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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

Grab your bike and go on tour with me through the town of New Iberia, the city of live oaks.  Jim has been leading this tour for years, but I joined for the first time last weekend.  I was amazed at what little I knew about live oaks and their history in our town.

The above picture was one of our first stops at the fire station.  Jim pointed out the resilience of oaks. They fight to survive even while people try to control them with trimming as well as the abuse of concrete and traffic.

The New Iberia oak

In the early 1930’s a local historian Glen Conrad sought to register live oaks in New Iberia that were 100 years or older.  This massive oak lies on a corner of Main Street near McDonalds.  The property is abandoned so this oak has been allowed to sprawl and spread its wings.  We were moved to clean up trash while we stopped to admire this majestic tree.

Armond’s oak, Main Street, New Iberia

Jim stopped at this home on Main Street to talk about Armond’s oak.  Armond Schwing doesn’t live here anymore, but in 1992 he called Jim after Hurricane Andrew damaged this oak.  Jim asked Armond to be patient, the tree would recover in time.  And now, almost 25 years later, the tree has grown a new branch to balance itself.  To me, this is the magic of nature.  The magic of our trees.

Steamboat House, Main Street, New Iberia, LA

Just a few months ago a large draping branch from this majestic oak fell.  The owner has already refilled the blank spot with a pagoda and new driveway.  Jim was called to consult on this incident, too.  His advice to the owner was to build the driveway at a slight incline near the tree to allow the root system air and space. One of the things most people do not understand about these trees is that the root system is as large below the ground as the tree is above.  This is imperative to the survival of a tree.  This one was already endangered by losing a large root for the construction of the house next door.  Jim wanted to ensure the surviving roots were given the attention they deserve.

Feel the energy. City Park, New Iberia, LA.

This live oak lives in City Park.  I walk in this park often and I’ve never paid attention to this tree.  Jim explained that he calls it the Energy Oak because it has been struck by lightning numerous times.  He told us to relax against the tree and feel the energy.  After all that biking, I needed a touch of live oak energy.

We are blessed to have an oak of 250+ years in our own backyard, but this one just down the Loreauville Road is bigger by circumference.  This tree is tucked in a grove of live oaks.  The space feels like a forest.  The bayou just beyond completes the magical setting.  Unfortunately, Jim explained that this tree is at the end of its life.  Years ago an owner tried to keep the tree from splitting, so he roped it together.  This was a fix that worked at the time, but it is now constricting and damaging the tree.  I felt privileged to be in the presence of this ancient oak.

This tour of live oaks created in me a cause.  I want to speak for the trees.  I want to give them my love and attention.  Hand in hand with my 2017 One Little Word: Cherish.

 

 

 

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Poetry Friday is with Keisha at Whispers from the Ridge

Photo by Kim Douillard

I follow Kim Douillard’s blog. She posts a weekly photo challenge. Last week’s challenge was “Path.” To me, her post was poetic, so I took words and lines and created a found poem.

Path
a found poem from Thinking through my Lens

The snail’s wet trail caught my eye.
I remember Emerson’s words–
go where there is no path
and leave a trail.

I find the sculpture;
Its path formed of trash
her artistic eye transformed
into beauty.

My own path
ebbs and flows like the tides.
I follow moments of sunshine
to clouds echoing the waves.

Seabirds above
follow an invisible path.
In the sky, agile pelicans
intersect the line of a hang glider

Causing me to wonder
what magical paths
await if we are willing
to look.
–Margaret Simon

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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

Kim Douillard is a fine photographer. I follow her blog, Thinking Through my Lens. Each week she posts a photo challenge. This week’s challenge is perfect for me, Nature’s Art. Kim lives on the West Coast in California. She takes pictures of the beach. By contrast, I live in South Louisiana. While our state is located on the Gulf Coast, there are no beaches, just marshland and canals.

Last week I posted pictures from a swamp tour on Lake Martin in St. Martin parish. I think my husband was a little jealous of our trip, so when Saturday was an absolute perfect day with temperatures in the 60’s and 70’s, he packed up the canoe, and we headed back to Lake Martin. This time I took my nice camera with the telephoto lens.

Wood duck couple

One of my students has quite an advanced vocabulary for a 2nd grader. She was explaining to me about how she was getting a rabbit for a pet.

“Mrs. Simon,” Lynzee explained, “I am going to be busy in the mornings because rabbits are crepuscular.”

“What does crepuscular mean?” I asked her after praising her for her high level vocabulary.

She explained that she had learned the word from Wikipedia when she and her mom were researching about her new bunny. It means active at dawn and twilight.

I told this story to my husband, so when the alligators kept popping their menacing heads out of the water, he began calling them crepuscular muscular submarines. I admit it’s more frightening to see them in a canoe than in a big metal flatboat. My nerves were quite jumpy throughout our adventure.

Alligator hiding in duckweed.

Aside from the muscular gators, there were plenty of crepuscular birds. Wetlands birds are majestic in their size and graceful flight.

Great white egret, Lake Martin

Sunset at the lake created interesting color changes. I’m not much of a pro at taking photographs, but sometimes I just got lucky. The light, the art of nature, and my camera clicked at the just right time.

Grey heron, largest of the heron family

From vocabulary.com “The adjective crepuscular describes anything that’s related to twilight, like the crepuscular glow of the dimming light on a lake as darkness falls.”

 

crepuscular glow of the sunset

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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

Cherish is my 2017 one little word. So when my youngest daughter came home and wanted to go on a swamp tour, I took the morning off to cherish this special time. Whether it was the high air pressure or the slant of the sun in May, but the cypress swamp on Lake Martin was glowing. I wished I had brought my big camera, but my phone had to do. Even so, I captured some amazing images.

Lake Martin is a nature preserve and bird sanctuary, so there is no feeding of the animals of any sort. The guides do not attract the alligators to the boat. Even so, there were plenty of gators around to see. All sizes, from a small baby about 2 feet long to an old grandpa at 14 feet. Many of them were perched on branches sticking out of the water sunning themselves. Gators have no sweat glands, so they open their mouths to cool off. This makes them look fierce. They pretty much ignored us, though.

I learned that there are few snakes in the swamp because the birds and the gators eat them. The lake is home to all kinds of birds from the largest species of heron, the grey heron, to the littlest chickadee. We were mesmerized by the roseate spoonbills flying above, a spray of pink on the sky.

I enjoyed being a tourist in my own home. We should do this more often. I loved learning new facts, some of which I want to “fact check”, such as Spanish moss was brought into Louisiana on a bird. How do they know that?

If you plan to come to South Louisiana, you should plan on a swamp tour. However, it’s pretty warm, so you’d probably not want to take the trip during the summer.

I made an Animoto video and digital poem about the cypress swamp. Enjoy!

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

I’m one of these people who believes that every day should be Mother’s Day or Teacher Appreciation Day or Earth Day.  But these annual celebrations serve a purpose.  They remind us that we need to stop and think about Mom or your teacher or the Earth.

As a teacher, part of my responsibility is to teach the truth.  I believe in Science.  Scientists are trained, dedicated people who care deeply about the world.  I know them.  They do not make things up.  One sign I saw online from the March for Science said, “Sometimes the truth is inconvenient.”  That does not mean that it is to be denied or disregarded.

In my area of the Earth, wetlands are disappearing at a rate of a football field an hour according to the US Geological Survey. Because of science, data, environmental agencies, and yes, federal funding, this trend is turning toward the positive.  When we pay attention, change can happen for the better.  We need our wetlands.

In Louisiana, wetlands have come into the limelight.  Educational programs help teach our students about their own home.  Education about the environment can begin in your own backyard.

Next week I am taking a student to meet with a water testing chemist just down the street from our school.  A few months ago, my students met with a naturalist about an oak tree in our area.  They learned about the importance of preserving our oaks.

I did not join the local March for Science, but I am being intentional about how and what I teach my students.  They are the future stewards of our Earth.  It is our responsibility to make them care.

I am writing poetry every day for National Poetry Month.  Today I wrote an ode to the Earth.  I used pictures from my files to create an Animoto video.

 

If you are joining the conversation, please add your link below.

 

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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

Poetry Friday is with Amy at The Poem Farm

 

Today is the final day for the Slice of Life Challenge, and I have run out of words.  I took a tour of my Facebook feed to find some.  It was a good day for most.  I found happy, dreamy words and created a poem.  Thanks for taking this daily writing journey with me this month.  Now on to National Poetry Month and a Poem-a-Day.

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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

Today is a busy day.  I am preparing for a dinner party tonight as well as a backyard wedding in one week.

Currently:

Baking lemon squares: I don’t bake very regularly.  The new mixer I bought at Christmas was still in the box.  Also, I don’t follow directions well.  I expressed my frustration at having to re-read the directions, and my husband said, “You just don’t like anyone telling you what to do.  Even when it’s a recipe.” He’s right, I guess.  Nevertheless, said lemon squares are currently making my kitchen smell fresh and lemony.

Arranging flowers: I love buying cheap flowers at the grocery store.  I feel like I am rescuing them from a terminal life in the garbage bin.  Yellow-orange tulips and white carnations are currently brightening up the kitchen and dining tables.

Cleaning cat litter: I will spare you the details.

Reading blog posts: The Slice of Life Challenge is well on its way, and I am finding so many great posts to read.  I secretly wish I could sit here all day and read and comment.  But the floor needs sweeping and the bathrooms need a once over before guests arrive.

Cuddling Charlie: Charlie is a cuddle-dog, a nine-year-old schnauzer/ poodle mix, a schnoodle.  Currently, he has an infected mole on his face that needs to be surgically removed on Monday, so I am giving him lots of hugs and kisses.

Opening the doors: The spring air is fresh and warm.  The sun is shining.  The trees are reaching out for green, green, green.  We’ve added more plants to the deck in preparation for the wedding.  They make me happy.  A shasta daisy that I thought died in the freeze is pushing out red blossoms.

Writing and thinking about writing:  This SOL challenge has my mind always thinking about writing. Ideas float around like butterflies.  Every day I look forward to opening the blank blog page and writing.  After 6 years of this practice, I am finally feeling like I can do this.  (Tomorrow may be a different story.)

Celebrating: Each week I join Ruth Ayres blog round up of celebrations.  Having a practice of looking for celebration nurtures a positive, grateful outlook.  Here are some pictures from my week.

Time change means dark morning walks with the moon lighting my path.

The “big whopping dictionary” an antique two-volume dictionary that we used to find root words for fractal poems.

 

Found this watching minion rock at a local restaurant.

My neighbor fed a group of visiting students from Arcadia University. She invited friends to help teach them how to peel crawfish. They quickly got the hang of it and dug right in.

I decided to go all out for St. Patrick’s Day, all the way to green eyelashes.

 

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