Tuesday, February 20, 2018

by Julie Lavender

With the warm weather we’ve had lately here in south-Georgia – no, let’s face it – HOT weather – it just really shouldn’t be in the 80s in February – I encountered the first slimy salamander of the season.

They always frighten me initially because of the way they slither. They look so much like a tiny snake scooting across the road ahead of me.


Sunday, February 11, 2018

by Julie Lavender

Recent hikes led my husband and me past waterlogged, large-bottomed Cypress trees. “Buttressed bases,” my resident biologist corrected.

I chuckled at his loving, yet scientific-scolding.

Way more fascinating to me are the Cypress knees that surround most Cypress trees. Wooden, knobby stalagmites. Sometimes short and stumbling-worthy; sometimes knee-height and a bit more obvious.

Almost no other tree has knees, not in this fashion. Some have roots that loop and grow in odd shapes, but rarely do other trees have roots that shoot up and grow at right-angles to the underground, horizontal ones.

Cypress trees grow near ponds and in swamps and bottomlands. They can withstand flooding and strong winds and scientist have decided they’re vital to the ecosystem, preventing erosion where they stand guard like sentinels and harboring much wildlife, even some endangered and threatened species.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

by Julie Lavender

The first time I saw a Canada goose, I was way way above the Mason Dixon Line. One of the first times my range had extended that far.

Canada geese – adaptable, majestic-looking with their black head sitting atop a long black neck contrasted by a stark white chinstrap band – are now found in every contiguous state in the United States and Canada province at one season of the year or another.

However, that wasn’t the case several decades ago, before they began migrating as far as my little corner of the world, south-Georgia. When I was a little girl, I’d only seen Canada geese in books or on television.

Of course, there was much I’d only seen on television.

Friday, January 26, 2018

by Julie Lavender

Tucked under layer after layer, I braved the just-below freezing temperatures for another winter’s walk. My hubby didn’t require quite as many layers; he’s braver than me.

My little corner of the deep-south had already seen more frigid weather in the few short days of 2018 than the entire winter season just last year.

The green shrub bedecked with red splotches caught my eye, and I first thought it was a holly bush. Closer inspection, though, told me it wasn’t, and I sequestered my biologist husband for an explanation.

“Ilex vomitoria,” said David.

“Ew. Does it mean what I think it does?”

“Yep. We’ll look it up when we get home.”

Friday, January 19, 2018

by Julie Lavender

A walk with God this week led me past several bare pecan trees. I’ve always thought they were rather unattractive in the winter, without their lush, green leafy embellishments and dangling fruit accessories tucked inside husks to protect the edible nuts.

Winter chaos and disorder

The barren limbs always seem to have no order, just chaos and frenzy protruding in all directions. And only a few random trees still have pecans 
attached. But, my husband says if no squirrels have nibbled on the remaining nuts, they are undoubtedly not very tasty. 

Friday, January 12, 2018


by Julie Lavender

Iridescent, dark violet berries hang in clusters beneath chartreuse leaves, attracting the attention of hungry birds and nibbling mammals. The American beautyberry shrub, aptly named, certainly catches my attention on a winter walk.

The long, arching branches droop with the weight of its fruit from early fall to late winter. Some of the berries become snacks for raccoons and squirrels and armadillos and opossums. Quail, cardinals, mockingbirds and a variety of songbirds partake in the delicacies, too. And the deer forage on them heavily, too.

Yet, many of the berries cling to the bush throughout the bleak months of early winter, lending color to an otherwise drab landscape. The berries, though beautiful, are somewhat bitter in taste, so they’ll do in a pinch for a hungry critter, but might not be the preferred morsel. At least, not when other tasty treats are available.

I think God did that on purpose….in fact, I know He did.

Friday, January 5, 2018


by Julie Lavender

A brand new year brought a special blessing for my walk with God today.

SNOW!    SNOW!!     SNOW!!!!!

To many, that’s not a big deal. But in south-Georgia where I walk with God, it’s huge!

It just doesn’t snow here that often. On the rare occasion that it does snow, it’s merely a light dusting at best.

God’s beauty never ceases to amaze me. I’m in awe of His creations – the ones that breathe in oxygen and the ones that release oxygen – as well as the natural wonders, like majestic mountains, violent volcanoes, luxurious lakes, and shimmering seas.