Sometimes I like to imagine that I am an inch tall walking among a forest of wildflowers. Other times, I imagine what it would be like if the flowers were as tall as trees. This is one way to turn a short walk around the neighborhood into an adventure. Watch out for bees.
Here are some things I saw in 2021:
The time finally came for me to return to Florida in October 2020, but first I had to visit my friend in New Hampshire. He took me up Uncanoonuc Mountain for a view of Manchester, but this is all we could see:
From there, I drove to Chambersburg Pennsylvania, only to wake up the next morning to fog so thick I was afraid to get on the highway. It had followed me! While fog is common in the part of Rhode Island I was in, it is not common in New Hampshire, and the chances of encountering it twice on the same trip at points so distant from each other are tiny. It could not be a coincidence! The fog must be alive! Was I to be its dinner?
I ate at McDonald’s and saw ducks in the brook out back. At ten it was still no less foggy, but I had to go. Just one mile out of town were blue skies.
I stopped in North Carolina without incident. The next day, I took a photo of this butterfly at a rest stop in Georgia:
Being absolutely sick of driving, I stopped in northern Florida for the night. The next day, I found that the fog had caught up with me again!!! It got worse and worse as I drove west on 10 until I reached the 75 junction. Then it gradually got better and better as I drove south.
Finally, I got to my parents’ house. No more fog. A couple days later, I took a walk around the neighborhood and saw a lot of flowers:
Part of a tree had fallen down revealing its insides. It looked as though it had started to…send roots into itself?????
I also saw two skinks and many types of birds. Many more flowers were not photographed. The sun was bright and the breeze was blowing. The fog had been banished!
Points To Ponder:
“The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things or make them unimportant.” – The Eleventh Doctor, Vincent and The Doctor, Doctor Who
Sometime in 2020 I held a brushfire. My friend came over for marshmallows, hot dogs, and beer. Once the sun was good and down a couple of deer ran across the yard right near us. It was a good time during what was a rough year.
Weeks later I had a fire by myself during daylight. When it was put out, I found blue smoke:
Points To Ponder:
“Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, and aliment, without which it instantly expires. But it could not be a less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.” – James Madison
Last summer, my nephews came to visit me in Rhode Island and they played soccer on the porch in pouring rain and lightning. They were completely unmanageable. A bit later there was small hail. This was the second time I had seen hail. The first was in New Hampshire in the late eighties. Interesting.
Later that same day, we saw a rainbow:
Still later that same day, we saw a whole family of turkeys walk right across the yard. A row of little turkeys followed the adult. After that, we were playing hide-and-seek and I got stung by a wasp. A giant wasp nest was in the hedge near where I had previously found a bird nest. It was a wild day in the middle of a wild year.
Weeks later, I visited my nephews in New Hampshire and took a photo of this creek surrounded by flowers:
Points To Ponder:
“Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” – Jesus, Matthew 19:14, NLT
This past summer, I trimmed the hedge around the yard and exposed a bird nest:
The birds never came back ☹
2020 has been a very strange year. I let the water run dry on my boiling green beans three times! They smelled like burnt tobacco. A lot of my projects were put on hold and I travelled hardly at all. However, I did take a few walks around the neighborhood:
We apparently have some artistic neighbors. A few miles down the road somebody has filled their yard with giant metal insects and spiders. On the way there is a boulder recently painted with an ocean scene and a holly bush.
These are some other things I saw on walks around the neighborhood in RI:
Points To Ponder:
“The heavens tell of the glory of God. The skies display his marvelous craftsmanship.” – Psalms 19:1
“Whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, you must do all for the glory of God.” – 1st Corinthians 10:31
“I have witnessed real faith and genuine sincerity in the holy places of many different religions, and in every case my heart responded to them. I will be entering many more churches and holy places and see a good deal more, I’m sure; but to me the best church of all is the sky’s starry dome above. The whole of nature is my temple, and so are my room and my small heart, as long as it is alive and beating.” – Svetlana Alliluyeva
“I’ve read enough books in their entirety to know that if I persevere and keep reading, things will make sense, and I might even be changed in the process of making sense of them…God, the Master Author, writes every chapter of our lives with the aim of character development. He patiently works in us through the mundane and the problematic. He adds odd passages and tedious side plots. He weaves our lives with those of other characters through unexpected and even bizarre ways. Yet, when we turn the last page, it will be the beginning. There will be no more wistfulness. There will be no more wondering.” – Klara Holscher
I have been so busy writing books and taking care of my grandfather that I didn’t visit many parks or write many blog posts last year. Here are a few things I did do:
I discovered YouTube channels DrBecky and Cody’sLab:
Doctor Rebecca Smethurst is an astrophysicist who covers the latest news in cosmology, gets really excited about black holes, and sings.
Cody takes care of bees, chickens, extracts valuable metals from catalytic converters, plays with mercury, turns everything into charcoal, and is currently building a habitat to simulate Martian living.
In the meantime, I posted another article to LovesTampaBay.com, this one written by my mother about her visit to Sawgrass Lake Park.
I also saw a GIGANTIC beetle in the summer. It resembled a Japanese beetle, but was bigger than a June bug. Unfortunately, I got no pictures.
What I did get a picture of was the night sky when it was every color of the alphabet and then some. It is hard to see in the photo, but they are there.
Another day I went to check the temperature and found I was not the only one:
I made chili using leftover Lima beans:
Here are some other pictures:
I didn’t get out much in 2019, but that doesn’t mean nothing happened. My grandfather’s rhubarb plant put up flowers this year. First, it put up a very tall stem. Then buds formed. Then they flowered and before long became disk-shaped seeds.
There are also three types of lilacs on the property and a fourth type just over the hedge on the neighbor’s property. To my eyes, they had quite different shades, but the camera doesn’t pick this up well.
Well, I didn't go as many places as I wanted, but it was still an interesting year. My grandfather had me trim the hedge, which is how I found all kinds of new insect friends. At different times, I saw a caterpillar, a dragonfly, and a praying mantis. In the flower garden was another dragonfly.
I also found evidence of other potential friends.
There are so many wonders around us that are hidden unless we cut things open. Trimming the hedge is how I discovered that yellow wood really does exist.
One day I saw patches of frost in the grass - even though it was late July. The ground below was black. What is that stuff? Mold? It was gone days later.
Another day I discovered a patch of wild mint on the edge of the yard. At first, it smelled and tasted exactly like basil before it matured and became mintier. I put it on my noodles.
The neighbor's yard developed several gigantic growths of fungi in a matter of only four days! I photographed the first to come up from the south and north and then again at the end of the four days when it had matured.
Then I saw a bunch of other stuff:
Even when I stay inside I see interesting things. This intruder was resting on the screen of the guest room window:
This one was in a gas station:
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!!!
I love flowers!!! All these plants were photographed around Rhode Island in August or September of 2018.
I am still seeing flowers pop up around the yard and around town. Unfortunately, I cannot stop my car just anywhere to take pictures of all of them. These are only a fraction of the total. All these photos were taken in July of 2018.
No, that’s not a flower. Dan, we talked about this.
It started in March. Flowers began popping through the lawn here and there. Then in April flowers were everywhere! Even the neighbors had them. The lawn was full of dandelions and violets. Then it was mowed and up came the buttercups and clover. The trees were suddenly ablaze like slow-motion fireworks. Some flowers only lasted a day. Others lasted a week or longer. Some came in gradually. Others were nonexistent one minute and existed in hordes just two hours later. Every other day in April, May, and June there was something new as first one bush and then another lit up. I could not gather what I considered a good photograph of all of them, so I have posted only the best.
I keep thinking we are lucky that the creator decided to place flowering plants on at least one planet. When I see a plant covered in them I think that at least one thing in the world is going right.
Um…Those aren’t flowers. Technically, they aren’t even plants; they’re protists.
Also not flowers. Flowers don’t move. Dan, you know better.
I finally found a roundabout way to get videos from my phone into my PC and onto the blog. Enjoy!
I learned a new word recently: bombogenesis, the process by which a storm rapidly intensifies. Rhode Island (which is not an island) was recently hit by one of these storms, which brought a lot of snow and even more wind. When I went out to pick up the newspaper (which some fool had actually taken the effort to deliver), I found I could not face north at all without cold, wet, pointy bits of ice continually slamming into my eyes at speeds in excess of forty miles per hour. The next day, there were some pretty intense drifts. Snow depth ranged from practically zero inches up to six feet. The area around the house was clear, but the wind curled around it and dumped a lot of snow on our southern-facing porch.
I haven’t been travelling much lately because I am taking care of my grandfather now that my grandmother has died. I am continuing to write my science fiction book and my philosophy book, but have not taken any time to draw. I am also still conflicted with which direction to take some of my other fiction ideas. In the meantime, I have decided to go ahead and publish more of my musings and observations on the blog in spite of having no true adventures to pair them with. I had wanted this blog to be about travel, but my thoughts are part of my life too. My life is in a slow season. I am also having some baffling computer problems I have to keep working around, so this delays blogging still further.
Southern Rhode Island must be the cemetery capitol of the world. I see a tiny one outside a Rite-Aid, another tucked behind a Burger King, one at the edge of a field, a big one just down the road from where I’m staying, and then I read a story in the local paper about all the cemeteries in the next town, including the one where my grandfather’s parents are buried. We went to go see them and some people my grandfather went to school with. It was an uneventful trip.
The newspaper article on cemeteries was more interesting. It mentioned a mass grave where a scorned traveler had his revenge by burning down a house with dozens inside. It mentioned two women who were rumored to be vampires, possibly because they had frozen solid during the winter and had not decayed come springtime when the ground had thawed enough to bury them. It also mentioned a single, unmarked grave outside a cemetery that took some sleuthing to find out who was there.
New England seems to have a lot of “layers” to it. New developments are built, new neighbors move in, roads are changed, trees grow up, and spots that used to be locally famous become inaccessible and are forgotten. My grandfather speaks of a “split” stone that one can walk through. It is still in the woods somewhere, but surrounded by homes. I’ve also read about a nearby boulder that pivoted atop another to make deep booming sounds heard long distances. Many families used to dump trash such as bottles or old frying pans on their own property. These spots hold a wealth of archaeological data. They have since been covered over and the original families are long gone, but my grandfather still remembers where some of them were.
A few days before Halloween I was driving through the several towns surrounding the University of Rhode Island. The roads in this area seem to have grown organically like roots with no forethought that humans might one day need to navigate them. Fortunately, my grandfather’s century-plus of experience living in the area guided us home. “Left, left, right, straight, right,” he said. I’m not sure how he does it.
This area has a strange mixture of urban and rural qualities. Everywhere we were surrounded by trees, but there were closely-spaced houses among them. The roads were narrow and winding, yet heavily trafficked. There was nowhere to safely stop and take a picture. The nine-foot, pumpkin-headed being depicted above was actually sighted on a separate trip several miles north of this area. Among the houses are numerous local businesses with creative signs and facades, reminding me of a fairy village. I started to imagine that I might have took a wrong turn into the fourth dimension somehow and I was now trapped driving in circles forever.
Every yard had a stone wall going all the way around it. Some bordered right on the road. Some had fitted stones and were very neat. Others were sloppy. Some had jagged stones and some had rounded stones. Some were made of very large stones. There were even stone walls partitioning lots full of trees and boulders with no houses. One yard had a very deep valley running through it. The topography was always interesting. It seems like a cozy place to live.
There were book shops, flower shops, and antiques dealers. Every other residence seemed to be selling hay, firewood, mulch, or eggs. Returning a few days later to explore, I was disappointed to find some of the stores still without power from a recent storm. Among the open stores was The Purple Cow Company, a gift shop selling clothes, jewelry, cards, joke books, incense, geodes, and various carved figures. I was intrigued by the locally-made mini-houses made from smooth beach stones stacked and glued. Glass was used for windows and doors. It was a fairy village within a fairy village. I also stopped to look at the Tillandsia plants, which look like cute Lovecraftian horrors. Next door is the The Green Line Apothecary, which in addition to selling drugs, supplements, lotions, and providing screenings and immunizations, also has a bar where they sell soda, ice cream, shakes, floats, coffee, tea, lime rickeys, and whatever the heck egg creams and cherry phosphates are. I was not in a sugar-mood (unusual for me) and so I just had iced coffee with milk.
One day I shall return.
My name is Dan. I am an author, artist, explorer, and contemplator of subjects large and small.