Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fall Colors on the Mountain

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.  
~John Muir 

This past weekend the philosopher and I went on a hike in the Talladega National Forest.  The Pinhoti, as I've mentioned before, is a really long trail extending from south of Birmingham to the Georgia state line near Cedartown.  We're hiking all the parts of it nearby, bit by bit.  This time we went from the County Road 94 crossing about 3 1/2 miles up the mountain and along Augusta Mine Ridge.  It was a perfect day - upper 70s with a nice breeze and low humidity.
Wilson Ridge
This is looking east from Rocky Top, elevation @ 1850'
The trail cut through an ancient grove of cedars and pines - I kept thinking of Tolkien, for some reason.
Looking down into Piedmont Valley
Looking back to Oakey Mountain
It was a frabjulous day, all in all.  And the best part?  We didn't talk deep philosophy, or make plans about what we might do if the philosopher doesn't find a full time job.  Instead we talked about where we might move to be closer to the (soon-to-be-his-we-hope-and-pray) job he will have next year.  So we talked about houses, and where we'd like to live.  And where we might live if we BOTH got a job at the Happy Southern School, and where we might live if I stay where I am.  My friends, I have to say, that was the most hopeful and encouraging Hiking Talk we've had... ever.  So keep up the prayers.  We know for sure that one way or another things will be settled by Christmas.  And ... hopefully! ... our yearly Christmas letter will bear happy tidings for us at last!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hitchcock is Laughing

Birds.  Birds!  BIRDS EVERYWHERE!!  They're following me!  ACK!

I've mentioned before about the long desolate journey I have every day to work. And I've mentioned some of the ...odd ... wildlife I've seen. So last night, driving home, I was swooped by a bird.  (It may have been a bat, but who can tell when it's dark?)  It was an omen, though, of my pending morning commute.  (Cue the menacing "Twilight Zone" theme music here...)

This morning, I passed a rafter of turkeys.  They were congregated in the large area around (I kid you not) the Etowah County Bow Hunters range.  Maybe they had a death wish? Or maybe they were showing their machismo and daring the bow hunters to take the field?  I don't know, but they were looking at me as though *I* might be Thanksgiving dinner, not them!

Later, I saw a murder of crows perched among the branches of an enormous dead tree.  Can you say "creepy"?  Just imagine - the skeleton of an oak, filled with large black birds silhouetted against the rising sun.  Yeah.  "Creepy" about sums it up.

There's a beautiful creek area on my way to work, too.  It's a nearly mile-long stretch where the road crosses several creeks feeding into the nearby Coosa River.  What did I see?  Swans!  Black ones and white ones!  At least these birds didn't seem menacing in any way... but after my first two experiences - and the fact that Halloween approacheth - I'm staying on my guard!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Rose Identification?

This will be boring to everyone, except those interested in figuring out what kind of rose this is.  Feel free to ignore at your leisure!  ::grin::

(The information provided is based on this data sheet from Garden Web)

STUDY NAME: "Mamie's Rose"

BUDS: round and smooth, with pointed sepals.

BLOOM: vibrant pink, 80+ petals, looks a little like a hybrid perpetual in shape and density

FRAGRANCE: very fragrant, sweeter smelling than the "old fashioned" rose smell you find in potpourri and perfumes


REPEAT BLOOM: blooms at least three times a year (in fact it has buds on it now, in October)

HIPS: few, dark brown


LEAVES: smooth, medium green and glossy, usually 5 leaflets, no spines, each leaf about 3" long

LEAFLETS: uniform and medium-spaced

STIPULE: light green, no striping

THORNS: many, straight, strong and light brown (I actually like to call them "wicked and evil" when pruning!)

CANES: Upright and straight, stout

GROWTH HABIT AND FORM: 5-6' high shrub, upright

VIGOR AND HEALTH: fast grower, susceptible to black spot

HISTORY:  Mt great-grandmother (late 1800s, it is guessed) moved the parent of these shrubs to Haleyville Alabama from Carrollton, Georgia.  About 60 years ago my grandmother moved them (or propagated offspring) from Haleyville to Collinsville, Alabama.  I transplanted these bushes to my house (about 40 miles away) two years ago.  They were growing in part shade in very rich, loamy soil in Collinsville, and had been untended for at least five years.  Before that they were very well cared for.

 (new growth in October!)