Posted in Holden Arboretum, My trail walks, nature, nature photography

Faux-Spring ūüƧ

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Anyone who has lived here, on the south shore of Lake Erie, is aware that the sunny warm weather I have written about in my last two posts is far from the norm, and is, in fact, a false spring. Nevertheless, that knowledge shouldn’t¬†keep us from enjoying the warm weather. Instead, we should¬†see this for what it is, an inbreaking of spring during one of the coldest and bleakest months of our year. A¬†gift, one we should enjoy. For that reason, I intend¬†to squeeze ¬†as many trailwalking opportunities¬†as I can into however many hours this “false spring” will provide for¬†us.

And I am not alone in my intentions. On Saturday, when the temperature reached 72 degrees, the Arboretum was crowded with families who had shed their warm winter garb and headed outdoors to enjoy the sunshine. I had just started my walk on this sunny Saturday when I ran into one of those families. Two young boys were climbing into the tree house, and were setting out to enjoy what the older boy termed “investigations.” From my observations, the older family members were enjoying it as much as the kids. And what could be more fun than climbing into a real tree house?

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After the stop at the tree house, I took the trail around Lotus Pond. In this picture, you can see the pond with the golden willow tree and, on the opposite side of the pond, the tree house.

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There is a bench under the willow, a favorite stopping off point for people as they walk the grounds of the Arboretum. I have captured many pictures of people relaxing under the willow, and today was no exception.

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Look closely and you will¬†see a little ice on the surface of Lotus Pond, but it won’t be there for long, not with the temperature at 72 degrees! Continuing my walk, I took a short detour to see what might be happening on Corning Lake. ¬†If you’re not tuckered out yet, let’s keep moving.2017_02_18_holden-arboretum_winter-trail-walk_0022

As you can see, there wasn’t much action on or around the Lake. A little flock of¬†Canada geese was enjoying a swim, and two of them were nice enough to float in reach of my lens. Another (human) family group had the same idea I did apparently, ¬†and they were walking beside the lake, and then there was this woman who had found a perfect place to relax in the sun.

2017_02_18_holden-arboretum_winter-trail-walk_0026¬†As you can see in the distance, there isn’t even a hint of green on the trees. Because at this point we are only a few miles south of Lake Erie, the arrival of spring is delayed until much later than I would like; however, when it does arrive, it is just that much sweeter!

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If you’re still with me, we’ll end our¬†Saturday afternoon walk by heading back around around Lotus Pond. That’s it on the right side of the trail, and as we follow the trail, you can see the parking lot in the distance. Right in front of you is another of my favorite trees, the gingko. It’s not an attention-getter right now, but just wait until next November¬†when its delightful little fan-shaped leaves turn a vibrant¬†yellow,¬†clearly announcing the end of autumn. Then it is absolutely gorgeous, but I’m in no hurry to see that. Right now I am eagerly anticipating¬†spring, and apparently our faux-Spring hasn’t ended yet, so there will be more pictures coming soon. Watch for them!

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Thanks for coming along on my “faux-Spring” trail walk.
I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! ~Trail Walker

 

Posted in Holden Arboretum, memories, My trail walks

Searching for Spring

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February is a little early to search for signs of spring in northeast Ohio; however, we’ve had unusually warm temperatures in recent days, so I set out to look for some color in the Arboretum that would hint that spring is in the wings. My most exciting find was these beautiful snowdrops.

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I was walking with my friend Lisa, not really expecting to see anything blooming, when she said, “Look, there’s snowdrops!” Sure enough, several little clumps of snowdrops were blooming beside the trail. I sat right down on the ground to capture their beauty and when Lisa gently lifted the face of the flower, I took another picture.

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That was an exciting moment…the first flower of spring. It reminds me of when I was just a young girl¬†and still living at home. At the first sign of spring, we would go for a walk in the woods, searching for arbutus, another early bloomer. We would trudge across fields, climb stiles to get over fences in the farmers’ fields, and carefully search among the leaf litter for the low-growing, aromatic arbutus. Those days are long gone, part of another era, but the sight of those¬†snowdrops today was reminiscent of the sweet-scented arbutus flower. Good memories! It was a special moment, and I’m smiling as I think about it.

That was just the beginning of our trail walk today. I’ll share¬†a few more pictures now, and save the others for tomorrow. Sooner or later, February is going to return to its usual cold and probably snowy self, but for now, I’m loving this break from winter.

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Footbridge into the Wildflower Garden
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Tree roots
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Can you see the turtles on the log in this bog?
Thanks for coming along on today’s trail walk.
I’ll post a few more “spring walk” pictures tomorrow.
See you then! ~Trail Walker
Posted in Holden Arboretum, My trail walks, nature photography

Spring arrived in Northeast Ohio today!

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Not that we expect it to stay. Real spring doesn’t arrive here along the north coast (the south shore of Lake Erie)until around the end of April, but we were loving it today. Hopefully it will linger for a few days at least. Today’s high temperature reached 72 degrees. That’s practically unheard of, but you can be certain we’re not complaining. I think all of Northeast Ohio turned out to celebrate the event, and some of them were even wearing shorts! In February! Here’s one more picture from today’s visit to Holden Arboretum. I’ll be back tomorrow to share more.

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Thanks for joining me today!
Trail Walker

Gingkos, baldcypress, and other trees

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Gingko tree on November 16, 2016

With all the wind, rain, and near freezing temperatures we’ve “enjoyed” in the past five days, I wondered what I would find¬†when the sun came out yesterday and I went to Holden Arboretum to walk some of my favorite trails. My first stop was the gingko tree. I had waited for weeks, since Autumn began, for it to make the annual transition from green to golden. Last week before the wind, rain, and even a few snowflakes moved in, I finally saw what I had been waiting for. That’s when I took the picture at the top of this page. Unfortunately, here is what I saw yesterday when I rounded the curve in the trail and stood beneath its branches:

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Gingko tree on November 22, 2016

The weather had taken a sad toll on my beautiful tree, and I will have to wait another year to see it in all its glory. Thanks to this blog, I can see it in living color any time I want to revisit my “Color Me Autumn” blog posts. ¬†ūüėä

After taking several pictures of the gingko , ¬†I continued along the trail, pausing to take pictures of some of my favorite spots. But before I share the gallery of those photos, I want to show you another unusual tree, the baldcypress tree. It’s the only tree I am aware of that is noted for its knees. That’s right, knees. Take a look at the picture below. Do¬†you see the knees?

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They are those little stubby growths that almost look like large stones on the ground to the left of the two trees. According to Wikipedia…

A cypress knee is a term used in the biology of trees to describe the distinctive structures forming above the roots of a cypress tree of any of various species of the subfamily Taxodioideae. Their function is unknown, but they are generally seen on trees growing in swamps.

Most tree roots are underground, but, in another¬†source I read, the knees of the baldcypress tree are part of the root system that come back to the surface. You can see these trees and their knees in swampy areas where the baldcypress trees grow. Apparently no one is sure of their exact purpose. If you visit Holden Arboretum and want to see them, take the trail around Blueberry Pond and keep your eyes along the edge of the water. That’s where you will find them. Below is another baldcypress, growing at the edge of Blueberry Pond. All baldcypress trees are deciduous conifers that lose their leaves (or needles) in the Fall.

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If you look at the ground beneath the tree, and you will see that it is covered with orange-colored needles. I’m not sure why so many ferns are growing there, but I’m guessing the baldcypress needles have something to do with it. If someone reading this blog has the answer, I hope they will tell us what they know in the comment section. That way I can add it to what I have written here. Obviously my knowledge of these unique trees is limited.

Side note: Someone who has taken more biology classes than I have, called me to explain the reason for the baldcypress knees is that the roots of cypress trees are often (or usually) under water where they can’t get enough of the air they need to survive. For that reason, some roots will protrude¬†out of the soil to get air. The “knees” are those protrusions.

Now let’s take a look at the other photos I captured on today’s trail walk:

That’s it for today’s trail walk.
Thanks for coming along.
Trail Walker
Posted in Color Me Autumn, Holden Arboretum, Memorable Moments, My trail walks

Could we ask for more?

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The day dawned with fog which gradually lifted during the 2 1/2 hours I wandered the trails at Holden Arboretum. After snapping the picture above, I headed down the trail toward the gingko tree.  Eager to find out if it was finally dressed in the rich golden hue I remembered from previous years, I was delighted when I rounded the curve in the trail and saw this:

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and then this:

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…and my heart was filled with joy and gratitude. Could I¬†ask for anything more than what we have already received from this amazing, colorful autumn? But truthfully, there was more, as you can plainly see.

On down the trail from the gingko, I circled Lotus Pond where I captured two more shots of the golden willow to add to the collection I posted last week, showing it from two different sides of the pond.

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The other area I wanted to explore today was the Helen S. Layer Rhododendron Garden. I have posted a few picture from there recently, but today I decided to spend more time in this area because it is quite large and there is so much to see. Walking along the trail into the rhododendron garden, I was confronted with some large earth-moving machines and a crew of workmen. For several years Holden has been engaged in major redevelopment projects that are ongoing, and the constant rumble of the earth-moving machinery, along with the beep-beep-beep warning sounds reminding walkers to take care, are signs that big things are happening!

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Men and machines at work

While all this activity was happening on the right side of the trail, on the left the scene was very different!

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Past the construction zone, the trail winds through the rhododendron and azalea beds, which will be beautiful in June. Although in November little is in bloom, I spotted a trio of wilted rudbeckias, a startling contrast to the vibrant red and orange tones of autumn.

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It’s time to end this post. If you are still with me, thanks for your patience, but I’m getting weary and you may be also. ¬†I did a lot of walking today , followed by several hours at the computer preparing this post, so instead of sharing all the images that I collected today, I will save some¬†for another day, or maybe even two days, making¬†this post part one of another series.

Here are two more autumn images from the rhododendron garden before I wrap up with something that was a happy and totally unexpected surprise.

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Serendipity

As I was leaving the rhododendron garden after taking the picture of that beautiful orange-red tree, I was surprised¬†and delighted to see an Eastern bluebird perched on a¬†limb¬†nearby. So surprised in fact that I couldn’t believe my eyes. Of course I didn’t have the best lens on my camera for catching birds, especially little birds that flit from tree to tree, but I gave it my best shot and managed to get these two pictures:

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Eastern bluebirds aren’t rare in northeast Ohio, but they are migratory birds and many (although not all) of them fly off to¬†a more temperate climate by mid-November. These are the first bluebird pictures I’ve captured this late in the season, so I’m happy to share them with you.

See you soon for another visit to the Arboretum.
Thanks for sharing this walk with me.
Trail Walker
Posted in Fabulous Friday Faces, Friday Faces, Holden Arboretum, My trail walks

I take trail walks because…

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Sheila and John, November 10, 2016
Part three of my three part series from the Holden Arboretum

My top five reasons for trail walking

  • I love to be outdoors, yes, even when it is cold and snowy (Although not so much when the weather turns hot and humid).
  • There are amazing sights¬†to be seen along the trail…and ¬†with so many parks and trails, there are countless¬†places to go and things to see. Every day is different and every trail has unique features waiting to be discovered!
  • Walking the trails and taking pictures are complementary activities that can be done simultaneously,¬†and learning to take better pictures challenges me.
  • We all need¬†exercise, and walking is a great way to get it.

There is one other reason I love trail walking and that is because I meet many interesting people along the trail that I would never get to know otherwise. Sheila and John are a good example. I met Sheila when I walked up the trail into the Rhododendron Garden and found her sitting on a bench, waiting for John to return from his walk around the garden. According to Sheila, he walks too fast for her to keep up, so she finds a good bench and sits down to relax until John finishes his walk. (Obviously John believes in the value of daily exercise). When he returned from his walk,  John found Sheila and me sitting side by side on the bench, having what some of my photography friends from the the British Isles call a good, old chin wag. I was blessed to meet them, and as we all enjoy walking the trails in Holden Arboretum, maybe I will have the good fortune to encounter them again.

I love to take pictures of people I see along the trail. Although I haven’t posted any¬†Fabulous Friday Faces in recent months, I have accumulated a collection of portraits I post¬†here.

Sheila and John’s portrait was not the only picture I took on Thursday. You’ve already seen others in the first and second post of this series from Holden Arboretum, and here are the last pictures from that Thursday trail walk. The trees have lost a lot of their luster, but they are still beautiful. We have enjoyed a fabulous Fall, or to put it another way, an awesome Autumn.

Thanks for joining me in this lengthy trail walk.
That’s it for today. See you soon!
Trail Walker
Posted in Holden Arboretum, My trail walks, nature photography, trees

Working your subject: a photographic essay

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Part two of a three part series from Holden Arboretum

When I bought my first digital camera and starting shooting pictures, I didn’t have the faintest idea what I was doing. As I look back in my files at pictures I took in those early years, it is painfully obvious I had a lot to learn. ¬†Because I really wanted to improve, I began reading books about photography and spending a lot of time on the websites of photographers I admire. And I learned…a lot!

One valuable piece¬†of advice I heard early on is¬†“work your subject.” Don’t just take the shot¬†that catches your eye¬†and then walk away, thinking you have captured all there is to see and learn about the subject. ¬†Don’t immediately lift your camera to your eye and shoot off a burst of shots. ¬†Unless the subject, whatever it is, will jump up and dash away, slow yourself down. Take time to walk around and view it from different angles. Try to find the best angles and then shoot from several. If possible,¬†revisit the same place¬†on a different day at a different time. If your first photoshoot was in the morning, come back in the evening. And if you are shooting outdoor subjects like landscapes, trees, and wildlife, try returning to the same location at different seasons throughout the year. You’ll be amazed at the results. Today’s blog post is a gallery of pictures I have captured¬†at one location throughout the past year. Taken together, they illustrate the advantage of slowing down and getting to know your subject.

If you follow my blog, you know that Holden Arboretum is one of my favorite places to shoot. On my frequent visits to Holden, I almost always stop to say “hello” to the golden willow tree at Lotus Pond. The size and shape of the tree and its location make it a focal point of the Pond, and it draws people (and geese) to its neighborhood.

You’ve probably heard that one picture is worth a thousand words, so I will stop “talking” so you can scroll through the gallery to¬†see if you think “work your subject” is good advice for a photographer (Click the first picture to begin your stroll around the golden willow tree).

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

Joyce Kilmer, 1913

So there you have it. One tree,¬†rooted in one spot, will have¬†many different moods. Perhaps Joyce Kilmer got it¬†right when he wrote his poem “Trees.” What do you think?

And what do you think about the advice to “work your subject?”
Is it something you already do or will try to do in the future.
Do you have any advice you could give to an aspiring photographer?

Thanks for visiting the golden willow tree with me today.
See you soon.
Posted in Color Me Autumn, Holden Arboretum, My trail walks, nature photography, trees

Trees

Part one of a three-part series from Holden Arboretum
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Gingko tree

When I was a young girl, the home I lived in, the big white house¬†my grandparents built in 1907, was framed by sycamore trees. These trees were one of the dominant features of that property and the focus of many of¬†my lasting memories of those years. Falling out of the tree; swinging on a rope swing; raking huge piles of leaves just so we could jump in them; or sitting at my bedroom window, drawing pencil sketches of the winter skeletons of the tall sycamore trees…These are some of the special images that create¬†the keystone¬†for my childhood memories.

Is it any wonder that Holden Arboretum is one of my favorite go-to places for trail walking? When the sun came out this morning, I took my camera and headed to Holden for a walk along its trails. Two hours later, I returned home ¬†with many digital images on my memory card. I don’t have time or space in this blog post to share them all, so this will be the first of a series of posts based on those pictures. Here are the trees I’ve selected for today’s post:

If you’ve followed along this far, I am guessing trees may also hold a special place in your memory bank. I have to run now. It’s time to prepare supper and go to choir practice, but I hope you will return to check out my next post from the Holden Arboretum.

See you soon!
Trail Walker
Posted in Color Me Autumn, Holden Arboretum, My trail walks

Autumn is rapidly advancing…

…but there is still¬†wonderful¬†fall color for us to enjoy!
Do you have time for a short trail walk in Holden Arboretum?
It’s an easy one. Just click on one of the pictures and stroll through the photos I captured on my trail walk today. Take a close look at the sugar maple tree and compare it to this one to see how things have changed in the past week.

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Sugar maple at peak colors
Ready to walk? Click on a picture and let’s head down the trail.

There you are! Didn’t I say it would be an easy walk? And still filled with wonderful Autumn hues! I still have one more beauty to share, and it is another of my favorite photo spots in the Arboretum. I haven’t photographed it yet this year, but the time has come…

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I really don’t have an explanation for choosing that little footbridge as a favorite; it just is…plain and simple! I especially love it in Autumn when it’s covered with colorful leaves. I hope you like it too.

That’s it for today.
Thanks for keeping me company on the trail.

Trail Walker
Posted in Color Me Autumn, Holden Arboretum, Moments to remember, My trail walks

Unwrapping gifts

Color Me Autumn…Again and Again!

Today was a perfect day to wander the trails in the Arboretum and marvel at ¬†God’s amazing creation. Each turn in the trail revealed another amazing sight… many¬†multi-colored gifts.¬†Because you weren’t¬†there, ¬†I brought home¬†a few “gifts” to share.

Click on the sugar maple at the top, then imagine you are strolling along the trail as you scroll through the pictures. Enjoy!

 Thanks for taking this trail walk with me!
Trail Walker