High Water and Hurricane Lilies

September 3, 2016 014

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The storm, Hermine, still spins off the coast making her way, slowly and majestically, towards the northeast.  Now off the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and back over open water, she gathers strength even as she loses speed.

Her winds are up, her pressure down, and she generously keeps sending rain showers our way.

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The folks on-air at the Weather Channel obviously aren’t allowed to use the ‘H’ word anymore.  They call her a ‘Post-Tropical Cyclone.’  But we know the truth.  Her winds are back up to a sustained 70 mph and her pressure is down to 29.38 inches.  That sounds like a hurricane to me.

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The James River is well out of its banks here near Jamestown.

The James River is well out of its banks here near Jamestown.

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I’m thinking of loved ones on the ‘Eastern Shore’ of Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.  They pretty much sit on a little peninsula out in the Atlantic Ocean, well out of site of the mainland.

It must feel very lonely out there when a hurricane is knocking at the door.  And this one brought an overnight bag; it may spin off their coast between now and Wednesday or Thursday!

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College Creek

College Creek

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We’re far enough inland to have benefited from the rain but not had problems caused by the winds.  Our streets, wet and covered with pine tags and fallen leaves, are blessedly clear.  The few branches we’ve cleared were all small enough to pick up and toss with one hand.

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September 3, 2016 022

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But the creeks and rivers have spilled out of their banks.  All the marshes and ditches filled and overflowing from the storm surge, reflect our low grey sky.  Flocks of birds gather and fly in great arcs above the wetlands.

They feel the change in the air, as do we, and have gathered to prepare for their autumn journeys.

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September 3, 2016 rain 003

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Our rain came last night, soon after dusk.  Quiet and gentle at first, we had to listen carefully to know it had begun.  It rained all night, giving life back to our desiccated  garden; and we awoke to a newly greened and wonderfully  wet world.

Plants which I thought were dried and finished plumped up and revived themselves overnight.

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This slow, gentle rain has soaked in instead of running off.  The soil is soaking it in, channeling it down, down, to the reservoirs below.

There is nothing like a prolonged drought to remind us that water is the life’s blood of every living thing.  It is that magical, precious substance which animates and sustains us all.

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Alocasia 'Sarian' grows happily here in a pot filled with Coleus.

Alocasia ‘Sarian’ grows happily here in a pot filled with Coleus.

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The ‘Hurricane Lily,’ or ‘Spider Flower’ got its name when gardeners recognized that its bloom comes on only after a heavy late summer rain.  A long dry hot spell, followed by a heavy rain, such as a tropical storm might bring, triggers growth in this unusual bulb.

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Its flowers come first in late August or September.  Carried on tall bare stems, this flower is another of the lilies commonly knows as ‘Naked Ladies.’  Long, thin Liriope like leaves will emerge in several weeks, growing through autumn and into the winter.

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Even a damp and bedraggled Ginger Lily still smells sweetly.

Even a damp and bedraggled Ginger Lily still smells sweetly.

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My intense watering, these last few weeks, of the roses and Ginger Lilies growing near our bulbs triggered their early blooming.

They didn’t wait for the hurricane to pass before they bloomed.

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September 2, 2016 York River 001

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Now, if you want to order a few bulbs for yourself, please search for ‘Lycoris radiata,’ not ‘Naked Ladies,’ as a friend told me he recently did.  There are several lilies from bulbs which bloom either before or after their leaves appear, and so have earned this descriptive moniker.  My friend suggested that his returns on the search were more interesting than he expected.  And I promised to email a link to him for ordering some bulbs….

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We’ve now enjoyed 20 hours of nearly steady rain, with more to come.  The air smells fresh and the breeze is cool.

We are quite satisfied with Hermine’s brief visit.  And we wish her well and hope she moves on out to sea, sparing our neighbors to the north any ill effects from her passing.

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September 3, 2016 rain 001

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For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Mirror

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September 2, 2016 hurricane lily 007

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Woodland Gnome 2016

 

 

 

Chasing Sunset

August 10, 2016 River at dusk 042

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We chased the sunset last night, along the long stretch of the Colonial Parkway from Williamsburg to Jamestown.  It was the best of summer, with frog song and balmy breezes, families wading along the river and herons perching along the shore.

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College Creek at Archer's Hope, where Captain Gabriel Archer wanted to settle the first colonists in 1607.

College Creek at Archer’s Hope, where Captain Gabriel Archer wanted to settle the first colonists in 1607.

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A deep, quiet green has settled on the landscape.  Abundant summer rain has kept it all alive and growing to lush proportions.

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The reeds stand thickly in every creek and marsh.  Red winged blackbirds dip and wheel, chasing armies of flying insects, and perhaps one another, across the creek as daylight fades.

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The setting sun gilds the sky and water, glinting from the reeds’ seed heads, filling the air itself with its golden glow.

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This is August in Virginia.  A time to slow down and savor summer just as it begins to slip away towards autumn.

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The days have grown noticeably shorter, subtly warning us of the waning year.  Boaters and fisherman brave our mosquitoes to drink in the river, the air, the moment.  And so did we.

Leaving our air conditioned cave behind for this heavy August evening, we drove through deep green forests and over acres of marshland; smelling the newly mown sweetgrass and briny marsh.

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The air remains hot and heavy on an evening like this, despite the gathering dusk.  Clouds pile up on the horizon, but no rain follows.  The river is high, swelling every creek and rivulet, moving swiftly in its course.

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August 10, 2016 River at dusk 040~

What a lovely night to be alive.  We watched for deer and rabbits on the roadsides, eagles and herons by the river.  We saw a turtle beside the road and armies of Canada geese gathering together, somehow knowing the season soon will turn again.

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The bats had taken flight by the time we headed home.  Swooping and diving above the road, above the fields, above the trees, they filled the sky as darkness gathered.  We couldn’t hear them, but we saw their utter delight in the feast.

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We are surrounded by abundance.  We are surrounded by the ongoing mystery play of life.

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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“When one tunes in into nature’s frequency,
life becomes change,
change becomes hope!”
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Aniekee Tochukwu Ezekiel
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August 10, 2016 River at dusk 058

 

 

 

WPC: Look Up! (An Evening on the River)

July 8, 2016 sky 021~

“In the sky

there are always answers and explanations

for everything: every pain, every suffering,

joy and confusion.”


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Ishmael Beah

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July 8, 2016 sky 010~

“For this week’s challenge, take a moment to look up. Whether it’s the fan above your head at work, your bedroom ceiling, or the night sky, what do you see?

Is it familiar? Or does it show you a new perspective on your surroundings?” 

The Daily Post

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July 8, 2016 sky 004

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For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Look Up!

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016
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July 8, 2016 sky 012

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These photos commemorate the spot where Edwin Alexander Tejada Delgado drowned on July 7, just before sunset, while swimming in the James River with his friends at this popular beach along the Colonial Parway near Jamestown Island. We didn’t know him, but we watch young people swimming, wading, fishing and boating from this beach nearly year round. 

We look up, to the sky here, exactly a day after his body was found.

May he rest in peace.

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July 8, 2016 sky 009

 

Our Latest Experiment: Milorganite

Connie Hansen Garden, Lincoln City Oregon

The Connie Hansen Garden, in Lincoln City, Oregon, where deer roam freely through the beach front community.  This beautiful garden remains open to the public – and the deer- year round.

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A friend and neighbor, allies in our battle against hungry deer, first mentioned Milorganite several years back.  I’d never heard of the stuff.  She said she was trying it as a deer deterrent with some success.

She and her partner garden on one of the most exposed water front lots in our part of the community.  We collaborated together on our list of deer resistant plants, but I never followed up on her suggestion to try Milorganite.  Now I wish we had…..milorganite

A year or so later, a Gloucester based landscaper suggested it to me again.  He recommended creating a barrier around one’s entire garden by broadcasting a 3′-4′ wide strip of the smelly stuff around the perimeter of any area you need to protect.  He swore deer wouldn’t cross it.  Sounded like a good idea; which I filed away to explore in more detail later.

Meanwhile, our personal battle to protect our garden from the deer continues.  It’s not just the plants we want to protect from their grazing.  Deer carry ticks, and ticks carry Lyme’s disease and other nasty infections.  We’ve both had several bites over the years followed by expensive visits to the doctor, tests, and prescriptions.

Lyme’s disease is one of those infections one never truly gets over; it can linger in the body and flare up later in unexpected ways.  It changes people’s lives in unpleasant ways; another reason to stay away from deer and ticks.  We figured this out, of course, only after we fell in love with the community  and bought our little forest garden.  We’ve learned a great deal since then.

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August 27, 2014 Parkway 021

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After nearly seven years of finding ways to foil the deer, a few somehow still slip into the garden from time to time.  And once in, they find tasties to nibble while spreading ticks and leaving their little ‘gifts.’   We’ve both had ticks latch onto us this spring, already.

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By mid-August of 2014 surrounding shrubs shade the actual raised bed..

By mid-August, our garden grows in with plenty of temptations for grazing deer.

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But a casual conversation with one of the garden experts at Lowes, earlier this week, reminded me of Milorganite.  She gardens on the Northern Neck, along the Piankatank River slightly north of Williamsburg.  And she contends with herds of deer, too.  She highly recommended Milorganite as a deer repellent in the garden.

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August 7, 2014 garden 040

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Now, before we go any further in this story, I need to share with you our real reason for avoiding Milorganite all these years.  I was all set to try it years ago until we learned its true nature:  municipal sewage sludge.  Somehow we just didn’t want to spread dried sewage all around our garden, despite its potential benefits.

Since 1926, the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has processed the sludge from its sewage treatment plant to produce a 5-2-0 natural fertilizer known as Milorganite. Milwaukee Organic Nitrogen” was devised to reduce material in landfills while recycling this natural source of nitrogen as a safe fertilizer for lawns, golf courses, and agriculture.  The dried sewage is heat dried to kill bacteria and other pathogens, then pelletized to produce an easy to apply, dust free organic fertilizer.  But all the processing doesn’t completely remove the odor, which is why Milorganite repels deer.

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Rose scented Geranium

Rose scented geranium has proven a more pleasant deer repellent than sprays.  We plant scented Pelargoniums all around the garden to protect tasty shrubs and perennials.  They also repel mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects.

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If you’ve bought a spray bottle of deer repellent lately, you know it’s very pricey.  Whether you buy Plantskydd , Repells- All, or some other product; you make an investment which often washes away in the next thunderstorm.

After resisting Milorganite these last few years, we finally decided to try it earlier this week.  The little guys have been slipping through our ‘deer fences’ and have already grazed some favorite roses and Camellias just as they leafed out this spring.  We are weary of chasing them out of the garden with no clue as to how they get in or out….

A 36 pound bag of Milorganite, enough to treat 2500 square feet, was only around $13.00 at Lowes.  On Monday afternoon we decided to give it a try, and bought a bag. Produced as a ‘slow release’ fertilizer, it lasts a long time before it completely dissolves into the soil.  How long will it work for us?  That is part of our experiment….

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April 5, 2016 070

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I suited up in my usual garden ‘get up,’ covered head to toe, with hat and gloves; and broadcast the first strip of Milorganite along our street.  Using a recycled plastic quart food container, I shook a light application in the spaces between our shrubs, and especially around the Camellias, from the pavement back to our deer fence behind the shrubs.

It wasn’t bad, really.  It didn’t smell as bad as the sprays we use, and was so much easier to apply.  Our single bag proved sufficient to broadcast a 4′ perimeter around our entire garden, and also to make barriers around vulnerable beds of Azaleas, roses, Hydrangeas, and perennials.  I laid a stripe everywhere we know the deer frequent in our garden.

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Azaleas once filed our front garden. In recent years, a growing herd of deer graze on what little remains.

Azaleas once filed our front garden. In recent years, a growing herd of deer graze on what little remains.

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Although the University of Georgia has published studies on Milorganite as a deer repellent, it isn’t marketed as one.  Its use to repel animals is a ‘word of mouth’ sort of thing between gardeners.  And how long a single application will last depends on any number of variables.  We plan to spread it again by the middle of June, then again in September.  Based on what we’ve read, it should last close to 90 days during the growing season.

Now we watch and wait.  My daydreams of full, lush Azalea shrubs and un-grazed roses may finally come true.  Our hopes to finally watch our Hostas mature, un-nibbled and full, may be realized this year.  Faith, hope and love wax strongest in a gardener’s heart in early spring, before realities set in.

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June 21 Lanai 022~

I’ll let you know how it works, of course.  If Milorganite performs as well as other gardeners have promised, we might actually plant a few vegetables later in the season with hope to harvest a cucumber or two!  I’m curious to learn whether it deters squirrels, rabbits, voles, and other mammals, in addition to deer.  If it does, we will use it faithfully from now on.

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May 15, 2015 roses 010~

We may be holding our noses, metaphorically speaking, but we’ll gladly support the city of Milwaukee in their recycling efforts.  And we’ll spread the word as broadly as we spread the Milorganite!

Have you tried Milorganite in your garden?  If you have, how well does  it work for you?

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It was almost 9 PM when I took these photos of our rabbit on Wednesday evening. A long day, indeed.

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Woodland Gnome 2016

In recognition of Wildlife Wednesday

(Tina has posted some lovely photos of birds visiting her garden this month. 

Please visit her for links to other Wildlife Wednesday posts this April.)

 

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April 5, 2016 051

A mother Cardinal built her nest by our kitchen door. We feel honored by her trust.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Seasons

Late May

Late May

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“I know I am but summer to your heart,

and not the full four seasons of the year.”

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Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

Living here surrounded by forests and wetlands, tides and seasons are the metronomes of our live.  We watch the passage of time in every budding branch, ripening berry, brilliant crimson leaf, and ice clogged marsh.

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November

November

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But time is cyclic here, like the tides.  The creatures come and go in their comforting rhythm as one month melts into the next.  We’ve learned where to watch for them, and when.

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January

January

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No rhythm escapes notice.  There is nothing subtle about the changing of the seasons in coastal Virginia.  Each carries its distinct beauties and its mood.  They may meld slowly one to the next, but there is time to savor and appreciate each in its fullness.

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February

Late February

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And these things remain constant: water flows,  trees glisten in the sunlight, birds call to one another, wind ripples across the creeks, and all things change.  We watch the rising and falling of the tides and see the currents flowing through our lives. 

We watch seedlings sprout, and see rotted trees fallen from the last storm.  But even the fallen serve their purpose,  holding sunning turtles this day, and herons in their meditations another.  Life goes on; nothing ever lost or wasted.

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July

July

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Seasons:  the changing costumes of the one creation.  Whether they pass as swiftly as spring, or as slowly as a glacier encrusted ice age; they demonstrate the dynamic life animating everything on our planet.

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September

September

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For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge: Seasons

 

“Except. What is normal at any given time?

We change just as the seasons change,

and each spring brings new growth.

So nothing is ever quite the same.”

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Sherwood Smith

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Ice covers the marsh at Halfway Creek where Canada Geese gather in search of food.

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014-2016

In Case You Didn’t Make It…..

The causeway at Jone's Pond, along the Colonial Parkway in York County.

The causeway at Jones Pond, along the Colonial Parkway in York County.

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Just in case you didn’t make it to our beautiful area to drive along the Colonial Parkway this year, I’ll share a few of our photos from yesterday.

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Escapees from the Gospel Spreading Farm along the Parkway, near Jamestown Island.

Escapees from the Gospel Spreading Farm along the Parkway, near Jamestown Island.

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We are always astounded to notice license plates and see how far visitors have traveled just to spend a few days here, near Williamsburg.

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Sandy Bay, at the bridge onto Jamestown Island.

Sandy Bay, near the bridge onto Jamestown Island.

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It is one of the prettiest drives in the country, beginning at Jamestown on the James River and ending up on the beaches of Yorktown.  All along the way one enjoys beautiful vistas of the water, beaches, marshes, and of  course beautiful trees.  Modern life is mostly screened out as one travels along this historic road, through national park land, where eagles nest and herons fish by the side of the road.

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The path to a beach along the James River; a favorite spot for fishing and sunbathing.

The path to a beach along the James River; a favorite spot for fishing and sunbathing.

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Yesterday was a perfect autumn day; bright, golden, warmish and alive with bright colors and leaves swirling to the ground on the breeze.  It was the sort of day one fondly remembers in early February when the world has grown drab and frozen.

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Jones Pond

Jones Pond

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Yesterday was the kind of day relished by a dear friend, who left us last Monday.  His memorial service was at mid-day yesterday, and we were deeply grateful that the sun shone on him one more time.

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November 6, 2015 Parkway 032

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We drove along the familiar road remembering him, and remembering the many times we encountered one another at the various stops along the Parkway.

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We felt a need to appreciate the day all the more keenly in the wake of his loss, to soak in all of the color and life of this special place, in fond remembrance of those who have left us this year.

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College Creek at Archer's Hope

College Creek at Archer’s Hope

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So in case you haven’t gotten out leaf gazing this autumn, I hope you will enjoy these photos from our drive yesterday.

And if the trees in your community still hold scarlet and orange, screaming Ginko yellow or Gum tree purple;  please take a moment to simply appreciate the beauty of the day, the wonders unfolding around you.

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November 6, 2015 Parkway 076

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All we every truly have is ‘Now,’ and the only place we truly live is ‘Here;’ wherever your ‘here’ and ‘now’ might be.

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Please taste the sweetness of the joys each day offers us.

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Woodland Gnome 2015

NaBloPoMo_1115_298x255_badges

 

 

 

 

 

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WPC: Happy Place

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Our National Parks give us places to go to rest, dream, rejuvenate, and appreciate the natural beauty of a place. 

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We are fortunate to live close to the scenic Colonial Parkway, which links the Jamestown Settlement along the James River with Historic Yorktown on the banks of the York River. 

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This is one of our favorite places to visit frequently enough to watch the seasons, and the sunsets, come and go. 

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We watch the eagles’ nests from when they are built early each spring until the eggs hatch and the young learn to fly in early summer.  We watch for Great Blue Herons, hawks, gulls, geese and the occasional fox. 

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There are sandy beaches along the way, ponds, open fields and beautiful trees.  Driving along the Parkway allows us to take a mini-vacation in a quiet, peaceful space protected from development and much of modern life. 

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September 30, 2015 Parkway 046

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It isn’t unusual to find friends along the way doing exactly the same thing.  I’m thinking, today, of a special friend and neighbor who loves the Parkway, too; and hasn’t gotten to enjoy his drives there for a while. 

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October 3, 2015 wet day 039

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He’s been in hospital for a little more than a month.  I’m hoping these photos will lift his spirits a little and remind him of all the loving friends who miss him and are wishing him well. 

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And I hope he and his partner will soon be driving along the Parkway once again, enjoying this happiest of places together.

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October 6, 2015 Parkway 012

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inspired by The Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge: Happy Place

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October 8 Parkway 027~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

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October 6, 2015 Parkway 009

WPC: Boundaries

September 30, 2015 Parkway 045

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This week’s photo challenge topic is “Boundaries.” 

I’ve been thinking, today,about the many different sorts of boundaries which tailor our lives, and realized that while some of them might be as obvious as a fence, most exist mainly in our mind.  What stands between us and touching this bird, beyond our perception of boundaries?

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September 30, 2015 Parkway 039

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A lot of what passes for education and ‘home training’ is mostly about teaching us which boundaries to respect and how to comfortably live within them.

How often did you hear, growing up, “We just don’t do that,” or “Nice people just don’t say those things”?

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September 30, 2015 Parkway 061

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And so as surely as we learn to color within the lines of a coloring book, we learn to live our lives within the agreed upon boundaries of what is polite and proper; and ‘legal’.

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And of course, many of our mental boundaries are there to keep us safe in some way.    Untold dangers might lurk where we step across the boundaries into new experiences and new ways of living in our world.

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Just as our education is about learning to stay within certain boundaries, maturation is about learning how our lives change as we move beyond them.

We figure out which boundaries we need to respect and which we can survive when we cross.

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October 3, 2015 wet day 020

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How have your own boundaries shifted, and enlarged, through the decades of your life?  What once firm  boundaries have we transcended with the creative application of technology?

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Creative spirits often see boundaries as permeable challenges.  How can we move beyond the seeming limitations of our lives?  What gizmo will allow us to explore places and experiences which once seemed ‘Out of Bounds”?

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Sometimes boundaries prove temporary.    Just as the high tide line moves up and down the beach with the season and the weather, so, too may our personal boundaries shift.

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Sometimes we want to harden the protective boundaries we put around ourselves, to keep others at a distance.

And then there are those magical moments when the boundaries shift, when we find we have made a bridge between our life, and another’s.

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October 3, 2015 wet day 068

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I like that boundaries begin to fall away with age.

We have less fear, and more confidence to move beyond some of those boundaries which once locked us into a narrow way of being and thinking.

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As our fears evaporate, our path widens.  We understand how everything is connected together.  We begin to perceive a wider world where the boundaries blur and fade.

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October 3, 2015 wet day 006

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Woodland Gnome 2015

For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge: Boundaries

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October 3, 2015 wet day 022

 

The Gathering Storm

September 30, 2015 Parkway 043

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Living on the east coast, we get used to all sorts of storms.

They come and they go.  Some rare ones cause tremendous and expensive damage.  Often they fizzle out, or cause minimal damages.

But when the forecasts begin to converge, and the warnings go up, worry always sets in.  A lot of it is fear of the unknown.  Our imaginations begin to spin.  Some of it is memory of storms past; what others experienced, and what we have narrowly escaped.

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September 30, 2015 Parkway 006

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After Hurricane Irene swept over our community in 2011, a friend and I collaborated on a guide for future storms based on our experiences in that one.  We have this ready to share with our neighbors when needed.  And I may be sharing this among our neighbors, tomorrow.

But since this coming hurricane seems determined to rake our coast from South Carolina to New England, I decided to post an edited version here this evening.  Much of it is common sense.  A lot of it you may already be thinking about, yourself.  But there may be an idea or two, or a link, you will find helpful.

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September 30, 2015 Parkway 063

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For readers living elsewhere, you may find this useful even though a hurricane isn’t headed your way in the next few days.  To set the mood, I’ve included some photos we took late this afternoon, showing building storm clouds on the James River.

Thunderstorms have been rolling through all evening, giving us an idea of what may be headed our way over the next five days.

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September 30, 2015 Parkway 003

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Severe Storm Readiness Guide

Our unique location on the East Coast of the United States, near the ocean, large rivers, creeks, ponds and marshes means we need to pay attention and prepare when severe storms hit our community. Our main problems in this area come from flooding and by high winds knocking down trees. We also have to prepare to live without electricity for a while; whether for a few hours or for several days.

Loss of electricity affects us in many ways. Not only do we lose the use of our appliances at home, and often our well pumps and sewage grinder pumps; but many of the businesses we depend on may remain closed for several days as well. Depending on the intensity of the storm, our water supply may also be affected.

Most of us begin planning and preparing when a forecasted storm is still a few days away.

It is better to plan ahead and be prepared for a storm that could fizzle, than to find yourself unprepared as the storm rages outside.

Before the stormSeptember 30, 2015 Parkway 044

 

1. Buy several days supply of food and beverage which don’t require refrigeration or cooking. Bottled water, juice boxes or bags, bottled tea, soft drinks, and adult beverages may be used as needed, and will keep. Each member of the family should have a gallon of water a day for each day that city or well water might be unavailable. It is wise to have sealed, gallon jugs of water in addition to water bottles.

Fruits, such as oranges, apples, melons, bananas, and grapes can be eaten for energy and require no preparation. Wash fruit and vegetables before the storm begins. Other foods you may find helpful include: bagels, crackers and peanut butter, energy bars, dried fruit, nuts, beef jerky, and prepared snack foods which don’t require refrigeration.

2. Check propane tanks for gas grills or camp stoves. A grill allows you to cook meat from the freezer should it begin thawing. A camping coffee pot, used on a propane stove, will provide you with coffee or tea on “the mornings after.”

3. Pack the freezer and refrigerator with ice before the storm. Store necessary perishables in a cooler with ice packs or ice when the power goes out, so you can use those items from the cooler, keeping your refrigerator closed. Generally, a refrigerator can be counted on to keep foods cold for no longer than twelve hours, without ice, when the power goes out.

4. Locate picnic items such as Handy-wipes, hand sanitizer, paper plates, insect repellent, plastic cutlery, and paper towels which will be useful if power and water go out for a few days.

5. Plan for light: When the power goes out, especially during the storm, it is a great comfort to have light. Candles and oil lamps can be extremely dangerous, especially if the wind gets inside through a broken window or damaged roof. Battery operated lamps and flashlights are a wise investment. There should be a lamp for each main living area, a flashlight for each person, and spare batteries for all lights. If you must use candles, have jar candles and a lighter available. They are safer than candle sticks.

6. Locate batteries: The radio becomes an important source of news about the storm’s progress. Each home needs at least one battery operated radio with spare batteries. Some parts of Williamsburg were still without power a week or more after recent severe storms. When planning how many spare batteries to have on hand, keep in mind it may be necessary to change the batteries several times before power is restored.

A laptop computer or tablet computer is especially useful. Not only can you use it for information from your home cable, or in any area with Wi-Fi, but many can be recharged from your car. The computer allows you to send and receive email to stay in touch with family and friends out of the area. Remember to protect tablets and cell phones in zip lock baggies whenever you are using them near water.

7. It is wise to take out money in cash before the storm to pay for necessities until the power is restored. Banks may be closed and without power for several days, and ATMs may not operate or run out of cash. Some businesses may be open for cash customers before their credit card systems are operating again.

8. If you have a generator, check it over before the storm. Make sure it has enough oil, and that you have spare oil and fuel. Check over your extension cords and have them close by. Never use a generator indoors. Make sure it has adequate ventilation.

9. Wash up all of the dirty laundry before the storm, and collect all clothing at the dry cleaners. It may be a week or more before you can do laundry again, and the dry cleaner might be damaged in the storm.

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September 30, 2015 Parkway 091~

10. Move and secure small items that could get picked up by the wind and blown into your home or your neighbor’s home. Secure deck furniture, wind chimes, tools, flower pots and baskets, and decorative objects.

11. Locate important papers that you might need to take if you decide to evacuate. Place them in zip lock plastic bags to protect them. Other items such as photos can also be protected from water damage in zip lock bags.

12. Put together a “Grab and Go” bag that you can grab quickly should you need to leave your home during the storm. Have everything you will need to be away from home for up to a week, including your wallet, keys, medications, cell phone, clothing, toiletries, food, water, extra cash, insurance information, extra glasses, batteries, etc. During a violent storm, you might need to leave quickly and unexpectedly, so it is wise to be prepared.

13. Review the procedure for turning off the water line and natural gas flow to your home. Locate the tools you will need and put them where you can grab them quickly if you need to leave your home, or if your home sustains damage.

14. Move your vehicles to the safest area away from trees. You might keep one in the garage, and one outside, so that if your garage is crushed, you still have a vehicle.

15.  Take photos of your home and property to serve as documentation for insurance purposes.

16.  After listening to the forecast, decide whether to shelter in place or to evacuate. If you leave home, make sure neighbors, friends, and family know where you are going. Leave early enough so you aren’t caught in the traffic on the interstates. Unplug appliances, turn off your lights, lock your windows and doors, and secure valuables in a safe place. Take clothing, medication to last a week or more, ID, and insurance information with you.

It might be a wise choice to evacuate if you are concerned about large trees that may fall on your home, if you have a medical condition and might need emergency care, or if you live alone. Staying a few days with family, or in a local hotel which can provide meals and where you will have company during the storm, might be a wise choice.

If going to a shelter, take bedding, toiletries, food, beverages, and items to entertain yourself and any children in your family. If going to a hotel, take your battery operated lamp and radio in the event they don’t have electricity in the guest rooms.

Other items you might need during or after the storm include: various sized trash bags, zip lock bags for storage, tarps and rope for covering a damaged roof, a chain saw and extra gasoline, boots, a hooded rain jacket, a first aid kit, city and regional maps, and a small cooler for storing medicines which need refrigeration .

For information:September 30, 2015 Parkway 048

Emergency weather information can be found by visiting the state’s emergency management website at www.vaemergency.gov and the National Weather Center’s website at www.nhc.noaa.gov.

www.weather.com and http://www.wunderground.com/ give accurate weather information and animated weather maps. An excellent weather map can be found at: http://www.wunderground.com/wundermap/

Here are some map sites showing expected storm surge for hurricanes of Categories 1-4 in Virginia. Other states have these same sorts of sites available, too:

https://vdemgis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/PublicInformation/index.html?appid=3f72cc77421448ceb84312413a9e7dd0

http://www.vaemergency.com/readyvirginia/stay-informed/hurricane/storm-surge

During the storm

1. Watch the news and weather as long as you have power so you have an understanding of what to expect from the storm.

2. When the power goes off, immediately unplug appliances, turn off the TV, lights, and the stove, and shut down your computer. Remember that when the power comes back on, power surges can damage your electronics.

3. A stove left on can start a fire in your home when power is restored. Leave one light on somewhere in the house so you will know when the power comes on.

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4. Find a safe location, away from windows, to wait out the storm. Keep a radio tuned to a station where you can get weather and news. Stay on the lower level of your home during high winds. If tornado warnings are issued, move to an interior bathroom, hallway, or basement. Take large pillows and possibly a mattress with you for comfort and to protect you should a tornado hit our area.

5. Stay dressed in comfortable clothing with sturdy shoes nearby in the event your home is damaged and you need to leave quickly.

6. It is recommended that you keep your doors locked during and after the storm. When power is out, criminals see this as an opportunity.

7. If communicating with family out of the area, use texts or email to conserve your cell phone battery.

After the Storm

1. Check you property carefully inside and out for damages. Photograph and document all damage.

2. Check on your neighbors. See if they are alright, and help them as you are able.

3. Keep the refrigerator, freezer, and cooler stocked with fresh ice.

4. Make certain that when you are not at your residence, you close and lock all of your doors and windows. If using a portable generator, turn it off, remove the power cords, and secure it. There are many people roaming the neighborhood looking for work after the storm, and it is wise to be cautious.

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September 30, 2015 Parkway 055~

5. Watch for wild creatures who may have been displaced by the storm. If the waterways flood, animals who normally remain hidden may venture to higher ground around our homes.

6. If you have a chainsaw, please help clear roadways and driveways to keep nearby streets clear for emergency vehicles.

Insurance

Any damage to your home incurred as a result of the hurricane can be lumped together under the deductible. Document the damage with photos as soon as possible. Make a written inventory of damaged property. Phone in your claim as soon as possible after the storm. Even if your agent’s office is closed, the claim center should be ready to assist you.

Trees

Hundreds of trees have fallen during ice storms and hurricanes Isabel and Irene in our community. Trees falling onto insured structures or vehicles will be covered by the insurance policy. The insurance company should pay both to remove the tree, and to fix or replace the insured property.

If your tree falls on your land, but doesn’t destroy insured property, you will have to pay to clean it up out of your pocket.

If a tree falls from one property onto a neighboring property, it is more complicated. Technically, (in Virginia)  if the tree was not considered a hazard before the storm, and the owner isn’t negligent in his care of the tree, then it becomes the problem for the neighbor where the tree lands. Good neighbors work together to solve these issues and maintain harmony. Many residents in or community go out with chain saws the morning after the storm, to clear fallen trees out of the streets and to help clean up fallen limbs and trees in their own and neighbors’ yards.

In the days after a storm, licensed arborists and roaming people with chain saws swarm over the neighborhood. The neighborhood also fills with contractors fixing tarps on homes and offering to do various repairs.

Before contracting with anyone, it is wise to not only get several estimates, but also check to make sure the contractor has liability coverage.

Do not pay 100% in advance, limit your down payment, and never pay in cash.

Make sure to get written estimates and receipts for all work done if you are making an insurance claim.

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September 30, 2015 Parkway 058

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Conclusion:

Preparation is the best defense. We can not always control the weather headed our way, but we certainly can control how we prepare ourselves to survive it.

Neighbors seem to always pull together to weather whatever storms may come our way. Let’s all make preparation and safety a top priority, and look out for our neighbors as we would have them look out for us.

If a storm should cause widespread damage to our community, we need to check on our neighbors and offer what assistance we can.

Woodland Gnome 2015

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September 30, 2015 Parkway 070

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Green Grows Everything

July 27, 2015 Parkway 001

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We slipped out to the Parkway yesterday evening just a little more than an hour before sunset.  We knew a system of thunderstorms were marching towards us from the Northwest, and wanted to see their progress.

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July 27, 2015 Parkway 004~

We also wanted to enjoy the green beauty of the evening.  Something may also have been mentioned about ice cream…..

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July 27, 2015 Parkway 022

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And as we drove east towards Jamestown, we were struck by the peaceful quiet of the Parkway.  Red winged blackbirds and swallows were our company, and a few late evening bicyclists our only other traffic.

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July 27, 2015 Parkway 020

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What luxury to stop on the bridges long enough to take photos up the creeks!

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Sky on moving water, broken only with the concentric rings made by fish striking insects on the surface, held our gaze.  Marsh plants have grown tall over these months of summer, topped now with seedheads.  The push-ups of winter magically disappeared.

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July 27, 2015 Parkway 033

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Baby deer grazed along the roadsides and in the broad, mowed fields near the river.

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July 27, 2015 Parkway 012

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It was a hazy, grey green we found last night; but no less vibrant than the clear sun-kissed green of earlier hours.  And no less beautiful, especially as the moon rose bright in the evening sky between the gathering clouds.

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July 27, 2015 Parkway 028

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The storm missed us.  Although it seemed to be moving in, it stayed to our north and then headed out across the Eastern Shore.  We smelled the rain, but never felt it, and made it home just as darkness settled over the garden.

By then, the lightening bugs had risen from their resting places to fill the air with bright flashes of golden light.  Bats swooped across the road, gathering their dinner.  Lights shone in neighbors’ windows.  Frog song and insect chirping greeted us as we parked and made our way back inside; the living music of a summer evening.

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Halfway Creek

Halfway Creek

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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July 27, 2015 Parkway 007

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