Archive for December, 2013

Lower World Exposed

Twelve inches on rain fell in in one day in Harrisburg, Illinois on May 6, 2008. Needless to say, the area had major flooding. We live on a hill just outside town and had no damage.

The same storm system produced flooding strong enough to expose the “lower world” near a lake where I used to hike.

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The height of my best friend offers scale to the changed landscape. The following pictures were taken on an earlier trip when I discovered the flood results.

The lake  is to the left behind the hill.  A creek was dammed up to form it.

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Rocks aren’t debris, even though this looked like a debris field

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The water also left interesting-shaped mounds of sand over the landscape. Their size and shapes varied considerably.

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Notice the height of the sand, soil and rocks that had traveled a considerable distance.

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Walking took a lot of concentration … and energy.

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I sure had to wonder how such a variety of rocks were shaped and ended up underground. It had to take eons.

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These stones were limestone, if I remember right.

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There’s a lot of exposed sandstone in the surrounding hills.

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The round stone looked like it belonged in a grist mill.

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I wondered what wildlife might have been hiding back in the tunnels/cavities, waiting for me to leave.

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The road to the lake used to be straight ahead and tad left.

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It would’ve been handy to have a geologist along for the hike … but that would’ve been a distraction. It was just me and Buffy, alone to explore.

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My truck stopped way back  here.

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Here I followed the narrow remains of the road into Millstone Lake.

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The levee is near the upper left corner of this picture.

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The water rose high enough in the lake to go over a low area between here and the levee.

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The area was grown up by the end of the year, and didn’t have anywhere near the character by then.

I wasn’t upset with the changes resulting from the storm. Instead, I stayed excited, going from one discovery to the next, as I explored the “lower world.”

The forces of nature always fascinate me.

Say What?

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Even with my bionic hearing, I couldn’t hear the conversation between these two water spirits.


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I also saw a total of eight bald eagles on our outing.

That’s how you know you’re having a good day!


Happy Holidays to all!


Remnants of a winter storm still lingered, and I found myself at the computer going through file folders of pictures.

And … and I came across this one.

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A black-winged damselfly — one of my favorite things. It’s been years since I’ve seen one.  Of course it might help if I was in the right place at the right time.

Here are more pictures from hikes there.

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Bells Smith Springs Recreational Area is in the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois and is the most likely area I know to see the damselfly.

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A spring runs into the creek not too far from this area, called Hunting Branch.

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Here’s the same view in early fall,

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and a later picture of the nearby picnic area.

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The Cascades is an expansive pavement rock. This doesn’t show all of it.

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Buffy and I usually hike in only a small area of Bell Smith Springs. It’s also designated as a National Natural Landmark.

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This shelter bluff is huge.


Bellsmith Springs is a popular tourist spot. Another entrance to it has 76 steps carved out of the side of a cliff that goes down into a small shelter bluff. Near there is a large natural rock bridge. Anyone interested can find information online and a video on youtube.

Ahhh,  my memory hikes took my mind off the slow-to-melt snow and ice.

After the Winter Storm

A strong winter storm went through a Friday December 6, leaving an inch of sleet, 10 inches of snow and cold temperatures.

We have a dense shrub/tree/vine border around most of the “back-back” of our two-acre yard. I suited up, and Buffy and I went out for a walk.  I photographed her foot prints, along with those of a cat, birds and deer. (A coyote crossed the yard that evening, and I added a picture of its tracks.)

A dark shape in the back caught my attention

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A dead mourning dove … with no sign of injury.

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I first took pictures of it, then followed the tracks 10 feet back to the “beginning of the end.”

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There was no sign of a “crash landing.”

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Its wings left long impressions in the snow.

Photographic Challenge

How hard could it be to get pictures of water dropping from an icicle? It turned out to be much more difficult than I expected.

The icicle hung near the picture window by my computer.

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Many drops would fall from the melting icicle at a time and other times single ones. Some of the falling ones became orbs in the focused image. I’d take the picture’s and the drops had all fallen below the camera’s image. I took picture after picture. Still no luck. I even focused the camera, closed my eyes and took the picture.

Then I thought maybe things would go better if I named the icicle. That there might be more cooperation if I did.

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So, meet Elvira.

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The name immediately popped in my mind. Don’t ask me why.

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I then used the focus camera-close eyes- take picture method.

It was more fun and it worked.

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Imagine my surprise when I captured 3 drops in one picture!


It might sound strange that I’m celebrating the mounding inches of snow.

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The original forecast was for ice up to maybe 1 inch before turning to sleet and then snow after that.

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Celebrate — the freezing rain turned to sleet much earlier yesterday afternoon than expected. Sleet still fell at midnight last night,

and snow was falling when I got up this morning. We were to get only a couple of inches.

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Now, the fallen snow measures eight inches or more. It’s to stop in a few hours.

Tomorrow’s to be sunny and cold. The next front’s to arrive Saturday night with a wintry mix Sunday into Monday.

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Frost created this design on the inside of a storm window.


My storm experience started 11-ish last night while the sleet was falling. It was a good time for taking orb pictures.

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I had no witnesses as I aimed my camera through the lower part of the screen where the cats had pulled it loose.

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Orbs are said to be emanations of spirit beings. Notice how many orbs are in lines. There’s too many lines for this to be a coincidence. I usually take orb pictures every evening. Some nights there’s almost none, and other nights they’re everywhere. Size, the intensity and even the color can vary.

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Pictures like this result from aiming the camera at the floor, focusing it and then raising it take the picture. The orange (lower right) is the security light seen in the picture above. The orange on the left side is the edge of our security light.

I wonder what orbs tonight will bring with this storm winding down?

Petrified Wood

I knew it was going to be a good hike when I walked up to this fossil in a dry creek bed (which was many years ago).

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Usually I only find impressions of the wood. This is my only petrified log. The preservation isn’t good enough to identify the 11-inch fossil.

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Petrified wood has always fascinated me: What were the conditions, or event, that led to it becoming petrified?

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Preservations can vary greatly.

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These fossils are scattered around in rock piles in my backyard.

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This one measures almost 1 1/2 inches long and served as a pocket rock for a while. The hole probably resulted from insect damage. There’s a similar hole in the top.

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This stone has the most petrified woods that I’ve ever seen on one stone — eleven of differing sizes and kinds of wood. The stone measures roughly 7×11 inches.


Was out early this morning while things were still damp. The more contrast shows off the petrified wood.

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A Girdler and a Pruner

Twigs littering the yard under the elm tree mean only one thing — tree girdlers.

Tree girdlers and tree pruners are both species of long horned beetles.

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The female tree girdler lays an egg at the tip of a branch. She then crawls toward the tree’s trunk and cuts a groove. She also makes slits in the bark on each side of the groove. This causes the twig to die, and some fall from the tree.

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Twig pruners overwinter as a pupa inside the largest end of the fallen twig. I rarely find these. This is a twig off sweetgum tree in the yard.

The female lays eggs near the tip of the twig. The larva burrows into the twig, toward the tree’s trunk until it reaches where the twig measures 1/2 – 1 inch in diameter. Here it stops and starts cutting in a spiral outward. It then burrows toward the tip of the twig and pupates.