In Case You Didn’t Make It…..

The causeway at Jone's Pond, along the Colonial Parkway in York County.

The causeway at Jones Pond, along the Colonial Parkway in York County.

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Just in case you didn’t make it to our beautiful area to drive along the Colonial Parkway this year, I’ll share a few of our photos from yesterday.

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Escapees from the Gospel Spreading Farm along the Parkway, near Jamestown Island.

Escapees from the Gospel Spreading Farm along the Parkway, near Jamestown Island.

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We are always astounded to notice license plates and see how far visitors have traveled just to spend a few days here, near Williamsburg.

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Sandy Bay, at the bridge onto Jamestown Island.

Sandy Bay, near the bridge onto Jamestown Island.

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It is one of the prettiest drives in the country, beginning at Jamestown on the James River and ending up on the beaches of Yorktown.  All along the way one enjoys beautiful vistas of the water, beaches, marshes, and of  course beautiful trees.  Modern life is mostly screened out as one travels along this historic road, through national park land, where eagles nest and herons fish by the side of the road.

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The path to a beach along the James River; a favorite spot for fishing and sunbathing.

The path to a beach along the James River; a favorite spot for fishing and sunbathing.

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Yesterday was a perfect autumn day; bright, golden, warmish and alive with bright colors and leaves swirling to the ground on the breeze.  It was the sort of day one fondly remembers in early February when the world has grown drab and frozen.

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Jones Pond

Jones Pond

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Yesterday was the kind of day relished by a dear friend, who left us last Monday.  His memorial service was at mid-day yesterday, and we were deeply grateful that the sun shone on him one more time.

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We drove along the familiar road remembering him, and remembering the many times we encountered one another at the various stops along the Parkway.

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We felt a need to appreciate the day all the more keenly in the wake of his loss, to soak in all of the color and life of this special place, in fond remembrance of those who have left us this year.

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College Creek at Archer's Hope

College Creek at Archer’s Hope

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So in case you haven’t gotten out leaf gazing this autumn, I hope you will enjoy these photos from our drive yesterday.

And if the trees in your community still hold scarlet and orange, screaming Ginko yellow or Gum tree purple;  please take a moment to simply appreciate the beauty of the day, the wonders unfolding around you.

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All we every truly have is ‘Now,’ and the only place we truly live is ‘Here;’ wherever your ‘here’ and ‘now’ might be.

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Please taste the sweetness of the joys each day offers us.

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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Portrait of A Tree

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“The nature of creation,

which is beyond time, space, and causality,

is self-revealing

and presents itself to the consciousness of Awareness

as a gift of the Presence. 

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“All things are intrinsically holy

in the divinity of their creation.

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“Art seeks to abstract this awareness

when it takes one moment in time

and freezes it in photographic art or sculpture. 

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“Each stop frame depicts the perfection

that can be appreciated only when a single view is isolated

from the distortion of the superimposed story.

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“The drama of every moment of existence

lends itself to preservation

when art saves it

from the extinction of transformation of material form… “

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Dr. David R. Hawkins

from The Eye of the I

 

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

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WPC: Happy Place

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Our National Parks give us places to go to rest, dream, rejuvenate, and appreciate the natural beauty of a place. 

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We are fortunate to live close to the scenic Colonial Parkway, which links the Jamestown Settlement along the James River with Historic Yorktown on the banks of the York River. 

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This is one of our favorite places to visit frequently enough to watch the seasons, and the sunsets, come and go. 

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We watch the eagles’ nests from when they are built early each spring until the eggs hatch and the young learn to fly in early summer.  We watch for Great Blue Herons, hawks, gulls, geese and the occasional fox. 

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There are sandy beaches along the way, ponds, open fields and beautiful trees.  Driving along the Parkway allows us to take a mini-vacation in a quiet, peaceful space protected from development and much of modern life. 

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It isn’t unusual to find friends along the way doing exactly the same thing.  I’m thinking, today, of a special friend and neighbor who loves the Parkway, too; and hasn’t gotten to enjoy his drives there for a while. 

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He’s been in hospital for a little more than a month.  I’m hoping these photos will lift his spirits a little and remind him of all the loving friends who miss him and are wishing him well. 

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And I hope he and his partner will soon be driving along the Parkway once again, enjoying this happiest of places together.

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inspired by The Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge: Happy Place

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

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WPC: Boundaries

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This week’s photo challenge topic is “Boundaries.” 

I’ve been thinking, today,about the many different sorts of boundaries which tailor our lives, and realized that while some of them might be as obvious as a fence, most exist mainly in our mind.  What stands between us and touching this bird, beyond our perception of boundaries?

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A lot of what passes for education and ‘home training’ is mostly about teaching us which boundaries to respect and how to comfortably live within them.

How often did you hear, growing up, “We just don’t do that,” or “Nice people just don’t say those things”?

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And so as surely as we learn to color within the lines of a coloring book, we learn to live our lives within the agreed upon boundaries of what is polite and proper; and ‘legal’.

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And of course, many of our mental boundaries are there to keep us safe in some way.    Untold dangers might lurk where we step across the boundaries into new experiences and new ways of living in our world.

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Just as our education is about learning to stay within certain boundaries, maturation is about learning how our lives change as we move beyond them.

We figure out which boundaries we need to respect and which we can survive when we cross.

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How have your own boundaries shifted, and enlarged, through the decades of your life?  What once firm  boundaries have we transcended with the creative application of technology?

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Creative spirits often see boundaries as permeable challenges.  How can we move beyond the seeming limitations of our lives?  What gizmo will allow us to explore places and experiences which once seemed ‘Out of Bounds”?

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Sometimes boundaries prove temporary.    Just as the high tide line moves up and down the beach with the season and the weather, so, too may our personal boundaries shift.

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Sometimes we want to harden the protective boundaries we put around ourselves, to keep others at a distance.

And then there are those magical moments when the boundaries shift, when we find we have made a bridge between our life, and another’s.

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I like that boundaries begin to fall away with age.

We have less fear, and more confidence to move beyond some of those boundaries which once locked us into a narrow way of being and thinking.

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As our fears evaporate, our path widens.  We understand how everything is connected together.  We begin to perceive a wider world where the boundaries blur and fade.

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Woodland Gnome 2015

For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge: Boundaries

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The Gathering Storm

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Living on the east coast, we get used to all sorts of storms.

They come and they go.  Some rare ones cause tremendous and expensive damage.  Often they fizzle out, or cause minimal damages.

But when the forecasts begin to converge, and the warnings go up, worry always sets in.  A lot of it is fear of the unknown.  Our imaginations begin to spin.  Some of it is memory of storms past; what others experienced, and what we have narrowly escaped.

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After Hurricane Irene swept over our community in 2011, a friend and I collaborated on a guide for future storms based on our experiences in that one.  We have this ready to share with our neighbors when needed.  And I may be sharing this among our neighbors, tomorrow.

But since this coming hurricane seems determined to rake our coast from South Carolina to New England, I decided to post an edited version here this evening.  Much of it is common sense.  A lot of it you may already be thinking about, yourself.  But there may be an idea or two, or a link, you will find helpful.

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For readers living elsewhere, you may find this useful even though a hurricane isn’t headed your way in the next few days.  To set the mood, I’ve included some photos we took late this afternoon, showing building storm clouds on the James River.

Thunderstorms have been rolling through all evening, giving us an idea of what may be headed our way over the next five days.

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Severe Storm Readiness Guide

Our unique location on the East Coast of the United States, near the ocean, large rivers, creeks, ponds and marshes means we need to pay attention and prepare when severe storms hit our community. Our main problems in this area come from flooding and by high winds knocking down trees. We also have to prepare to live without electricity for a while; whether for a few hours or for several days.

Loss of electricity affects us in many ways. Not only do we lose the use of our appliances at home, and often our well pumps and sewage grinder pumps; but many of the businesses we depend on may remain closed for several days as well. Depending on the intensity of the storm, our water supply may also be affected.

Most of us begin planning and preparing when a forecasted storm is still a few days away.

It is better to plan ahead and be prepared for a storm that could fizzle, than to find yourself unprepared as the storm rages outside.

Before the stormSeptember 30, 2015 Parkway 044

 

1. Buy several days supply of food and beverage which don’t require refrigeration or cooking. Bottled water, juice boxes or bags, bottled tea, soft drinks, and adult beverages may be used as needed, and will keep. Each member of the family should have a gallon of water a day for each day that city or well water might be unavailable. It is wise to have sealed, gallon jugs of water in addition to water bottles.

Fruits, such as oranges, apples, melons, bananas, and grapes can be eaten for energy and require no preparation. Wash fruit and vegetables before the storm begins. Other foods you may find helpful include: bagels, crackers and peanut butter, energy bars, dried fruit, nuts, beef jerky, and prepared snack foods which don’t require refrigeration.

2. Check propane tanks for gas grills or camp stoves. A grill allows you to cook meat from the freezer should it begin thawing. A camping coffee pot, used on a propane stove, will provide you with coffee or tea on “the mornings after.”

3. Pack the freezer and refrigerator with ice before the storm. Store necessary perishables in a cooler with ice packs or ice when the power goes out, so you can use those items from the cooler, keeping your refrigerator closed. Generally, a refrigerator can be counted on to keep foods cold for no longer than twelve hours, without ice, when the power goes out.

4. Locate picnic items such as Handy-wipes, hand sanitizer, paper plates, insect repellent, plastic cutlery, and paper towels which will be useful if power and water go out for a few days.

5. Plan for light: When the power goes out, especially during the storm, it is a great comfort to have light. Candles and oil lamps can be extremely dangerous, especially if the wind gets inside through a broken window or damaged roof. Battery operated lamps and flashlights are a wise investment. There should be a lamp for each main living area, a flashlight for each person, and spare batteries for all lights. If you must use candles, have jar candles and a lighter available. They are safer than candle sticks.

6. Locate batteries: The radio becomes an important source of news about the storm’s progress. Each home needs at least one battery operated radio with spare batteries. Some parts of Williamsburg were still without power a week or more after recent severe storms. When planning how many spare batteries to have on hand, keep in mind it may be necessary to change the batteries several times before power is restored.

A laptop computer or tablet computer is especially useful. Not only can you use it for information from your home cable, or in any area with Wi-Fi, but many can be recharged from your car. The computer allows you to send and receive email to stay in touch with family and friends out of the area. Remember to protect tablets and cell phones in zip lock baggies whenever you are using them near water.

7. It is wise to take out money in cash before the storm to pay for necessities until the power is restored. Banks may be closed and without power for several days, and ATMs may not operate or run out of cash. Some businesses may be open for cash customers before their credit card systems are operating again.

8. If you have a generator, check it over before the storm. Make sure it has enough oil, and that you have spare oil and fuel. Check over your extension cords and have them close by. Never use a generator indoors. Make sure it has adequate ventilation.

9. Wash up all of the dirty laundry before the storm, and collect all clothing at the dry cleaners. It may be a week or more before you can do laundry again, and the dry cleaner might be damaged in the storm.

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10. Move and secure small items that could get picked up by the wind and blown into your home or your neighbor’s home. Secure deck furniture, wind chimes, tools, flower pots and baskets, and decorative objects.

11. Locate important papers that you might need to take if you decide to evacuate. Place them in zip lock plastic bags to protect them. Other items such as photos can also be protected from water damage in zip lock bags.

12. Put together a “Grab and Go” bag that you can grab quickly should you need to leave your home during the storm. Have everything you will need to be away from home for up to a week, including your wallet, keys, medications, cell phone, clothing, toiletries, food, water, extra cash, insurance information, extra glasses, batteries, etc. During a violent storm, you might need to leave quickly and unexpectedly, so it is wise to be prepared.

13. Review the procedure for turning off the water line and natural gas flow to your home. Locate the tools you will need and put them where you can grab them quickly if you need to leave your home, or if your home sustains damage.

14. Move your vehicles to the safest area away from trees. You might keep one in the garage, and one outside, so that if your garage is crushed, you still have a vehicle.

15.  Take photos of your home and property to serve as documentation for insurance purposes.

16.  After listening to the forecast, decide whether to shelter in place or to evacuate. If you leave home, make sure neighbors, friends, and family know where you are going. Leave early enough so you aren’t caught in the traffic on the interstates. Unplug appliances, turn off your lights, lock your windows and doors, and secure valuables in a safe place. Take clothing, medication to last a week or more, ID, and insurance information with you.

It might be a wise choice to evacuate if you are concerned about large trees that may fall on your home, if you have a medical condition and might need emergency care, or if you live alone. Staying a few days with family, or in a local hotel which can provide meals and where you will have company during the storm, might be a wise choice.

If going to a shelter, take bedding, toiletries, food, beverages, and items to entertain yourself and any children in your family. If going to a hotel, take your battery operated lamp and radio in the event they don’t have electricity in the guest rooms.

Other items you might need during or after the storm include: various sized trash bags, zip lock bags for storage, tarps and rope for covering a damaged roof, a chain saw and extra gasoline, boots, a hooded rain jacket, a first aid kit, city and regional maps, and a small cooler for storing medicines which need refrigeration .

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Emergency weather information can be found by visiting the state’s emergency management website at www.vaemergency.gov and the National Weather Center’s website at www.nhc.noaa.gov.

www.weather.com and http://www.wunderground.com/ give accurate weather information and animated weather maps. An excellent weather map can be found at: http://www.wunderground.com/wundermap/

Here are some map sites showing expected storm surge for hurricanes of Categories 1-4 in Virginia. Other states have these same sorts of sites available, too:

https://vdemgis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/PublicInformation/index.html?appid=3f72cc77421448ceb84312413a9e7dd0

http://www.vaemergency.com/readyvirginia/stay-informed/hurricane/storm-surge

During the storm

1. Watch the news and weather as long as you have power so you have an understanding of what to expect from the storm.

2. When the power goes off, immediately unplug appliances, turn off the TV, lights, and the stove, and shut down your computer. Remember that when the power comes back on, power surges can damage your electronics.

3. A stove left on can start a fire in your home when power is restored. Leave one light on somewhere in the house so you will know when the power comes on.

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4. Find a safe location, away from windows, to wait out the storm. Keep a radio tuned to a station where you can get weather and news. Stay on the lower level of your home during high winds. If tornado warnings are issued, move to an interior bathroom, hallway, or basement. Take large pillows and possibly a mattress with you for comfort and to protect you should a tornado hit our area.

5. Stay dressed in comfortable clothing with sturdy shoes nearby in the event your home is damaged and you need to leave quickly.

6. It is recommended that you keep your doors locked during and after the storm. When power is out, criminals see this as an opportunity.

7. If communicating with family out of the area, use texts or email to conserve your cell phone battery.

After the Storm

1. Check you property carefully inside and out for damages. Photograph and document all damage.

2. Check on your neighbors. See if they are alright, and help them as you are able.

3. Keep the refrigerator, freezer, and cooler stocked with fresh ice.

4. Make certain that when you are not at your residence, you close and lock all of your doors and windows. If using a portable generator, turn it off, remove the power cords, and secure it. There are many people roaming the neighborhood looking for work after the storm, and it is wise to be cautious.

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5. Watch for wild creatures who may have been displaced by the storm. If the waterways flood, animals who normally remain hidden may venture to higher ground around our homes.

6. If you have a chainsaw, please help clear roadways and driveways to keep nearby streets clear for emergency vehicles.

Insurance

Any damage to your home incurred as a result of the hurricane can be lumped together under the deductible. Document the damage with photos as soon as possible. Make a written inventory of damaged property. Phone in your claim as soon as possible after the storm. Even if your agent’s office is closed, the claim center should be ready to assist you.

Trees

Hundreds of trees have fallen during ice storms and hurricanes Isabel and Irene in our community. Trees falling onto insured structures or vehicles will be covered by the insurance policy. The insurance company should pay both to remove the tree, and to fix or replace the insured property.

If your tree falls on your land, but doesn’t destroy insured property, you will have to pay to clean it up out of your pocket.

If a tree falls from one property onto a neighboring property, it is more complicated. Technically, (in Virginia)  if the tree was not considered a hazard before the storm, and the owner isn’t negligent in his care of the tree, then it becomes the problem for the neighbor where the tree lands. Good neighbors work together to solve these issues and maintain harmony. Many residents in or community go out with chain saws the morning after the storm, to clear fallen trees out of the streets and to help clean up fallen limbs and trees in their own and neighbors’ yards.

In the days after a storm, licensed arborists and roaming people with chain saws swarm over the neighborhood. The neighborhood also fills with contractors fixing tarps on homes and offering to do various repairs.

Before contracting with anyone, it is wise to not only get several estimates, but also check to make sure the contractor has liability coverage.

Do not pay 100% in advance, limit your down payment, and never pay in cash.

Make sure to get written estimates and receipts for all work done if you are making an insurance claim.

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Conclusion:

Preparation is the best defense. We can not always control the weather headed our way, but we certainly can control how we prepare ourselves to survive it.

Neighbors seem to always pull together to weather whatever storms may come our way. Let’s all make preparation and safety a top priority, and look out for our neighbors as we would have them look out for us.

If a storm should cause widespread damage to our community, we need to check on our neighbors and offer what assistance we can.

Woodland Gnome 2015

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Wordless Wednesday

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“Even in the familiar there can be surprise and wonder.”

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Tierney Gearon

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“Respond to critics with humility.

Most people are experts in finding problems

with whatever others do.

That should not be a surprise to you.”

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Israelmore Ayivor

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“It was like magic,

but so much of magic is about misdirection,

whereas so much of redemption

is straightforward and ordinary,

piercingly true and lit with surprise.”

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Geoffrey Wood

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“If you do not expect the unexpected,

you will not find it;

for it is hard to be sought out and difficult.”

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Heraclitus

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

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Wordless Wednesday

 

Honeysuckle vines, growing wild on Jamestown Island.

Honeysuckle vines, growing wild on Jamestown Island.

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“I will be the gladdest thing under the sun!

I will touch a hundred flowers and not pick one.”

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Edna St. Vincent Millay

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

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Five Photos, Five Stories: Hot

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It was early this morning, coffee not yet made, and I was just beginning to stir together some pancake batter,  when I heard my partner’s muffled voice calling to me.  He wanted me to come outside with him to see something exciting.

He had found a good sized turtle on our driveway, and wanted to share it with me.

I peered out of the open back door to see what was going on.  And there, near the top of the drive, was a beautiful turtle just sunning himself in the steamy morning heat.  There had been heavy rain this morning just before sunrise, but the clouds had long ago cleared out, turning our garden into a sauna.

Not yet dressed for encountering neighbors, I made the compromise between photography and modesty by snapping a photo from the porch.

But then I wanted to see more of this beautiful turtle.  So I ventured a little further up the drive, camera aimed and ready.

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Turtle had the instinct so many of us feel when we know we’re being watched. He decided it was time to move on.  He took off at a turtle’s run for the shadowy roots of the Beech tree, disappearing before I could steal a third shot of him this morning.

I suppose we were both feeling a little modest, and I didn’t pursue him.  I left him to his peaceful morning, and quickly headed back inside to mine.

But my partner was happy now that I had seen our morning visitor, and I was happy to have gotten  a photo of him.

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Are those leaves already turning in May?  Shot this afternoon along the bank of the James, where turtles love to sun themselves on the rocks.

Are those leaves already turning in May? Shot this afternoon along the bank of the James, where turtles love to sun themselves on the rocks.

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Yesterday Barbara, at Silver in the Barn, invited me to take part in the Five Photos, Five Stories challenge ,which is quickly spreading  across the blogosphere.  I relish the relationships formed and connections found as we each write about our experiences and share our world through photos.

And so I made the commitment to accept Barbara’s challenge, and now pass that challenge on to Jenny at Jennifer Nichole Wells.

Jenny hosts the One Word Photo Challenge each week and takes amazing shots of miniatures which she creates and stages herself.  Jenny always has interesting little stories about her miniature scenes. She is a natural to invite to this challenge.  I hope she accepts.

This is a simple challenge:  To participate, you simply post a photo each day for five consecutive days, and tell a story about each photo.  The story can be truth or fiction, poetry or prose.  Each day one must also nominate a fellow blogger to participate in the challenge.

So I’ve combined my first day of the Five Photos, Five Stories challenge with Jenny’s One Word Photo Challenge: Hot today.

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“Hot” was a prescient pick for today.  It has been hot and muggy all day long.

We’ve had summer temperatures this third week of May, when our highs are normally still in the 70’s.  We topped out near 88 this afternoon. The only comfortable place was in the shade.

Huge, fluffy clouds were gathering  by mid-day, and there is  a possibility of thunderstorms again this evening.

We took a drive on the Colonial Parkway late this afternoon to watch the clouds build over the river.  Once on Jamestown Island, in the deep shade, our car thermometer dropped to around 86.  Even though it felt hot and muggy, with mayflies buzzing around and landing on me whenever we stopped to take a photo, the cool greens and blues of the landscape look cool.  A slight breeze fluttered off of the river, barely lifting my hair.

Summer has settled early over us here in Virginia, and it is hotThat is the long and the short of our story for today.

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It was hot and muggy on Jamestown Island this afternoon, the steamy air full of hungry Mayflies.  Can you spot the yellow Iris growing in this marsh?

It was hot and muggy on Jamestown Island this afternoon, the steamy air full of hungry Mayflies. Can you spot the yellow Iris growing in this marsh?

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With appreciation to Jennifer Nichole Wells for hosting the

One Word Photo Challenge:  Hot

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Woodland Gnome 2015

 

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Five Photos, Five Stories: Dormant Isn’t Dead

Five Photos, Five Stories: Perspective

Five Photos, Five Stories: Turtle Mama

Five Photos, Five Stories: Chocolate Cake

Copper: River Beach, Low Tide

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We stopped at the beach right at sunset, Sunday afternoon.

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It was the lowest tide we can recall ever seeing on this beach along the James River.  It was eerie, how far the river flowed from its usual banks.

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The moon was full, which may account for the unusually low tide.  Whatever the reason, I wanted to capture the beauty of the river, the beach, and the evening.

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It was warm on Sunday, and even as clouds blew in at sunset the breezes off the water remained comfortable.  How nice to wander the beach without shivering!

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Eagles filled the air, hunting and calling to one another.  Gulls zoomed overhead, streamlined bodies looking like jets.  Geese honked in the distance.

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Two Osprey’s investigated a tree, considering whether to continue building their nest.  This battered tree has held a nest every spring for years now.

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There are many coppery tones glinting in these photos.  Jenny gave the option to use the color ‘copper’ with or without its metallic sheen.  Perhaps it was the setting sun, or perhaps just the old bits seldom seen, which seem coppery along the beach.

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Appreciation, as always, to Jennifer Nichole Wells for her One Word Photo Challenge:  Copper.

This is the next to last week for Jenny’s color challenge.  Soon her challenge will shift from colors to the weather.  If you follow the link back to Jenny’s post, you’ll find links to other wonderful photos featuring ‘copper.’

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

Watershed

The Chickahominy River flows into the James, then on to the Chesapeake Bay.

The Chickahominy River flows into the James, then on to the Chesapeake Bay.

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Abundant rainfall continues to fall in our area.  Whether coming as snow, sleet, rain or freezing rain; moisture has filled our sky several times a week for the last few months.

We appreciate the rain.  Our soil is so well hydrated it squishes.

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Water from this ditch runs into a tiny creek which feeds College Creek, less than 200 ft. away.

Water from this ditch runs into a tiny creek which feeds College Creek, less than 200 ft. away.

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Our neighborhood ditches and low spots fill with precious water, and excess water is channeled down our steep sloping yards into the many creeks which run through our ravines.

Living near the coast, on a peninsula between mighty rivers, with ponds, marshes and and creeks dotting the landscape, we see and cross bodies of water each day.

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Channeling water run off in our neighborhood into College Creek

Channeling water run off of streets  in our neighborhood into College Creek

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Our close relationship with our area’s waterways remains immediate and tangible.

There is a clear route from our garden directly to the James River, then the Chesapeake Bay, and within only about 60 miles directly into the Atlantic Ocean.

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This pond behind our home flows directly into College Creek

This pond behind our home flows directly into College Creek

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And every inch of this watery pathway hosts abundant life.  Our thick forests and dense marshlands support thousands of species of birds, fish, insects, reptiles, amphibians, mollusks, and small mammals.  We see and hear many of these beautiful creatures each day, and we appreciate their presence. (Except for the dratted voles, ticks, and mosquitoes, that is.)

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College Creek flows under this Colonial Parkway bridge and into the James River

College Creek flows under this Colonial Parkway bridge and into the James River

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The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has raised awareness of the Bay’s fragile ecosystem since the late 1960’s.  I grew up admiring this group and its efforts to improve water and air quality in our state, to raise awareness of erosion, and to preserve the unique beauty of our coastal region.

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Erosion continues to be a problem along our waterways.  Here, ducks enjoy feeding in the shallows of College Creek near where it empties into teh river.

Erosion continues to be a problem along our waterways. Here, ducks enjoy feeding in the shallows of College Creek near where it empties into the river.

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As much as the Bay’s health remains dependent on the decisions and actions of corporations, the U.S Navy, and all levels of government; there are still things individuals can do (and not do) to make our own small efforts to preserve the health and beauty of our waterways.

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The Beautiful James River with water flowing into it from College Creek to the left.

The beautiful James River with water flowing into it from College Creek to the left.

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We are often reminded that anything left on the ground will eventually find its way to the Bay, and then the ocean.  This includes not only litter and pet waste, but also lawn chemicals, garden fertilizers, oil or gas leaked from engines, and even eroding soil.

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March 12, 2015 watershed 025

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Much of the river banks in our immediate area are forested.  Forest lands and marshes do a great deal to filter water running off of the land before it reaches the larger waterways.  Even the hated phragmites, bane of boaters, serve an important role in filtering harmful substances out of water flowing through creeks and marshes on its way to the Bay and the Atlantic.

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Phragmites fill much of our marshy areas.

Phragmites fill much of our marshy areas.

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Every bit of vegetation helps absorb run-off and clean the air, filtering out harmful substances, including carbon, trapping them within the tissue of the plant.

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March 12, 2015 watershed 002

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The Chesapeake Bay Foundation runs a number of excellent projects both to educate people at all levels about the Bay’s ecosystem, and to take direct action to restore watersheds and clean up solid pollution.  Please take a look at the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Foundations Clean Water Blueprint for more information.

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This ditch along Jamestown Road catches and absorbs run off before it can reach the James River.

This ditch along Jamestown Road catches and absorbs run off before it can reach the James River.

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Even with a nuclear power station as one of our ‘neighbors,’ across the river in Surry, there has been a minimum of impact from that industrial site on the overall health of this section of the James river.

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Surry nuclear power station as seen across the james River from the Colonial Parkway, ,near Jamestown Island.

Surry nuclear power station as seen across the James River from the Colonial Parkway, near Jamestown Island.

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We came home earlier today to find one of the ubiquitous “lawn care” companies spraying mystery liquids on a neighbor’s lawn.  I immediately tensed up and felt angry that the neighbor had actually hired someone to come and spray harmful chemicals so close to the pond behind our homes.  This same neighbor had shrubs and trees ripped out of her yard a few years back so this green lawn could be laid.  Now we have to listen to the crews come with their noisy equipment to care for it and treat it with chemicals on a regular basis.

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Our pond empties directly into this area of College Creek

Our pond empties directly into this area of College Creek

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With every rain, those chemicals wash off of her lawn and into the pond behind our properties, home to frogs, toads, turtles, and more; then on into College Creek.

Planting and preserving trees, shrubs, herbs, and vines helps hold the soil and slow run-off during rainstorms, thus preventing erosion.  Planting primarily native or naturalized species which don’t require herbicides, insecticides and fertilizers for their growth allows us to enjoy a beautiful landscape around our homes without releasing chemicals into the ecosystem.  Naturalized landscapes use far less energy than lawns and return far greater value to the ecosystem.

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Another neighbor whose garden borders our shared pond has filled his garden with native shrubs and trees.  This Mountain Laurel makes a spectacular display in his garden each May.

Another neighbor whose garden borders our shared pond has filled his garden with native shrubs and trees. This Mountain Laurel makes a spectacular display in his garden each May.

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Re-planting native and naturalized species also helps re-store the ecosystem for our wildlife.  As we provide food sources and nesting sites, we provide safe haven for the many creatures which make up the web of life in our region.  This is good stewardship of our ecosystem, and also saves us a great deal of time an money.  Wouldn’t you also prefer listening to birdsong than to the blowers, mowers, saws and grinders of a lawn crew?

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May 27. 2014 Herons 027

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Jane, a blogging friend at “Just Another Nature Enthusiast,” has created a new blogging meme called, “Unless… Earth Friendly Fridays.”  Somehow I missed her start up.  Jane has declared March the month for us to focus on water and waterways.  March 14 is the International Day of Action for Rivers,  and March 22 the UN’s World Water Day.

Jane posted the challenge, “Water- What’s Your Watershed?” on the last Friday of February, and I’m finally responding with this post today.  Better late than never, I believe!

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The Chickahominy River earlier this afterrnoon.

The Chickahominy River earlier this afterrnoon.

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Although Jane lives in the beautiful northwest of the United States, and we live here in coastal Virginia; we have a great deal in common.  Even living on opposite coasts, I feel as though we share a back yard.  Perhaps all of North America is in some way our back yard!  If we all treated it as such, I firmly believe that we could do a great deal to clean and preserve our environment in our generation.

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March 12, 2015 watershed 049

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Working together, helping others become more aware of how their actions affect the greater whole, we might be able to leave a cleaner, more beautiful planet for our granddaughters and grandsons.

Woodland Gnome 2015

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March 12, 2015 watershed 045

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Please join the Earth-friendly Friday Challenge.

UNLESS we care nothing is going to get better… it’s not

Our watershed

Our watershed

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