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A Good Day At Spring Valley

Because it was Columbus Day, school was out and the weather was gorgeous, Spring Valley Nature Center was packed!  The new recreation area was full of super-excited children, happy to have at least one more opportunity to play outside in shorts and sandals.  I was pleased to see, too, that parents were encouraging their families to not only enjoy the slides and climbing frames but to go exploring the rest of the nature center.  Great for them but not so good for someone who is hoping to do some wildlife photography.  Screaming youngsters and timid woodland creatures unfortunately don’t make for a good mix.  However, I had all day and waited patiently for the rare quiet moments when I was able to get a few shots.

Any day at Spring Valley is a good day.

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Dells

Not to be confused with the Wisconsin Dells which are 100 miles south of Plover, the Dells of the Eau Claire County Park in Marathon County, Wisconsin, are spectacular. Divided in two by the Eau Claire River, the Dells offer an abundance of beautiful scenic views and plenty of opportunities for nature photography.

We spent the day wandering along woodland trails and clambering over rocks some of which have been dated at about 1.8 billion years old.

Our granddaughter likes to help find things for me to photograph and did an excellent job of spotting several interesting fungi, a toad and a caterpillar.  In fact she had me taking pictures of practically every leaf, mushroom, acorn and pinecone that we came across. Thank goodness for digital photography!  I don’t know how many rolls of film I would have used, otherwise.

 

 

There are several spots along the river where, if you are agile enough, you can climb onto the rocks that jut out into the water.  It’s amazing what you can do if you want to get a picture badly enough!

I can highly recommend a visit to this park if you are ever in the Plover area of Wisconsin.  I think you’ll find it well worthwhile.

How Green Was My Spring Valley

It’s been a while since I last visited Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg and there have been some changes which were noticeable as soon as I arrived.  There is a new children’s playground complete with slides, climbing areas and waterfalls where the kids can have a great time.  I just hope the parents don’t forego the opportunity of taking them around the rest of the facility to see all the wonderful things that nature has to offer, like flowers, animals, birds and other living, breathing things.  There is also a new pond that has been created nearby although it appears to be a work in progress.

With all the rain we’ve had just lately it wasn’t surprising that the place looked so lush and green. I love walking around here! Apart from the forest preserves, this is the closest thing we have to ‘being in the country.’ I think it would be impossible to count all the different plants that flourish in Spring Valley.

The water in the lake was quite high and covered with water lilies which made ideal resting and hiding places for the frogs. Underneath the surface it was teeming with life as frogs, fish and turtles, in a frenzy of activity, made hundreds of little waves in the water.

 

I was pleased to see that the Kid’s Garden was flourishing, with plenty of flowers and vegetables on display.  I think it’s so important to encourage children to take an interest in nature and that is just what the people at Spring Valley are doing so ably.  After all, the future of our world and the environment is in the hands of generations to come. In these troubling times, it would be a sad thing indeed if we did not make the effort to teach them to understand and respect nature and each other.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Shadow

The subject for The Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post is shadow and, while I have plenty of pictures that have shadows incidental to the overall image, I don’t seem to have taken many where the shadow was the focal point. This was the best I could manage.  For more on the Weekly Photo Challenge, which this week was set for us by Cheri Lucas Rowlands, go to https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/shadow-2017/

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A toad contemplates its shadow at a local nature center.

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Two barns, one at Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg and the other at Old World Wisconsin, patterned by shadows from nearby trees.

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Littlest grandson keeping a close eye on his shadow during an early April walk at Spring Valley.

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The ‘pergola effect’ shown here at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, the gardens at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville SC and the Rose Garden at Cantigny in Wheaton, Illinois.

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Trees in autumn cast long shadows at River Trails Nature Center in Northbrook, Illinois.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Crawling and Flying

Cee is certainly putting us through our paces as she has us crawling and flying for this week’s Fun Foto Challenge.  For some, like this great blue heron taking off into the sunrise just outside Mackinac City, flying comes naturally…..

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while most of us need a little help, like this plane coming in for a landing at O’Hare Airport in Chicago………

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And others just launch themselves down a hill and hope for the best, like this ski jumper in Fox River Grove.

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Crawling takes a bit of practice, as our granddaughter demonstrates.  How quickly they grow up!  Now she’s swimming, bike riding and doing gymnastics.

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And here’s something we found crawling up the wall at the Northern Great Lakes Visitors Center in Ashland, Wisconsin.

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For more on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge go to https://ceenphotography.com/2017/02/07/cees-fun-foto-challenge-crawling-or-flying/

Weekly Photo Challenge – Solitude

Solitude.  Even when you’re not alone you can feel a sense of solitude, as I’m beginning to discover as I get older.  I always find this picture of my mother, sitting at the Chicago Botanic Garden, rather poignant.  Although she lived with us and was very rarely on her own, I knew that she felt lonely.  Most of her contemporaries had already died and she was far away from a place that she had known as home for almost seventy years.  When she passed away a few years ago, she left me with my own kind of solitude, taking with her shared memories of people, places and events that no one else but me remembers.

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Sometimes, even when you’re standing right next to a crowd of people, you can feel like you’re the only person on earth.

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Arches Nation Park in Utah.

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The Badlands in South Dakota.

For more on The Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post go to https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/solitude/

Halloween Challenge – Graveyard

The subject for Jennifer Nichole Wells’ Halloween Challenge today is graveyard.  It’s difficult for me to think of cemeteries as spooky. Part of the Sunday routine when I was a very small child was a morning walk with my father that often took us through the local cemeteries in London.  He would point out all the beautiful monuments and would read the inscriptions on the headstones. Many of the people interred there were famous and my father’s stories about them were fascinating.   Now, very often when we visit a place for the first time, I look out for the old churchyards and wander around amongst the tombstones remembering those walks with my Dad.  For more on Jennifer’s Halloween Challenge go to https://jennifernicholewells.com/2016/10/27/jnws-halloween-challenge-graveyard/

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A cemetery in Elgin, Illinois. As an avid genealogist I have a great interest in, and respect for, those who are buried in these graveyards, hoping that other people show the same consideration for our loved ones at rest in similar places around the world.

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The graveyard at St Matthias Mission Catholic Church near New Fane, Wisconsin.

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St Michael’s Cemetery, a Mission of Shepherd of the Hills Congregation in Wisconsin.