While the Sun Shines

Nevermind about making hay, take a hike! Enjoyed a slight break in the weather. I was able to get out, take a hike, and have my shoulders honest-to-goodness warmed by the sunshine. Bliss.

Along the Kestrel trail.

Along the Kestrel trail.

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Moments of Grace

308Kind of a goofy story: I happened to spot this Cyripedium pubescens or Pink Lady’s Slipper Orchid while I was having a bad moment during our trip to the Smoky Mountains this spring. The sight of it changed my day for the better.

As we were driving out to bike at Cades Cove, I suddenly had to GO. Funny thing about being in the mountains: there were no restrooms anywhere nearby or even any good stopping points. Too bad. I made my husband pull over and I just bounded out of the car before it had even come fully to a halt and bolted off into the woods like a startled and slightly frantic deer. (Which basically sounds like the setup to a not-so-creative horror movie and is not a course of action I would generally recommend! It’s easier than you might think to get turned around or lost in the woods when you aren’t on a trail.) I was  feeling frantic, embarrassed, and worried that I was ruining our planned schedule for the day,

At any rate, seeing this flower stopped me momentarily in my tracks and changed my whole mood/mindset. I noted where it was, bounded much deeper into the woods to take care of business, made it back to the car, we did the bike ride, it was great, and then afterwards, I somehow navigated us back to this flower so my husband could see it and we could take some pictures.

You see, this variety of lady’s slipper is fairly rare. I’ve been to the Smoky Mountains about a dozen times, have hiked miles and miles of trails, and this was the first time I’ve ever seen one. They are fussy about the elevation they grow at, they need exactly the right amount of moisture (not much), and they like acidic soil. They aren’t found in gardens because they don’t like to be disturbed and they are nearly impossible to propagate. They also don’t tend to grow in big masses or clumps, aren’t very large,  and have a fairly short bloom time.

273Seeing one so unexpectedly was a quiet moment of grace. I can be prone to running around in the hamster wheel of my mind. The sight of this pulled me out of my head and put me right back into the moment. It made me stop and appreciate the simple wonder of a flower blooming in the forest. I felt very fortunate to have the life that I do, and realized how lucky I was to be there at that moment.

271May your upcoming year be filled with such moments. Remember to slow down enough to take them in when they come to you!

Hocking County Cabin

cabinza!2014 065Along with 8 friends, spent the weekend relaxing and celebrating a dear friend’s birthday at this lovely cabin in the hills of Hocking County. It was situated in on 11 acres and had pretty views all around.

cabinza!2014 057 cabinza!2014 032cabinza!2014 043Although there are some great hiking trails and state parks in the area, we contented ourselves with short rambles around the property. It was pretty darn cold, albeit sunny. It was a weekend of eating, loafing, and laughing.

cabinza!2014 069 cabinza!2014 075We made VERY good use of the hot tub, fireplace, and the fire pit. Made lots of s’mores over the fire. Between those and the bunk bed I slept in, I kind of felt like a kid again (in the best way possible.)cabinza!2014 031 cabinza!2014 089Good times with good people. I feel very lucky. 🙂

 

The Pack

autumnwalkkestrel 028It is a bit of sight when we take our dogs for a walk. When my husband and I walk them together, usually one of us has 3 of the dogs and the other takes 2. During our rambles on Sunday, we both took turns with all 5 so we could trade off using the camera. (Hard to have a steady hand when several excited dogs spot a deer leaping across the fields.)

autumnwalkkestrel 013It was perfect walking weather for our pups. Gus and Chico can hike for as long as we’ll take them in most weather (provided Chico is properly attired in the cold, that is!) but the pugs, with their squashed faces, don’t do hot or humid so well. However, a crisp autumn day? So good! They can go for miles if we pace ourselves properly.

autumnwalkkestrel 033They were so happy! These pictures feel a bit deceptive in one way, though: usually the leashes are an unholy tangled mess of mythic proportions. We’re talking Gordian knot or  maybe Cerberus harness inspired.

autumnwalkkestrel 007Good stuff.

Autumn Meadow Details

The other day, we hiked the Kestrel and the Monarch trails out at Walnut Woods Metro Park. These trails are the newest parts of the park to be opened, in the middle section between the Tall Pines area and the Buckeye area. This part of the park is a meadow, but a wet meadow, if that makes sense? I love it. Here’s a broad view:

autumnwalkkestrel 010I suspect that to many, that may seem a bit bleak. But if you look closer, a meadow in fall reveals its own splendors:

autumnwalkkestrel 018

Goldenrod gone to seed. It glowed in the sunlight and almost looked like snow!

autumnwalkkestrel 022

Scarlet leaves at meadow’s edge.

autumnwalkkestrel 058

Milkweed pods and seeds.

autumnwalkkestrel 062

A very late blooming goldenrod.

Ghosts of the Forest

Sycamore trees are sometimes known as the “Ghosts of the Forest”. How did they come by such a handle? Some say they earned the name due to spooky phenomenon told of in Wyandotte and settler lore. Others think it’s just due to how their ghostly white limbs stand out against other darker trees. At any rate, these stately natives are pretty eye-catching. With little foliage to mask the interesting bark, my husband and I both found our gazes drawn to this gorgeous example during our walk yesterday:autumnwalkkestrel 071The trail we were on eventually wound around much closer to this grand tree, so here are 2 additional points of view: autumnwalkkestrel 092 autumnwalkkestrel 101Magnificent at any angle!