Tagged: nature

Photo Friday: Mossy kingdom

A rotted stump covered in moss and lichen.

I chose to spend the beginning of my 33rd revolution around the sun hiking Mt. Davis, Pennsylvania’s tallest natural point. It was chilly and foggy, and we were alone on the trail for most of the 7 miles we hiked. I thought a little about my goals and plans for the coming year, but mostly I inhaled the smell of ferns and fall, ran my fingers along the mossy rocks, and felt the simple joy of being present.

A stream at Mt. Davis.

Mt. Davis isn’t much of a summit—it’s really just a large rock on top of a mountain ridge. Still, I liked the symbolism of starting my year up high. There’s a rickety-looking observation tower, but the fog had settled so thick on the ridge I could barely see the trees beneath me. The future is obscure like that, too. But we march on, seeing only a few feet in front of us at a time, and we make it to the end, whatever that might be.

Jaina on the trail at Mt. Davis.

Jaina is a country dog at heart, I think. She took the lead on the trail, looking back every so often to confirm we were still lagging behind her, slow on our two feet. We descended the ridge past springs and gentle waterfalls, tumbles of rocks sometimes making the trail and sometimes blocking the way.

Lichens with little red flowers.

A fungus bloom or spore.

We hiked past (and over) dozens of mosses and lichens, tiny fungi and large fungi, a microcosm of the forest around us. A mossy kingdom, we the invaders. Everything, I knew, had a name, but I did not know them. I knew only their softness, the springiness, the tiny red flowers stretching out from green beds. Touch is the language we all speak.


Photo Friday: Urban wildlife in Spring Hill

One of my favorite things about the City of Pittsburgh is how much green space we have, especially up in the hillier neighborhoods. We have a resident herd of deer we see at least once a week while we’re out walking, a nesting pair of hawks that probably had some babies this year (they were guarding their nest something fierce!), at least a few species of snakes, and new this year, a ton of monarch butterflies!

Here are a few photos I’ve taken throughout the summer. They’re not the highest quality because I used my cell phone, but they give you an idea of the animal friends who live on the hill with us.

Three bucks.

Our three bucks. There’s a fourth baby buck hiding just out of frame.


monarch caterpillar on milkweed

A monarch caterpillar chomping away at the milkweed I planted last year. I saw a monarch flying around my yard a few days ago–maybe it was the same one! I have yet to snag a successful photo of a monarch butterfly, but I’ll keep trying. I’ve also seen some tiger swallowtails and a few smaller species hanging around.


a German shepherd with a big blue ball

It’s the rare German shepherd dog! Okay, so Jaina isn’t exactly wild life, but how could I not throw in a photo of her?


He’s pretty hard to make out, but this is what I believe to be a baby milk snake! We encountered him on a walk a few days ago. It was already dark, and his camouflage was in full effect, but we had the power of a flash light on our side. Milk snakes are great because they eat insects when they’re young and rodents when they are older. You can’t tell from this photo, but his markings were bright red.

#PhotoFriday: Clematis in full bloom

Growing up, my mom had a purple clematis in our front yard. Every year it would grow up our porch railing. Along with the johnny jump-ups that popped up every spring, the clematis was my favorite flower.

When I rented my first house, I bought a clematis bulb and grew it in a pot for a few years. It did okay, and I transplanted it to my yard when we bought our house. It’s grown exponentially over the past three years! It’s now a very happy plant, and every spring when it blooms it reminds me of home.

a purple clematis vine

What flowers or plants remind you of home?

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