Tag Archives: trees

The Fire Trees of Dawsonville


I am not an early morning riser by any stretch of the imagination. I rather despise early mornings. So, when I find something that delights me in the early morning I consider it a bonus. For some reason that I’ve tried to block from my memory, I was up early one winter morning after it had rained the night before. I took the dog with me and we went for a little jaunt down the road in front of our house.

As we headed west, my eyes saw the scene you see in today’s post. I didn’t have my camera with me as I’d not anticipated opening my eyes on the walk if at all possible, but I did open them long enough to see the scene and knew I had to shoot it. I pulled out my cell phone and shot today’s photo. The sun was rising from behind me and it lit up the tops of the trees to the west. It looked almost as if the trees were on fire. Perhaps if you come visit us some time and are crazy enough to get up of a morning, you might see them, too!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1864, at Poison Spring, Arkansas, Confederate soldiers under the command of General Samuel Maxey captured a Union forage train and slaughtered black troops escorting the expedition.

The Battle of Poison Spring was part of broad Union offensive in the region of Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas. General Nathaniel Banks had led a Yankee force through Louisiana in March and April, but a defeat in northwestern Louisiana at the Battle of Mansfield on April 8 sent Banks in retreat. Union forces nearby in Arkansas were moving towards Banks’ projected thrust into Texas with the intention of securing southwestern Arkansas for the Federals.

Union General Frederick Steele occupied Camden, Arkansas, on April 15. Two days later, he sent Colonel John Williams and 1,100 of his 14,000-man force to gather 5,000 bushels of corn discovered west of Camden. The force arrived to find that Confederate marauders had destroyed half of the store, but the Yankees loaded the rest into some 200 wagons and prepared to return to Camden. On the way back Maxey and 3,600 Confederates intercepted them. Maxey placed General John Marmaduke in charge of the attack that ensued. Williams positioned part of his force, the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry, between the wagon train and the Confederate lines. The regiment was the first black unit in the army, comprised primarily of ex-slaves.

The determined soldiers of the 1st Kansas stopped the first two Rebel attacks, but they were running low on ammunition. A third assault overwhelmed the Kansans, and the rout was on. Williams gathered the remnants of his force and retreated from the abandoned wagons. More than 300 Yankee troops were killed, wounded, or captured, while the Confederates lost just 13 killed and 81 wounded. The Rebels’ treatment of black troops was harsh. No black troops were captured, and those left wounded on the battlefield were brutally killed, scalped, and stripped. The Washington Telegraph, the major Confederate newspaper in Arkansas, justified the atrocity by declaring “We cannot treat Negroes taken in arms as prisoners of war without a destruction of social system for which we contend.”

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: in Texas, cowboy boots are exempt from sales tax, but hiking boots are not.

Trying to trick your kids…and creepy trees…


Isn’t it interesting what we parents do to try to trick our kids?  We tell them that brussel sprouts taste good (that one is in the category of a lie to my way of thinking).  We do all sorts of things to get them to eat stuff that they don’t want to eat.  We bribe them to eat stuff, letting them know that they can stay up an extra half hour if they do, or that they can have a cookie after dinner if they eat all that green colored rabbit food (vegetables).

When our kids were little, they didn’t like broccoli for one thing…so we started calling them “pretty trees” so they’d maybe pretend to be giants and eat them.

Today’s tree isn’t so much “pretty” as rather sinister looking. I’d certainly never try to get my kid to eat it.  This tree was near Multnomah falls in Oregon.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1945, the Japanese battleship Yamato, ostensibly the greatest battleship in the world, was sunk in Japan’s first major counteroffensive in the struggle for Okinawa.

Weighing 72,800 tons and outfitted with nine 18.1-inch guns, the battleship Yamato was Japan’s only hope of destroying the Allied fleet off the coast of Okinawa. But insufficient air cover and fuel cursed the endeavor as a suicide mission. Struck by 19 American aerial torpedoes, it was sunk, drowning 2,498 of its crew.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: During the first half of the twentieth century, Shanghai was the only port in the world to accept Jews fleeing the Holocaust without an entry visa.

…Tinsel Town


On Monday we had freezing rain and everything was coated with ice.  I shared a photo already that was taken with my cell phone, but today there’s another.  No, we didn’t have another ice storm (at least not yet, but they say we might have some tomorrow night/Saturday morning)…it’s just that it’s not gotten above freezing since then and the ice is still all over!

When I got up this morning, the temperature was about 9, but with wind chill -4.  The dog didn’t seem to mind when I took her out, but when back to the house, I quickly realized we didn’t have running water.  We are full-timing it in our RV, and we have a heated water hose…well, sorta.  Because of the location we are now in, I had to put about a 3-foot extension hose on it which I’d wrapped in foam.  But, as cold as it was, that part of the hose froze up.  I eventually got the ice out of it, but with the temperature not supposed to go up above freezing until Saturday, I decided we needed to get a longer heated hose.

We drove to Camping World and all along the way we were treated to mile after mile of frozen trees.  These were right next to the parking lot at the store.  What was interesting is that the ice looked like tinsel on the trees.  It was as if someone had flown overhead and dropped tinsel on every branch…and as you moved, the ice would reflect the light differently, giving it the appearance of tinsel moving in the breeze.  It was a lovely sight.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  on this day in 1851, an angry mob in San Francisco’s business district “tried” two Australian suspects in the robbery and assault of C. J. Jansen. When the makeshift jury deadlocked, the suspects were returned to law enforcement officials. Jansen was working at his store at the corner of Montgomery and Washington when two men beat him unconscious and stole $2,000. Another merchant, William Coleman, then decided to play prosecutor and assembled judges and jury members from a crowd that had assembled at Portsmouth Square. Fortunately for the Australian suspects, the men who defended them got three jury members to agree that Jansen hadn’t been able to see the men who had robbed him clearly. Although some members of the mob wanted to hang the alleged thieves in spite of the verdict, the crowd dispersed. Later, however, local authorities convicted the men at a real trial in court.

Vigilantes were fairly common during the Gold Rush boom in San Francisco. One committee spent most of its time rooting out Australian ne’er-do-wells. They hanged four and tossed another 30 out of town. In 1856, a 6,000-member vigilante group was assembled after a couple of high-profile shooting incidents. This lynch mob hanged the suspects and then directed their attention to politics.

Such vigilante movements were generally popular all over the West in the middle and late 19th century. The San Francisco vigilantes were so well regarded that they took over the Democratic Party in the late 1850s and some became respected politicians.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Auschwitz was the largest and highly organized death camp in history. It was actually three camps: a concentration camp, a death camp, and a slave labor camp. It was 19 square miles, guarded by 6,000 men, and was located in the Polish town of Oswiecim. It was opened June 1940 and initially held 728 Polish prisoners. By 1945, more than 1.25 million people had been killed there and 100,000 worked as slave laborers.

Strange Twisting Tree

I’ve seen some incredible trees in my life.  There are the ancient bristle cone pines here in California are supposed to be the oldest living trees on earth, with one that is 5063 years old!!!  (Now that’s even older than me!!!)  Then there are the giant sequoia trees that reach heights in excess of 311 feet and diameters greater than 56 feet.  These trees may annually disperse between 300-400,000 seeds!  In Lahaina, Maui, is an incredible banyan tree.  In Africa I saw baobab trees that were of immense size.  As the poem by Joyce Kilmer says, “Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.”

When we were hiking near Lake Tahoe, we came across an interesting tree.  It wasn’t as big as a Sequoia or as old as a bristle cone pine, nor did its branches drop to the ground and make new roots to support the branches like the banyan tree.  But it was quite an interesting tree.  I’ve never seen a tree do this before….where a branch grew out sideways out of a trunk, then turned skyward and re-merged with another branch.  It was interesting because it appeared as if the tree had at one time been struck by lightning and it blew the top of the tree off because there were strange branches like this all growing out of the same area on the tree and there really wasn’t any main trunk going up from that spot.

Ah, sweet mysteries!  Don’t you love it when life is full of wonder and makes you ponder something new?
_MG_7808ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: For nearly two months following the Battle of Chickamauga, the Confederates, commanded by General Braxton Bragg, had pinned the Union army inside Chattanooga. They were not able to surround the city, though, and occupied Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge to the south and east of the city instead. In late October, arriving to take command, Union General Ulysses S. Grant immediately began to form an offensive. On October 27, Union troops attacked Brown’s Ferry southwest of Chattanooga and opened the Tennessee River to boats that brought much needed supplies to the besieged Yankees.

On November 23, Grant began to attack the center of the lines around the city. Lookout Mountain lay on the Union’s far right, and the action there commenced on November 24. Yankee General Joseph Hooker commanded this wing, and his men advanced toward the fog-covered peak. Hooker did not plan to attack the entire mountain that day, thinking the granite crags would be difficult to overcome. The fog masked the Union advance, however, and Hooker’s men climbed relatively easily. The Confederates had overestimated the advantages offered by the mountain, and 1,200 Rebels faced nearly 12,000 attacking Yankees. Artillery proved of little use, as the hill was so steep that the attackers could not even be seen until they appeared near the summit. Bragg did not send reinforcements because the Union attack against the Confederate center was more threatening than the sideshow around Lookout Mountain. The Confederates abandoned the mountain by late afternoon. The next day, Union forces launched a devastating attack against Missionary Ridge and successfully broke the Confederate lines around Chattanooga.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  According to the National Wild Turkey Federation, the number of wild turkeys in the US has increased from an all time low of 30,000 to more than four million today. One state park in Iowa now boasts more than 100 turkeys per square mile. (Strangely enough, I think that must be the place where most of my turkey relatives live!!!!)

Falling Down

Have you ever noticed how old people tend to fall a lot more than younger folks do?  I don’t really know the physiological reason for it.  I suspect it has to do with weaker muscles, weaker bones, slower reaction times and perhaps diminished equilibrium.  But it’s not a joking matter and it can lead to fatal complications.

OK, I’m not at that point in my life yet.  I may get there someday, but with the family history of heart disease that exists in my genes, my guess is that I’ll get my ticket punched before that happens.

Still, there are times in life when we feel as if we’ve been smacked around so much that we’re as good as down.  We feel like we’ve been toppled and that it wouldn’t be worth the effort to struggle to get back up.  Ah, if only we had an emotional Medic-Alert that we could press and instantly we’d be better!

Life, however, is a bit more challenging that just pushing a button and it all being better.  It takes more time than that.

The last couple of months I’ve kinda felt that way.  Maybe that’s why the subject matter of today’s picture resonated with me.  I saw these two trees by the Eel River (yes, the picture was shot “rotated”, so if it perplexes your mind, know it was rotated a bit from right to left.)  I have no idea how long they’ve lain where they are, but it was symbolic of how I’ve felt for a while.  I know it will pass, but sometimes, the camera can be used to capture not just joy and happiness, but melancholy and even sadness.  In short, cameras can capture life in all its richness and variety.  And to top it off, they even freeze time.  What an amazing invention!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1889, Montana became the 41st state.  I’m glad, because I love Montana!!!!  I’d hate for it to be in a foreign country!

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: the largest Great White Shark ever caught was 37 feet long and weighed in at a tidy 24,000 pounds.  I’d be willing to bet that they didn’t use a worm for bait!  In actuality, it was caught in a herring weir in New Brunswick in 1930.



Leaf Me Alone!

We live in a world that is full of unique things – “one of a kinds”.  Just a few come to mind: fingerprints, the pattern in the pupils of a person’s eyes, snowflakes…and I’m sure the list is practically inexhaustible.

I suspect that leaves are that way, too.  Are any two leaves in the world exactly alike?  I’m sure that they’re not…or at least I strongly suspect that they are not.

Today’s picture is of some leaves on a small Japanese elm(?) tree that sits to the side of our driveway.  (Don’t hold me to the bit about it being a Japanese elm, because I can tell the difference between a dandelion and a redwood tree when it comes to plants/botany!) OK…so now that I’ve made that confession, if you email me to correct me about what kind of leaves/tree this is, you’re likely to get an email back from me that says, “Just leaf me alone!”

I got this picture during a break in the rain and cloud cover on Wednesday because I liked the pictures and the moisture that made the leaves in the lower left corner of the picture glisten in the light.  So…I just liked it.  I may not know what a plant is, but I know if I like it or not!  Oh…by the way, my favorite plant is a Snickerstree.


Just because I liked them...


ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 978 a.d., Saint Edward the Martyr, king of the English, was murdered on the steps at Corfe Castle on orders by his step mother who wanted her own son, Ethelred, crowned king.  Ah, there’s nothing like motherly love!

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Thomas Edison, the great inventory, married twice and had six children.  His first two children, Marion and Thomas, he nicknamed “Dot” and “Dash” after telegraphy.


The Zebra Tree

One of the things that I find most delightful about photography is when you take a picture only to see something in it after you put it on the computer where you can see details you couldn’t pick out on the LCD on the back of the camera.  When I took this picture recently at Lake Sonoma’s Yorty Creek area, I thought it would turn out pretty well.  But when I got home and uploaded it, I noticed the bands of shadow on the tree.  Maybe this tree always wanted to be a zebra.  I think it may have gotten its wish! 

May all your dreams come true, too!

The Zebra Tree

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1592, Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII of England, was executed on the charge of adultery.  It wasn’t a good thing to be married to King Henry VIII.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: the state of Michigan, with 19 million acres of trees, boasts more varieties of trees than the continent of Europe.