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My Very Own “Garden”

I headed back to Oxford today, somewhat reluctantly I have to admit.  It was really nice to have some time with my family, not on a weekend, not because I was expected to be there, just because I could be.  It was more than really nice, actually.  More like a breath of fresh air.  I spent a lot of time with Mom in her garden, from cutting down a out of place tree that had volunteered there a few years ago to pulling some weeds, to just enjoying the not-very-formal, overgrown beauty that is there.  This morning Mom remembered that she had some window/deck flower boxes that she couldn’t use that have been just chillin’ in the garage for a while.  I got one down from the top shelf and decided that it would be my project for today, to add my very own garden to my condo.  Making it into my home has been quite a long process and I’m always finding something that needs done or fixed and some use for my tool kit.  Today was my favorite type of thing – getting dirt under my fingernails.

My flower box

As the construction around, but not in, my condo continues (I still have a random stove sitting on my porch), It’s nice to be able to look out on just a little something beautiful.

The box and a bit of the courtyard

Ok.  That’s wishful thinking.  All of these plants are wilt-y and look to be near their ends.  But soon they’ll come out of it.   Soon I’ll have beautiful to look at.


Evening Primrose

This evening my Mom and I sat out in her garden and watched her evening primrose bloom.  These photos represent about a minute or a minute and a half from first to last.  I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.


Just Amazing.

A Simple Loop? – – Hiking in Hueston Woods

Saturday I spent a good part of the afternoon Saturday messing around in Hueston Woods State Park (http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/parks/parks/huestonw/tabid/745/Default.aspx), just outside of Oxford, OH with the dashing Robert Spencer.


Our first destination in the park was the Nature Center to find ourselves a map.  In the process, we also found out that Hueston Woods has a raptor rehabilitation center!  Cool!  Bobby was really excited to see a bald eagle, closer than he’d ever seen before.  I was enamored with this little guy.  I can’t remember his name, but he was the first bird we saw.  He looked so sad in his cage, but his wing had been injured, and he could no longer fly. Beautiful, awesome creature though.

I've never felt the desire to hug a bird before... now...

So, after getting a good look at a map (and charging my camera in the car, because after 15 minutes, the thing had already died), we picked a simple looking trail, cedar falls for those keeping track at home, and decided to make our way there, by driving the long way around the park loop.  It was my first visit to Hueston Woods, after living in Oxford for a full year *shame* and I wanted to get a chance to take it all in.   Key words.  Simple. “Looking.”  First off, we couldn’t find the trail head.  And then, we really couldn’t find the trail head.  And then, I declared the map horribly inadequate, and after a lot of me telling Bobby “Just trust me”  “I’ll find it” “Just go with it”  we forged off in a direction that I thought maybe, might have the trail head.  Thankfully, I was right or I might have had to eat a lot of “Just trust me”s.  First off, literally not 30 feet onto the trail there was a fork.  GAH!  The trail map showed this trail as being a simple loop, in other words, no forks.  We picked a direction and I didn’t like it, so Bobby and I turned around, not 2 minutes into our hike.  It wasn’t looking good for a smooth trek!  We stumbled upon fork after fork after fork on this trail.  Finally we got to what must have been cedar falls, which was pretty, but probably the smallest thing allowable under the terminology of “Falls.”  We took off our shoes and were delighted to find it was a nice, bedrock bottom creek like the ones Bobby and I were used to from Hanover.  The kind that’s good to creek stomp in while barefoot.  The creek was teeming with life – tadpoles, water boatmen, water striders, crayfish, minnows, dragonflies…. and the list goes on.  My favorite, however, was this:

I Love Daylilies

My Mom, early in my life introduced me to the joy of daylilies, she has maybe 20 varieties in her garden, and we used to go to these daylily farms with hundreds of varieties.  I was surprised to see this one, with such a gorgeous burgundy blaze and yellow throat, growing wild beside a creek.  I had thought that the wild variety was all orange.  huh!  After some stone flipping and general critter gawking, Bobby and I sat down for a rest, and I snapped this beautiful example of how living things seemingly defy the laws of physics:

Surface Tension and the Water Strider

I feel like I’ll be using this photo in one of the labs I teach soon enough.  Bobby and I then headed on our way, taking a different path out.  After hiking for a while, we came across another couple who were trail biking and all four of us started to cross the creek at the same time.  Started to.  Until we noticed this fellow, basking on a warm rock in the middle of the creek.

See! Everything likes a suntan...

The other couple went downstream to cross while Bob and I checked out this guy, and some small bluegill that were just chilling in a deeper pool, also in the creek.  We finally found an exit to the trail that wasn’t far from where we parked the car.  Overall, a very nice day.  I think I really like Hueston Woods, but I think I’ll try a different trail next time.  And possibly bring a GPS!

Global Garlic Mustard Field Study

What I’ve been working on recently is contributing to the Global Garlic Mustard Field Study.  I spent the later part of my morning at Kramer Woods, part of the Miami University Natural Areas.  For those of you who might not know what garlic mustard looks like, this is it, in seed.

Garlic Mustard

As I was setting up my transect line for part of the study, I saw something move near my foot.  Upon closer inspection, it was this little guy.  Some sort of toad metamorph.

My little friend

I had gotten about halfway done taking measurements when up came quite a good little downpour.   I was pretty ok with just getting wet until I realized that my backpack was, too.  So, I had to take a break, put my papers and electronics in a ziploc bag, and hunker down until the rain let up.  Luckily I was wearing jeans and a raincoat already (It was only about 66 today.  At the end of June? Crazy weather this year).

Keeping the backpack dry...

So, I got my backpack, put it under the nearest large tree, and stood over it.  Suprisingly, this tactic worked pretty well. While I had my camera out, I tilted it up.

Sugar Maple Leaves

Sugar Maples are probably one of my favorite trees.  Along with Tulip Poplars, Sycamores, Red Oaks, and Sassafrass Trees.  Yeah.  You can tell I’m a forest person.  I can’t even pick a favorite tree.    But anyway.  I finished the transect, gathered some samples and hiked out. Mission Accomplished.

Live and let Leaf

Hey there,

Welcome to my very first blog post!  I want this to be a place where I can share what’s going on in my life, through word and photo, with my family and friends.  I hope to share tidbits of my life as a grad student, with things about my work and the play that I always try to mix in.  Occasionally, I’ll try to comment on fun things that I’ve found, videos I’ve seen, etc. too.  I want this to be my life, in blog form :)

So yeah, thanks for stopping by!