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A Summer Walk

Last week I decided to take advantage of some slightly cooler weather to take a summer walk at Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg.  Ever since they built the beautiful new children’s play area here the place is always busy and it’s good to see that parents are also walking further afield in order to introduce their families to the fascinating world of nature. And Spring Valley is just the place to do it.

As well as seeing all the flowers that are still blooming among the grasses on the prairie, I was interested to see this growth spiraling around the stems of some of the larger plants. I have no idea what it is even though I tried Googling it later with no success. If anyone has any suggestions I’d be glad to hear from you.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this before.

Meanwhile, over at the pond,  waterlily pads cover the surface of the water and the frogs take advantage of these comfy seats while a family of ducks look on from a slightly less comfy place on the shore.

Also at the water’s edge are signs that a beaver has been at work, and when I say signs I mean literally as there is a notice nearby pointing out that beaver have been spotted at the lake.

I sit for a while along the woodland trail and watch chipmunks scurrying about finding food, and then, walking back down the path towards the parking lot, I see reminders that it won’t be too long before autumn is upon us once more.

 

Square in September – Floral Pink

I couldn’t let Becky’s September Squares go by without submitting a few pink flower pictures so I’ll get it out of my system now and do it all in one go. Two from the Chicago Botanic Garden, two from my garden and one from Cantigny Park in Wheaton.



For more on Becky’s Square in September Photo Challenge go to Hello September!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Farm Fences

In response to Ann-Christine’s topic of #10: Fences, this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, let me take you on a quick trip to Volkening Heritage Farm at Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg.


Here, fences are not so much an intrusion as a picturesque part of the overall scene.  Many of them are weathered and some used only as a temporary measure but all of them seem to blend in with their surroundings.


Naturally, the animals on the farm play a large part in many of the fence images in my Spring Valley photo files.


And flowers play an important role in the pictures too, the fences sometimes appearing to be merely an adjunct to their cheerful color.

 

Whatever purpose the fences serve, they are nearly always a welcome addition to any image of Volkening Heritage Farm.


Frog Soup

The color for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is lime or light green and since I was hoping for an opportunity to share the following pictures this seemed like the ideal time, even though they may not strictly be considered that exact shade.


On a still and steamy day at the tail end of August, the turbid waters of the pond at Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg resembled nothing so much as frog soup. Everywhere you looked there were hundreds of these curious little creatures, peering out of the water or perching on lily pads.


There has always been a special place in my affections for these little guys. They have kept me company during many peaceful moments at the water’s edge in various nature centers, gardens and parks. There’s something very companionable about spending time with a frog, both of us sitting there thinking our own thoughts.


“What is this woman doing???  She’s been sitting here for ages, just watching! I don’t think she’s a threat but every once in a while that shiny thing she’s holding gives off a flash of light that, I have to say, is a bit disconcerting. Any of you chaps know who she is?  No, well just ignore her. Perhaps she’ll go away.”

For more on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge go to Lime or Light Green.

April Showers Bring………

………more showers but also May flowers.  Despite moaning about the miserable weather we’ve experienced so far this spring in the Chicago area, I have to admit that our garden has never looked so lush and vibrant.  Many of the plants that I thought might not do as well this year, for one reason or another, have really pulled out all the stops, especially the iris.

The peonies never disappoint and somehow the frequent downpours of rain only seem to make them smell all the sweeter.

 

In fact, everything in the garden is thriving, from tulips to allium and the Japanese anemone.  A feast for all the senses and a promise of things to come in the summer.

And always lurking in the background, my arch nemesis, the rabbit, looking the picture of innocence.  One false move, rabbit, and you’re for the high jump!

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Vibrant Colors

Cee’s choice for her Fun Foto Challenge this week are Vibrant Colors, an easy thing to find in the photo files as they always stand out from the rest.

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On the Scarecrow Trail at Morton Arboretum in Lisle, these colorful creations made by various scout troops are a regular feature in the fall.

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These eye-catching decorations were on display at Goebbert’s Pumpkin Farm in South Barrington.

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The vibrant colors of this costume worn by a participant at the 63rd Annual Powwow in Busse Woods really made a splash!

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Gorgeous blooms at the Green Bay Botanical Gardens in Wisconsin.  For more on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge go to https://ceenphotography.com/2016/10/18/cees-fun-foto-challenge-vibrant-colors-2/

The Last Hurrah

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last-hurrah11The flowers in our garden are starting to wind down now and the process of clearing up has begun.  I’m always sorry to see the beds starting to look empty but there are still the last few remnants of color to be seen. The seasons seem to fly by faster every year,. Sometimes it feels like we hardly have time to enjoy the results of all our labor out there and it’s only when I take the camera around to shoot some pictures that I really can stop to appreciate just how beautiful these flowers are.

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The weather has been very wet here during the past few weeks, although thankfully not as bad as some places, but it has meant that we were not able to complete some of the tasks that we had hoped to finish by the end of the growing season.  Trying to dig muddy, soil with a high clay content is next to impossible!  So some things will have to wait until next year.

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Everything seems to be soaking up the mild, sunny days, expending their remaining energy into putting forth a few more blossoms and generating those all-important seeds that will bring the garden back to life next year. I really enjoy walking round collecting the seeds, one of the less arduous tasks in the garden, and people often stop by to ask if I have any to share, which I’m always happy to do as I usually end up with way more than I can use.

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Cleome, Cosmos, marigolds, 4-o-clocks, snapdragons and nasturtiums are the most prolific and there are quite a few gardens in the neighborhood that have enjoyed a nice display of flowers as a result.

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2 for 1 -Liquid H2O

Since I have been busy working on Jennifer’s Halloween Challenge and because both Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge and The Weekly Photo Challenge set by Lignum Draco are very similar this week, I thought I would combine the two responses.  For this purpose I’m using some images from a trip to Copper Falls in Wisconsin this past week.  I can highly recommend a visit to this State Park.

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For more on Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge go to https://ceenphotography.com/2016/10/06/cees-black-white-photo-challenge-liquid/

and for more on The Weekly Photo Challenge on The Daily Post go to https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/h2o/

 

 

 

 

Halloween Challenge – Corn Maze & Hay Ride

This is a tale of two fall festivals.  The first two images were taken last year at a well-known suburban pumpkin farm where, for a not inconsiderable sum of money, the kids were invited to find their way around a corn maze, see tigers and feed giraffes, go for a hay ride and watch pig races, along with a whole bunch of other activities.  Admittedly the maze was well set out, with a reasonably comfortable path to follow but, like Christmas and Thanksgiving, Halloween has become sadly over-commercialized. Have our expectations become so high, in this neck of the woods, that everything has to be done on such a lavish scale?

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Fast-forward to this year and a trip that we took this week to Willow Springs Garden near Wausau in Wisconsin.  What a difference!  Everything except the food and pumpkins was free.  The petting zoo consisted of a donkey, one goat and a few chickens.  kids could amuse themselves by trying their hand at an old-fashioned corn shucker or, instead of a fancy bouncy castle, they could wear themselves out by jumping along the tops of a series of hay bales. The path through the corn maze was uneven and painfully strewn with rocks, just like you would expect a cornfield to be, but no-one seemed to mind.  And the hay ride was awesome!  Give me a good old-fashioned country Fall Festival every time!  For more on Jennifer Nichole Wells Halloween Challenge go to https://jennifernicholewells.com/2016/09/26/jnws-halloween-challenge-2/

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