A couple of Carolina wrens (Thryothorus ludovicianus) stopped by one January afternoon to enjoy a treat from our holiday wreath; here’s one of them.
It was Labor Day today! We slept in this morning, got ourselves together at a leisurely pace, and decided to pay a visit to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio) through the Ira Road Trailhead. The access point is very near the heron rookery we visited several times this spring. Some of the offspring of this year’s matings have taken up residence — temporarily, at least — in the large wetland area just north of Ira. The young birds are not very experienced and are not very shy around humans so it is easy for noisy park visitors to get a good look at them. The big, though immature, birds also go about their business within easy reach of any photographer’s lenses. We shot scores of images, watching the herons as they perched on logs, preened, panted (it was a very hot and humid day), hunted, and flew; it was as if they were posing for a big photo shoot and not unlike Sunday’s cooperative dragonflies! Once we got our fill of heron studies for the day, we strolled along the expansive boardwalk. There were turtles, fish, dragonflies, and flowers to shoot along the way. Sweaty and ready for lunch, we finally headed out and after a fine sandwich at Bruegger’s Bagels, Hudson, Ohio, decided to take a stroll around Peninsula, Ohio.
The (now) tourist town was full of Labor Day visitors and is a hub for walking and, especially, bicycling on the CVNP’s Towpath Trail. There is also an excursion railway run by the Park Service that passes directly through town. We hiked up the rail line a way, chasing an image I had in mind (it looked better inside my head), then headed back toward town and the rail depot. Looking back over my shoulder, I noticed what appeared to be thick fog covering the rails behind us. But that didn’t make sense. Looking back again I could see that it wasn’t fog coming our way… it was rain; heavy rain! Luckily we only needed to pick up our pace a bit to reach shelter under the covered open-air waiting area for train passengers. Under shelter, we watched as the drenching rain arrived. It had been so hot and humid that most folks caught in the rain did not seem to be in a hurry to get out of it.
Those under shelter sat back and enjoyed the cooled air and watched as hikers and cyclists passed by. Not a bad way to spend a time on a hot afternoon. When we arrived home I began editing my photos from the day. Several of what you see here I also shared on Google+ as part of a special Labor Day event staged by the Canon User’s Circle — folks from around the globe all submitting photos on this day made using Canon gear — a very cool project! That, in a nutshell, was our Labor Day; one of the best I have enjoyed. The happy feeling might even make it through tomorrow when we go back to work!
The world around us seemed obsessed with finding “Black Friday” deals. Shoppers camped out at the doors of discount department stores and big electronics retailers around the area and across the country. Shopping mall parking lots were packed with cars. Everywhere a seeming retail feeding frenzy as customers sought amazing savings on items they wanted … most likely not as holiday gifts. In our area the sky became cloudless and intensely blue and the temperatures moderated into the upper-50s (F), an astonishingly beautiful day following on the heels of typical wet and chilly November weather. On our post-Thanksgiving holiday day off, we saw far greater value and sense in visiting the F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm. It was heartening to see many families sharing our appreciation of the beautiful day outdoors, rather than under the roof of a shopping mall. It may have been a big day of shopping for many others but it was no Black Friday here!
It is Labor Day. We awoke to chilly temperatures and skies that turned from partly cloudy to overcast as we ate breakfast. She Who Must Be Obeyed suggested we check out the Cleveland Metroparks’ Lake-to-Lake Trail. The trail, which we had never visited, runs along the eastern edge of the Berea area and into Middleburg Heights.
We were delighted with the experience, though both a bit sore upon return. Putting in a total of 5.4 miles, we covered most of the trail from Lake Isaac north to Lake Abram and back with a very pleasant stop at an Aladdin’s Eatery (a lovely advantage of suburban trail hiking) for lunch.
We stopped many times along the way to photograph plants, flowers, and wildlife including a very cooperative Green Frog and red dragonfly (Ruby Meadowhawk?), residents of a tiny pond area. The trail is mostly asphalt paved with an extensive system of wooden boardwalks and bridges to carry visitors over wet areas.
It was exciting and reassuring to see, from the trail, large expanses of marsh habitat undeveloped and preserved as natural areas in suburban Cleveland. And what a marvelous resource for area residents. Like us!
After being off a couple of days late in the week (scheduled and "sick") I had recovered enough from my recent head cold and was able to put in my scheduled hours at the office on Saturday. Then, due to our change in operations to a summer schedule, I was off on the Sunday when I would have worked in previous months. Then I was also off today (Monday) due to observance of Memorial Day. It's no wonder I wake up these days wondering just what day of the week it actually is!
She and I made an effort Sunday to spend some time together. We wanted something low-key since I was not yet feeling back at full health so we headed to the zoo for a nice, quiet walkaround. As we approached the parking lot we could see that droves of people of every description were descending upon the entrance. I circled the Insight around and through the lot and we headed back home for lunch and to regroup. She proposed we check out a park we had not yet visited… Wellington Reservation of the Lorain County Metropark System. We were very impressed by the facility and She was excited by the prospect of using one of the park's pontoon paddle boats… "some day, not right now." We set out on one of the trails and discovered they are interconnecting loops. After following the outer line of the combined loop system we returned to the start having hiked 3.8 sweaty miles. She was pretty well tuckered out and I feared a relapse of my illness (which fortunately did not happen). Showers and a nice dinner at home put things right.
We both had plans for Monday (the holiday). She needed to help her mother and I needed to go to the Observatory to take advantage of an unusual opportunity. During our April 4, 2009 public night, the dome's shutter began acting up. (The shutter is a sliding door that covers a slit opening in the dome used to give the telescope access to the sky.) It was difficult to open for the night and was nearly impossible to close! College carpenters built up a scaffold inside the dome early in May and determined that the rollers that carry the shutter had derailed — nominally the rollers move along an iron bar at the top of the opening easing operation. The craftsmen lifted the shutter back on to its track and lubricated the wheels. With the scaffold in place the telescope could not be moved so all use of the Observatory was suspended during the balance of April and through May. Today, while the scaffolding was still in place, I replaced the pull ropes that are used to manually open and close the shutter; there was no telling how much longer the scaffold will be available. I have no idea how old the cotton rope was; I replaced it with a tough poly braided rope. The shutter works better now than it has in years though close examination of the condition of its wooden components left me with worries. She finished her duties in decent time. My job took longer than expected. We both opted to spend the balance of the afternoon and evening at home resting up. Interesting weekend, that!
I just couldn't get it together in time this year. I couldn't put together my hand-made Christmas holiday cards in enough quantity in time for mailing. We sent out commercial cards to most people. But to five folks, those who I thought would most appreciate them, I was able to send cards I created. Most are astronomy folk. One is a wonderful Indian neighbor whose philosophy surely resonates with the thought expressed in the quotation I selected to serve as the greeting/message inside the card:
"The touch of an infinite mystery passes over the trivial and the familiar, making it break out into ineffable music… The trees, the stars, and the blue hills ache with a meaning which can never be uttered in words." — Rabindranath Tagore
So to the many who did not receive this card from me, my apologies. My best wishes do go out to you for peace, and joy, and an ear to hear the music of the cosmos. — JamesG