Burgess Falls 7.3.15

Heavy rainfall for the past few days, particularly from storms last night, has the Falling Water River flowing pretty heavy. The hike out to the main waterfall at Burgess Falls State Park in Sparta, TN, was totally worth getting completely drenched by rain. I’ve never seen a more majestic sight than this river flowing with such great force! Positively beautiful and awe-inspiring!

I was surprised and a little heartbroken when I reached the overlook at the Middle Falls. The overlook, as well as the tree that stood there, are gone, slid away. :/

Missing Overlook to the Middle Falls #1

Missing Overlook to the Middle Falls #2 Missing Overlook to the Middle Falls #3

The Middle Falls Stream Falls Falling Water RiverMore Stream Falls Inexplicable Shoes The CascadesCaution Self-evident



Clymene Moth

This Clymene Moth, Haploa clymene, popped in while I was carrying in groceries this evening to wait out the storm. I guess it’ll be fine there on the wall till it quits raining. That is, provided the cats don’t find it first. These are lovely moths with a very distinctive wing pattern.

Before David left for work this afternoon he brought in the first of hopefully many pieces of produce from the garden. These Summer Squashes and Zucchini grow fast!

Summer Squash & Zucchini

The plants are a lot bigger than I expected, too. They take up about half of our garden space. Since this is our first garden here, David started small, about 10′ X 15′. That should be plenty just for us, though. He also planted a bit of lettuce, tomatoes, corn, green beans, and some peppers. Fresh produce really is the best! The photo below is from June 7th.

Summer Squash Plant

Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar (Papilio troilus) #1

I spotted this Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar (Papilio troilus) today on the bird bath. More than likely it fell out of the close-by Sassafras tree. I’m guessing this one is pretty close to pupating; but in the final instar of the Spicebush Swallowtail, it turns a bright yellow. According to Wikipedia:

“The entire development process from egg to adult takes about a month. Once they have reached the adult stage, Papilio troilus can live anywhere from two days to two weeks dependent on resource availability and predator avoidance.”

Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar (Papilio troilus) #2

I’ll be searching the entire summer for an adult butterfly to photograph, now. I saw one the other day in the yard; however, to my disappointment, I didn’t have my camera outdoors with me at the time. Hopefully, the opportunity will arise again.


By the way, for anyone interested, I recently began exploring Instagram and posting a few shots over there. David is letting me use his old Android as a portable device to get a “feel” for these confounded smartphones. (I have to catch up to the rest of humanity at some point, right?) Fascinating device with a lot of perks, but I really hate typing on it. Give me a keyboard any day! The camera is “meh,” not as great as my Canon PowerShot; but at least it gives me the opportunity to experience Instagram.

Feel free to look me up at: https://instagram.com/pixygiggles/

Stag Beetle

Anyone know the exact species? Found in TN. I’m fairly certain that this one is female as she doesn’t have the huge mandibles. My cats happened across this one, curiously inspecting her as she made her way for cover. Unfortunately, she didn’t find cover in time. I think my neighbor’s puppy ate her. What’s with dogs eating beetles? Extra protein? They must be a delicacy for dogs because my neighbor’s dogs will eat any beetle they find. Such is the way of nature. ;P

Thistle at Sunset

Image  —  Posted: June 11, 2015 in Flowers, Nature, Photography, Uncategorized
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Tree Frog #1

I found this little tree frog hiding underneath the umbrella of our patio table when I opened it up yesterday for a little shade. These are a common occurrence around our house, and I squeal in delight every time I see one. I’m not certain if this is a Gray Tree Frog or Cope’s Gray Tree Frog or even one of the other species here in Tennessee; but if I had to venture a guess, it would be Cope’s Gray Tree Frog due to its call. He was certainly a beautiful little creature and very friendly.

Tree Frog #2

Tree Frog #3

I was sitting outside painting my toenails — the sunlight is far better for accuracy — when all of a sudden I heard the most awful screeching I’ve ever heard. Moses, my 14-year-old-masterful-hunter black cat, emerged from the neighbor’s sheep pasture through the mostly overgrown fence-row carrying something in his mouth. As he ran past me into the house — still carrying said critter, squalling, in his mouth — I jumped up to chase after him, fussing at him the entire way and not knowing what on earth the cat dragged in. As I reached the living room, right on his heels, he had already dropped his prize. As it scampered away for shelter behind one of the stereo speakers, I finally realized that what Moses brought into our house was a baby bunny!

Baby Bunny #1

It was about twice the size of a hamster. The poor little thing was so traumatized that I easily captured it, without touching it, in a small critter carrier after moving a few pieces of furniture around to get to it. I gave it a little while to calm down in the safety of that carrier until I herded all of our cats indoors. This also gave me the chance to look it over, making sure Moses didn’t injure it. Thankfully, it didn’t appear to have any physical injuries, not even any puncture wounds. It hopped around a bit in the carrier, so all bones seemed to be in their proper place.

Baby Bunny #2

After doing a quick search online, I realized the best course of action would be to release it close to where Moses brought it through the fence. From what I read online, mother rabbits will call to their babies for their nightly feeding should they wander off from the nest. By this time it was already getting dark; so I ended up creating a little nest out of cedar mulch in the shelter of the fence-row. I was careful not to touch the baby because I didn’t want to take the chance of its mother smelling my scent on her baby. I even placed some lettuce and carrots out there with the hope that this would entice an adult rabbit to come along and help. I sat outside with the baby for another 15 minutes before coming back inside.

Baby Bunny #3

After a little over an hour, I went back outside to check on the baby. As soon as I walked out on the back steps, I noticed an adult rabbit sitting in the yard. Flashlight in hand, I walked back over to the fence-row where I “nested” the baby. It was gone. I’m really, really hoping the baby made it back to its mother safely. It. Was. So. Adorable! Aside from the fact that this is probably the most precious gift my cat, Moses, has ever brought me, I have to say that I gave him the most stern scolding I could invoke for having snatched this beautiful baby bunny from its family.

Moses unfazed by his scolding is grounded indoors for the night.

Moses Loves Catnip

And I smeared every single one of my toenails in the process of all of this, lol.

Wishing all the mothers a Happy Mother's Day!

Image  —  Posted: May 10, 2015 in Flowers, Nature, Photography
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Have you ever felt like you could crawl out of your skin, so antsy that sitting still simply is not an option? I woke up that way yesterday, but it was more than that. It was like an internal desperation to “get away,” to distract myself from whatever it was I was feeling. I have no label for this feeling except uncomfortable. The song “Fly Away” by Lenny Kravitz kept running through my mind.

Rather impulsively, I decided to go for a drive, a long drive. I ended up at a park I’ve never explored, Savage Gulf State Natural Area, in Monteagle, Tennessee. It’s huge, 15,590 acres, with 50 miles of hiking trails according to tn.gov. Apparently, there are several entrances to different areas of the park. The first stop, off of TN-399 W, felt a little creepy. I was the only one there, kind of creepy, not to mention the restroom had a definite “Twin Peaks” feel. That thought made me laugh. I’m wishing, now, I had taken a photo of that restroom. Next time.

The trailhead at this abandoned ranger station (I say abandoned, but I’m sure it was simply closed for the day) warned of high bluffs and required signing-in before hiking. When it comes to hiking, I have absolutely no problem hiking by myself. Maybe that’s not always wise, especially on the more treacherous trails I’ve hiked alone; but I refuse to give in to any fear that restricts my love for nature or need for sunshine, fresh air, and exercise. Often, I hike for the spiritual or emotional release that only time alone can offer. However, something felt “off” about this spot; so I trusted my intuition and chose not to hike there. I didn’t feel safe. Also, it was already kind of late in the afternoon; and I wanted to check out a couple of other areas on the other side of the gorge.

Like so many parks in this area, there were a number of waterfalls, according to the trail map. On the other side of the park, off of Highway 56 (a very curvy, yet FUN road to drive!), I noticed a much shorter trail on the map to Greeter Falls. After arriving at the parking area, again — I was the only one there, I gave myself a few moments to get a feel for this spot.

Greeter Falls Parking Area Sign

I felt comfortable enough to hike the entire 1 mile loop. Oh, my goodness, I am so glad I did! It was positively gorgeous!

Greeter Falls #2Greeter Falls, Savage Gulf State Natural Area

 Boardtree FallsBoardtree Falls, Savage Gulf State Natural Area

According to the pamphlet,

Greeter Falls Loop Trail: This loop leads to three waterfalls, numerous bluffs, and two historic sites. Terrain is very rocky under the bluffs and easy above. (0.8 miles)

Falls Loop

I didn’t hike the .5 miles out to Blue Hole which was off the main path. I’m wondering if Blue Hole was the 3rd waterfall because I only saw Greeter Falls and Boardtree Falls. I also only saw one of the two historic sites, what looked like ruins of an old structure, possibly a house. For the life of me, I can’t remember the name of it, now; and I failed to get a decent photo.

Spiral Staircase #1

The only part of this particular trail that gave me pause for concern was the spiral staircase leading down to the base of the waterfall. Don’t get me wrong, it was good and sturdy, but nerve wrecking for someone with a fear of heights. I hugged that center pole the entire way up and down!

Spiral Staircase #2

I would describe much of the Greeter Falls Loop Trail as a moderate hike as a bit of maneuvering over rocks is necessary between Greeter Falls and Boardtree Falls.

Rock Wall

There were also some slick spots due to mud (wear old shoes). We’ve had a lot of rain lately, so it was super muddy.

Greeter Falls #1

I regret not having more time to spend out there. I wanted to be sure I returned to the parking lot long before sunset, though. I made the hike pretty quick, in about 45 minutes, stopping only to admire each waterfall for about 5 minutes or so each. The path is marked with white reflectors (some may have been blue) which turned into a game of “Where’s Waldo?” Had it not been for those markers I probably would have turned back a couple of times because it’s easy to lose sight of the trail given the rugged terrain.

I also kind of regret not taking the time to stop by Stone Door, “a 10 ft. wide by 100 ft. deep crack, forming from the top of the escarpment into the gorge below.” [Source: Savage Gulf] There just wasn’t enough time yesterday. It’ll be nice to have that as a surprise for next time, though. I really want David to see this park; so hopefully, we can plan a day trip together soon to explore Savage Gulf a bit more.

Special note should you decide to visit this park: wear bug repellant. David pulled a tick out of my hair early this morning before bed. I hate it when I bring home hitchhikers! ;) Next time, I’ll wear my hair up with a baseball cap.

Another Hitchhiker

Tiny Tree FrogGray treefrog, sp. Hyla versicolor