32: Sunday Sunshine

(A light in the woods.)

Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.  ~ Maori Proverb

Hey!  I’m finally getting the hang of the star-effect using the manual settings on the camera.  Some are better than others, though.

It’s day 32 of my outdoor commitment.  It’s the kind of day when you want to bring the outdoors inside by throwing open all the windows and doors, inviting in the sunshine and fresh air.  Of course that’s just what I’ve done today.  It’s driving the cats bonkers since they would rather be outside playing than hanging around in the house.  Sometimes I feel bad about keeping them indoors.  Then I remember that it’s healthier for them (and for me as I don’t have to worry about whether or not one of the visiting hawks or owls will decide to eat them).

(Sunlight and leaf on the pond.)

Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair…   ~ Susan Polis Shutz

M and I have spent a goodly part of the morning on more winter preparations.  Say goodbye to the pedal boat and the swim platform.  We’ve hauled them out of the water and won’t see them in the pond again until next year.

(This morning’s view of the pond.)

The rowboat will stay out for a while longer, probably until the pond starts to freeze.  Putting the rowboat away for winter is easily accomplished.  We haul it up on the bank and turn it over.  Voila!  Winterized.

(Leafy sunshine.)

I am grateful to report that hauling in the swim platform didn’t end with one or both of us swimming in the pond.  The weather is warm today, but not warm enough for a dip.  The nights have been cool, sometimes cold.  The temperature of the water has dropped with the air temperature.  M did wind up stuck in the muck a few times, the mud grasping and suctioning on to his hip boots (formerly known as the scary boots).  I wish I’d had the camera.  It seemed unwise to take it along on this excursion as we weren’t sure whether or not pulling up the platform anchor would result in tipping the boat.

(Prayer flags and sunlight.)

Breezy Acres is not just breezy today.  It’s downright gusty.  The wind is whooshing and whistling, creating a kind of music for the falling leaves to dance to.  The laundry on the line is drying quickly, allowing me to get quite a bit of it done today.  In between hanging laundry I’ve been soaking up the sun and wind and warmth, taking in all the sights, sounds and fragrances of this beautiful day, and once in a while doing a dance of my own in celebration.

(Creek-side reflections.)

This week will be a busy one.  I want to finish up the fall cleaning and winterizing the garden.  Thunderstorms are expected tonight and tomorrow so it looks like the garden will have to wait until the middle of the week.  In the meantime, I think I’ll relax and take in the what’s left of this sunshiny Sunday.

(On the deck.)

The drawing for the Give-Away is tomorrow evening so if you haven’t signed up yet (and you want to), head on down to day 30 (The leaf and berry collection) and do so.

31: Making mulch is serious business

(North corner of the pond this morning)

Earth knows no desolation.
She smells regeneration in the moist breath of decay.

~ George Meredith

My outdoor adventure today involved work.  M and I made mulch.  Contrary to popular belief, it was not smelly business.  Just serious and noisy business.  We pile up the brush and downed branches, letting it all dry out for a few months, and then we go around with the chipper-shredder and turn it into mulch.  It actually smells quite good, like sawdust and pine (if there are pine boughs involved in the process and there frequently are).  As for the noise, that’s what earplugs are for.

(Chipper-shredder in the woods.)

It’s cloudy and in the 60’s today.  Not a bad day at all for working outside.  We started with the brush piles in the front and side yards.  Because I need more mulch for the garden, we went back to the woods for a little while and cleaned up some of the paths for the extra wood/mulch.  Usually we let things be in the woods, other than moving branches off the trail.  Mother Nature takes care of things on her own back there.

(Freshly chipped and shredded mulch.)

But when we need the extra mulch, the woods are the place to go for more wood and leaves.

I ended up with a slightly swollen bottom lip.  A branch whipped up and hit me in the mouth.  Ouch.  That’s one of the hazards of chipping and shredding.  Projectiles (pieces of wood) come flying out of the machine every now and then.

The larger pieces of wood are saved for kindling and firewood.  We have already laid in a pretty good supply of wood for the winter.  We might have to get out to the meadow and clean up some more of the wood from the elm trees we had to have cut down due to Dutch elm disease.

Slide show

I’ve been photographing the pond every morning.  I stand in the same spot at nearly the same time (usually between 8:00 and 8:30am).  I have been putting my daily morning views of the pond in a slide show as part of the highlights of my outdoor commitment.  I update it pretty much every day and you can find it anytime by clicking on the page 365 Life in the Bogs Outdoors Challenge above (or on the link I just provided for you — for those not familiar, and I know there are a few of you out there, if the words are showing up in a bold green color, it’s a link).

Since I have now collected 30+ days of pond views (along with a few days of other views from when we were traveling and I wasn’t here to photograph the pond), I thought I’d bring the slide show over here today.  (For those not familiar with how these things work, you can stop the ad on the slide show by clicking on the X in the upper right of the ad.)

You can watch a full screen version by clicking on the slide show.  It will take you to the website where you’ll have the option of watching it full screen.

If you haven’t already done so, leave a comment on my last post (30:  The leaf and berry collection) to enter the Give-Away.  The winner will receive a free print of almost any of my photos seen on my blogs or galleries.  A name will be randomly drawn from a hat on Monday evening.

30: The leaf and berry collection

(Burning bush berries.)

When I was out for my walk today I was reminded of a project we used to do in elementary school.  We had to collect leaves from different trees and then press (iron) them between two sheets of wax paper to preserve them, labeling each with the name of the tree.  It was always one of my favorite school projects.  I was thrilled when my own children were given a similar project as it gave me an excuse to do it again.  But even that (helping my children) was a long time ago (or so it seems).

(Maple leaves in red.)

Photographing leaves, it seems to me, is another way of collecting autumn and learning the names of trees.  Unfortunately I’ve never been good at the names part.  I have a difficult time remembering names.  And faces, sometimes.

(Maple leaves in yellow.)

It’s day 30 of my commitment to go outside each and every day for a year.  It’s still early in the commitment but even in this short period of time I feel as though I’ve changed in ways I am unable to describe just yet.  One change I can find words for is the way I now approach each day with excitement and wonder.  Every walk I’ve taken over the past 30 days has brought a gift of some kind.  The biggest gift of all, so far, has been a deep appreciation and gratitude for the area and the land on which M and I live.  There is so much beauty out there, big and small and in between.

Because I feel I’ve been given so much during this commitment, I want to give something back.  I’ve been thinking about ways to give back to this little piece of the earth I’ve been walking.  What I’ve come up with will be fodder for future blog posts.

I’ve also been thinking about how I can thank those of you who have been following me here at the Bogs blog.

(A variety of yellows and greens.)

So, for the first time, I am having a Give-Away.  Here is how it will work:

  • Leave a comment.  It doesn’t have to be much.  A “hi” or a smiley face or something that will let me know you are interested in the Give-Away.
  • Or, if you don’t like leaving comments because you are shy or it’s too public or whatever your reasoning, you can email me.  Over to the right, in the side bar, you’ll find a “contact me” with my email address.  It’s under the “Where are you?” map of the world which is under my blog roll.
  • I will write your name down on a small piece of paper, fold it up, and put it in a hat.
  • M, without looking, will draw a name.  I decided to have him do it because he won’t have anything to do with writing the names or folding the paper, and it just seems fairer that way.

The prize is a free print of almost any of my photos.  I qualified that with “almost” because some of my photos do well on the screen but not in print.  Also, there are a few with deeply personal meaning to them that are not available as prints.

(A cascade of yellow.)

The winner (the person whose name is drawn from the hat) can pick from almost anything from the Bogs blog, Bountiful Healing, or my galleries at ImageKind and MaidinSun Photography.  I think 11×14 is a good size, but that might depend on the photo that’s picked and whether or not it’s been cropped as well as the personal preference of the winner (cos if you want something smaller, no problem).

So, head on down to the comments section and enter the Thank You! Give-Away.

Today’s Walk:  The discoveries sometimes bring up sadness

I took my walk early today.  There’s no way of knowing what the weather will do in spite of all the meterologists’ attempts to forecast what the day will bring.  Today, it is said, will bring clouds and sun and a high of 55 degrees (F).  We had our first freeze last night with the temperature dipping down to 32.  It was still frosty and cold when I went out.  I am going to have to start bundling up.  A hat and a pair of gloves would have been welcome.  It was mostly cloudy and we had a few sprinkles after I came back inside.

Read the rest of this entry »

29: The pond and the woolly bear

(Peering through the grasses and shrubs.)

Part four of our epic hike at Holden Arboretum.  Don’t worry.  It will end soon.  😀

When we arrived at the top of the small hill where we had our picnic lunch we noticed a small pond hidden amongst the grasses and shrubs.  It is a pretty little pond, much smaller than ours.

(Finding the pond.)

I was surprised to see that there were still some flowers blooming, flowers that have dried up in our area.  Perhaps the lake effect cloud cover keeps it a little warmer there.

(Pond and asters.)


After our picnic we sat for a while, enjoying the place, the day, and the beautiful weather.  A woolly bear wandered over to visit with us.

(Woolly bear.)

Long-time visitors to this blog and Bountiful Healing may remember that I seek out and photograph woolly bears every year.  For those interested:

The woolly bear that joined us after our picnic seems to think winter will be mild this year.  I haven’t seen any others around our property although M says there are plenty of them out there.  It will be interesting to see if our woolly bears agree with the Holden Arboretum woolly bear.  Past experience has shown that the woolly bears are about as accurate as other weather forecasters.  Take that as you will.

Today’s Walk

I went out for what was supposed to be 30 minutes and ended up staying out there for almost 2 hours.  I completely lost track of time while absorbed in the play of light and shadows.  I love the light this time of year.  It’s warm, colorful, and sometimes playful as the sunlight darts in and out of the clouds and the canopy of leaves on the trees in the woods.

(Light and shadows in the woods.)

It’s another beautiful, invigorating, fall day with a deep blue sky.  It is windy, brisk, and cool.  The gusty wind has the leaves flying off the trees and dancing in the air before landing on the ground or the pond.  While back near the woods I was showered with leaves which prompted me to do a little dance in celebration of the season.  I suppose it’s a good thing that there was no one around to see me.

(Light, shadow, and leaves.)

The birds are pretty active today, too.  A killdeer came flying by, followed by a murder of crows.  (Sorry, J.  No parliament of owls, kit of pigeons, bevy of quail, or mischief of rats.  They may all be out there but I didn’t see them.)  Buzzards circled around over the woods, bluejays jeered, and a wide variety of little birds flitted about.

(Crow in flight.)

That’s about it from the Bogs for now.  Don’t forget to stop by tomorrow for my 30th day surprise.

(Today’s view of the pond.)

28: The meadow

I know that heron doesn’t look much like a meadow.  That’s because he’s not a meadow.  He’s a great blue heron.  He wasn’t in the meadow, either.  He was here at the pond when I took my walk today.  In fact, he’s been hanging around the pond gobbling up fish and frogs every day since I started my outdoor commitment.  I’m glad someone is fishing the pond.  It seems we have too many fish in our pond and need to be fishing it more or it will get too crowded, a condition that is not good for the fish.

He doesn’t look as dignified when he’s swooping in for lunch.  I’m not sure what he caught but here he is getting ready to gulp it down:

I think he got a mouthful of leaves to go with his frog or fish.  Perhaps it’s similar to sushi.  Raw fish wrapped in leaves, without the rice of course.

(Ruffled feathers.)

I’m not sure why but the Ruffled Feathers photo reminds me of Kel’s Wanna Play? challenge.  Perhaps it is the somewhat mad look in his eye.  I am so glad I didn’t miss it.  (You’ll have to visit the link to get that reference.)

What is remarkable (and amazing!) to me is how close I was able to get to this guy.  (I’m assuming it’s a male given his size but if I’m wrong, please feel free to correct me.  I can’t tell them apart.)  I spotted him from across the pond and slowly made my way closer.  He grumped at me a little (at least that’s what his call sounded like — you can listen to it here) and would take a slow-motion step or two away from me for every three or four steps I took towards him, but he didn’t fly away.  When he went back to hunting and feeding, I figured he decided I was okay.  Why else let me see him in such undignified positions?

Today’s walk was partially about getting a little work done outside, including cleaning the bird bath and refilling it.  I was also on the hunt for a wooly bear, but I’ll tell you more about that tomorrow.  I meandered around the pond and the meadows rather than go back to the woods as I’m craving open areas and sunlight.  My body probably wants to manufacture vitamin D while it can.  Cloudiness and shorter days will be arriving soon.

It’s clear and gusty here today.  That’s what ruffled the heron’s feathers — the wind.  There was some sort of perfume in the air (unless I’m having olfactory hallucinations which is entirely possible).  I couldn’t figure it out.  It was a woodsy, masculine scent.  Whatever it was, it sure smelled good.

The Meadow

This is part three of Sunday’s hike wherein we leave the darkness of the woods and emerge into the light of the meadow.  Granted, the woods were not all darkness, but it sounds more dramatic that way.  (Here is Part One and Part Two if you missed them and desire to go back and look.  Or just scroll down if you’re on the main page.)

The meadow is a large, oval shape, mostly surrounded by trees.  I took a great many photos.  Being fairly certain that no one wants to see fifty of so pictures of a meadow, I’ve narrowed it down to a dozen few.

The clouds were moving along at a pretty brisk pace that afternoon and would cause sunlight and shadow to move across the meadow, highlighting some of the trees at the edges.

(Nature’s special effects.)

(The big gnarly tree.)

(A wide view.)

We stopped for a picnic on a small hill where it was flat and dry.  There was a gully running through parts of the meadow, keeping the ground wet in spots.  Near the place where we sat for our picnic lunch there was a small pond.  We didn’t realize it was there until we got closer.  It was difficult to see it with all the growth (catttails, shrubs, grasses) surrounding it.  Photos of the pond will have to wait until tomorrow since I concentrated on the meadow shots today.

(Curling cloud.)

I like the way the cloud has a little curl to it in the above picture.  The next one has been processed in Photoshop to soften it up and give it a more painting-like feel.

See you tomorrow!

(And don’t forget to stop by on Friday for the surprise.)

27: Leaving the creek

Part Two of the Three Hour Hike.  If you missed part one, you can find it here.

We left the creek after our snack and made our way through the woods where we introduced ourselves to some of the trees…

… some of which were very BIG trees…

The trees were quite impressive.  The Holden Arboretum has over 3500 acres of land, making it one of the largest in the U.S.  Their collection includes 9400 different woody plants and they specialize in plants that can be grown in the northeastern Ohio climate.

The sun made more and more appearances throughout our hike, making a nice display of light and shadows in the woods.

We eventually made our way out of the woods, to the Strong Acres Loop Trail which circles around a large meadow where we hoped to see maple trees in their blaze of fall glory.

(Exiting the woods.)

Alas, we were too late.  The maples had lost their leaves already.  There was still plenty of color to be seen, though, and I’ll share that with you tomorrow.

Today’s walk

Since I’ve been spending so much time in the woods lately, I thought I’d do something different and take a tour of the meadows today.  The meadows are an important part of our little habitat here in the Bogs.  The meadows provide food and shelter for a lot of the little and big critters that hang out in these parts.  For instance, when I got back to the timothy grass meadow I could see where the deer have been bedding down for the night.  (I wonder where they go during the day??)  There is so much grass flattened that there are either a few who move around a lot or it’s a pretty good-sized herd of deer.  (Do deer come in herds or is there another name for a group of deer?  I just checked.  Yep, it’s a herd.)

Sharing the photos from Sunday’s hike is making my posts photo-heavy so I decided to show you some of the highlights of today’s walk in video form.  I’m thinking I may have to learn how to add music to these things now that I know how to turn a group of photos into a video.

Today’s weather report:  It started out foggy but cleared up quickly.  By mid-morning we had some beautiful puffy white clouds move in and it’s been mostly sunny with occasional cloudy spells ever since.  It is cool, brisk, and invigorating.  My cheeks were nice and rosy when I got back from my walk.

I’m going to have a small surprise for you all when I reach day 30.  Be sure to stop by on Friday to see what it is.

26: A three hour hike

(Going down to the Pierson Creek Trail.)

Have I mentioned that stepping outside these days is like stepping into a painting?  Oh right, I did.  I still feel that way, especially after yesterday’s three hour hike at the Holden Arboretum.

(Click on the photos for a larger view.)

(On the way to the arboretum.)

We woke up to clear, blue and sunny skies yesterday morning and decided it would be a great day to take the trip up to the arboretum to see the fall foliage.  It’s about an hour drive, almost straight north, from where we live.  I was surprised to find things are a little different up north, even at that short a distance.  Not much different, mind you.  Just a little.

For one thing, as we made our way north we began to see clouds until eventually it was all dark gray clouds and no blue sky at all.  It probably has something to do with being closer to the lake (“the lake” being Lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes).  Lake-effect clouds, rain, and snow are something we’re familiar with as those things frequently make their way down to us.

The clouds did burn off eventually as you can see from the light and shadows in the above photo.  But while the clouds were around, they provided a nice contrast for the variety of colors that Autumn is displaying this year.

We had a look at the trail maps online before we set out on our adventure and decided to take the Woodland Trail (1.5 miles) to the Pierson Creek Loop (1.9 miles) to the Old Valley Trail (2.8 miles but part of that overlapped with the Woodland Trail) to the Strong Acres Trail (0.75 miles) which led us back to the Old Valley Trail and to the Highlights Trail (0.75 miles for us as we didn’t do the entire loop) and back to the Visitor’s Center where we started.  Phew.  That was a long hike!

The Pierson Creek Loop and the Old Valley Trail are described in the maps guide as “rugged.”  Compared to the hiking we’ve done in Colorado, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, it was a piece of cake.  Compared to the other trails at the arboretum, they were rugged.  I’m guessing the “rugged” description comes from all the stairs.  There are a lot of them as you descend into the valley and we all know that what goes down on a hike must eventually come back up if you want to end where you started.

There are also a few places where you have to cross the creek.  There are no bridges for that purpose so you either wade through the water or make your way across the rocks that are not covered with water.  It’s not bad at all.  The creek is small and shallow.  It might be different after a heavy rain.

We stopped at the creek, had a seat on one of the rocks, and enjoyed a snack while listening to the sounds of the water and the woods.  We saw one other person out there.  A photographer at the top of the stairs that lead down to the creek.  It was a great day for taking pictures and well worth the hike to get away from the main (easy) trails where there was more people traffic.

I kept thinking of the Coldplay song Yellow as we hiked along.  The yellows are the predominant color in the forests of the arboretum.  There were some reds and oranges scattered about around the edges and in the carpet of leaves on the forest floor but deep into the woods, it was yellow with some green from the evergreen trees.  Even the light seemed yellow.

One more photo from this portion of the hike, then it’s time for me to move on to today’s outdoor experience.

Today’s Walk (Day 26)…

Somewhere in the first week of my commitment to get outside every day I discovered that each day’s walk brought with it a gift of some kind, a gift to feed the spirit as well as the senses.  Today’s gift was sound.  Birds chirping, squawking, cheeping, and singing.  Water trickling from the pond to the creek (we’re still working on that draw down of the pond).  Small splashing sounds of fish jumping.   Frogs eeeeep’ing as the leap from the shore into the water.  And the loud whooshing sound of a muskrat as it dives.

So, instead of another series of pictures, I bring you sound:

The hammering sound you hear towards the end is a woodpecker.  I’m unable to identify the other birds as I’m not familiar with bird calls, something I’ve decided I need to remedy.

As you can see, it’s another gray day here in the Bogs.  It rained earlier and will probably rain some more over the next few days.  Oddly, it felt and sounded more like spring than fall out there this morning.  Instead of the usual dryness of autumn, it was humid and the birds were chattier than they have been.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more from Sunday’s hike as well as whatever Tuesday’s walk should bring.