Archives for September 2011

Opa!

Greekfest dancers

High school dancers from St. George  Greek Orthodox Church in Knoxville, Tennessee await their cue to begin performing a traditional Greek folk dance. Each year, church members share their heritage at a two-day celebration of Greek culture that includes food markets, cooking demonstrations, live music and tours of the church and its iconic religious art.

Reminder for next year: get more loukoumades – fresh, hot pastry puffs covered in a lemony, honey-cinnamon coating. Yum!

Queen Anne’s Lace/Wild Carrot

Edge of the Field

It’s no wonder Queen Anne’s Lace is so plentiful in fields and meadows across the southeast. Multiple seeds are cradled in the cottony beds of flower heads now, ready to be scattered on the ground or dispersed by wind as cold weather approaches.

Daucus carota is not native to the U.S. and can be very invasive and troublesome as a weed. It is difficult to eradicate and causes problems in agricultural areas where the plants can hybridize with crops of its descendant, the domesticated carrot. Wild carrot can also be toxic to cows and horses that might graze on its roots or stems.

Queen Anne’s Lace does have its charms, however. A meadow full of them is quite lovely, and many a child has dipped the white flower heads into food coloring to see what hue emerges. Herbalists use various parts of the plants, and there are recipes available for those who know not to mistake wild carrot for poison hemlock, which apparently is very similar in appearance!

The Squirrels Win. Again.

A Peek Inside

Before I left town for a week, the seed capsules on the bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora) were beginning to open slightly. There must have been sixty or seventy stout, perfectly-shaped buckeyes scattered over the shrub, which I had planted at the edge of the woods six or eight years ago.

When I returned home, all except one buckeye had fallen off and disappeared. The squirrels had (naturally) outwitted me again. Every year about this time, I watch and wait until the buckeyes are about ready to fall off. Then somehow – overnight – the squirrels beat me to the bounty. They could at least leave a few runty specimens on the ground to compensate me for their greed, but they don’t.

I did manage to outsmart the squirrels one year and gathered up the nuts for future planting. As many of my seed collections go, the nuts dried up before I could do anything with them. That’s okay, because the buckeye roots wherever the branches touch the ground. The original shrub is now about sixteen feet wide and over ten feet tall, so there will be plenty of chances for propagating more of these intriguing, native beauties.

I recently saw a newly-planted bed of bottlebrush buckeyes. Someone had put a lot of them, spaced only three or four feet apart, in a small bed near a brick wall. The property owner will be in for a surprise someday.

Freedom: A Different Kind

Stepping Out In Style

My mother is one of the most upbeat people I know. She doesn’t let others define her life or decide how she should dress, even though she’s past the eighty-five-year mark in birthdays. She squeezes the most from each day, and people gravitate to her for the wit and enthusiasm that nearly always shines through.

Who says aging is about black canes and drab clothes and giving in to the daily barrage of advertising that tells everyone over fifty to rein in their life?

Might As Well

Late summer in Frog Level, NC

Although it’s early September and not fall weather, the native Virginia creeper vine draping over this old building sign is starting to turn crimson. I like the idea of a picket fence outside the former tattoo establishment. It’s funk and apple pie in one vignette.

Work

Lost in the Clouds

To all those who work….

to plow their fields,

to keep their children well — or alive,

to find a job,

to keep the job they have.