Posts Tagged ‘scavenger hunt’

fox tracks

It’s so easy for us to take the earth beneath our feet for granted. It demands nothing of us. We know it has nowhere else to go. It’s here to stay.

The earth nourishes. Its stability enables seeds to grow. Animals dig in it and make tunnels and dens for shelter.  The sand at left was dug out of dunes by foxes at Rainbow Haven Beach.

The colors of the earth are varying shades of brown, oranges and yellows.  This element is found in nature in the light sand on the beach, rich dark soil and compost in gardens, shifting desert sands, clay, mud and stones.

An agricultural adage says the tiny animals that live below the surface of a healthy pasture weigh more than the cows grazing above it.   In a catalogue selling composting equipment I read that two handfuls of healthy soil contain more living organisms than there are people on the earth.  What these beings are and what they can be doing is difficult to even begin to comprehend,  but it helps to realize that even though they are many,  they work as one.
~Carol Williams
Bringing a Garden to Life, 1998


Images from our scavenger hunt illustrate earth’s many forms, from the red Australian sand to the wet seashore in England and beautiful fields in British Columbia and Michigan.  The image of a cave entrance from Scene Through My Eyes reveals earth’s mysterious qualities of depth and hidden strength.

Earth images in the montage above were taken from submissions to a Midsummer’s Scavenger Hunt.

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green window
The living room window is covered with a curtain of green vines at this time of year.  I feel like I am looking out into the world from the shelter of a forest cover of green.  The layers of Boston Ivy leaves insulate the house from the outdoor heat during these summer months. Later in the autumn, they’ll turn a brilliant red.

To humans, the green wood element refreshes the spirit in springtime and provides food in the summer and fall.   It represents growth and life, attracting and nurturing living creatures within its environment.

If I keep a green bough in my heart,
the singing bird will come.
~ Chinese proverb

wood montage

This montage of images from our scavenger hunt shows how beautiful wood is in all its stages of growth and decay: from young seedling or shoot, to leaf and fruit laden bush or tree, to aged tree stump and driftwood found along the seashore.  It can be pliable but also sturdy.  The wood element thrives with water, is harmed by metal, destroyed by fire and draws its strength from the earth.

Montage images were taken from the Midsummer’s Scavenger Hunt.

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license plate

Along with an image of the Bluenose schooner, our Nova Scotia license plates have ‘Canada’s Ocean Playground’ written on them. Water is everywhere here: in the sea that surrounds us almost completely, the lakes that dot the province inland and the misty bogs that are found in the spaces between. To live in Nova Scotia is to know water. Our history and lore is full of fishermen, sailors and privateers, men who made a living at sea.

But you don’t need to be a Bluenoser to know water. You just need to live on the planet. Water is everywhere and where it is most rare, there it is also most precious.

water water

Water images from our recent scavenger hunt reveal the variety of ways water infiltrates our psyches.  Jessica from The Magical Mundane offered that “Water is a feminine, flowing element associated with patience and quiet strength, but it can also generate fear with its power.”  Dawn‘s image at centre, of a fish in water, is from Australia, where water resources are highly vulnerable to climate change.

When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.

~ Benjamin Franklin

Water’s colors range from bright aqua to the darkest of blue-blacks with everything in between.  It is also transparent.  Fluid and adaptable, water conforms itself to whatever shape will hold it:  crystals in snow, or droplets in clouds and rain, fruits and flowers and swimming pools.  Water also makes up most of our human bodies.  We are water itself.

If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.

~ Loren Eiseley

License plate photo credit:  woody1778 at Flickr

Water images photo credits:  A Midsummer’s Scavenger Hunt

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The following is a list of links for submissions received to date  for the scavenger hunt:

  1. Jessica at The Magical Mundane in Michigan USA
  2. Kathy at Opening the Door, Walking Outside in Michigan USA
  3. JoAnn at Scene Through My Eyes in Washington USA
  4. Dawn at Sahlah Photos & Thoughts in Washington USA
  5. Jessica at Nature in Focus in the United Kingdom
  6. Robin at Robin Eye Photography in New York USA
  7. Pamela at Books in Northport in Michigan USA
  8. Gerry at Torch Lake Views in Michigan USA
  9. Joan (see images below) in British Columbia Canada

Information about the scavenger hunt can be found in the following posts:

Thank you to everyone who participated and everyone who offered comments, both here and on participants’ blogs.  I’ll be posting a recap and an announcement of winners later this week.


The following images were submitted to the scavenger hunt by Joan in British Columbia:

flaming leaves

FIRE–Flaming leaves reach for the sky, Sardis Park, BC  (Patterns: Branch, flame-like tips)harrison lake

WATER–Evening at Harrison Lake, BC  (Pattern: Meander–the crests of the mountains)

silver hair

METAL–The Canadian Silverhair, Native to BC  (Pattern: Spiral)

tree rings

WOOD–Tree rings, Cultus Lake, BC  (Pattern: Circle)


EARTH–Wild grass on a misty day, Greendale, BC  (Pattern: Branch)

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moon shell 2

Here in Nova Scotia, shellfish such as lobsters and crabs are our most famous scavengers, bottom feeders that keep the ocean clean of decaying matter.  Scavenging may be a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.   Some scavengers, such as cockroaches and vultures,  are considered quite unattractive, making the job they do seem even more lowly.   Others, such as lovely molluscs, seem to make the act of scavenging less repulsive.  However, regardless of  how they appear to the rest of us, all scavengers are skilled at making the most of whatever they can find.

medium shellA scavenger hunt is a game where the goal is to complete tasks or find items on a list. The Mid-Summer Scavenger Hunt outlined earlier this season involves taking photos showing each of 5 elements in nature: water, earth, fire, wood and metal. You take your list and your camera, go outside and do your best to find one of each. Scavenger hunting is fun and all are invited to give it a try.  The last day to submit your entry is this coming Monday, July 20th.

Although going out into nature with your eyes wide open is its own reward, there will be prizes for participants.  If you haven’t submit your entry yet, remember to…

  • Be creative.
  • Think outside the box.
  • Be a lateral thinker.
  • Engage both sides of your brain.

Prizes will take the form of color reproductions of drawings featured either on Flandrum Hill or my art blog, Drawing Conclusions.  Last season, all in good fun, Gerry of Torch Lake Views offered a virtual Goldsworthy award.  Who knows what interesting things will happen this time round!

As of this morning, two creative scavengers in Michigan have already participated and posted their results:

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red leaf

Five elements are thought to exist in Feng Shui, the ancient Chinese practice of interpreting environments.  These are:  earth, water, fire, metal and wood.  Colors are also believed to represent these elements.  In the image above, a blazing red leaf gives the impression of fire. Its fire quality is emphasized even more by its triangular shape which is reminiscent of the tongue of a flame.


Brown garden stones, shown supporting one another above, represent the earth element, a symbol for wisdom.  Along with browns, yellows and oranges also allude to the nurturing earth.  Square shapes emphasize this element even further.  

green stems

The wood element, which symbolizes growth, is ubiquitous in a forest landscape where it is revealed in a variety of greens.  Yet, even near the ocean or in the city, green growth is not difficult to find.  The branch shape in the green floral stems above, found along a salt marsh, underlines the wood element in this image even further.

grey rainbow haven

White, grey, silver and gold reveal the metal element in nature.  Positively, this element can communicate strength and solidity.  Negatively, it can suggest sadness, as in the image above, of an overcast and rainy day at the beach.

Blue Flag Iris

Water can be represented in a landscape by a pond or stream, but also by the presence of cool, dark blues as shown in the Blue Flag Iris at left.  A bed of black tulips planted in the shape of a meander would be especially representational of the water element.

Like nature, color can be both simple and complex.  It never ceases to amaze or arouse wonder in those who seek to understand it better.

This post is written to provide further insight into the relationship between the elements and color in nature, as first introduced in my earlier post about a Midsummer’s Scavenger Hunt.

I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.
~ Georgia O’Keefe

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I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine. 

From ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’  by William Shakespeare

It’s Midsummer’s Eve and time for a scavenger hunt!    Whether you live in the city or the country, here in Nova Scotia or on the other side of the planet, you’re welcome to participate.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to photograph five natural subjects that each captures the essence of one of the following elements.  Each one is characterized by one or several colors that may be substituted for a literal image of the element. 

  1. Fire (Red)
  2. Water (Blue or Black)
  3. Metal (White, Gold or Silver)
  4. Earth (Brown or yellow)
  5. Wood (Green)

Over the past five Saturdays, I’ve written a weekly post about some of the shapes that are found repeatedly in nature:  the meander, the spiral, the circle, the branch and the star.   Incorporating these shapes into your photographs is not necessary, but doing so will breathe more life into them. 

Here are some examples:


Fiery Red Poppy (Fire)

Red Poppy (Fire)

Trees Reflected in Birdbath (Water)

Trees Reflected in Birdbath (Water)

Star of Bethlehem (Metal)

White Star of Bethlehem Flowers (Metal)

Garden Snail on Leaf on Stone (Earth)

Garden Snail and Leaf on Stone (Earth)

Tree Trunks (Wood)

Tree Trunks (Wood)

The hunt will end on July 20th.  Your photos can be uploaded in a blog post (add a link to your post in the comments area) or they can be emailed to me for uploading on my blog.  Prizes will consist of prints from Drawing Conclusions.   Get outside and look at nature in a different way.  Have fun :)


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queen annes lace

Not all stars twinkle in the sky.  Some glisten on the shore or wink up at us from the grass beneath our feet.  Their shape is often best appreciated from above.  However, I drew the Queen Anne’s Lace flower, shown at top, from the perspective of an ant that might be looking up towards the sky from a position on the stem.

ALBell echinodermsStar shapes consist of five or more points radiating from a centre.

These star polygons are given different names depending on how many points they have.  For example, a pentagram has five points while an octagram has eight. 

Many of these star shapes hold spiritual significance.  Pentagrams are considered magical and often used in occult practices.  The Star of David and the Seal of Solomon are both hexagrams, star polygons with six points. 

On land, the variety of star shaped flowers is endless.  In the water, echinoderms are marine animals that reveal radial symmetry in some part of their design at the adult stage.  Sea urchins, sand dollars and starfish are echinoderms that often wash up on Nova Scotia’s shores. 

Sometimes, the star structure of the polygon is not as obvious, as is the case with the hexagonal chambers of bees.  Like other shapes in nature, such as the circle, the branch, the spiral and the meander, these tiny hexagons form exquisite patterns and are the building blocks for larger things, in this case, the honeycomb. 

Over the past five Saturdays, I’ve examined five different shapes found frequently in nature as a lead-in to a Summer Scavenger Hunt.  Next Saturday on June 20th, Midsummer’s Eve, I’ll provide final details of the hunt.  Wherever you make your home on the planet, whether you live in the city or in the country, I hope you’ll consider taking part.

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ignoramus:  [Latin] one who cannot or will not follow complexity

The image of a tree usually comes to mind whenever we think of a branch, yet this shape is not limited to trees or even the realm of botany where it is sometimes called a ramus.  Deer antlers, lung bronchi, veins and coral are some of the many things on the planet that are found in the shape of branches.

coral and seaweed

Many examples can be found in the woods and along the seashore in Nova Scotia.  Ferns, seaweed, tree limbs and roots all reveal the branch shape, which, in its simplest form, involves a division of one stem into two parts.  Each part can divide itself again, becoming more and more complex with each subsequent division.  Other words used to describe types of branches include sprig, spray, twig and bough.  In mathematics, branches are known as approximate fractals.

balsam fir

The branch is one of several interesting shapes that are found repeatedly in nature.  These shapes often form exquisite patterns and many are building blocks for larger things.  In previous weeks I’ve written about the spiral and the meander

In the Saturdays between now and mid-summer’s eve, I’ll explore a number of other shapes found in nature as a lead-up to a Summer Scavenger Hunt. Details of the hunt will be disclosed on June 20th, Midsummer’s Eve.  There will be prizes.

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moonshell spiralThe spiral is a shape that has fascinated humans since ancient times.  The first symbols drawn on the planet were spirals, thought to represent the sun and eternity.

When one thinks of spirals in nature, univalve seashells immediately come to mind.  These spirals are logarithmic, the distance between the turns increasing as the shape becomes larger.  (Don’t confuse this shape with an archimedean spiral).

Logarithmic spirals were called spira mirabilis ( marvelous spirals) by the scientists who first studied them.  Besides seashells, this shape is also found in fiddlehead ferns in spring time, the arrangement of seeds in sunflowers and the scales of pinecones.  Not all spirals in nature are static.  Galaxies and tornadoes follow this shape, as do hawks in their approach to prey in flight.

pine cone A look into the mathematics behind spiral shapes can lead to further study of the Golden Ratio and Fibonacci Numbers, both fascinating topics.

The spiral is one of several interesting shapes that are found repeatedly in nature.  These shapes often form exquisite patterns and many are building blocks for larger things.  Last week I wrote about the meander.

In the Saturdays between now and mid-summer’s eve, I’ll explore a number of other shapes found in nature as a lead-up to a Summer Scavenger Hunt.  Details of the hunt to be disclosed June 20th.

For more information on the spiral form in freshwater and sea shells, see the shell section at Drawing Conclusions.

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meandering river

Along the Salt Marsh Trail, it’s easy to see how waterways have formed over time throughout the grassy areas in the middle of the marsh.  These waterways fill up and recede with the ebb and flow of the tides.  Often, ducks can be found wading in these little rivers. 

Over time, rivers of water will form into a shape called a meander as they wear away at the soil along the edges.  These meandering rivers are often noticed from the air, but can also be appreciated from ground level, depending on our vantage point.

Eastern Smooth Green SnakeThe meander shape looks a lot like a snake.  In fact, snakes use a meandering movement to get from one place to another.  I think it’s this movement that gives many of us ‘the creeps’ whenever we are surprised by a snake in the garden.  However, the poor snake can’t help how it moves.  It’s just doing what comes naturally.

Pictured at left is the bright and beautiful Eastern Smooth Green Snake, found in the Cow Bay area.  It’s so strikingly colorful, that it looks like it belongs in a tropical rainforest.  I haven’t seen a snake yet this season, but managed to see quite a few Maritime Garter Snakes in the yard last year.

The meander is one of several interesting shapes that are found repeatedly in nature.  These shapes often form exquisite patterns and many are building blocks for larger things.  In the Saturdays between now and mid-summer’s eve, I’ll explore a number of other shapes found in nature as a lead-up to a Summer Scavenger Hunt.  Details of the hunt to be disclosed June 20th. There will be prizes.

For more information on the spring scavenger hunt hosted by Kathy at Opening the door, walking outside, see Let’s have a scavenger hunt!  My spring hunt photos and submission can be found at A Spring Scavenger Hunt .

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It’s been years since I’ve participated in a scavenger hunt, so a spring challenge that was put forth by Centria at Opening the Door, Walking Outside  seemed like a worthwhile pursuit.  She required participants to come up with photos of the following:

  1. Pussywillows
  2. Sumac, Wintergreen or at least something that made your heart pitter-pat
  3. Birchbark
  4. Animal scat
  5. An animal

Here are my results:

pussywillow1A tree in my yard that’s produced pussywillows every spring still looks bare.  At first I thought it might be too early for pussywillows in my neck of the woods, but upon closer inspection I think the bush may have given up the ghost over the winter.

[Hopefully Centria will be so impressed with my presentation of #4 that she'll overlook the absence of pussywillows on the tree].





I run for the camera every time I see female pheasants or partridges in the yard. They’re very shy and difficult to photograph.  I finally managed to get the tail end of one on camera.

With so many sightings of females this spring, I’m hoping there might even be a nest in the yard this year!



Here are #3 and #5 together in one image:  a Downy Woodpecker clinging to a Yellow Birch tree.

The bark has been frilled by repeated woodpecker activity on this tree over the winter.  The length of the trunk is also dotted with holes.

I don’t know how this bird is managing to hang on to the tree in this strange position.  It must have very strong claws.





For #4 (animal scat) I thought I would do something both creative and ephemeral à la Andy Goldsworthy.  All it took were a handful of Snowshoe Hare pellets, some spruce and alder cones on a canvas of white snow and voilà!

Although First Prize has already been awarded to Gerry at Torch Lake Views for getting her results in first, I’m hoping for at least an honorable mention ;)




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