Good Planets 1/20/07

“Step out onto the Planet
Draw a circle a hundred feet round.

Inside the circle are
300 things nobody understands, and, maybe
nobody’s ever really seen.

How many can you find?”
–Lew Welch quoted from “Earth Prayers”

Liza from Egret’s Nest sent this photo of redwoods in her backyard — they are examples of why Redwoods are called Sequioa Sempervirens — the last part means everlasting. She writes, “Redwoods are amazing and beautiful trees and when I am in a redwood forest, I feel at peace!”
I found this peaceful scene at Peirce’s Park in Longwood Gardens in Pa. – my husband and I enjoyed a few quiet moments together beneath these towering old trees.
Sarala sent this photo and wrote, “This is a tangle of kelp I saw on Pacific Beach, California. I think of kelp as nature’s floatation device.”
Cathy at Left Curve wonders what this strange-looking plant is that she photographed in Key West. Anyone know?
KGMom sent this photo from her travels to Labadi Beach, Accra, Ghana just before sunset. She writes, “The boat in the foreground is a typical fishing boat, although it doesn’t look like it is in working order. However, Ghanaians are very resourceful; they may very well use this boat.”
Bunnygirl shared this pic of her *own private peninsula* at Chapin Beach on Cape Cod.
She also sent this photo of the Abó Pueblo ruins – one of the Salinas pueblos.
Robin at Dharma Bums writes, “I’ve been trying for weeks to photograph a Golden-crowned or Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Because they are *continuously active* it is very difficult to get a good shot. They hop and flit in the bushes, making focusing very tricky. But persistence paid off, and I did get a fairly reasonable shot of this Ruby-crowned Kinglet just the other day. One of North America’s smallest birds, the Ruby-crowned Kinglet can be recognized by its constant wing-flicking. The male shows its red crown only infrequently.”
Kerrdelune of Beyond the Fields We Know shared this photo of the tattered remains of a milkweed pod.
Laurie from Dont Make Me Get My Flying Monkeys sent this photo taken near the headwaters of the Stillwater River above Nye, Montana.
Dawn shared two beautiful pics; this one of Mt Rainier from White Pass…
and this gentleman who joined her hoping she might have a snack or two to share.
John at A DC Birding Blog sent this photo of the sunset on 1/15/07 at the grounds of the U.S. Capitol. The domed building visible on the horizon is the National Museum of the American Indian. The branch at the top is part of a large willow oak that stands about 30 yards from the Senate wing.
Evan writes, “This is a Tufted Titmouse taken in my backyard in Fairfax Va.”
Sky writes, “Recent snowfalls in Puget Sound, Washington covered our giant sequoia in glittering white crystals where she stood regally dressed for our pleasure for 7 days! This photograph is cast in the blues of the afternoon light joining sky and snow. She is my favorite evergreen here where she overlooks one of our perennial rock gardens filled with spring’s tulips, hyacinths, and iris followed by a summer festival of lilies, fuchsias, dahlias, coreopsis, liatris, and lavenders.”
DivaKitty sent this photo taken while looking down on Carson Valley from Kingbury Grade in Tahoe, Nevada.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Many thanks to those who submitted photos this week. Is it just me, or are they more spectacular each time?

My hope in hosting Good Planets is that the beauty shared here will cause someone to pause and consider all that we stand to lose if we continue to take this planet and its many wonders for granted. Step out into the world, draw your small circle and see what you can find within it that will bring you joy. Share that joy and do your part, however small, to see that it endures.

Everyone is invited to particpate in the Good Planets Show. Send your photos to me, lc-hardy AT comcast DOT net for inclusion in next Saturday’s edition. If you’re prone to procrastinate, send your pics for February to Wanderin Weeta (susannah AT dccnet DOT com). Maybe you’d like to host Good Planets on your own blog? Think about it and contact Robin at newdharmabums AT yahoo DOT com.

Take my picture, please?

Last weekend while I was driving around looking at *fancy* ducks at some of the coastal ponds in the area I was approached by this pretty lady(?) and her companion. I was trying to take some pics of a pair of canvasbacks from my car. All of the ducks were in the middle of the pond – too far away even for the long lens – but these two saw me stopped at the roadside and swam over, got out of the water, and climbed up the bank and stood beside the car eyeballing me. I felt bad for not appreciating their more common beauty, so I switched lenses and took a few photos while they posed so nicely. Why can’t the canvasbacks and hoodies be this cooperative?

I’m kidding, of course. This duck wasn’t interested in having her picture taken – she was looking for a handout. I didn’t have a single thing to offer her, not that I would have anyway. There’s a reason the ponds are posted with “no feeding the waterfowl” signs.

All of the ponds the ducks frequent (both migratory and domestic) are in residential areas, surrounded by homes. Most are passive-use municipal parks and often attract large numbers of Canada Geese and Mute Swans. People using the parks like to feed them and that attracts more of the beggars and probably drives away the migrant waterfowl. It also dirties the water, and in the case of Wreck Pond, which is tidal, creates a significant environmental problem.

Better just to tell her how pretty she is and go on my way.

Fresh faces

I met my new students for the first class of the Spring semester last night. I’m less nervous as the years go by, but it still makes me pretty anxious. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the way my knees shook the first time I faced a group of students ten years or so ago. It’s not that bad anymore, but I teach semi-adults now. I think a group of 6th graders, like that first class years ago, would have that effect on most anyone.

One plus for me as a college instructor is that I get a new crop of students every few months. Just when we begin to get tired of one another and have each other figured out – the semester ends!

For all the nerves involved in the first class meeting, I have a good time with it. I get to pretend that I’m very strict and likely to be a difficult teacher – for a few hours anyway. They see through that act pretty quickly in the weeks to come.

They seem like they’ll be an interesting class. There’s a few culinary school students, and a dance major, and a girl in the automotive program. All of them claim to be good readers, but hate reading, and most couldn’t name the last book they’d read.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

A gentle, but late reminder to anyone planning to submit a photo for this week’s Good Planets on Saturday. Please email to me at lc-hardy AT comcast DOT net sometime tomorrow. Thanks.

1/17/07 Mid-week bunny fix

Peeper’s favorite perch is my hope chest by the window. I’m not sure what she’s watching out there, other than traffic, but she loves to sit there watching. A car pulling up or someone walking along my neighbor’s driveway just outside the window sends her racing back to her cage with a Thump! Once I tried to sneak a photo of her in this pose from outside the window and she totally freaked out and Thumped! at me for a couple of hours. Silly rabbit! She insists that the window be open, even in this morning’s cold, otherwise she will paw and scratch at the window until I open it. If you have a sharp eye you might notice that the dangly things on the mini-blinds have been *altered* by somebunny’s teeth.

and for Suzanne from PetBunny, who died today:

I Am an Animal Rescuer
My job is to assist God’s creatures
I was born with the need to fulfill their needs
I take in new family members without plan, thought or selection
I have bought rabbit, dog, & cat food with my last dime
I have patted a mangy head with a bare hand
I have hugged someone vicious and afraid
I have fallen in love a thousand times
and I have cried into the fur of a lifeless body
I have Animal Friends and friends who have Animal Friends
I don’t often use the word “pet”
I notice those lost at the road side
And my heart aches
I will hand raise a field mouse
And make friends with a vulture
I know of no creature unworthy of my time
I want to live forever if there aren’t animals in Heaven
But I believe there are!
Why would God make something so perfect and leave it behind?
We may be master of the animals,
But the animals have mastered themselves
Something people still haven’t learned
War and abuse make me hurt for the world
But a rescue that makes the news gives me hope for humankind
We rescuers and lovers of animals are a quiet but determined army
And making a difference every day
There is nothing more necessary than warming an orphan/stray, or surrendered
Nothing more rewarding than saving a life
No higher recognition than watching them thrive
There is no greater joy than seeing a rabbit, cat, or dog play
who only days ago, was too weak to eat
I am an Animal Rescuer
My work is never done
My home is never quiet
My wallet is always empty
But my heart is always full
In the game of life, I have already won!
~ Annette King Tucker ~

Rest well friend. May your reunions at the Bridge be joyous.

Suzanne helped many rabbits find new homes. The 3 bunnies that she’s left behind have been adopted, sight unseen, by other members of PetBunny, and will be transported from Suzanne’s home in California to various points in the country by other members of PetBunny who volunteered to drive or fly them there. Suzanne volunteered for a few trips like this herself to get a bunny to a new home.

A sweet pastured place

“Somewhere in time’s own space there must be some sweet pastured place, where creeks sing on and tall trees grow, some paradise where horses go…” -Stanley Harrison

Some of us (not me) will be busy tonight with the season premiere of American Idol. I have work to do to get my head together to teach the semester premiere of College Reading Skills II tomorrow night. So I’m sharing just this pic of some pretty horses that I pass by on my way to work in the morning.

Just up the road from this peaceful scene there was a car crash last week that killed four people – 3 of them high school students. Friends and family have already begun to erect the sad roadside memorials that seem to take on a life of their own and become the focus of a community’s mourning. Why people should choose to remember a loved one in the place where they met a fiery death is beyond my understanding. I didn’t know these kids and sort of resent being reminded of their passing with sodden football jerseys and crooked homemade crosses stuck in the mud at roadside. I should think they deserve a more dignified rememberance.

They’re young adults just learning to deal with grief and, I suppose, haven’t yet learned to mask it and make it more palatable to others, like we grown-ups do. Their pain of loss is raw and they feel the need to do something to demonstrate how much they’re hurting. I understand that.

Me, I keep my eye on the horses as I pass by. I see the beauty and tranquility of this place and think of a few young boys in too much of a hurry to do the same.

“One more time”

Naturewoman invited us to share pics from our childhood, so I’m posting this one that I scanned a while back for another post that I never got around to putting together. I’m the goofy-looking kid in the hat, my mom and grandma are there with me. The pic was taken outside the church I grew up attending; maybe it’s Easter Sunday and I think the year was 1976, so I was six years old.

My mom in this picture looks exactly the way I remember her; tall and shapely and pretty. She passed away five years later with that nice figure. My grandma died while I was in college. She was always a robust woman – made of good German stock – but with age she became thin and frail.

We used to go on vacations with my mother’s family to Maine and we spent all the holidays at my grandparent’s in North Jersey, but I don’t remember much of that. I do remember as a teenager going to visit and sometimes spending a weekend with my grandparents. My grandma and I drank tea together and played cards. I always wanted her to teach me how to crochet and play canasta, but we never got to that. I grew up and she got old and then she was gone. I do think of her whenever I fix myself a cup of tea or sing *Happy Birthday* to someone. We always had to sing *Happy Birthday* twice when grandma was there, because just as the song was finishing grandma would say, “one more time” and we sang it again. Silly! My brother Kevin reminds me of this now, because his voice is the one saying, “one more time” in a perfect imitation of grandma’s voice.

Duck… duck… duck… Coot!

Hooded merganser
Northern shoveler
American wigeon

I had signed up for a bird walk this morning at Sandy Hook, but it was cancelled yesterday due to poor weather. Bummer. In all the years I’ve been birding I’ve never had a trip be cancelled because of the weather. Are birders going soft or something? It was barely even raining today, so I visited a few of the coastal ponds in the area looking for ducks. I found quite a few of my favorites, and even got to take a few of my signature fuzzy photos. The Wigeon are the prettiest, I think, and there were nice numbers of them. Wigeon have a sweet call; the Cornell site compares it to a squeaky toy. Very different than the Long-tailed ducks I saw last weekend at Sandy Hook. Clicking on the links will bring you to Cornell’s page where you can listen to both songs.

Most everywhere on these little coastal ponds are gulls, Canada Geese, and Coot. They’re funny birds, actually in the rail family, and I photographed this one among a group of twenty or so feeding in the grass beside a pond like a flock of chickens. I saw the Wigeon doing the same thing, which was a first, although I’ve read that they’ll do that.

I stopped along the ocean on the way home, hoping to spot a loon, but the heavy fog and a lonely fisherman were all I found. Nice day, despite the rain.

Good Planets 1/13/07

Welcome to this week’s Good Planets show. As usual, our beautiful earth does not disappoint.
Dave from Bird TLC in Alaska shares this photo of a Bald Eagle about to snatch a meal from the snow. The shot was taken by a friend of his, Britt Coon.
Amanda from Old Girl from the North Country took this pic looking east into a Northwest Washington sky on a day when it snowed.
Cindy from Woodsong sent this image of a yellow lady’s slipper orchid that she photographed near her home. She says, “they grow in colonies and self seed- the yellows get quite tall before they’re done, at least a foot 1/2 high.. they grow in a ‘bunch’ and they’re hard to shoot since most of the slipper-petals all face in different directions, so I try to isolate one blossom, which isn’t always easy. And yeah, sometimes I get on my belly for florals.. the trick is getting back up :)”
Lindsay shares this beautiful pic of turkey-tail fungus. I know a few of you who will enjoy that!
Susannah of Wanderin Weeta sent this pic of boats and weathered old buildings. Sarala sent this pic of a juvenille Cooper’s Hawk that posed briefly in a tangle in her garden.
Karen at Rurality shares this pic of hoarfrost on an unknown weed in her yard.
Robin of the Dharma Bums sent this photo of a bushtit.
Whorled Loosestrife (thanks Bev!) and a reflection of the blue sky at Whitesbog in the NJ Pine Barrens, photographed by yours truly.
Kerrdelune of Beyond the Fields We Know shares this breathtaking pic of a maple leaf caught in the wind in eastern Canada.
Liza at Egret’s Nest offers this pic of a lone raven near Boulder Creek.
Maggie from Banter, Bones, and Breath sent this pic taken on vacation in Virginia.
Naturewoman wanted you to see this image from the Adirondacks in upstate NY.
Pam at Tortoise Trail shares this pic of a beautiful male cardinal with the Santa Catalina Mountains in the background, north of Tuscon.
Cathy at Left Curve offers this serene ocean view from Canon Beach in Oregon.
Evan sent this lovely hibiscus flower; this photo was taken in Saba.
Bunnygirl sent this pic of the City of Rocks. The City of Rocks is a grouping of big, smooth rocks on an empty plain near Deming, NM. With nothing of note for miles around, the rocks seem to have grown out of the earth, and by some accounts, that’s exactly what happened. The rocks go on for a long way, and the park has dozens of campsites nestled among them. Camp there on a clear night with a full moon, and see what a mystical experience it can be!
KGMom sent along this colorful pic of shutters in Amsterdam.
The Fat Lady Sings shared this photo of her favorite secret cove in Monterey, California. This is one of my favorite places in all the world. Through these trees, down a narrow little trail is a tiny cove, protected from wind and weather. I’m sure it’s been discovered by now – but 20 years ago, when I took this picture, no one else seems to know of it. I would go there almost every weekend – sitting on the sand, listening to the gulls, tasting the sea air. Trust me when I say the picture doesn’t do it justice.- I’m afraid it’s no secret any longer!

Finally, Cathy at Looking Up sent this image of fall-colored aspens.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Good Planets will be appearing here for the last two Saturdays in January and will then move to Wanderin Weeta for the month of February (mail to susannah AT dccnet DOT com). Until then, please continue to send your beautiful pics to me at lc-hardy AT comcast DOT net. Many thanks to those submitting photos this week. Also to the Dharma Bums and Tortoise Trail for continuing support (technical or otherwise). All photos (past and present) are archived at the Good Planets Flickr gallery.

– – – – – – – – – – – — – – – – — – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

*Note to photographers: Please leave a few details about your pic in the comments here to better describe them. I wasn’t able to access the descriptions each of you sent me by email and had to describe each pic from my memory of how you described them. My email account is acting up tonight. Hopefully I didn’t invent any details or otherwise make too many mistakes.

Two things meme

from Laura at Natural Notes 3:

two names you go by: Laura and Sweetie
two parts of your heritage: Pennsylvania Dutch and German
two things that scare you: fire and going to the dentist
two everyday essentials: Carmex lip balm and coffee
two things you are wearing right now: jeans and ridiculous slipper socks with pom-poms on the toe
two of your favorite current bands/artists: Little Big Town and Luka Bloom
two things you want in a relationship (other than love): laughter and shared values
two favorite hobbies: being outdoors and reading
two things you have to do this week: get ready for the start of Spring semester and clean up Xmas clutter
two stores you shop at: Barnes and Noble and Whole Foods
two favorite sports: people-watching and surfing (the net)
two shows you like to watch: Without a Trace and Real Time with Bill Maher
two things you’d buy if money were no object: nothing comes to mind right away!

two wishes for 2007: happiness and less stress