Limestone tower endures

Shoal Tower, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Drawn by the water reflection, I took this photo last year from the docks of Confederation Basin Marina in downtown Kingston.  I have since learned that this is a Martello tower, one of four built along the St Lawrence River, to defend Kingston and the entrance to the Rideau Canal leading to the capital city (Ottawa).  Back in 1847 there were still border tensions. Martellos were small armed forts built by the British to defend their interests around the world.  Pointed roofs were not typical but were added to Canadian towers for snow protection.

Limestone construction is a common sight in Kingston, a city steeped in history.  Needless to say, Shoal Tower is a National Historic Site.

of another time

cannon house remains

a haunting presence

life flows on

in presence of the past


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Beyond the shadows

a sunny sanctuary

yet it’s cooler here.

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Postscript: This week I took many photos of scenes framed by trees or grasses in response to the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: ‘Frame’—and have been enjoying seeing photos of framed views taken by other challenge participants.

Morning weavers

Friday morning, when I looked out the window around 7 AM, the sun was shining.  When I got up around 8:30 and pulled the curtain open, I was in for a surprise: a white mist had descended.  I stepped out onto the front porch and there a huge spider’s web was suspended from the front railing across the porch for about three feet.  I tried to take a photo but there wasn’t enough contrast to highlight the gossamer web.  Then came the biggest surprise:  I stepped out into the front yard and there, a multitude of webs were suspended from the stalks of chicory plants.  I have never seen anything like this!

I tried to capture the event using my humble Iphone camera and wrote a haiku:





in morning mist

artisans weave

silken nets

My experience fits into the Daily Post Photo Challenge: Rare, an invitation to post ‘something that stands out from the everyday’.

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Morning question: will it rain today?


dark turtle 

celestial inferno

foreshadows more drought

Lately, storm clouds offer no guarantee of rain.  We’ve had no rain for at least a week and though The Weather Network predicted a 70% possibility of precipitation Friday night, none fell on our patch of ground.  Standing outside in 30 degrees, throwing precious groundwater on the garden feels totally futile.  Yes I am complaining.

P.S. I saw dark clouds all Saturday after taking this morning photo—there was no rain–not a drop.

This post links to Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Morning and  Skywatch Friday.

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Mullein—a towering medicinal flower plant


flannel leaves

a casual shrub


a towering stalk

bursting buds



like a spear



far below.




I finally identified this wild plant as Mullein, not from thumbing through a field guide, but with one quick internet search for a plant that ‘looks like corn’.  Its visual profile resembles corn, but with velvety leaves and a flower spike, it’s not like corn at all and is a member of the Snapdragon family.

Some people love these plants and grow them in flower gardens.  There are many varieties. For herbalists, Mullein are known as a source of traditional remedies.  For me, the young plants, even younger than shown in my first photo, are quite attractive.  As they mature location becomes a factor. They are so huge that sometimes a towering stalk can feel like an obstruction–in the fall the stalks become hard wooden sticks.

Mullein is also known as:  Velvet plant, Verbascum Flowers, Woolen Blanket Herb, Bullock’s Lungwort, Flannel Flower, Shepherd’s Club, Hare’s Beard, Pig Taper, and Cow’s Lungwort.

A thank  you to the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Narrow, which gave me a nudge to gather photos, identify, and write about these plants.

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Rainbow without a storm

Yesterday I looked up while working in my garden and was surprised to see a rainbow.  We were expecting rain, but only a few tentative drops had fallen—in the end there was no rainstorm that evening.  There is probably a scientific explanation for the rainbow, having to do with high humidity and rainfall not far away,  but I prefer to remain mystified, feeling that something special happened: a rainbow without a storm.


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Royal Milkweed


Butterfly Flower, Silkweed, Silky Swallow-wort, Virginia silkweed, Common Milkweed.  These are all names for the same plant, known where I live in southern Canada as Common Milkweed.  The only common aspect of this plant is that it can grow everywhere, even on a gravel driveway—as shown in the photo I took this weekend.

In recent years milkweed has gained attention as a plant to cherish if we want to continue seeing monarch butterflies.   This is why I nickname it ‘Royal Milkweed’.  Its leaves are monarchs’ cradle.  Monarch butterflies carefully lay their eggs on the undersides of broad milkweed leaves so their progeny (caterpillars) may feed on the green flesh and white sap–no other food will do.

Milkweeds also flourish behind my garden, where every spring sprouts emerge from rhizome roots.  Their perfume is intoxicating.


Milkweed flowers are amazingly beautiful–comparable in their complexity to orchid flowers (says Wikipedia).


Milkweed is a plant of many contrasts, some of which I have noted in these haiku:

Growing in harsh ground,

Bearing milk sap and nectar,

Milkweed nourishes.

Broad thick leaves,

deep traveling roots,

sweet perfume.

Star flowers,

fresh beauty defies

common name.

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I was inspired to highlight the contrasts shown in these photos by the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: ‘Opposites’.

Garden sage in bloom

In response to the Daily Post Photo Challenge ‘Partners’.

When I planted garden sage, I was adding to my collection of cooking herbs.  I must admit, I also dreamed of making smudge sticks, but later learned that the varieties of sage used for ceremonial burning are quite different….and it is not pleasant nor healthy to burn garden sage!  I tried a few locations, and finally found one where sage would grow happily.  In fact they took over…this is the third year now and they are a thriving community, bushy and close, sending up multiple spikes of purple flowers.


This second photo gives a somewhat closer view of the flowers, sharing their stems with many others.


Plants love to congregate.  It never ceases to amaze me how, when left to their own devices, plants will grow next to and under each other.  Sometimes called weeds, they could be thought of as companions, depending on your perspective at the moment.  The main neighbor shown here is a dogwood bush, visited by spittle bugs, which, I am told, will not damage the plant.  And finally, the most interesting part of this photo for me is the surprise collection of white sage flowers!


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Garlic scapes curl

This is my first year successfully growing garlic plants (second attempt) and I am excited.  When I say ‘successful’, I mean that I have large garlic plants growing out back–the ultimate success will be garlic bulbs at harvest time.

I have just learned that garlic plants send flower buds out on round stocks that curl and spiral. They’re called ‘scapes’.  They can be snapped off and eaten–in fact you want to remove them to promote the growth of the bulbous roots.  I have a small container of scapes in the fridge ready to be  used like garlic in summer salads and stir fries.

It struck me that these curling scapes might be of interest to those taking photos of curves for this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge.  My first picture shows what a scape looks like when snapped off the plant.  The second photo shows two scapes curling beside each other.

Trimmed garlic scape
Garlic scapes demonstrating synchronized curves

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A meandering stream–Weekly Photo Challenge: ‘Curve’


Shaded stream,

slowly meanders,


I took my first photo of this section of Millhaven Creek last winter.  What a transformation from whites, blacks, and greys to this lush green stream.  Last time, I took my shots from the car, as the bridge is narrow and it was icy.  A few days ago I walked to the bridge and took photos standing at the railing.

The theme of this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is curves.  The stream winds subtly, its curves most distinct when your eye follows the left bank.

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