Meatballs, meds, and trail walking

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Gulliver, our senior springer spaniel, has been taking meds for his arthritis and Cushings disease for the last 6-9 months. Not only is he feeling better, but he has turned into an early riser. That, of course, means that his people (that’s Bob and me) must also rise early. Gully has taken to his new routine like a duck to water, but me…not so much. I’m okay when my feet hit the floor between 7 and 7:15, but any earlier than that is “crazy o’clock” in my book. I’m retired, you know, but Gulliver doesn’t seem to realize the significance of retirement.  Most mornings he’s ready for an early breakfast  around 6 am, followed by his meatballs. He loves his meatballs, which I make from canned dog food, the senior dog diet kind. Four mornings a week he gets three meatballs, each with one of his pills hidden inside. For some reason, Bob hasn’t mastered the meatball recipe (clever man), so as soon as Gulliver polishes off the morning ration of diet kibble that Bob poured into his food bowl, he ready for his meatballs. And because neither Bob nor Gulliver has mastered meatball making, that’s when I have to get up. And that, my friends, is why I was in the park, camera in hand, before 7 am to take pictures along the trail. The air was cool and the light was great. I took a few pictures along the river trail and some in the bog. These are my favorites:

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That’s it for today. To my surprise, I enjoyed my early morning trail walk, so tomorrow or another day soon, after Gulliver has his morning meatballs, I’ll hit the trail and see what I can find. My next blog post will be on Tuesday, because I’m committing to a new post from the trail every Tuesday, Thursday, and either Saturday or Sunday.

Thanks for joining me today for pictures from “along the trail.”

See you soon!
Trail Walker

One more week to go

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For the past three weeks I’ve been on a self-imposed break from my regular trail walks so I can take an online course in photoshop for photographers. As a result, I haven’t had much news to report from along the trail. Photoshop doesn’t come easily to me, but it is a lot of fun, and hopefully will lead to improvements in my blog posts. Only one more week to go in the course, then I plan to resume posting  Along the Trail three times each week on Tuesday Thursday, and either Saturday or Sunday. Although sticking to a regular schedule for posting, doesn’t come easily to me either 😋, I believe it is the best approach to take, and I hope you will return to see my posts on those days.

As you have probably noticed, I am always interested in the behavior of birds. Today I want to share something I observed yesterday when one of the red-bellied woodpeckers (RBW) visited our yard. Between our property and the neighbors behind us are 12 very tall trees where the birds love to nest, rest, hide, and perch. The picture at the top of this post shows an RBW investigating a hole high up on the trunk of one of the trees. She was very curious about the hole, maybe checking out its potential for a future nest. I’m not sure what she expected to see, but she gave it a good look. Click on the gallery below to see her in action:

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they nested in our tree, and we could watch their little family?

That’s it for today. Starting next week, I will resume regular posts and visits to your blogs. To those who have continued to visit and leave comments during my break: thank you for your patience.

See you soon.
Trail Walker

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

End of winter in sight

The end of winter is almost in sight! This was my first trail walk in Chagrin River Park for more than a week, and I am happy overjoyed to say that it actually felt like spring. There were several signs of spring to celebrate: my first bluebird of the season; stormy-looking skies, an unidentified bird wading in the bog, and three happy walkers (plus Gulliver) enjoying the 70 degree temperature. Click on a picture and enjoy a virtual walk in the park.

(If you know the name of the unidentified bird,please leave a comment!)

Come back soon to help me celebrate spring!
Trail Walker

How photography changed me

On a recent walk along the trail, I captured two new faces for my Fabulous Friday Faces gallery (Click the link to learn more about my F.F.F. Gallery).

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Ron
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Lynn

I ran into both Ron, and later Lynn, while I was standing near the split rail fence where I had stopped to photograph some birds on that snowy morning. It’s always a pleasure to encounter new people on the trail, and it’s even better if they are willing to pose for my Fabulous Friday Faces. When I first started taking pictures in the park, I rarely took pictures of people and definitely not pictures of people I had never met. I wouldn’t say I was shy,  but I wasn’t confident about my portrait-taking skills, and the idea of being rejected when I asked someone to pose made me reluctant to approach a stranger and ask for a photo opp. Each time I decided to try, I had to take a deep breath and give myself a pep talk (along the line of “Carolyn, you are able to do this,”) as I headed in their direction, camera in hand.

My attitude about photographing strangers changed a few years ago when I discovered another photographer, living in Scotland, who had started to photograph one stranger every day on the streets of his city. To this day, he is still posting them, and his gallery of photos is beyond amazing (See them here). At that point, I decided if he could post a stranger’s face every single day, I could  post at least one a week, so I started. To be honest, I haven’t been faithful about getting one every single week, and some weeks I post two, but every Fabulous Friday Face I have added to my gallery has help me advance as a photographer. Granted, I am only an enthusiastic, amateur photographer, not a well-trained professional toting a serious looking full-frame  camera and a tripod, but  I get out with my camera in all seasons; I constantly try to learn new photography and photo processing skills; and I challenge myself to improve, instead of settling for the status quo. I’m happy with that, and I think it’s a good (and healthy) place to be.

As I have written elsewhere in my blog, taking that first step, asking a stranger to pose for my camera, was both scary and life changing.  It was a giant step, but one that has challenged me to become a different person, and, I think, a better photographer.  When I first started, I was galaxies away from my comfort zone every time I approached a stranger to ask them to pose for my Fabulous Friday Faces Gallery. I am no longer reluctant to ask. What can they say other than “yes” or “no”?  In all this time I have only had one or two who refused to pose, and I have met many delightful people. My Friday Faces Gallery is a simple concept, but it has turned each walk along the trail into an adventure; taught me new skills; helped me become more outgoing; and proved that you can “teach an old dog new tricks.” I encourage other photographers to give it a go.

Thanks for visiting my blog today. I hope you will return for more photo walks along the trail and more Fabulous Friday Faces.

Trail Walker

I’m ready for spring, but…

When we woke up this morning, there were several inches of fresh snow on the ground. I know it won’t last, and I’m glad that it won’t, but this was just a little reminder that winter won’t let go yet. At least fresh snow is pretty, and this was the kind of snow that was clinging to trees and adding to the beauty of the trails in Chagrin River Park. “Time to capture some snowy pictures along the trail,” I thought to myself.

On the river trail, the snow-covered trees were a delight to see.

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There wasn’t a soul at the fire pit and nobody had built a fire. That’s strange, I thought to myself, someone builds a fire every morning, even when it isn’t cold. Fire or no fire, I took pictures anyway, and then, wondering where everyone was, I snapped one of the sledding hill.

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Approaching the fire pit
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The fire circle was cold (and so was I)

Farther down the trail, I spotted two Canada geese swimming in the bog. They didn’t seem to mind the cold.

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There weren’t many people walking in the park this morning, but I ran into a few, and took their pictures:

 

And of course I took some bird pictures. The red-bellied woodpecker was delighted to pose. It was probably the bark butter bits that caught his attention, and he, along with the white-throated sparrows, repeatedly flew in for  a taste.

The blue jay, as usual, was reticent. He prefers the tree tops to the bark butter bits. And that’s as it should be I guess, but I snapped his picture anyway.

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The meadow

After a while the cold began to seep through my boots, and I decided it was time to go home, so I will leave you with one more snowy park picture.

Thanks for joining me for a cold walk. See you soon!
Trail Walker

Out of my comfort zone!

 

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The tagline on my blog says it all: “I am at home among trees.” Today’s trail walk took me far from those trees into the concrete sidewalks of downtown Cleveland, and way out of my comfort zone. As anyone who follows my blog knows, I am a nature photographer, and I find most of my photos along the trails of local parks, but today’s trail walk was different.To begin with, today is my birthday, and my family and friends have gone out of their way to make it extra-special with cards, phone calls, texts, Facebook greetings, and gifts. One of those gifts resulted in this blog post.

My daughter Alison called and announced that she would pick me up this morning at 10 am and to be sure to bring my camera. However, she wouldn’t say where she planned to take me. It was only after we were in the car driving west on route 2 that her plan unfolded. We were going to take a very different trail walk, involving no parks, no nature trails, no hawks, deer, or snow-covered landscapes. We were going to walk the city streets where we would look for abstracts, architectural details, building elements indoors and out, and whatever else struck our fancy.

I knew right then I was going to be out of my comfort zone, but Alison was in the driver’s seat, so I made up my mind to go along for the ride and have a good time…and I did. I had a great time. We made quite a few stops and several of them led to today’s blog post. We started our tour at the Arcade (top of page) and then moved on to the Cleveland Public Library. Established in 1869, the library was originally operated in several temporary locations in downtown Cleveland until, in 1925 the Main Library on Superior Avenue was opened.

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Entrance to the Cleveland Public Library

The main entrance and first floor lobby are an impressive introduction to this handsome building. According to a brochure handed to us by a delightful gentleman stationed near the entrance…

The entrance doorway window depicts the classical Lamp of Knowledge. The interior entrance doorway has a clock flanked by mythological griffins, a motif of creatures that protects civic buildings. a beautiful terrestrial globe made of pearl art glass hangs from the entrance hall ceiling (1925). It is based on one of the first maps to depict the early Americas done by Leonardo da Vinci. The vaulted lobby ceiling is decorated with paintings done in 1926 that illustrate historical figures that represent the arts, writing, and learning….The lobby is illuminate by torchieres (circa 1990s) which are symbolic of the Lamp of Knowledge.

Along with the brochure we were given an interesting personal introduction to the library that made us feel very welcome. Who would have known so much beauty awaited us when we walked up the stairs and entered through the large main doors. The picture gallery below is a small sampling of my images, including the interior and exterior of the main library, plus a peek into the gated reading garden that features a fountain by Maya Lin, garden gates by Tom Otterness, and other works of art. My images don’t do it justice, so I will have to return and try to do a better job on my next visit.

If you are familiar with Cleveland, you probably recognized some of the shots in this gallery as well as the Arcade, pictured at the top of the page. I hope you enjoyed them.

That’s all for today. Thanks to everyone who helped to make my birthday very special and to Alison who opened my eyes to an entire realm of new “trail” walks and proved that one is never too old to “learn new tricks.”

Happy weekend, friends.
See you tomorrow for another trail walk.
Trail Walker

Not the best weather!

The snow from two nights ago has lingered. I expected it to stick on the ground for a few days, but certainly not to grace the tree branches with the lacy trim I saw yesterday. I was wrong. The trails I walked today reminded me of Robert Frost’s poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” If I had the words, I would wax poetic (although definitely not in the same class as Frost), but you are in luck because I have a meeting to get to and don’t have the time to do more than share a few of the pictures I took in Chagrin River Park this afternoon. The conditions today weren’t very good for photography, and you will notice some specks and blotches that look like dust on my camera sensor. It’s not dust, however, it is pellets of snow, some of which got on my lens and some on my face and glasses. Despite my determination, the inclement weather finally made me retreat to my car and head for home (after drying off my camera).Take a look at this gallery to see what I’m talking about:

I have many other snowy pictures from yesterday and today, but that’s all I have time to post today. I will close with Frost’s eloquent words, which are true for me this afternoon:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

The snow may (or may not) be here tomorrow. Please come back for another walk along the trail, and we will find out!

Thanks for joining me on the snowy trail today!
Trail Walker

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