Super Bloom

IMG_1596Seeing California’s spring wildflowers has long been on my bucket list. With the long drought quenched by soaking rains the past few months, this year’s bloom promised to be a big one. I am most fortunate to have friends in SoCal willing to take me to see the show at Walker Canyon, Lake Elsinore and wow, what a mind-blowing event it was. The tiny people on the far ridge above give you an idea of how vast the coverage was, 180 degrees of mountain vistas covered with California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) and several other wildflowers.

Below is a slideshow to enjoy–

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Encased

IMG_0233Oak leaf encased in ice after being repeatedly splashed by the waterfall.

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Silent Sunday

Red Tulip

“When you believe in beauty, you can find it everywhere.” ~ Dennis Ference

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Silent Sunday

Cornus florida

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Flora

dsc00054Since it’s snowing here and they’re forecasting frigid temperatures to follow, I thought I’d head back to Florida (virtually, that is).

Above is the mouth of Lower Suwannee River as it empties into the Gulf of Mexico. The 30-foot-tall Shell Mound located here was built of millions of 2-inch oyster shells between 1,000-3,200 years ago by indigenous peoples, though there is human evidence as far back as 7,000 years. It is believed that the mounds were sacred, as burial mounds were discovered at ends that face winter and summer solstices. The thought of countless generations of workers building this, using only baskets, is staggering.

When I arrived, the sun shining through the Spanish moss was enchanting. I only wish my photos conveyed the backlit beauty.

This tree trunk was colonized by ferns, which struck me as equally beautiful.

dsc00051Plants lay one upon another, trees, vines and moss; every ray of sunshine has a tendril reaching toward it. A startling jungle filled with birds, insects and various critters!

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Ice Dam

dsc00198I was astonished to see the height of the river yesterday afternoon on my walk. Rain had poured down all day with totals above two inches, breaking up the 8-10″ thick river ice. With the ground frozen, all that water sheeted off directly into the watershed. The grinding, backed up ice seen here is at least ten feet deep, a scary thing if any one or animal got too close and fell in.

Last summer, at the bend in the river at the top of the above photo, erosion toppled a large spruce tree into the river, essentially creating a dam. With debris flowing downriver trapped since then, it had become a formidable obstacle.

Below is a photo taken in October to give you an idea of just how high the water had risen. The flood came close to overflowing the left bank, but thankfully, didn’t crest it.

Around 11:00 pm, I heard the dam crack and give way– all that moving ice sounded like a giant glass tumbler of ice cubes, clinking together as the pieces were drawn downstream. Today, the river is all clear. Isn’t Nature amazing?

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Brrrr!

Below Zero

Cold!

Brrr! Baby, it’s cold outside! This was at 8:15 a.m. this morning, and the inside temperature was not all that comfortable either at 62, but the stove had just been lit, so soon, it was roasty-toasty. I love that wood stove!

Frozen waterfall

Frozen waterfall

Saturday, ahead of the much-hyped winter storm Harper, I went out to the waterfall and stream to take photos of the ice before snow covered it all up. Consistent temperatures below freezing for over a week had created some beautiful ice.

Layered cascade

Layered cascade

Depending on the speed of the water and cascade, different ice formations develop. My favorite are the slow seeps that deposit layers upon layers in tabletop forms. Fast-moving cascades will freeze in frothy formations, and steady drips form long icicles. (Click to enlarge.)

Pockets in the ice where the stream shows through are interesting.

Stream ice

Stream window

We received about 8-10″ of sleety snow overnight Saturday, followed by blustery winds as the storm moved out and the temperature dropped Sunday night. Drifting snow packed into crevices and filled low spots, leaving surfaces that squeak when walked upon.

The fresh blanket of snow is pretty and lightens the landscape considerably, especially with last night’s full moon. Did everyone see the eclipse? I actually stayed up until midnight ET to enjoy it, but went to bed before it emerged from the earth’s shadow again.

Despite the cold, we’ve already been out snowshoeing. We mustn’t let a little cold weather stop us from getting our exercise!

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