Any Idea What This Is?

So my husband has been stir crazy and when I walk into a room now and he has something to tell me he say, “oh! ooh! Call on me!” sort of like this guy

The first photo is a wild geranium. I love the little bee in the center with pollen on it’s abdomen! Here he is close up in case you missed him.

We kept seeing this and telling each other that cannot be May Apple. They are smooth and these are heavily veined. I did not get a photo, but they are called umbrella leaf and a found a photo on the web.

The first time I saw Bluets we were in the Smoky Mountains. They were lovely, tiny and so baby blue. Now I know they also grow as Narrow-leaved Bluets and can have white-to-pink or lavender flowers!

Keep your eyes open! Never know when you will see a treasure in plain sight!

Wildflowers says I was looking at: Golden Ragwort! Goodness that website is MUCH faster than looking through my flower books ūüôā

Family: Asteraceae (Sunflower) Height: 1 to 2 ft.Blooms: April to July Leaf Type: toothed Bloom Size:  0.75 in. (typical)Flower Description: Flat or rounded clusters, Regular blooms, 10 or more parts

I want Canada Violets in my yard to grow with my purple Wild Violets which I DO NOT consider to be a broad leaf weed, thank you very much!

Yep, that flower is overexposed. Still learning!!

I must admit I did not know to look under the petals to see if there was green there. I believe this is called Star of Bethlehem. I like the One the star pointed to!

I think this was a tree swallow, though there was a barn nearby! (Giggle, do barn swallows need to live near or within a barn?!?)

A Song of Creation

Our walk at the Edge of Appalachia took us to Creek’s Bend Overlook where I recorded this short 31 second video. With all the pandemic stress and arguing about re-opening and death spikes, I found this SO refreshing. The wind makes it a bit difficult to hear the water, but it was makes sound, too. Maybe turn up your volume as we glorify the Lord together.

Canticle 12

Glorify the Lord, all you works of the Lord,
Praise Him and highly exalt Him for ever.
In the firmament of His power, glorify the Lord,
Praise Him and highly exalt Him for ever.
Let the earth glorify the Lord,
Praise Him and highly exalt Him for ever.
Glorify the Lord, O mountains and hills,
And all that grows upon the earth,
Praise Him and highly exalt Him for ever.
Glorify the Lord, O springs of water, seas and streams,
O whales and all that move in the waters.
All birds of the air, glorify the Lord
Praise Him and highly exalt Him for ever.
Glorify the Lord, O beasts of the wild,
And all you flocks and herds.
O men and women everywhere, glorify the Lord,
Praise Him and highly exalt Him for ever.


We love to go to the Smoky Mountains and hunt wildflowers. This year we were going to explore the mountains of northern Georgia for the same sort of wildflowers. Well that trip will be postponed for another year.

So Bob started exploring the web for Ohio Nature Preserves and Parks that boasted spring wildflowers. The first part of the adventure was trying to decide if we were in the right place! Found a local resident who told us, “Yep! that is the place. Park on the shoulder.” The shoulder of the road was very small. But on further review we found we could safely park there.

The smaller sign in the background reads “Twinleaf Trail, 2 miles.” We discussed it and decided to set off to see what there was to find. We assured each other if it was too difficult we could just turn back.

Gorgeous day and two bored senior citizens! We took off. The start was fairly boring, but the sky was a stupendous blue and the temperatures were nice. We carried fiberglass collapsible walking sticks. Bob found a deal a couple years ago where two where a bargain price. I rarely use mine, but took it this time, “just in case.” We came to a fork in the trail where the trail began its loop. Bob chose the left side of the fork. We climbed and then the trail began to circle around huge boulders (rocks as big as our living room). Slowly we dropped down. Then a bit more and then a bit more. I kept thinking “Oh man, we are going to have climb back up at some point.”

We did not take our flower identification book with us. (Silly people!) But then that would have been one more thing to carry. I had grabbed a water bottle, tissues, Chap-stick, sunglasses, hat and phone.


So the first Bloodroot were exciting because they bloom very quickly. We often see the leaves without any flower in evidence. Later on the trail we would see better examples. But you know, the first discovery is often your most memorable!

Then we happened upon yellow violets. They are impressive to me because I have not gotten them to grow in our yard. There was one, then three, then eight, fifteen. I was having a blast! When I got to thirty I asked Bob if he thought I should stop counting? He counted six more and said, “There, an even three dozen!”

I finally stopped estimating at fifty!! So much fun!

One Bloodroot and some Rue Anemone!

(Bob likes to point out that the first wildflower we found on this hike was the Dandelion, part of the Aster family.) Next up after the photo above was the Wood Poppy.

Strange little bristly hairs on stems and seed pods!

There were crowds of them. It the plants had been level we would have called it a meadow! They grew down the hillside in wondrous glory.

And more poppies to come!
Like looking for certain shells on the beach!

Often our hunting is in half sun, half shade. The large white flower is Trillium. Not exactly certain what sort. Flower stalk with multiple flowers up and left of that is Toothwort. Then yellow is another Poppy. Center lower leaves will be either Solomon’s seal or False Solomon’s seal when it blooms. At the very top of the frame are more Trillium, not blooming yet. Just below those leaves are more Toothwort. At their base is more Anemone. Ah! Spring ūüôā

After driving to Texas last year to see Blue Bonnets, it was such fun to find Bluebells growing in our native Ohio! I’ve had several friends tell me they have never seen these. They are a perennial “native that prefer to grow in wet, shade, in clearings and at edges of deciduous woods.” Gee, Bob, perhaps we should try to plant some if we can find them at the garden store? Here they are from above as the trail ascended again.

Look at all of those Bluebells!!

What must the cross, death and resurrection have been for Jesus, my Lord? Walking through land He never knew. Knowing He was led along in obedience by the Spirit. I do not want you to think I take Good Friday lightly. His walk to Calvary was more than I can even comprehend. He found beauty in redeeming our souls. His resurrection was more glorious for eternity than any spring wild flowers. I am humbled.

Not in Ohio Anymore!

There are no thin ice signs in Cincinnati that I am aware of! All these sings boasted of Moose, but they never got the memo to show up for us to photograph!

My best friend in childhood, Dana!

Seemed like such tiny state boundaries after traveling west earlier in the year! We criss crossed state lines so often there were times we were not certain what state we were in!!

1798 to 1880 Eliza was a young child!

And then the humorous produce store I would have shopped at had I lived there!

Free range tomatoes, free range bees and cage free tomatoes! Sound tasty to me!

Hepzibah and Me

In high school or maybe even junior high we had to read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s House of the Seven Gables. I loved it! On our recent trip to the Northeastern States I realized we would be going very close to Salem, Massachusetts. And they have tours of the house the story is patterned on! I could care less about the witch trials, but mention the Seven Gables and I was hooked.

Before our travels, I re-read the book because so MANY years have passed since I first read it. (Love that we can borrow books in the Kindle format, often for free, from the library!) We planned our route to make a tour of the house in Salem on our way from Maine to New Hampshire.

Hawthorne based his book loosely upon his cousin’s house in Salem. Susanna Ingersoll inspired and often entertained Hawthorne at this home. It has been restored to its former glory and is now a museum. In the story Hepzibah was an unfortunate spinster whose eyesight was so poor that she had taken to squinting and that made her face even more unpleasant. The locals thought she was merely scowling at them all the time. She had fallen on hard times and was forced to open a small shop in the front of her house in order to provide food for herself and her brother.

This is a re-creation of what her shop might have looked like. She might have entered through this door. Robert Dutina’s photo of the shop is better, of course!

Hepzibah’s Shop by Robert M Dutina

Being a descendent of aristocracy, Hepzibah was ashamed of having to open the store. She also rented one gable of the house to Holgrave. The story has sorrow, possible murder, intrigue, the young charming country cousin Phoebe, revenge, the town gossips and all the other interesting characters that Hawthorne created. Ned Higgins, the boy who bought her supply of gingerbread cookies made me smile as I now make gingerbread every Christmas with my Grandgirls! When Nathaniel wrote this starting in 1850 he insisted it was entirely a work of fiction based on no particular house. They have done a great job of restoration though, igniting my imagination!

The outdoor gardens were planted like formal English gardens.

Gardens and gables
Refreshing morning dew

I found the adventure refreshing, even if it was likely a fantasy compared to what Hawthorne actually experienced.

Mount Washington

The conductor took our tickets

There is a neighborhood in Cincinnati called Mount Washington. For years I have seen a bumper sticker that says “I climbed Mt. Washington” and I would think, so what? Then we traveled to the Eastern United States. Bob wanted to go to the top of Mount Washington, New Hampshire noted as one of the windiest places on earth. So we planned our trip to include the Cog Railway there. 2019 had been a tremendously busy year, with the 7,000 mile road trip to the west, so we scaled this one down a bit! Mountain climbing on foot was not on the agenda.

We lined up to board what looked like a little train ride.
The inside o f the car was all lovely wood.

And shortly the climb began. AAA tourbook reports concise details saying, “The Railway opened in 1869 and bills itself as the first mountain-climbing cog railway in the world. Coal-fired steam and biodiesel-powered trains take passengers on a scenic 3-hour trip top the top of Mount Washington – the highest peak in the Northeast.

“At 6,288 feet, Mount Washington, in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains, is the Northeast’s highest peak. The weather at its summit rivals that of Antarctica; the average annual temperature is below freezing. Conditions can change in minutes from balmy to subfreezing.”

We had one of the loveliest weather days the train personnel could ever remember. The panoramas were breathtaking! Our engine was biodiesel driven. They only run the steam engine once daily.

As the train began to climb the slant of the vegetation showed the angle of ascent.

Yes, those trees were growing straight up!

Appalachian Trail cairns

I have never hiked the Appalachian Trail. In fact, I have not hiked much at all during my life. I was fascinated by the rock cairns marking the route of the trail. Just imagine for a moment hiking this during a 15 foot snow in winter. Or even the height of summer, one rock strewn field after another. How would you find your way and not lose the trail? Thus the cairns, also known as rock piles.

Yes, the chain you see was put there to hold the building in place!

Returning down the mountain we passed a train going up. No wind rain or weather change. Bob was a bit disappointed. We had bundled up for sunshine! It was a memorable ride and the cog railway was fun!

My husband took one photo (below) that reminded me of one of my childhood drawings of mountains. One woman in the crochet and quilting group wanted a copy of the photo for a quilting idea!

Photo by Robert Dutina

Travel Humor

When we travel I find things that amuse me. Here are a few from our recent trip to the Northeast.

There was a sign for “Maple Springs.” Gosh! I thought, they must not just tap sugar maple trees! They actually have a place where it comes out of the ground from a spring.

In Boston they do not have manhole covers, but “raised casting ahead.” I had to watch to see what it actually referred to. I guess in this day and age the sign at home would be reworded “Worker hole cover ahead.”

On Peter Pan bus line do they sing “I gotta crow” and serve peanut butter?

See the source image

Peter Pan

And they must kill lots of pigs though I saw not one pig farm up there. Everything is this ham and that ham. Chatham, Eastham, Hingham, Dedham, Waltham, Framingham and last but not least wearing pig skins at Wareham!

At home the engineers are installing “Roundabouts” to replace intersections. In New England they are called rotaries. Go figure.

I learned that “Plows use caution” means there is a bridge overpass coming up on the road.

How about this one? Took me a long time and Bob’s help to figure it out!

Refers to dump trucks in construction area. Who knew? Not me! Actually the sign we blew past on the freeway in Massachusetts only said “Body down” and had me totally stumped!

Keep being amused! Lightens life’s loads!

Smoky Mountain Trek

As Bob wrote in his travel journal regarding Days 27, 28, 29 and 30 (of our miles long adventure). “We left Nashville and headed towards Townsend where we had rented a small cabin in the woods – a final stop in a familiar and loved area.We had not been here in 3 years. The ride was easy and the start of the Appalachian Range was welcomed. Far different than the Rockies, but the lush forests and green valleys were delightful. The redbuds were beginning to bloom and the dogwoods were in full flower.”

Some ask us why we go back so often? For us, wildflower hunting is similar to seeking shells on an Atlantic Ocean beach. The trillium are fairly obvious. Southern Appalachian are very large. Wake Robin is similar to Sweet Betsy trillium to me. Yellow is know as Yellow Wake Robin! I just know it is erect and easy to see in a passing car! But the Jack in the Pulpit, not so much. I find myself as we hike looking for the leaves or the curve of the neck on the Jack. The violets in purple, white, lilac and yellow show themselves. The Dutchman’s Britches are not so obvious as they look like the Squirrel Corn. One has to look closely to see the ginger pots under the Ginger leaves. And the Little Brown Jugs must be discerned, too. Yellow Bellwort grows high on Rich Mountain Road. Spiderwort is the rock clinging one I believe.

Most elusive are the Lady’s Slipper. As I wrote earlier, we found pink that had not opened yet. One clump of lovely yellow were sweet. Sadly, people dig them up (stealing from the National Park) thinking they can take them home to grow the. These lovelies have very particular growing needs. So we tell almost NO ONE where we have seen them. A Ranger at Sugarlands Park Office told us that about 3 miles up Sugarland trail they burst out in abundance after the fires a few years ago. Sadly, that is too much hiking for me.

Fire pinks, crested dwarf iris, showy orchid, wild geranium, fringed phacelia, squaw root, and the list goes on! Such Fun.

Bob wrote about the Good Friday drive along Tremont Road following the Middle Prong of the Little River , “So much rain had fallen that it was more full and rapid than we had ever witnessed. It was violent, frenzied, untamed, wild, and raging. It reminded me of the Niagara rapids below the falls. Water careened along its banks and exploded over the rocks. Waterfalls disappeared except for the ones coming down the sides of the mountain that were barely contained. And it was LOUD! Everything in the area was a soft green and dripping. Giant Trillium sat and listened to Jack preach to them and the rocks above. It was glorious. Who said rainy days are not fun? And we only put 60 miles on the car.”

The next day was only 46 degrees but the rain had stopped so we were up for another hike. Bob’s journal continues “Easter Saturday – the day between the grief and the glory – we drove to Tremont and the Middle Prong Trail. We love this trail as it closely follows the Middle Prong of the river and builds to a crescendo with a cascading waterfall. The joy for me is walking a small path that leads to the crest of the falls. Water rushes towards it and explodes over the top of the boulders below.”

On Day 31 we drove home to Ohio. 7,000 miles, a month on the road sitting side by side in the Toyota Camry Hybrid. We were still friends and still smiling. I imagine you might be tired about reading reports of this adventure. We have not tired of telling it though. There are likely more details in my blog and his travel journal than we could recite to you today, in person, without notes!

Our next adventure was a seven day flight to and around New England to pick up some of the places we missed on a previous adventure there. It is nice to be approaching 49 years of marriage completed and still enjoy one another’s company. May all of your journeys be joyous!

Photo by Robert M Dutina