September Art

I call this art, but I think most birds are calling it "dessert." To be specific, these purple clusters are American Beauty Berries, or Callicarpa americana.

Prolific in the Southeast, these shrubs are found in rural areas where birds drop their seeds along fence rows, beneath trees and underneath my back porch. This fat branch of berries is lit by the afternoon sun. It's been conveniently planted by the birds near their favorite watering spot.

Lipstick Red

I often see red male cardinals resting in trees at the edge of the woods, about 500 feet from my kitchen window. But I'm not sure if they're actually birds until I see them fly to another branch. My uncertainty comes from seeing an occasional "lipstick red" leaf that stands out from the vibrant summer greens. I'm sure this also confuses the predators who stalk the colorful birds.

In Georgia, the appearance of red dramatically increases in late August. The sumac, above, appears like a precocious child who's discovered her mother's makeup.

Let Me Count the Ways

Summer is Watermelon Time

Inner BeautyHow do I love thee, pretty watermelon? Let me count the ways..... I'm charmed by your fat green stripes that meet precisely at each end. I enjoy the wonderful cracking sound as you split wide open.

But most of all, I'm thrilled to discover that you are RIPE.

Intelligent Vine

Vine Growing Toward FaucetThis bright green vine began a vertical ascent, but then it made an abrupt U-turn. Upon very close inspection, you'll see the delicate new growth waiting directly beneath the faucet. (Click the image for a larger view.)

Does the vine smell water? Does it like the bright blue knob? Maybe it's just curious.

I find the 1950s style of the faucet quite charming, but I didn't pay it much attention until the vine appeared with its refreshing touch of green. Just when I think I've photographed everything of interest in my yard, I'm met with something more.

A Rich Palette

Wildflowers by Red Clay BluffI enjoy clipping bits and pieces from a landscape to showcase what might otherwise be unnoticed. My photographer's eye is always alert for vignettes of unique interest.

God used a rich palette to paint the Georgia country where I explored on this day. A bold red bluff was the perfect backdrop for woodland sunflowers and other blooms scattered along the roadside. Together they form a glorious tapestry, enjoyed by the few who travel this remote thoroughfare.


Muscadine vines spilling gently over a red clay bluff provide a quintessential view of rural Georgia. But this picture of leaves and soil also hints of exotic, far-away places. Grape leaves whisper of Italy, and the earthen wall suggests Mexico—while vibrant colors allude to both. A wide vein of mica near the ground adds balance and a golden shine to this "multi-cultural" scene.

Tiger Swallowtail

Tiger Swallowtail

A beautiful Tiger Swallowtail allowed me to take dozens of photos. Many of them were keepers, and I've had trouble deciding which one to post.

Tiger SwallowtailThese butterflies are huge. When in flight, the big yellow wings attract our attention, just like a waving flag. The Tiger Swallowtail is fairly common, and the southern subspecies is largest of all. Only females wear the long string of neon blue jewels.

Please click the small photo to see more detail.

Symbiotic Relationships

Mushroom Under OakWith a burst of energy, this delicate white-capped mushroom pushes up through the soil and into the morning light. Its strength has come from a symbiotic relationship with one of the mighty oak trees in my back yard.

"Huh? Symbi-what?," you say. Well, let me try to explain. Biological symbiosis is the dependence of two species on each other for survival—bees and flowers for example. But most people are not aware that mushrooms and trees are symbiotic because the mutually beneficial activity takes place underground, completely out of sight. The industrious fungi wrap a thick coating of their very fine roots around the outermost, slenderest roots of a tree. With this nutrient transfer station in place, the mushrooms gather nitrogen and phosphorus, offering it to the tree in exchange for sugar.

Healthy human relationships are also symbiotic. A friendship or marriage with no give-and-take is precariously out of balance.

All Over the World

Dew on Morning Grass
I can imagine busy little tongues licking the dew off blades of grass, just before dawn—all over the world. Even during extended draughts, God provides for the animals.

An expensive golf course lawn is beautiful, but it doesn't offer the ecological delights of grass that can stretch and grow. Because I live in the country, my closest neighbor is half a mile away and doesn't care what my yard looks like. I usually mow every two weeks, but this month it was three. I just wasn't in the mood.

This morning I hopped on the mower, but after a few laps around the house, I noticed the beauty of the grass. I went inside to get my camera. Clearly, I have my priorities.

Corn and Roma Tomatoes

Sunday Dinner Yes, vegetables on a table top qualify as nature photography—at least on this blog they do. These beauties were only two feet from my back door, where natural afternoon light was flooding in upon them to add interest to the scene.

Have you ever seen such a tempting shade of red? If colors could each be assigned a flavor, then this vivid hue should always taste like a salted slice of vine-ripe Roma tomato. I'm now reminded of being a young child and sneaking into our half-acre summer garden to eat tomatoes as if they were a forbidden treat

As for the sweet corn, it was devoured within fifteen minutes of the photo shoot, proving that yellow is seductive too.