Tag Archive | trees

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Garden of the Gods

This week, Cee’s ‘alphabet with a twist’ is looking for g words, which is lucky for me since I recently spent some time at a place in southern Illinois called Garden of the Gods, part of Shawnee National Forest.

Most people who have driven through Illinois will tell you that much of the State is rather flat and uninteresting but southern Illinois is anything but that, as we discovered last week.

I was told that Garden of the Gods is one of the most scenic and visited areas in Shawnee National Forest and I could see why.  The views were spectacular!

320 million years ago, a shallow sea covered the land shown in the image below. Rivers deposited sand and mud along the shoreline which gradually hardened to stone.

The textures and colors in the layers of rock were stunning! The red-brown swirls and rings are called liesegang bands and are comprised of sandstone and iron.

The paved Observation Trail that winds through the Garden of the Gods takes you through and past some very interesting rock formations including one named Devil’s Smokestack.

 

I wouldn’t recommend bringing young children on this particular trail as there are some steep bluffs that drop 100ft down.  I was very cautious while finding a good spot from which to take pictures and I got quite nervous when I saw my husband, who is in charge of the video camera and is just recovering from knee replacement surgery, swiveling about rather close to the edge in order to get some panoramic views.  Good grief!!!

For more on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge go to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Letter G – Needs to have the letter G (log, goggle, geometry, lodge)

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Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Trees

The subject for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge requires two E’s in the title this week, so trees seemed like a good fit. These images were captured at the Chicago Botanic Garden and Morton Arboretum in Spring and Autumn (my favorite time of year.)

“He who plants a tree

Plants a joy;

Plants a comfort that will never cloy;

Every day a fresh reality,

Beautiful and strong,

To whose shelter throng

Creatures blithe with song.

If thou couldst but know, thou happy tree,

Of the bliss that shall inhabit thee.”

Lucy Larcom.

For more on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge go to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Letter E – Needs to have two E’s in the topic word

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.

A Golden Day

What better way to celebrate the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series than a leisurely stroll around Spring Valley Nature Center on a sunny, 65 degree day in November!  Yes folks, miracles do happen!  After all the baseball hype and excitement of the past few days, it was nice to get away from it all yesterday and just relax, if you can call walking about for two hours relaxing.  For some of us it is, especially when you’ve been sitting on the edge of your seat for what seems like a lifetime, waiting for the Cubs to finally win the big prize.

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And it seemed like Mother Nature was celebrating with us, everything basking in a golden glow.  Finally we could take a deep breath and enjoy life after all those years of torment.

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It’s been a couple of months since I was at Spring Valley but apart from the new children’s play area that is being built near the entrance, things are pretty much the same.  The farm will probably be closing for the winter soon, so I was glad to be able to make one last visit there this year.  One of the horses, that had an abscess in its hoof, was being attended to by the resident veterinary technician who kindly let me stay and watch the proceedings. She did an amazing job and the horse didn’t seem the least bit bothered as she applied some gooey green stuff to the hoof.

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After that, I went on to the farmhouse where I met a young lady in costume who kindly posed for me. Everyone at Volkening Farm is very friendly and helpful.  I would have visited the house but unfortunately the immediate area was being patrolled by a ruthless band of chickens and as many of you will know, I have a terrible fear of birds, and chickens in particular, so I stayed well back and used the long lens, glancing around me every few seconds to make sure none of them were creeping up behind me.

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Leaving the farm, I walked past the track to the arboretum and headed towards the cabin that used to be the old visitor center.  A nice surprise was awaiting me on the path, two deer that stayed just long enough for me to take a couple of pictures.

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Leaving the cabin, I went along the road to the pond and found several frogs making the most of the sunny day.  There was a handy bench by the water’s edge so I got comfortable while a duck paddled over, thinking there might be something to eat in the offing. It soon realized there was nothing doing and steered away to the other side of the pond.   A dragonfly landed nearby, blending in nicely with its surroundings.

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I would have stayed longer but time was getting on so I bid goodbye to the frogs, (I’ll swear I heard one of them croak “Go Cubs!” as I left) and made my way back to the parking lot. There most likely won’t be too many more days for strolling around but, as we always used to say with the Cubs, “Wait till next year!”

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Autumn Bonus

Who would have thought we’d be walking about in our shirtsleeves in 70 degree temps at the beginning of November but such was the case today.  A splendid autumn bonus that was best enjoyed in the open and preferably in a place as beautiful as the Chicago Botanic Garden.

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Soaking up the sun and making the most of every moment, we’ve seen a lot of changes at the Garden over the years but none more spectacular than the change from summer to autumn.

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We are so lucky to live within easy driving distance of this wonderful garden and love to visit no matter what the season but there’s something just so spectacular about the fall months.

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Brilliant colors at every turn and in all parts of the garden and with the warm temperatures we were able to take our time to appreciate one of nature’s miracles.

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Morton Fall

You have to drive quite a distance from where we live before you can consider yourself ‘out in the country’ but visiting the Morton Arboretum in Lisle is a great way to get that country feeling especially in the fall when even a trip all the way up north doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you’ll get those colorful autumn pictures.

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One of my favorite spots is Lake Marmo, named after Margaret Morton.  The lake is on the west side of the arboretum. Drive down the hill from Daffodil Glade and leave your car in one of the parking areas then take a walk around the lake. You’re sure to see something of interest such as waterfowl or frogs.

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There are walking trails all over the arboretum but if you don’t feel that energetic you can just pull in to one of the parking areas and still get some nice shots.

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I do enjoy walking, however, and like to get off the beaten track once in a while. Didn’t see too much in the way of wildlife this time. No coyotes, but I did spot a garter snake slithering away as I made my way across the grass.

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Back on the east side of the arboretum, near the visitor center, is another lake, Meadow Lake, surrounded by colorful grasses, which makes a very pleasant walk especially when the weather is mild and sunny as it was when I was there last week.

 

Halloween Challenge – Fall

We’re at Goebbert’s Pumpkin Farm which must mean it’s FallJennifer Nichole Wells has selected Fall or Autumn for today’s Halloween Challenge and I’ve made a special trip to the farm for this purpose.  Everything looks very colorful at this time of year especially when the sun’s shining.

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I wanted to find somewhere different to take autumn pictures this year and during our trip up to Duluth we stopped off at Council Grounds State Park in Merrill, Wisconsin. The trees were just starting to change color.

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And of course, it wouldn’t be Autumn without a trip to the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois. We’ve been making this pilgrimage every year for more than forty years and Mother Nature never disappoints.  For more on Jennifer’s Halloween Challenge go to https://jennifernicholewells.com/2016/10/18/jnws-halloween-challenge-fallautumn/

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