Sunday, August 18, 2013

Garden did well

   Well, the square foot garden AND the traditional garden have produced a lot so far. Still have a lot of green tomatoes in the "gardens" and 3 big zucchini we will be using in sauces, salad and zucchini bread.
    The square foot garden was quite an expense and now the cucumber plants are drying up (we are getting less rain). The spouse thinks they are just spent, but I disagree. We should have added more compost to the sq. foot plot and watered it a bit more. And on the side of house are 3 sunflowers just beginning to head. I am looking forward to seeing them turn into real flowers. My "turtlehead" flower is attractive, yet small. I wish I had a big butterfly bush to attract hummingbirds with. Ah well.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

More on Fairy Stone State Park, State Parks in General


    Thoreau said you can never have enough of nature. This is true if you have a very busy life, and even if you have a "not too busy" life, like those of us on break during the summer from school with not a lot of money in our pockets. Which makes visiting a state park a great value.
    Did you know there was a conference in the 1920s about making state parks a widespread ideal in the U. S.? In the 1930s I know six parks were developed, using CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) help in order to promote visiting nature in the state of Virginia. In the thirties the Smokies, a national park in Tennessee, was also built and promoted. President Roosevelt did his best to give people work (Obama "wants" to do this but the entrenched and negative Republican party now is not allowing it). But state parks serve an important function.
    State parks provide a place not too far from home where you can take your family to visit for part of a day or even a weekend, to imbibe in the fruits of the natural environment. When we went to Fairy Stone State Park we weren't totally certain what we would see. But a mother deer tried to make her pretty fawn twins invisible by setting them in high grass in an open area across from a picnic shelter we drove by on the way to our campground. And a squirrel tried to "sneak" around our tent as my spouse had tossed some empty pistachio nut shells in the leave litter near our campsite. Fairy Stone is interesting; in part one side of the camping area there is about a 20 foot drop down from the sites, then it "really" drops down! You don't see those with little kids camping on that side, but we did. And Mr. Squirrel came as close as the other side of the cooking pit with its grill turned up, putting his nose up for a sniff. But there was no food there so he finally decided to run away into the woods.
    We saw other bits of nature -- there was many yellow and black tiger swallowtails flitting about, and some gathered on some gravel near a shelter, as though they were sucking up some nutrients from it. At the beach we saw kids have a fun time on these huge, fiberglass (?) animals, beaver, frogs and logs, that little kids could ride on in shallow water. A park ranger said another park, Claytor Lake, had rejected these big toys so Fairy Stone said they would take them. So, they were 
"pretend" nature, but a place where they could splash around and watch birds fly overhead and soak up some sun for some needed vitamin D.
    State parks are much cheaper than motel and hotel rooms (unless you reserve an air conditioned cabin, which partly defeats the purpose of camping-- what, you don't want sand in your shoes, or water dripping into a corner of your tent from a continuous rain at night? Where is your sense of adventure). They provide a break from the daily routine, a chance to interact with nature, get away from technology (unless you are in an RV with an antenna-- so why bother to come to a campground), go at a slower pace. State parks are a real value. And our tax dollars should support them more. So go out and enjoy one near you.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The wonders of nature at Fairy Stone State Park

    Ah yes, the wonders of nature if you allow yourself time to enjoy them. I allowed myself that time when we stayed three nights at Fairy Stone State Park. So named for a creek bed nearby that legend says has cross shaped stones created by fairies (well, it's just a legend), the park also has a lot of other interesting things.
    If you sit at your campsite at night you'll hear a loud chorus of three year cicadas with their loud and then soft whirring buzz, and cricketlike like chirps, and am told the noises at night can be katydids too (or didn't they). At your site you can observe the robin or phoebe running along, or the squirrel sneaking up to your site if you happened to leave out some pistachio shells nearby. They say don't feed the animals, yet you feel compelled to leave something behind, while at the same time you take a souvenir or two (like American beech leaves and fairy stones from a nearby creek bed).
    As you sit in a circle and roast a "s'mores" (after one I don't think they want you to have more) the park ranger points out the park is where an old mining town used to be, but was flooded to create the man made lake. I'm sure the deer and tiger swallowtail butterflies, the people and birds all appreciate the effort to have a place away from the hustle and bustle of  civilization, if just for a while.