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Archive for August, 2016

Before I ever started rock climbing I used to hike… alot, thousands of miles over the years. In high school and college it was backpacking with day hikes to get in shape. I continued after marriage but increased responsibilities as time went along resulted in reduced overnight trips. Not to worry, because I used to take my green daypack, a child on my shoulders, and go. Summer, winter, it made little difference. About 15 years ago I scrambled into the more vertical sport so that the majority of hikes were approaches. I still climb but I see that climbing may have to be set aside in a few years (not slowing down at the moment, though). The time off from hiking just warms my desire to do some more. I like new places but I’m not shy about visiting old haunts. I have hiked (in a day or overnight) to Hump Mountain on the Tennessee/North Carolina border nearly 30 times since 1977. It has been my go to when someone wants to experience backpacking for the first time. I have hiked several times this summer, once to Purchase Knob (see previous blog entry). Several weeks before that hike I went with some new friends to South Mountains State Park. It has one hike that most anyone would enjoy and is not too overwhelming- High Shoals Falls.

The water was low at the falls, which is odd considering how much rain we have had. I guess the water level drops fast after just a few days of no rain. That didn’t dry our enthusiasm a bit. There was plenty to talk about and plenty to see along the way.

I enjoy getting to know people on a hike. You can talk about nature which leads to many subjects you might not otherwise find out about a person. They certainly learned some things about my spider research in college. I studied Agelenid intraspecies competition in the lab, the woods, and the desert. (Curious side note: As I am composing the number of spiderlings that just left their egg sack and are moving back and forth across my computer screen is growing. They are too small for my unaided eye to discern variety although P. tepidariorum (“common house spider”) is the most likely candidate.) There are about a baker’s dozen of Agelenid species in the US. I remember that most of my study involved the A. aperta from New Mexico and Arizona.

The picnic meal was particularly good- Mexican on the grill. I had hiked with the father and young children several other times to mountain tops. This was a nice change. We played in the creek several places, seeing crawdads and minnows. We talked about plant life along the trail both herbaceous and arborescent. It was an enjoyable day, the likes of which I’d like to repeat. We even left just before it began to rain. God gifted us with a beautiful day and good conversation.

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Purchase Knob

Before two weekends ago I had not seen any of my brothers for a year and a half, some for much longer. We had a cookout at my youngest brother’s house with spouses and a few children and grandchildren. During the conversation we planned a hike for Friday to the Purchase Knob area of the Smoky Mountains National Park. It is the location of the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center. The hike we took went along the border of “The Swag”, a Bed and Breakfast that allows hikers to visit their viewing lawn. The weather has been moist for a month and the fungi are out. With more time and patience I could have gotten some really good pictures of the abundant and colorful fruiting bodies of diverse mycelia. One of my sister-in-laws is known for her love and identification of wildflowers. She said she wants to know fungi better. Here’s a place to start.

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Cep or Penny Bun?

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Lush creek side

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Green Cracking Russula (Russula virescens)

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Students coming down from the Learning Center

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Bee Balm soothing a Pipevine Swallowtail

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Winesaps?

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Furguson Cabin

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Black Earth Tongue

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Doll’s-Eye or White Baneberry

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Yellow Wart (Amanita flavoconia)

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“Good Fences Make Good Neighbors”?

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Orange Peel Cup Mushroom

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White Coral Fungus

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Earth Cup Mushroom?

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Catch some rays and relax

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Maggie Valley

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Nice smiles! OK, I was trying to make sure the camera was working.

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Great Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum biflorum)

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Insulation, flight, camouflage, mating, ….versatile… not by chance!

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Coral Fungus

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Chanterelles?

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So many colorful varieties

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Death Angel

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Taking in The Swag view

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The Real Purchase Knob

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Hiding under a rock on top of the knob

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Do you see the fairy ring that I found near the top of Purchase Knob?

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Elegant Stinkhorn

The variety and beauty of God’s creation! I could go out every weekend and never get tired of learning and looking.

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Rocking Chair

To and fro, there and back
I love a rocking chair
Floor and chair creak and crack
As back and forth I tear

Back and forth hard I go
I like to rock with flare
Recurved tips stem the flow
Making mishaps so rare

I can rock fast enough
To stir surrounding air
Long enough, plenty rough
To make a carpet bare

Mom rocked me on her knee
And yet she would declare
Mark my word, wait and see
His rocking all will wear

I rocked babes fast asleep
Secure in arms that bear
No crying, not a peep
Disturb babe, don’t you dare

Rocking is relaxing
Relieves the mind of care
Time for intense praying
Turns darkness into fair

Some prefer a TV
Recliner in man lair
Me, a rocker you see
Where I can grunt and stare

Write a poem rocking
Eat a bowl of soup there
Some essay concocting
Or read the Word and prayer

Worries come a-knocking
Decisions like sun’s glare
Before considering
To rocker I repair

When red flags go flying
As false ideas blare
Search for truth while rocking
And find where it does err

Slow, easy, day is done
Sort thoughts as combing hair
Hard, easy, sorrow, fun
Like runners are a pair

I decided I wanted to write a poem that was on a different subject than my usual several favorites. I had come across Robert Louis Stevenson’s
“The Swing”, which I quite like. And I like swings very much, too, but most of
my motion while sitting pivots about a rocking chair. Here is how I write a poem.
Firstly, an idea for a poem comes to me, as reading “The Swing” had provided in this case,
or the first line or two of a poem rolls off my mind as I am considering an
idea. This first line or two or the first verse form the basis for the challenge
(perhaps game is a better word) that I begin. I constrain myself to writing
the rest of the poem with same rhyme scheme (number of syllables per line) at the very least. Frequently I use the same sound ending for the same lines in each verse, as in this poem. Sometimes I even constrain myself to the same tenor of the lines in each verse. For example, the following verse illustrates this idea:

Each new day God provides our need
He our bodies and spirits feed
Sometimes it feels like we are starved
It is then we are apt to plead

Lines 1 and 2 in this poem either communicate a blessing or command of God or a demand placed on our lives. Line 3 in each verse of the poem conveys and doubt or other faith struggle followed in line 4 by the solution or provision God gives. I know that my self-placed constraints are not necessary but it is part of the challenge that keeps wanting to write poetry, that plus a real strong feel that poetry should rhyme. A humorous side note to this poem is I had written seven verses minus one line without much difficulty, but the last line would just not yield itself. So I did an exercise I generally like to avoid, partly because it seems like cheating in the game. I wrote out all of the words ending in the “-are” sound that I could think of. At this point I thought, “Wow, all of those expressive terms and I’m not using them.” That’s when the poem ballooned into eleven verses. Oh, there is one other constraining “rule” I place upon myself that is a higher priority than the rest. The lines must tell the truth. Certainly I mean philosophically, but also I mean personally. For example, my mom did rock me on her knee, and though I am not quoting what she said about my rocking wearing on people, she did comment many times about how I wore her out watching me and I how could wear out a rocking chair. So the crazy thing about you reading this poem, if you understood all that it says, is that you know more about me than many people that I have spent years around.

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