Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The gratitude of every home...

Why do I say all this? Not, assuredly, to boast; not, assuredly, to give the slightest countenance to complacency. The dangers we face are still enormous, but so are our advantages and resources. I recount them because the people have a right to know that there are solid grounds for the confidence which we feel, and that we have good reason to believe ourselves capable, as I said in a very dark hour two months ago, of continuing the war if necessary alone, if necessary for years.

The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.

—Winston Churchill, 20 August 1940

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Sphinx moth

Occasionally, while putting a new post together, I run across old material that never made it to the blog.This is a sphinx moth we found in the front yard while gardening last summer.

Sphinx moths are often called "hummingbird moths"—they're roughly the same size and feed in a similar manner, sipping nectar from flowers while hovering, and so are sometimes mistaken for hummers—but up close, this one reminds me of an owl.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

More Sandhills pics

Again, photos by Jessica Farrell-Churchill

Monday, August 12, 2013

The water that runs deep enough to actually paddle

Well, Jessica finally got her river trip. Almost exactly a month after our ill-fated attempt at the Platte River, we joined Linda Cox and her company of friends and family on the Niobrara River. [Previous trips here and here.] A good time was had by all, which is to say there's not much of a story this time 'round. Jessica had the camera this time, at least until the battery went flat, so here are a few shots from our trip.


Home sweet home on the banks of Minnechaduza Creek.

In camp: there's a fungus among us.

Prairie above Fort Falls.

Fort Falls proper

Clear, cold water from Fort Falls emptying into the Niobrara, running muddy after a couple of thunderstorms.

Grasses and wapato (arrowhead) at river's edge.

Berry Bridge and Berry Falls.

Minor (unnamed?) waterfall, cold and good to drink.

Two views of Smith Falls Bridge, which was originally located many miles downstream near Verdigre, Nebraska. Built in 1910, it spanned the mouth of Verdigre Creek, which empties into the Niobrara. It was disassembled in 1917 and then rebuilt, again near Verdigre, in 1922. The bridge was decommissioned and again disassembled in 1993. In 1995, it was moved to Smith Falls SRA and reassembled, although narrowed from the original 15 feet intended for vehicular traffic to 10 for strictly pedestrian use.

Wet meadow near Smith Falls.

Creek below Smith Falls.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Nebraska Sandhills wildflowers

All photos by Jessica Farrell-Churchill.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Ornate box turtles

On a recent road trip in the Nebraska Sandhills, we found several of these gorgeous little ornate box turtles, Terrapene ornatus ornatus. Vivid enough up top, they are even more so below.

This one, though somewhat shy, peeks out from a half-closed shell. The ability to close up all the way, of course, is why Terrapene are known as box turtles, and ornatus represents a box such as Peter Carl Fabergé might have imagined.

This photograph (all of these are Jessa's, by the way) gives a hint as to how the pattern, so striking in the hand, serves as camouflage in their prairie habitat.

They are somewhat more conspicuous, and infinitely more vulnerable, when making their way across a blacktop highway, which is where we saw most of ours. We stopped to relocate each one we saw. "He who saves a single life saves the world entire."