Memories

IMG_7505It’s been a tough week, and I don’t have anything interesting to say, so I will post a few of the photos I took of the snow that fell last week and is now a distant memory. The image above was taken at the Charlestown RI breachway. I love seeing how wind sculpts snow.

IMG_7497The woods were lovely too.

IMG_7499I am very fond of winterberry, which looks even redder against the white ground.

IMG_7450 (1)I wonder what insect or larvae made these tunnels. A beetle, maybe.

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I will close with this shot I took with my phone of a very handsome fox that seems to be living in our neighborhood. Best bunny control ever. Notice complete lack of snow. Sigh.

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Snow at last

IMG_7464This was the view from our kitchen window yesterday. Those leaves on the right belong to a vanda (orchid) that was probably thanking its lucky starts that it lives in a cozy, heated house. Except for brief forays outside for the dog, we were kept indoors by the first snowstorm of the winter.

I read in the New York Times that storms like Saturday’s can be beneficial because they force you to stay home and relax. We spent a very pleasant day reading and watching television. I also colored in my adult coloring book. And we didn’t even get on each others’ nerves. Amazing.

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We awoke to a bluebird day. There were a few snowdrifts to shovel, but much of it had been blown off our driveway and lawn by the strong northeast wind.

Our dog was thrilled. A dog playing in fresh snow is a joyful thing. I can watch it all day.

IMG_7475She does get a little crazy. Corgi people call this “frapping.” It stands for Frequent Random Acts of Play.

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IMG_7472I hope those of you in the path of the storm got though it without losing power. That was my biggest fear. I’ll sleep much better tonight without that to worry about.

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Interesting trees

IMG_7224I shot this in Quebec, before we finally got snow. I took a lot of photos of trees on our various hikes. This path through a stand of conifers had a mysterious, dreamlike quality. I believe the trees are pines and hemlocks, but I don’t really remember.

IMG_7227There are some giants in these woods. I can’t figure out how they survived so long without being chopped. Every time I see one, I have to stop and admire its presence and tenacity.

IMG_7242This tree looked like something out of a fairy tale – the scary kind.

IMG_7365This was the biggest one of all, an ancient maple.

IMG_7367And, bonus, it was hollow inside!

IMG_7359There were few old hemlocks, too. So stately.

IMG_7362Trees are always an essential element of my winter hiking experiences.

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Vacation food

IMG_7300Feast your eyes on these beautiful eggplants, which I believe are the “graffiti” variety. Whatever they are, even in December they looked so pretty and fresh on display at the Adonis Middle Eastern market near Montreal. My husband, who was born in Rhode Island, fell in love with the place when we were dating and INSISTS we go there whenever we are in Quebec.

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The baklava section is ridiculous. In typical Montreal foodie fashion, people here complain that “Adonis isn’t as good as it used to be,” but for those of us who are starved for interesting food, it is a paradise, and besides, they say that about everything.

IMG_7304Pistachio-filled pastries, glistening with honey. Writing this is making me nostalgic.

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My husband bought several of these small, spicy, meat and pine nut-filled pies, which are among his favorite foods in the universe. We tried to bring some home a few years ago but they were confiscated at the border because they didn’t want any Canadian meat entering the United States. He was devastated.

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We made our way to the endless nut counter, where there is a mind-boggling selection and the nuts are always fresh. Not expensive, either.

IMG_7311We bought a pound of these lightly salted pistachios from Iran. Now we wish we had bought more of them.

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Before driving back to my sister’s, we stopped for lunch at a favorite restaurant: Cote St. Luc BBQ. This is not barbecue in the traditional American sense. The most popular meal, pictured above, consists of what Americans call rotisserie chicken (but a million times better), killer fries made from scratch, cole slaw, a bun, and classic Quebec-style sauce for dipping everything in. This plate has what is called a “dark quarter,” but you can also get white meat – which I would never do for this meal, but whatever…

IMG_7296More nostalgia for me, when I saw a display of macaroni and cheese dinner at another grocery store. This stuff is hugely popular in Canada, and is simply referred to as “KD.” It was nice to see the packaging reflecting that national quirk.

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Snow fix

IMG_7320We have returned from spending a most welcome, snowy holiday in Quebec. We had a storm a couple of days after Christmas, which made everything considerably more festive.

IMG_7326The fields were bleak, visited by crows and a few snow buntings.

IMG_7282But inside, it was cozy. My sister’s Christmas tree had some cute new ornaments this year, including this felt polar bear holding a fish.IMG_7285 The little snowshoes are also very cute.

IMG_7288This tinsel has been in our family for at least three generations.

IMG_7345People here are as crazy as ever for hockey, especially les Canadiens. This fervor is shared by their pets.

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As always, we found happiness and badly-needed exercise in the snowy woods. I hope you had a wonderful holiday. More Quebec posts coming in the New Year.

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Warm December

IMG_7096It has been so warm here in RI this December that the ferns are still looking mighty healthy on this boulder.

If you get in very close, you can see they are just a teeny bit brown – but still. It’s DECEMBER!

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I am very fond of plants that grow on rocks, finding that tiny layer of soil and going for it. I have to respect that.

IMG_7102I also have a great fondness for mosses, especially when their soft green pillows are up against gnarly rock and lichen. And there’s a tree growing out of this one. Bonus.

IMG_7107We have walked by this huge (much bigger than it looks in the photo) rock face so many times. This time, we decided to climb it.

IMG_7122Before we knew it, we were sitting on top, enjoying the view, and the sun.

IMG_7112My dog, who might be part chamois, climbed to the stop in about 10 seconds and paused with us to take in the woods below.

Being a woman of northern climes, I am bummed that there isn’t any snow yet, but I am trying to make the best of it and enjoy the woods as I find them.  I will be taking a break from blogging for the next couple of weeks, but I will be back in January.

I hope you have a peaceful and relaxing holiday.

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Outside: My 500th post!

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This, my friends, is Digging RI’s 500th post. Hard to believe, especially for me. There have been many times that I have wanted to chuck the blog altogether, but I have stuck with it through the years and here I am, still writing about gardens and orchids and nature, still taking photos and sharing them, and still, often, wracking my brain for a subject.

I have a lot on my mind these days, and a lot of venting I’d like to do about the state of the world in general. But I won’t do it here. Not today, anyway. Once again, I will share my personal refuge from the global madness: the outdoors.

Here in Rhode Island, most people seem to head indoors after Labor Day. I don’t know what they’re doing – maybe watching sports or working on home improvement projects. Of course, they are free to do whatever they wish in their leisure time. I like to spend mine outside getting the fresh air and sunlight I crave.

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The upside to people’s apparent distaste for anything but hot summer “beach weather” means we have the beaches and the hiking trails almost entirely to ourselves for several months of the year.

Rhode Island also offers some beautiful and relatively wild inland places. This is a recent hike a friend and I did at the Tillinghast Pond Management area, a terrific network of Nature Conservancy trails. There is even a composting toilet at the trail head. Sheer luxury.

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We hiked for about three hours without seeing a soul. It stayed cloudy, and the woods were silent, except for the tapping of an occasional woodpecker and a small flock of kinglets browsing a hemlock canopy.

IMG_7036This lovely stream provided the perfect opportunity for a drink and a quick dip for my water-loving corgi.

IMG_7042We make sure to wear blaze orange this time of year. There are signs at the trail head telling hikers to wear it, and it’s the law. We still run into people not wearing blaze who seem to think they’re safe in the woods during hunting season, which they are – if the hunters can see them.

No snow yet, and the ticks are still active. I found one on my dog when we got home. All in all, prime time for hiking, though.

I will close by saying thanks to those people who have kept reading over the years. It means more than you know.

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Winter light

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The house in the photo is actually gray. The dawn light was so golden and pink this morning that it bathed everything in magical colors for a little while. Early risers get to experience these moments, even in December. The hawk, (a red tailed I think) perched on the right corner of the roof, has been hanging out in our neighborhood for the past few weeks. It looked as though he or she was enjoying the sun, and a respite from the flock of crows that mob it mercilessly whenever they find it.

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Winter light throws everything into sharp relief. The blues are bluer and the contours of the ground – or in this case the sand – are more defined. Things are crisp and clean.

IMG_6876I took this shot at midday. I love how huge my dog’s ears look in her shadow. I also like how the sun’s low angle brings out every track in the sand.

People complain about the “dark days of winter.” I can’t wait for them.

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Thanksgiving 2015

IMG_6849This is Narragansett Beach on Thanksgiving Day. It was 62F, and some people decided to mark the holiday by going for a swim – without wetsuits. There was a lot of hollering.

IMG_6835Fidgit took a dip in one of the tide pools.

IMG_6843She always goes a little crazy after a swim.

At the mouth of Narrow River, where the ducks hang out, the current is strong. It’s rather wild sometimes.

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After our walk, relaxed and refreshed, we dressed for the party.

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I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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Beauty in miniature

IMG_6747I enjoy growing miniature orchids and this is one of my tiniest. Tubocentron Hsinying Girl is only about an inch tall (!)  and lives on my kitchen on a southeast-facing windowsill.

It is just now beginning to bloom, and should put on quite a show when all the buds are open.

This is a new hybrid from Taiwan, having been introduced just this year. It does not seem to be particularly demanding, growing in bright, diffused light. I water it thoroughly about three times a week. The one thing this orchid (and most other orchids) will not tolerate is bad drainage.

It is on the same fertilizer regime as my other orchids, Michigan State University “Tap Water Special” once a month, and Superthrive once a month, with plain water in between.

A pretty little thing, isn’t it? And quite festive, too.

 

 

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