Let the bloodletting begin

We look forward to February and March when the blood oranges reappear in the produce section. That means it’s time for blood orange-red hibiscus granita — a little taste of the tropics before the start of spring.


Blood oranges laid open.
Blood oranges laid open and ready for juicing.
Measure of blood
Measure of blood orange juice from fruits.
The bloody aftermath.
After the squeezing and before the scraping.
Ready to eat
Red hibiscus-blood orange granita ready to eat.




After two days of nervously watching the forecast swing from clear to mostly cloudy skies, we were elated to see the clouds roll back before sunset to reveal a magnificently clear sky.  Sadly we couldn’t load the driver that goes with the telescope camera, so the moon was captured the new old-fashioned way with a digital camera on a tripod.

The moon looked great over the Ouachita Mountains tonight.


Adding flash to the picture taking added a yellowish cast to the supermoon.
Supermoon captured without flash. f10, 1/200 sec, ISO 125.



More signs of spring

With highs expected to run close to 80 degrees this week, it’s hard to believe it’s still winter. Spring has burst out all over, but as the TV meteorologist reminded his audience this morning, the typical dates for the last freeze and last frosts of the season are still ahead of us. Nevertheless, spring is out of the box.

Fragrant wild fruit blossoms
These flowering trees have filled the air with incredible sweetness. ID anyone?
Poke sallet rising
Our normally precocious poke sallet was a little slow out of the gate this year, but it has made its presence known. The poke seems to thrive the scant soil that covers the Stanley shale. A potential grapevine location.
Wood sorrel
Sorrel is up and ready for pollination.
Tulip tree's full tilt bloom. (cell phone photo)
Yellow flower
Sadly, another beautiful spring flower in need of an ID.
Another beautiful weeping form blossoming tree. (cell phone photo)

For the birds

Spring is just a week away and the local bird populations are becoming more active. Red-tailed hawks, robins, cedar waxwings make the trees and shrubs come alive in central Arkansas.


Red tailed hawk
Three red-tailed hawks and a black vulture spent a good five minutes surfing the updrafts from the south valley. At times, they remained perfectly still, balancing atop the columns of warm air.
cardinal in tree
Lone cardinal welcomes the morning sun one March morning.
Robin in the bush
Curious robin peers into the office windows.
Robin and waxwing
This robin and cedar waxwing were part of a group of both birds that swarmed the bushes just outside my office window.
Robin and waxwing prepare for departure as the swarm moves on.






Mad pears

For years, Bradford pears were the ornamental tree of choice, the chief reasons being their showy early spring blooms, beautiful fall foliage, pleasant symmetry and general willingness to grow in parking lots and other urban settings. However, the years begin to tell on them. As they grow, they can lose their symmetry and their brittle wood snaps easily. And despite being a delight to the eyes, their bouquet is more akin to bilge water.  Still, they are a welcome sign of spring.

Blooming Bradford pears make the entrance to this Ferndale home very impressive.

Alien produce

Plenty of things grow in winter in Arkansas, including these sunchoke tubers. Inflicted Given as a gift from a friend, these natives can run wild quickly. In summer, they produce cheery yellow flowers, a lovely contrast to the blue sky.

The tubers are edible, however, finding a good recipe for them has proven elusive. This same friend has boiled, baked, dehydrated, mashed and au gratin-ed them. (mind you, this friend can make acorns and chickweed taste great.)  Still, the tubers defy, um, conventional tastes. Maybe this should be an Iron Chef secret ingredient.

Sunchoke tubers
Sunchoke tubers awaiting a bath and a peeling.

Black and white edition

Spring has been mighty impatient with the winter. Quince, forsythia, plums, cherries and pears are all in bloom. Forget- me-nots and spring beauties add color to the awakening turf. The air smells wonderful. The colors are breathtaking after a winter of desaturation. But this post is not about those colors.

Striated shale
Beautifully banded shale found on the morning walk.
Matched set
A matched set, separated naturally.
Buffleheads take off.
These birds took flight hoping to escape the lens of the frightful photographer.
Thistle Rosette
Trod not upon me, sayeth the thistle. Despite the its prickly nature, the thistle rosette displays radial symmetry.
A land urchin awaits barefoot prey.