Monday, March 28, 2011

Hemet Stone Maze

One of the first things I noticed when I moved into this area a couple of months ago was an historical marker pointing up a side road declaring that the Hemet Maze Stone was this way.  I had no idea what a maze stone was and my sense of curiosity was burning, so I  donned a hat and hiking boots and went exploring.

I found out the Hemet Maze Stone is quite literally exactly as it says: a maze etched into a boulder face i.e a petroglyph.  Rock Art.  There was a bronze plaque placed in front with  a scanty bit of information about it, which I later found out to be at least partially incorrect.  Even more interesting to me was that my archaeologist acquaintance who is well known expert in Rock Art, really couldn't tell me much about the stone, either.

In a nutshell, thousands of years ago, a purposeful and gifted stone mason from who knows where, spent a long time carving an intricate maze into a large rock for a purpose which has escaped our 'modern day' comprehension.

I love a good mystery!

I would love to meet the artist.  I admire the single minded devotion to finishing the intricate design that is still waiting to be interpreted 3 - 4 thousand years later.   But perhaps that's what the World is reminding to me through my Lens:  that there really is no mystery - hard work, focus, and attention to detail will still produce quality work just as it did several thousand years ago.

Macro Monday 3-28-2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Weeds that Feed & Heal


At the end of my street there is a large area of vacant land which, rumour has it, will eventually turn into strip mall.  In the meantime I walk there daily watching nature run rampant.  As the weeds grew taller and reached for the sky with their cheery yellow blossoms I began to dread what may happen as surely the vegetation would begin dying off after seeding, and create a fire hazard.  

I had ominous visions of heavy trucks laden down with spray, attacking those lively plants....

And so each day as I walked the World began to speak to me through my lens.  It began to occur to me that 'weed' is a pretty general term for all the growth in the field, so I explored a little closer.  I am by no means any sort of plant specialist but with a background in agriculture and internet access it didn't take me long to identify some of these 'weeds'.

Common Mallow, Foxtail Barley & Bronze Button

In this bunch (above) there is Common Mallow and Foxtail Barley.  Common Mallow leaves are edible when picked young and can be cooked like spinach.  It is apparently high in iron and calcium.  It has also been used in the past for it's medicinal properties as relief for chest colds, sore throats and skin conditions.

Foxtail Barley is definitely not a popular weed to have around as the seeds can penetrate the skin, eyes and paws of animals, however it is the original barley from which the popular grain originated.  It is still edible as a grain although it isn't easy to harvest it, and it's dried root can be moistened and used as a compress for puffy eyes and styes in eyes.

Another couple I was able to identify were the Wild Mustard below on the left and Filaree aka Storksbill on the right.  Wild Mustard is another that doesn't have much of a fan base but it also has it's uses.  It's seeds can be used as a spice, it's leaves have cancer fighting properties when eaten as a vegetable (blanch in hot water first to remove some to the bitterness!), and it's flowers are used to produce the Bach Flower Remedy, Mustard.  This remedy is used to treat depression.  Good ol' mustard!  As for Filaree, it's young, tender leaves can be added to salads, and as a medicine it has been linked to relieving rheumatism, gout and excessive bleeding after childbirth.

Wild Mustard
Filaree aka Storksbill

One of my favorite weeds is the pretty little Bronze Button, aka Pineapple Weed.  It has delicate lacy leaves which emit a strong fragrance when crushed, supposedly of pineapple.  That seems a slight exaggeration to me but it definitely has a pleasant spicy sort of odor.

Bronze Button aka Pineapple Weed

This pretty little plant has flowers which may be eaten raw or dried and turned into a tea.  It can also help repel insects from the garden, too, quite a beneficial trait to have.

Daily I walked through my healing weeds wondering what was to become of them until one morning a large portion of the field was encased by an electric fence.  Interesting.  Nothing more happened for several days then the sheep arrived - nature's Roundup.  Over the next week or so the field was eaten down section by section, and before those healthy critters had finished the field the first part was already enthusiastically growing back, just as nature intended it should.

For other nature inspired blogs please visit Nature Notes at the Rambling Woods blog.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Dog Rescue

I was out driving the country roads over the weekend and came across a truck stopped on the side of the road with the driver and one other attempting to lure a little dog close enough for them to catch it.  As I pulled up another car stopped and it's driver came to the aid of the first couple.  The first driver produced some scraps of food left over from his lunch and the second conjured a dog leash from somewhere.  Other cars came slowly by and were quick to offer to help also, but it wasn't necessary as fairly quickly the little stray was cinched up in the leash and was in the arms of caring rescuers.

It was interesting to observe the interaction between the rescuers once the dog was secured.  They all wanted to give the dog a home!!  Eventually the mutt of mixed fortunes went home with the family with the food, and everyone who had come together for the common good of a helpless dog dispersed to follow their own agendas once more.

It encourages me to know that while most people are under more pressure than perhaps any time in recent history, they can still set aside their concerns  long enough to step out to help a needy creature and then want continue it's ongoing care. 

I have to wonder who's rescuing who here?


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Soaring Hawks, Diving Crows

As I was taking a long pleasant stroll in nature today with just my dogs for company I gradually became aware of the screeching, cackling and squawking of a large group of crows high over head.  It must be nesting season as I've seen the crows being noisy and rambunctious quite often of late.  With nothing else on my agenda I took a seat on a comfortable rock and sat back to enjoy the fray. 

They were very high so it wasn't easy to make out what the fuss was about but their agility in the air was impressive to watch. The birds got lower and closer to me and I continued to watch them, this time through my lens.  With the increased magnification I could see one of the birds was much bigger than the others and they all seemed to be picking on it.  A huge hawk had entered the crows fly zone and they were not impressed.  I watched and clicked some shots as they ganged up on hawk until finally he flew high into the sky to an altitude that seemed to placate the crows. 

As the hawk flew higher and further away the crows didn't seem to settle down at all.  They all went into a aerobatic routine.  Diving and soaring, twisting and swooping, it was as though they were doing their own version of a victory dance.  They'd driven the intruder off and they congratulating themselves.

I had to wonder though, who was the victor?  The crows who furiously defended their air space with incredible feats of swooping and diving, but never actually making contact with the hawk, until he'd had enough?  Or the hawk?  That big beautiful solo bird who had simply elevated himself above the squawking bunch, to enjoy the infinite blue skies above?

Perhaps everyone got what they desired today.  The crows have their family, the hawk has his solitude and I got a reminder - I can be a crow or I can be a hawk but trying to be both will only bring conflict.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Wading Through Weeds

It's been a while since I've posted here and it isn't because the World hasn't had a few things for me to look at.  In fact, quite the contrary.  Every which way I look lately there has been something new for me to assimilate - or choke on.  It seems I've gotten myself lost, and although the World's Lens is clear and sharp, my eye is foggy and confused. 

I finally had to laugh at myself the other day when I was walking the dogs through a vibrant field of weeds down the end of my street.  The weeds were taller than the dog in a lot of areas and there was just no way he could see where he was going.  It dawned on me that this was exactly the situation I was in!

I thought I would allow him to lead and see what he'd do.  That bold little fellow just picked a direction and kept moving.  Oh, he stopped and sniffed the air a few times, but then just ploughed on through the growth until we reached the edge of the field where the way then became easy, of course.

What I found even more enlightening was noticing what he didn't do.  He didn't stop.  He didn't sit on his rear and wait for me to take over, and he certainly didn't panic, either.  He just put his head down and waded his way through those weeds until he was out in open.

I think it is time I tore a page from Fuzzy's book.  It is time to put my head down and keep moving through the obstacles until I can see where I'm going again.