
Like human beings, colors are influenced by others in their immediate surrounding. They possess the magical ability to transform one another into even more wondrous versions of themselves. How striking the Black-eyed Susan appears above against a backdrop of white spruce!
There is no blue without yellow and without orange.
~ Vincent Van Gogh
Despite advances in digital imaging, colors seen by the naked eye in natural light still cannot be replicated truly by technology. When I was an art student, one of my painting professors told me she could tell that I had used a photograph of a sunset as the subject for a painting because she could see that I had made use of a more limited palette. Had I made the painting looking at a real sunset, I would likely have chosen a greater variety of yellows and oranges than those made available at the time by Kodak.
There is no substitute for seeing late summer’s yellow blooms in person. The time to drink up your fill of them is now, while the warm September light is still able to show them at their best.
I really just want to be warm yellow light that pours over everyone I love.
~ Conor Oberst
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Posted in Trees, tagged branches, death, leaves, nature, Nova Scotia, rest, sleep, tired, Trees, wind on September 7, 2010 |
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The trees are tired and who can blame them? Scorched by the sun last week and then ravaged by the wind on the weekend, they’re ready to retire for the season.
Up close the leaves look blemished, nibbled by insects and tattered by the wind. They’ve seen better days. As the leaves have yet to turn color for the fall, after Hurricane Earl departed it was odd to see so many green ones covering the forest floor.
Earl’s high winds beat many of the trees to the ground. Some tried their best to accommodate the wind by bending, but even a young tree can only bend so far before it’s folded in half and unable to get back up again.
Lulled to sleep by the soft buzz of chainsaws in the distance, some have become logs, ready for the deep rest that comes once one is covered with mosses.
I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do. ~Willa Cather
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Take a few minutes from your summer and make a mandala from natural materials. Mandalas are an excellent exercise to help you focus on the moment at hand. You may create something beautiful in the process but don’t worry about perfection.
Depending on your intention while creating your mandala, you may construct a sacred space in which to bring your thoughts and prayers.
Summer offers a variety of materials: leaves, flowers, twigs and grasses. Your palette of living colors will depend on what’s in bloom in your corner of the world right now. Found feathers, seashells and stones may also be used. The possibilities are endless.
You can create one by yourself, with a friend or with a child.
Create a circular shape with your materials. You can plan to have a set number of sections in your design or just see what happens.
You can make your mandalas outdoors or inside. It doesn’t matter if you keep your arrangement forever, for a day, or just a few minutes. Mandalas are about here and now.
For more information about mandalas, see my previous post on Autumn Mandalas.
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Posted in Flora, The Salt Marsh Trail, tagged Flora, hiking, nature, Nova Scotia, Plants, poison ivy, salt marsh, summer, trails, woods on July 26, 2010 |
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Warnings are posted along the Salt Marsh Trail to remind people to stay away from the poison ivy. This plant causes extreme itching on contact with the skin of both humans and animals. Swellings, bumps and blisters may follow.
Poison ivy plants are characterized by green leaves arranged in groups of three. They look fairly harmless and are either found by themselves in a large mass or hidden among other plants. Along the Salt Marsh Trail, they are right at the edge of the path in some places, making it very easy for an unsuspecting child or dog to brush up against.
This year’s especially wonderful growing season has enabled most plants to grow earlier in the season and larger than usual. Poison ivy is no exception. Please exercise caution along the trail and in the woods as you enjoy the outdoors this summer.
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Posted in Flora, Seashore, tagged dog days, dogs, hares, heat, hot, july, nature, Nova Scotia, refreshment, roses, Seashells, summer, sunrise on July 19, 2010 |
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It’s not easy keeping cool when the heat and humidity conspire to drain you of your energy and motivation.
Snowshoe hares know how to make the most of the dog days of summer by relaxing in the clover. They’re not running and hopping around as much as they did earlier this summer.
My yard is a haven for them as I don’t have a dog. Hares know how to stay cool by winding down activities and keeping a low profile.
In ancient times, the dog star Sirius was considered responsible for the sweltering heat. Back then, its coincidental rising with the sun in July and August was thought to bring on the worst in men and beasts.
But there are many ways to tame the beast within during these ravaging hot days…
Taking a moment to pause and smell the roses is always a good way to refresh yourself through scent and beauty. The wild rose bush is in bloom in my yard. With its single layer of petals, it resembles the Dog rose (Rosa canina) often used in heraldry.
Even if you don’t have roses nearby, so many other beautiful flowers are in bloom at this time of year, both in gardens and in the wild.
Certainly one of the best ways to beat the heat is to take a stroll along the seashore. Morning and evening walks are especially refreshing.
Collecting seashells along the shore is a quiet activity sure to take the focus off the concerns of the day.
Over the years I’ve collected a variety of Dogwinkles (Nucella lapilus) both at Rainbow Haven and Silver Sands beaches. Worn smooth by the waves and bleached pale by the sun, they even feel like summer as you roll them between your fingers.
Of course the best way to be refreshed during the dog days of summer is to take a plunge in the water, be it a stream, lake or the sea. Nature beckons.
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Posted in Flora, tagged forest, grass, growth, Jean Vanier, lawn, nature, Nova Scotia, persistence, strength, weakness on July 15, 2010 |
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There’s something comforting about seeing small and simple plants grow down the middle of my driveway. I get the same feeling when I see grass growing through cracks in the sidewalk. To me, these are testament to the power of small things and reminders of man’s inability to conquer the natural world.
Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.
~ Hal Borland
Due to its simple form and presence at our feet, it’s all too easy to dismiss the power of grass. Yet, its strength is in its numbers and its ability to persist despite being trampled on over and over again. Below, the shadow of a fox trail appears in the grass behind Rainbow Haven beach.
Grass changes with the seasons and makes no futile attempt to hold strong against the wind. It knows its limitations. In the winter, it hunkers down under the snow and quietly waits for spring. When sunshine and rain permit, grass seizes the opportunity to grow to great heights in just a short amount of time, confounding those tasked with mowing it down.
It’s most beautiful when at last it goes to seed. In the early morning light, the grass in the photos below looks like a magical mist rising in the forest.
Growth begins when we begin to accept our own weakness.
~ Jean Vanier
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Posted in Climate Change, Trees, tagged climate change, evergreens, forests, growth, nature, Nova Scotia, summer, Trees on June 25, 2010 |
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Spruce trees are silhouetted against the rising sun at Rainbow Haven beach. Over the years, these trees have endured, despite the salt spray and hurricane force winds. Like many other trees on the Eastern seaboard, evergreens have shown accelerated growth in recent years.
The lighter, brighter green of this year’s growth is especially remarkable. Scientists attribute increased growth to the following three factors:
- Increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
- Warmer temperatures
- An extended growing season
All of the above factors point to climate change as the underlying cause.
Though older trees on the landscape are a sign of strength and endurance, new ones are representative of hope. While the strange and severe weather often attributed to climate change is a concern, accelerated tree growth is welcomed.
The forest is alive with new life in its many forms. Below, a witch’s broom growing on a balsam fir, is light yellow-green.
The tree is more than first a seed, then a stem, then a living trunk, and then dead timber. The tree is a slow, enduring force straining to win the sky.
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
For more information on Witches’ Brooms, see Witches’ Brooms in Winter.
For more information on accelerated tree growth see Science Daily.
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