Flying Jewels

Hummingbirds have been active in my yard for the last few weeks and several are coming to the flower pots on my front porch.

They can beat their wings thousands of times per minute so it’s no wonder I failed to get a clear picture of this little guy before he zoomed off. While it’s not a good picture, I kind of like the sense of motion.

They were nicknamed “flying jewels” by Spanish explorers visiting the Americas for the first time. This is the best possible name I can imagine for these tiny but majestic creatures.

Hummingbirds actually prefer to get their nectar from flowers instead of feeders. If you do feed them, be sure to clean their feeders daily and never use dyes. It’s a myth that the red attracts them better. What they crave is the sweetness.

Better yet, plant some flowers and shrubs that will also feed butterflies and bees. I read once that hummingbirds can visit around a thousand flowers a day so I’m sure they will appreciate whatever contribution you can make!

They are a migratory bird so they’ll be departing soon but I’ll enjoy them while they’re still here.

Western Sunflowers

One of my favorite things about many western states is that you see these sunflowers growing along highways in abundance. Many regions of Colorado are dotted with these lovelies.

These two appear to be admiring each other.

They are such happy flowers. They brighten the landscape and never fail to make me smile so I couldn’t resist grabbing a picture from this parking lot at a waterfall called Treasure Falls.

Helen Keller once said “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It’s what sunflowers do.”

Great advice.

Second Street Market

Second Street Market in Dayton, Ohio is one of those things that makes me wish I lived closer to a city. In fact, I would be there all the time if I lived closer.

This public market is part of the Five Rivers MetroParks system and is reminiscent of something you might see in Europe. Outside the 1911 Baltimore and Ohio Railroad warehouse, you’ll find all manner of vendors including farmers with their produce and fresh flowers.

There are crafters and other vendors too. Inside, you’ll find more of that along with folks selling Dayton products, handmade jewelry, fancy flavored olive oils, and locally grown meat.

There’s a walk-up coffee shop, a vegan place, a Chinese restaurant and a place that makes fresh bagels daily. My friend and I each had a breakfast bowl from a Mexican place – it was potatoes, eggs, salsa, peppers and queso served on a bed of fresh made tortilla chips. This was the best meal I’ve had in ages and friendly passersby even asked what we had that looked so good.

We also met a MetroParks employee who talked about growing herbs in containers. There was a guy playing guitar and the people watching was superb. Plus, everyone was friendly and the atmosphere is charming.

I couldn’t help but imagine strolling through here on a summer morning, basket in hand, to select perfectly ripe peaches and zucchini. I would treat myself to a bouquet of fresh flowers too!

A girl can dream!

They’re open year round on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Parking is free. Find them on Facebook or click here to visit their website for details.

Five Minutes In Nature

As part of my new self care routine, I have been trying to start each day with five minutes in nature. That means five minutes in my back yard studying whatever I see.

Bees, moths, flowers and weeds are common subjects. Sometimes I snap phone pictures but the priority is always on enjoying the sounds and sights of these remarkable natural elements.

Yesterday’s five minutes were especially pleasant. When I walked outside, this guy was visible from inside the screen porch door.

Then I noticed this dainty little thing.

I was so busy studying these two that I nearly missed this character. Can you see that he looks camouflaged?

The purple balloon flowers are prominent right now and put on quite the show amidst all the rudbeckia and hostas.

Some of the flowers on my front porch got scorched a few weeks ago. Others are thriving but growing unevenly in the flower boxes. Isn’t that the way life goes? Even when we do well, it may not look how we expected.

All the same, the view is pretty at sunrise.

I just started doing my morning moment of nature about a week ago but it has quickly become a favorite part of my day. To steal away before work and simply absorb the sounds and sights of a new day is calming and good for the soul. I feel better equipped to face the day after a few deep breaths and a look around.

You should try it if you can. Really. It sounds nuts when your life is busy but time in nature has many positive benefits including sharpened senses and increased focus. Not to mention the stronger sense of life satisfaction that comes from being outside.

Morning works best for me but you should try it whenever it makes sense for you and see if it helps!

North Carolina Arboretum

Visiting the North Carolina Arboretum was sort of an afterthought. We had spent the day exploring the Blue Ridge Parkway and were looking for something interesting to do before dinner. This was on my list of interesting places and it was open till 9 p.m. so we set out for a much needed walk after a day spent largely in the car.

This 400+ acre arboretum has beautiful flower gardens and trails, offering something for everyone. There are lots of water features as well as nooks and crannies that feel like secret gardens and spaces to get lost.

Plus there are so many amazing sounds of birds, frogs and crickets that create a soundtrack like no other.

It’s paradise.

They do have an education center that was closed for a special event. There’s also a restaurant and bonsai garden that were already closed for the day. That was fine by me because we had a terrific time out exploring the pretty flowers and woodland trails.

Parking is $16 per car. You can get lots more information by visiting their website. I took so many pictures, you’ll likely see more here in the future.

If you are in Asheville, I highly recommend this place. It’s great for all ages and, if you take kids, look for the treasure hunt maps to help them stay engaged and on the lookout for interesting things!