kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Self-Professed Tree-Hugger

Happy Earth Day! I’ve been a nature lover since I was a young child. That love may have stemmed from summers spent on my grandparents’ farm or countless camping trips with my parents. Nowhere am I more content and at peace than in the quiet of deep woods, surrounded by stately trees and bird song, with dappled sunlight filtering through a verdant canopy, and the scent of soil or pine filling my senses.

Naturally, I’m environmentally-conscious. I recycle and try to be aware of my energy consumption footprint. (Though I do admit to a fondness for long hot showers.) When I was an adolescent/young teenager, I wanted to grow up and be an ecologist or a forest ranger, so I could lead campers on nature hikes. When I was 15, I had my first summer job – I worked for the Youth Conservation Corps at Camp Cherry Tree in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny National Forest. I was in my glory, building and maintaining hiking trails, releasing ducks into a nature reserve, damming up a stream to help beavers (why they needed help, I have no idea).

At age16, a misguided orthopedic surgeon told me I’d never be able to do that kind of work because it might be strenuous and I have a crooked spine.

How many of us abandon our first love because of someone else’s opinion?

April 22 was designated Earth Day in 1970. But I like to think that every day is Earth Day to the Master Creator. At no time do I feel closer to God than when I’m outdoors in His beautiful world. Yes, I know, He’s everywhere, but I feel closer to Him outside. And that’s where I most love to worship Him. Some of my favorite Bible verses tell us how all of nature praises the Maker.

Psalm 96:11-12  Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy; they will sing before the Lord.

The Bible also tells us that we are to be the caretakers of the earth. As stewards, we are to protect the world and all the creatures that live here.

Genesis 1:26  Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

In my personal interpretation, “rule over” does not mean abuse and deplete, but rather responsibly tend to and/or use for food and resources.

I’m reminded of one of my favorite childhood TV commercials, a popular public service announcement from 1977 featuring Woodsy Owl. “Give a hoot, don’t pollute!” You can watch it here.

I don’t understand people who litter. Do they have such little regard? Have they no pride in their planet? I’m not above picking it up when I see it and I have the litter hotline in my phone. I dare anyone driving in front of me to toss a McDonald’s wrapper.

I wish Earth Day was a bit more of an event here. Sure, a few schoolchildren may plant a tree or two. But I want to celebrate! Why is there no festival or something?

How did you celebrate Earth Day?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Washington, Louisiana

Somehow I imagine every state in the country has a town named Washington. Geography buffs, is this true? Pennsylvania has one. And so does Louisiana.

We had heard about Washington, La., because it is a mecca for antiques enthusiasts. Today was a perfect day for Bob and I to visit.

Love this old water tower.

We learned today that Washington is the third oldest town in the state, founded in 1720, after Natchitoches and New Orleans. Our time was somewhat limited, so we focused our trip on the old "schoolhouse."

Dozens of antiques dealers sell their wares from inside the school and vendors spill out all over the school yard. We experienced serious sensory overload and couldn't begin to see everything. But we had fun looking!

There's a small cafe on the premises. We ate the best chopped BBQ beef sandwich and red beans and rice. Apparently it is a tradition to write graffiti on the walls there. So Bob left our mark, for posterity.

Where's your favorite place to go antiquing?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Shangri-La Gardens, Orange, Texas

Take an easy thirty minute drive from Lake Charles via I-10 West and you'll find the quaint town of Orange, Texas. The crown jewel in this cozy hamlet would be Shangri-La Gardens. We'd been to this lovely sanctuary twice before -- once in August (read that post here) and once in December to see their Christmas display. But never before in the spring, when the azaleas are in bloom. The garden is a joy any time of year, but April surely is the primo season to see the most blooms, before the summer heat withers the petals.

The garden also features these dazzling delphiniums.

The garden grows alongside a bayou. Hundreds of birds nest in the cypress trees. Species vary throughout the year. Presently, the rookery hosts great white herons.

Bob's keen eye spotted two snakes. Can you see this one?

How many turtles can fit on one log?

I love this little guy, sleeping in a greenhouse. So cute, the way he tucks his hands under his chin.

There's an orchid/bromeliad greenhouse.

Great place and definitely worth a trip! Afterwards, we had lunch at one of our very favorite restaurants, The Old Orange Cafe.

Awesome day!