sri lanka

Dandelion: Grow Anywhere

Posted by on Apr 20, 2013 in flowers, plant parts, spring, sri lanka, Unmowed Blog | 2 comments

A walk down 125th Street in Harlem, New York City, on a cold spring afternoon. Cement, blacktop, cars. Bare branches. Not much green. Nothing in bloom.  But a closer look revealed a spark of color. This was my first sighting for the year of my favorite botanical sight: the yellow petals of a dandelion. One of the countless reasons I love dandelions is that they can make themselves at home anywhere. Anywhere on Earth, it seems. They grow on every continent except Antarctica (and I’m sure they’ll be blooming there before long.) They grow on mountaintops, in sand dunes, along...

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Sacred Tree

Posted by on Mar 14, 2013 in sri lanka, Uncategorized, Unmowed Blog, wildlife | 0 comments

One morning in Sri Lanka. I happened to get up early, and wandered out of the hotel to see what was going on. It was in the small city of Dambulla, and our hotel was a few hundred yards away from the main road. At the crossroads, I came across what I at first thought was a park of some sort. Then I realized it was a temple. And the heart of the temple was a tree.   A magnificent tree, an ancient tree. A double set of temple walls surrounded and protected it. You have to take off your shoes to approach the holy tree. The temple is right in the mainstream of life, a few feet away from honking...

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Tropical Color

Posted by on Mar 13, 2013 in edible, sri lanka, Unmowed Blog | 3 comments

Tropical fruit. It appears in grocery stores like magic. Bright sparks from the  tropics to brighten an upstate New York winter.  With a more homely fruit like, say, apples, I grasp the idea that someone picked them, packed them, shipped them from an orchard. But somehow tropical fruit doesn’t seem like it came from an actual plant.           I mean it’s hard to think of bananas as something that grows on trees. Here’s a sun-drenched banana orchard, with a handy clothesline strung through it.   Every Sri Lankan town has dozens of open-air fruit...

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The Long Brown Path: Minneriya National Park

Posted by on Mar 12, 2013 in environment, nature centers, sri lanka, Unmowed Blog | 3 comments

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road… Free, the world before me The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose   Henceforth I ask not good fortune, I myself am good fortune Henceforth I whimper no more complain no more, need nothing… Strong and content I travel the open road.   –Walt Whitman A Sri Lankan national park. Actually we didn’t tread this particular long brown path afoot, which I did not truly regret—it was ninety degrees, the road was ankle-deep in mud, and the elephants in Minneriya National Park are wild animals, and human-caused elephant deaths are not...

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Sensitive Plant: Am I Bothering You?

Posted by on Mar 9, 2013 in adaptations, leaves, plant parts, sri lanka, Unmowed Blog | 5 comments

A Sri Lankan byway. Alongside the curb is a small roadside weed, very easy to miss. It has little lacy leaves and a small purple pom-pom of a flower. Pretty but not remarkable. But it’s one of the most incredible plants I’ve ever encountered. It moves. Sensitive plant, it’s called. Mimosa pudica. And it’s sensitive, all right. Touch it with a fingertip, and the leaves close up, the tiny leaflets clutching themselves together nervously. Poke it again, and the whole leaf swings down, moving away from your annoying persistence. As a general rule, plants don’t seem...

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The Future of Elephants

Posted by on Mar 5, 2013 in environment, sri lanka, Unmowed Blog, wildlife | 0 comments

This is my favorite moment in Sri Lanka. When I went to Sri Lanka, I didn’t know much about the country. But I knew that, more than anything else, I wanted to see one of my favorite animals: elephants. Wild elephants, in their jungle habitat. This picture was taken at the Elephant Transit Home, a rehabilitation center for injured and orphaned elephants. These three youngsters were never more than a few inches away from each other. They pushed each other around, nudging each other with their heads, scuffling like puppies. They constantly caressed each other, holding trunks like children...

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