Tag Archives: Nature

Climbing Stone Mountain

mr. ali and us

It’s Throwback Thursday, and I thought I’d share these photos from June of last year when Big Man and I climbed Stone Mountain.  Our guide was a former colleague of mine whom I’ve adopted as a kind of surrogate grandfather to Big Man.   We’ll call him Go-Pa.  Go-Pa used to teach Math, build houses and did a stint in the Army back in the ’60s.   Now retired, he is an avid nature and still-life photographer who regularly swims, bikes, travels and climbs. 

Though I like to consider myself a bit of a “nature girl” and was actually the one who asked to tag along on Go-Pa’s hike, there were times during our adventure that I silently (and Big Man quite audibly) wanted to retreat to the cabana-covered picnic tables that we saw on our way up.  Pretty sad since the hike took only about an hour.  Yet my elder friend’s experience and patience (he didn’t seem to mind that our joining him doubled the time it would have taken him to climb solo) helped see us all through patches of woods, up slippery slopes and to the summit where we were able to see treetops and vistas of Atlanta. 

One of the reasons I wanted to go on the climb was to teach Big Man a lesson– one that he’d feel in his muscles and bones– about endurance and pacing.   I also wanted him to have a solid image in his memory bank of an active, intelligent and creative elder so that he knows that in time he can be that, too. 

That said, below are a few of the other photos that we took during our climb and our grubbing on pizza at Fellini’s afterward. 

mr. ali and us 3

 

mr. ali and us 2

climbing stone mountain

mr. ali and us 4

 

mr. ali and us 5

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Adventures in Gardening

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Danny and his avocado tree

My friend Danny is a man who can grow not only an avocado plant but an avacado tree from seed.   Ever since I’ve known him, he has lived a voluntarily simple life in a shotgun home that is also his art studio.  His home is one of several that his family has owned  since the 1940’s.  In the miniature farm that surrounds his home there are citrus trees and berry vines, onions, corn, peppers and so much more.  His garden has always been bigger than the indoor space where he sleeps makes music, prints t-shirts and edits videos.  He freely shares much of his harvest with neighborhood families.

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An avocado from Danny’s big tree

Danny helped me plant my first (and up to now, my only) full-scale garden.  This was during my last year or so of undergraduate school In the front yard of my mother’s suburban Houston home.  In the front of Mama’s house, Danny and I planted flowers that I’d chosen and in the back an edible garden.   I have no words to describe what a gratifying experience it was for me to turn the soil, plant and tend this little square of land that soon, as if by magic and as if in gratitude yeilded okra,  eggplant, tomatoes– FOOD!  Since then, I’ve dabbled here and there but have pretty much shied away from real-deal gardening, meaning planting anything that I have the intention of eating.   Why?  Because– Danny’s mentorship notwithstanding– I have a brown thumb.Jared's cabbage

Spring 2014 is the season that I’ve had to face my plant-killing fear, all thanks to Big Man who to my horror delight brought home two tiny cabbage plants from school courtesy of one of the school art teachers who is apparently a master gardener like Danny (thanks, Mr. L…).    Okay.  So, maybe I’m to blame for encouraging my child to love nature.  But oh, the subtle dread I felt when he came around expecting me to help him keep his little green friends alive.    To make him happy and to demonstrate “nothing beats a failure but a try!” and all of that, off I went to Dollar Tree for two buckets and then to ACE Hardware for good potting soil.   Surprise, surpise!  See the pictures to the right for the results.  Not only have we NOT killed the plants, they are actually– what?– thriving!

I’ll keep you posted on what happens from here and will leave you with the titles of some beautiful gardening-related children’s books, one of them a modern classic and the remaining ones dedicated to two of my Green Muses.  And also one for lagniappe.

 

 

gardenerThe Gardener by Sarah Stewart and David Small

 

In the Garden with Mr. Carver
In the Garden with Dr. Carver
by Susan Grigsby and Nicole Tudgell
(read Google books preview here)

 

Seeds of ChangeSeeds of Change by Jen Cullerton Johnson and Sonia Lynn Sadler 

 

Kids-Garden_W_1
Kids’ Garden: 40 Fun Indoor and Outdoor Activities and Games

by Whitney Cohen and Roberta Arenson

Natural Bling

Natural Bling

I know I promised to post more about our New York trip (soon-come for that).  But, I couldn’t resist a quick post to share this photo I took of a spider web I spotted when on my way to work out at the Y this morning. Marvelous, right? The size of it along with what looked like thousands of raindrops shimmering off of it made me clearly understand how webs captured the imaginations of traditional storytellers and crafts people. Seeing such a wonder with a little one would be the perfect opportunity for talking about creativity and sharing tales like The Spider Weaver: A Legend of Kente Cloth or The Magic of Spider Woman.