This back to full-time work lifestyle sure has cut into my hiking, photography, and writing time!
This living back in Pennsylvania sure has cut into my hiking, photography, and writing time!
This catching up with old friends and family sure has cut into my hiking, photography, and writing time!
:-) It’s all good, but Acadian Soul has suffered. On a warm summer morning, I took a quick stroll across the road to the “Garden of Five Senses”, and enjoyed playing (photographically speaking) with some of the hardscape features there.
One of the pleasures of being back in Pennsylvania is the ability to visit my parents via a quick half hour drive on the freeway. I paid just such a visit last Monday.
As long as I can remember, my mother has always had a garden. Both the practical sort (vegetables – although I still can’t rationalize the choice of rhubarb); and the “pretty to look at” sort – flowers. In nearly all of her flower gardens she has raised Iris and Peonies. I enjoy both, but the Iris has been my favorite for a long time; even though their flowering season is brief, but glorious. Both of these gems were in their prime blooming period on Memorial Day.
More importantly, I have my mother to thank for teaching me to take to time to admire the small details in nature such as a slight coloration on a white petal or the shape of a bloom. Indeed this may have been my first introduction to the idea of slowing down and learning to be in the moment.
So take a few moments to slow down and enjoy some pictures of my recent visit to Phyllis’s flower garden.
Sometimes people refer to “urban hiking” as walking around town, which is technically true I suppose, but more often than not the term is used to describe green space that is located in or around urban areas. Such is the case, with my “new backyard”, Lancaster County Central Park. With over 500 acres and a variety of trails it makes for an ideal get away for those us living in the city. For me, the entrance is located right across the street from my townhouse complex.
I frequently encounter trail runners, joggers, walkers, hikers, bikers, dog walkers and birders on my morning hikes, so solitude (especially) on the week-end is harder to find. Apparently, there are even a few graffiti painters, although the sample below is the only one I have seen so far and looks to be older.
There is a large area near the highest elevation of the park that is designated for bird nesting. The meadow is dotted with bird houses and wildflowers and is popular with birders. A wide mowed grass trail circles the meadow. Over the last two days I have spotted Eastern Blue Birds, Red Winged Blackbirds, a Baltimore Oriole (the bird not the baseball players), and a beautiful Indigo Bunting.
BELOW: Across the meadow and in the distance the Lancaster city skyline is visible:
BELOW: The wildflowers are nearly finished for the season, however, the pretty but invasive phlox species is still blooming.
I continue to explore the large county park that is my new “backyard”. On this day I drove (because I was not exactly certain of the location) the short distance to the “Mill Creek” and “Wildflower Trails”. Both trails loop through the same area, but the Mill Creek trail is at stream level, while the Wildflower trail traverses the same area, but about 50 feet higher in elevation. The lower trail seems to be a popular destination for joggers and dog walkers, and when I left around lunchtime traffic was really beginning to pick up.
One of the main attractions for this hike is the well maintained (and still in use) covered bridge that crosses over Mill Creek. Lancaster County is famous for (among other things), it’s Amish population and it’s covered bridges; and has the most of any county in Pennsylvania at 29 (according to Wikipedia). Of course these bridges make wonderful photographic subjects and with trails on both sides of the creek there is easy access to this bridge allowing for photographs at all angles.
None of the trails in this park are terribly long, so you need to string several together to get a decent hike in. On this day, I managed only three miles because I was too distracted with my photography. After six months of hiking flat, flat trails along the Chesapeake Bay, I must say that I am enjoying the up and down topography that south central Pennsylvania offers.
April brought us unseasonal warmth but in May spring has resumed a more “normal” pattern with a mix of warm and cool days. On this morning temperatures were in the mid 40’s, perfect for hiking.
I was pleasantly surprised by the results of some black and white photographs that I got of the covered bridge and I will be featuring them in a later post. Below is one more color shot of the bridge as viewed from the “meadow” side of the stream.
The large county park across the road from where I live includes a lovely landscaped garden called: The Garden of Five Senses. A favorite location for engagement, wedding, and prom pictures; it includes a wide variety of trees, shrubs, perennials, and a water feature that flows throughout the garden.
The water feature helps to mask the traffic noise from the street below, and numerous benches offer shady spots to sit and enjoy the garden.
Spring in Pennsylvania is a beautiful sight, although when you have seasonal allergies an occasional day of rain is welcome to knock some of the pollen out of the air. However, I will gladly take some sneezing and itching eyes rather than endure the heat and humidity that is sure to arrive soon.
Across the street from my new house is one of the county’s largest parks: Lancaster County Central Park. Miles of trails, a small “river”, tennis courts, skate park, baseball and soccer fields; numerous pavilions and even garden plots make this large green space a welcome (and handy) escape from the city.
Yesterday on a beautiful morning walk, I captured the images below of spring in full bloom.
Yes, you read that title correctly. My time on Mount Desert Island, Maine and Tilghman Island, Maryland have come to an end. The combination of my desire to be geographically closer to my elderly parents and the need to “shore up” the bank account with regular work resulted in a decision to return to my “home” state of Pennsylvania. Specifically, Lancaster, which is located in the south central part of the state.
ABOVE: My new domicile
I am fortunate to be able to rent a home from some friends in a nice location on the outskirts of the city. One of the best features is the home’s proximity to a large county park located directly across the street. Miles of hiking trails are available, and while it is next to impossible to match the beauty of hiking in Acadia, I will at least have handy access to hikes through woods and along a small river just steps from my door.
The move itself went very well with two round trips of a fully loaded car and a quick relocation of all my “old stuff” from the storage unit where it had been snoozing these last 18 months.
ABOVE: All this and more (not including the washer/dryer) went into a VW Passat for the first trip.
My two furry feline friends, Pebbles and Bam Bam, made the 3+ hour drive from Maryland to Pennsylvania like champs, napping away in their carriers until we arrived at our new destination. Considering the last two trips for them ranged from 12 – 15 hours of travel time, this must have felt like a very short drive.
ABOVE: Enjoying the sunshine on the deck of our new home. Clearly, they didn’t have trouble adapting!
One of the more interesting observations I’ve made regarding this move is my lack of interest in unpacking all of the “old stuff” I took out of storage. Although I downsized considerably prior to my year in Maine, I look at all of these boxes and think about how I have lived without 75 – 80% of these “things” for the last 18 months, so why do I need them now? In previous moves, you would have found me furiously unpacking nonstop until everything was organized and put away. Now, it seems more important to explore the park, or read a book; and of course, look for a job.
ABOVE: A work in progress, stuff, stuff, and more stuff. Ugh!
It is a shift in perspective that I welcome, and an indication that some of the changes in how I approach life have indeed taken root.
Six months certainly does go by quickly! There were some weeks when time seemed to move very slowly on this island. Frustrated by a lack of nearby hiking (okay, make that lack of nearby anything), I struggled to find ways to keep myself energized and fit.
The lack of distractions DID force me to focus on completing my manuscript “Moments of Panic, Moments of Peace”, so I can say “Mission Accomplished” on that score. As we speak, query letters are on their way to agents and small publishing houses. Should that approach yield no results, I will investigate self publication.
As time passed, I did develop a (grudging) appreciation for this place; primarily through bird watching and sea glass hunting.
From here I head back to Pennsylvania (more on that in my next post). In the meantime, here are a few of my favorite shots from my “Time on Tilghman”.
Above: Black Walnut Point – at the tip of the Island.
ABOVE: A great heron fishing, a common sight.
ABOVE: The dock at the end of my street, the day before “Sandy” arrived. My first day on the island!
ABOVE: Fog over Blackwater Marsh, a National Wildlife Sanctuary, about an hour’s drive from the island.
ABOVE: River Otters at Pickering Creek – a decent place to hike and only 25 miles away! 🙂
ABOVE: Living across the street from a working marina – always something interesting going on.
ABOVE: Where Pebbles and Bam Bam spent most of their winter days.
ABOVE: Hunting for sea glass became a pleasant diversion.
ABOVE: My last few weeks here I enjoyed the company of nearby Ospreys.
ABOVE: A board walk in Blackwater Marsh, and an appropriate symbol for the journey of my life.
Old buildings ( especially interesting are churches) intrigue me, as I know they do many people and I have driven past these ruins several times on the way to one of my favorite hiking spots here along the Eastern Shore of Maryland. On this occasion, I was travelling with a friend who also enjoys photography as a hobby, and as soon as she saw these ruins, she had the same reaction I did: “We have GOT to photograph” this!
And so with an ally by my side (all the better to ignore the really old “No Trespassing Sign” my dear), we spent a few minutes photographing the ruins of this old church.
I would have loved to have had blue skies overhead as a way to contrast the bright green ivy and ground covers that were overtaking these walls; but grey skies were dominant, so I settled for black and white medium.
The first picture (above) gives an overview of the site. The rest are a few interpretations of views I found interesting.