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Mystery Plant! #783

John Nelson

Posted 7/10/24

By John Nelson
johnbnelson@sc.rr.com

“Savanna” –there’s no “h.”

Of course, we all know Forrest Gump’s beautiful city with its midnight gardens, as well as the river that flows between Georgia and South Carolina, but a savanna is different.

In the Southeast, a savanna is an ecosystem situated in the coastal plain, largely dominated by pines (mostly longleaf pine), and featuring a variety of sandy soils, these periodically wet. Savannas have been known historically as some of the most biologically diverse habitats on our planet, featuring enormous numbers of plant and animal species. A requirement for the development and continued existence of savanna habitat has been periodic fires, largely from lightning strikes, that would burn away undergrowth and shrubs, allowing the formation of a rich layer of herbaceous plants, including grasses, sedges, orchids, ferns, lilies, milkweeds, sunflowers, hatpins, meadow-beauties, and carnivorous sundews and pitcher plants, among other things, a number of which are very, very rare.

(Photo by John Nelson.)

Historically, coastal savannas were known from southeastern Virginia all the way to Texas, but sadly, very few of the original savannas remain, having fallen away to progress and development, and to the suppression of natural forest fires. Many of the plants native to them remain, however, but sometimes only along open ditch lines that are so common along our country roads. Although ditch lines along highways usually receive little acclaim, they can act as savanna remnants or “refugia”, providing the last possible habitats for various plants (and animals) after the surrounding landscape has been altered.

Here’s a savanna plant that is really spectacular.  It’s a milkweed, and sure enough, its tissues contain plenty of white, sticky latex, which gives this group of species its common name. (The more common, and related, low-growing butterfly-weed is also a part of this group, but its sap is clear, not milky.) Our Mystery Plant has a smooth, unbranched stem, up to 4 feet tall. Four or five pairs of skinny leaves will be found on the stem, with brilliant flowers in several clusters at the top. Each flower has five small sepals at its base, pretty much hidden by the five bright red petals. Above each petal will be a bright red (or more commonly, orange) structure called a hood, with a sharp-pointed “horn” emerging from the top.  Following the flowers, smooth, erect seed pods (“follicles”) will form, these eventually releasing wind-borne seeds, floating by means of a tuft of silky hairs.

This species is a regular inhabitant of coastal savannas, or savanna remnants, and occurs from New Jersey south through Florida and west to Texas. If you’d like to see it in its natural landscape, you might investigate savanna sites at the Francis Marion National Forest (Berkeley and Charleston Counties, SC) or the Nature Conservancy’s Green Swamp Preserve (Brunswick County, NC).

[Answer:  “Savanna milkweed,” Asclepias lanceolata]

John Nelson is the retired curator of the Herbarium at the University of South Carolina, in the Department of Biological Sciences. As a public service, the Herbarium offers free plant identifications. For more information, visit www.herbarium.org or email johnbnelson@sc.rr.com.

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Living on Purpose: Remembering the cost of our independence

Dr. William Holland

Posted 7/10/24

By Dr. William Holland

This week we celebrate Independence Day which is also commonly known as the Fourth of July. It’s a federal holiday commemorating America’s independence from the British empire which over the past 250 years has maintained a public display of pride and patriotism. This past Sunday at church we sang a heartfelt melody of patriotic songs that declared, America. America, God shed His grace on thee, Glory, Glory Hallelujah His truth is marching on, and God bless the USA! There were American flags at every entrance with beautiful decorations. Many wore red, white, and blue to show their love and allegiance to this great nation. Why is it great? It is indeed a land filled with some of the most breathtaking landscapes on the planet, but it’s the hard-working, courageous, and God-fearing people who love and obey His truth that makes living here a privilege and honor.

July 4th is significant because it is the anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress, a governing body of delegates from the thirteen original American colonies. The document officially declared the United States of America’s independence from British rule. It came nearly a month after Virginia Delegate Richard Henry Lee proposed for the colonies to seek independence. The Declaration of Independence we know and love was largely written by Thomas Jefferson, while other members of Congress suggested edits and finally approved one of the most important documents in our history.

The American Revolution was a war for independence, a conflict of self-defense fought by families and neighbors on American farms against a fierce enemy coming from an ocean away. It impacted millions from Vermont’s Green Mountains to the swamps of South Carolina, from Indian Country to the Iberian Peninsula. In defeating the British Empire and giving birth to a new nation, the American Revolution made a huge impact on the world. Thirteen colonies on the Atlantic Coast were victorious from being controlled by a constitutional monarchy. We rightfully celebrate how they won our independence and established a republic that still endures.

Am I saying this country is perfect, or that it is not guilty of horrible sins? Of course not. There are many areas where the desire for carnal freedom was and is being accepted by a confused legal system that could care less about God’s moral standards.

There are two types of freedom, a spiritual liberty to worship and obey the Almighty, and the aggressive pursuit of fleshly rights that defiantly shake their fist in His face. In recent years liberal unbelievers have tried to destroy the founding documents which were based on Biblical principles and the Christian faith and replace them with a new progressive culture of moral relativism. God will always judge sin and nations are not an exception. He has blessed His remnant because they stand boldly to speak His truth even while facing persecution. Psalm 33:11-12 says, “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”

Of course some rebel against being loyal to any government or nation and accuse those who do with being a nationalist. The pledge of allegiance is an example the dissidents and anarchists use to teach against obeying and trusting governments. I’m not going into a lengthy explanation of this term as there are so many thoughts about it and scholars are not even sure what it means. I believe for the patriotic Christian, honoring the flag includes understanding that God requires for a nation to follow His voice. His children do not worship people or politics but are praying and trusting that He will guide the government by His divine truth.

In recent years, conservatives have been accused of being intolerant, discriminating, and prejudiced by declaring that America is the greatest country ever while looking down on everyone else. Some might feel this way, but I believe the overwhelming majority of patriots who love Christ love all people and respect their cultures, history, and traditions. There is nothing wrong with having a deep sense of appreciation for everything good in a nation as long as it does not include the attitudes of arrogance associated with supremacy or hostility against those from other cultures. The “God and Country” ideology is still very dear to most Americans and should be, as the red stripes of our flag represent valor and the precious blood of those who paid for our independence.

Read more about the Christian life at billyhollandministries.com

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Remembering Ken Burger

Tom Poland

Posted 7/10/24

By Tom Poland
A Southern Writer
www.tompoland.net
tompol@earthlink.net

“Don’t forget to be happy. It’s the only measurement of success that really counts.” – Ken Burger

I wish I had known Ken Burger for more than a day. We were signing books at the same table. As we talked, commonalities surfaced. We grew up in a small town, graduated from the UGA’s Grady College of Journalism, and lived across North Avenue from each other in Athens, Georgia. We each even had a daughter go to Virginia Tech. We hadn’t been too good at marriage either. We were writers in South Carolina but never met until April 28, 2014 at a book signing in Ridgeway.

As we shared tales I detected some Lewis Grizzard in Ken. Then this. Ken said rather proudly, “I graduated dead last in my class.”

“I was dreadful too. Ken, how did two awful students end up being published writers?”

He smiled, those white teeth flashing, and said just one word.

“Talent.”

He was a good writer. When asked what makes a good writer, here’s what Ken said.

“I think writers are born. I’ve been in love with writing since I was a young boy. With the power of words you can make somebody cry or laugh.”

“Cry or laugh …” Yes, you did, Ken.

Two writers, two UGA Dawgs. (Photo by Tom Poland)

I never saw him again, but last week I came across the photo of us in Ridgeway. I knew I had to write about my fellow alum. I reached out to Teddy Hefner, journalist and radio host of “Talking Sports” on Fox Sports 1400 a.m. in Columbia. Teddy shared a memory.

“We were covering a baseball tournament in Miami and went out on the town one night. Ken was having a good time flirting with the young ladies. I kidded him that if he didn’t hire me in Charleston, I was going to tell his wife about all the young ladies. I used her name. Ken was the sports editor at the Charleston Post & Courier then and I was not very happy at The State. Ken looked at me, smiled and said ‘Teddy that was two wives ago.’ ”

Yep, Ken had some Lewis Grizzard in him.

I reached out to Bob Gillespie, former sportswriter and co-author of South Carolina Golf. “He was my closest friend in the sports writing fraternity, a guy I met while we were in our 20s and stayed close to for forty years, spending two decades redefining what made for great stories. His style was simple and direct and always concise in columns for the Charleston Post & Courier, many of which won countless awards. He kept his prose to 500 words–and still outshone all his colleagues. Usually in 10 words or less, he got to the heart of a matter. The rest was gravy, or more accurately, gold. Take, for example, his best-known lead ever, one that made him famous among his writing colleagues–and infamous among a certain element of his readership:

‘I love women. I love basketball. I hate women’s basketball.’

“Ten words, and you knew you either loved what he thought or hated it. You did not, ever, yawn and move on from a Burger column.”

Bob added that Ken was always the first writer in a press box before a game and, of course, always the first to finish and head out afterward. “The man was fast: once he sat to the keyboard, the genius flowed out quickly. I don’t know how well you knew Ken or his prodigious reputation among sports writers in South Carolina and the Southeast, but he was iconic, in part, because he rarely tried to be anything other than what he was: a terrific writer of column-length stories, a teller of tales, a droll observer of sports, writers, and life in general. And my closest friend among fellow scribes for, oh, about 40 years until his death in 2015.”

Bob said Ken was famous for his wardrobe. “Early in his sports career he settled on a look all his own, mostly black (occasionally white) golf shirts, black or khaki pants, black shoes. He was a sportswriter’s Johnny Cash in that look.”

Bob said he and Ken were discussing “writing the truth” as Journalism goes. “He smiled, and quietly, non-judgmentally, said that while he had no problem excoriating pompous coaches or arrogant professional athletes, he believed ‘the truth’ in such cases wasn’t always the way to go. I try never to hurt someone who doesn’t deserve it,” he said. “I never forgot that. I think it made me a better writer, more attuned to people’s lives. I know it made me a better person.”

Ken died October 20, 2015 of prostate cancer two days shy of his 66th birthday. I read this in his obituary. “Ken’s impact went beyond journalism to saving and extending lives. When he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2007, he wrote a series of powerful columns about his courageous battle, turning his diagnosis into an awareness campaign and encouraging men to get screened for cancer.”

Gene Sapakoff spent 38 years at the Post and Courier as a columnist. He wrote a column with the subhead “Ken saves lives” in it. “So this guy walks into a Charleston urologist’s office, which isn’t as funny as walking into a bar, but more helpful. ‘I guess,’ the doctor said, ‘you’re here because of Ken Burger?’

“There’s no punch line. No gut-punch, either. ‘You’re well,’ the doc said after taking the gloves off. ‘More and more guys come in early. Ken’s saved a lot of lives in the Lowcountry.’ ”

Sapakoff wrote this also. “The great man who was last in his class at Georgia is the first sports guy in the South Carolina Journalism Hall of Fame precisely because he was so much more than a sports guy. A whole bunch of prostate cancer survivors (and those who love them) know that.”

The day we met day he signed his book, Baptized in Sweet Tea to me, writing, “To Tom, Be Sweet, Go Dawgs!” Yes, how I wish I had known Ken Burger for more than a day. We crossed paths just that one time, but I will tell you this: Nice guys do finish last. I envy those who knew Ken and I will remember him with reverence the rest of my life.


Tom Poland’s website at www.tompoland.net

Email Tom about most anything at at tompol@earthlink.net 

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Mystery Plant! #782

John Nelson

Posted 7/10/24

By John Nelson
johnbnelson@sc.rr.com

“And, most dear actors, eat no onions
nor garlic, for we are to utter sweet breath…”
                        Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 4, Scene 2

            Faithful readers of this little column will probably remember from somewhere along the line that I have indicated my great fondness for preparing dried, pressed plant herbarium specimens, each of which ends up with a printed label indicating when and where the plant was collected, and the various conditions observed where the plant was growing. I’ve been doing this since college years, long ago, and it is part of my inner directive by now. The thing is, it’s really easy to find plants which lend themselves to be turned from living, photosynthesizing organisms into two-dimensional, scientific objects carefully attached to sheets of high-quality, acid-free paper, hopefully to be cared for by a conscientious curator…indefinitely.

My plant collecting habits have yielded a number of adventures, and in a variety of kinds of places. I am one of those botanists who delights in weedy roadsides, rather than just the “special habitats” that a number of botanists, perhaps a bit more cerebral than I, tend to like investigating. I like to think that I am a botanist who is easily pleased by just about any stretch of ground featuring plant life: there’s always something interesting.

So imagine what it’s like for me, the traveling botany geek, to drive around in the country and suddenly come upon an old homesite replete with luxuriant weeds, but perhaps even more interesting, relics of old gardens. All sorts of plants, previously cared for, will happily persist and bloom, often splendidly, long after the tenants have disappeared. There’s a rather indelicate term for  browsing around old, forgotten landscapes featuring tumble-down farmhouses: “shack botany”.  Here’s a plant that can sometimes be found in forgotten homesteads and garden plots of the Southeast.

(Photo by John Nelson.)

Actually by now, it can be found just about anywhere in the USA. It’s native to eastern Europe and the Mediterranean, and was widely appreciated by the ancient Romans and Greeks. It is a plant belonging to the same species which gives us the cultivated “leek”…but this is a variety which differs considerably. It arises from a huge bulb, just about as big as your fist, made up of massive cloves, much like the regular “garlic” of commerce (which is actually a completely different species).

Widely cultivated in North America for a long time, this plant got popular back in the 1950s for a while, but not so many pay attention to it these days. But it can still be found in old garden plots or even along disturbed roadsides. The plants, when I’ve seen them, are usually in a patch, with stems easily 3’ tell, sporting an impressive “ball” (an umbel, thank you) of stalked flowers.

The cloves produced by the bulb have a strong garlic smell and taste, although they say not as strong as the “real” garlic from the supermarket. I will have to say, though, that the cloves, when spread out on a cookie sheet and baked with a glaze of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt, yield a truly memorable kitchen aroma. And taste.

[Answer:  “Elephant garlic,” Allium ampeloprasum]

John Nelson is the retired curator of the Herbarium at the University of South Carolina, in the Department of Biological Sciences. As a public service, the Herbarium offers free plant identifications. For more information, visit www.herbarium.org or email johnbnelson@sc.rr.com.

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Lives Cut Short

Tom Poland

Posted 7/10/24

By Tom Poland
A Southern Writer
www.tompoland.net
tompol@earthlink.net

I read something unsettling this morning. Prior to modern medicine, the death of infants was so common some folks wouldn’t name children until they had survived a year. But even then … This somber topic has been on my mind since I visited the ruins of Old Sheldon Church in Yemassee. There I came across an area where several infants had been buried beneath princely oaks. It reminded me that my father’s sister died around the age of two and my mother had a brother who died in infancy. Lives cut short.

My mother’s brother died in the early 1900s. My father’s sister died in the early 1920s. First to be born; first to die. It was commonplace back then. Today, over one hundred years later, it is not, and for that we are thankful. What sad times those had to be. I photographed one of the graves at Sheldon Ruins that held my eye. Atop the small stone was the word, “Baby.” On its front, “Born Sept. 23, 1915. Died June 6, 1917.”

An all-too common sadness many years ago. (Photo by Tom Poland)

That word, “baby,” spoke to me and I knew I would honor that child, Harold Miller Moffitt, and his stone with its tiny toys and three coins and a stuffed animal, a cow, leaning against it, left by respectful visitors.

When I visit graveyards, and I do so often, in the older ones I see infants’ graves. They always take me back to a great book that two men, Walker Evans, a photographer, and James Agee, a journalist, co-authored and first published in 1941.

Evans’s photos and Agee’s essay, “Shady Grove, Alabama, July 1936,” provide a poignant description of a cemetery in their classic Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. Agee’s words reveal a mild kind of astonishment at poor people’s graves. “On others of these stones, as many as a dozen of them, there is something I have never seen before: by some kind of porcelain reproduction, a photograph of the person who is buried there; the last or the best likeness that had been made, in a small-town studio, or at home with a snapshot camera. I remember one well of a fifteen-year-old boy in Sunday pants and a plaid pullover sweater, his hair combed, his cap in his hand, sitting against a piece of farm machinery and grinning. His eyes are squinted against the light and his nose makes a deep shadow down one side of his chin.”

Agee described many types of graves: those of tenants, farmers, and the well off and those of lives cut short, such as this one. “Another is a studio portrait, close up, in artificial lighting, of a young woman. She is leaned a little forward, smiling vivaciously, one hand at her cheek. She is not very pretty, but she believed she was; her face is free from strain or fear. She is wearing an evidently new dress, with a mail-order look about it; patterns of beads are sewn over it and have caught the light. Her face is soft with powder and at the wings of her nose lines have been deleted. This image of her face is split across and the split has begun to turn brown at its edges.”

But the one that always gets me is that of an infant. Agee closes his description with the sentiment parents had engraved on the back of the headstone bearing their six-month daughter’s likeness.

“We can’t have all things in life that please us. Our little daughter, Jo Ann, has gone to Jesus.”

If you’ve not read Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, you should. And those of you who come across an infant’s grave from long ago, send up a prayer for an anguished family a hundred years ago.


Tom Poland’s website at www.tompoland.net

Email Tom about most anything at at tompol@earthlink.net 

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Living on Purpose: Be encouraged! God will take care of you

Dr. William Holland

Posted 7/10/24

By Dr. William Holland

It’s reassuring to know that as a child of God, you are not alone in this world. Our gracious heavenly Father has promised that He is aware and interested in even the tiniest occurrences in your life and has promised to be with you always. Does this mean you will never have struggles and problems? Of course not, but knowing we are secure in the palm of His hand definitely gives us hope and faith.

Matthew chapter six reveals that He knows what we need before we even ask Him, and this spiritual insight brings comfort to realize that God loves us more than anything. Ministers and leaders, God is calling you to give Him these heavy weights of concern so that you can be refreshed with His excitement and joy. We cannot help others or give away what we do not have.

I was teaching a Bible study in a Veterans health care facility a while back and closed with a song called, “God will take care of you” written by Civilla Martin in 1904. I love this old hymn and it’s simple yet profound message of security and peace. When we become entangled with the distractions of this life, God’s perfect will can become cloudy and distant. God will take care of us, but we need to let Him.

Have you noticed that discouragement is always lurking in the shadows? It’s a fierce weapon the enemy uses to shut us down, and if we allow negativity, doubt, and fear from our frustrations to saturate and control our minds, this feeds stress and anxiety. Along with resisting the devil, those who serve God on the front lines must learn that slipping away with Jesus and having some quiet time with Him is the best way to live in the confidence of His presence. Often our joy leaks out and our fire needs to be rekindled and getting alone with Him will restore and refresh. Have you heard His still small voice calling you to slip away with Him lately?

Within the New Testament, we read that Jesus would make time to slip away and pray to His Father. We notice in Luke chapter four, as Jesus begins His ministry He is filled and led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness for 40 days to fast and pray. At the end of His life, we find Him in the garden of Gethsemane praying with such intense agony His sweat became as drops of blood. He is our perfect example and this dedicated and sanctified lifestyle of developing an awareness of His presence is the answer to being an overcomer for His glory. The Bible reassures us that God has always known everything, and as a man, Christ knows all about physical and emotional suffering. “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind” Jeremiah 17:10.

If we choose to live a religious life without sacrifice or desire to serve God in our ministry, life is easy and, likely, you will not relate to this message. However, the deeper we become involved with following God and the more of our will we submit to Him, the more we cherish being in the secret place of the Most High. Jesus was tired with laying hands on the masses, healing the sick, crowds seeking Him, manifesting miracles, worrying about His friends, and knowing the cross was waiting for Him, just to mention a few. The demands of life and the responsibilities to manage situations while walking in His Spirit can be overwhelming. Jesus knows ministry is exhausting and our batteries can run down, which is why He draws us to His power source to recharge.

There is no physical pain, no spiritual wound, no anguish of soul or heartache, no infirmity or weakness you or I will ever suffer that the Savior did not experience. Isaiah 53:4 promises that He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, and Isaiah 43:2 declares, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” In times of disappointment and weakness, you may cry out, “No one knows what I’m going through” but the love of God always knows and understands and is ready to intervene

Read more about the Christian life at billyhollandministries.com

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Rogue Squirrel

Tom Poland

Posted 7/2/24

By Tom Poland
A Southern Writer
www.tompoland.net
tompol@earthlink.net

For two summers now I have battled a rogue squirrel, and the score is squirrel 100, Tom zero. He raids my “go to” hummingbird feeder, and he practices guerilla war tactics. He jumps from camellias to swing on my feeder, and when I go for him, he vanishes into a jungle of greenery. He never climbs a tree. The clever rodent has learned that up there I can see him and I have a scope on my Daisy 180. It stings.

This cunning squirrel engages in espionage; he’s like Santa Claus. He knows when I am sleeping and he knows when I am out and about. When I return from the store, my feeder is knocked askew and sugar water is all over my deck. Well, he better watch out and he better not cry, and I’ll tell you why. Santa’s not coming to town, a new sheriff is. The insanity must stop.

A squirrel-free zone. Hopefully. (Photo by Tom Poland)

So far nothing I have done discourages him. I apologize animal activists, but BBs applied with force to his gray, fuzzy derrière only make him crave sugar water that much more. Yesterday he spilt a nice pool of sugar water on the deck and lay on his side lapping it up like a dog. When I opened the sliding glass door, he didn’t even bother to vamoose. He’s addicted. It took a round piece of copper at high velocity to send him on his way. So, animal rights types lest you decide to picket my place, know that last summer he destroyed three $39.95 feeders. He hangs onto them until the glass cracks, and then it’s a matter of time until they shatter. You tell me who’s naughty and nice.

No more nice guy stuff. Spilt sugar water is an unforgivable grievance. Here come the ants and yellow jackets. It’s a sticky mess. My rogue squirrel mayhem brings to mind a camellia breeder who wrapped green cheesecloth around his blooms. “To keep the infernal bees out. They destroy the flower kicking up their little feet like pigs in a trough. I would gladly get rid of the bees if I knew how. I’m an environmentalist but not that kind.”

Colonel Parker, I can relate. This diabolical tree rat overturns my rain gauge on a regular basis. He uprooted every one of my sunflowers three times. He overturned a flower I was rooting while I was away, killing it. I provide him seeds courtesy of the bird feeder and fresh drinking water from two birdbaths and a fountain. And what does this ingrate do? He mocks me with squawking that resembles a wooden wagon wheel in need of a few globs of bear grease.

He has declared war on me, and I am declaring war on him. Saturday morning I got up at 5:30 and sat with my Daisy waiting for him to raid my feeder at daybreak. He had done that four mornings in a row. He was a no-show. The spy knew I was there. And now the final straw. I saw him with a recruit, another tree rat, eyeing my feeder. He’s training reinforcements.

Bill Murray had his hated gopher and Colonel Connor Parker Jr. had his infernal bees. I have a rogue squirrel. Here’s the plan. I will construct a blind and blast him with a high-pressure water hose. That ought to humiliate him. I can’t dispatch him to the squirrel hereafter because the Geneva Convention prohibits that. If I can’t demoralize him, maybe he’ll get diabetes.

I refuse to take my feeders down. I get too much joy watching the hummers. Bottom line? Mr. Rogue Squirrel better be ready for a long war and if he prevails, well, he might want to order a 100-pack of disposable insulin. From Amazon, of course.

 


Tom Poland’s website at www.tompoland.net

Email Tom about most anything at at tompol@earthlink.net 

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A Helping Hand

Tom Poland

Posted 6/26/24

By Tom Poland
A Southern Writer
www.tompoland.net
tompol@earthlink.net

When I read about the recent Hampton Fund scholarships, the words of conservationist and writer Aldo Leopold and a thought came to me. “There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot.” Yes, and there are some who can teach us about wild things and some who cannot. Too many end up in Camp Cannot. Each day, we hear how our environment and natural resources are ailing.

More than ever we need guidance when it comes to wild things and a healthy environment. After all, we’re part of the great natural system where all things must work together. That, I believe, as much as anything is why the Harry Hampton Wildlife Fund recently awarded students $25,000 in scholarships for the 2024-2025 school year. The Fund renewed $31,500 in ongoing four-year scholarships as well for nine prior-year recipients. All together, the financial support comes to $56,500. That’s money well spent, an investment, a helping hand that helps us all.

When I was in high school, I don’t recall any students declaring their intent to pursue an education in a natural resources field. When I read Jim Goller’s quote I realized just what an opportunity we had missed.

“We are committed to providing deserving Palmetto State students opportunities to advance their college educations,” said Hampton Wildlife Fund Executive Director, Jim Goller of Beaufort. What a good thing. Society needs an educated populace in general. In particular, we need stewards who understand natural resources; people who show us the vital role natural resources play in our lives. That’s one reason the Harry Hampton Memorial Wildlife Fund, Inc., a private, non-profit corporation, partners with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. Together, they promote natural resources management and encourage scholarship in natural resources management. Their partnering encourages youth to support the conservation of wildlife, marine, and other resources in South Carolina. It’s a path that didn’t exist in my day.

Today, however, HWF scholarships create a path for those who see a career in natural resource management. In my day I would have eyed the Journalism scholarship big time. I’m happy to see these young people begin their career path with help that comes from private donations, special projects, and fundraising.

The Hampton Fund board of directors established the scholarship program in 1992. It annually awards a $5,000 scholarship to a South Carolina resident student who majors in wildlife, fisheries, forestry, biology, zoology, marine science, environmental science, or related fields. The HWF board of directors interview applicants and select winners based on merit.

Marissa Wetzel, North Augusta, won a four-year Harry Hampton Scholarship of $5,000 per year and will attend the University of South Carolina-Aiken. Alexandra White, Greenville, won the Thomas W. Hardwick Jr. Scholarship of $5,000 per year and will attend Clemson. Silas Carr, of Ladson, won a four-year James O. Thomason Scholarship of $2,000 per year and will attend Clemson. Kayle Brown, Beaufort, won a David M. Cline Scholarship and will attend Charleston Southern. Genoa Hainsworth, Chapin, won a Wallace F. Pate Scholarship and will attend the USC Honors College.

Good for these students. They can teach us what the late Australian, Steve Irwin, understood so well. “We don’t own the planet Earth, we belong to it. And we must share it with our wildlife.”

The Hampton Fund is sharing Earth and its wildlife through its support of those who would become leaders in natural resource disciplines. To date, it’s awarded over $1.15 million in scholarships to South Carolina students.

To learn more about the Hampton Wildlife Fund visit www.hamptonwildlifefund.org and https://www.facebook.com/harryhamptonfund/ on Facebook.


Tom Poland’s website at www.tompoland.net

Email Tom about most anything at at tompol@earthlink.net 

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Mystery Plant! #781

John Nelson

Posted 6/26/24

By John Nelson
johnbnelson@sc.rr.com

But, look, the morn, in russet mantle clad,
              Walks o’er the dew of yon high eastward hill.
                        Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 1

            Dew is something that has long captured the imagination of the poets: it is born from the air, appearing as magic pearls in the morning, often forming spectacular, shiny scenery when the sun hits it just right. Then it disappears.

            The little plant pictured here offers its own kind of “dew,” which of course is not real dew at all, and is not dependent upon the atmosphere. The plants each produce a cluster of tiny spoon-shaped leaves, these arranged in a low rosette. The whole plant may have a “spread” of only a couple of inches. It produces several white or pink-petaled flowers, arranged on an upright, threadlike stalk, 6-8″ or so tall, growing from the center of the rosette. Special hairs covering the upper surface of the leaves secrete a droplet of sticky, clear mucilage. In full sun, the little plants can be spectacular, producing a shimmering vision of sparkling diamonds, and when present in enough numbers the plants may form a brilliantly glistening carpet, very attractive…even if you are not on your hands and knees. This species and its relatives belong to a genus whose name in Greek means “glistening”…as in the morning dew.

(Photo by John Nelson.)

            The beauty of such a scene belies the potential danger to small insects and tiny critters, often attracted to the galaxy of tiny droplets. Some evidence indicates that the droplets have a tempting, sweet taste, hence even more attractive. Thus, tiny critters may be showing up for dinner. Once contacting the drops, though, these insects are invariably glued to the leaf, as the collective effect of the secretions forms a natural kind of sticky fly-paper. Struggling against the sticky dew is of little help, and generally further enmires the victim. After a little while, the tiny leaf blade rolls over the trapped bug, and death soon follows. Well, after all, this is an insectivorous plant, and it is actually feeding upon the valuable nutrients present in the insect’s body. So it turns out that the little dinner guests showing up are they themselves on the menu.

This little plant is one of about 30 different species of insectivorous (or “carnivorous”) plants that can be found in the southeastern USA. This particular species is reasonably common on the coastal plain from Virginia to Texas, and it likes to grow on damp peat or sand of bogs or bays. All insectivorous plants are fully capable of producing their own carbohydrates as a source of energy, through the process of photosynthesis. Additionally, though, insectivorous plants have all evolved mechanisms enabling them to variously trap tiny animals. Nutrients in the bodies of the trapped critters is ultimately absorbed by the plant, which thus capitalizes from this curiously derived “fertilizer.” Ecologically, most insectivorous plants tend to be found on soils that are low in nutrients…so they may take great advantage in their carnivorous ways.

[Answer:  “Pink sun-dew,” Drosera capillaris]

John Nelson is the retired curator of the Herbarium at the University of South Carolina, in the Department of Biological Sciences. As a public service, the Herbarium offers free plant identifications. For more information, visit www.herbarium.org or email johnbnelson@sc.rr.com.

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Wake Up Call Aboard The Pamela Sue

Tom Poland

Posted 6/25/24

By Tom Poland
A Southern Writer
www.tompoland.net
tompol@earthlink.net

I got up at 4:30 a.m. to go to two Carolina bays in the Francis Marion National Forest. Hours later I left pitcher plants, blue irises, and Halloween pennant dragonflies and headed to the McClellanville Diner for a platter of fresh-caught domestic shrimp. Consumers take note: it was not frozen, imported shrimp.

After lunch I went into McClellanville, a lovely fishing village that’s home to South Carolina’s largest fleet of shrimp boats. As I made my way into McClellanville I passed T.W. Graham & Co., another great local restaurant. Hand-painted on its windows were “Support # Freshlocal” and “God Bless Our Shrimpers.”

Capt. Bryan Jones of the Pamela Sue. (Photo by Tom Poland)

Carolina Seafood sits on Jeremy Creek, a creek named after King Jeremy, a Seewee Indian chief whose tribe lived along the creek’s banks. There I met Capt. Bryan Jones. He catches shrimp, no easy task. Besides the hard and dangerous work, he must overcome many a challenge. Capt. Jones showed me around his boat, Pamela Sue. Making our way through and past an assemblage of ropes, pulleys, nets, chains, and cables I filed a mental note. “Never bring a tripod onto a shrimp boat’s deck.” The chance of snagging something dangerous is great.

Capt. Jones and I sat in the wheelhouse of his 1958 boat. As he discussed shrimping’s challenges, I looked around. I noticed bunk beds right away. Shrimpers sleep in their floating office, their home away from home. I saw too a small galley and a handsome wooden wheel caught my eye. And something else. An array of sophisticated electronics that navigate and portray bottom conditions and more.

As Capt. Jones went over the troubles besetting shrimpers, it hit me hard just how much we need our shrimpers. Those of us who love fried shrimp and Beaufort stew or Lowcountry boil, as some call it, know that fresh shrimp outclass frozen shrimp, and they’re better for us. Consider fresh domestic shrimp a health supplement. According to the Associated Press “India’s rice paddies and natural mangroves are being rapidly transformed into shrimp farms teeming with wriggling shellfish and muddied with a poisonous slurry of chemicals, sewage and toxic algae.” Consumers, you best know where your shrimp come from.

For sure Capt. Bryan Jones and his fellow shrimpers face hurdles. Burdensome regulations. Rising costs, especially diesel fuel. Insurance coverage. Weather. A few days earlier, high winds from a tropical storm kept shrimpers tied up. Another headache comes from sharks tearing holes in nets. It’s so bad the shrimpers were tied up. Shrimper Richie Billington told me, “Right now, no boats are out. Sharks have gone crazy. They’re destroying our nets.”

I have long loved seeing shrimp boats at sunrise. Many a photographer has risen before dawn to silhouette picturesque trawlers against a rising sun. It’s one of the more memorable Lowcountry scenes. These days, however, it’s a rare sight. The graying of the fleet is one reason. The sheer difficulty of making a living due in large part to imported shrimp is a major reason. And now an Alaskan Congresswoman has introduced legislation to create permanent no trawling zones in sensitive environments in Alaska, but the wording applies to trawlers along the Southeast coast. Nets cost a pretty penny and Capt. Bryan Jones told me, “No shrimper will put his nets where structures rip holes in them.”

It’s encouraging to see young men like Capt. Bryan Jones trawling for shrimp. He’s knowledgeable, energetic, and determined. In an age when the graying of the fleet and other issues plague shrimping, they plague consumers as well. Do your part to help. Know where your shrimp come from. And give thanks for our brave shrimpers.


Tom Poland’s website at www.tompoland.net

Email Tom about most anything at at tompol@earthlink.net 

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