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Seeing the Sourlands Essays by Jim Amon

A Second Look (June 2023)

A Second Look (June 2023)

I started this essay in late April when dandelions were in bloom and I was struck by their beauty as though I had never seen them before.  I realized that there are a lot of plants and animals that are quite beautiful but I scarcely see them because they are common. ...

Blue Flag Iris (May 2023)

Blue Flag Iris (May 2023)

Blue flag irises growing on the edge of a pond where they protect the water’s edge from erosion.There are two hundred and eighty species of iris in the world, twenty-eight of which are native to North America, and one that is found in the Sourlands. Blue flag irises...

Dandelions (April 2023)

Dandelions (April 2023)

Dandelions got their name as a result of their French name dent de lion, which translates at “ tooth of a lion.” The term refers to the shape of their leaves.It started with a whim. I was walking along the edge of a meadow, enjoying the spring meadow flowers, when I...

Skunks (March 2023)

Skunks (March 2023)

By raising his tail, this striped skunk was warning me to back off. I did, and it did not spray.I haven’t been able to find out who has given names to groups of animals. Who decided that a group of crows is a murder? Who first called a group of giraffes “a tower?”...

From the Archives: Boulders (February 2023)

From the Archives: Boulders (February 2023)

Boulders are strewn throughout the forests of the Sourlands.Originally published in "Seeing the Sourlands" 2019. Rock Road, West Rock Road, Rock Brook, Rocktown, Stony Brook, and Stony Brook Road—looking at a map of the Sourlands region sends a message. This is a...

Snakes (January 2023)

Snakes (January 2023)

In one of the Bible’s least credulous stories a snake converses with Eve in the Garden of Eden and tricks her into eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge.  When God found out what the snake had done he was so angry that he condemned all snakes to crawl on their...

Photographs (December 2022)

Photographs (December 2022)

 I am not sure what constitutes a tradition, but for the last several years I have published some photographs in December. These are photographs taken in the Sourlands but not used for any of the other essays. This year I have 8; in past years there were a couple more...

Native Vines (November 2022)

Native Vines (November 2022)

Tulip trees are known for their straight, tall trunks, but this young tulip tree has been encased in vines its entire life and they have pruned it, bent it, and shaded it. It looks like it doesn’t have long to live. When I was a boy watching Tarzan movies I loved how...

Black Birch Friends (October 2022)

Black Birch Friends (October 2022)

Black birch trees can live for over 350 years, but few of them do. If taller trees overtop them they die from insufficient light. About a hundred years ago many farm fields were abandoned in the Sourlands and black birch trees were among the first trees to take...

Mosquitoes (September 2022)

Mosquitoes (September 2022)

I had to resist swatting this mosquito until I had photographed it.My family and I were having a pleasant evening in our rented Maine vacation house when mosquitoes suddenly inundated us. It didn’t matter how many we swatted, there were always more. After a while, we...

Fireflies (August 2022)

Fireflies (August 2022)

By Jim Amon Fireflies have good eyesight, which as nocturnal insects, suits them. The two orange blobs on their head, shown in the above photo, are coloring on the cover of their thorax; they are not eyes.  Their eyes can only be seen from the side or bottom.  I...

Dragonflies and Damselflies (July 2022)

Dragonflies and Damselflies (July 2022)

Several years ago I published a Seeing the Sourlands essay on dragonflies and damselflies. I am doing another one now because in the intervening years I have become an avid watcher of dragonflies and damselflies. After years of bird watching, I started paying...