Sunday, October 14, 2012

signs of spring
oh the colors to be seen! it's a feast for the eyes. mid spring finds us slowing down in the midst of everything speeding up. there are many ballet rehearsals to come for the end of year performance. boy the littlest started gymnastics this year and has been going gangbusters. he'll have a big end of year to-do as well. it is all very exciting. i have something new and exciting of my own on the horizon as well, but perhaps more about that later.
but as i said we are trying to slow down. we've put swimming on hold and the art class e wanted to return to will have to wait until the new year. we're spending more time at home, when we're not at ballet or tennis or gymnastics or bush walking that is. we're out in the garden playing, cultivating, replenishing.
the boys and i have built several new veg beds. and that day way back last fall or whenever it was, the day i went nuts and strew flower seeds all over the garden, well, it has really paid off. there are poppies, marigolds, cosmos, chia...and a whole host of other as yet unidentifiable flower seedlings ALL OVER THE PLACE! i'm loving it!

little by little, both boys are reading more and more. j spends long moments in the garden observing all the insect comings and goings. lately he's interested in watching what insects pollinate which flowers. today he spent an hour comparing the 'landing pads' of nasturtiums to that of the orchids and the pitcher plants. once he had formulated the answers to his own questions, he came to me and gave me the low down. that boy amazes me. he's so comfortable being in charge of his own learning and his self confidence at only 9 years old blows me away.


the best thing about spring though, the lengthening, warming days.  breathing in sunshine and earth. growing new roots, digging deep. new growth. self and otherwise.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

signs of spring

currently grateful for:
-sun-kissed cheeks two days in a row
-slightly warmer nights and noticeably longer days
-a terrarium full of rapidly transforming tadpoles
-flowers abloom
-long days working in the garden
-dirt stained hands
-celebrating another birthday
-fresh juice every morning
-the buzz of bees everywhere, but especially in the lavender outside my bedroom window
-the lavender outside my bedroom window
-wrigglin' earthworms
and you?

Friday, August 24, 2012

signs of spring
on days like today when one is confronted with gale force winds, rain, hail, sunshine and rainbows, (yes, all of that in one day, that's Melbourne for you) it is hard to believe that warmer weather is any where in sight. but the other day while out on a nature hike we found evidence that clearly points in that direction. slowly, ever so slowly spring is on its way and for that i am immensely grateful.
 gray tree frog

 wattle paints the  landscape the most perfect shades of yellow
an immigrant, i believe. just like me

Saturday, June 16, 2012

a fantastic fungi find

this is probably only exciting to us, but yesterday while out on a hike here we stumbled upon something we haven't yet seen. e, who doesn't know the meaning of a slow hike, was running full blast through the bush when he came to a sudden halt and stared at the ground. when j and i caught up we saw two or three large, rotting trees covered in fungi, so many different types of fungi.

there was the lovely orange bracket fungi. beautiful colors, no. the dainty mushrooms to the left are both from the mycenia family i believe. they were everywhere and in so many lovely shades of brown.

the most exciting find you'll have to look closely for. j spotted it and he got so excited he was jumping up and down. looking at the photos, do you see the white threads or hyphae running amok over the logs, etc? that's it. we're still researching the name because he can't remember it. he remembers learning about it in a nature doco when he was really young, maybe 4 years old.

he began to explain that the hyphae thread themselves together to make a 'net' just above the ground. when leaves or other debris fall into the net, the hyphae begin to break it down and use the nutrients for its growth etc. we had a look around and saw that there were leaves, small branches, seeds that had fallen from trees nearby, all being digested by the tiny threads. it was really cool.

and in the midst of all that we found this gorgeous blue-gray coral fungi, one of our favourites and we had never seen it in this color before. it was a stellar hike!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

garden science...and beyond

yesterday we woke to a beautiful, thick blanket of fog and fine mist hanging silently over the world. it was lovely and mysterious and as soon as j saw it he put on his gumboots, woolly hat and headed outside...still in pj's. as i watched him from the kitchen window (warm and cosy with a hot cuppa tea in hand) disappear into a swirl of white, i noticed that he held clutched in one hand several test tubes and a small magnifying glass. what's he got up his sleeve this morning, i wondered to myself.

he came in some time later with test tubes full and heaps to show me. after having visited every water puddle, bucket, plant pot, water tank, in other words, anything that held standing water in our garden and after filling his test tubes with samples from each and concluding which source had the most diverse number of critters, he came inside to share with me his findings. all sources had at least two different types of critters, bloodworms and mosquito larvae, but only one source had 3 types of critters, a small bucket under a native eucalyptus tree. we haven't been able to identify the critter yet, but there are a few things we know about it after a little observation.

if you look at the bottom of the test tube you'll see the bloodworm and next to it a black blob with a small, whip like tail. that's the critter in question. we took turns watching it with the magnifying glass, j and i. after a while i heard j shout, "mum! aaaah! mum! it's a predator! it's predating on the bloodworm! and OH does that ever make the bloodworm grumpy. see!" sure enough, it was nibbling on the bloodworm and the bloodworm did not like that one bit.

soon after, j decided to release them back into the bucket. he figured it was unfair on the bloodworms and mossie larvae, both of which were more mobile than the other critter and had they been in the bucket they could have easily escaped. so, we reckon a trip to the library is in order tomorrow. we'll scour the shelves for books on freshwater invertebrates. we want some answers!

after lunch and after the fog lifted we decided to visit the Yarran Dheran Reserve. it's sort of new to us, but we've been going there more often lately. about two months ago i decided to volunteer to be on the planning committee for this festival. as it turns out, they needed a new secretary so i slipped into the position seamlessly. it's rattled my cage a bit as there is a lot to do and i've no experience being on committees and if you know me you know that my organizational skills are, ummm, a bit lacking, ahem. so i've been feeling really inadequate, a little overwhelmed, really excited, completely unqualified, but totally up for the challenge.

anyway, back to our bushwalk. it was great. we saw our first earth star (above) of the season. this one has only just come up and so doesn't look much like a star yet. you can see around the edges where it was beginning to break apart. it will continue to break apart and spread until it looks like a small star. lovely, no.

there was so much fungi, so much climbing up and down hills, lots of lichen, mountains of moss, a visit down to the creek and exploring old tree trunks. we caught several glimpses of these little lovelies, and in general there was a whole lotta oohing and aaawe-ing over the amazing colors that winter brings to the bush.

it was almost dark by the time we made our way back to the car, all of us completely and utterly wiped out from scrambling up and down hills. i think for the most part though, we were blissfully unaware of our fatigue. I blame Mother Nature :)

ps. we have since learned that the little 'nibbler' was a mosquito pupa...and was apparently quite ravenous.

Friday, June 08, 2012

winter renewal

several months ago the city did a prescribed burn at one of our favorite tracts of suburban bushland. we decided to go back today to have a look at the new growth after the recent rains. wow! there were new seedlings everywhere. we also noticed that there were more bull ant nests than we'd normally see.

bull ants are so fascinating. they are huge, fast moving and can haul enormous quantities of soil around bushland areas. my boys love them. here they are checking out several mounds quite close together. we noticed a proliferation of orange fungi growing near every small collection of mounds throughout this parcel of bushland. we know that some ants not only eat, but also cultivate fungal colonies in and around their nests. we were wondering if the same were true for bull ants. clearly, we still have a bit of googling to do. 

we also found lots of charcoal. j picked up a big chunk and began drawing designs on a small tree nearby. this gave him the idea to bring a few pieces home for drawing in his sketchpad. we brought enough for all of us and so tomorrow we'll sit down for a little family art time. i'm going to sketch scenes from today on artist trading cards. it'll be interesting to see what the boys dream up.

a beautiful, slow, frizzling, drizzle was falling which you can only just see in the photo below. i felt like i was in a Miyazaki film at times, the colors were so clean and vibrant. the sound of slowly dripping rain drops tinkled and plopped to the ground all around us. it was magical. it was delicious. i didn't want to leave. i felt as if i could tuck myself into a hollow and live there all winter, surrounded by color and song. we had other obligations though and so reluctantly we said goodbye, but only with a promise to return soon. tomorrow perhaps:)

and what should we spy as we were walking out of the park?  this magical, faraway, little land at our feet. can you see the juicy, red tipped sun dews? their green surprise? fungi and carnivorous plants, two of our most favorite wonders in the whole wide world.

we are definitely going back tomorrow!