Tag Archives: Spring

Praying Mantis | Babies Hatch

A spirea bush in front of the house had two praying mantis egg cases attached to twigs. We first noticed them last fall. Each warm day this spring we checked to see if the young were hatching. It finally happened. They were about 1 cm (<1/2 in) long. They sat for a while to dry and firm up their exoskeleton.

Soon after that they scurried along the twigs and leaves for cover. This one stopped long enough to look back at us before it disappeared. More about the mantis in an earlier post when one of last year’s brood looked into our front window.

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Hiking with Ben on Paris Mountain, S. Carolina

by Melanie and Jim

A third of a century, ten days, 1977 miles, nine states. Lots of numbers but how do they add up? The first number is how long we’ve been married. Yep, in February we celebrated 33 and a third years of wedded bliss. The other three numbers describe the trip we took in honor of that occasion. We have family in South Carolina, people we love and don’t get to spend enough time with. We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than to visit them.

(On the way down we stopped at Metropolis, IL and took these pictures with Superman.)

Our family members live east of Greenville, SC. By coincidence, our friend Ben is in Greenville. Since we were going to be in the area, we arranged to meet Ben for dinner one evening and a hike the next morning.

Ben is a bicyclist and hiker, so he’s in great shape and was eager to lead our hike. He also … crashes, or at least has in the past. A few years ago while riding, he took a nasty fall that did a lot of damage. We saw the X-rays and let me just say they were spectacular. And last summer he told me about a fall on a trail in North Carolina. After tumbling several feet down the mountain, over rocks and between trees, he finally stopped unhurt. When Jim and I hiked in New Mexico in September, the trail edged along cliffs, and we joked that we didn’t want to “do a Ben.”

We agreed to hike at Paris Mountain State Park, just north of Greenville. Paris Mountain is a monadnock, or a mountain that stands alone. Its highest elevation is above 2,000 feet. There are a number of trails of varying lengths. We chose a loop trail that is about 4.5 miles.

The uphill slope had a gradual rise and a number of switchbacks to keep it that way. Though there are plenty of rocks and roots, its relatively smooth surface and slope make it an attractive run for mountain bikers as well as hikers. Here is a picture of Ben and me on our way up. This picture and all others were taken by Jim.

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Another look at the footing on the way up — not always smooth.

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In contrast to the winter we left in Iowa, South Carolina and the park were green. Rhododendrons and holly are evergreen, in fact.

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When we reached the top of our trail and headed back downhill, the characteristics changed dramatically. The slope was much steeper, the trail narrower and with more difficult footing. Several places offered great opportunities to bash your head on the rocks. At one point I wondered how Ben and Jim would carry me out, if I “did a Ben” and slipped on the slick rocks.

The downhill trail followed a small stream for much of the way. Though we couldn’t always see the water, we could hear it. Near the bottom the stream widened and calmed some. Jim caught this turtle sunning itself on a log.

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It is about 6″ wide.

Thanks for the hike, Ben, and thanks to Ben and Kathy and Lucy, for the good company at dinner. If you are ever in Iowa, we hope you stop to visit us.