Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Quick Survey of my Backyard

Between the twin trunks of this large oak is the most perfect spot to sit, enjoy nature, and clear my mind

Really, it's my LL's backyard and I am lucky to have access to such a place. The property is bordered by a river, so it is pretty much all wetland - you can see the high water line on the trees in the above photo (let your eyes wander out of focus a bit). The water is very high right now after a soggy cold front stalled right over central Florida earlier this week. The area in the photo above (which was taken last weekend) is now under about two feet of water. The water is flowing - it is part of the river. The following photos are all from the "yard" taken within the last week or so including some of its inhabitants. 

Short boardwalk/bridge (after a storm)

Cypress knees and duckweed

Greenfly orchid (Epidendrum magnoliae) is a native epiphytic orchid and the only one to also occur north of Florida. Everything I've read (including FL based information) says their peak bloom time is usually summer, but here, this particular population of orchids say to hell with that - they bloom between November and January. Pictured here is one of the early bloomers, the others I saw were still developing their buds. 

At least this much jibes with the literature - it is perched here on a live oak. 
Resurrection fern behind it.

Megalodacne fasciata, the Pleasing Fungus Beetle 
(yes, that is its real common name)
Unsurprisingly, pleasing fungus beetles eat fungus.

This one is sadly deceased, perhaps a victim of the last cold snap. (Locally, it was in the 30s, even in Florida I think I can rightfully call that a cold snap ;) 

Cast-off cicada shell 
(the Genji geek in me must tell you its true name: utsusemi)

A tiny Mario mushroom
Really, I don't know what species it is, but doesn't it look like it belongs in a Nintendo game?

Mantid on cabbage palm

Look closely you are being watched...

Its friend took a wild nose dive into the water as I approached
They were between two and three feet long

The Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) overwinters in Florida. Smart bird, this is hands down the most glorious time of year.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Bloomin' Dirt Patch

The Johnnies are finally starting to bloom! 
Behind it are marigold and Black-eyed Susan vine blossoms.

Devil's Trumpet bloom a day before it opens

Syrphid fly on echinacea (something else has been munching on it)

Thread-waisted wasp on marigold

Thread-waisted wasps getting it on in the thyme

Dwarf pak choi...I'll be enjoying this in stir fry soon

Overall the Dirt Patch is enjoying the cooler weather...

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Historic Gaffney House 1804

During a work-related trip this week to Gaffney, South Carolina I was, for once, rewarded for being unable to locate the Fed-Ex drop box: in the church/courthouse parking lot was this gorgeous little historic log house. Its style was common to the mid-Atlantic region of the country during the colonial/post-colonial era. Comparing its size to my current dwelling I can only guess that it is likely around 300 square feet, possibly less, not including its loft. From reading the signs, one gathers that the house has had some restoration work done and is not in its original location, but I'll let the signs speak for themselves...

Click on the photo to zoom in for reading

There were no signs stating that any furnishings in the interior were original to the house. Plexi-glass barriers at either doorway prevent one from walking around.

Mr. Gaffney may or may not have scoffed at such a sentiment, but this house is simply adorable. It makes me homesick for my own tiny house which has yet to be built (or actuality I have come across a historic house similar to this for sale...they are out there!). I console myself that I am past the financial halfway mark in reaching this goal (the goal being to become a montane forest hag with her very own tiny house :D).

...And after taking these photos and circling the block again, I found the drop box, woo!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

"A Delicate Bowl of Jade"

-Green Springs as described by a visitor in the late 1800s...

...a rare sulphur spring in Enterprise, Florida. 11/2014.

Green Springs is a very small public park located north of Lake Monroe in Enterprise, Florida, and is one of my favorite places. Wandering to its ethereal waters, looping its trails, and even picnicking next to the tiny waterfall have all helped restore some of my sanity over the last few years. My most recent visit has reminded me just how rejuvenating the place can be. It seems to absorb my cares and instill in me a creative motivation that few things are able to inspire. It is amazing how such a small place can have such impact.

The beautiful jade green waters are not always so. You have to catch it on a good day. The color is the result of an interaction between the sulphur discharge from the springhead (lateral vents) and algae naturally occurring in the water. Sometimes, the springhead stops flowing and the waters darken, more the color of a jar of green drawing ink and not as opaque. The color is restricted to the sink that contains the springhead - a widening shaft that descends some 76 feet to a silt-covered limestone bottom. A stream leads from the spring and drains into Lake Monroe, quickly losing the green color and becoming clear, with a slight brown tint from the tannin-producing breakdown of dead leaves. 

Over the years I've noticed that the best time to see the jade color seems to be in the cooler months and after a heavy rain when it is at the height of its other-worldliness. Not only does the water fairly glow, the grey skies cause the color to pop, and there is often a mist held in the air just above the water. If the park is empty, you can be swallowed whole by the scene, it is quiet except for the wind rustling the leaves and the occasional bird. 

My reflection looking up at me from the spring and a retaining wall that was built in the 1940s. 11/2014.

Green Springs Photo Gallery 2011-2012

A darker day (and apparently a fish-eye lens), though not as dark as it can get

Resurrection fern on live oak

Banded water snake 

Tannin-heavy stream to the north of the spring

Resurrection fern

Oak/Tillandsia canopy

Of course I lacked a camera for the otter encounter; this is the stream it floated down, quite shallow

Jewel-wing damsel fly on Syngonium

Tiny waterfall to the north of the spring

The park closes at sunset, but I do not immediately go home. Some of the most beautiful sunsets I have observed occurred over Lake Monroe. I leave the park, barred owls cackling, go up the road a short distance and am able to park at the boat ramp to conclude my afternoon.

**Spring facts in my post are from the informative signs located in the park.