Yearly Archives: 2015

Winter Lights?!

For the second year, the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville has a special display called Winter Lights. Jerry Stripling, the former designer and manager for holiday decorations at Walt Disney World, retired and brought his magic here. Powered by a mile of extension cords, the energy efficient display of over 200,000 LED lights forms quilts, […]



Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa or whatever else you may celebrate! I hope you are all having a wonderful end of 2015! This bear delivered my holiday books for me. I can’t resist nature field guides, since identifying a plant or animal opens a new world of knowledge. He is studying hard to determine […]

Sun Star

With temperatures well above normal this month in much of the eastern US, there are still green leaves in New York City, cherry trees are blooming in Washington DC, and in my home turf of the southern Appalachian mountains, there are still a few dabs of color left in the landscape. By now the forest […]



Cloistered View

This pristine view is courtesy of the Cloisters Museum. Located in northern Manhattan, this branch of the Metropolitan Museum holds a collection of thousands of artworks and artifacts from medieval Europe. The museum hybridizes modern structures with pieces of five abbeys sent from Europe in the 1930s. John D. Rockefeller apparently had a thing for […]

Guardian Lion

Lions guard the NY Public Library. When they first took up their posts over a hundred years ago, they were ridiculed as mealy-mouthed and complacent. The sculptors trimmed their marble manes because people complained they were too hairy. But today they are known as NY’s most lovable public sculptures. They were designed by Edward Clark […]



Ultra Violet

In my woods one of the first wildflowers is the violet, often blooming in late winter. They are gone from my forest for this year, but their distant cousins are thriving in my garden. They are one of the most popular plants for fall gardens, with their cheery flowers and amazing hardiness. When it gets […]

Social Media

What seems many lifetimes ago I studied primates. I was fascinated by their societies, caring for each other in ways I saw reflected in my own family and friends. Since I started posting to Instagram this spring, suddenly I became part of an unimaginably large social group. I have been both amused and amazed seeing […]



First Frost

Every season has a moment that defines its beginning. The change may not happen all at once, fall and winter colliding and wrestling back and forth. But if you look closely, there is an instant when the balance tips, and one turns to the other. The moment arrived this morning. I awoke to frost on […]


The iris is the national flower of France, with a history stretching back over a thousand years. In the Middle Ages it was tied to French kings, and stylized into the fleur-de-lis.The name comes from the many colors of the flowers, for the ancient Greek goddess Iris. Her flowing dress was a rainbow she used […]



Cricket Chorus

I have always loved the insect chorus, a lullaby through an open window. Just as the sounds themselves fade as the year cools, each cricket voice slows. In 1897 the scientist Dolbear wrote an article called The Cricket As a Thermometer, setting out a complex formula where T is temperature, N is the number of […]