Category Archives: Nature

Can This Necklace Save the Elephants?

necklace

I was picking up some books at the Human Rights Museum Shop and saw this beautiful necklace.  I decided to splurge and buy it for a late birthday gift to myself.  I felt a little guilty about it.  I really don’t need more jewelry. The cashier asked me if I would like a card that provided more information about the necklace. 

tagua (1)The card said the necklace had been made from the tagua nut.  It is the fruit of a kind of palm tree in northern South America. Each fruit has about four to nine seeds the size and shape of an egg.  There is a liquid inside each seed and when it hardens it has the look and feel of real ivory.  In the past tagua ivory was used primarily for making buttons.  Now it is being used to make jewelry and carvings as well.  

I read an interesting article about how tagua might help to save elephants because it can act as a substitute for real ivory. Only problem is the rainforests where the tagua nut trees grow are being threatened by slash and burn agriculture.  If more people demand products made from tagua it may be profitable to leave those trees standing. 

So now I  am feeling a whole lot less guilty about buying my necklace. My purchase may have helped to save an elephant and some rainforest trees. Why buying that necklace was a positively saintly thing to do!

Other posts…….

Looking at Stuff In a Different Way

Dipping My Toe Into the Human Rights Museum

Travel Alphabet

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The Book of Creation

Last Sunday the sermon in my church was about creation. Our pastor talked about nature being a kind of book and when we are outside enjoying creation we are reading the pages of that book. It is good to read scripture but it is also important to read the book God has written with creation. That made me think about references to the created world in Scripture and so on this Sunday I am going to illustrate some passages with photos I’ve taken. 

Rainbow near Vik Iceland

When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature- Genesis 9:15

Flowers in Sydney Australia

The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, – Song of Solomon 2:12

Morning flight of pelicans at Isle De Capitan in Costa Rica

………..and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky. – Genesis 1:20

Natural grasses in New Zealand

You sweep them away; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning- Psalm 90:5

Clouds reflected in the water in a pond in the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden in Winnipeg

God it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth- Psalm 135:7

Bamboo forest in Costa Rica that sang when the wind blew through it

Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy- Psalm 96:12

On the ocean in Tulum Mexico

You silence the roaring of the seas- Psalm 65:7

Red Rocks in Sedona, Arizona

Enduring is your dwelling place, and your nest is set in the rock-Numbers 24:21

Other posts……..

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The Myrdalsjokull Glacier Hike

quartet on glacierWe hiked up to the Myrdalsjokull glacier. kaaren and me glacier vikThe weather kept changing drastically during our hike.  One minute it would be sunny and the next freezing and raining like in this photo with my sister.  streams from glacier vikAll along the way we saw these streams running down from the sides of the mountains.  hike to galcierIn some places there were so many they made a loud rushing sound. hike to glacierOf course Dave as usual was way ahead of the rest of us….. dave sign glacierand was the first to reach the sign that said we shouldn’t proceed any further without proper ice hiking equipment. Since everyone else seemed to be ignoring the sign we did too and kept walking closer to the glacier. ken on glacierMy intrepid brother-in-law Ken climbed a little further and higher than the rest of us.dave and me glacier vikWhen we got up right close to the glacier the sun came out.dave and ken having funAnd Ken and Dave hammed it up a bit for the photographer. woman who took our photo vikThis fellow hiker lived in Columbia for most of her life but now resides in Florida.  Here she is telling Ken and Dave about the effects of the recent hurricane in her home city of Fort Lauderdale.  group photo glacier vikShe offered to take group photos of us. hiking to vik glacierMyrdalsjokull is Iceland’s fourth largest glacier covering nearly 600 square kilometers. vik glacierIt is on top of the volcano Katla which erupts every 40-80 years. The last eruption was in 1918. at the glacier vikApparently at places the ice on this glacier is hundreds of metres thick. three trolls with rainbowOn our drive home from the glacier we stopped at another lookout point to see the iconic local landform nicknamed The Three Trolls. Can you see the faint rainbow off to the left?rainbow near vik icelandAlthough the constant switch of the weather from cold and rainy to sunny and warmer all day wasn’t convenient it did create many beautiful rainbowsarch rainbowand some lovely light effects over the ocean. sun over the oceanWe’ve only been in Iceland a couple days but I’m beginning to believe what writer Stephen Markley said is  true……. rock bridge“The problem with driving around in Iceland is that you’re basically confronted by a new soul-enriching, breath-taking, life-affirming natural sight every five minutes. It’s totally exhausting.”

Other posts……………….

 Hiking Up to the Church in Vik Iceland

 

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Thinking About the Florida Keys

We spent time in the Florida Keys with our friends Rudy and Sue in 2014.  As I have watched the news about Hurricane Irma I’ve been thinking about that trip and wondering what has happened to the places we visited. HemingwayhouseMy friend Sue and I toured Ernest Hemingway’s house in Key West and saw the more than fifty cats that make their home there, direct descendants of a feline that was a gift to Hemingway from a Florida sea-captain.  Apparently during the hurricane a group of dedicated employees stayed behind to protect the Hemingway house and the cats even though authorities ordered them to evacuate and Hemingway’s granddaughter urged them to evacuate as well.  

cat at hemingway house in florida

One of the cats I photographed on our visit to Hemingway’s House.

I’ve discovered that luckily both the museum staff and the cats survived the hurricane and Hemingway’s house was not damaged.  chillin out on the prow floridaIn Marathon Florida we went for a sail on a boat our friends Ed and Millie had worked on during an earlier visit to the Keys.  I have read that at one point Marathon was completely underwater and many marinas in the area look like giant shipwrecks. jay and sue and meI wonder how our boat the Geni Green and its Captain Jay fared? florida alligatorAnother thing we did in the Keys was take a drive down Alligator Alley. We saw literally hundreds of alligators.  alligators in floridaNews reports say that thousands of these alligators have been displaced from their natural habitat because of the hurricane and some are wandering the streets of Florida’s cities and towns. 

Having visited the Florida Keys the news I’m seeing about the devastation there seems just a little more personal. The Florida Keys was a terrific tourist destination.  Hopefully it will be able to rebound from this tragedy and become a beautiful place to visit once again. 

Other posts………..

A Spanish Birthing Chair , His Last Penny and Six Toed Cats

A Serendipitous Sail

Alligator Alley

 

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Juxtaposition


Here is a fossil of a giant sea scorpion found in North American waters millions of years ago.

Here is indigenous artist Norval Morrisseau’s painting of the water panther god Misshipehu. It moved through the same waters as the ancient sea scorpion.
The two items are displayed near each other at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Can you see any resemblance?

Other posts……….

Ojibwa in Paris

Life Symbols

Art That Makes You Feel Sick

 

 

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At the Lake

moose lake cottageEvery summer since I’ve been seven I’ve spent time at this lakeside cottage.  Its been in our family for three generations.  My brother and his family are the current owners and they work so hard to continually improve it.  They keep it looking absolutely lovely! I am so appreciative of the way they are maintaining a piece of our family history and also how generous they are about sharing it with family members. They warmly welcomed me this last weekend when I drove out for a quick visit. 

marylou and brotherI have lived in twenty- one different homes since I was born, but the cottage has been a constant in my life.  Spending a day there always calms my spirit and rests my mind. Sitting around a dancing fire under a black sky brilliant with stars, long chats with family members, reading a good book in a comfortable sunny spot, eating a perfectly barbecued steak at the picnic table, having my morning coffee looking out over the glassy water, hearing a loon call, seeing a doe and her fawn on the road, dipping into the lake for a refreshing swim, watching hummingbirds, going for a boat ride and being disconnected from my cell phone and the internet.   It’s the best kind of therapy. 

Other posts………

Lord You Have Come to the Lakeshore

A Moment to Remember

Two Trees

 

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On the Boardwalk and Walking to the Tip of Canada

During our time in Ontario I spent an afternoon at Point Pelee National Park.  In honor of Canada’s 150th birthday the park is free to all visitors throughout the year. I was accompained by my daughter-in-law and sister-in-law as we walked the entire length of a board walk that takes you out across a large marsh. We heard many birds, saw beautiful water flowers and my daughter-in-law spied a painted turtle resting on a lily pad. I learned from the signage along the boardwalk that wetlands like the Pelee Marsh help to prevent water shortages and curb global warming.  Canada is home to 25% of the world’s wetlands. 

I also learned the marsh’s stands of cat tails, are like nature’s supermarket providing nourishment and shelter for many different kinds of creatures.  Insects hibernate in the cat tails’ hollow stems in winter and the cat tails’ roots, shoots and seeds provide muskrats, ducks and geese with food. From the top of the tall tower at the end of the marsh you can get a beautiful birds-eye view of the wetland. One of the flowers we saw blooming profusely in the marsh was the swamp rose. Later we hiked down to the tip of Point Pelee, the southern most point on Canada’s mainland. I had a relaxing and energizing afternoon in a beautiful setting with two women it’s great to spend time with. What could be better? 

Other posts……..

Treking to the Tip of Canada

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