Sunday, October 1, 2023


 There is an odd-looking vegetable that is rarely found at the grocery store. Romanesco is a brassica, the same family that gave us broccoli and cauliflower. With a texture like an alien from outer space and bright chartreuse color, it remains a novelty.  Romanesco's spiky protrusions are perfect examples of fractals, repeating patterns found in nature. Is it just me, or does anyone else also see a group of wildly creative but very bumpy crocheted hats??

Sunday, September 24, 2023


 How can you not love gaillardia's festive colors?  A cheerful note in late season gardens, it’s a plant that does well even with scarce water and poor soil. Gaillardia are not tidy plants. Look closely and notice that every stage of growth is represented: green buds, fully opened flowers, partly-exhausted blooms and the final fuzzy seed heads. Theoretically, each blossom is an example of radial symmetry, but because the gardener sowed a mix of varieties, the petal shapes differ and some, well, some of them could instead be called examples of radial asymmetry.

Sunday, September 17, 2023


 Right inside the door of the new carry-out is a glass case with a rainbow of frozen treats. They are paletas, thick slabs of fruit and cream in flavors like mango, rose and ube (which is an alluring shade of lavender.) They are nothing like the popsicles and swirly cones offered up by the roaming ice cream trucks of our childhood. These summer treats have a more international reach and we lucky to have them right here in our neighborhood.

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Bumble Bee

 Wherever there are flowers, you will find bees. Some dart here and there,  sleek and fast as sports cars. Others buzz noisily like tiny motorcycles. My favorites are the bumblebees, the B52s of bees, slow and heavy, built for function, not style. They land carefully, their heft weighing down the more delicate blossoms. I watched the bumblebee work the flower, then somehow lift off, grains of pollen clinging to its body. It stayed aloft and slowly flew to the next flower. Even as a small child, I was never afraid of them. They know they have an important job and they get on with it.

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Sunflowers In the Sky

 The tail end of summer is when sunflowers stand in every garden. Some have stems thick as a child’s arm, with massive heads studded with seeds. I prefer the sunflowers that branch into many smaller blooms. They wave in the breeze, their delicate stems curving into lacy patterns. The petal catch the sunlight and glow like shards of stained glass. Look up and enjoy the sunflowers now before the birds and squirrels feast on them and ravage their statuesque beauty.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Scary Fair Ride

 Along with the corn dogs and competition tomatoes, rides are an essential part of state and county fairs. Many visitors come for the scary rides. I am NOT among those who elect to be strapped into the Brute. The glowing arms slowly rise up into the sky and begin to swing back and forth while the claw-like seats rotate. Back and forth, round and round, swooping down way too close to the crowds gathered around the base. We heard screams of actual pure terror from some of the riders. And yet, the line to ride the Brute is always the longest line at the fair.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Pipevine Swallowtail

 They fluttered all over, in and around the Smoky Mountains, wings beating so fast it was difficult to really see their markings. Darting from flower to flower then stopping for a mineral fuel-up from puddles on the swimming pool’s concrete, I marveled at the flamboyance of the pipevine swallowtails. Those brilliant spots are a warning. Early life as caterpillars feeding on pipe vines makes them unappetizing or even toxic to predators. So they go about their business and, once in a while open their wings to reveal a swath of gorgeous iridescent blue. Then they are off to sample the next flower.