Heads down, tails up!

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Walking in the park today, I saw a lot of mallard ducks, both male and female. The males, like the handsome fellow pictured above, were at times swimming sedately in the river and, at other times, diving down for a treat. Comically waving their orange-colored feet in the air, they scrambled around underwater, searching for  food .

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Heads down, tails up!

At the same time, their female counterparts, splashing around nearby, were having absolutely fabulous fun, as you can see from the smiles on their faces.
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Who knew that ducks could have that much fun?

That’s it for today’s photowalk, friends.
Come back soon for another trek down the trail,
and don’t forget to bring your camera because you never know what we will see!

~Trail Walker

Confused by the weather

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Since the beginning of the year, our weather has been unsettled, or maybe I should say unsettling. We’ve had snow, extreme cold, and now rain. Glancing out the kitchen window this morning, I noticed an empty hopper feeder. Slipping on my jacket and boots, I sloshed out and refilled the feeder. A short while later, I spotted this little critter on the tree stump enjoying a feast.

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As you can see, the squirrel is not on the hopper feeder, but on a nearby tree stump. It makes no difference to him, just as long as someone treks out to refill the food supply, and I imagine he is pleased to find his snack on the stump, instead of in the puddles that surround it.

Two weeks ago, the stump was covered with snow and the backyard looked like this.

Snowy Sunday

When Bob carried out the bucket of birdseed to refill the feeders, he had to sweep off the top of the stump before scattering the birdseed and pouring seed in the feeders. That was on January 27th.
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For a few days, a joyful crowd of sledders, had a grand time on the hill in Chagrin River Park (See my recent post “When the Snow Finally Fell”). Unfortunately, a few days later, during the first week of February, our temperatures topped out in the sixties, with 63 degrees on February 4th, and 61 degrees on February 7th. The snow melted, and the sledders vacated the now-barren sledding hill in the Park. Then, on February 9th, when the high temperature once again plummeted to 21 degrees, our brief taste of spring ended; the rains came; and the river almost reached flood stage, prompting warning calls from the authorities who keep a watch on such things.

Currently we are in a holding pattern. I can hear cars splashing through the puddles as they drive past our house, and I have no incentive whatsoever to take my camera to the park or the Arboretum for a trail walk. Who knows when spring will actually put in a real appearance. After all, it is still February. In Cleveland, we don’t hold out much hope for sunshine and flowers until at least April…or maybe sometime in May???

Cross your fingers fellow trail walkers.
And don’t put away your boots yet!
~Trail Walker

Bright-eyed birds

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A tilt of the head and a flash of sunlight can create a glimmer of brightness in these dark-eyed little birds. Photographers call it a catchlight! Look for it in the chickadee above and in these little titmice that took time out for a photo opp in front of my camera.

It’s the magic that can turn a dull picture into something special! I captured these birds on my trail walk last Friday. (On a cloudy day, a little bit of fill-flash can create the same effect.)

Thanks for popping in for a visit today.
It’s always good to see friends along the trail.
Trail Walker

Saturday’s miscellaneous moments

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For the past few months I have been hard at work organizing the 50,000+ photos I have accumulated on my computer’s hard drives. I have categorized, keyworded, labeled, and even deleted photos in my effort to gain control over what had become a massive mess. For some photographers, 50 thousand photos wouldn’t make a dent in their collection, but for someone like me, someone who had no logical method for organizing my files as they continued to accumulate, 50 thousand is a lot!

I primarily use Adobe Lightroom to import and optimize my pictures, but although Lightroom has a great system for organizing photos, even 50 thousand or many more, I had no conception of how to use it to my advantage. Then one day, a few months ago, I signed up for several online workshops by Ben Willmore. Since the day I began taking Ben’s workshops, I have had multiple “eureka moments”and now, finally, I am on the way to being in control of my massive mess of picture files. Bit by bit, I am getting them categorized, labeled, keyworded, and (dare I say) ORGANIZED. I don’t have total control yet, but I’ve taken control (thanks to Ben) and I’m gradually getting there.

Then today I went out with my camera and took a bunch of pictures, in a bunch of different places, for a bunch of different reasons. I came home, downloaded them to my computer, and began to wonder about the best way to organize them. I needed to keep track of them and know exactly where they resided on my hard drive, so I can find them when I’m ready to share them on my Blipfoto journal, this Trailwalking blog, or even just to email them to family and friends. And hallelujah, I figured it out! So tonight I am celebrating, and I just had to tell someone, so I chose to tell you. If you’re not interested, if you could care less, that’s okay. You can just ignore the last three paragraphs. But before you check out, please take a look at these miscellaneous moments I captured with my camera today.

The day started with our usual Saturday visit to the Willoughby Outdoor Market. To my delight, I heard music and discovered two young musicians had taken a space at the market and brought their instruments (and their mothers) because they wanted to raise money for their friend Marik, who is undergoing cancer treatment. I was impressed by these ninth graders, both by their talent and their initiative to step up, organize, and implement such a special fund raiser for their friend. They are generous spirits, and I believe Marik must be also.

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Next I ran into our old neighbors Harold and his daughter Sandy, who used to babysit with our daughters many years ago. One of my favorite things about the Outdoor Market is running into people I haven’t seen for a while, and stopping for a conversation, which is what Sandy and I did. As we were talking, Harold kept on walking past other vendors, so I said, “How old is your father, Sandy?” It turns out he is 97, and Sandy had to keep moving to catch up with him! I took the opportunity to snap their picture.

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Harold and his daughter Sandy

I also ran into our friends Ruth and Mike Lovett. Ruth was eating a scone that she said was delicious, so I made sure Bob and I bought a few before we left the market.

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Ruth and Mike

After the market, Bob and I drove out to Patterson Fruit Farm. It was getting near noon, and I hatched the idea that a warm apple dumpling would make a great lunch. Patterson’s makes great apple dumplings, and just thinking about them was making me hungry. However, when we arrived at Patterson’s, we discovered a fall festival in full swing. The fruit farm had been overrun by families of all sizes and they appeared to be having a great time. The lines were long, the kind that wind out the door and down the path. Bob took one look and said, “We can come back Monday,” and I agreed. So we came home without our apple dumplings, but fortunately, we had those scones, and they were delicious too!

After taking a few pictures of the festivities, as well as several landscapes, we headed for home.

 

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Orchard Hills, which once was a golf course, adjoins Patterson’s property.
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The narrow blue line on the horizon is Lake Erie.

So that’s it for the visit to Patterson’s, but I’m looking forward to a return visit for those apple dumplings. It’s time for lunch, so we should head for home, but if you have a few extra minutes before we sign off, why don’t you go back and look at my last several blog posts. I’ve labeled them “Color Me Autumn,” because they are all about the beauty of Autumn as I’ve photographed it in my walks along trails in Chagrin River Park, Holden Arboretum, and on the beach at Headlands Nature Preserve. They start here at Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve.

Thanks for joining me for today’s “Miscellaneous Moments.”
See you soon for more Color Me Autumn trail walks.
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

Cleveland’s Westside Market

Clevelanders love the West Side Market like that loud, colorful great aunt who has ties to the Old Country. She’s brash, one-of-a-kind, completely unapologetic and the absolute best to show off to your friends!

The quote above, from a website about “Things to do in Cleveland”, is a great introduction to this unique market, one of the best places for locals to do their weekly shopping and at the same time introduce one of our city’s jewels to their out-of-town guests. When Gretchen and Alec were visiting in July, we took them to this 100-year-old market on West 25th Street in Cleveland. Although it may seem strange to non-Clevelanders, we lived in the eastern suburbs-east of the Cuyahoga River-for many years before venturing across the river to check out the market. Don’t get me wrong. I had been to the west side many times over the years. I actually like the west side, but I had never been to this historic market, not until our daughter Alison invited me to go with her and Emmy a couple of years ago. Now I can’t believe I didn’t go sooner…much sooner. It is a fantastic place to find food of all kinds, a truly multi-cultural experience, and great fun.Once inside the market, it is easy to be overwhelmed by its size, the hustle and bustle of the crowd, and the tasty foods on display up and down every aisle. Take a look at this gallery to see what I mean. This is definitely one time when pictures will speak louder than words.

Another feature that attracts repeat customers to the market is the vendors themselves. Their work is hard. Rising early, sometimes before dawn, in order to reach the city and set up their displays before the market opens, they work long hours. Many of the market’s stands have been run by the same families for multiple generations. They are well-known and respected by their customers, which is why so many people return again and again, week-after-week, to do their shopping here. And like the foods they sell, the venders, themselves, are varied, and, although they must work long hours, it would be unusual to encounter one who isn’t helpful and courteous. In taking the pictures for this blog, I try to get permission from the vendors I photograph, a smile or a thumbs-up signal, to let me know it’s okay to snap the picture. Some are busily engaged with serving their customers, and don’t even notice me, but those who see me will usually take a few moments to pose for the camera. Take a look and see what I mean.

If you are fortunate enough to be in Cleveland some week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday when the market is open, make sure you set aside a few hours for a visit to the Westside Market. You may even want to plan for lunch or a snack break while you are there, and, if you are smart (and hungry), you will leave with your dinner in your hands, as well as enough fresh fruit, produce, and delicious baked good to last through the week. The Westside Market has been named “Best Food Lover’s Market” by Food Network Magazine, so you are sure to find your visit worthwhile and will soon be making plans to return for another visit.

Thanks for joining me for this photowalk. I hope it made you hungry!
Carolyn aka Skip

July afternoon photowalks

While our daughter Gretchen and her son Alec were in Ohio, we tried to get out to some of their favorite Ohio sites to visit. The Holden Arboretum and a Lake Erie beach were two of their choices, so we took my camera and headed out to visit both on one sunny afternoon and evening. First thing after lunch we drove out to Fairport Harbor where the beach was crowded with swimmers and boaters of all sorts. There really aren’t many beaches with lake access in our area, even though we only  live a mile from Lake Erie. Fairport is a small beach, but a nice one. They rent out kayaks, give lessons, etc, and things were in full swing on that afternoon.

 

 

Holden Arboretum

The Holden Arboretum, in Kirtland, Ohio, is one of the largest arboreta and botanical gardens in the United States, with more than 3,600 acres, including 600 acres devoted to collections and gardens.

Later in the afternoon, we picked up Michael and drove to the Arboretum. Michael just bought a new Canon DSLR and wanted to try it out. I only took a few pictures, but hopefully he had a great time and learned a few things about his new camera. The highlight of our Arboretum visit was a little toad that jumped across the path right in front of me. Michael also got pictures of a snake that conveniently showed up while I was busy watching the toad. I guess you would say it was a successful field trip! No snake pictures on my camera, but here are a few others.

 

Thanks for joining us on this photowalk.
Carolyn aka Skip

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