Autumn isn’t over yet…

…as promised in my last post!



Late afternoon, and I had the Arboretum trails almost entirely to myself. One or two dogs were out for an afternoon stroll with their human companions, and I came upon one family group, but with no one to engage in conversation, I enjoyed a quiet stroll around Lotus Pond, down the hill to Blueberry pond (Pictured above), and back to the car park before dark. Come along and enjoy the beauty with me.

Trail near Lotus Pond
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Golden sweet gum tree

 

Of course, for me a trail walk at the Arboretum is not complete unless I make the circle around Lotus Pond to enjoy the many sides of the Golden Willow Tree.

Today, because I had a little time left before the sun sank below the horizon, I decided to follow the trail from Lotus Pond to Blueberry Pond. I hadn’t walked that way in a while and checking it out in near-dusk on this late Autumn afternoon was a delightful experience. The clump of birch trees to the left of the trail and the bench at the top of today’s blog post caught my eye, and I paused to capture a colorful photo of the shoreline of Blueberry Pond.

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Blueberry Pond
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Birch trees

From Blueberry Pond, I climbed the hill, returning to the visitor’s center where I found my car, sitting nearly solitary in the parking lot.  Chilled, but happy with the images I had collected, I stowed my camera pack in the back seat, started the car, turned on the heater, and headed home.

Thanks for joining me for today’s trail walk.
See you soon!
Trail Walker

 

Autumn isn’t over…yet!

Autumn Leaves


Yes, it feels like winter today, but it won’t be truly winter until I have posted all the “Color Me Autumn” images and stories that I want to share. So, while it snowed and rained today, and the temperature hasn’t crept above 34 degrees (F), I will continue to celebrate Autumn with this post about our recent visit to Patterson’s Fruit Farm and future posts about my favorite season of the year. This way I can keep Autumn around for a very long time!



Patterson’s is one of my favorite local places to visit, especially during Autumn. Not only are the trees, richly dressed in leaves of orange, yellow, gold, and red, a feast for the eyes, but pumpkins and gourds, chrysanthemums and scarecrows accentuate the Fall feeling. Taste and smell add to the sensory overload when we visit the bake shop to order pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving dinner and pick up freshly baked apple dumplings to enjoy at home. Fall is truly a season to celebrate. And I will continue to celebrate it for as long as I have images like these to share!



Thanks for joining me on today’s trail walk.
See you soon with more Autumn images!
Trail Walker

Autumn in the Arboretum

 

It was a perfect day for a trail walk, so I headed to Holden Arboretum because the sun was shining, the sky was blue, and I hoped to find some photos to add to my “Color Me Autumn” collection. Parking my car, I hurried down the trail to the sugar maple tree, which by this time should be showing beautiful color. One glance at the tree, pictured above, told me that Autumn wasn’t making much progress. At least not yet! If I were to give it a grade, based on the colors I could see, I would probably give it a D+ (I’m a tough grader and, based on recent Octobers, my expectations are high). Frosty nights (but not too frosty) and bright, sunshiny days are the necessary conditions  to create the colors that make Autumn my favorite season. Walking all around the tree to view it from all angles, I realized, to my disappointment, that it was still mostly green. It’s a beautiful tree, but green isn’t what I was expecting to see the second week in October. Sigh! Oh well, I’ll just go back to the Arboretum next week and update my Autumn color report. Meanwhile, here are a few more pictures from week two. Although I’m giving today’s trail walk a low grade for “fall color,” it still earns high marks for overall beauty.

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Golden willow tree

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Golden willow tree

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Finally: a fall colored tree!

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Gazebo in the rhododendron garden

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Fisherman’s blind

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Unusual color for Autumn

That’s all for this week, trail walking friends.
See you next week!
Trail Walker

A new personal best

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I was working on my computer yesterday afternoon when Bob stuck his head in the office door and announced, “I’m going for a walk.”

“Where are you going?”

“To the end of the street.”

Curious at the lack of a definite destination, I asked, “You’re not walking to the park are you?”

“Maybe. I’ll see how I feel.”

Now the park entrance is about a mile from home. Not a long walk, but the longest he has taken since his surgery. So I replied, “Let me know how you feel when you reach Reeves Road please.”

You can’t keep a good man down, and Bob definitely fits that category, so I was not surprised when he called a little while later to say he was heading down the hill to visit with his friends at the fire pit.

Wrapping up my work on the computer (a little sooner than I had planned), I grabbed my camera and car keys and headed to the park where I met Bob at the fire pit.  After I took a few more pictures, we walked through the woods to the Rural Road picnic shelter where I had parked the car and headed for home.

It was a good day for both of us, and definitely more than a few steps forward. I’m not sure how Gulliver would have felt if he knew we were taking a trail walk without him, but he is a senior canine now. Trail walks through the woods are not his favorite pastime these days. For now he’s happy to roll and relax in the grass in our front yard.
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That’s it for today’s trail walk.
Thanks for coming along. ~Trail Walker

Three owls

Look closely! Can you see all three great horned owls?

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There’s Momma Owl on the left, and next to her are her two owlets taking their naps. I’m not sure how old the babies are, but rumor has it that they were first spotted by a sharp-eyed birder a week or more ago. But that is just rumor, so I will have to confirm it. I only heard of them two days ago. This nest is about a mile from our house, on one of the trails I frequently walk. With these owls, the recent “big bird” sightings in our neighborhood has increased by three: the eagle and pileated woodpecker I posted last week and now a great horned owl and her owlets. It’s been a banner week for big birds. I wonder what will be next?

See you soon!
Trail Walker

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

A guest for lunch

One of our neighborhood big birds, the pileated woodpecker, came for lunch today. He swooped in for a landing on top of the hopper feeder, and Bob spotted him feasting on the suet cake that is right below his “landing pad.” Leaning over the end of the feeder, he would grab a bite of suet, take a look around the neighborhood, then grab another bite. He was in no hurry to leave, and I had time to take a lot of photos.

 

He’s almost prehistoric-looking. Check out that beak and those claws. I wouldn’t want to get between him and his suet because he obviously loves it. Finally satisfied, he flew away, moving unbelievably fast! Maybe next time I’ll be quicker with my finger on the shutter button and get a better shot of the takeoff!
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That was today’s excitement, but I’m betting he’ll be back!
Trail Walker

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

Winter walking in North Chagrin Reservation

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On a sunny February afternoon, I found myself in the vicinity of North Chagrin Reservation with about a half-hour of free time on my hands. North Chagrin is part of the Emerald Necklace, the unofficial name for a network of parks that more or less circle the city of Cleveland, Ohio. Many of the parks are interconnected. The timing and the weather for my visit were perfect for a short walk around Sanctuary Marsh and Sunset Pond, where I captured these images:

North Chagrin Reservation is a 1700 acre wildlife sanctuary, and as you can see, I had a great day for my trail walk. The giant “snake,” located near the nature center, is a popular spot for capturing photos of the children who enjoy climbing on it and a pair of nearby equally large frogs. The trails around Sanctuary Marsh and Sunset Pond are easily accessible for visitors using walkers and wheelchairs, with other trails for cycling, in-line skating, and bike riding (no motorized vehicles allowed). If you are in the area, and seeking a place to enjoy outdoor recreation, North Chagrin is the place for you. Whether you’re considering a half-hour stroll or an all day hike on rugged terrain, you can find it here.

Hope you enjoyed our trail walk today. Thanks for joining me.
See you soon.
Trail Walker

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