Persimmons

Persimmons

The most striking aspect of persimmons takes place in the fall. Not only do the leaves turn a gorgeous gold and rust-orange, but this is the time of year when the persimmon fruit ripens and turns color anywhere from a yellow to a deep red-orange. But we’re not done yet. Even when all the leaves fall off the tree, the fruit remains for a unique display of branches and fruit often all the way til winter.

Maple Trees

Maple Trees

The sugar maple tree gives us an abundance of maple syrup for our pancakes and waffles. But beyond this sweet treat, maple trees have what is called ‘tonewood‘. This means that the wood possesses tonal properties and can be used for making woodwind instruments and acoustic stringed instruments. Maple trees are found across the northern hemisphere from North America, to Europe and to Asia.

Chaffinches

Chaffinches

The chaffinch nest might be one of the prettiest I’ve ever seen. Here’s how they are built, quote: The nest has a deep cup and is lined with a layer of thin roots and feathers. The outside is covered with a layer of lichen and spider silk over an inner layer of moss and grass. (Source) You’ll find footage of a real nest in the wild in the 4-minute video below.

Hawaii

Hawaii

The Hawaiian islands are beautiful with gorgeous beaches and tropical plants, fruits, flowers and trees. But even more beautiful is the symbolic greeting of ‘aloha’. In American parlance, it’s thought of simply as a greeting or welcoming as well as a farewell. But ‘aloha’ has a much more gracious and healing message that comes from the spirit of the Hawaiian people. ‘Aloha‘ is the Hawaiian word for love, affection, peace, compassion and mercy. The first expression of ‘aloha’ is between a parent and a child. It also means ‘to be in the presence of the divine breath of life.’ Hawaii has been called a paradise and the islands live up to that name in many, many ways.

Parsley

Parsley

Until doing the research for this blog, I never thought of parsley as much more than a pretty garnish or as an ingredient for olive oil and garlic pasta. But after reading up on some of the health benefits, I’m ready to add parsley to my diet on a more regular basis. I might even try the shake in the video below. But I will definitely do the ginger-parsley-lemon tea! How about you?

Forests

Forests

This was a fun blog for me to do because part of my childhood was spent in the redwood forests of Northern California. These weren’t the giant redwoods, and yes my family was there as part of the logging industry, but it was a magical place to live. There were creeks and rivers to explore throughout our forest as well as the nearby ocean. Though life in a remote village community had its share of challenges, some of them at times frightening, growing up in a forest was an enriching experience and I’m forever grateful for it. One of my favorite memories was of watching my mother harvest the rich mulch from around the base of trees and bring it back to our home to work into her vegetable garden. That was an education all by itself.

Beavers

Beavers

Huge disclaimer: When I first began collecting photos of beavers, other names would appear in the photo descriptions as well, especially the coypu (also known as the nutria) and the muskrat. Here’s the deal: Though all three are semiaquatic rodents, nutria and muskrats are NOT beavers. Each is a separate species, with beavers being significantly bigger. But as rodents, they share very similar body and facial features. I’ve included the links (above) with their names in case you’d like to see how much these animals resemble the beaver visually. As best I could, I eliminated photos that could have been of a nutria or a muskrat, but I’m only about 90% certain I succeeded. With all best intentions, the photos below are of beavers. Of course, in a twist of irony, in the second video below, a pair of muskrats had taken up lodgings inside one of the beaver homes. 

The Amazon Rainforest

The Amazon Rainforest

In the 1500s, Francisco de Orellana was the first explorer to travel the entire length of the Amazon River. In doing so, he encountered a number of tribes with which he had to do battle. Noting that the women of the Tapuya tribe in particular battled alongside their male counterparts, he named the river, the Amazon, in reference to the warrior women of the same name found in the writings of Herodotus and Diodorus.  The Amazon Rainforest is also known as Amazonia and the Amazon Jungle. Francisco’s name stuck.

Bananas

Bananas

Like many of you, I grew up always having bananas in the kitchen. They were a staple in our household. But when I began to do my research for this blog, what absolutely astonished me was that I’d never seen an actual banana flower before. When I found a picture of one, it seemed almost alien, something that must have arrived from another planet. I’ve included one of the photos first, before the video links, because I’m curious to know if any of you have ever seen a banana flower before. There are several photos of this flower below as well, so you’ll get to see all aspects of how it functions and how it produces row upon row of bananas. Once again, nature is amazing.

Plumeria

Plumeria

Frangipani is the most common nickname for the plumeria plant. If it looks familiar, it is also one of the most frequently used flowers for making Hawaiian leis. Plumeria has fragrant blossoms, the scent of which intensifies at night in order to draw in the sphinx moth. But plumeria tricks these poor insects because for all its fine aromatic seductiveness, these flowers don’t provide nectar.