I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Random things I saw in Savannah

A church sign, an old Kress department store that's been converted to condos, and a few more of the wonderful mossy trees.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Astronomy Tuesday

Bleak and blue -- the InSight lander took this picture of the Martian sunset in April.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Sunday bird blogging

A boat-tailed grackle on Pinckney Island, and the last of that set of photos.

Because Iran has been in the news (as usual, not for any good reason) I've been looking through photos and have found quite a few I never processed. So there may be some more Iran pictures in the next couple of weeks, before I leave for the first of two planned trips to Canada this summer.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Saturday reflections

A panorama of the West Side on an almost-summer day, as reflected in the glass walls of the Javits convention center.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Urban poetry

When you're definitely not in New York anymore -- sign outside a museum in Savannah.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

More cemetery pictures

Haunted Savannah

The Colonial Park cemetery in Savannah was active from 1750 to about 1850, so I was surprised that it seemed so empty, with relatively few headstones scattered over the lawns between the family vaults.

At least part of the land covers a mass grave of 700 victims of a yellow fever epidemic, and many of the headstones were dug up and defaced by Sherman's troops when he took the city in 1864. So the visible headstones do not really bear any relation to the number of people buried there.

It is supposed to be haunted. Of course.

River Street

A few more pictures from Savannah.

The promenade along the river is at a much lower elevation than the surrounding streets and you have to go down one of a series of very steep, slippery staircases to get to it. The former cotton warehouses have been converted into stores and bars and restaurants, and there are stalls selling t-shirts and jewelry and a variety of bourbon and/or peach flavored snacks. It was so crowded I didn't find it very enjoyable and I quickly retreated to the leafy streets above.

Because there's such a difference in elevation, the backs of these buildings are accessed by wooden bridges from Bay Street to the upper stories.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Astronomy Tuesday

And speaking of babies, here are a gazillion baby blue stars.

NGC 4485 probably had a major collision with another galaxy sometime in the distant past, denting the galaxy structure and creating a spectacular stellar nursery.

Image credit: NASA, ESA; acknowledgment: T. Roberts (Durham University, UK), D. Calzetti (University of Massachusetts) and the LEGUS Team, R. Tully (University of Hawaii) and R. Chandar (University of Toledo)

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Sunday bird blogging

I suspect even Canadians don't love their namesake geese; they're obnoxious, invasive pests.

But -- babies! I took this picture of goslings in the Greenway by the Hudson right after I came back from Savannah. I saw them -- or a similar flock -- yesterday in the same park and they're neck-high to their parents now, though still covered in down. They grow up so fast!

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Friday, June 7, 2019

The Bird Girl

This statue by Sylvia Shaw Judson became famous when it appeared on the cover of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. (The bowls were not meant to symbolize the weighing of good and evil, but were intended to hold birdseed.)

It adorned a family plot in the Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah for almost sixty years, but after the book became a bestseller so many tourists visited the cemetery the family removed the statue. It's now in the Telfair Museum in Savannah, which is where I took this picture -- the background is just some atmospheric wallpaper.

More of the Historic District

Some of the architectural details I saw walking around Savannah. 

Or not walking around -- the picture on the bottom is the bar at the Hotel Indigo, where I was staying. I definitely preferred having my wine in an actual glass and sitting in one of those upholstered chairs rather than getting a plastic cup to go.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Gimme shelter

An alley in Savannah.

I've always loved alleys and backstreets. They're the flip side -- literally -- of the storefronts and facades that are a city's public face, the story its citizens want to tell about themselves. And in the great cities, those stories are unique. There's always the sense that you couldn't be anywhere else.

Then you turn a corner to find the messy innards -- the garbage bins and utility poles -- and you could be almost anywhere in the world. 

I particularly like this picture because it reminds me why those tree-filled squares were so appealing. If you look closely at the figure of the man, you'll notice that he has no shadow. The sun was directly overhead, and merciless.

Astronomy Tuesday

This beautiful picture of Copernicus Crater on the moon shows the lunar terminator, or boundary between night and day, with sunrise just beginning to catch the walls of the crater.

Image Credit and Copyright: Sage Gray

Sunday, June 2, 2019

The Oglethorpe Plan

This is Oglethorpe Square, in the Savannah Historic District, not far from my hotel.

James Oglethorpe founded the city of Savannah and the colony of Georgia on the same day in 1733. Despite what I thought I knew from American History class, the early settlers were not convicts. Oglethorpe had worked on prison reform in Parliament, addressing the issues created when debtor's prisons were closed and the inmates released with no means of support. Though few debtors ended up settling in Georgia, Oglethorpe envisioned a colony of agrarian equality, where land ownership was limited to fifty acres -- no large plantations, no slavery.

This system lasted only until he left Georgia in 1743. He had more lasting success with his plan for Savannah, where the Historic District still follows his model of a series of wards, each consisting of a square surrounded by eight blocks of houses and commercial buildings. This means that you never have to walk more than three or four blocks in the wretched heat without encountering a pretty park with shady benches, and I probably sat in every single one of them.

Sunday bird blogging

A tale of two herons: a great blue heron near the hotel in Hilton Head, and little blue herons nesting on Pinckney Island.

The nest picture isn't great, but I love that bird on the top staring so intently.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Saturday reflections

Glass and metal turns these reflections in the Jepson Center museum in Savannah into a fine piece of abstract art suitable for one of their exhibits.

Friday, May 31, 2019

More urban poetry

Did I mention that Savannah is a real party town?

I've just started going through most of the pictures, which are, not surprisingly, mostly of pretty buildings and old trees draped with moss, and will post the best ones over the next week or so.

I had a funny dream where I was starring in a revival of A Doll's House on Broadway. It was opening night, and not only did I not know any of the lines, the play had turned into a mystery-thriller with a completely unfamiliar plot. And my first thought when I woke up this morning was, “Where were the cookies? I didn't get to eat any cookies.”

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Urban poetry

An empty building overlooking the river in Savannah.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Astronomy Tuesday

This image was released to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Hubbell Space Telescope in 2015. 

The star cluster Westerland 2 in the Milky Way contains some of the hottest and brightest stars we can observe and you can see how the stellar winds from those massive stars are blowing the nebula gases away.

NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), A. Nota (ESA/STScI), and the Westerlund 2 Science Team

Monday, May 27, 2019

Random things I saw in Hilton Head

Flip flops and a ball left on the beach, sea grasses in Broad Creek, and some of the ubiquitous but beautiful live oak trees draped with Spanish moss. 

Plus a sunrise. Just because.

Ibis Pond

This is where the egrets, and various herons, were nesting. It was a little oasis in the midst of the marshes, although it's home to several alligators along with the birds.

They weren't showing themselves, but I wouldn't have wanted to go swimming, however tempting the water looked.

Speaking of alien

A better look at the sand fiddler crabs that frolicked by the thousands in the marshes.

I have to admit they gave me the creeps, maybe because they seemed more like very large insects than very small crabs. And there were so many of them! 

Personally I would rather have been eaten by alligators -- which are also plentiful on Pinckney Island, although fortunately I didn't encounter any -- than get too close to these things.

An inhospitable landscape

Views over the salt marshes on Pinckney Island. Those little black spots all over the water are crabs.

This island was once part of a plantation belonging to a Major General Pinckney. My own ancestors settled all over the South -- Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama -- in the 17th and 18th centuries, sometimes in environments very similar to this, but I can't imagine wanting to live here, wanting to claim it as my own, calling it home. It's so alien to me.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Bonus bird blogging

Here's the rookery minus the telephoto lens -- a tree full of young egrets.

Sunday bird blogging

As promised, here's another look at the egret nest at the Pinckney Island wildlife refuge.

I did the shortest of the available hikes and that was almost more than I could handle. The trail passed through salt marshes with no shelter from the sun, and not much in the way of wildlife to observe except for thousands of tiny crabs scuttling over the sands. 

But the pond at the end was beautiful and worth the hike. This egret rookery had dozens of birds and lots of babies, and I could almost see them through the sheets of sweat pouring over my face.

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