Sunday, January 16, 2011

A wonderful day for some time away

Yesterday was such a nice day to get outside for a little while and do some wintertime exploring. We've gotten lucky and have been blessed with some warmer weather (40 degrees!) and have been thawing out from our recent snow event in West Tennessee. I've gotten bored with checking out locations on my side of the Tennessee River and decided I need a change of scenery. I took a short journey of a few miles to the other side of the river to Mousetail Landing State Park, located on the banks of the Tennessee River.

As soon as we hopped out of the car we were treated to a wonderful natural phenomena. This is sun dog, formed by ice crystals that act like prisms and bend the light rays of the sun. It remained visible for quite some time, finally disappearing--time to start looking at other things.

We are gifted with so many different kinds of trees in this area. Above is a sweet gum tree with its seed pods hanging like holiday ornaments. The name for this tree originates from the resin like substance found under its bark which is scraped and gathered and in older times was used for its medicinal value as well as for a type of chewing gum.

A closer view of the sweet gum seed pods. Pretty little prickly things they are.

Another abundant tree found in this area is the sycamore. Its smooth light colored trunk makes it stand out among the hardwoods.

The fruit, or seed pod of the sycamore tree, another lovely ornament from nature.

Although quite and peaceful now, come summertime and this area will be bustling with activity. There's rustic campsites available here and these waters will be filled with all kind of watercraft from bass boats to floating party barge pontoons. Jet skiers can have fun out in the main channel of the Tennessee River, this area is a no wake zone.

The sky kept giving us wonderful clouds and the angle of the sun made the shore glow with color as well.

Like lightning bolts coming from above, these Hackberry branches still held some of their tasty berries. Also known as Sugarberry, I don't know how tasty they are...but they are a favorite of wintering birds. Mother Nature provides for its creatures.

Falling over due to shoreline erosion, come soon this tree will be in the water where it will provide cover for small fish and other aquatic creatures.

Here's a tree that if you bumped into it accidentally you would surely remember it. Its the thorny Honey Locust. I don't know if the thorns fall of the truck come spring but I know I've walked through this area a number of times in the summer and don't remember these being here. I'll have to check back in a few months and find out.

Looking like a squished black banana, this is the seed pod from the Honey Locust tree.

Standing out of the crowd with its wonderful green leaves is this American Holly. Providing winged creatures with cover during the cold months of winter makes this tree valuable in the natural landscape.

Lovely red berries from the holly had all fallen to the ground where they will still be consumed by wildlife.

We were just about ready to leave when I spotted this barge heading downriver in the main channel of the Tennessee. All of these sites made for a wonderful day out.