Posted in Color me Spring!, Holden Arboretum, My trail walks

Back to my search for spring

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Marsh marigold

Lisa and I were trailwalking in the Arboretum, in search of more early signs of spring. Treading through a marshy area on our way to Blueberry Pond, we spotted some marsh marigolds. The vibrant yellow of this early bloomer is pretty hard to miss. Then, when we reached our destination at the top of a grassy hillside, we paused to appreciate the beauty in front of us.

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Blueberry Pond

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As you can see, few of the trees display any greenery. That easily visible evidence of spring is another 7-10 days in the future, depending on the temperatures in the week ahead. Our location, so close to Lake Erie, delays the in-breaking of spring, which is probably why the search for spring looms large in my mind from February onward, until true spring finally arrives.

On today’s trail walk, we saw some early wildflowers. Although she is a pediatric dentist, Lisa also has a background in horticulture and was able to identify the beautiful Lenten rose, and in the same area we spotted the ferns, just beginning to unfurl.

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Continuing along the trail, we came to the clump of white birch trees, where I took a picture of Lisa sitting on the lowest limb. It looks to me as if that limb was created for that very purpose, and this isn’t the first time I’ve paused to take a picture of it. Finally reaching Lotus Pond, we each posed beside a pink magnolia hybrid with the pond in the background.

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Lisa and the white birch tree

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Because the person carrying the camera rarely gets her picture taken, here is one Lisa snapped of me.
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As we circled Lotus Pond, we watched the birds skimming over the surface of the water, apparently hoping to catch some insects (another sign of spring)! Although I didn’t see any insects, apparently the birds were on to something…or it is an annual spring rite of the swifts, purple martins, or whatever they were. They were flying way too fast for me to identify them with any certainty.

Although I have a few more pictures from today’s trail walk, I am going to stop here because this post is already a little long. I will post the others in a day or two. Meanwhile, even if the weather isn’t sunny and warm, and even if it isn’t spring where you live, I hope  you all enjoy a beautiful weekend.

Thanks for joining us on this walk in the Arboretum.
See you soon!  ~Trail Walker
Posted in Color me Spring!, Holden Arboretum, My trail walks

Continuing my search for spring

Rain and thunder  through the night and into the morning hours convinced me that this would not be a good day for another trail walk. Instead I will continue with part 2 of yesterday’s post: Searching for Spring in the Arboretum.  I ended that post when we reached the entrance to the Rhododendron Garden, so I will pick up there and return via the Blueberry Pond trail to the Corning Visitor Center, where we parked the car.

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We won’t take time to visit the Rhododendron Garden on this walk because its most important features, the Canopy Walk, Emergent Tower, and the rhododendrons themselves, aren’t on display this early in spring. The Canopy Walk and Emergent Tower open for the season on April 1, and it will be June before the rhododendrons and azaleas burst into glorious full bloom. We will need to be patient and return on future trail walks to see them.

But there is still more to see from yesterday’s walk, so we will follow the sign post and wend our way back to our starting point at the Corning Visitors Center.

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The view from a bench along the trail

Imagine you are sitting beside me on a bench where I paused to soak up a little solitude (and take a welcome rest). Gaze into the distance, and you might notice, on either side of the trail, small green leaves just beginning to unfurl on the trees. That’s a welcome sign of spring that wasn’t visible a couple of weeks ago. Another early sign of spring here in northeast Ohio is the sound of the spring peepers.

Because we’ve had a lot of rain recently, the vernal pools along the trail are filled with these tiny frogs in full voice. Even in full daylight I have been treated to their song as I walk along the trail.

As we reach the end of the woodland trail, we can see the entrance to the wildflower garden (another future blog post). Up the hill to our right is Lotus Pond, but right now we will take the trail to the left, skirt the edge of Blueberry Pond, pass the white birch trees on the left side of the trail, and stop for a good look at the pond.

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White birch trees along the Blueberry Pond trail
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Blue skies over Blueberry Pond
A feature I find fascinating near Blueberry Pond is these bald cypress trees perched right at the edge of the water.

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From the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) website…

The Baldcypress is “native to wet areas of the lower and middle Mississippi Valley drainage basin, the south Atlantic and Gulf Coastal states, and especially Florida of the south coastal states,” but it has been planted extensively in other areas, including Ohio.

“As a deciduous conifer, the leaves of Baldcypress drop off in autumn, and its cones are round balls that release their seeds in autumn and winter. Trees in Ohio may reach 80 feet tall by 30 feet wide when found in the open. As a member of the Baldcypress Family, it is also related to Dawn Redwood and Giant Redwood.

Not far from the Baldcypress trees, stands this tall, majestic Dawn Redwood, another deciduous conifer mentioned on the ODNR site,

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Dawn Redwood tree, Holden Arboretum, August 2014

Whoops! Sorry! I’m a little bit off the trail here…actually more than three years off. Because I didn’t stop to take a photo of the Dawn Redwood on this visit to the Arboretum, I decided to dig into my archives and find one to include in this post…a detour relevant to the topic of today’s walk, although definitely off the trail.

Back to the trail…

From Blueberry Pond,  it’s only a short walk down the hill to reach this footbridge that will lead us to the stairs and back up to the parking lot. The sign points back toward Woodland Trail, which is the trail we followed until we reached the Blueberry Pond trail. Now we are going to leave the Blueberry Pond trail, cross the little footbridge, and climb the stairs leading to the parking lot.

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It’s time to go home! I hope you have enjoyed this trail walk.
Thanks for coming along! ~Trail Walker
Posted in Color me Spring!, Holden Arboretum, My trail walks, Northeast Ohio

Dreary…AGAIN!

Part one of a two part post in which we continue our 
Search for Spring in the Arboretum.

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Thunder, buckets of rain, and puddles deep enough for ducks to take a swim! That’s today, drowning in dreariness,  but yesterday was beautiful…a great day for a trail walk at Holden Arboretum. That’s where we will continue the search for more signs of our elusive spring.

Let’s start  at Lotus Pond where daffodils bloom in the foreground and no ice remains on the surface of the pond, ice that was still visible on our last visit a week ago. That’s definitely promising.

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Lotus Pond without ice

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Out of the corner of my eye, I spot a few tiny clumps of netted iris. These irises are early bloomers, so they have passed their prime by now, but they are still lovely with their delicate shades of soft blue and yellow. I hope you agree!

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Netted Iris…past its prime

We will end today’s walk, on the trail that leads into the rhododendron garden.

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Entering the Helen S. Layer Rhododendron garden
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The Overlook, a recent feature in the rhododendron garden
That’s it for part one of this walk in Holden Arboretum.
Come back tomorrow to continue our search for spring!
~Trail Walker
Posted in Color me Spring!, Holden Arboretum, My trail walks

And then the sun came out!

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As I wrote in my last post, Tuesday morning was chilly and completely overcast, but my friend Lisa and I had agreed to meet at Holden Arboretum for a “walk and talk,” so off I went.  As I drove down Sperry Road to the Arboretum entrance, the clouds parted, the morning haze vanished, and then, suddenly, the sun came out. Truly an unexpected event.

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Lotus Pond, still partially covered by a thin layer of ice.

Lotus Pond was beautiful in the early afternoon light, so we wandered over for a closer look and a few photos of the pond and the golden willow tree.

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Lisa at Lotus Pond
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Leaning against the Golden Willow tree
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Distant view of the willow
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The willow framed by the trunk of a river birch tree.

Leaving Lotus Pond, we headed toward the rhododendron garden, and on the way we met Hank, a beautiful corgi walking with his human.

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Hank posed for a profile shot…
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…and smiled for the camera, convincing Lisa there should be a corgi in her future!

In the rhododendron garden, Lisa spotted a carpet of purple blossoms, and agreed to pose for one more photo.

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On the trail back to the parking lot, we walked along the edge of Corning Lake where one lone duck was enjoying an afternoon swim.

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Before we reached our cars, Lisa pulled out her cell phone and took one shot of the photographer at work:

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We had reached the end of our “walk and talk” at the Arboretum. It wasn’t our first “meeting” there and probably won’t be the last because Lisa and I both love walking in Holden Arboretum.

Thanks for visiting my blog today. See you soon!
Trail Walker
Posted in Holden Arboretum, My trail walks, nature photography, Searching for Spring

Do you know where you are?

Searching for Spring series

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Regular visitors to my blog should recognize this as the golden willow tree next to Lotus Pond in Holden Arboretum. Yesterday, although not as warm as last week’s early Spring temperatures, was still a lovely day for a trail walk. As always when at Holden, I made sure to visit one of my favorite trees. And, as today is both colder and wetter than when I took this picture yesterday, I decided it is a good day to share a few more pictures in my Searching for Spring series.

The first, a snowdrop, is similar to one I posted last week.  Although it is not as perky as the one I posted on a sunny, warmer day last week, it is still lovely, and what camera-carrying photographer can walk past a snowdrop in February without snapping its picture?

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The second plant is a pastel perennial I was delighted (and lucky) to spot. The netted iris, native to Russia, the Caucasus, and northern Iran, is cultivated widely in temperate regions like northeast Ohio. Typically flowering in March and April, many little clumps of this plant were already in full bloom on February 28th, their delicate flowers waving in the breeze on top of slender stalks. I resolutely plopped myself on the wet ground, leaning in as close as I could to take a picture of this pretty plant. Thankfully nobody else was around with a camera because, for some photographers,  I would have made a comical photo opp, soaking up water through the seat of my pants and then clumsily clambering back to my feet, camera in hand. The things we do to get the pictures we want!

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Back on my feet, I brushed the wet dirt and debris from my sweat pants and continued my trail walk. I will share more pictures from Holden in a future blog post.

Thanks for joining me today.
See you soon!
Trail Walker
Posted in Holden Arboretum, My trail walks, nature, nature photography

Faux-Spring 🌤

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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.

On our way to check out the situation at Corning Lake, I walked past Margaretta and her person Kevin, enjoying the beautiful day. For her part, Margaretta, who had been for a swim, was most interested in the other dogs that were passing by. She didn’t really want to pose for a photo opp, but with Kevin’s permission, I snapped a couple of quick shots before continuing on to Corning Lake.

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Margaretta sees something more interesting than my camera.
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Isn’t she a beauty?

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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.

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Looking at the distant side of the lake, you can see 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.  😊

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