April Speckles

Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Wild Geraniums And Moss” and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the page.

The soft rain ends with the breaking of the dawn light and the forest comes to life. The morning chorus includes Cardinals, Flycatchers, Catbirds, Gold Finches and more. By mid morning mottled light filters down to forest floor. It may be the best opportunity to get out and catch some fresh air before doing the day’s chores in spite of the wet conditions. I have on my old sandals. The ones that I don’t really mind if the get muddy as I step carefully around the edges of the yard. The little purple pops of color were the first thing to catch my eye as I moved from the kept area of the yard into the transition zone where the woods begins. Wild Geranium blooms in April just as the leaves start to come out. All along the edges of the roads the landscape is speckled with purple blooms. The impression is that God took his paintbrush full of purple and shook it out onto Little Elk Mountain. The soft morning light seems to linger right on this little cluster to make the bloom glow. For a moment my imagination asks if it’s possible that I have stumbled across a fairy village. I could almost see them huddled together with a turkey tail fungus for a front porch and the moss for a shag rug. I blinked for moment and they vanished like the morning mists. And it was in this moment that I knew it was time to rejoin the real world and complete my chores.

Before I close, I want to announce that tomorrow night I’ll begin the “Forage Friday” series. For as long as I’m able I’ll post an image of a wild edible plant found in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia. It’s not intended to teach you everything you need to know about wild edible plants. What it is intended to be is sharing some of my personal interests and to give those who want to explore foraging a place to start.

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The Magnolia Awakens

Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Star Of Spring” and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the page.

After long months of slumbering in the darkness nature has awoken. The faithful little Star Magnolia stretches in the winds of early March then opens up an smiles at world. Her joyful awakening fills the air with a sweet fragrance as warblers welcome her with a happy song. Daffodils dot the highway and the willow trees unfurl tiny leaflets of bright green. I thank God for the sunshine even if the wind still carries a bitting chill on some days. I have an inclination that the bees will soon be heard buzzing in the hedges as they work tirelessly to replenish their stores but for now the Magnolia’s smile was enough to warm up a winter weary soul.

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A Quick Update On My Natural Calendar

Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Awakening In March” and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the page.

I’m the kind of person who is done with ice and snow about 2 days after Christmas. I have been longing for green leaves and a walk down a moss covered path for quite some time now. We still have a little ways to go yet but yesterday’s revelation of the Bradford pear with it’s swollen flower buds was just the boost I needed. So much so that I decided to savor the moment and post the closeup as a second post. I live at a higher elevation and the valley always greens up a few days to a few weeks before it does at my house. In addition to the Bradford pear I’m starting to notice that familiar crimson tinge on the red maple twigs that tells me they are waking up too. The sight of these things reminds me of being challenged to swim from the Battle Run “Beach” to the campground under water. Unless you’re Michael Phelps it’s only possible by occasionally coming up for air a few times. These buds are the fresh breath I need to get through until mid April. In addition I’m thrilled that we reset the clocks to Daylight saving time tonight and that means it’s no longer dark when I get home. ( Can we just move it by 1/2 hour and leave it there?). You might be discouraged to see the snow covering the delicate buds but have no fear. This actually helps them survive the cold! I have been reviewing the metadata on in my archive to judge the dates of my natural calendar. Last year this tree was in full bloom on March 16th. By April 2nd the the Japanese Maple at the shopping center had tiny new leaves. The Redbud was in full bloom on April 14th and on April 23rd the dogwood trees were just starting to open. On April 25th last year I took a picture of a wild mustard plant in full bloom. And by April 27th the blackberries had both bloom and deep green leaves.

In closing, I know that tonight’s post is a little longer than normal and that I didn’t really cover the normal topic of taking time to declutter the mind but I do find encouragement in stepping back and gauging how long it is before the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains reveals itself in it’s milder form.

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First Bloom.

Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “First Bloom”. As with all of feature images on my copies can be purchased by following the instructions at the bottom of the page.

Tonight we’re having a little cold snap and as expected there is ice, snow and cold rain all on the same day. But I’m actually encouraged by the turn in the weather because historically there’s always a couple of snowy days before winter actually ends. Today’s snow means there’s only one or maybe two snows left to deal with. The next sign will be the emergence of the Serviceberry. Also known locally as Sarvis tree Serviceberry is probably the first thing to bloom in the Appalachian Mountains. As I understand it, the name comes from the old days when traveling during the winter months dangerous at best. Oftentimes when a person passed away in the winter the body was burried whenever it could be and the memorial service was delayed until Spring. There was little in the way of flowers to bring to the grave and thus the bloom of the Serviceberry tree filled the need. The tree would have been planted near churches and graveyards to ensure that flowers were available for those who came to the service. There’s other stories about how the tree got it’s name and there’s a long list of names for this family of trees. If I remember correctly from my forestry classes ( 20 years ago) the trees do hybridize frequently making exact identification of species and strains best left to tree nerds.

Because of the early bloom these trees are an important source of food for honeybees. It’s a mistake to think that honeybees sleep the winter away. They are busy all through the winter keeping the hive warm with their bodies and that means that they need fuel. A quick Google search says that a hive might need as much as thirty pounds of honey to make it through until Spring. TALK ABOUT A SUGAR BUZZ! By the time the weather warms up they’ll be ready to resupply and a good crop of Serviceberry bloom is just thing to tide them over until the rest of the flowers wake up. Honeybees feed the world so if you’re the kind of person who plants ornamentals and your local environment will support Serviceberry then you can do something that will actually make the world a better place by planting Serviceberry. Not only will you feed the bees that pollinate crops that feed the world but you’ll be rewarded with crop of your own. The Serviceberry fruit is edible and delicious! When I was a kid we would eat the raw when we could beat the wildlife to the berries but there’s a whole list of puddings, pies and preserves that use the berries.

I’m betting that some of my fellow Appalachians have some wonderful stories about picking Serviceberry fruit in late Spring and early Summer and I’d love to hear about your memories in the comments! If you’re reading this in one of the Facebook groups that have comments turned off then come on over to the Lloyd’s Lens Photography page on Facebook and tell me your story there. The weather is bad outside but we can look forward to seeing those delicate white flowers soon. The feature image for this post was taken in the last week of March a couple years ago.

Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my page. If you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please let me know by commenting and sharing my work on your social media. I also want to invite you to Follow Lloyds Lens Photography on Facebook

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The Girl Next Door

Hello Friends! Tonight’s image is titled “Surprise Visitor” for the bumblebee hiding under the flower and really has little to do with the story. However, if you want to purchase a copy please see the instructions at the bottom of the page.

He sat down somewhere between his yesterdays and his tomorrows. Something has changed and he was trying to figure it out. Before today she was just the bratty girl next door. The one who made mud pies and climbed trees. The girl who just last summer beat him in a wrestling match and made him say uncle before she would let him up. But today when she walked by in the school cafeteria she didn’t smell like mud pies and she didn’t move like a wrestler. She smelled like strawberries and seemed to float as she stepped. Things would be different from now on. A few days later he swallowed the lump in his throat and asked her to the dance. The first dance was awkward but eventually they moved as one. Sometime later that night she gave him his first kiss beneath the tree that they used to play in. It was just a little peck on the cheek but it made him feel like superman. That night he took his pocket knife and carved their initials into the tree. The heart shape wasn’t perfect but it was there. As time passed she would wear his spare jersey as she cheered for him at the high school football games. She maintained the yellow ribbon around their tree the whole time he was in the army and every day she touched their initials inside the misshapen heart and paid attention to the “4 ever” just inside the V of the heart. “A promise is a promise she whispers. One day when she came home from work and went out to check the yellow ribbon she found an engagement ring threaded through it. She heard his voice voice from the back door say “A promise is a promise “. After that day they were never separated again. By the next Spring they were married beneath that same oak and raised a family.

The little girl sat at the picnic table beneath the large lower branches looking at the odd somewhat heart shaped scar on the trunk. Her grandmother came out and sat next her. Looking up with her big blue eyes she asked about the Valentine carved into tree as her brother bounded from a branch. The grandmother smiled and said “Why don’t I tell you while we make a mud pie for your grandfather”.

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A Busy Day With The Honeybees

Hello Friends! Tonight’s image is titled “Work Ethics” and is available for purchase by using the Contact Link below.

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The Jewelweed behind my house moves like the wind is blowing but there’s no wind in any other part of my yard. I decided to step outside to see what was going on and the hum could be heard at a distance. I knew at once that it was the swarm. The flowers teeming with thousands of little wings darting to and fro with ” saddlebags” full of pollen. At one point in my life this would have been a terrifying experience but since facing up to my fears and learning more about these little ladies it’s a joy to see them. It was almost miraculous to see such a large number of honeybees because this photo was taken when colony collapse disorder was in all the headlines. You see, almost all life on earth depends on the honeybees to pollinate flowers and grow food. Even the predators depend on the herbivores who depend on the propagation of the plants. Since gaining my confidence around the honeybees I’ve found that they react to my presence differently as well. They no longer dive bomb me in an effort to bluff me into leaving. Instead they either ignore me completely or on some occasions they seem to be trying to figure out who I am. One time last year a honeybee followed me into the house, buzzed around the living room and then waited by the door like a puppy waiting to go outside.

I’ve discovered that standing back a bit with a long lens that photographing bees in flight was a good way to practice action shots. They only slow down when they land and they never really stop. Instead of causing anxiety it now brings a strange sense of peace to watch them working.

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Primrose And Bees

It never really ceases to amaze me when I find out how detailed God’s creation is. All along the edges of my property I find Evening Primrose. The bright yellow bloom always makes me smile. But today I learned something new about the happy yellow flowers that just turned up one day and stayed. They can hear. Israeli scientists have discovered that the petals function like ears. When Primrose flowers “hear” the buzz of bees they actually release sweeter nectar to draw them in. They only react this way to the sounds of pollinators. Making the sweet nectar is biologically expensive and comes with other complications so the Primrose plant doesn’t produce it until it’s likely to be visited by a pollinator. I didn’t really see it mentioned in the article but I’m willing to bet that the bees will buzz the flowers in an effort to “wake them up “. If this is happening then I would expect to see the bee hover close to the flowers and then come back once it’s had time to produce the sweet treat.

Albert Einstein is credited with having said that God doesn’t play dice with the universe. When I think about the relationship between the Primrose plant and the bees I see this as evidence that not only does He not play dice with the universe but He’s designed a perfect system and that everything has it place and a roll to play in it. For those of us who desire a harmonious relationship with God let me ask if that should also mean a harmonious relationship with his natural world? I believe so. If we could just figured out the little details and pursue a simple lifestyle I believe that creation would respond to us the way the Primrose responds to the bee. In the garden of Eden God told Adam and Eve to subdue the Earth, not destroy it. (The word subdue implying gentle persuasion. )

I’m providing a Link to the full article in case you’re interested in reading it for yourself. As always links to my blog and Facebook page are provided below.

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Ring this bell for Facebook

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Tonight’s Feature Image is titled “ Hughes’s Bridge At Winter Pooland is available forpurchase by using the Contact Form onmy website. ( justclick on the the bell below)

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