grass amongst mangroves at the beach
Australia, blogging, Photography

Friendly Friday Challenge- Splendour in the Grass

So often we walk around in nature failing to notice the details, the grass under our feet.

Subtle changes in colour and appearance indicate the passing of the seasons. Many varieties of grass remain invisible, yet are an integral part of the natural landscape.

Senga Grass at Mt Hakone

The theme for this week’s Friendly Friday challenge is:

‘Splendour in the Grass’

grass in close up Australia

Using Grass to Frame a Landscape in Photography

In photographic terms, grass can be used to frame the shot or make an interesting feature in the foreground.

This ‘Moon viewing,’ photo captured during the Tsukimi festival in mid-Autumn, in Japan.

Japanese Senga Grass Fields at Mount Fuji

The Japanese find Splendour in the Sengakuhara Pampas Grass, by strolling along a walking trail, at the western side of Mount Hakone. For it is here that the changing colour of the tall grass offers stunning vistas. In November, the grass turns a shimmering, silvery gold. Wedding proposal and selfies abound at this time of year.

Australian Splendour

In Australia, a country fringed by blue oceans, you will find grass the colour of sunburnt earth, which often makes me yearn for the vivid fluorescent green grass of wetter climates.

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Birch Trees and Grass in Helsinki – so green

Australian deserts display different kinds of saltbush grass.

Australian Desert grasses and Saltbush

In the arid conditions of the Australian landscape, plants have adapted to grow under extreme conditions, such as the grass tree.

Grass Trees in Australia

Grass Trees in their natural habitat

A relic of the Age of Dinosaurs, Xanthorrhoeas, also known as the Grass Tree, grow very slowly and are resistant to bushfire. In fact, fire helps the grass tree produce its flowers. They also have a unique symbiotic relationship with the soil. The presence of a mycorrhizal microbe in the soil around their roots allows them to flourish, even if the soils are nutrient-poor.

Grass Trees in the Garden

Grass Trees are highly sought after in Australian horticulture and as such are often illegally removed from their natural locations. They fetch high prices as ornamental plants. Little do the owners realize that if the soil in their garden does not contain the mycorrhizal enzyme, the grass tree that they paid so dearly for, will wither and die.

Imitating Nature in Growing Grass Trees

Here’s a secret that an old-timer once told me. Take a cup of brown sugar, put it in a bucket of water and water your grass trees once a month for two years with that mixture. The sugar feeds the mycorrhiza and gets it going and your grass tree will survive.

www.abc.net.au/gardening

Create a Friendly Friday Challenge Blog Post

Everyone is welcome to join the Friendly Friday Challenge with your own interpretation of the theme.

Add a pingback to StPA and tag your post with ‘Friendly Friday – Splendour in the Grass.’ Then return to this post and leave a comment below listing your post’s published link.

There is a full set of instructions on how to join the Friendly Friday Photo Challenge on my blog header. This challenge runs until next Thursday.

Last week’s Friendly Friday Challenge initiated some excellent contributions, with the theme of ‘Markets,‘ over at co-host Sandy’s blog.

Would you like to join in this week?

Friendly Friday
Australia, Photography

Morning Walk

I often complain about the weather here, particularly in summer, however, this morning was so delightful I would like to share a photo or two of my morning walk.

The mist was rising off the football field, not a cloud in the sky, a gently zephyr and a very pleasant 13 degrees –

( NOTE: how do we get access to those special symbols in this new wordpress editor. Does anyone know?)

My little Schnauzer was most happy to join me, occasionally stopping to sniff some interesting smell.

Walking like this is one of the best things in life.

We don’t always appreciate these small moments in life, our mind is cluttered with the problems of work, family or the world.

Golden sunlight filters through the trees

Nature can be restorative if we find a moment to appreciate it.

“Every day may not be good, but there is something good in everyday.”

I Alice Earle
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frog
Environment

A Frog in My Garden

With the long awaited arrival of the recent rains, an old visitor returned to our garden. I do believe it is the same frog I wrote about him a few years back: –

green tree frog

I had a delightful green visitor in my garden. I found him hiding in the inner dark and cool realms of a motor scooter’s seat compartment, where he has been, apparently riding back and forth to the local train station for perhaps, several weeks. My daughter took some shots seen here, naming him Mr Schneider! Not sure of the reason for that. She is quite imaginative.

Green Tree Frog or White’s Frog

Scientific Name: Litoria caerulea

This frog is native to  Australia and introduced to New Zealand.

He is quite a cute character who can apparently live up to 16 years. The males are smaller than the females and are the only ones to produce he characteristic croak at night, especially in summer when they breed.

The presence of frogs in the garden, it is said, is a good indicator of the health of the local environment and as such, I was really pleased to see this little guy. He is of course very welcome if he is keen on eating all the spiders, cockroaches and insects that make us cringe.

While commonly seeking shelter and availing themselves of still water in human habitats, like toilet bowls, potplants, tanks and swimming pools, an interesting fact is that frogs can scream to ward off predators, and change colour according to their mood, much like a chameleon. Even in the short space of time we observed him, he certainly seemed to  lighten in colour.
It is important to remember and to teach kids, that the touch of a dry human hand is extremely caustic to these frogs, indeed most frogs, so you must always have wet hands when handling them.

Our task this morning was just to guide him to a safe spot, no more hitchhiking on the motor scooter. So whilst capturing him on the old digital camera, he headed for the pot-plants in the window boxes on the front wall, and after a light mist with the garden hose, he squeezed himself into the hole in the side of the self watering pots.

green tree frog

The main danger to the green tree frog is the destruction of its habitat through wetland clearance and drainage.

We can all support the habitat of frogs by welcoming them into our garden.

And that is something every single one of us needs to ponder about.

Less frogs= more insects= indications that the environment is suffering.

Community

Friendly Friday Photo Challenge – Feelings of Spring

I might live in Australia, where the seasons are upside down, a somewhat moot point if you are Australian, but I am always acutely aware just when Spring has sprung in the Northern hemisphere. That is because the Northern ‘hemispherians,’ often get so excited about the first appearances of spring, their shouts are heard all the way ‘Down Under.’

This time of year, my inbox gets spammed with messages of glee and endless photos from the North, of the first snowdrops buds, or blades of greenery that poke their head through the final remnants of snow.

Sunflowers epitomize the essence of feelings of Spring.

I can’t say I blame them for having this Spring zeal, as I suspect they are glad to feel some warmth, while I am glad to have a break from the relentless heat. I thought we might celebrate the onset of Spring by making it this week’s Friendly Friday prompt. If you live in the Southern hemisphere, where Spring blurs into Summer, and thence into Autumn, you may have other photos to choose from that make for a different interpretation of the theme. It is entirely up to you.

Create a post sharing your interpretation of this week’s Friendly Friday prompt

Feelings of Spring

Instructions:

  • Write and publish a post, tagging the post ‘Friendly Friday’, and adding a url link back to this Friendly Friday post.
  • Include the Friendly Friday logo, if you wish.
  • Post a link to your Feelings of Spring post in the comments here, so we can find you.
  • Please note there are no deadlines for participating. New prompts each week.
  • Browse the other participants’ posts using the links in the comments section, to see how they’ve interpreted the weekly prompt. It can be quite interesting.

Find more Instructions on joining in with Friendly Friday here

Friendly Friday

Friendly Friday Photography challenge is alternately hosted each Friday by
Something to Ponder About  

and

The Snow Melts Somewhere

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For help creating a link back or pingback to your post – click here

Something Fun to Ponder About this Friday!

Community

Sunday Sayings – Our Environment Let’s change the World

Climate change is an important issue that each of us can contribute to increasing awareness about, through our photography and posts. So today, on Sunday sayings, I explore several environmental quotes that resonate with me. We can make a difference in our daily practices wherever we how in the world, however we live.

Do you know how?

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One planet, one experiment

– Edward O. Wilson

We have been showcasing photos on our interpretation of climate change on Friendly-friday-photo, a weekly photo challenge on WordPress.

[If you wish to join in see more Friendly Friday.]

I find there to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader.

Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations and from across cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived and lessons learned.

Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something.

Join in the discussion by leaving a comment.

Everyone’s opinion is important. What is yours?

Something serious to ponder about.

#OneWorld Let’s change it.

Community

Friendly Friday Photo – Climate Change

1984 – contemplating the Environment

1984 – Australia.

A skinny slip of a girl was studying the Environment at University. She learnt about planet earth and how fragile it was; how global temperature might rise at least 2- 3 degrees, and how this warming might lead to cataclysmic and irreversible ramifications for life, on earth.

Rainbows could be a thing of the past in some parts of Australia

That student also learnt how inland river systems were polluted by effluent from cities and how excessive irrigation for agricultural crops led to saline soils and dying river systems, in this the driest continent, on earth. She learnt how her country would begin to experience more drought, wild weather events, fire and more hardship on the land in coming decades.

Rivers break their banks in extreme weather events

Furthermore, she read how scientists detected die-back and bleaching of coral in the Great Barrier Reef due to run-off of fertilizers draining down from agricultural land into the sea, during rains.

She learnt how everything in the natural world is interconnected.

If one part of the ecosystem breaks down, or disappears, it has a deleterious domino effect on other parts, with potential species extinction and irreversible damage to nature.

She learnt along with rising sea levels, that there is not a single species in the ocean without plastic materials in its gut; that fisheries are disappearing and that the only marine species flourishing in the alkaline marine environment is Jellyfish.

In University classes, she discussed how we as humans, along with other predatory species will feel the concentrated effects of endocrine disrupting petrochemicals and accumulated pesticides. And that we might see evidence of this first in plants, second in animals that feed on those plants, and lastly in us, the carnivores that eat the animals, because we are at the top of the food chain.

Everything is connected.

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Plastic washed up on beaches
green tree frog

She learnt that frogs are a good indicator of the health of the environment and that frogs and bee numbers are dwindling.

The student then learnt about the hole in the ozone layer and how the polar ice sheets could melt resulting in a rise in sea levels; meaning some low lying countries will become uninhabitable.

Rising sea levels could threaten low lying coastal communities

For this student, who had grown up in the shadow of potential nuclear extermination in the Cold War era, soon realized an even bigger threat to the planet was, in fact, man himself.

Checkpoint Charlie – a hot spot in the Cold War

What kind of world would her potential future children be gifted with?

She left her work in the environment field as she could not bear to hear it any more.

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Looking outwards, not inwards

Now no longer a student, but a Mother, that women began to facilitate and promote environmentally friendly practices in her own circle. She spoke about her concerns with friends, family and her wider community, and slowly changed attitudes of those around her, and increased awareness, in her own microcosm.

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That former student learnt that education and knowledge can be a powerful vanguard for change in community thinking and ultimately, in the halls of government. The student, who had read so much gloom and doom in her University years, also learnt that there is HOPE.

Slowly, as temperatures began to rise, folks began to know the world was indeed a finite place and could no longer absorb man’s destructive ways.

Sustainable practices, solar and wind power and recycling became mainstream. Single use plastic bags were banned or minimized. Threatened forests and animals were protected and land clearing practices examined in terms of their biodiversity loss or environmental value. Salinity in rivers and streams began to be addressed and is now understood as both a threat and a challenge.

And the public started to realize that Climate Change is real.

Friendly Friday Photo challenge

Friendly Friday Photo Challenge will have a new weekly prompt next week here on Something to Ponder About. Thanks ever so much to my co-host TheSnowMeltsSomewhere for her Friendly Friday Climate Change prompt.


Please check the comment section on her post for other entries to this challenge.

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This topic is especially dear to my heart and in highlighting this issue through photography, we can also increase awareness. I will pop down from my soap box now.

Amanda

#OneWorld Let’s change it!

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Community

Sunday Sayings -Nature

Inspired by Marie’s post about the restorative effect of nature, and Peggy’s post referring to an article, in the Guardian, about nature being loved to death in some National Park areas of the world, I found these wise words:

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Bearded Dragon at Coolangatta Beach, Australia

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature,

he finds it attached to the rest of the world “

– John Muir

Planet earth is large, yet the systems we depend on, and everything within, is connected in some way – through the water we drink, the air we breathe, or the soil in which we grow our food.

Rainforest

“The proper use of science is not to conquer nature, but to live in it”

– Barry Commoner

Damage to one area can have an unanticipated implication for another system. That might be beneficial, or it might be detrimental. It might help in the short term, but be harmful to diversity long term. The ecosystems are complex, mostly resilient, but also sometimes very fragile.

Weekly Proverb

“When someone points at the moon, don’t look at the finger.”

– Ancient Buddhist proverb

Worth remembering is the sageful advice of the Ancient Buddhist proverb, written at a time when the environmental concerns we face today, could never have been contemplated. Yet the words seem just as applicable today.

Sunday Sayings

I find there to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader.

Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations and from across cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived and lessons learned.

Normally I would invite your comment and discussion on the various interpretations and intentions, of the weekly sayings and proverbs.

This week, I am inspired by Manja, and appreciate any comments or opinions you feel moved to offer, of your own volition.

As always, everyone’s opinion is important and should be respected.

Community

Proverbial Friday – Global Wisdom

I find there to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader. Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations and from across cultures. They speak of experiences of lives lived and lessons learned. Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something.

Each Friday, I post a Proverb or Saying and a Quote that I find thought-provoking. 

I hope you will too and join with me in a discussion on what we can learn.

The proverb and quotes this week focus on environmental concerns.

 

 

I conceive that the land belongs to a vast family of which many are dead, few are living, and countless numbers are still unborn

– Nigerian Chief

A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. - Franklin D Roosevelt #eco (Find more green quotes on SustainableBabySteps.com)

 

Source: www.sustainablebabysteps.com

 

The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river

– Ross Perot

 

and a final quote this week:

Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them

– Albert Einstein

 

 

 

 

The Nigerian Chief recognized that we can never truly own the land. We are merely transient tenants. Inherent in this saying, is the understanding of the mortality of ourselves and of our planet.

Of environmental problems, can they be solved by increasing and augmenting awareness? Or can one team or sector of society make a difference? I think it needs to be a cooperative, collaborative team effort. A problem tackled by all, and for all, ages. Yet, in our our little corner of space, we can change the world for the better. But, if we heed Einstein’s quote – can everyone do that?

 

Blog
                  Now posting on Fridays

 

Linking also to the Three day Quote challenge over at Purple Pumpernickel.

Proverbial Friday – Something to Ponder About

Community

Pelican Poetry

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Pelican’s Morning

Flapping and fluttering of feathery wings.
Winging their way, on fluffy fantastic down,
Down on the lake they begin to preen,
Preen in the reflected face of the shimmering water
Water is their life, their food, their all,
All of them, families young and old preening and feeding together,
Together they fish, float, flap, flurry and flounder on the rocks they call home.

 

 

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Something to Ponder About

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Community

WPC – Scale

 

The insignificance of man in the SCALE of things….

 

 

and our insignificance against animal and nature

 

The earth is so vast, yet sometimes feels so small.

It depends on the measurements on our scale.

 

Something to Ponder About

 

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Community

Resilience in Nature – Spring has sprung

Winter is a beautiful time of year here in the sub tropics of Australia. The nights are cool and brisk, but the days are sunny, clear, and warm (about mid twenties in Celsius degrees).

I love this time of year, no humidity and it often feels like we have skipped winter, and gone from Autumn directly to spring. This is my morning view.

banksia

At least when I look out my window, I see the beautiful specimens of Wattle (Acacia species) and Banksia (Giant Candles).

Banksia plants come in many varieties and were named about the Botanist on board Cook’s ship the Endeavour when it discovered the East coast of Australia in 1770. Banks and his colleagues made many drawings on these glorious plants, and thus were named after him.

Banksia have an interesting adaptation to the harsh Australian climate. They do not have flowers, but instead a large cone that holds nectar (food for the many Lorikeets and nectar feeding birds). Following this, the cone develops into a seed pod, protecting the valuable seed within until it is one day exposed to high intensity heat (such as found in a bush fire).

Upon being burnt, the seed cone will open, releasing the seed contained within. The Banksia plant is then free to germinate in not only a potash rich soil, but in an area with very little competition from other plants for sun and moisture.

Wattle blossoms

Australia’s official national floral emblem, featured on the coat-of-arms. Possibly the best known amongst the Australian plants. With 600 or more kinds of wattles, they can be found in every part of the country, from well-watered areas to the arid Centre to the cold mountain regions.

The wattles are usually the first to appear after bush-fires and can be found growing in the most remote areas, from low, spreading shrubs to large, upright growing trees. The individual flowers are always very small and massed together in pom-pom heads or rod-like spikes. Whilst most wattles are spring-flowering, there are some that bloom all year round.

1st September is Australia’s Wattle Day.

WATTLE
Wattles belong to the genus Acacia, in the Mimosa family.
There are over 600 different species distributed throughout Australia with shapes varying from low, spreading shrubs to large, upright trees. It is often called ‘Mulga’. Whilst most are early spring and summer-flowering, there are wattles that bloom all year round.

Which is really clever and definitely something to ponder about: the resilience and endless adaptation of nature.

Community

Proverbial Thursday – Global Words of Wisdom

I find there to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader. Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations and from across cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived and lessons learned. Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something.

Each Thursday, I post a Proverb or Saying and a Quote that I find thought-provoking. 

I hope you will too.

This week, I have a proverb from Bengal and two interesting quotes about the relative forces of nature: one from a science fiction program and the other from the world’s most acclaimed playwrights – William Shakespeare

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As the master is away, the workers take rest.

Bengali Proverb

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“The glory of creation is in its infinite diversity.”

“And the ways our differences combine to create meaning and beauty.”
— Miranda and Spock, “Is There In Truth No Beauty?” (Star Trek: The Original Series)

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One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.

William Shakespeare

Who would have thought there was a common thread between these a Science fiction fantasy and the Bard’s acclaimed words. Do you see a connection? If so, what is the connection you see between the two quotes?

Something to Ponder About

marimekko shop helsinki
Community

Finding my Feet in Finland

I was surprised with what I found. Can I say that?

I knew so little about Helsinki or Finnish history.

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The Nordic regions weren’t a focus of the Australian school curriculum at all. In fact, growing up in Australia in the sixties,you would be considered a bit of a nerd, or at least a well-read child, if you even knew of the country called Finland, (unless, of course, you had Finnish heritage or a ‘Euro-vision’ Song Contest fanatic in your family).

Armed with this startling lack of knowledge, and the little I had gleaned from my post- school reading, I flew into ‘Vantaa’ airport in Helsinki, en route to Norway. And let me say again, I was pleasantly surprised with what I found.

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First impressions of Helsinki:

There is something about the smell of the place that I can’t quite put my finger on. It has the smell of Scandinavia, or at least that is what my nostrils tell me…. but I can’t be sure just what this is. So I challenge my thinking a bit more.

It is then I realize, it is not the smell of a country iself, but the smell of clean, crisp, fresh air. Air that is unadulterated by the pollution that besets many cities today. The proximity of Finland to both the North Pole and the Baltic sea, as well as its clean energy sources  clearly gives Finland this privilege and I for one, revel in it.

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Heading into Helsinki after a long haul flight, I look out airport-city bus window to see Green everywhere and it is not the same green; there are 101 varieties of green.  Brilliant green, apple green, mint green, moss-green, and of course, leaf green in the many trees, plants, grassy fields and forest. Beautiful!

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Then I notice that all this greenery is punctuated haphazardly here and there by massive granite rocks, seemingly flung around like a giant’s marble set. One that is over 560 million years old. The remnants now lying still and intractable. Permanent.  Polished smooth by glacial action and natural forces through time.  Houses, trees and modern infrastructure with simply no alternative, but to build around these stoic, granite monoliths.
But don’t visualize a stark moonscape of rock, because it is not like that at all, purely because there is so much greenery and interesting architecture.Because, shading almost each and every boulder, you will find the ever graceful Birch trees. Quintessentially Scandinavian. Being summertime when I arrived, the Birch branches let their long leafy tresses sway gently in the sea breeze. It felt like a welcome party, beckoning me forward to experience Helsinki.

BIrch in Helsinki

Yes, there is something wonderful here. I feel instantly comfortable, even though I am an alien in this environment and a solo female traveler. ‘Hey,’ I remind myself, ‘I don’t even know any Finnish words yet!’  But it is only a matter of minutes after setting down in my hotel at the harbour, that I quickly understand ‘Moi’ is ‘Hello’ and ‘Kittos’ means ‘thank you.’  Essential language if one would like to eat or drink in public!!

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If you fly into Helsinki from the west, you will undoubtedly spot the coastline of Finland, dotted as it is with thousands of islands and small skerries. Maritime navigation must be a nightmare for the inexperienced sailor!  Particularly as: “The southern islands in the Gulf of Finland are mainly of low elevation,

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But, perhaps I should tell you a little more about Helsinki, other than what you find in the usual tourist brochures?

Finland share its borders with Russia, Sweden and Norway and I do think the history with these neighboring powers is reflected in the capital’s architecture. When you imagine Helsinki, imagine glass conservatories, crisp white, copper green or even red painted domes and turrets and lemon yellow or eggshell-blue buildings adorned with white window details, all of which echo the historic Swedish and Russian imperialist regimes and their respective architectural styles.

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The clothing, lifestyle and culture in Southern Finland also evokes a typical Scandinavian summer day: cool and crisp in the morning, warming towards a lazy long afternoon where time becomes confused, (it may be 10 pm and some are only thinking about dinner).

Imagine also long shafts of golden evening light and cool glades with shadows resting languidly behind a festive main street atmosphere. All this, at the onset of twilight, before the night makes its slow descent to darkness.

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The capital city Helsinki is a fashionable place… a secret I am sure is kept from the rest of the world. In the storefronts, I see elegant dresses with unique and beautiful designs and lots of bold bright colour…of which ‘Marimekko’ is famous. [And if anyone knows me, they will tell of my preference for this exact thing: bold, bright colour]. So I wear a happy smile!!!

20160528_160903Gorgeous dresses with a distinctive, personal flair, not seen in my corner of the world, adorn many of the formal wear shops in the streets of Helsinki. Who would have thought I would find this so far north?

I also spot botanical, Linnean- inspired prints in delicate, lightweight fabrics, all with that indefinable something, that says ‘Scandinavia.’ It is so light here in the summer and like the beech and birch wood, Finland also seems free and tolerant…  a little like the mentality the Scandinavian summer landscape seems to suggest. Helsinki has me feeling all romantic!!!

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Mind you, the Finns are a little reserved with strangers, but this will only be a bother if  you expect American or Australian open-mindedness towards strangers. Despite the staging of a multicultural music and ethnic festival held in the city during my stay, I could still feel the Finnish character: that wonderful Scandinavian persona, but with an inner stoicism that visitors may find a little aloof. Rather, than thinking this was a negative, I preferred a more romantic view of the people. One where Finns guard their privacy and others’ privacy, with the respect it deserves.

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There is so much more to Helsinki and Finland, and I will talk about that in the next post. After all, there are some of the most iconic sites found around Helsinki, not the least of which is the UNESCO World Heritage site of Suomenlimma Fortress.

For me it is   Something to Ponder About.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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