verdure
Raven Rock State Park
Saturday, July 1st, 2017

There are several hummingbird feeders in front of the visitor’s center at Raven Rock State Park. Both times we’ve visited, the feeders have been full of tiny, zipping, chattering birds.

hummingbird feeder

ruby

It was overcast all morning and had rained earlier, and many mushrooms were out.

mushrooms

There is a stairway down to the base of the park’s eponym at the bank of the Cape Fear River.

Raven Rock

It was drippingly humid along the river. There are turtles resting on the logs on the far bank.

Cape Fear River

butterfly

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Duke Forest – Korstian Division – New Hope Creek
Saturday, July 1st, 2017

There is only parking for a half dozen cars or so at the Concrete Bridge entrance to the Korstian Division of Duke Forest off of Mt Sinai Rd (35.999663, -79.023752). Walk along Concrete Bridge road/trail and then take the right onto Wooden Bridge road/trail to the promised wooden bridge over New Hope Creek. There’s a small trail on the east side of the bridge down to the creek. Along this delightfully green trail in early June we saw several toads and frogs, a salamander, mushrooms, snails, turtles and fish. The trail is easy to follow but brushing up against the grasses is unavoidable, and I got several bites.

toad

New Hope Creek

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tomatoes
Sunday, July 31st, 2016

tomatoes

Yellow pears, romas and black krim

We live in a pretty dense neighborhood with lots of trees, but we’ve stubbornly been trying to grow tomatoes. Last year when we moved in mid-season we got a husky cherry red and a patio. They started out not looking great, we put them in too small of pots, and they never did much. The patio tomato tasted no better than ones from the grocery store.

This year we got bigger pots and started earlier, but the plants have still had a terrible time of it, getting blown over by wind, gangly branches growing too tall and weak and breaking off outside of their cages, so we’ve been bringing in a lot of green fruit. But, we’ve gotten several batches of wonderful roasted tomatoes now. And it turns out that the mystery heirloom is a black krim (the one in the picture is pretty much ready to be eaten).

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Stone Mountain State Park
Friday, July 1st, 2016

In early May, spring was not yet in full bloom at the edges of the Appalachians. There was lots of fresh green, the first mountain laurels and blackberry flowers were out, but it was not yet time for the rhodedendrons.

stream crossing

Stream crossing on the trail to Middle Falls. Following the main Stone Mountain Loop Trail a bit further from here we were lucky to see a mountain crayfish.

stone mountain falls

Stone Mountain Falls. A large number of steps takes you from the top of the falls to the base.

Stone Mountain

Stone Mountain State Park is named for its 600-foot granite dome, which can be seen from the Hutchinson Homestead.

Hutchinson home

There are several restored buildings on the homestead, which was built in the mid-19th century. The main home was small with low ceilings. Often the homes that end up preserved are large, architecturally relevant, owned by properous families. These homes feel both similar to modern life, in that they have lots of furnishings and fixtures, and yet removed, in their show of wealth and household staff to keep running. This homestead was striking in that it grew to be fairly successful, with a blacksmith shop to serve the surrounding area, yet the mode of living was still very personal, by the hands of those that lived there. The grounds spoke strongly to the uncompromising self reliance needed to live then, not so long ago.

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Umstead State Park
Sunday, August 23rd, 2015

female ruby throated hummingbird drinking from a cardinal flower?
hummingbird

appalachian brown
appalachian brown

red-spotted purple
red-spotted purple

damselfly
damselfly

sycamore creek
sycamore creek

striped mud turtle
striped mud turtle

bass and sunfish
bass and sunfish

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cicada
Sunday, August 16th, 2015

Mike found a dying cicada outside our house this week.

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