Bright, Shiny Object Ahead

Blink. Blink.

Is that a mirror ahead? The sun is winking at me from over my shoulder. (Not literally. I have plenty of ego — but not that much.)

Today’s walk is in a sculpture park and anything can happen. A few minutes ago, while following a trail in the woods, another hiker told her sons, and then me, to look up. An unexpected pleasure looked back from a tree branch. This one was named — owl — barred, I think.

Signs give credit to the artists and short explanations of the work. Most of these are too large for buildings and best enjoyed during a circuitous walk to view all sides. A few are shy, blending in with the surrounding of forest or lawn. Others are bold, demanding attention. All are free to park visitors and still enough for photography practice.

Me! Me! Look at Me!

Me! Me! Look at Me!

Growing Season

The exuberant rush of spring has come and gone.

The apple tree in the neighborhood has blossomed, set fruit, and produced leaves. Now the real work begins. Sunshine, seasonal temperatures, and occasional rain keep the nutrients flowing up through the roots. The marvel of photosynthesis filters a constantly changing stream of air weaving between the leaves.

Don’t touch. Let them grow. Soon enough these snacks will reach mature size and blush as they ripen into sweet, crunchy fruit.

Growing in Peace

Growing in Peace

Calm and Still

The shaded bench beside the cottonwood tree beckoned. Come. Sit. Rest a moment.

It felt good here. A pleasant change from the sunny walks of other portions of the Missouri Botanical Garden.

The stream gurgled across rocks. A turtle marched across the path and into hiding among the ground cover. The pair of ducks sat still as a statue.

Wait! They are a statue. I think I’ll name the one on the left “Calm” and the standing partner “Still”. Have you alternate names in mind?

Residents of the English Woodland Garden

Residents of the English Woodland Garden

Balloon Bouquet

These balloons don’t hang out at the party shop. They are neither mylar nor latex nor another form of imitation rubber. And they stick to a basic shape – no cartoon characters, sports mascots, or birthday numbers available.

They last longer. With a little care they’ll return every spring, reach for the sky, and blow a perfect balloon in white or blue in early summer.

It’s a flower — a balloon flower.

A few years ago I misread the label — thought I was buying an annual. What a pleasant surprise the next spring. I have a tall variety, about waist high, with bright green stems and leaves. At the moment mine appear to be blowing bubbles at the tip as the flower swells and matures.

I found these in a professional garden blooming ahead of mine due to better soil and water conditions.

Blue  balloon bouquet

Blue balloon bouquet

Hiding Places is now available in paperback from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

An Invitation to Children

School’s out! Yipee!

I’m bored. When can I see my friends?

Does that sound familiar? I’ve said and heard both of the above.

So what to do? Books can transport you, or your children, anywhere. Think of them as an old-fashioned time machine. Knights & ladies. Galaxies far, far away. Talking animals exploring a new neighborhood.

Okay — you want to get outside. It’s good to move around. Healthy to get a little sunshine and exercise.

No reason not to combine activities. This happy character with welcome arms can prompt play in the nearby water plaza and a story on the trip home. Cost to see him up close and personal? In St. Louis you can visit for the cost of a trip to his home downtown. Do you have some of his friends in your city?

As Big as Imagination

As Big as Imagination

Crystal Springs doesn’t have much for public sculpture. What it does have is stories. Check out Starr Tree Farm and Hiding Places to visit a fictional Wisconsin town.

Available now. As easy as A…B…or C.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Hiding-Places-Crimson-Romance-Parker-ebook/dp/B00KI2JUQU/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1402321238&sr=1-5&keywords=hiding+places

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hiding-places-ellen-parker/1119589488?ean=9781440582707

Crimson Romance: http://www.crimsonromance.com/crimson-romance-ebooks/crimson-romance-book-genres/romance-suspense-novels/hiding-places/

 

Life. Fortune. Honor.

When in the Course of human Events…

Have you identified the source of the quote? Today you may hear this document read in a public setting. While the beginning of the second paragraph collects more quotes in the press than the first — the beginning sets the stage and states the purpose.

Now for some facts filled with numbers. Fifty-six men signed this document. It was read aloud in public two days prior to the date currently celebrated. Educated men wrote in a different style two hundred and thirty-eight years ago. The first paragraph contains four commas and seventy-one words. The rules of capitalization have changed. (I see a German influence with their capitalization of nouns)

Kudos to readers that identified The Declaration of Independence from the first seven words. I do believe you paid attention in American History class.

Sincere thanks to the brave men who voted to adopt and signed this declaration. They were risking their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. By their example others joined them in the struggles for Independence and Establishment of a new nation. A nation that in subsequent decades (and centuries) became a haven and destination for peoples from all portions of the globe.

Long May She Wave

Long May She Wave

View from the Top

Engineers and construction workers have combined to make the way sturdy and even. The builders of this structure would have climbed a narrow, twisted path or steps constructed of dirt with perhaps a little wood added.

After all, construction a thousand years ago proceeded at a slower pace. A large rectangular mound for ceremonies was not  built in a year, or even one generation. Like the great cathedrals of Europe, the Native Americans took their time and left imposing structures with the materials provided by nature.

This is not the first long set of outdoor steps I’ve climbed. My first impression of the large, public buildings in Washington, DC as a young child was steps. I attended a university where ninety-nine steps connected the dorms and dining hall of upper campus with the classrooms, labs, and library of lower campus. Once, and only once, I followed the trail which included some concrete steps to the crest of Diamond Head. This happens to be the most recent climb I’ve made.

Evidence of a Climb

Evidence of a Climb

 

Starting Local

The world is in a sports frenzy. Nations have selected their best and sent them to Brazil. The request is simple.

Play hard. Win. Bring home the World Cup.

Several in my neighborhood are planning for the future. They run. They kick. They make up a few of their own rules to accommodate their understanding and physical capabilities.

Some will go on to play on organized teams. The youth leagues are popular here. Many schools have programs. At least one of the local universities has a good history and reputation.

Run. Kick. Score. Over and over and over. In cool weather and on warm sunny days. Take a water break when it gets hot.

Getting ready for World Cup 2030 or 2034

Getting ready for World Cup 2030 or 2034

A Closer Look

Take a closer look. What do you really see?

If I had a nickel….

Well, you get the idea. Whether you need to take a closer look at a person, a work project, the bank balance, or that plant that suddenly popped up in the garden. (Is that a weed or a flower?)

There’s a time to look close. Give a real inspection. Check that the dishes are really clean before they go into the cupboard.

Some of the surprises you’ll find are pleasant. For example, in the photo below the berries are tiny. Green. Look quick and you’ll miss them. Come back in six months and you’ll notice the mature, red holly berries without a second look.

Shy in the Summer

Shy in the Summer

Looking for a summer read?

Hiding Places is now available. A quick read set in small-town Midwest.

Check it out at the dedicated page on this site, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Crimson Romance.  Companion book is Starr Tree Farm.

 

Mature Dwarf

No, not the title characters in the classic Disney movie.

Apple tree.

When I was a tiny girl we lived in a small town and had an apple tree in the yard that was large enough to accommodate my swing. My parents took it down – I’m not sure why but it was old and prone to storm damage.

During the years that followed we visited an apple orchard once each fall. The trees were large and planted in rows.  The view at harvest included ladders for the pickers to climb and canvas bags worn over one shoulder. Most of our visit was spent in the sales shed as my parents discussed the merits of the different varieties and how much of their favorites to purchase.

A recent drive to orchards demonstrated acres of semi-dwarf trees. They stand as sturdy individuals in rows. Shorter and pruned for easier harvest I’d guess that any ladder required is of the four or five step variety.

According to my source — new plantings tend to be full dwarf. They are trained to a trellis. More trees per acre. A tall man with good reach could harvest without a ladder. And while the example below is from a botanical garden instead of a commercial orchard — the principle is the same.

Dwarf Tree Full Size Apples

Dwarf Tree
Full Size Apples