Categories
Good Nature People

Treasure

Yesterday, I came across a story about a woman, Flora Blathwayt, who collects bits of plastic trash from the banks of the River Thames and various beaches in England. She cleans the trash thoroughly and then adds it in creative ways to greeting cards that she’s designed. On the back of each card she creates, she lists the location where the plastic was found.

Ms. Blathwayt’s hobby has turned into a business, Washed Up Cards. Her business has sustained her, emotionally and financially, during a furlough from her job.

She’s not just using her skills and imagination to make money, however. She’s also bringing awareness to the issue of plastic waste in rivers and oceans. She’s supporting the sustainability movement and it, in turn, is supporting her.

To learn more about Washed Up Cards, you can visit her Etsy site at https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/washedupcards/ .

Here’s to those, like Flora Blathwayt, who use their creative talents to turn trash into treasure. They help to make the world a better place, one small bit at a time.

Categories
Life Nature

Patience

Today’s cuppa reminds me to be patient.

Patience is not one of my strengths, but like most grownups, I’ve taught myself to act patiently in situations that require restraint and self-control. I stand quietly in lines, accept the reality of traffic, and allow for the fact that things don’t always go as planned. Sometimes, I whine and complain and huff and puff, but most of the time, I’ve learned to manage my feelings and behave myself.

Growing a backyard garden is testing me, however.

The weather has been amazingly perfect, and our plants are thriving. We have teeny-tiny tomatoes, and zucchini, and cucumbers. We have four itty-bitty grape clusters and six or seven blackberries sprouting on their vines. There’s one strawberry shifting in color from green to red and several others that are not quite there but will be soon. The kale plants are enormous, and the pepper plants are blooming, promising a bumper crop.

Every morning, and several more times throughout the day, I inspect the garden. Seeing the baby fruits and veggies is thrilling. But then, my impatience takes over, and I lament the fact that it’s taking so long for everything to grow.

The plants are doing exactly what they’re supposed to do, of course. The growing timetable is right on track. It’s my frustration that’s the problem.

Impatience isn’t helpful; eagerness isn’t an effective fertilizer. And so, I do my best to focus on the fun of watching the progress, slow as it is, and celebrate each milestone. Soon enough, we’ll have a full-grown bounty. In the meantime, each day is an opportunity to enjoy the experience.

I’ll admit, however, that I sometimes whisper, “Hurry up, we’re waiting” to the leafy, blooming stalks and vines. I don’t want them to assume they have all the control in this situation. Somebody’s got to remind them that this is a group project.

Here’s to patience and to the rewards that come from giving things time to become what they’re meant to be.

Categories
Animals Fun Nature

Scurry

Yesterday, as I was watching the antics of a group of squirrels that live in our backyard trees, I realized that I didn’t know what to call them in their collective state. So, I looked it up.

A group of squirrels is called a “scurry.” Based on the way the squirrels in my yard were acting, this is an apt description.

After that, I became curious about the collective names for other groups of animals, birds, and bugs. So, I did some more investigating and found some delightful and amusing descriptions. These are a few of my favorites: A group of giraffes is a tower. A group of jellyfish is a smack. Zebras in a pack are called a zeal. And, a collection of ladybugs is called a loveliness.

Here’s to the fun of language and to watching the scurry of furry tree rodents that live in my backyard.

Categories
Life Nature

Woodpecker

There’s a Woodpecker that visits a couple of trees in our backyard every morning. He spends hours tapping away at the branches.

Most of the time, it’s charming, the rapid rat-tat-tat-tat-tats that echo across the backyard. I confess, however, that I sometimes become irritated by the sound. It’s surprisingly loud, starting at the crack of dawn, and it goes on and on, all morning.

Nevertheless, I’ll keep my complaints to a minimum. I like that our backyard has become Woody’s favorite breakfast joint. It’s fun to watch him as he hops around the trees, assessing the branches, choosing the best spot. He’s an entertaining sidekick during the morning gardening routine, even though he is a noisy neighbor.

Here’s to nature’s simple pleasures.

Categories
Family Fun Nature

Whirly-twirly

There’s a tree nearby that is dropping its seeds right now. These seeds are designed to spin as they fall to the ground, like little helicopter wings. In fact, they are commonly known as “helicopter seeds.”

When my sons were youngsters, they loved playing with these types of seeds, which we called “whirly-twirlies.” We’d laugh as we threw several in the air at once and waited to see which one landed first.

Now that my sons are grown, we no longer play the whirly-twirly game. Still, I do sometimes pick one up off the ground, toss it up and watch as it whirls and twirls gracefully to a resting spot in the grass.

Here’s to simple fun and happy memories.

Categories
Good Nature

Planting

Where I live, there’s a month – six weeks, if we’re lucky – when most of the days have perfectly blue skies, and soft breezes that sweetly dance over blooming flowers and trees, and temperatures that hover between comfortable and just warm enough. That’s our Spring.

During that time, it’s easy to forget that Summer is Coming. And so, as my husband and I blissfully enjoy the temporary glory of the perfect weather, we plant.

This year, our backyard garden contains tomatoes, and cucumbers, and squash. There’s also the oregano from last year that survived the winter, and more basil to replace what didn’t. We’ve added kale, and mint, and strawberries, and we are excitedly watching a couple of leftover brussel sprout plants that we thought were goners but are now thriving, seemingly invigorated by our recent snowpocalypse.

I say “we” as though I’ve been actively part of the planting process. In truth, it’s been my husband’s work. My role is advisor, and admirer, and supporter. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am the Garden Cheerleader, helping on occasion with the weeding and watering but careful not to overdo so as not to antagonize my allergies. Still, it is a partnership, a combined effort and project, one in which we both proudly share.

We are fortunate to have a backyard for our garden. It’s possible to grow vegetables in other locations, however, if you set things up in the right way. That’s the premise behind an organization called The Million Gardens Movement, which is “…dedicated to mobilizing a million people to grow their own food and reap the benefits of gardening.”

The Million Gardens Movement offers kits (Little Green Gardens) to people in need, making it possible for them to grow a small but significant garden almost anywhere – a windowsill, for example. A $10.00 donation provides a kit to one family. Additionally, The Million Gardens Movement provides guidance and education about gardening, supporting people everywhere as they grow their own food.

If you’d like to know more, check out their website: https://milliongardensmovement.org

Here’s to the gorgeous glory days of Spring and the hopeful inspiration that comes from planting for the future.

Categories
Holidays Nature

Green

The Lake Isle of Innisfree
by William Butler Yeats

I will arise now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

Categories
Nature Neato

Gold

Yesterday, I learned that Eucalyptus trees sometimes have gold – real gold – in their leaves.

Eucalyptus tree roots grow extremely deep. At times, they grow deep enough to encounter water sources that contain gold. When the trees draw the water up, the gold, in minuscule measurements, comes with it.

Gold is toxic to the Eucalyptus, however. Therefore, the trees don’t retain it. Instead, they move it through their roots, up into their branches and out to their leaves, where it can be naturally discarded.

Nobody’s going to get rich by collecting these Eucalyptus leaves. The amount of gold contained in them is tiny (one estimate I read said that it would take all the leaves from 500 trees to get enough gold for one small ring). Analyzing the leaves, however, makes it possible to find underground gold deposits without exploratory drilling and excavation, which minimizes damage to the environment. And, the process used to analyze the Eucalyptus leaves can be applied in other circumstances, with other trees, to potentially discover additional minerals deep within the ground. From a purely practical perspective, that’s what makes this discovery meaningful.

Setting practicality aside, however, it’s fun to imagine golden trees. It’s the stuff of fairy tales and fantasy. It’s a reminder that the magical stories we humans invent sometimes pale in comparison to what happens quietly, without fanfare, in Mother Nature’s everyday life.

Categories
Life Nature

Spring

“Do you remember the Shire, Mr. Frodo? It’ll be spring soon. And the orchards will be in blossom. And the birds will be nesting in the hazel thicket. And they’ll be sowing the summer barley in the lower fields…and eating the first of the strawberries with cream. Do you remember the taste of strawberries?” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

Categories
Nature Neato

Discovery

Yesterday, I read about the discovery of a new species of whale in the Gulf of Mexico.

The new species has been named Rice’s Whales. They were originally thought to be Bryde’s Whales, but some scientists suspected there were differences. These scientists collected genetic data a few years ago, which gave preliminary confirmation of their suspicions. Then, a dead whale was found in 2019, and the scientists were able to verify their hypothesis.

At first, it seems surprising that these whales have been swimming around, unidentified, for so long. Scientists estimate, however, that there are fewer than 100 Rice’s Whales left in the world; they are in danger of extinction. Combine that with the size and depth of the ocean as well as the challenges of locating specific types of fish and animals in the sea, and it’s not so surprising after all.

The discovery of this new species isn’t going to make much, if any, impact on the lives of most of us here on Earth. We would have gone on with our human existence even if we’d never learned about these whales. Likewise, the whales would have gone on living their watery lives regardless of our awareness. With that in mind, maybe this news isn’t such a big deal, especially considering everything else that’s happening these days.

On the other hand, maybe it’s the type of news we need right now. It’s a reminder that, as smart as we are and as much as we know, there is still so much for us to discover. So, here’s to curiosity, to riddles and mysteries, and to all that we have yet to learn.

On the other hand, maybe it’s On the other hand, maybe it’s a nice little reminder of what can happen through a combination of curiosity, perseverance, and the belie