Tag Archive | water

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.

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Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Gardens

The topic for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is Gardens and do I have the garden pictures!!  Wherever we go on our travels we always look out for a pleasant public garden in which to spend some time and over the years we have found a multitude of gorgeous places.  Rather than overload the post with too many images, I’ve narrowed it down to just a few of the more memorable gardens that we’ve visited.

Closest to home is the Chicago Botanic Garden and probably my most favorite spot to sit and look at the flowers is the Circle Garden.

The Frederik Meijer Sculpture Garden in Grand Rapids, Michigan, provides a delightful blend of art and nature.

Although the reason we went to the Missouri Botanical Garden in St Louis was chiefly to see the Chinese Lantern Festival, we went back again to take in everything else that the garden had to offer and it was spectacular!

Another place that really impressed us was the garden at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. The perfume in the rose garden was heavenly!

Green Bay Botanical Garden in Wisconsin is another one of my favorites.  We have spent many hours wandering around here looking at all the beautiful flowers and plants.

Back to Illinois and the gardens at Cantigny Park in Wheaton.  Immaculately kept, these gardens are a must-see for anyone visiting the area.

Also in Illinois, Anderson Japanese Garden in Rockford is a little different in that it doesn’t have a huge display of flowers but makes up for it with tranquil settings amid lush greenery.  Make sure you visit the waterfall and perhaps feed the koi fish swimming in the pool.

For more on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge visit https://ceenphotography.com/2017/05/23/cees-fun-foto-challenge-gardens/

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/

 

 

 

 

Whitefish Point And That Song

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Driving home from Mackinac City, through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, we stopped off at Whitefish Point to take a look at the lighthouse there.  The oldest operating light on Lake Superior, it looks out over a history of troubled waters.

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On the 10th November, 1975 the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank in a storm, 17 miles from Whitefish Bay, with the loss of the entire crew of 29.  She was, and still is, the largest ship to have been lost in North America’s Great Lakes.

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The beach at Whitefish point is littered with huge chunks of driftwood, like the bones of some gigantic creature cast up by the waves, but it’s hard to imagine, gazing out at the calm, clear waters of Lake Superior, that the weather could boil up to such an extent that a ship as big as the Fitzgerald could sink amidst 35ft waves. What really happened to the Fitzgerald remains a mystery; no distress signal was ever sent and the bodies of the crewmen were never recovered.

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So the story of the Edmund Fitzgerald passed into legend and that’s where the song comes in.  In 1976, Gordon Lightfoot came out with a catchy little number called The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald (or Old Man Gerald, as my grandson refers to it) and it’s one of those songs that, once I get it into my head, I can’t stop playing it, over and over and over!  So naturally, as I stood on the beach at Whitefish Point I started humming that song.  (Very quietly because I wasn’t alone.)

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There were dozens of us, either standing still, gazing out on the waters, or strolling up and down, looking for what, I don’t know.  Some people were gathering pebbles in buckets, others were picking up shells, and the more serious-minded were plying metal detectors no doubt searching for buried treasure, while the seagulls sat soaking up the sun.

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Every once in a while they let out a mournful cry (the seagulls, not the people) and it seemed like they were joining me in a chorus of ‘that song’ as they bobbed up and down on the water.

Oh no!  There it goes again!

 

 

Mackinac Sunrise

On a recent trip to Mackinac City, I managed to stagger, half-awake, from the hotel to the beach, without the benefit of a morning cup of tea, to take a few shots of the sunrise over Lake Huron.Mackinac sunrise 1

It was very peaceful.  Not even the seagulls were awake, although there were the occasional signs of life over by the ferry boats that were preparing for the thousands of tourists that flock over to Mackinac Island every day during the summer.

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A heron, that had been standing unseen just a few feet away from me, took wing and headed off in the direction of Bois Blanc Island……….

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…….and was immediately replaced by a group of hungry ducks who, seeing some poor unsuspecting mug with a camera standing on the lake shore, decided that there might be food in the offing.  Not likely! I obey the rules.  The signs posted in the hotel lobby distinctly said “Do Not Feed The Birds!”

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They paddled around for a while looking hopeful but once they realized that they weren’t going to get anything, they gave a few quacks that may have been rude remarks in ‘duck speak’ and made their way over the landing.

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After standing around waiting for what seemed like forever, I finally got to see the sun rise over Lake Huron heralding a new day in beautiful Michigan.

The Nature Of Biltmore

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As I imagined, there was far more to the Biltmore Estate than just walking around a magnificent house, although that in itself was well worth the price of admission.  The nature of Biltmore extends to every corner of the 8,000-acre estate which includes some spectacular gardens.

Biltmore was landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted’s final major project and what an almighty challenge it must have been.  In 1895, the original property purchased by George W. Vanderbilt covered 125,000 acres, much of it over-farmed and with many of its trees already cut down, but with the help of Olmsted’s brilliant planning it was turned into a profitable, self-sustaining estate.

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It is interesting to note that the Biltmore Estate appears on the National Historic Landmark Register not because of the house, but because Carl A. Schenck established the first forestry education program in the U.S. here on the estate grounds in 1898.

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Vanderbilt had asked Olmsted to set aside 75 acres to be transformed into formal gardens, one of which is the Italian Garden that features three large water gardens and classical statuary.  Each pool contains water lilies, lotus and papyrus as well as other water plants.   You will see koi and goldfish swimming about among the lily pads and I also noticed a large number of tadpoles in various stages of development lounging around the edges of the center pool.

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The 4-acre Walled Garden features thousands of tulips in the spring and colorful mums at autumn time. Our visit came just after they had planted out all the summer annuals and as they hadn’t had time to become established, the beds were not quite as spectacular as they might have been, but the garden still looked beautiful nevertheless.

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Similarly, the rose garden had already seen the first flowers in full bloom and they were past their best but if you didn’t examine them too closely you could imagine how gorgeous the garden must have looked just a few weeks previously.  Timing is everything and it’s not always possible to visit these places at exactly the right moment.  Still, we were very lucky with the weather and enjoyed brilliant sunshine throughout our stay in Asheville.

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Water plays an important part at Biltmore. The French Broad River runs through the middle of the estate which also features a bass pond and waterfall.

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Traveling further from the house you come to the Farm, Antler Hill Village and The Winery, all of which are overlooked by The Inn on Biltmore Estate.

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As always seems to be the case, we had to cram as much sightseeing as we could into one day, but you could easily spend a few days at Biltmore in order to look at everything.

A Touch of Green

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There’s a song that’s stuck in my memory, from my days back in England, called ‘Green Grow The Rushes, O’.  I seem to recall we sang it quite a lot at school.

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Well, there’s not much green around here at the moment, not even the ‘rushes, o’ and, although I’m usually the first one to complain when it comes time to drag the lawn mower out, I wouldn’t be averse to seeing a little bit of grass growing, right about now.

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Green, to me, means the smell of a fresh cut lawn, shamrocks on St. Patrick’s Day and the burgeoning buds on the trees in Spring. It means tangy limes and crunchy apples.

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I want to sit under a shady leaf canopy on a hot summer day, eat green salads and cool cucumbers. I want to sip mint juleps and watch the ivy as it climbs the garden wall.  I want green!

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