The others have gone, given up their grip. Time to let go for the season is over. Others will follow but first must come winter. Departures witnessed by the last holdouts.
Sometimes beauty emerges at the end. This one leaf, among all of the others, is dying early yet outshines its many healthy brethern. This little scene was along the trail in Medina County’s Hubbard Valley Park.
We decided to check out the recently-opened, still-under-development Miller Nature Preserve in Avon, Ohio. Though inside city limits, the preserve consists of 78 acres of wooded land, now set aside as a natural green space. Congratulations to Avon and Lorain County for giving yourselves this great gift! Sitting at the edge of the wooded expanse is a lovely nature center with a 5,000 square-foot conservatory. We had a very relaxing time walking amongst the tropical plants, enjoying their shapes and colors in the late-afternoon February sun. We’ll return this summer to explore trails on the property. Until then, we were very impressed by the great indoors.
It has been cold, and wet, and dark. Sometimes, between rains, the heavy dew, and the rain, and the subdued light bring a beauty of their own to the world. This morning, between showers, I stepped outside to see what diamonds there were to be discovered.
We did some utility running around today but eventually wound up at the Lorain County Metro Parks' French Creek Reservation. We took a little hike there on their well-groomed woodland trails. We also visited their temporary exhibit of captive butterflies. The outdoor tent was a bit cramped but it was fun sharing the space with flowering plants, fluttering butterflies, and other interested folks. We ended our outing with dinner at Max & Erma's where we enjoyed spicy black bean burgers with dark green side salads. A long, warm day but a good one!
The switch back from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time (about time!) helped us get a good night's sleep Saturday night. Maybe not big shakes to you but we, and especially I, have been sleep deprived for the past several days and it felt great to wake rested! After a quiet morning around the house and lunch at home we headed back again to the Summit County Metro Parks and their Sand Run park, an area of 992 acres adjoining the Metro Park we visited one week ago. What an experience it was! Skies were partly cloudy, temperatures were cool to mild, and the park lands were hilly and gorgeous in what is now the declining period of fall color.
We chose the 3.3-mile Mingo Trail for its distance; we usually skip the really short walks. We found the unpaved, earthen trail a welcome challenge with a good amount hill climbing that really warmed us up and got our heart rates climbing as well. All along the way there was natural beauty to behold and, of course, photograph.
For me the day's shooting was a continuing exercise in re-learning my skills in photography with all manner of subjects available. This day I was also able to give my newer Canon EF 50mm Macro lens a good shake-down. Walks in dense wooded areas lend themselves well to finding subjects suited to close-up views and I really love viewing things close-up… have loved it ever since I started doing photography many years ago. As a kid I used a lens –objective lens off an old binocular, if I remember correctly– as an improvised macro adapter. Worked pretty well, too! I still own a really good 50mm macro from my Minolta film SLRs but, because of the auto-focus revolution and my migration to Canon's system, it now sits unused. When I was doing fine art photography I loved using black & white and, in the darkroom, made excellent prints from my shots. I still find certain subjects lend themselves best to the strong graphical qualities of black & white. In one case we happened across a large tree that had toppled. Where the trunk had broken, splintered and bent fibers of wood posed in subdued light. Even standing there recording the view I was seeing the broken tree not in shades of light brown but in monochrome. So, back at my desk, I used Photoshop to remove all of the color from the shot to show viewers what my eye had already seen.
Then again, I like some images better in color. Of course I select different techniques for different subjects. The gray of the rotting wood embedded in colorful fallen leaves is an interesting study in contrasts. The small fungi are the only white in the shot.
While I was experimenting with the macro lens on non-"macro" subjects I also tried out a longer exposure on the small waterfall we encountered. Very nice effect. Yes, I know, it's been done many times and by many others. I still like the shot and the macro, while not ideal for a larger scene, did an acceptable job.
Saturday evening the clouds gave the Moon –even through the telescope– a hazy look. Yes, we could see detail, beautiful detail, in our views of Luna but the overall effect was one of looking through a thin blanket of fog. As the Moon sank behind our neighboring line of trees and the skies grew darker, I turned the big telescope to Saturn — one of the few identifiable objects in the sky. It was beautiful! First we looked at the Ring World at 100X and it was good, though tiny. Next we saw the planet at 133X and it was still very good. Finally I bumped the power up to 266X and the view was glorious! We could see hints of color in the planetary body, glimpses of cloud banding, and the ring shadow across the face of that world more than 800 million miles distant. We also observed the planet's shadow falling across the rings as they passed behind that globe so far away. More than one visitor, on realizing what they were seeing, was awestruck. Over the evening we hosted 23 visitors of all ages and looked at Saturn again and again. It was a good night and perhaps my best-ever observations of Saturn.
Sunday was Mother's Day so, sleeping in a bit after a long night, we headed west and into a couple of hours of rainy driving. It was wet, chilly, and miserable but a fairly easy drive to see Mom and my sister with her family. All three of use kids brought or sent flowers: two planters and a corsage. Lots of flowers! Mom is doing great after her surgery, physical therapy, and balancing out of blood chemistry. My oldest nephew is excitedly preparing to move into a house he and his parents took from "delapitude" to coziness. We spent a pleasant afternoon catching up, had a pizza dinner –little work for anyone– and headed east, homebound.
This morning's email brought an update from Cincinnati regarding Howie, the cat. It seems he was picked up from the vet Saturday and moved into his foster home. After the expected adjustments there, he seemed to calm down and enjoyed being petted and spoken to. He didn't like being picked up, however, according to his hostess. I wouldn't be too worried just yet about him being anti-social… after all, he got put in a cage, neutered, then locked in a strange house all within about 48 hours! I'm not sure I'd want a stranger holding me, either!