Photo Almanac: January 1-8, 2016

A new feature on my blog, the Photo Almanac (originally titled The Week in Review), will appear every week to highlight some of my favorite photos from the previous seven days. While many of them will have already been included in other posts throughout the week, some will make their first appearance in the weekly Almanac. This week I have categorized the selected photos and  posted them in three separate galleries. You can click on any picture to open and scroll through the gallery.

Gallery one: Wildlife

As you know if you have been following my blog, I love being outdoors, and trail walking is one of my favorite activities. It is on the trails in local park that I usually take most of my photos. This week, after experiencing Northeast Ohio’s warmest December on record, things began to cool down. In midweek we had a few very pleasant days with temperatures in the forties and low fifties, but by the end of the week, they continued to drop. Happily (from my point of view) there was little snow or rain and not a lot of windy days either, so I  headed out on the trails almost every day.  My most exciting day on the trails this week involved a confrontation between a red-shouldered hawk and a hapless field mouse, but other critters made an appearance too. All the photos in this gallery were taken on trail walks in Chagrin River Park.

 

Gallery two: Landscapes

Although Chagrin River Park is my most frequently visited place for trail walking, Holden Arboretum is another favorite. At Chagrin River opportunities to observe and interact with birds and other wildlife are plentiful, while at the Arboretum there are seemingly endless trails and gardens, each with its own special beauty. I try to visit Holden at least once a week, and this week I was lucky to be able to enjoy it with my grandson Michael. Here are a few pictures from our visit on Thursday.

 

Gallery Three: Fabulous Friday Faces

In December 2013, I screwed up my courage and began asking  many of the strangers I encounter on the trails if I could take their picture for a special feature on my blog called Fabulous Friday Faces. Prior to that time, when I saw people I didn’t know, I would pass by with little more than a smile and a nod or brief “hello.” I was essentially a solitary walker and happy to be that way. I’m not sure what triggered my decision to change, but, however it happened, I began to pause, engage strangers in conversation, and ask them to pose for photo opps. It was difficult at first, but has turned out to be one of the best decisions I have made as a photographer. I’m sure it’s not for everyone, but I have come to enjoy these brief encounters immensely. Of all the new people I have encountered, only one has refused the request to pose for my camera. Over time, I have learned a lot, met many fantastic people, and become much more connected with the world around me when I am on the trail. I keep an ongoing gallery of Fabulous Friday Faces and an explanation of the process here on my Smugmug site if you want to know more. Here are two new FF Faces that I added during my trail walks this week followed by  a new photo of one of my earlier Fabulous Faces. One of the benefits of the FFF is the number of friends I’ve made. I repeatedly meet some of them in the park, and it’s always a great feeling to see them.

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Bill Arotin, Chagrin River Park
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Tom Dodge, Chagrin River Park
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Joe Morandini, Chagrin River Park

That’s it for this week’s edition of the Photo Almanac. If you have enjoyed this new feature, I would love to hear your comments.

Thanks for visiting!
Trail Walker

The hawk and the field mouse

I was nearing the end of an afternoon trail walk in Chagrin River Park. More than happy with the images I had collected on my memory card, I was ready to head for home when a large hawk, perched on a fence post just off the trail, caught my attention.

It must be a decoy, I thought to myself. I had heard other people talking about the hawk they had seen along the trail, but I hadn’t been lucky enough to spot him, so I didn’t believe my eyes until his head moved, and I realized it really was a hawk, a very large one! Lifting my camera, I began shooting frame after frame, while any minute expecting him to fly away.

Instead, he spread his wings, rose a few feet into the air and plummeted into the gully next to the post where he had been perched.

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After a short skirmish, with a small field mouse gripped tightly in his talons, he returned to his perch to enjoy his lunch.

If your sympathy lies with the little mouse, you will probably agree that nature isn’t always pretty because the field mouse didn’t have any hope of surviving his encounter with the redtailed hawk. The hawk, on the other hand, was happy to capture a meal and survive for another day of hunting.

That’s it for today. Although I actually have more pictures of this encounter, I decided not to post the most graphic parts of the sequence.

I’ll be back soon with another post, one that I promise will be more cheerful! I hope you will join me then.

Trail Walker

Highlights of the Week: A new feature

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Not much snow so far this year

This is the inaugural post of my “Highlights of the Week”feature. At the end of each week, I will review all my images and choose those I believe best represent the week.  At the end of the year, if I manage to remain faithful to my concept, I will have posted 52 eclectic galleries, not all taken from my trail walks, but a mixture of pictures from the places and events that constitute my week. More photos than words, it will be a summary of where I’ve been and what I’ve done during the preceding seven days. I will begin with images captured between December 25, 2015 and today, January 1, 2016, so the pictures will be a mix of our family Christmas, our church Christmas Day community dinner, and our New Year’s Eve trail walk, the last one of 2015.

I chose the photo at the top of this page because it gives me an opportunity to show the tiny bit of snow, mostly sleet, that  has fallen in the past 12 hours. According to the newspaper, last month was the warmest December on record. I, for one, am not complaining.

On Christmas morning we helped serve a Christmas dinner for anyone who came through the door in search of a hot meal. Volunteers from the church and community prepared and served the meal, then cleaned up the kitchen and fellowship hall before heading home to spend the rest of the day with their families:

After helping with the cleanup at the church, we gathered at Alison and Mike’s home for our Christmas dinner and gift exchange.

 

During the week between Christmas and New Years, we helped to undecorate the church, updated the sign in front of the church, and took the very last trail walk of 2015.

That’s it for this week. I have had a tough time completing this post. Apparently WordPress has made some changes since I last posted that I will have to figure out before I do my next weekly update.

Happy New Year everyone.
See you soon!

Trail Walker

 

There’s something about the Canopy Walk…

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Since it opened in September I have made four visits to the Canopy Walk. The novelty of walking through the tree tops, looking out at a squirrel on a nearby branch or down at people below me, while looking up at the the nearby Emergent Tower is something special that draws me back. There’s always something new to see, so every visit is a unique opportunity.

The special feature of today’s visit was having a front row seat for a magnificent display of brilliant  Autumn colors. The transition from summer to fall has been a slow one this year. On my first three trips up the Tower and along the Canopy Walk, green was the dominant color…different shades of green to be sure, but all green nevertheless. Today was different. Green is still evident, but it is submerged by a happy golden hue with glimpses of red and orange in the mix. My words just don’t do it justice tonight, but here are a couple of pictures that might help:

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For an even richer, fuller taste of Autumn, visit my SmugMug gallery where I have posted more pictures from today’s Canopy Walk, but before I close, I want to share two more pictures that I consider special. They seem almost magical to me, so I  hope you will like them too.

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Thanks for joining me on the trail today. Tomorrow I will share some pictures from today’s 12 floor climb up the Emergent Tower. See you soon Trail Walkers!

Trail Walker

O what a beautiful day!

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A beautiful morning like this one brings people out to the park in large numbers, some taking their dogs for a walk; others bringing their toddlers to the playground; and still others come out with their cameras. I’m in the last group. I thought about going to the Arboretum today, but really didn’t have enough time, so I headed for Chagrin River Park instead. If you’re up for a trail walk along the Chagrin River trail today, come along with me as I look for some vibrant fall colors.

Our first stop will be the pedestrian bridge that crosses the Chagrin. Walk part way across the bridge, sit down, and aim your camera downstream, and this is what you will see:

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For a slightly different view, we’ll leave the bridge and walk to the overlook by the picnic tables. From there, we can get a closer look at the river. Kneel down by the fence rail and snap your picture from there to capture this scene.
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In the first few minutes of our trail walk, we’ve tried two different vantage points, but did you notice that there isn’t a lot of color along the banks of the river? Let’s walk up the steps to the sledding hill. In a couple of months, there will probably be snow, and crowds of sledders, flying down the hill with abandon or crowded around the fire pit, but today we have it to ourselves, except for a few walkers, and it will be our third vantage point for looking at the river.

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It’s a great view, but there’s not much in the way of vibrant color so far. Follow me, and we will take a trail through the woods where I know we will find some colorful trees.

Not only did we find colorful trees, we also ran into Earl and his wife Linda. They were getting ready to head down the trail in search of some good photo opps, but they took time to show me the fantastic eagle pictures Earl shot recently at Lake Erie Bluffs and at Conowingo dam, a well-known site for eagles in Maryland, quite near where I grew up. When I say Earl’s pictures are fantastic, that’s probably an understatement. If you know Earl, be sure to ask him to show you the eagles, especially the ones with fish in their talons. They are amazing! And if you are a photographer, take a look at the kit Earl has devised so he doesn’t have to carry all his camera equipment on his back. It’s very clever.

One last picture, and it will be time to head for home. I had parked myself on a bench on the evergreen trail to look through the pictures on my memory card, when I saw three people and two dogs headed in my direction. If you follow my blog, you probably already know that I like to take pictures of the people I meet along the trail and their dogs.  “Photo opp!” flashed through my mind. Then I realized that I had already met one of the dogs, Bailey, and his person, Ron. Bailey and Cosmo, the other little dog, greeted me effusively, joining me on the bench, and enthusiastically bestowing kisses on my face. Getting them to pose for a picture was no problem, so here they are: Ron and Bailey on one end of the bench and Cosmo and Liz on the other.

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Cosmo and Bailey look like twins, although they are actually two different breeds. Aren’t they adorable? That was the end of today’s walk. I was only a short distance from the parking lot, and it was time to go home for lunch. We did manage to see some color today. I was glad because I don’t know how many more days like this we can expect before the curtain comes down on my favorite season of the year. Thanks for joining me on the trail today. Come back soon. Weather permitting, I am planning another trip to the Arboretum this month and hopefully a trail walk at Lake Erie Bluffs. Maybe we’ll see an eagle there. Although I can’t match Earl’s fabulous photos, I wouldn’t mind trying. ;)

Trail Walker

Windy Walk at Edgewater Beach Park

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This afternoon after Bob and I drove our granddaughter into Cleveland to visit a friend at her Cleveland State dorm, we headed a little farther west to Edgewater Beach park for an unplanned trail walk in the park. I wish you could have been there. As you can see from the pictures, the wind was fierce. Nothing approaching hurricane strength, but strong enough to blow my hat off my head, so I left it in the car. Bob took off his glasses and put them in his pocket, fearing they might fly off his face.

It definitely wasn’t beach and swimming weather, so I was surprised to see people in the water until I realized they had surfboards and S.U.P.s (Stand up paddle boards), and had come to the lake front to enjoy the wind and waves.  I headed toward them with my camera, determined to get some action shots along with the landscapes (or lakescapes) that I had planned for. Five or six men (and one loon) were in the water. I’m not going to touch that comparison. Nope, just not going to go there! I’m just going to give these guys the respect they’ve earned by jumping into that water on a cold, windy, fall day.

What do you think of that loon? It’s the first one I’ve ever seen, and I’m pretty excited that he joined the surfers. It made my day!

We watched the action for awhile, then turned eastward and walked along the lakefront where I took these pictures (Click to enlarge pictures):

Then we headed toward the pier, which looked like a great location for capturing some city shots.

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Walking almost to the end of the pier, we stopped just about where you can see the man standing in the picture. Hooking my arm around one of those light poles, I hung on tight and took these pictures of downtown Cleveland.

Mission accomplished! We left the pier and headed for the warmth of our car. On the way, I snapped one last shot of the city…with a group of grounded gulls in the foreground. Apparently their flight plans had been cancelled. I didn’t have any trouble figuring out why!

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That’s it for today’s windy walk. Thanks for joining me on the trail.
I had a great time, and I hope you did too.

Trail Walker

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Hey there, friend!

By accident or by design, you have found my blog.

Combining my three favorite pastimes…

  • trail walking in local parks and nature centers
  • photography,
  • and writing…

…has led to the creation of this blog, so it’s probably no surprise that the name of the blog is Seen Along the Trail, and my blogging name, the way I sign my posts, is Trail Walker (although my “real” name is Carolyn and my nickname is Skip).

I’m glad you joined me on the trail today. It’s always good to meet people and make connections. If any of my posts resonate with you,  please leave a comment. That’s when blogging becomes a conversation instead of just a solo activity, and that conversation, more than anything else, is what makes it  special. I hope you will return to my blog often and help me create some conversations.

See you along the trail!
Trail Walker

 

 

 

Too much to do!

Too much to do and only a little time to do it! Haven’t we all said that at one time or another? Today was a case in point. I’m way behind on just about anything you can name: computer files to organize; letters to write; housekeeping chores to attend to; loads of photos to process and post; laundry to catch up on; closets to organize; and packing to do for our weekend at Chautauqua. You get the picture! I didn’t know which task to tackle first, so I took the line of least resistance, sat down at my desk, and worked on the computer files…until about 4 pm. At that point, I picked up my camera and headed out to the Arboretum, and I’m glad I did. Come along on my August afternoon photowalk and you’ll see why. Just click on the first photo and scroll though the gallery. I hope you enjoy the beauty of this almost-autumn-afternoon.

That’s it for today’s photowalk. I hope you enjoyed the scenery along the trail, but now it’s way past my bedtime. Like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, “I’m late! I’m late! I’m late for a very important date”…with my pillow!

Goodnight all!
Carolyn aka Skip

Brigadoon aka Chautauqua Institute

Brigadoon

Brigadoon! That’s what the tour guide called it. Last week we took another trip to Chautauqua Institute in southwest New York state. Although it is only a two hour ride from home, when I walk through the gate to find myself surrounded by lovely victorian homes and tall shade trees with Lake Chautauqua a short walk downhill, I feel as if I have left the ordinary world behind and entered a mystical, magical place…much like Brigadoon.  The nine week summer season at Chautauqua starts in June and lasts only nine weeks…and although it doesn’t vanish like the hauntingly mystical Brigadoon, Chautauqua is an amazing place with a mystique all its own. On Friday and Saturday we were immersed in that mystique, and I loved every minute of it. I don’t have time (nor energy) for a long post today, so this will be a sampler of some of the sights and sounds of Chautauqua. The sounds, the symphony rehearsing for an evening concert and a bagpiper practicing on the green, you will have to imagine, but I hope you enjoy this little taste of “Brigadoon.”

Running behind, playing catch-up, and finally a Friday Face:Rae

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I’m running behind again this week…still trying to catch up from my week of VBS (Vacation Bible School). There are some weeks when nothing much gets done except the foremost task of the week, and the week of July 12-17 was one of those. The day after VBS ended, I managed to post a blog about our community arts festival, but, after that, the little energy I had left evaporated. Pffsstt, and it was gone! That’s why i”m playing catch-up this week. On everything: my photowalks, blog posts, and even leaving comments on all your blogs. So playing catch-up is the mode of the week.

Unfortunately, starting tomorrow, my schedule turns demanding, frenzied even, again. What’s this all about anyway? I’m retired! My time should be my own. Shouldn’t it? Umm…? “No, you say!” What do you mean, it just doesn’t work that way? I always assumed when I retired I would be a lady of leisure, free to come and go as I please. Sleeping late, Long hours immersed in books by my favorite writers. No need to set the alarm clock. No need to wear a watch. No need to worry about my schedule! Okay, I admit there are some things I have committed to that need to be done on schedule, and this week I’m even behind on most of those. Like my Friday Face blog post for example. It should have been posted four days ago, and I’m just now getting around to it. Mea culpa, blogmates. It’s late, but here it is…on Tuesday evening.

The Friday Face for this week is Rae, a creative, energetic, and very personable vendor I met at the Arts Festival in Willoughby on Saturday morning. Two things attracted me to Rae: Her colorful hat was one. She designed it because that’s what she does in her basement workshop. She takes all sorts of items she has collected, gets a vision for one-of-a-kind-original creations, and turns them into amazing hats.  Then she sells them. The second thing that attracted me to Rae was her friendly smile. It spoke so loudly, Rae didn’t need to use words to get my attention, but she was good with words too, and I enjoyed meeting her and learning about her creativity. Thank you,Rae. You create much more than hats. You create fun, serendipitous experiences for people who are fortunate enough to meet you, and this time I was one of the lucky ones!

Rae is the latest addition to my Friday Faces gallery, which you can see here.

Carolyn aka Skip