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Observation: I haven't had an observation in several months. Hmmph. But at least i have a job. 2 of them as a matter of fact. It's feast or famine around here, apparently.


striped skunk

This time of year is forage time for animals. A lot have been seen in the magical dusk times along the Blue Ridge Parkway, as i'm generally travelling home from a sunset shoot. I've seen striped skunk, many rabbits, several deer, and a really bushy-tailed fox or coyote just tonight.

This time of year, too, i'm seeing a lot of squirrel 'test holes' and presumably the squirrels and chipmunks are digging up their buried larder. Also, moles and voles are expanding their territories. Suddenly you'll find your foot sinks into a pathway or den of one of these elusive creatures.


Noticed that the robins have returned.

There's a smell to the early spring woods that, well, reminds me of poop. It's a deep, rich, earthy smell that (unlike poop smell) isn't bad, just fundamental... or sub-mental... or something.


Took the NC Arboretum loop hike, and got pictures of Trailing arbutus and a few other things. The majority of the woods are still leafless (except for a few holly and evergreens) and open. Still, i was not 30' off the path (huddled over taking pictures, as usual) and two separate walkers walked by and didn't notice me, their vision stuck on their gravel mission. Later, a runner in grey sweatsuit did at the last minute turn and offer a startled 'hey.'

I find that the rule is: "The more carefully you step and cautiously you walk, the more Nature reveals to you." Now this might sound downright simple and obvious, but it's true in a deeper sense. If you stop and smell the roses, the roses whisper a little secret to you, and if your nose is listening (to mix senses), you find even more reason to stop and listen for another secret and slow down even more. I probably would never have discovered the Trailing arbutus above, except that i was stopped in my tracks by a noise i hadn't heard, or noticed before. It was a steady stream of chipping (sorta bird-chirping) followed by a loud robin-like (but less musical) call that sounded mildly alarming. I searched the trees and ground with my eyes. Nothing. I moved cautiously closer. Still nothing. It probably took me 10-12 minutes to get another 25 feet down the path, but i was determined not to loose sight of this bird-thing when it flew off. Luckily, i had my walking stick to lean on in between steps (kinda felt like really slow Tai-chi, and was wonderful in itself). It turned out to be a red squirrel, just sounding off or announcing that it was. Once it noticed me, it cautiously shut up and stuttered for its burrow in some fallen tree. But the point is, that during the time i was barely moving and scanning the ground, i saw - and noted for later - a little plant to investigate. After photographing it, i felt like the red squirrel had been scolding me to stop hiking and start crawling if i want to see anything.

Anyway, slowing down has the benefit of not just more Nature revealing, but also slows the internal dialogue. Theoretically then, there is some form of standing meditation that is moving about a foot-a-year (or not at all) where the universe reveals everything to us and everything about ourselves (which is the same). Hopefully i'll get to try that, but it'll have to wait for at least a week off from work.


At the Weaverville Public Library, Scott Dean gave a wonderful slide show and presentation on the native plants of the area that are in bloom now, and in the darkness i tried to take notes while Scott gushed and beamed about the plants he loved. I'm pretty sure he said preceeding each flower, "Now this plant is my favorite." Scot gives nature walks and is mentioned on my links page.


Saw a yellow Tiger Swallowtail butterfly, in fact several, frolicking in the mountains. Good to see them back.


Spent the better part of the day at the Biltmore House gardens and outdoor areas along Bass Lake. Just wonderful being among the trees. The greenhouse, along with those amazing orchids are just unreal. Fantasy and dream objects from the rainforests.

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