Fabulous Friday: Under the Storm

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The cloud shield of Hurricane Florence crept across our area in the night, blotting out the sun and bringing sporadic showers so that by the time we first looked out on Thursday morning, the world was damp and grey.

But quiet.  Very quiet, with barely a breath of wind.

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We watched the storm’s progress throughout the day as it slowly ground towards the coastal islands of North Carolina.  I’ve loved those broad, sandy beaches and beach towns since childhood and know them well.  I’ve seen many storms come and go there, and watched the tough, resilient folks of these communities re-build their beach cottages and their communities time after time.   They love the ocean in all of its moods and seasons.

Life along the coast is a gamble.  Only this monster storm has skewed the odds towards devastation.

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All was calm along the coast of Yorktown on Wednesday afternoon, before the storm moved in.

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I remember one childhood Sunday afternoon lunch at our favorite Topsail Island sound side restaurant.  Our family calmly ate hush puppies at a big, round table by the windows, as waterspouts whipped up on the Inland Waterway, spinning bright and beautiful against the black and purple storm clouds behind the trees.  The restaurant was packed; the staff calm and friendly as ever, the food delicious.  By dinner time we were back out walking along the beach, picking up shells, and admiring the sunset’s golden rays stretching towards us through the line of cottages.

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The ferry approaches the dock of Ocracoke Island, autumn 2007.  Ocracoke has been especially hard hit this time with overwash and torrential rains.

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We saw Topsail cottages dismantled by the storm surge’s waves on CNN last night.  Another reporter stood in the middle of the deserted road through nearby Hampstead, buffeted by the wind and rain as the hurricane’s eye paced slowly towards the coast a few miles further south.  When the eye of the Hurricane finally came ashore near Wrightsville Beach early this morning, it was so huge that the geography of landfall almost didn’t matter.

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Except it wasn’t here.  And for that we are enormously grateful today.  Tropical force winds haven’t quite made it far enough up the rivers to reach us, here in Williamsburg, and the rainfall has been relatively light.  The power’s on, the roads are clear, and our forest stands intact.

We keep in mind and heart everyone along the coast, and all those living on farms and in small towns whose lives are upended by the wind and rain.  We remember the thousands of workers even now rescuing families from flooded homes, patrolling the roads, running shelters and putting themselves in harm’s way to tell the story to the rest of us comfortably watching it unfold from home.

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Our appreciation to Lesley, Don and the gang at Classic Caladiums for their good luck wishes ahead of the storm.  This is our favorite Caladium this season, ‘Peppermint’, well grown now from a single tuber.

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The rain squalls come and go and the wind whips up from time to time.  The day is cool and fresh.  When I walked up the drive this morning a cloud of goldfinches startled from their morning meal in the Rudbeckia, flying in all directions to safer perches in the trees.  They chirped and chatted at the interruption, and I was so happy to see them still here.

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Can you spot the goldfinch in the center of the Rudbeckia? I caught his photo the instant before he flew away.  He was the bravest of his small flock, to linger this long as I approached.

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The flowers have taken on that intense hue that comes when they are well watered and the nights turn cool.  Gold and purples, scarlet, pink and purest white pop against fading leaves.  But also brown, as petals drop and seeds ripen in the undergrowth.

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Rudbeckia with basil. The goldfinches love ripened seeds from both of these.

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We’re happy to see that the routine continues in our Forest Garden.  Huge bumblies make their way slowly from flower to flower.  Birds peck at the muddy ground.  Clouds of mosquitoes wait for a chance to land and drink on unprotected flesh.  Hummingbirds dart from flower to flower.  But where are the butterflies?  Have they taken shelter, or taken wing?

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Native mist flower, Conoclinium coelestinum

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Even as beautyberries ripen from green to purple, and the mistflower bursts into bloom, we anticipate our garden’s closing extravaganza of beauty.  Summer is passed, and Indian Summer is upon us.  Cooler, wetter, milder; this season is a celebration of the fullness of our garden’s annual growth.  It stretches from mid-September until first frost.  Some might say it is the best part of the year, when acorns drop and leaves turn gold and scarlet against the clear, blue sky.

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Mist flower grows among obedient plant, black-eyed Susans and goldenrod.  All are native to our region.

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Even as we sit and wait out this monstrous storm, we notice the subtle signs of change.  Dogwood berries turn scarlet as next year’s buds emerge behind them.  The first Muscari leaves emerge in pots, and the Italian Arum begin to appear in the shadows.  I’m looking forward to a trip to Gloucester next week to pick up some Cyclamen for our winter garden

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Oakleaf Hydrangea heads persist all summer, mellowing into shades of cream and brown towards fall.

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All things change to their own pace and rhythms.  Flowers bloom, berries ripen, families grow, and leaves turn and fall.  Storms grow and subside.   Sandbar islands move along the coast.  Communities suffer loss and rebuild.  And life grows richer and more beautiful with each passing year.   It is the way of things. 

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Woodland Gnome 2018
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Fabulous Friday: 

Happiness is contagious;  let’s infect one another.

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Hedychium coronarium, butterfly ginger lily

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“There are times when the world is rearranging itself,
and at times like that,
the right words can change the world.”
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Orson Scott Card
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The first ever flower blooms on a volunteer seedling Hibiscus.

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“It is change, continuing change, inevitable change,
that is the dominant factor in society today.
No sensible decision can be made any longer
without taking into account not only the world as it is,
but the world as it will be…
This, in turn, means that our statesmen, our businessmen, our everyman
must take on a science fictional way of thinking.”
.
Isaac Asimov
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Sunday Dinner: Climate Change

October 3, 2015 wet day 057

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“To thrive in this new age of hyper-change and growing uncertainty,

it is now an imperative to learn a new competency —

how to accurately anticipate the future.”

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Dan Burrus

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“Many call this process ‘the destruction of nature.’

But it’s not really destruction, it’s change.

Nature cannot be destroyed.”

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Yuval Noah Harari

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“There are two primary choices in life:

to accept conditions as they exist,

or accept the responsibility for changing them.”

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Denis Waitley

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October 3, 2015 wet day 067

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“Nothing endures but change.”

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Heraclitus Ephesus

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September 30, 2015 Parkway 057

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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October 3, 2015 wet day 008

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Sea levels rise and fall along the Eastern coast of North America.  This has been going on for millions of years.  At one time, the sea lapped against the Blue Ridge Mountains, several hundred miles to our west.  Most of Virginia was underwater.  We know this from the fossil record. 

Archaeologists are finding the remains of great cities, now under water, off the coasts of Africa, India, and Southern Europe.  We know the topography of our planet changes continually. 

There is no longer any question that our climate and our landscape are changing.  I believe the important question is, “Why now?”  and “What, if anything, can we do?”

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October 3, 2015 wet day 033

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Storms over the last two weeks are chewing up our sandy coastline.  Beaches and riverbanks continue eroding.  Flooding is widespread, and not just along the seacoast.  Heavy rain has brought flooding well inland from the Appalachian and Blue Ridge mountains all the way back towards the coasts from New England to the Gulf of Mexico. 

But this is insignificant compared to the effects of  Hurricane Joaquin’s winds on the islands it has attacked.   Millions of lives have been effected by severe weather this year across our planet. 

I believe there are many causes for our warming climate and increasingly severe storms.  Some may be caused by human activity.  Other causes are part of the natural rhythms of our planet.  Activity at the planet’s core controls vulcanism,  and the heat and gasses pouring into our oceans from underwater volcanoes. 

The amount of radiation from space, which makes it through to our atmosphere, has a tremendous impact on our climate and quality of life.  A weakening magnetosphere allows more of this Solar and cosmic radiation to reach our planet.  This is one of many complex factors which affects our climate and our weather patterns.

No one of us can control any of what is happening with climate change.  But we each must adapt. 

And we can do our own little part to bring our planet back into balance by the way we live our lives.  Every tree we nurture captures and sequesters carbon from the atmosphere.  Every garden we plant helps control erosion and contributes to the health of our ecosystem. 

Our choices of where to live and how much energy to consume play their part in this complex equation.

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And each of us has a political voice we can raise with our government representatives, demanding that they not only acknowledge this accelerated climate change on our planet, but that they take actions, based on our best research, to mitigate the effects. Our voices may be even more effective when lobbying corporations to make changes in how they manage our Earth’s resources.

I believe we are in uncharted territory now.  I don’t know if there is any precedent or model to help us understand the totality of the changes occurring now in our planet’s ecosystem.  But we can not ignore the issue and expect it to work itself out. 

I believe we are all getting a taste of what that looks like…

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October 3, 2015 wet day 036

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