A Rare Find

A couple weekends ago, my husband and I went for a drive to parts of the county we had not been to in years. As usual, I scanned the landscape for beautiful vistas and wildflowers. That morning, we saw scarlet-red cardinal flowers, buttery-yellow evening primrose, white Queen Anne’s lace, an intensely purple blossom of a wild raspberry – all fairly common roadside flowers that I can easily identify, even from a distance.

When I saw a yellow-orange flower, somewhat set back from the road, I could not match it with any wildflower that I knew. It took a while for my brain to wrestle with this puzzling image before I asked my husband to stop the car. He backed up and I grabbed my camera. While he waited in the car, I climbed up a small hill and gingerly found my way through some thorny brambles all the while chastising myself for not wearing long pants and my solid walking shoes. I made a note to check my body for deer ticks when we got home.

When I reached the plant, I still did not know what it was but I suspected that it might be an orchid. And there was a small stand of them! Unfortunately, I had the wrong lens on my camera, so the image is not quite as sharp as I would like it to be. But I was not going to return to the car and then climb back up with a different lens…

stand of yellow fringed orchids

And up close:

yellow fringed orchid

yellow fringed orchid

The flowers I found are yellow fringed orchids (Platanthera ciliaris Lindley), and they are fairly common in the Southern Appalachian Mountains and even in the county South of us. However, this orchid has never been reported in my county before, further North and at higher elevations. It was a thrill to discover this beautiful wildflower in its habitat and to add another native orchid to the already diverse list of flora in our area.

Oh, and I did check for ticks and found none.

Reference: Stanley L. Bentley (2000) Native Orchids of the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Rare.

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Details, Details…

Piggybacking on yesterday’s post on the Wings and Wheels festival, I want to share with you the “wheel” part of the event – antique and muscle cars.

I must warn you, though.  I know nothing about old cars and won’t be able to tell you much about year, make, or other special data about any of these cars. Still, these cars exuded a seductiveness I could not resist – all lined up next to each other, gleaming in the sun, hoods and windows open to curious and inquiring spectators.
Clearly, these cars were well loved, pampered, and restored to the smallest detail. I was drawn to the unusual colors, the smooth expanse of curved metal, the simplicity of the engine, the outdated elegance of upholstery…

Take a look!  Don’t you want to run your hand over this smooth, satiny, golden orange piece of metal?!  And when was the last time you saw a car with headlights sticking up like tentacles or bug eyes?

head light

I liked the clean lines of the grille on this 1936 Ford Truck:


An unusual color combination and sleek lines:

maroon car

And why not get a tattoo for the car?

driver's side door

Since all the hoods were open, you could look at the engines and other necessities that make a car run. Here is the cleanest air filter I’ve seen in a while (I should probably replace mine since I can’t remember the last time it got changed):

air filter

A “splattered” engine:

engine splatter

and the innards of a Chevy (and what’s up with that beer can?):

another chevy engine

I assume that the convoluted metal pipe extending from the engine would be the muffler?

engine and muffler

The interiors including steering wheel, dash boards, and seat upholstery held a dated kind of charm.

steering wheel

This black and white pattern reminds me a bit of a tiled bathroom from the ’50s.

black and white interior

I leave you with one car owner’s delusional declaration

She thinks

and an unintended selfie in a side view mirror

sideview mirror

P.S. If you are familiar with any of these vehicles, feel free to add relevant info in the comment section.

The Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Details

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Look Up!

This past weekend, I attended the Wings and Wheels event in Bath County, Virginia. It takes place each year at a very small airport, Ingalls Airfield,

Ingalls Airfield

on a high ridgeline overlooking Bath County, Virginia, and the adjoining mountains of West Virginia.

The Event Flyer promised an acrobatic air show, a car show featuring antique and muscle cars, tractors and motorcycles, plane, helicopter, and carnival rides.

Except for the cars, which actually were really interesting to look at (even for me), the focus of all the other activities seemed to be on looking up, reaching upward, or staying up.

All the people who tried to stay on the electronic bull fell off after just a few seconds:

beginning to slide

The Extreme Air Jumpers contraption made kids look like giant butterflies. And the Vertical Rush challenged them to climb up high to be rewarded with the rush of sliding down.

I found myself wondering whether I could borrow a kid somewhere and join in the fun…

I was tempted to sign up for a helicopter ride; the waiting list was only half an hour. The view must have been grand, if a bit hazy and with a close-up view of thunderstorm clouds building on the horizon. But with the doors open and only protected with a seat belt? Oh well, maybe next year:-)

excitement or fear?

excitement or fear?

This is the area the helicopter flew over:

As I was getting ready to leave, the air show began. I was glad that my feet were solidly on the ground and that I didn’t have to be inside this airplane as it climbed steeply into the sky, then tumbled as if out of control and falling to the ground, then flying upside down just above the ground.

upside down

After all that looking up, it felt good to keep my gaze straight ahead and relax my neck muscles as I drove myself down the mountain.

The Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Look Up!

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Gentle Curves

The Shenandoah Valley in Virginia and a small part of West Virginia, stretches 200 miles from the Potomac River up North to the James River in the South. It is bounded by the Appalachian Mountain range in the West and the Blue Ridge Mountains with the famous Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway in the East.

Das Shenandoah Tal in Virginia und einem kleinen Teil von West Virginia streckt sich über 200 Meilen vom Potomac im Norden zum James im Süden. Es wird durch die Appalachian Bergkette im Westen und den Blue Ridge Mountains mit zwei berühmten Hochgebirgstrassen (Skyline Drive und Blue Ridge Parkway) im Osten begrenzt.

Farms are spread across much of the fertile land yielding picturesque pastoral scenes like this one:

Bauernhöfe verbreiten sich über den Grossteil des fruchtbaren Landes. Malerische Szenen findet man hier:


Earlier in the spring, I came across this band of wild mustard flowers that outlined the gentle curve of the land; an immense banner of yellow draped across the green grassland. Whoever mowed this field certainly had a sense of aesthetics!

Im Frühjahr sah ich diesen Streifen von wilden Senf Blumen, der die sanfte Kurve des Landes betonte; ein riesiges Banner von Gelb über die grüne Wiese drapiert. Wer dieses Feld gemäht hat, muss sicherlich einen Sinn für Ästhetik besitzen!

the yellow brick road

The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Curve.

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Spare me…

When you walk out of your house in the morning and see this in your driveway,

corn snake

corn snake

the first thought would be “rattle snake” and “danger.”

Upon closer inspection, however, there was no rattle at the end of the tail.

tail end

As close as we got to it, a rattle snake would have begun to warn us with vigorous rattling sounds. This snake just curled up and seemed more interested in warming itself in the morning sun and possibly digesting a small animal, from the small bulge in its body. Also, the shape of its head was different from the more triangular shape of a rattlesnake’s head.

snake head

A bit of research turned up an ID – a corn snake, or maybe a Northern water snake, not poisonous, not dangerous.

Phew! It got to live…

Another animal that got lucky today was this wild rabbit which I trapped in my garden.

rabbit in cage

rabbit in cage

I had noticed that my strawberry leaves were disappearing and then saw not one but two rabbits in the garden. It took a few days before one of them was tempted by the carrots in the cage. Now what to do with it? Rabbit meat tastes good but who wants to go through the slaughtering process? So, it was catch and release for this lucky rabbit.

out of the cage

out of the cage

I was happy to see it disappear into the wilderness, hopefully far enough away from my garden that it won’t return!

rabbit running free

rabbit running free

PS – after a bit of a debate among Facebook friends, I consulted with the Virginia Herpetological Society who identified “my” snake as a harmless milk snake.

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge: Spare.

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