Saturday, April 06, 2024

Pic(k) of the Week: Diamorpha in bloom

Diamorpha in bloom

In late winter and early spring, tiny red diamorpha succulents grow white blossoms atop Arabia Mountain, a 955-foot high granitic monadnock in southeastern DeKalb County, Georgia, USA. 27 March 2024.

Also called elf orpine, diamorpha —a rare plant endemic to the southeast United States— appears, during during winter and spring, as a vibrant red covering patches of Arabia Mountain in shallow solution pit pools. In March and early April, the diamorpha flowers, growing delicate white blooms. The blooms do not last long – they will soon begin to fade as the diamorpha prepare for the hot summer months.

Diamorpha are dormant in the summer due to the extreme heat of the bare rock face. During the warmer parts of the year, these hardy plants look like little more than brown twigs sticking up out of patches of soil on the monadnock. This stage of the diamorphas’ life cycle is critical: during the summer, they hold their seeds above the ground, conserving energy until the fall (seeds that fall to the ground in summer burn and die in the hot sun). Then, in the autumn, the seeds drop to the ground and begin to germinate. The process starts again around December. Now, in April, this complicated life story is at its most vibrant stage.
Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area

This photo is a 'macro' closeup. The diamorpha, at most 2 inches tall, appear much larger in the image than they did in 'real' life.



Saturday, March 30, 2024

Pic(k) of the Week: Chapel at the Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit

Chapel at the Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit

The chapel is quiet, awaiting the entrance of Trappist monks for their sext * prayers at noon.

Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit: Rockdale County (Conyers), Georgia, USA. 3 February 2024.
The Monastery of the Holy Spirit was founded on March 21, 1944, by twenty Trappist monks from the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani in Kentucky, USA. The Archdiocese of Atlanta and silent film star Colleen Moore donated 1,400 acres (5.7 km2) of land on which the monks hand-built the monastery, a concrete structure complete with a retreat house, cloister, and chapel.

As of 2022, the monastery is home to a community of twenty-eight monks who are self-sustaining. A prior abbot (ecclesiastical leader) was Basil Pennington, a founder of the contemplative "centering prayer" movement. The primary work of the monks at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit is prayer.

The monastery and grounds are a part of the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area and also serves as the southernmost point on the Arabia Mountain Path.



Saturday, March 23, 2024

Pic(k) of the Week: Double sonata

Double sonata

Framed in a window,
Boccherini, as the sun falls,
Dreaming a double sonata.

Seen in the upper windows of a violin shop in Avondale Estates, Georgia, USA, on the afternoon of 21 February 2024.



Saturday, March 16, 2024

Pic(k) of the Week: Winter speedwell

Winter speedwell

Look down! Tiny blue winter speedwell blossoms have popped up, low down, in large numbers, seemingly overnight. So small, so unassuming, and, yes, some might say, so weedy.

Lanier Gardens Park: Avondale Estates, Georgia, USA. 24 February 2022.

I've so often walked by over ubiquitous winter speedwell, paying no heed, until one winter afternoon, when I felt the need to get down on the ground and look at them on their level.

My clothes became muddied; I probably received bemused glances from motorists passing close by this tiny strip of streetside greenspace. But there I lay, taken aback by these blossoms' miniature elegance: flowers for a fairy's garden.
Veronica persica —commonly known as birdeye speedwell, common field-speedwell, Persian speedwell, large field speedwell, bird's-eye, or winter speedwell— is a flowering plant in the plantain family (Plantaginaceae). It is native to Eurasia and is widespread as an introduced species elsewhere, including North America. The short-stalked leaves are broadly ovate with coarsely serrated margins, and measure one to two centimeters (0.4 to 0.8 inches) long. The flowers are roughly one centimeter (0.4 inches) wide and are sky-blue in color with dark stripes and white centers.



Saturday, March 09, 2024

Pic(k) of the Week: Laurel Creek waterfall

Laurel Creek waterfall

Evergreen mountain laurel trees ring small Laurel Creek as it cascades into the (slightly) larger Stephenson Creek.

Seen alongside (that is, clambered down from) the Flat Rock spur of the Arabia Mountain PATH trail in the Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve: DeKalb County, Georgia, USA. 27 February 2024.

Note to self: Return in spring, when the mountain laurel is blooming.