It has been a while since last we posted. Life has been full of ups and downs since then. Christmas and New Years have come and gone and this is our first post of hopefully many, many more for the 2013 year.
We start off our hiking adventures this year going to Cherry Hill Gate. We have taken pictures of Cherry Hill in the spring when nothing is yet blooming but the frogs and turtles and many, many other species in nature are procreating. We have been there in summer, leaves and flowers blooming, birds a singing and chipmunks-a-munking. :-) We have been there in fall when the leaves are turning the many hues of autumn and as the animals prepare to hunker down for the winter, BUT this is our first foray into snow-covered beauty in the beauty of Cherry Hill. I have to say, each season here has it's special appeal. Spring is jacket weather (most of the time), the temperatures are more bearable and new life springs abundantly all around. Spring is full of beginnings. Summer has the hot temperatures, there's a LOT less to do to get ready for a hike. The biggest challenge is missing the dousing rain. Summer holds a bevy of beautiful animals of many shapes and sizes and variety. Did I mention that Summer is hot? I don't like hot. I like comfortable. My comfort zone is less than 70, more than 65, I like cloudy too, it's easier to take pictures without a lot of backlighting. :-) Summer hikes can be challenging because of the heat though. Fall brings my favorite time of year. I love the way the world looks as the blazing colors spread across the hills. The animals prepare for winter and migrations begin. Animals that stay behind are either storing up for winter or gorging for a long winter nap. Cloudy, drizzly, breezy days abound leaves boat down and blanket the ground with a crispy carpet while autumn spices fill the air. Then comes winter. All the other seasons are boxed in with it. Winter begins and ends the year. Some, like the previous couple of years are very mind and offer very little in the way of snow and frigid temperatures, but this winter has been more of a winter wonderland winter. This winter we have had a foot of snow just after Christmas (in total, not all in one blow) and the temperatures have been at freezing and below for more time than I care for. I enjoy freezing temperatures as much as I do scorching ones. Winter holds it's own special kind of beauty though. Freshly fallen snow blankets bare trees and frozen ground. It's beautiful, however painful if it comes into contact with bare skin for any length of time. If prepared for it however, adventures in the snow can be not only challenging, but rewarding. The amount of wildlife available to observe is not just scarcer, but what's left is plumper and easier to see (if it's not white) against the snow and barren trees. With no foliage left, the forest can stretch out into seeming eternity. I am reminded of a poem. Please allow me to share it with you. (The kids have been learning this this season, they're getting pretty good at it too!)
Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening
By Robert Frost
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Well, enough with the talking, on to the photos! First, let me tell you, we went to Cherry Hill with the intention of feeding birds and it being fairly untouched. Silly us. There had been people there all day! Even while we were there we saw a good many people out and about. Who knew! After we went hiking in the frigid, windy weather today, we went to the RBG building and saw a train show! It was cool, I took pictures, I'll show those too. These photos are a conglomeration (please don't give me credit for knowing how to spell that word, just be surprised I was close enough that spell check knew what I meant!) of photos that Mike and Sam and I took.
Here we begin. This is the new and improved sign in front of the Cherry Hill Gate trail. Pretty is it not? :-)
At every moment before this Caleigh has been whining, complaining and fussing. I know you're wondering, why, on a beautiful, however cold day, would such a bundled up, beautiful girl be whining, fussing and complaining. Well, I'll tell you. She was in a sour state becuase up to this point, no chickadee or bird of any flavor had decided to grace her with it's presence. This discouraged her to the point of distraughtfulness. (Spell check doesn't think that's a word.) She was in tears because of it and was certain that life as she knew it was not worth living if 5 minutes into our foray into nature she had been so utterly unsuccessful. I finally convinced her that no bird would want to share in her presence if she was going to behave so badly. Also, I made it plain that such bad behavior would only be rewarded with a swift trek back to the van where she and I would sit in cold silence until everyone else had had their fun and then we would go home where her bed awaited her as did an entire week of naps and lack of electronic diversion and that if her mood and attitude didn't change post-haste and a smile didn't replace her frowny tears, this trek would begin immediately. This is the subsequent smile that stayed on her face most of the rest of the visit into our cold land of beauty.
This is a Mourning Dove, so called because her call sounds so mournful. I don't think it's her fault. God had a reason for it sounding so sad, even her beak is blue. She sat here for a good long while. The only bird that really, fully cooperated with photo taking. This is also one of Caleigh's favorite types of birds. Not sure why, but it is.
After this we pile into the van and take off the the RBG building very nearly directly across the street. Here is what we see there.
Notice how around that hole it's shaped like a bear?
I think this little room is supposed to look like that of a queen bee. There was a little car that looked suspiciously like a bee that kept stopping in there.
This hole has what I think is a fish leaning gracefully backwards, in a position I've never seen a live fish take before, over the top of another tunnel.
Here is the CN Tower, the full size, original version is located in Toronto, this rather handsome miniature wood version of it is located in a forest home amongst various other Canadian icons.
Here is a lighthouse. It is suspiciously located on the banks of what seems to be a quiet river. Not the normal home of a lighthouse, especially such a grandly built one, but if needed by the wee folk of this lovely haven, who am I to argue with their placement of it?
The only covered bridge in this small world. Humble beauty appropriately placed over a river.
The lovely little world from above. The tiny details are unable to be seen from such heights, but the grandness of the undertaking is much more obvious.
And that is our afternoon. We went home hereafter to a lovely dinner of homemade pizza. I hope you enjoyed our photo documentation of our expeditions. I hope to see you again sometime soon!