Archive for April, 2014
While I love walking through our yard and garden at all times of the day, there’s always something different blooming, I think the evening walk throughs are my favorite. Particularly those when the sun is just down in a particular manner to the west, casting the right light through the trees. The birds are still active and the frogs are beginning to sing just a little bit. It’s soothing to go through and see new plants sprouting or growing and others blooming. I keep waiting for a few areas to fill in, to create the lush scene that I imagine in my head. Some plants I want to hug because I love them so much. That’s probably a little strange to say, but a lot of them really do make me quite happy.
We’re lucky that the area where we live is packed with frogs and toads. As dusk settles in the frog song escalates to new heights and sometime deep in the summertime it’ll be a cacophony of noise that we can hear inside the house. Someday I need to record it to share with y’all. Some of the frogs we see most often are green tree frogs, Hyla cinerea, like this one here. They love to tuck themselves around in between various plants and it is always a treat to find one.
Do you have any frogs or toads in your garden?
I was going to wait to write a pregnancy post until a week from now after my 23 week appointment, but I’ve got thoughts so I decided I’d write them down now instead. I think this dress came from my friend Erika, but I’m not sure. I’ve been lucky to have obtained maternity clothes from three different people which has allowed me to minimize my clothing purchases while pregnant. Normally I am not really into dresses. Skirts yes, but dresses typically make me very self conscious about my flabby middle. Since the middle isn’t so much flabby as carrying a child at the moment, it seemed like an option to try. Overall it was comfortable but half the time I wondered if I looked like I was wearing a muumuu.
Also, I have no real concept of how big I am. Other than my belly feeling generally tight and uncomfortable at times, I have no perception of how much it sticks out until I see a photo of myself. I still try to squeeze into places that I quickly realize I can’t fit through anymore, such as pulling a chair out further than I normally would have, or opening car doors when the space is tight because the car next to us is parked so close. It doesn’t register until I’m trying to do these things that I need more room than I thought. I’m sure this is all going to continue to get worse as time marches closer to September.
So far the most annoying things going on right now is indigestion and the inability to sleep comfortably. The frustrating thing is that I can sleep fairly well on my back but everything I keep seeing says not to sleep on your back as it decreases blood flow to you and to the baby, or at least that’s what the theory is and research is sketchy and minimal. Sleeping on the left side is what I see recommended but there’s only so long I can sleep on my left side. And then there’s the few nights last week when I ended up with restless legs. I’ve had it on occasion over the years and I’m hoping it only makes its appearance this one time and doesn’t return because I’m not interested in dealing with that, too. Another thing is when I wake up in the mornings I often feel as I did ab work all night because my belly feels quite sore. It goes away a few minutes after I am up and walking. As far as the indigestion, Tums is my friend for the moment. Sometimes I think a certain food isn’t going to bother me the way foods like spaghetti sauce and Mexican will, but of course just when I’m laying down in the evening here comes the heartburn. Thank you progesterone.
As for the Bradley Method classes, we’ve had three classes so far and I’ve really liked them. The first sessions go over some of the basics of pregnancy and I think were more beneficial to Chris than me since I’d done a lot of reading prior to the class. I think as we get further along in the classes we’ll both definitely benefit. It seems most people don’t really know what the Bradley Method is because everyone asks if it is like Lamaze, which it is not. While there is a focus on relaxed breathing, there’s definitely no rhythmic breathing like Lamaze which is discouraged due to its ability to hyperventiliate.
The Bradley Method focuses on several main aspects: the inclusion of a partner to act as a coach/spokesperson for the mother, relaxation techniques during the first and second stages of labor, focusing on a high quality diet that relies on a 80-100 grams of protein intake, and exercises to practice prior to birth that can be used during birth but also to build stamina for the hours of labor. Also within all of this it relies heavily on that balancing of options that are available to the mother during labor, particularly all of the interventions that take place during pregnancy and during labor. It is focused on researching your options before hand, knowing how to take the information as it comes to you during labor, and making educated decisions on any interventions that may or may not be needed.
I definitely feel more confident and assured in my decision for a natural childbirth at this point in the game. I peruse some pregnancy forums sometimes and I see women posting in their third trimester saying they decided to opt for a natural childbirth and all I can think is that the liklihood for them to have a natural childbirth at that point is probably on the low side. Not that it couldn’t happen, but I feel that the earlier one decides to go for a natural birth, the better. There’s more time for studying and researching all of the options, for the mental preparation of it all, and to talk it over with those who will be involved in the birth. Moreover, the earlier you pick a doctor or midwife who is pro-natural birth, the better. If you are waiting until mid to late pregnancy to decide for a natural birth there’s a good chance the doctor you are with isn’t going to be as open minded as you are hoping for.
I also feel confident in Chris, too. In the few weeks after I discovered I was pregnant I remember talking to him about potential birth plans and one of his reactions was something along the lines of “You aren’t going to want a hippy, weird birth, are you?”. Which, I was. Ok, so I wasn’t wanting a home birth, but I wasn’t wanting the Standard American Birth that everyone is accustomed to. It took some time and that’s when I realized that the Bradley Method would be what would work best for us. It kept Chris involved, allowing him to learn alongside me. He’s not a big book reader but will do research online for all sorts of things to teach himself, but I definitely knew that a class would be more beneficial than to strictly research online and for a book to languish somewhere unread.
And that’s really where we are at the moment. Teddy is more active every day, though he has his lazy days. Sometimes I tell him to move around so I know he’s in there, and of course he doesn’t behave and waits all day until I’m laying in bed to start moving around.
On our second day of swamp walking in Fakahatchee Strand we went to a completely different section of the central slough, coming in from Janes Scenic Drive, the main dirt road that winds up through the park. This would be a bushwhacking adventure instead of the easy walk like the previous day. We also did not end up hiking with Mike this day as he had a group of other volunteers and was leaving from a little bit further down the road than we were. Theorhetically our destinations were the same, a large and deep pond about a mile north of the road, but in the end it was only our group that ended up getting up to that pond.
First off we walked through brush and vegetation that wasn’t too terrible, reaching the first pond and circumnavigating it quickly. Not finding anything out of the ordinary we moved on maybe a hundred yards to the east-northeast to another pond. It was there we found a few orchids and the interesting scars on the downed tree that had been nearly hauled out of the swamp half a century or more ago. After visiting this pond it was then that we found thicker brush and spent a good deal of time bushwhacking to get up to the largest pond about a half a mile north. A half mile doesn’t sound horrible, but when you aren’t necessarily walking in a straight line and have to slow down for briars and vines, well, it can take a lot longer than one might imagine.
The large pond was fantastic and worth the work to get to it. It seemed to go on and on and I know that I didn’t see the breadth of the area. Chris had an encounter with an alligator on one side of the pond, but I attempted to stay no deeper than my knees, though on occassion I ended up thigh deep due to necessity. Being out there in the swamp, a mile from the road, it is a unique feeling. A mile from a road in any typical wilderness doesn’t sound very far, but in Fakahatchee it is a place that very few people ever get to see.
Our hike out didn’t take the same path and Chris and I separated from the others we’d hiked in with. Using our GPS we hiked generally in a south direction, only changing a couple of times to head east in an attempt to find a tram to parallel. The trams are generally overgrown and unpassable, though sometimes you can walk in the ditches that are directly adjacent to them. We had a short scare while crossing over one of the trams when a branch flipped back into Chris’ eye. He had me look in his eye but I saw nothing, thinking maybe he scratched it instead. He doused water in his eye and managed to get a small piece of a twig out! That had to have been quite painful!
Moving onward we began really bushwhacking our way out, moving slowly as we ducked under tree limbs, climbed over tree limbs, and attempted to avoid the poison ivy and Smilax vines, mostly to no avail. Eventually we found our way out to Janes Scenic Drive much farther east than we’d entered the swamp. To our west we saw a group of people, thinking it was the guys we’d hiked in with. Instead it was Mike and the crew he’d gone into the swamp! We’d really hiked further east than we’d intended!
We stood around and chatted with the folks we hadn’t met before and Chris caught up with a few people he knew from previous years of swamp hiking. Eventually we made it back to the truck we’d came to the swamp in and then headed back to the cabin we were all staying in or camping at. The last few photos are from the cabin. The cabin owners graciously let the park use the cabin a few times a year for various events. The park has several areas of inholdings and the cabin is one of them. It’s about two miles down a tram from Janes Scenic road and is probably one of the more popular hiking/biking trams there is in the park. A plethora of alligators hang out in the pond behind the cabin.
Chris went out again the next morning but I was done swamping so I opted do some other exploring closer to the cabin and up on Janes Scenic Drive instead. More on that in another post…
The potting bench is a little crowded these days, and I still need to start some more seeds! We have a flat of these jack-in-the-pulpits as well as more in larger containers. Last spring Chris ordered a bunch of the bulbs and they didn’t come up. The dirt ended up being dumped in a big container with other soil and lo and behold they sprouted this spring! I think it’s time we get these in the ground, though.
I started bottle gourd seeds to grow along the vegetable garden fence this summer, along with luffa seeds. I’m imagining a lush fence with vines covered in blooms! I can’t wait!
And there’s more seeds I want to start, too. Herbs, flowers, veggies…I love seed starting season!
Lots of photos in this post!
Our first day in Fakahatchee for the yearly Central Slough Survey, we joined park biologist Mike Owen and several other botany and plant enthusiasts for a slow slog down Mink Slough. The best thing about walking through this slough was the generally it was fairly easy walking with little bushwhacking. The Central Slough Survey is conducted by Mike and some other trusted folks who are on the lookout for rare plants. Some plants on the radar are those that are thought to be extirpated from the park. Back in the 40s and 50s the swamp was logged and throughout the swamp logging trams were built in order to reach the furthest depths of the slough. In addition to the logging there were plenty of people who came and poached the orchids. Of course this area wasn’t protected at that time so it makes sense that there was poaching, but it is difficult to really get a grasp on what was even lost.
Mike can only get to so many places in the park and often relies on other people who are out exploring to keep him updated on the status of particular plants or even animal sightings such as panthers or bears. When one hikes with Mike out in the swamp it it wise to know that it will be slow going since Mike takes notes on the status and estimated amount of plants, particularly epiphytes, in various areas of the swamp. Our goal for hiking down Mink Slough was to get to several remote ponds. Due to the slow going of the day we only made it to a couple of ponds before hitting a tram and having to turn around mid-afternoon.
There was definitely one noticeable change out in Fakahatchee, the loss of a lot of bromeliad species. The Mexican bromeliad weevil has decimated the giant airplant population in Fakahatchee so much so that the park is now collecting any flowering and healthy plants and giving them to two botanic gardens in the state in order to propagate new plants so they can be reintroduced later again in the park. The giant airplant isn’t the only bromeliad taking a hit, the Guzmania monostachia have taken a big hit as well. Certain areas that were covered in the bromeliad are virtually empty now. There was even a rare version of this plant that was variegated and we didn’t see a single one of those while out there. You can see one of our previous finds here.
Part II of our swamp explorations in Fakahatchee Strand coming soon…
I first noticed this vine last year, which grows on a pine tree just on the other side of our fence on the neighbor’s property, and had identified it as poison ivy. Chris just noticed it this year and wants to cut the vine, which is within reach of our snippers. It’s a pretty magnificent vine despite its itchiness status! Either way, you’ve got to appreciate the tenacity of poison ivy!