Pedagogy of the Plants

Curry and Eggs

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Murraya koenigii

Murraya koenigii (and Halyomorpha halys)

A curious array of stink bug eggs is almost tossed into a pan of shimmering olive oil. Once apparent, they’re returned to the potted plant. Hopefully the compassionate act doesn’t end in the decimation of beloved leaves.

Click here for the vegan pozole recipe these tiny orbs almost joined.

Written by Cameron Brooks

June 4, 2019 at 5:51 pm

Barometer Earthstar

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Astraeus hygrometricus

In the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, a chance encounter with this earthstar over a year ago required balance. Literally.

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Astraeus hygrometricus

The High Shoals Creek Falls Trail was closed, but a fallen tree offered intrepid hikers views of the waterfall. A mud-caked log was the only route across the creek after a tree chopped the footbridge in half.

The curious alien spore sac rested on a rock next to the platform/overlook.

Hairy White Oldfield Aster

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Symphyotrichum pilosum

Strange Fruit in Montgomery

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A weekend road trip and bike ride around Montgomery triggers an unrelenting lump in the throat.

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Revisiting the House Without Us

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Six years after visiting North Carolina’s Outer Banks for the first time, I returned this summer. Kudzu continues to slowly swallow this house on Highway 64 in Jamesville. View photos from that initial road trip here.

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Written by Cameron Brooks

July 16, 2018 at 6:15 pm

Metro Vines

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Written by Cameron Brooks

June 16, 2018 at 4:42 pm

South African Aloe

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Aloe mutabilis

Written by Cameron Brooks

June 16, 2018 at 4:29 pm

Bolivian Bromeliad

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Deuterocohnia brevifolia

Written by Cameron Brooks

June 16, 2018 at 4:18 pm

A Pineapple Grows in D.C.

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Ananas comosus (pineapple)

Written by Cameron Brooks

June 16, 2018 at 4:03 pm

Henna Seed Pods

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Lawsonia inermis (henna)

Written by Cameron Brooks

June 16, 2018 at 3:53 pm

One Groovy Orchid

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Paphiopedilum lowii

Written by Cameron Brooks

June 16, 2018 at 3:19 pm

Sprawl-Like Venation Patterns

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Carica papaya (papaya)

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Papaver somniferum (opium poppy)

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Abroma augustum (devil’s cotton)

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Cocos nucifera (coconut tree)

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Cinnamomum verum (Ceylon cinnamon)

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Theobroma cacao (cacao)

 

Kudzu Vista

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Kudzu On the Tracks

The latest section of greenway spits cyclists out near Lexington Road. A short ride west under Loop 10 leads to the now-vacant homeless camp called Tent City, which sits on one of many recently clear cut and mulched embankments around town. Hike up to the top of the hill, past a handful of abandoned huts and peek under the overpass for an incredible view of kudzu blanketing a stretch of buried railroad.

Written by Cameron Brooks

May 26, 2018 at 11:53 am

Tent City

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On the morning of the last day of school, one of my students pulled me aside and discreetly mentioned, “This weekend we’re moving to a place called The Salvation Army.” I explained where it’s located and talked it up as a place where they’ll be well-taken care of until they have to move again (a familiar ritual). After our conversation, I wondered how the residents of a local homeless camp were faring given recent destruction of woodland habitats, and recalled my first visit to Tent City.

I drove across town to join a small hodgepodge of volunteers from Athens and Atlanta in a Lowes parking lot on the morning of January 6th, 2008. The meeting was organized by an Atlanta-based nonprofit called The Mad Housers. We drove two miles west to Tent City on Lexington Road, a homeless camp tucked into the woods along a stretch of Loop 10.

Wielding tools and panels constructed the day before, we hiked up a shady trail dotted with tents and rudimentary lean-tos in varying states of disrepair. It was hard to discern which were occupied and which ones were abandoned. Once the path leveled a bit, a gentle war veteran named Radar greeted us with firm handshakes. He was the reason for our visit.

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Radar and the rest of our crew spent the next few hours chatting while building his new home, the now-vacant hut pictured above.

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The Mad Housers returned to Tent City and built more homes over the years. Radar passed away, then a woman named Sissy shared the hut with her ailing mother.

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Now everyone is gone. Crews contracted by the Georgia Department of Transportation are in the process of felling trees and clearing undergrowth alongside major roadways. According to a piece on the WUGA website, the project “pushed back the tree line to reduce shadows on the road and ensure falling trees wouldn’t disrupt traffic in storms.”

Whether it’s a mom unable to pay rent and utilities, a chipmunk or garter snake seeking refuge from predators, or military veterans and the mentally ill seeking shelter, the DOT has disrupted more than a few fallen trees and shadows on the road ever could.

 

 

Written by Cameron Brooks

May 26, 2018 at 11:47 am

Hanging Out Above Tallulah Gorge

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On days devoted to whitewater boating, 500-700 cubic feet of water flows through the Tallulah Gorge every second. A cool mist rises to meet hikers from around the world swaying in awe 80 feet above on a suspension bridge.

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The eastern tiger swallowtail clings to a red maple limb.

Written by Cameron Brooks

April 23, 2018 at 6:59 pm

Futility

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A futile dune and sea oat array in Flagler County now protect residents and wayward tourists along a stretch of A1A from the Atlantic Ocean.

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Written by Cameron Brooks

March 21, 2018 at 8:52 pm

Palma Sola Bay to Sarasota Bay

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A bicycle tour south through Bradenton Beach and Longboat Key begins with great egrets, brown pelicans and an opportunistic gull.

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After grooming atop a pole, an agile resident settles into a standing split.

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Vying for scraps, a laughing gull plops down on a pelican’s back as it dives for mullet.

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Next is a ride through the Robinson Preserve.

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Stretches of paved path yield to elevated sections winding through mangrove forest.

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Hidden breaks in the forest lead to amazing vistas of the bay.

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A flock of white pelicans slowly bobs up and down until one notices a school of fish.

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An awkward orange, black and white ruckus erupts. The collective briefly takes flight.

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Crashing down onto one another, the frenzy lasts maybe a minute (but it doesn’t appear that many catch a snack).

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Compared to Robinson, Perico Preserve is a smaller and younger restoration project. Bikes are restricted to a small loop, but the route includes curious flora and fauna, including fallen trees and sharp turns.

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Drivers and cyclists on Manatee Avenue are forced to take in the view as a yacht lumbers through the drawbridge over Anna Maria Sound.

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More avian natives eye tourists from a weathered jetty on Coquina Beach.

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Taking such subjective advice in Florida (and across the US) is hard these days.

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A dune daisy blooms below one of many towering resorts occupying Longboat Key.

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The day’s ride begins and ends on Palma Sola Bay.

Leaf Flock

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Written by Cameron Brooks

December 20, 2017 at 7:08 pm

Dora Canal Dock

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Dora Dock

Written by Cameron Brooks

December 20, 2017 at 6:29 pm

Pattern Recognition

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Grayscale Sand Pattern

Low Tide

 

Written by Cameron Brooks

November 3, 2017 at 6:58 pm