There’s a ginger in the woods

It seems red-heads or “gingers” get a lot of grief. I suppose it’s because they stand out, as does this little cedar tree.

A red-headed cedar tree stands out against the greening forest. Sadly, its rusty head probably means it is a former cedar tree.
SEEING RED — A red-headed cedar tree stands out against the greening forest. Sadly, its rusty head probably means it is a former cedar tree. Between years of deluge has been a year of hard drought. That’s a lot of stress for any plant to take.

Winged beauties

The last few weeks in the Ouachitas have been a treat for the eyes.

Skull sky

Here in Arkansas, where the Gulf of Mexico sends its warm, moist air streaming northward, and the Jet Stream regularly imports cold air from Canada, we’re no stranger to the scary skies that are generated when the two forces meet.

However, this sky image is scary in another way: More creepy than a green tornado sky and something more akin to the images of fear and horror seen in some German Expressionist cinema. Found the image this morning when cleaning off the SD cards in the digital cameras. This was taken September 2012 from our deck looking southwest.

SCARY SKY -- Skull-like formation in the clouds over central Arkansas.
SCARY SKY — Skull-like formation in the clouds over central Arkansas. (Untouched by Photoshop.)

Weekly photo challenge: Renewal 1

This week’s photo challenge theme is “renewal.” It’s a hard theme in autumn when Nature is preparing for her winter’s sleep. She did leave some reminders of spring — that great time of renewal.  Today, vibrant violets dotted the shaley, leaf-strewn slopes.

ULTRAVIOLET — Normally a signature of spring, violet blooms popped into fullness near the middle of November.
OUT OF TIME — Wild violet blooms out of time.

Far more interesting takes on the theme can be found here:

And of course, the BIG photo challenge page:

Cypress lake

When people think of fall color, they usually think of the deciduous trees. But don’t count out the conifers.  Come autumn, the cypress here turns a bright rusty hue, contrasting nicely with the other foliage.  The bases broad bases and fluted columns that make up the trunk made these trees seem to date from another eon.

CYPRESS and CORMORANTS — Running parallel to U.S. 70 east of Little Rock is a strip of water surrounded by cypress.
TREE FULL OF LIFE — Cormorants gather around the base and in the branches of this cypress.

Night driving

Nothing like a little night drive down on the outskirts of town. Just what the doctor ordered as therapy for too much computer time.

SHHHH — The school buses are sleeping. Where the school district buses spend their nights in a lot south of Little Rock. Snapped out the window as we whizzed past.

Uncontrolled airspace

We’re not sure what kind of tree this is, but in the spring it sprouts clusters of tiny, nondescript light green blossoms that are to pollinators as catnip is to felines.  Stand within 5 feet and you will hear the tree buzz loudly. So loudly, my husband said: “it’s like standing next to a dynamo!”

Nearly every branch is in motion with the landings and departures of hundreds, if not thousands, of honeybees, carpenter bees, bumbles, wasps, butterflies and hummingbirds. Its shiny black fruits keep the birds happy through the winter.

YOU’RE IN MY AIRSPACE — Bumble bee and black swallowtail vie for the same spot on this blooming tree. Nothing like simultaneous approaches on intersecting runways.
CARPENTER BEE — Big carpenter bee in the blossoms.

It’s iris time!

Spring weather has come early to Arkansas this year, bringing everything along with it, including the annual crested iris outburst. In 2010 and 2011, these beauties came along around the second week of April. This year, their ethereal lavender-blue standards and falls graced our woods before the end of March.

In years past, the irises seemed to prefer to be alone or in pairs. This year, there are crowds in the leaf litter. Some are live on the sheer edge of the road cut, while others seem to cling to the crumbling  shale by their fingerling rhizomes.

FOURTEEN'S A CROWD -- A group of crested iris, native to the Ouachitas, lights up the roadside.
SOLITARY -- A single iris framed by vines on the Ouachita forest floor around the 600-foot mark on the mountain.
IN LINE -- A line of irises in the leaf litter.

The deck has a mohawk

The nano-climate of the deck holds all sorts of life. Its grout and cement have provided a foothold for a tenacious strip of moss, which today radiated a springlike green  in the wintry backlight.

AT ATTENTION -- Necks arise from the moss venters.
TIGHT -- Looking deep into the mass of moss venters.



One hot summer day, this garden snail decided the best course of action was to climb up the cool glass of the front door. This turned out to be a bad life choice.  So too was the laying of eggs somewhere on the front porch. The dozens of hatchlings with their dark spiral shells struggled a few feet before the hot concrete boiled the life from them.

It is a moment of pathos. We have not been able to bring ourselves to remove it.

INSIDE LOOKING OUT -- A sad end for a garden snail, 6 feet above the ground.
DOWNWARD SPIRAL -- Only the hard shell remains.