Monday, March 30, 2009

Whitmore's Bluff: In Progress

I tagged along with the real botanists on Sunday for what I thought would be a two hour climb along the bluffs of the Oosatanuala just north of Rome off Bell's Ferry Road. It turned out to last over twice that long, and I was pretty hungry by the time I got home. But as you can see from the pics, we are blessed to live in an area with an amazing variety of plant life.
Location: Whitmore's Bluff, on the Oosatanaula north of Rome GA

About ten of us gathered at Richard Ware's house to carpool to the site.

When the "let's go" signal was given I stupidly took it seriously and got in the Jeep. My three fellow passengers were waylayed by some little forb eking out an existence in Richard's drive.

Three carloads dismounted along Bell's Ferry Road and started our hike.

After a steady uphill scramble around multiple downed trees along an old jeep trail we reached the breezy summit where the slope in front of us was covered with these purple wonders.

We turned up the ridge and soon encountered this Squaw Root pushing through the leaf litter. It was very breezy and unseasonably cold.

The view off the bluff is magnificent, but the botanists are more interested in the little white flowers they can't reach, that are gowing on the rock ledges below. They are inches from the abyss.

Across the Oostanaula valley is my own Lavender Mountain.

On the rock ledge at my feet are the flat discs that are the seeds of a slippery elm...

...that grows from the slope below the rocky face of the bluff to present its greenery to us above.

We find more patches of the little white sprays of flowers in more accessible spots and ascertain its genus and species after some discussion.

This picture gives a good idea of the terrain - very steep, when not actually vertical.

Looking up the cliff more columbine, sedum, ferns, and moss.

The botanists spend a good deal of time examining and discussing the phacelia found here. It has smaller fowers and variegated foliage, which convinces some of the guys that it is a less common species.

Now I pass some slightly more accessable columbine, one of my favorites, putting up its bright little flames here and there.

Finally I find one burning right in my face as I round its rock.

As we near the river a colony of these diminuative trillium cause a stir among the botanists. Some had not seen it in the wild before.

And then the pachysandra that Richard had been hoping would be in bloom, formed a carpet.

One of my favorites deserves a more picturesque name, chickweed.

The Armuchee ridges are known for their caves. Here is the opening to one of several caves in the bluffs.

One final excitement came when one of the guys spotted several tiny Adder's Tongues -- actually a fern.

If you want to see more pictures from the walk visit my Facebook album:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I just can't help myself.

Pulling out of the school drive Tuesday afternoon I notice the Bradford Pear blooming in our school woods. On impulse I pull onto Scenic Road, park on the shoulder. Grab my camera. Beep the doorlocks. And start pushing through the brush toward the invader.

But of course I can't stop here. This is the end of the campus where I haven't tried to extend our trail yet. I really should stop. But the hepatica and rue anenome that are past their prime on the upper trail, still bloom luxuriantly here.
The stream is a little bigger and still lovely down here.

I look at the flat area near the stream here. It might be a good place for a few picnic tables some day. The little white butterflies rarely pause in their search for nectar long enough for me to snap them. See the male with the yellow-tipped wings flying away as the female drinks at a toothwort.

Anthocharis midea - Falcate Orangetip Butterflies (male and female)

Back at the car, it is pointed uphill so I drive up to turn around in the entrance being used right now by the lumber trucks as Berry College harvests trees in this area. I've been curious to explore here. So, why not. I park on the gravel. Beep. And follow the dry streambed away from the parking area. It's bound to merge into our little stream eventually, I figure. So I'll check it out. Down through a fairly steep ravine. Down. Down till, oh well, it curves back under Scenic Road through a culvert. Back on the road I climb a hill that seems much steeper on foot than in the car.

I notice the pink plactic tape I've been seeing about has writing so I climb back up the bank to investigate. I am relieved to see there are boundaries to the lumber harvest. Maybe they won't mess up the woods that neighbor our stream and trail.

Back at the car I look again at the roads that diverge there. I had already taken the one less traveled by. If I kept the other for another day, I might never come back! Sheila is at work. Its 4:30. Why not spend another thirty minutes in the woods? Off I go.

This path is definely more frequently trodden. I round the first bend when a small truck with Ohio tags bounces down off the mountain past me. The air is the perfect spring temperature. There is a light breeze. I have sick friends and relatives to worry about. I have testing coming up next week. It's been a long day at school. What better way to wind down, let my mind calm itself, meditate, collect my thoughts, lift mine eyes unto Lavender Mountain, send a few prayers heavenward.

The little mountain road starts climbing and doesn't stop. And neither do I. I keep intending to turn around, but each curve demands I peek around it. The woods are lovely, a little dark and definitely deeper and deeper as I climb. Leafless hardwoods allow a full view of the lay of the steep as the ravines plunge toward Armuchee. In the distance I catch glimpses of the airport and the big Baptist church next to the new Armuchee ball fields where now someone switches on the lights.

Twice the road falls away for a city block or so, but mostly it relentlessly climbs. My cell phone display declares it to be five o'clock. I make a deal with myself to walk till five-thirty, then turn and retrace my steps. Ever the optimist, I figure I might even make it to the House of Dreams. Occasionally the still wintery-looking woods display a tree with tiny yellow-green leaves, or gold ones,

or the greenish-white immature "flowers" of the dogwood,

or deep pink/purple spray of redbud,

a primordial spread of moss,

or the brilliant flames of red maple samaras. If you get a close-up view of the red maple the clusters of samaras look like those double charged fireworks that have produced one big blast and now bunches of secondary blasts.

I find the dogwoods farther up the mountain in better bloom.

After another brief procrastination, and facing a downhill section that I would have to climb on the return if I continued, I turn around at 5:37. At 6:11 I am back at the car.

I wonder how far I have walked. Four miles. Maybe five?

Shoot why not see. Hoping I won't be arrested by campus rangers, I set the trip meter to zero and drive the Rav 4 up the trail. How could the landmarks from my walk pass so quickly? 1.6 miles! Only a little over three miles round trip! I certainly haven't set any land speed records have I? I know I stop to take a lot of pictures. I had tried to sneak up on three separate butterflies. I had climbed the bank to capture
some special bark,

a blooming apple?

a little white pine standing out so clearly with its darker foiliage and stairstep limb system,

a small hemlock, [whoops! Brain freeze!! Thanks Teresa. Make that...] hawthorn, with fresh green leaves.

Oh well, I was uphill! And the hill is the tallest in the county.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Pre-walk Walk

Audacious man that I am, I will lead a walk along the Armuchee Elementary School Nature Trail as part of the Spring Pilgrimage of the Georgia Botanical Society. This morning, in an effort to calm me, my friend Richard Ware accompanied me along the trail in preparation for the real thing on April 3. And as usual, when you are with Richard, you find something botanically interesting.

I will have three hours to show off the trail for the Botsoccers, so I wanted to know how ambitious I should try to be. This morning we started at the main entrance behind the school and headed upstream. Much of the hepatica is no longer blooming, but the streambanks are resplendant with Rue Anemone... ... And the leaf litter is decorated with thousands of little toothworts. We saw some Sweet Betsy (or toadstool trillium) getting ready to bloom. A few bluets. A Buttercup. Richard pointed out nice examples of White Oak, Southern Red Oak, Shagbark Hickory, American Beech, and other trees. He especially noticed a nice pairing of the smooth muscular bark of the American Hornbeam right next to the frayed stringy bark of the Eastern Hophornbeam.

We did not find two trees I've been hoping to find in our woods. Less than a mile down the road in a low area is the rare Nutmeg Hickory, and our mountain is known for its remnant forest of Yellow (longleaf) Pine. I'd love to find these two interesting trees at our school. No luck so far.

When we reached the end of our trail we decided to press on to the nearby old railroad bed and CCC Camp pond...

There Richard investigated the elms...... If they are native he thinks they are American Elms. But they may be imports planted there by the CCC I suppose.

We tramped around the edge of the pond to investigate the tiny stream that feeds it. I've meant to do that and was glad for the excuse. I followed Richard as he sought firm footing around the marshy margin of the pond. We heard rushing water and found a tiny (one foot by one foot) waterfall at one feeder stream. An old Red Maple in bloom leaned out...

...over the water plants that Richard wanted to investigate. He took a sample plant to identify.

Then we followed the crystal clear running water upstream. Watercress.
Lizard's Tail. Look at this rocky seep! With a manmade wall, brick enclosed...
...and ceramic pipe enclosed springs. And something interesting. Richard suspects it is Chelone glabra -- Turtlehead... won't bloom till summer.

We will definely return to this spot as the spring and summer advance, to see what other wonders this special little habitat houses.

And maybe I'll offer my April 3 guests an extension of the planned walk.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Eighth Grade Exam

This came in an e-mail from my astute brother-in-law Gil. I assume it has traversed the globe many times, but I'll share it none-the-less. No multiple choice here, huh? These kids had to think. Of course, one had to have some aptitude to get to eighth grade in 1895.

What it took to get an 8th grade education in 1895...

Remember when grandparents and great-grandparents stated that they only had an 8th grade education? Well, check this out. Could any of us have passed the 8th grade in 1895?

This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina , Kansas , USA . It was taken from the original document on file at the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina , and reprinted by the Salina Journal.

8th Grade Final Exam: Salina , KS - 1895

Grammar (Time, one hour)
1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.
2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications.
3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph
4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of 'lie,''play,' and 'run.'
5. Define case; illustrate each case.
6 What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.
7 - 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time,1 hour 15 minutes)
1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
2. A wagon box is 2 ft. Deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. Wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
3. If a load of wheat weighs 3,942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts/bushel, deducting 1,050 lbs. For tare?
4. District No 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
5. Find the cost of 6,720 lbs. Coal at $6.00 per ton.
6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft.. Long at $20 per metre?
8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance of which is 640 rods?
10. Write a Ban k Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt

U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)
1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided
2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus
3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
4. Show the territorial growth of the United States
5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas
6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton , Bell , Lincoln , Penn, and Howe?
8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, 1865.

Orthography (Time, one hour)

1. What is meant by the following: alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication
2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
3. What are the following, and give examples of each: trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals
4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u.'
5. Give two rules for spelling words with final 'e.' Name two exceptions under each rule.
6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: bi, dis-mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup.
8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.
9. Use the following correctly in sentences: cite, site, sight, fane, f ain, feign, vane , vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

Geography (Time, one hour)
1 What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas ?
3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
4. Describe the mountains of North America
5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia , Odessa , Denver , Manitoba , Hecla , Yukon , St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco
6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S. Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each.
8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give the inclination of the earth.

The exam took 5 hours to complete.

"He had only an 8 grade education," you say? I tip my hat to him.
I'll put my score up against my current readers, but not against those eighth graders. What would your score be?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

From my in-laws' yard...

Playing with Nora and Derek's new puppy.

Eating barbecue and Suzie's Butter Roll.

Enjoying the giant azaleas.

Some lowgrowing flower -- a blackberry?

And watching a hungry, hungry caterpillar.

Eating more barbecue and butter roll.

Helping one of our favorite pains in the.... well, helping Jimmy... celebrate his retirement!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Go Devils!

My neice Rachael Turrentine - Miss Intensity - in the state semi-final game for Model against Henry County yesterday in Macon. The Blue Devils will play for the State Championship against Buford in Macon Saturday at 3 p.m. The game will be televised on GPB.

So the enthusiastic refrain among the good Methodists in our family (and the wayward Baptists, as well) is...
Go Devils!!!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The First Ephemerals

Our trails at Armuchee Elementary are beginning to bloom.

Here is the Rue Anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides) that hugs rock outcrops along the stream:

Rue Anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides) - Photo by Terrell Shaw

Sometimes mixed with the Rue Anemone is the Rounded-Lobed Hepatica (Hepatica americana) with its leathery ground-hugging leaves and showy purple flowers:

Rounded-Lobed Hepatica (Hepatica americana) - Photo by Terrell Shaw

Scattered through the leaf litter on the forest floor, soaking up the warm sunlight streaming through leafless branches of white oaks, tulip poplars, and assorted hickories, are little Slender Toothworts (Dentaria heterophylla):

Slender Toothwort (Dentaria heterophylla) - Photo by Terrell Shaw

On April 4 I will help Jim Drake lead a wildflower walk at our trail as part of the Georgia Botanical Society Spring Pilgrimage. By then there should be lots of other blooms.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Ahhhh, Spring!

Hepatica americana Rounded-Lobed Hepatica
Photo by Teresa Ware

Richard and Teresa walked the school nature trail yesterday and took this picture of the beautiful hepatica growing along the stream. Last week I noticed this plant and a toothwort beginning to bloom. In just a few weeks I will lead my first Georgia Botanical Society wildflower walk along this trail as part of the BotSoc Spring Pilgrimage. Luckily I will have the aid of Jim Drake who is much more knowledgeable about botany than I. April 4. Y'all come!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Sunday Concert: No Child Left Inside

One of my causes: Using the real world in education

Getting to Know Your Friends

I know these memes are silly time-wasters, but I can't help myself. If you want to join in, copy this and substitute your own responses on your Facebook page, your blog, or an e-mail. I've answered most of these before, but here goes:

1. What time did you get up this morning? late - 7:27
2. Diamonds or pearls? neither - no great interest in gems.
3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Not sure. We went out to Rome Cinemas on Shorter Avenue a couple of weeks ago, but I can't, for the life of me, remember what we saw. Last night we watched a dvd of "Burn After Reading" another crazy, bloody, "comedy" by the Coen brothers.
4. What is your favorite TV show? Monk. The Closer, old movies, news, NOVA
5. What do you usually have for breakfast? oatmeal, bowl of cereal, or an Egg McMuffin.
6. What is your middle name? Terrell (my first name is Charles)
7. What food do you dislike? cocoanut (ugh!!!!), overcooked veggies
8. What is your favorite CD at the moment? folk and musical theater stuff on my iPod, podcasts of NPR shows, don't often use CDs.
9. What kind of car do you drive? Toyota Rav-4 & GMC truck
10. Favorite sandwich? Mesquite turkey on toasted sourdough with all the junk I pile on ---- onion, bell pepper, lettuce, olive, assorted herbs and spices, mustard, a little mayo, no cheese except a sprinking of Parmesan -- I'm no longer allowed cheese :-(
11.What characteristic do you despise? racism, classism, IQism,
12. Favorite item of clothing? fresh air? ;-) I don't give much thought to clothes, as most anyone who knows me knows.
13. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? England, Ireland, Hawaii, NYC, Macon, the Pocket...
14. Favorite brand of clothing? The brand that fits and is on sale.
15. Where would you like to retire? Rome, Georgia
16.What was your most recent memorable birthday? The next one, I hope.
17. Favorite sport to watch? Baseball, high school football, kids' soccer
18. Furthest place you are sending this? the 124 countries that have visited the Limb...
19. Person you expect to send it back first? No idea.
20. When is your birthday? March 22
21. Are you a morning person or a night person? I'm scizophrenic about that. I tend to stay up late and get up early.
22. What is your shoe size? 9
23. Pets? Daisy and Miss Kitty are resting in peace. No pets, no more.
24. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with us? The Georgia Botanical Society has chosen Rome for their 2009 Spring Pilgrimage HQ, and they have chosen our school trail as one of their many field trips, and me as a co-leader of that walk. April 3, 4 & 5

25. What did you want to be when you were little? I went through a spell of designing floor plans for buildings and declared architecture my goal. Ha!
26. How are you today? A little clogged up and achy, but OK I guess..
27. What is your favorite candy? Snickers
28. What is your favorite flower? The one that surprizes you on the trail: A clump of cardinal flowers blazing in a stream, a constellation of daisies on a littered roadside, a single Indian pink at the base of a loblolly, a complex wood betony with its ferny leaves, a flock of frilly wild azalea flying through the undergrowth.
29. What is a day on the calendar you are looking forward to? April 4, May 6-8, May 22.
30. What is your favorite pastime? (censored), acting, singing, curtain calls, movies, politics, reading, games with friends, walking in the woods, telling stories...
31. What are you listening to right now? Sheila's still asleep so I only hear the white noise that is the computer and unknown gentle whirring... and the keys tapping.
32. What was the last thing you ate ? Do I have to admit? We ordered take-out ribs from Shanes and ate it with a homemade salad while we watched that Coen brothers movie last night. I'm ready for my oatmeal this morning though.
33. Do you wish on stars? It's been a long time.
34. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? I would never settle for one. Give me the whole 64 crayon box.
35. How is the weather right now? Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!!!!!
36. The first person you spoke to on the phone today? None today. Brannon and Lillian called yesterday. And I talked with Facebook friend and former student Stephen Baker about a scout project.
37. Favorite soft drink? The real 5¢ ice-flected 6 oz. bottle from the Coke box at my granddaddy's barber shop in 1955, and a package of Tom's peanuts, please.
38. Favorite restaurant? El Zarape, Shanes, China City, Shroeders, Cafe 28 in NYC, Country Gentleman, .........
39. Real hair color? brown and gray
40. What was your favorite toy as a child? a homemade coaster. No feeling like racing downhill at ten or twelve, flat on your belly, hands griping the rough guide bar, wind in your eyes, on a vehicle of your own making
41. Summer or winter? Summer
42. Hugs or kisses? yes, repeat.
43. Chocolate or Vanilla? yes, repeat.
44. Coffee or tea? good coffee with cream!
45. Do you want your friends to email you back? Sure.
46. When was the last time you cried? I've gotten misty-eyed several times in the last week. Actually cried? I'm not sure.
47. What is under your bed? a rolled-up carpet, some shoes, but no dust for a change -- we cleaned it yesterday.
48. What did you do last night? See #32
49. What are you afraid of? Disappointing those I love.
50. Salty or sweet? Yes, repeat.
51. How many keys on your key ring? too many, at least ten -- school, house, shed, car, truck...
52. How many years at your current job? 10
53. Favorite day of the week? Saturday
54. How many towns have you lived in? See this link -

55. Do you make friends easily? yes
56. How many people will you send this to? none
57. How many will respond? no idea