LAPC: Keep Walking

Lens-Artists’ Photo Challenge #163 invites us to share photos of our walking trails and discoveries!

We used to hike much more than we do now. Even so, when we are traveling and there is an opportunity to take a walking tour, we take advantage of it! Also, we go on day trips in the Chicago area, to a variety of places to find something artistic or unusual.

On our first day in Tanzania, we spent the morning on a genuine hike! This ficus tree captured my interest.

On that same hike, our guide stopped to pick up something off the ground – a giraffe turd! Holding it in his open palm, he told us it was the turd of a male giraffe, because of its somewhat football shape. Female giraffe turds are flat on each end! Several of our group of hikers crowded around to get a close-up of this unusual find! The guide patiently waited, while with his other hand he looked at something on his cellphone!

Where there is giraffe poop, you can be sure there are giraffes nearby! This one walked nonchalantly away from us – since it was also a male giraffe, I wonder if his was the deposit we had been examining!

Later during that trip, on the day we arrived at Serengeti National Park, another hike had been arranged! I love to walk because that is when I see the small things that would be missed on a bike or traveling in a vehicle! I took photos of these three small things on that hike.

giraffe footprint
Scorpion flower
Dung beetles roll dung into balls, then dig a depression in the earth and push the dung ball into it. The dung beetles lay their eggs in it.

Most of my walks are short treks either around campus or somewhere else in town. On campus one day, which happened to be my birthday, Dale and I were taking our usual walk around campus, when we came upon two other residents who were walking their dogs and had stopped to chat (while social distancing!). It’s common for residents to greet each other or chat on these walks, but before long, someone says, “Well, I need to keep walking” and they go their separate ways.

During the pandemic, we’ve taken day trips to far-flung suburbs and nature reserves.

Dale stops on a wooden bridge over a marsh at Cuba Marsh Forest Preserve.
Reflections in a lagoon – Cuba Marsh

Some of my favorite walks are in sculpture parks! Our walk at Morton Arboretum, which happened to be on my birthday this year, was in search of a new installation of sculptures by a South African artist.

Dale approaches the first sculpture, called “Hallow,” at Morton Arboretum
We did not stop to rest on this bench, although the scene was inviting.
The last sculpture, “Basilica,” of the installation that we visited. The artist of these beautiful sculptures is behind the left hand. It was cool to be able to meet and chat with him a little! I don’t know who the little girl was – she just happened to get in my picture!

Tree Squares: More Trees in Tanzania

For Becky’s July #TreeSquares challenge, I continue featuring trees in Tanzania, with things hanging from their branches.

I don’t know, or don’t remember (if I was told at the time) the name of this tree, but was fascinated by the strange pods or fruits hanging from it.

On the other hand, we saw many acacia trees with these tightly woven birds’ nests hanging from them.

These nests are made by the male weaver. He attracts a mate by having woven the best nest in the neighborhood!

When the weavers’ nests are abandoned, they hang bedraggled from the tree.

Tree Square: Trees For Sale

These “hanging” trees were for sale in a Curitiba mall. Christmas trees, perhaps? I took this photo in mid-November; in Brazil, Christmas is celebrated in the summer, so some of its wintery themes that are copied by Brazilians are rather incongruous, but these little pines will surely thrive in Curitiba’s climate.

Hanging trees – these trees are for sale and ready to plant with their root systems intact.

Head over to Becky’s July #Tree Square challenge and see more trees!

July 9 SquareTree: The Araucaria

A quote that another blogger posted about trees prompted me to create this post as my contribution to the 9th day of Becky’s July Squares, with the topic of trees.

The author of this quote, Jaime Lerner, is a Brazilian who in the early 1970s was the mayor of the city of Curitiba, the capital of Paraná, a state in southern Brazil. Anyone who has been to Curitiba will recognize how appropriate this quote is for his city and his impact as urban planner and mayor. Between my first visit in 1971 and my last, five years ago, the city has not only grown to over 1 million inhabitants but also contains a number of beautiful parks, including several dedicated to ethnic groups in the city, a pedestrian area in downtown, and a comprehensive system of rapid transit buses (BRT), among many other innovations which began during Jaime Lerner’s tenure as mayor.

Rua das Flores, pedestrian street in downtown Curitiba

I hold Curitiba in my heart as my favorite city in Brazil, and one of its attractions that I am particularly fond of is a tree native to southern Brazil, araucaria angustifolia, better known as o pinheiro do Parana’ although it is not actually a pine. It belongs to the conifer family. I had never seen a tree like it before; it is so unique and is found only in southern Brazil and some parts of northern Argentina, Uruguay and Chile. All over Curitiba are these wonderful trees, which I feature in square photos below.

Towering araucaria against a darkening sky

The Wikipedia article about this araucaria species says that it is critically endangered, having lost 97% of its habitat to logging and agriculture.

araucarias in a park

The species is spread via its seeds, called the pinhão, by Parana’s state bird, the azure jay, and other animals.

Historical Portuguese style church in downtown Curitiba, with an araucaria rising up behind another historical building.

The article also says that this tree is dioecious – some are male and some are female. The male produces an oblong cone (the photo below shows how they look when they are dried up). The female’s cones are spherical and quite large, and inside are the pinhão seeds (100-150 per cone), which are about 2 inches long and taste sort of like pine nuts or chestnuts.

The shell of the pinhão is also used to make small crafts.

CFFC: The Ground We Travel

Cee’s Fun Photo Challenge this week is: Ground: sand, dirt, paths, walks, trails, roads, etc.

Bridges, paths & walkways, desert and mountain terrains, and national parks – these are some of the places to find interesting “ground.” Sometimes there is an added bonus: a lizard, a flower, or a butterfly, or something ugly, like trash. This challenge is a way to showcase the photos I don’t usually publish in other posts!

Chicago Botanic Gardens: bridges, paths, and walkways

Cuba Marsh Wildlife Preserve (Illinois): walkways and grassland

The Middle East (Egypt and Israel): Desert landscapes, markets and farms

Mountain and Southwest (USA) terrain: ground above & below the tree line and rocks at Rocky Mountain National Park; trails and paths at Bryce Canyon National Park