Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wednesday's Words

For my Wednesday's Words this month, I'm focusing on words that relate, in various ways, to October.  In September, I talked about the Harvest Moon, that great big, beautiful, golden-orange moon that we always associate with fall.  The next full moon after the Harvest Moon is the Hunter's Moon, which occurred on October 12th this year.

According to the Astronomical Calendar 2011, by Guy Ottewell, the Hunter's Moon is thus named because "...the fields had been reaped, hunters could ride over the stubble, and could more easily see the fox; also other animals which had come out to glean could be caught for a thanksgiving banquet after the harvest."

One reason for my interest in the moon and the night sky is that my husband and I have a telescope, and we used to enjoy taking it out and observing the night sky.  Most astronomers will tell you that fall and winter are the best times to observe the night sky because you can see so much more.  In the fall and winter there aren't all the clouds and constant humidity that we have during the summer.

When I looked up October holidays, one of the first that jumped out at me (after Halloween, of course) was Columbus Day, observed on October 10th.  According to Wikipedia, during Columbus' time, the techniques of celestial navigation, which use the position of the sun, moon and stars in the sky, were widely used by mariners.  Celestial navigation is another of those terms I find fun to pronounce.  It has a certain flow to it, and I happen to think celestial is a beautiful word...(1) of, relating to, or suggesting heaven or divinity; (2) of or relating to the sky or visible heavens.

What do you like best about October?  There's a lot to choose from -- blue skies, cool evenings, the trees slipping into their fall wardrobe, colorful pumpkins and Mums, and Halloween.  Me...I love them all.

Thanks for visiting the House at Forest Manor.  Have a great Wednesday!


Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Day At The Zoo, Part I

On Saturday, DH and I visited the North Carolina Zoological Park in Asheboro, NC.  The company Mr. Forest Manor works for sponsored a family day at the zoo; they provided tickets for admission and lunch for employees and family members at the picnic pavilion.  The weather was perfect and we had a great day!  I've been wanting to visit the zoo for years now, and we just somehow never got around to it.  The last time we went to the N.C. Zoo, our son was 4 years old, and he turned 21 this summer.  My how time flies.

The zoo is located at the foot of the Uwharrie Mountains in the Central Piedmont Region of North Carolina.

According to Wikipedia, the zoo encompasses 1,371 acres, is the largest "walk-through" natural-habitat zoo in the world, the first in the U.S., and only one of two state-owned zoos in the United States.  Wow -- who knew!?

We ate a quick lunch, and then spent four hours walking through the zoo, and we still only saw about half the park.  We just managed to make it through the North America complex, and to my disappointment, we didn't get to see the Africa complex before the park closed for the day.  We'll definitely have to go back :)

If you're a bird lover, we saw lots of really interesting birds.  We saw some adorable and entertaining seals and river otters.  There were beautiful cats (not the domestic variety, of course), bears, and possibly my favorite, two red wolves.  We walked and walked until our feet and legs were worn out.

My DH took all of the pictures in this post.  The photographer (and the shutter speed) have to be pretty fast to get a good picture of the animals because they were not standing still and posing for these shots.  It was a great day to be there because the weather has been cooler, and I think the animals were feeling pretty energetic.

Too cute, right?

There were just a few of us standing at this area when the seals started playing and showing off.  There was no one coaching them; it was totally spontaneous.

 Never has swimming looked like so much fun!  They swam upside down, on their sides and rolled over and over underwater.  This guy is on his side looking at us through the glass.

Have you ever seen Puffins?  These are the neatest birds.  DH and I recently saw a special about them on UNC Public TV.

There were bunches of Puffins in the exhibit, but they were behind glass, and it was hard to get a good, clear picture.

This one is tucked into a hole in the rock.

This funny-looking fellow is a Hooded Merganser.  From the side, his head looks almost flat.

This next picture looks funny.  The other ducks were swimming peacefully in the water, and suddenly these two fellows came chasing each other through the water, flapping their wings, stretching their necks, and generally just "showing off".

This sign explains their behaviour ;)

These bobcats don't really look that big.  If you didn't know better, you could almost believe they're house cats.

The cougars were napping in their hidey-hole.

Amazing that all of our dogs are descended from wolves.

The desert animals are enclosed in a dome, which has its own micro-climate where plants and flowers normally found in the desert can thrive.

This is a Prickly Pear Cactus.

I'm ending this post with these desert birds, which I thought were so
interesting.  Have you ever seen a real Roadrunner?

I always thought they looked like this...

"Meep Meep"

This last bird is called a Gambel's Quail.  He's so colorful, and I love the, well...dipsy-doodle on his head.

And I couldn't help but remember...

And here's a cutie with two dipsy-doodles...

**Disclaimer:  Subjects in previous two pictures not found in the zoo ;)

Have you been to the zoo lately?  I discovered it's a wonderful way to forget about all your problems for a day.  Hope you enjoyed the sights, and thanks so much for visiting the House at Forest Manor.  More zoo pictures soon.

I'll be joining Susan at A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday and The Tablescaper for Seasonal Sundays later this week.  Thank you, ladies, for hosting these parties every week! 


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wednesday's Words

Nothing Gold Can Stay
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold,
Her early leaf's a flower,
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
                  Robert Frost

(This poem was written in 1923 and published in October of the same year)

We are into the month of October now, and I've been looking around the web to find interesting words relating to October.  October is derived from the Latin "octo", meaning eight, because October was the eighth month in the old Roman calendar.  It is the tenth month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars.

My word for this week is "vendange",  and it's the French word for grape harvest.  Nowadays, wineries have automated presses to crush the grapes and get the precious juices for wine.  But a few centuries ago, the grapes were crushed by dumping them in a huge container and the people of the village would take off their shoes and stomp the grapes with their bare feet.  That always makes me think of the old "I Love Lucy" episode. ;)  Does anyone remember that?

When I first started my blog, I had several ideas of things I wanted to write about and photograph. I knew I definitely wanted to blog about our local wineries here in North Carolina.  We live in the Yadkin Valley region -- the Yadkin River is about three miles from our home (as the crow flies).  We've visited these wineries many times over the years, and we're always amazed at how they've grown and multiplied.  The first winery to open in the Yadkin Valley was West Bend Winery, and it's about half an hour's drive from where we live.  I actually did a post on it back in the winter; you can read about it here.  Unfortunately, that's the only winery we've had a chance to visit this year, what with all of our other traveling here and there. :-)  I'm hoping we'll be able to do some winery tours before winter arrives.

Mary at Home Is Where The Boat Is has done some recent posts on North Carolina wineries, so if you get a chance, you should stop by and see her blog.  Her pictures are always gorgeous!  Mary's "Celebrating The Grape" posts are about Wine Appreciation Month (actually designated for September) in North Carolina.  Even though it's now October, I think it's still a prime time of the year to visit the vineyards.  We've probably missed the actual "vendange", or grape harvest, but you can still enjoy visiting your local winery.

Thanks for stopping by House at Forest Manor!  Your visits are always appreciated!

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