Change of pace

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I think this little bird that I spotted wading in the bog on my trail walk yesterday is a chipping sparrow. (Although if anyone knows a better ID, I would be glad to hear about it). It was such a cold day, all the birds seemed to be in hiding, and I didn’t blame them. A good book, a warm blanket, and a mug of cocoa sounded very inviting to me.

A confession and a conundrum

I have been struggling to find time for daily trail walks plus processing and posting the pictures. Sometimes it can be nearly a week between posts. However I would really like to post at least four times a week. So I asked myself this question: How can I manage my time to fit in four or five  trail walks and at least four blog posts each week ? Since timeliness is impacted by my determination to process each picture and to make the effort to write well whatever I decide to write about my posts, I’ve decided to make a change in my posting process.  For the next week or so (starting today, March 22nd), my solution to this conundrum is to pick one picture each day to post. Once I am posting on a regular schedule, I will reevaluate. I would love to hear from any bloggers who have encountered this dilemma. If that’s you, please leave a comment to share how you have resolved it.

Thanks for joining me on the trail today.
Trail Walker

Note: I looked up the American tree sparrow, as Roz suggested in her comment. The tree sparrow and chipping sparrow do look a lot alike, but apparently this little one is an American tree sparrow. Thanks for the ID, Roz.

Transition time: winter to spring

Although some of these pictures were taken on my last winter trail walks, others were taken today, and believe it or not, today is the first day of spring. The past week has been a time of transition between the two seasons. However, even though today is the first official day of spring, all these scenes look (and felt) pretty wintry. However slight, there are some signs of spring, but it definitely doesn’t have anything to do with warmer temperatures. Gloves, hats, and hand warmers were a necessity today. It was a very cold day in my opinion. Cold and with a stiff breeze. If you can’t identify the spring pictures, just click on the gallery and scroll through them. I’ve labeled them by season.

Winter or spring, I hope you enjoyed the pictures. Up here, on the south shore of Lake Erie, spring is a reluctant season, a late bloomer, you might say. Spring is hard to recognize from these pictures. I’m hoping we’ll get some warmer weather soon, so the daffodils and other spring flowers will begin to bloom.

Thanks for stopping by today.
I hope you enjoyed the “walk.”
Trail Walker

Solitude

I enjoyed a solitary walk in a snow-covered Holden Arboretum recently. For 90 minutes I wandered the trails without meeting another person. Ninety minutes of snow-covered solitude is  a very peaceful experience.  Although the walking wasn’t always easy, the landscape was beautiful. It’s truly surprising how different the Arboretum looks when the ground, trees, and water are covered with snow. Here are a few photos comparing similar locations in different seasons.

First: Lotus Pond, one of my regular stops on any visit to the Arboretum, looked like this when I was there in October.

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Sugar maple and golden willow tree

 

But on this snowy, 20 degree day in February, it looked like this.

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If I didn’t know that tall golden willow tree was on the edge of Lotus Pond, I might have walked right out onto (and possibly through) the ice.

Here’s another comparison: Blueberry Pond on October 1, 2015 with rocks in the foreground to anchor the image…

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Another of my favorite photo spots is the rocks by Blueberry Pond

…and Blueberry Pond in February with the same foreground rocks covered by snow.

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Just one more comparison. Our grandson Michael walking the Blueberry Pond Trail when he was home for his winter break needed a warm jacket and hat, but he didn’t need boots to hike the trail in that light coating of snow.

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A brief pause before heading down the trail

Two months later, after a heavy snowfall, this is Blueberry Pond just a few yards to the left of where Michael was standing in the picture above.

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A blanket of snow changes the landscape dramatically, and it changes what the walker needs to wear.  On this February day, I wore a heavy jacket, a warm hat plus ear muffs, and cleats on my boots. I don’t fool around when the trails are icy and snow covered, but this was a beautiful day, and a trail walk in the snow-covered Arboretum was one of my photography goals for this winter, a goal I am glad that I accomplished.

Enjoy this gallery of snowy photographs:

Thanks for joining me on the trail today.
I hope you enjoyed the wintry beauty and solitude.
Trail Walker

A trio of snowy noses

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Three does in different sizes.

Deer are curious critters, especially in the winter when they think you may be carrying some delicious treats. Unfortunately for this trio, I had no treats, but I was carrying a camera. The snowy noses are the result of foraging for food buried under the snow.

Trail Walker
Trio

Birds and other critters!

When I arrived at Chagrin River Park today, my goal was to capture a few, say 10 or 12, sharp pictures of the birds and deer I see along the trail. The cardinals were happy to pose, and I was especially delighted with the handsome red-coated male who stood out in the snow-covered branches of the evergreen tree. They flew into the tree, I sprinkled a few peanuts, and all of us were pleased with the results.

And the cardinals weren’t the only birds I captured with my lens. There was this white-throated sparrow…

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… the red-bellied woodpecker that rather comically stuck her head up from behind the fence post just in time to grab one of the last peanuts,

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and at one point I interrupted a confrontation between a cardinal and a chickadee. The expression on the face of the chickadee makes me smile every time I look at it. The feisty little bird isn’t the least bit intimidated by the huge red one!

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And then there was a herd of seven or eight deer. There was one medium sized buck along with quite a few does, and one of the does, a young one, was a dappled deer. You can see from the pictures that his coat is unique. I have no idea why, but it really makes him stand out in the crowd.

It was a beautiful day for a trail walk, and I am pleased that I got more than the 10 or 12 I had set as my goal for the day. To close this post, here is a beautiful young doe that posed in the late afternoon light. Thanks for joining me along the trail today. I hope you enjoyed these pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them.

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Keep your eyes on this space. You never know what we will see along the trail.

See you soon.
Trail Walker

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

Wellsboro, Pennsylvania

This summer at the end of July, we eschewed high-speed turnpike driving and traveled old Route 6 through the northern corridor of Pennsylvania on our return to Ohio after a family celebration. Why? Mainly because many years ago Bob sold Hotpoint appliances to dealers in that territory. On this Sunday afternoon, traveling with our daughter Gretchen and grandson Alec, we had the time, so we decided to do a little reminiscing and show them an area we both enjoy. One of our favorite towns in that area is Wellsboro. In many ways, it is a quintessential small town that has kept its character without being left behind by the times.

Showers were threatening when we pulled into town, but we parked the car and headed to the Wellsboro Diner for coffee and a piece of pie, followed by a short photowalk through the Sunday-afternoon-quiet-streets.
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If you had been there, we would have invited you to join us for pie. The diner was crowded, but if you wouldn’t mind sitting at the counter, there was plenty of pie, and it was good. Then we wandered through the city park so Gretchen and Alec could see the statue of WYNKEN, BLYNKEN, AND NOD, and along the city sidewalks, where I captured these photos:

On the way out of town, we made one more stop to take a few photos of the Allegheny Reservoir, created years ago when the Kinzu dam was built. I know there is a story to be told about the homes that were flooded and residents who had to move, but we will have to go back another time to get all the details (and some more pictures) before I can write that story. Meanwhile, if you are interested, here is what Wikipedia can tell you.

Allegheny Reservoir
Allegheny Reservoir

Alec and Gretchen at Allegheny Reservoir
Alec and Gretchen at Allegheny Reservoir

Back on the road, we continued our drive west, stopping for a delicious supper at Findley Lake, New York, but that, too, is a story for another time. Thanks for joining us on the trail today. I’ve been a little slow in posting the pictures, but better late than never I guess!

Trail Walker

A sunny walk in the Arboretum

Hello friends. I started today’s walk in the Arboretum with no particular plan other than to wander for awhile and take some pictures. If you want to walk with me, get your jacket on. It’s chilly today. Look how this group of school kids is bundled up in jackets and hats. Still, I imagine that their teachers must feel very lucky to get such a great day for their trip. If you were walking with me I would tell you about a very soggy field trip years ago when I took my class to Chapin Park in an all day downpour. It was a couple of days before my heavy coat dried out after that trip.

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After passing the school group, we would follow this trail, veering off to snap pictures of some cypress knees (I had to get down on my knees in the wet ground to take them).
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I find it difficult to chose a favorite place in Holden Arboretum. My choices are as changeable as the seasons. In early spring  I like to visit the wildflower garden. In June, when rhododendrons and azaleas burst into bloom, a walk in the rhododendron garden is a special treat.  Later in the summer, the butterfly garden becomes my go-to spot, requiring frequent visits to capture pictures of the butterflies and blossoms that make this garden so special. But one place that I enjoy all year round, is Lotus Pond. Frogs, damselflies, and dragons are abundant around the pond, but my main reason for making this a regular stop every time I take a trail walk at the Arboretum, is the beauty of the landscaping around the pond. Here is what you would see today. There is something special about that willow tree. Whatever the season, I am drawn there to add a more pictures to my collection.

Photography isn’t the only reason to visit the Arboretum. You will see lots of people walking their family dog(s) like this dog walker with her two handsome dogs. I couldn’t resist asking for a photo opp.

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Follow me as I wander over to Corning Lake to check out the progress of the restoration in that area. We can see that the new entrance to the rhododendron garden is open, making for easy access from Corning Lake into the rhododendron display. From there, it is an easy walk back the new trail, past Lotus Pond again, and down to Blueberry Pond. Take a look and you’ll see what I mean:

It’s time to head for home, but first let’s take a short detour through the picnic area near the visitors’ center so we can see the scarecrows and the maze set up for the weekend’s Halloween festivities. Maybe we could return then and join in the fun. (Postscript: I didn’t return. It rained BUCKETS that weekend).

After driving out of the Arboretum, if we stop on Sperry Road and look back, we can take one more picture of the Emergent Tower.
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Does that give a different sense of the height of the Tower? It’s one thing to say that it is 12 stories (120 feet) high, but to see it towering over the tallest of trees gives a different perspective.

That’s the end of this trail walk, but you can be sure I will be heading back to the Arboretum soon. I hope you will come along with me the next time too.

Trail Walker

Windy Walk at Edgewater Beach Park

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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