Archive for May, 2010

What I’m Known For

This morning, fourteen year old Khaliya came over to get driving directions. I decided to print from the new laptop, so first I had to install the necessary printer drivers. As we waited, she told me about the new puppies her dog, Cinnamon, had recently.

Suddenly Khaliya gasped and said, “OH! Vicky! I forgot to tell you! I pulled a ‘you stunt’!”

“Really?” I asked and my mind raced. What “you stunt” could she be referring to?

“Yeah!” Khaliya said, “I was walking Cinnamon and she took a doodie in the street and I cleaned it up…and I thought, ‘This reminds me of Vicky Somma.'”

So cleaning up dog poop. That’s how I will be remembered on Hunter Street. 🙂

May 21, 2010 at 9:54 am 6 comments

Hungry Tree – Human Heads

Three years ago on John’s Creek Mountain Trail, I observed a large number of metal blazes being absorbed by their host trees:

Flashback to John’s Creek Mountain Blazes

The phenomenon is MUCH more amusing, however, when there is a little hiker on the metal blaze:

Credit: ????

(Hat Tip, Dave O!)

May 19, 2010 at 8:08 am 5 comments

Wedding – Meteorite Rings

The Rings
A large number of Google image searches were involved with our wedding ring decision. “Science rings”, “science bands”, “nature rings”, “tree rings”, “tree wedding bands”, yada yada yada. But it was a late night search on Etsy, not Google, that nudged us in the right direction.

We ended up with titanium rings with inlays of meteorite!

The striations present in both rings are known as “Widmanstätten pattern“– it’s unique to meteorites and caused by the temperature changes in their journey.

We purchased our rings from a company called Titanium-Buzz. The inlays are from a meteorite that was discovered in South Africa in 1838. The meteorite itself is estimated to be 4 billion years old.

Well before we started to search for actual rings and had any idea there was such a thing as a “meteorite ring”, Ryan already had some ideas for the ring ceremony. He wanted to embrace just how old and how far the elements that comprised our rings had traveled.

Your rings are circles and a circle is the symbol of the sun, the earth, the universe, of wholeness, perfection, peace and unity. It is forged from elements that were created by a supernova. This means that the metal in these rings has traveled billions of years through time and billions of light-years through space to be here on earth today. And now they will become a part of the both of you.

At the tender young age of 4 billion years, the meteorites in our rings are a “contemporary” example of that concept.

The Ceremony
During the ceremony, we did experience some difficulty with Ryan’s ring. It didn’t want to go on! After admiring Ryan Somma for nearly 17 years, I wasn’t about to be foiled by a little friction. I summoned some more umph to my effort and the ring found itself where it should be.

Such a victory should not go by without fanfare.

“ON!!!!” I declared and pointed at the defeated ring.

I was sufficiently intimidating. That small circle of titanium and meteorite hasn’t ventured off since. 🙂

May 17, 2010 at 9:55 am 8 comments

Tree on Tree Fail – R.I.P. Baby Pine

Trees choosing to grow on other trees don’t always have happy endings! Last year, Ryan and I ran into a baby pine growing on a dead tree hiking on Merchant Millpond’s Lassiter Trail:

Merchant's Millpond State Park - Baby Pine Grows Out of Hole
Baby Pine Growing – March 2009

We revisited it during my 35th Birthday Hike, roughly a year later. Alas, the baby pine had perished.

35th Birthday Hike - Vicky Laments Baby Pine  (by Ryan Somma)
Vicky Laments Baby Pine – March 2010

Farewell, Baby Pine. It was a good try! 🙂

May 14, 2010 at 5:00 am 3 comments

Tree on Tree Action

For Earth Day 2009, I did a blog post entitled “Recycling Bald Cypress Trees“. It shared a number of pictures ranging from little barnacles clinging to cypress knees to comfy looking goose nests to even trees growing on top of decaying stumps.

While kayaking two Saturdays ago, Ryan and I paddled upon another example. Here’s a tree we ran across as Newbegun Creek widened up into the Pasquotank River. It was right near the fancy schmancy residences off Orchard Dr.

Kayaking Sawmill Park - Tree on Tree Action (Marked Up) (By Ryan Somma)
Me By Bald Cypress Tree (Photo by Ryan Somma)

Take a closer look at the boxed section. That’s not part of the bald cypress tree growing up there! Nope– something else entirely has made a home at the apex of that curved branch:

Kayaking Sawmill Park - Tree on Tree Action (by Ryan Somma)
A Tree Growing on Another Tree (Photo by Ryan Somma)

Once again, I find myself impressed by the resiliency of nature and the remarkable venues it chooses to thrive.

P.S. Don’t by any means think this is a unique example! Richard Preston’s The Wild Trees describes impressive ecosystems found in the canopies of the giant redwoods.

May 13, 2010 at 9:12 am 2 comments

Heart in Nature: Knot in Newbegun Creek

Kayaking in Newbegun Creek a couple of weekends ago, Ryan and I stumbled upon this heart-shaped knot. Its appeal wasn’t limited to our eyes– some plants found it to be a rather nice home.

Saw Mill Park Kayaking - Heart Shaped Knot (by Ryan Somma)
Heart in Nature – Knot (Photo by Ryan Somma)

May 12, 2010 at 5:00 am 1 comment

Untitled in Humus and Root

Two Saturdays ago, Ryan and I took our recently acquired kayaks out to Elizabeth City’s Sawmill Park. We started our journey going upstream and explored Newbegun Creek.

As the passage narrowed, I came across a tree that had lost its balance in the swampy soil. The tree, of course, was completely fine. Not deterred in the least, it was still covered in leaves. It was the semi circle of uprooted earth that caught my eye. The tree roots braided around each other. Little opportunistic plants were taking advantage of the dry real estate to provide pockets of greenery. Meanwhile eroded soil permitted glimpses of the forest beyond.

I stopped rowing, admired the textures and intricacies and took it all in. The sensation struck me as familiar.

A Woman Takes in a Painting in Paris (Photo by lorda)

Saw Mill Park Kayaking - Vicky Looks at Stump (By Ryan Somma)
I Take In Roots in Newbegun Creek (Photo by Ryan Somma)

It felt very much like being in a gallery and absorbing all the details of a great painting. 🙂

May 11, 2010 at 8:57 am 3 comments

Adventure Day with the Neighborhood Kids – Canoeing!

With Khalif’s 16th Birthday approaching, it was time for another adventure day! Ryan and I have discussed for some time taking the kids canoeing. We now had an occasion, an excited audience, the funding AND the perfect spot. You can’t ask for a more inspiring locale than the amazing Merchant’s Millpond State Park. With canoe rentals only $8 for two hours, it turned out to be a cheaper outing than the skating rink— with so very much more to see!

As we unloaded eight kids and snacks out of the cars at the park, I couldn’t help but smile and tell Birthday Boy Khalif, “We’re going to have an adventure today!”

To which Khalif had the most flattering reply, “Oh I know it. When we’re with you, it’s always an adventure!”

Disposable Cameras
You can’t have an adventure of this caliber without pictures! So Ryan and I invested in four disposable cameras, one camera for each boat. With two exceptions, the pictures in this post were taken by the kids! The cameras may have been as fun as the canoeing. Portraits were popular:

Canoeing Merchant's Millpond - Vicky and Tyrek's Boat - Tyrek Self Portrait (with Jacal)
Tyrek Self Portrait (Photo by Tyrek)

Canoeing Merchant's Millpond - Khalif, Terrance and Dada's Boat - Khalif on Dock, Vicky Goes Back
Khalif at the End of the Day (Photo by ????)

Canoeing Merchant's Millpond - Khalif, Terrance and Dada's Boat - Khalif's Eyes and Trees
Omnimous Khalif (Photo by Khalif?)

Canoeing Merchant's Millpond - Vicky and Tyrek's Boat - Tyrek

Canoeing Merchant's Millpond - Khalif, Terrance and Dada's Boat - Terrance Self Portait 2
Terrance Self Portrait (Photo by Terrance)

Canoeing Merchant's Millpond - Khalif, Terrance and Dada's Boat - Dada Smiling and Rowing
Dada Paddles (Photo by Terrance?)

Canoeing Merchant's Millpond - Vicky and Tyrek's Boat - DJ, Davonte, Armani
DJ, Davonte (Taking a Picture of His Own), Armani

Canoeing Merchant's Millpond - Vicky and Tyrek's Boat - Vicky with the All Important Sunscreen
SUNSCREEN! (Photo by Tyrek)

Trail Overview
Merchant’s Millpond has three water trails on the pond (Park Trail Map). They are marked by floating colored buoys. We took the white trail to the yellow trail to the orange trail and then circled back off the trail. We were out about 2-3 hours.

Canoeing Merchant's Millpond - Ryan and Jacal's Boat - Buoy
Buoy (Photo by Jacal)

Canoeing Merchant's Millpond - Ryan and Jacal's Boat - Vicky, Tyrek, Ryan in Action
Canoes in Action (Photo by Jacal)

Canoeing Merchant's Millpond - Ryan and Jacal's Boat - Ryan Scouts
My Handsome Husband Scouting the Sights! (Photo by Jacal)

We didn’t get to see the alligator (which may have been VERY, VERY, VERY good), but the kids got to see plenty despite a lot of loud talking. We saw painted turtles, snapping turtles, a black vulture and a family of geese. “That’s the daddy protecting them,” one kid pointed out as a single goose circled the nest and stared at us ominously. The disposable cameras weren’t equipped with zoom lenses, so you’ll have to have attention to detail:

Canoeing Merchant's Millpond - Khalif, Terrance and Dada's Boat - Goose
Canadian Goose (Photo by Khalif, Terrance or Dada)

Canoeing Merchant's Millpond - Vicky and Tyrek's Boat - Turtles Sunning
Two Sunning Turtles (Photo by Tyrek)

For this day’s adventure we were armed with the following snacks:

  • Seedless Grapes (I’ve discovered during previous adventures– they have to be seedless)
  • Spicy Hot Doritos
  • Hot Fries
  • Bag of Pistachio Nuts
  • 12 Plastic Bottles of Sprite

This seemed to work quite well for the eight young rowers and we all got quite adept at pulling next to each other to swap off supplies.

Canoeing Merchant's Millpond - Khalif, Terrance and Dada's Boat - The Passing of the Spicy Doritos
Jacal and Tyrek Pass Off the Spicy Hot Doritos (Photo by Khalif, Terrance or Dada)

The kids got to see plenty of resilient and creative plants– Bald cypress trees, lilypads and spanish moss were the most common cameos.

Canoeing Merchant's Millpond - Ryan and Jacal's Boat - Scenery by Jacal
Bald Cypress Trees and Lilypads (Photo by Jacal)

Canoeing Merchant's Millpond - Khalif, Terrance and Dada's Boat - Lily Pads and Trees
Lily Pads (Photo by Khalif, Terrance or Dada)

Canoeing Merchant's Millpond - Ryan and Jacal's Boat - Spanish Moss
Spanish Moss (Photo by Jacal)

A Mishap
We did have an mishap near the very end of our trip. A frantic maneuver inspired by an oncoming thorny bush flipped one boat completely over. Ryan got all three drenched rowers back into boats. We had some scared individuals, we had some wet individuals shivering in the wind, but everyone got back to land safely and at the end of the day, the kids were all smiles with a new experience (canoeing!) under their belt.

On Mishaps and Adventure
When I was a young girl and played tournament bridge with my father, there would be occasions where I would be down about a mistake I made.

“If we always played perfect,” my father told me, “it would be boring!”

As much as I love Khalif’s compliment early in the day, I think I have to admit that the key component for an adventure day may not actually be me. : ) It’s more likely the unexpected, the unknown. It’s the not knowing what a new experience will be like, it’s the not knowing what animals you’ll encounter or what sights you will see. And although far from ideal, another source of unexpectancies are the little mishaps along the way.

Certainly, you want to do everything in your power to avoid mishaps, but at the same time you want to be prepared for them. That’s exactly why everyone (including Ryan and myself) was wearing life jackets and we were armed with very cheap, disposable cameras. Although you aim to prevent them, it may be the fact that mishaps and unplanned bobbles can happen, that truly separate an “average day” from an “adventure day”.

But if you insist, I’ll certainly take sole credit for what constitutes an adventure. : )

More canoeing pictures by the neighborhood kids are available on my Flickr site.

May 10, 2010 at 12:26 pm 4 comments

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