Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Columbus Day Interlude

Monday, October 13th, 2008

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For Columbus Day weekend, my big goal was to spend lots of time at my computer and catch up on posting book reviews on my website.  I had been writing reviews and posting them on the blog part of the site, but had more than 40 reviews which I had never transferred over to the main site, complete with links and pictures of the cover.

It was going great.  It’s Monday, and I only have two more sections to update — Children’s Fiction, and Picture Books, about 16 reviews.  I didn’t want to stop, but I had to do the grocery shopping.

That’s when I noticed what a glorious day it is!  The temperature is 75, a little on the warm side.  Most of the leaves are still green, but there are so many splashes of color!  I wouldn’t have thought they would change in such warm weather, and indeed not many leaves are falling just yet, but there is so much color in the treetops.  The sun is shining brightly, so the colors shine against the brilliant blue sky.

I decided to take a break from computer work and go for a walk over the bridge to Frying Pan Park and “our” waterfall.  It turns out there is a whole network of trails on the other side of the waterfall.  The creek is low, so it is easy to cross.

My favorites are the bright red vines that twine around the tree trunks and outline the tree branches, as in my “cover” picture above.

I was flooded with a sense of well-being as I went on my little less-than-an-hour walk.  (I’ve already spent more time uploading the pictures than I did on the walk!  But it was worth it.)  It was odd seeing so much fall color when the weather was warm, almost hot.  But so beautiful.  The woods seem very much alive still, yet so brilliantly colored.

I saw other people at the waterfall, but nowhere else along the path.  I am definitely going to have to make more of a habit of walking in the woods.

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After the narrow walking trails, I got to some horse trails, that lead out of the woods to the barn at Frying Pan Park.  Along the trails, there were jumps set up.  When I saw this “room” with a roof of colored branches and the horse jumps, I was transported back to my girlhood reading horse books.  How easy to imagine a girl keeping her horse at Frying Pan Farm and teaching him to become a champion jumper, in the woods, destined for greatness!

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Below is one of the trees stretching over the horse jumps:

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It ended up being such a lovely interlude!  I do so love Autumn!  Having grown up in Southern California, it still seems such a wonderful miracle.

Life is good!

An Evening Walk

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

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It was a lovely summer evening after a full day of work.  I asked my son to take a walk with me, and he agreed!  There’s a little creek and waterfall at an abandoned corner about a five minutes’ walk from our home.  It’s nice to walk over and just hear the water above the sound of cars rushing past.  There is a bridge across the busy street, so we don’t have to deal with traffic and can get a little lull of time in the woods.  I don’t go there nearly often enough.

I’m still reviewing my summer from the pictures I took.  This was early in the summer.  One thing I reflect about it was that I sure enjoy my son’s company.  It’s just the two of us now, but I am so thankful that he is such good company.

Longwood Gardens

Monday, September 1st, 2008

Okay, I’m slowly telling the story of my Summer Vacation.  The day after my birthday and graduation, I had breakfast with my classmates and fellow graduates, and then drove back to Virginia.  Along the way, I stopped at Longwood Gardens and spent a few hours there.

Years before, when Josh was a toddler, we visited Longwood Gardens with my parents-in-law and met some family friends who lived in Pennsylvania.  (We lived in New Jersey at the time.)  I believe that was when I met Lorinda, who often leaves comments on this blog.

It was funny, because I barely remembered that trip — until I went inside the large greenhouse and peeked at the Children’s Garden.  Then I remembered that on that long-ago visit, it rained, so we spent most of our time inside the greenhouse.  I also got a weird sense of deja vu when I watched the small dancing fountains going to a recording of Stars & Stripes Forever, because my father-in-law had videotaped the entire performance, and it was identical, after all those years!

Anyway, my trip this June was a totally different experience.  That trip was a large gathering, planned by my mother-in-law, and with a toddler in tow.  This trip was a solitary ramble in a beautiful place on a gorgeous day.  I was thinking about graduation and new beginnings and all the hope my future holds.  I did a lot of praying and thinking about the future, and a lot of simply enjoying the beauty.

The water gardens were beautiful to listen to as well as to see.  There was a bit of forest I was able to hike through.  I sat on a bench and simply enjoyed the woods.  It was very nice to have nobody tired of me taking pictures or bored with simply looking.

It was funny — the day was Father’s Day, and there simply weren’t too many families that celebrated Father’s Day by going to gardens!  Those that were there were on a very different, child-centered agenda, from what I was doing.  It felt wonderful to ramble through a safe, slightly wild, gorgeous place and reflect on how blessed I am.

I’ll post the full album on Facebook, but include some of the best pictures here:

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Bluebells and Home

Friday, April 25th, 2008

When my son got accepted to Thomas Jefferson High School, a shift happened in my mind.

Before this, I was still hoping for reconciliation with my husband and assumed that would mean I would move to live with him.  As I followed him for all of our married lives.  That’s what wives do, right?

I’m still hoping for reconciliation.  But now, whether or not that happens, I am making a Home here.  My son gets to go to the BEST high school in the nation!  As long as I live in Fairfax County.  We went to the Freshman Preview Night and were so impressed.  There is simply no way I’d have the heart to give him a taste of that wonderful school and then pull him out and make him go to an ordinary school.

So — at least for the next four years, I fully intend to live in Fairfax County.

And you know what?  I like that idea!  I can make a home here.

I have wonderful friends here — new friends as well as friends I’ve known almost my entire life.  I have a fabulous, loving and welcoming church where people worship God and talk about God and God guides and directs.  Tim was already going to an excellent school, and in high school he’s going to go to an even better one.  And I got a wonderful job working as a Children’s Librarian, working with more fabulous people.

Truly God is richly blessing me, right here and right now.

I had a Friday off, with Tim in school.  I work for Fairfax County, and a daily news update mentioned that it was now Bluebell Season at Bull Run Regional Park.  Shortly after cherry blossom season, the bluebells burst into bloom by the riverside.  The trees still don’t have enough foliage to block the sunlight, and the flowers turn into a sea of blue.

Well, Bull Run Regional Park isn’t far at all from my home.  (And I’d heard of Bull Run since I was a little girl — when my brother did a panorama of the Civil War battle.  Pretty cool to actually see it!)  The day was glorious.  The sun was shining and breezes were blowing.  An utterly wonderful day for a walk. 

The trail ended up being a nice loop along Cub Run and Bull Run, about a 45-minute walk with stops for pictures, and totally flat.  It was a magnificent way to spend some time, and I felt I was truly appreciating my new, beautiful home!

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I’ll post a link to my facebook album of pictures as soon as I get them edited.

In Thrall to Seasons

Monday, April 7th, 2008

What Barbara Kingsolver says about seasons echoes how I feel about them, having grown up in the LA area.  I still find it so amazing that all the trees burst into bloom at the same time!  I was so delighted to read that someone else feels the same way, I’m going to copy the passage here:

“January brings the snow . . . ,” began the well-thumbed, illustrated children’s book about the seasons that my children cleaved to as gospel, while growing up in a place where January did nothing of the kind….

Nevertheless, in every winter of the world, Arizona schoolchildren fold and snip paper snowflakes to tape around the blackboard.  In October they cut out orange paper leaves, and tulips in spring, just as colonial American and Australian schoolchildren once memorized poems about British skylarks while the blue jays or cockatoos (according to the continent) squawked outside, utterly ignored.  The dominant culture has a way of becoming more real than the stuff at hand.

Now, at our farm, when the fully predicted snow fell from the sky, or the leaves changed, or tulips popped out of the ground, we felt a shock of thrill.  For the kids it seemed like living in storybook land; for Steven and me it was a more normal return to childhood, the old days, the way things ought to be.  If we remembered the snow being deeper, the walks to school harder and longer, we refrained from mentioning that to any young person.  But the seasons held me in thrall.

— Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, p. 296-297

Skyline Drive

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

Two Sundays ago, we were having unseasonably glorious cool weather, and I was meeting my husband to bring my son back home.  They had been exploring the Shenandoah Valley–so I arranged to meet them and come back by way of Skyline Drive.  After meeting, I was running late, so we only did one segment of the drive.  But it was so beautiful, and wonderfully peaceful, with very few other travelers, and the leaves just beginning to turn.  Here are some pictures:

Mom, just drive on!

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Many panoramic vistas:

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We even saw a flock of wild turkeys!

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Hiking at Great Falls

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

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After looking at the waterfalls, my son and I went for a short hike along the river.

There’s something about hiking that refreshes my spirit, no matter how hot the day.  I love it that such a beautiful place is so close to the big city.

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Setting off on the hike.

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The sky was so blue that day.

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Unfortunately, the bridge didn’t work for Poohsticks.

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A peaceful spot by the canal around the falls

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In a tunnel of trees

Throwing rocks into the Potomac:

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