Category Archives: Pennsylvania
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.