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We didn't get many tomatoes this season, at least not a lot of the big beefsteak varieties with the heat sterilizing the pollen and all. But we did get a few. And I got one last Purple Cherokee. Have you ever seen anything more beautiful in your life?

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I have been debating on how to prepare this lovely tomato. I think I might make traditional BLTs with it. It's just too lovely and fresh to cook on a pizza. The frost has taken the last of the green tomatoes, which were all small cherry types. And I have opened the garden to let the chickens dig up whatever they want, and eat as well. They have already trampled a path through the wild asters and sunflowers that took over the space during the harshest days of the drought this summer.

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We visited Stillwater and could see the signs of the drought there too. It looks as if there was a good crop of flowers in the late summer-early fall, because there were ample heavy seed heads of Goldenrod, Asters, Sunflowers, and Snakeroot, and some flowers whose dead forms I did not recognize.

However you can see looking at this shoreline, that the lake here in Stillwater, has receded significantly and has been this way for a while.

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All those little dots in the sand are not rocks. Those are dead, empty mussel shells, going at least 20 to 50 yards inland. What looked like dead grasses in some areas, I suspect are actually dead aquatic plants.

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The picture below shows tree stumps that would normally be underwater. I am standing in about the center of the area of the receded shore. In some places, on the sand and mussels, there are cow flops. Occasionally we would find fishing line and bobbers snagged on these stumps and roots, sticking out of the sandy waste.

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The good news is that the beach area was wet just under the surface. It wasn't hard and crumbly like the rock candy texture I found at other drought stricken lakes and ponds. So perhaps the water level is slowly rising or at least maintaining at it's current level. We actually heard green frogs and even a bullfrog at this particular lake. We saw lots of Eastern Cricket Frogs on the shore.

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The following are just pretty pictures gathered at other hikes. We are often out after dark, and this time the moon was full. It was just before Halloween and I was blessed not only with a lovely sunset on the trail, but a big full moon as well.

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I love that cotton candy sky. The pinks and tangerines, and vanilla cream colors against that electric blue.

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We were walking into the East, so it was hard to keep going, and not turn around and wait for the colors to fade completely to black, the sky was enchanting.

But then we were blessed with a moonrise through the trees, as we crisscrossed through the forest going due east.

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Big, beautiful and pink and golden

After our big hike, we stop by a famous watering hole on Route 66.

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Pop's.

They have hundreds of artisan soda pops inside, many are made with cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup.

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My favorite right now is Cream Soda. And as you can see there are a lot to choose from. But this is just a segment of an entire wall that is taller than I am, filled with every kind of soda you can imagine.

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Next time I might try this one just because.

I love Pop's soda pop light sculpture. It's LED, and it changes colors constantly. And the darker it gets outside, the cooler it looks from the road.

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Pop's made it very clear that they are politically neutral with this special, presidential election display.

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I know it looks like I took this picture with a wet rock, but I didn't realize I had the camera on the wrong light setting. The red soda is for Mittens, and the blue bottles are for Obama.

The store front has been arranged to show a very creative use of glass and bottles filled with colored water. You get a stained glass effect outside, with the store lights shining through these bottles on glass shelves. When the lights hit them just right, they look like they are floating.

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This is combined with reflections from the gas station area.

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I intend to use this photo of the red soda bottles as a still life study for our art assignments. Right now Oklahoma seems to be going through a transformation of sorts. I won't say it's becoming more liberal, because that remains to be seen. But Oklahoma has been embracing more bike lanes and interconnected biking and walking paths throughout various cities and towns. And it has been encouraging xeriscaping in the parks, as well as private residents, in order to conserve water and support local wildlife in some cases. Large land holders such as ranchers have been making an effort to create strips of land with pollen and nectar sources for our wild and domesticated pollinators. And I have encountered a burgeoning Organic and Local-Slow Food Movement on more than one occasion. With the Maps project in OKC, I see these as tremendously healthy improvements for our citizens.

What we need are good paths that connect our suburban and rural areas so that people can walk or bike without having to be exposed on a shoulder to traffic. And we need stricter interpretation and enforcement of leash laws. More people would walk even without added sidewalks or trails, if not for the problem of stray and untethered dogs that tend to menace bikers and walkers. The idea I have is that we could use what are known as secondary snow routes, for bike lanes, that would give us a route already designated, without having to unnecessarily crowd main roads with heavy bicycle traffic, roads that are already extremely busy with car traffic.

Because many things were so incredibly hectic during the last days of the campaign, in case you missed it, I have some other photo-entries: Halloween Strikes Back. I thought I would also add, that someone at TreeHugger also covered this parade: Sticking with the Dirty Status Quo in Oklahoma.

Now I am off to write a letter to President Obama, reminding him I want NO cuts or attempts to privatize any part of Social Security or Medicare or Medicaid.

Cutting these programs, especially ones for the elderly, would be devastating to Blue Collar families like mine across the board. We would never be able to retire, and such a situation would give new meaning to the phrase, "Sandwich Generation."

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Originally posted to GreenMother on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 08:59 AM PST.

Also republished by Backyard Science.

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