Day lilies

May 30, 2019

They come for but one day.

If one plants enough bulbs, the visits come every day, ephemeral as each visit is.

Angel Oak: Advertisement highlights a grand American resource

February 20, 2019

Angel Oak on Johns Island, South Carolina
Angel Oak is popular for wedding pictures, it appears — this one is featured in a local real estate advertisement. “This beautiful live oak tree, called The Angel Oak, is located in Angel Oak Park off Bohicket Road and is said to be the oldest living thing east of the Rockies. It is about 1,500 years old and stands 66.5 ft tall, measures 28 ft in circumference, and produces shade that covers 17,200 square feet. From tip to tip its longest branch distance is 187 ft. From Picture Gallery Johns Island Real Estate by Greater Charleston Properties”


I love this ad from Allstate Insurance. “Still Standing.”

ISpot describes the ad:

Allstate tells the story of the Angel Oak on Johns Island, South Carolina (known as “The Tree” by locals). It’s rumored that it is the oldest living thing east of the Mississippi River and remains standing despite all the harsh weather and natural disasters it has faced over the past 500 years. Allstate likens its strength to the resilience that resides in us all and says it’s humbled by the courage shown by Hurricane Florence victims, offering up helping hands in partnership with the American Red Cross.

Dennis Haysbert narrates the ad, but without appearing himself, as he does in several other Allstate ads.

It’s not the oldest tree east of the Mississippi; there are cypress trees much older even in South Carolina. The name “Angel Oak” comes from the surname of a man who owned the land once, not from any angelic action or legend.

Even through corrections of the legends, the tree stands, a beautiful monument to endurance of living things, and trees. Allstate’s ad is a feel-good moment, and the feelings are worthwhile. Endurance through adversity is a virtue. The Angel Oak itself suffered great damage in a 1942 hurricane, but recovered.

Here’s a tourist video showing off more the tree, and the supports used to keep branches alive, similar to the supports we saw in China supporting 2,000-year-old trees.

Honoring trees is a worldwide tradition, and a great one. We don’t honor trees nearly enough, in my opinion.


Most of the limbs of Angel Oak run almost parallel to the ground. Over time, dust, seeds and spores settle along the branches. Ferns and other greenery now grow along the massive branches, making even the trunk appear green.
Photo by MadeYourReadThis – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Signs of life: Newt Crossing

April 28, 2018

From Instagram: pkwanpiOf course there's a #newtcrossing -- this is #berkeley after all! In Tilden Regional Park

From Instagram: pkwanpiOf course there’s a #newtcrossing — this is #berkeley after all! In Tilden Regional Park

Oakland side of San Francisco Bay has a stunning string of parks from the water’s edge, following abandoned rail lines, through parks in the city, wending and winding up into the mountains into real wilderness. It’s impressive, decades later, to remember the President’s Commission on Americans Outdoors touring these sites as they were being redeveloped from abandoned industrial sites, real brownfield recovery — and see what a grand complex it is now.

And there, one may find a newt crossing one’s path. Watch out for the newts!

Something in the way ice moves on Utah Lake

April 25, 2018

Ice on Utah Lake, from a drone movie by Bill Church, screen capture.

Moving ice on Utah Lake, from a drone movie by Bill Church, screen capture.

Where does the great @BillChurchPhoto post his photos? (Update: On Instagram, and sales at His work around Utah Lake, and Utah, is spectacular (and I hope people buy his images so he’s making money off of the great art he’s captured).

Here is a photo of plain old Utah Lake, in February. Church makes it look beautiful and exciting, instead of just cold and muddy.

Not sure I can embed this movie any other way:


Tip of the old scrub brush to Utah State Parks on Twitter.

Frosty Sandias

January 10, 2017

Sandia Peak on a frosty evening, from Mark Boslough

Sandia Peak on a frosty evening, from Mark Boslough

Living with a mountain provides myriad moments that cannot quite be captured on film, but must be filed away in memory to produce a smile at some future moment.

But, sometimes a camera can come close.

That last bit of sunlight at the top of the mountain, on a cold day, giving hope, or assurance, before it is snuffed out for a time by the rotation of the Earth.

The mountain will be there tomorrow. The Sun will return. The moment won’t be the same.

Help! Is this a pipevine swallowtail?

November 18, 2016

Is this a pipevine swallowtail?

Is this a pipevine swallowtail? This one is tapping the bat-faced cuphea; the pipevine under the holly is undisturbed.

A parade of butterflies this year! A lot of monarchs, in contrast to the past three years; we’ve had some Gulf fritillaries, and various sulfurs. The penta seems to be a major stopping point for hairstreaks and other small butterflies.

We’ve had a few tiger swallowtails.

And this one pictured above. it seems to have the spots of a pipevine swallowtail, but there are no swallowtails!

Did they wear off in migrating?

Are we misidentifying it?


Pipevine swallowtail (?) from the underside, still on the cuphea. Can we erase the question mark? Sunlight emphasizes the blue on the underwing. Photos copyright by Ed Darrell, Creative Commons. Please use, with attribution.


1st National Parks Director Stephen Mather, memorial at Teton NP

August 26, 2015

Photo from the poet and muse of the National Parks and wild places, Terry Tempest Williams (at least, she posted it on Instagram).

Don’t you love the way the Tetons just peak over the fence?

U.S. National Park System just celebrated 99 years. Williams works on a book for the centennial in 2016.

Wouldn’t it be fun to do 100 parks in the 100th year? Anybody up for funding me to join them?

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