Fairy tale woods

Fairy tale woods

life is a garden,
not a road

we enter and exit
through the same gate

where we go matters less
than what we notice.

~ Bokonon

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Rain and slush

I don't think we'll be seeing this today.

Sun in the clouds.

I’m writing this during the early morning hours.  It’s just starting to lighten up outside.  Before I could see what was going on outdoors, the local weather folks on television informed me that the icy rain part of the weather front moving through had flown east of us and the precipitation had turned to plain old rain.  Fog is rising from the snow cover.  It’s going to be a slushy day.

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157: Sunday signage, a snowman and some tapping

(Sign for s sign store in Mantua, Ohio.)

First things first:  Thank you all for your well wishes.  It must have worked.  After the best night’s sleep I’ve had in weeks, I woke up this morning pain-free and feeling great.  Thank you, thank you, and thank you.  And you too.  🙂

M and I did go skiing today.  We have to drive through the town of Mantua to get to the place where we most like to ski (Chapin Forest Reservation).  Not everyone appreciates driving through Mantua, mostly because you have to slow down to 25 mph to go through town and the local cops are usually ready, willing, and able to give you a ticket for speeding.  (Frankly, it’s a speed trap, especially in the summer months.)  One of the reasons I enjoy going through Mantua is because it was (well, still is) the home of one of my favorite signs (pictured above).  I love the play on words.  The place is for sale now.  I don’t know if that means they moved or if they went out of business.

(The promised snowman.)

This blown-up doll of a snowman was not the only snowman we saw today.  The snow has finally acquired a texture good enough for making snowballs, snowmen/women, snow penguins, and snow forts.  It’s been a strange season in that regard, with snow so fluffy and dry that making a snowball (much less a snowperson) was almost impossible.  Kids of all ages must have been out having a good time yesterday and today, building snowpeople in their front yards.  We passed quite a few of them on our way to the ski trails.

We had a great time skiing.  I almost didn’t want to stop.  We went further than we have before, which is par for our skiing course.  Each time out we go a little further, a little longer.  This will probably be out last chance to ski this season.  Rain will be arriving tonight and it will be warm tomorrow.  It will cool down a bit after that, but it won’t be a major winter-type cool down.  Upper 30’s, low 40’s.

(Do you know what this is?)

I was thinking of leaving that caption hanging out there without an answer but that hardly seems fair.  One of the other things you would see right now if you were to drive through Mantua are collecting buckets hanging from the maple trees.  Any idea what they might be collecting?

I wrote this post a couple of year ago, describing the annual tradition that involves maple trees, taps, and collecting.  I didn’t have many visitors to this blog at that time.  Perhaps it’ll get a few more readers now.  Just in case you don’t feel like visiting an old post, I will tell you that the bucket represents a sign of spring in these parts.  The maple trees are being tapped for their sap which will be turned into some of the tastiest maple syrup you’ve ever had.  I know most folks think of Vermont or Canada or other places up that way when it comes to maple syrup.  But Ohio has some really tasty maple syrup, too.  If you want to read more about it, go see that old post I linked to a few sentences ago.

We capped off our day with margaritas on the porch.  The sun was shining, it was warm and lovely out there, and it seemed a good day to do a little celebrating.  M is firing up the grill for our black bean burgers as I type, reminding me that I should get upstairs and get to work on the rest of our dinner.

The only slightly sour note to the day is that I seem to have lost a year’s worth of photos from my external hard drive.  C’est la vie.  We’ll either figure it out and find them or we won’t.  I’ve been having a series of problems with the computer lately, things working off and on, and M did some maintenance on it today.  It may be time to look into getting a new one.  In the meantime, I will continue to sing love songs to my current computer as it seems to me electronic equipment (and cars) work better for me when I tell it how wonderful it is and give thanks every time it works.

It is a custom that began with my first car, a 1960 VW beetle.  The car was only 15 years old when I started driving it, and it lasted a few years after that.  M and I gave it up when the front end fell off on our way to a picnic.  The guy at the shop said you can only weld so much before there is nothing left to weld on to.  We replaced the VW with a 1963  Ford Ranchero.  But that’s a whole other story…

137: Hiking to the dam

(Train station.  Oil Creek State Park.  Pennsylvania.)

When we last saw our intrepid cross-country skiing, hiking couple, they were making their way to one of the Oil Creek State Park train stations for the purpose of trekking across the snowy trail to the ice control dam.

Actually, one of us trekked.  The other decided skiing was the way to go.  The one with the camera trekked/hiked.  And I gotta tell ya, it was slow going.  The snow was deeper than I thought, having only experienced it in this area on skis this trip.

(Walking along the railroad tracks.)

I’m not entirely sure that was a public trail beside the tracks.  Who can tell in winter?  There were no “keep out” or “no trespassing signs” and it was obvious the tracks were not being used this time of year.  The lucky part is that there were tracks in the snow from a truck or some other vehicle, making it a little easier for the hiker with the camera.  The cross-country skier seemed to benefit from it too.

(The dam.)

You may be wondering why we would take the trouble to hike a mile to see an ice control dam.  Two miles round trip.  Well, we drove past it, slowed down to look, and both thought it would be interesting to get a closer look as neither of us have ever seen anything like it.  The road to the parking area near the dam was closed and, after consulting the map (one of those things on paper, not a GPS, something we don’t have), we saw the possibility that we could hike to it from the other side of the creek.

You may be wondering what an ice control dam is.  Me too.  It’s not easy to find information on this particular ice control dam.  I finally found an article called Ice Dams:  Taming An Icy River which explains it all nicely (leave it to Popular Mechanics to explain things nicely and well).  Basically, it prevents a build-up of large chunks of ice (an ice dam) which can then cause flooding in a place where you don’t want flooding (towns, etc.).

Although not tall, it still provided a number of layers to look at, especially with all the ice and snow.  You could see where the rains from a few days ago had brought the water levels up as there were large chunks of ice laying around along with some trees and branches.

Looking at the dam from our perspective at the time, to the right the creek appeared frozen over.  To the left, the water ran mostly free in channels with small chunks of ice floating on top.

It was fascinating if you’re nerdy the way we are.  And even if you’re not if might be.  The way the ice and snow build on the dam and the water sometimes flows under a thick cover of ice was certainly not something I see all the time.

(Close up of  a small section of the dam.)

I must swear too much.  I keep typing “damn” where it should be dam.  Damn.  I did it again.  But corrected it so you can’t tell I did if I hadn’t just mentioned it.

(A blue wall.)

I was busy watching the creek on our hike to the dam.  On the way back I took a good look at the walls of rock to our right and found that water had seeped through the rocks in the same way as at the Blue Wall.  It wasn’t nearly as impressive in that it wasn’t gathered together in one, half-circle space, but it was tall, blue and pretty cool.

So endeth our adventures of last weekend.  Thank goodness.  That means I can move on to current events.  Not that there’s a lot to report there but it’s nice to be caught up.

Sunday skiing

We had fresh snow yesterday and overnight so you know what that means…  skiing!  We were up early so we decided to head north to Chapin Forest Reservation where we’ve found the best cross-country skiing in our area.  To date.  We’re new at this.  There may be better places to go.  We just haven’t found them yet.

(Fresh snow.  Chapin Forest Reservation.)

Since we’re getting a little better at skiing, we went further than our first trip out there, exploring the trails a bit more.  M thinks we should be able to go from one side of the park to the other, have lunch in the lodge, and then head back on our next outing.  We’ll see.

(Snow at seat level.)

I’m beginning to run down.  I’ve had a lot of aches and pains for the past few weeks.  I normally bully my way through it and keep moving, but it may be time for me to rest a little because it’s getting pretty bad.  It’s time to spend time soaking in the disco tub.  Do some gentle and restorative yoga.  Just rest and recover so I’ll be ready for a long skiing adventure.

Today’s CD: David Byrne, Rei Momo.  You can listen to some of the songs here.

You probably know David Byrne from Talking Heads.  Once again, I like the Latin-infused rhythms and sounds.  One review I read described it as merger of Latin American music with Brit-pop-wave with a definite Talking Heads flavor to it.   It’s certainly eclectic.  (I wonder how often I’m going to use “eclectic” to describe individual selections in what has to be a truly eclectic collection of music that M and I have gathered over the years.)

111: Ye Olde Archives

Interesting numbers here today. I’m on day 111 of my outdoor challenge on 01-11-11.  It’s a binary code day.

It is also another of those days when my outdoor adventures were taken up with running errands and doing chores (shoveling snow, feeding the birds, hauling stuff around).  Even if I had gone for my usual walk around the pond, I would not have taken the camera with me.  I overexposed my hands (particularly my right hand, especially my right thumb) to the cold yesterday morning while taking pictures of the frost.  It’s no big deal but I’m trying to keep my hands warm for a few days.

M and I did go cross-country skiing late yesterday.  We went north to the Chapin Forest Reservation where they have groomed trails for cross-country skiing.  It was fun.  It was also more work than I expected it to be.  I’m not sure why other than being out for twice as long as usual.

I’ve been going through Ye Olde Archives to pull out some photos for a couple of projects I’m working on.  Since I have no new photos to bring to you today, I thought I’d put up a few of my old favorites.

(Wild horse of Assateague Island.)

M and I went to Assateague Island in Maryland back in February of 2007 while off on our sabbatical adventures.  I was hoping we’d see at least one wild horse while we were there.  We were very lucky.  We saw several, including some babies.  I took a lot of different shots of the horses.  The one above is my favorite because of the textures.  It’s been edited in Photoshop but I lost track of what I did.

(Strolling through the gardens.)

I took this colorful photo at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania sometime in April of 2008.  It was pure luck, coming around the corner to this scene and being quick enough with the camera to capture it.

(Garden weeds.)

This was my first Fun with Photoshop photo.  A friend made a video with instructions on how to do selective coloring.  She explained it all so well that even I could do it.  lol!  Those familiar with my garden and my lazy gardening techniques know that I often have some beautiful weeds growing amongst the vegetables.  Sometimes they are so pretty I don’t want to pull them.  I am becoming more aggressive and ruthless about the weeding each year as I’ve learned that when the pretty weeds go to seed, it means more of them the next year.  This beautiful little flower (and spot of clover) were growing in the asparagus bed in August of 2008.

(Above and below.)

I took this photo of three leaves here at Breezy Acres during the autumn of 2008.  I like the crispness of the newly fallen leaf above the ghost-like appearance of the two leaves under the water.

(Framed in the woods.)

The above shot was taken at Holden Arboretum this past fall.  That’s my favorite hiking partner with his signature red day-pack.  It’s one of my favorites precisely because it includes my favorite hiking partner.  I usually take at least one shot of M with the red day-pack while we’re out on a hike and it’s now become a sort of signature for me, at least in terms of my hiking photos.

(I’m not looking at you.)

I can’t finish this up without a couple of photos of my favorite subjects.  My granddaughters, of course.  This is Miss Maddy, determined not to look at me.

(Playing in puddles.)

And finally, a photo of Miss Emma, playing in the rain.  I had a difficult time picking out photos of the girls as every photograph I have of them is a favorite just because they are in them.  I decided on the moodier pics for no particular reason.

I just glanced out the window.  Looks like the predicted snow storm has arrived.  The snow is coming down fast and steady.  The birds are congregating in large numbers at the feeders, trying to fatten up before they get snowed in.  Reminds me of the rush at the grocery store for milk and bread.  They were almost out of skim milk at the grocery store where I shopped today.  I guess people were out early stocking up for this storm.  Or there’s a shortage of skim milk.

Thanks for joining me today.  I will probably have more snow photos for you tomorrow.  Hopefully my fingertips will be feeling much better by then so I can get out with the camera again.  If not that, at least go skiing in the fresh snow.