Dreary Day, But Getting Better

2009 is ending on a dreary note here. It's foggy and chilly outside, causing me to spend way too much time inside on the computer. For some reason I am feeling nostalgic today and have spent a great deal of time looking for folks I used to know. Facebook can suck away time at an alarming rate ;)

On a cheerier note, today is Treebeard's birthday. Soon I will go downstairs and start his birthday dinner. Something hot and spicy to take the chill off, perhaps? Later we will ring in the New Year with a bottle of champagne -- probably well before midnight, though. Party animals that we are, I imagine we will be fast asleep when the ball drops.

Happy New Year to all you e-people out there in blogland. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you will continue to visit in 2010. Thanks, too, for all your blogs. I always look forward to reading your posts.


Some trees hold secrets...

Treebeard had a curious expression on his face as he looked at this tree.

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It is a nice-sized live oak growing near the Pamlico River.  The canopy is vigorous and spreads wide.

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Wondering what had him perplexed, I walked over to where Treebeard stood regarding the tree.  What I saw had me perplexed, too.  This tree has a secret about a time in its past.  Slowly, but surely, the outer bark is working to cover the traces of a previous calamity...

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Wonder what happened here and why? It couldn't have happened too terribly long ago because those look like chainsaw scars. What story would this tree have to tell if it were willing and able to share it secrets?


Peculiar, I Reckon

She is my problem child. Loving, yes, but she has some habits that drive us up the wall. She also has some habits that just make us shake our heads and wonder. For instance, she loves to eat spider webs and can often be found reaching out into the overlooked corners of the room harvesting web with her paws. Odd, don't you think?

But one of her odder habits is pictured below. Every evening when the lamp is switched on, Wiki hops up on the table and sits under the lamp shade.
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As she sit there, she stares at the light bulb. Sometimes she even rests her chin on the lamp as she gazes up at the glow.
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Weirdness, thy name is Wicket.



A mysterious, glowing orb appeared in the sky today. A little research revealed that it was the sun -- remarkable! Treebeard, Trekker (formerly known as Hippie on this blog) and I headed out for a hike.

We weren't the only ones enjoying the sunshine. I zoomed my camera to absolute max to snap a picture of basking turtles. They were too far away for me to make a positive ID.

The pond is running high from all of our recent rainfall. At long last it is easy to find open water after a spring, summer, and fall of heavy duckweed cover.

From the far-away to the upclose...
The trunks of beech trees make great spots to find interesting things. Here we have a case-bearing moth doubling as a sundail.

Another photo to add to my critter scat file. Here we have the lovely leavings of a slug. A squiggle of slug scat...

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A diminutive spider was soaking up the rays on another beech trunk. It's probably a dolomedes, but I'm not certain.

And chillin' out under a log we found a few nice red-backed salamanders. Hardy little creatures.
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What I don't have photos of are the frogs that were out and about. I saw, very briefly, five frogs. Three were cricket frogs and two were southern leopards. None of the five wished to have its photo taken. Too bad.

Monday and Tuesday are supposed to be sunny, too -- we'll see. And of course, the weatherman predicts rain for Treebeard's birthday (known to most of you as New Year's Eve) and New Year's Day.


Tracks in the Sand

One last post about the river before we move on...

A sandy beach can be a great place to find tracks - or make some. This shot reminds me that I need to re-waterproof my boots ;)
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The river water itself can make some pretty tracks in the sand.
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The raccoon who made these tracks left a curious little alternating drag mark.
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At a couple of spots along the shoreline, there was evidence of an otter romp. Otters are always ready to party!
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But the oddest track of the day was this one. We saw it from a distance and had to get closer to investigate. What on earth left this mark in the sand?
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Turns out it was this little guy, a barnacled bit of driftwood.
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Down By The River

Life on the edge can be tough. Particularly for trees living along the shore of a coastal river...

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Wind and water conspire and take the ground right out from under them...

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Until one day there is not enough left to support life...

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But even as bare skeletons, there is beauty in trees.

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Photos taken along the Pamlico River in Beaufort Co., NC


Solstice '09

Treebeard and I usually celebrate the Winter Solstice with an oyster roast. This year we decided to build our fire and eat our oysters in the afternoon rather than wait for nightfall so we could incorporate our solstice bird count into the celebration.

A half-bushel of NC oysters waiting for the coals.

The fire is hot and the coals are forming as the bricks heat up.

Treebeard put the heated fire brick between the ground and the bottom of the grill to help keep the coals uniformly hot. He shoveled in the coals, put some oysters on the grill and then covered them with a wet sack.

A few minutes later, we were shucking and eating. This one had a prize inside! It's a little crab that was sharing the oyster's shell.
Yes, we ate the whole half-bushel. That's only a peck apiece ;)

For dessert (a couple of hours later) we roasted marshmallows over the fire.
I also roasted the souls of my shoes, but we won't go into that ;)
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For those who are interested, here's our bird list for the yard today. We noted what we heard or saw from about 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. We got 29 species:

Turkey vulture
Black vulture
Pileated woodpecker
Red-bellied woodpecker
Red-headed woodpecker
Northern flicker
White-breasted nuthatch
Pine warbler
Chipping sparrow
Song sparrow
Swamp sparrow
Field sparrow
American crow
American robin
Northern cardinal
Eastern phoebe
Great blue heron
American goldfinch
Red-shouldered hawk
Carolina chickadee
Carolina wren
Ruby-crowned kinglet
Yellow-rumped warbler
Wood duck
Tufted titmouse
Hermit thrush
Bald eagle
White-throated sparrow
Dark-eyed junco