Three Herons

I saw all of the three different kinds of herons that reside on the C&O canal during my bike ride on Friday.  This may have been the first time this has happened during the many years I have frequented the towpath.

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The Great Blue Heron
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The Green Heron
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The Black Crowned Night Heron

My training for the bike ride taking place in July is still lacking, but I have gotten at least a few long rides under my belt by now.  The problem is with the distractions that seem to come up with maddening regularity, distractions which prevent me from getting an early enough start in the morning on the towpath.  Once delayed, it is easy to find excuses for not going out later in the morning.

But if I manage to get out on time, I am easily drawn to the wonder and the simplicity of the experience.  The mind relaxes and wanders, and the worries tend to drift away – at least for the short while.

I am going to try to get out tomorrow morning.  The weekend has been a lazy one!

Aggressive Goose

Exploring the towpath beside the C&O canal does have its seasonal challenges.  Most of it is directly due to the nature of the changing weather.  And then there are the things that can catch a first time visitor by surprise.

This is the time of year for the young Canada geese that were born in the Spring to starting exploring the space around them. They go about this activity under the watchful eye of the parent geese.  This happens to be a dangerous time for both the family of geese and for passersby on the trail.

I really do not have a good strategy for dealing with a protective parent goose that stands its ground on the trail, blocking your way, staring at you, while its little ones wander around.  You hope that the parent will gather the little ones and move off to one side as you approach.  The adult goose will most likely stand its ground instead.  Very frequently, the goose will hiss at you out of its open beak and take a step towards you.  You have to be patient and pass by carefully.

But when you are on a bicycle and moving at the decent speed, things can happen much too quickly.

I encountered families of geese several times during my first bike ride of the season.  The first time it happened, the parent goose refused to move as I biked by.  The encounter seemed to take place too quickly for it to react.  The second time, I started creating a racket as I approached the adult goose.  I was hoping that it would move away because of the noise before I got to it.  But, once again,  the goose stayed put while its little ones wandered around.

My third encounter with a family of Canada geese that day was the most dramatic.  I did not see any young geese around, but I knew what was in store when I saw the adult standing in the middle of the trail.  As I kept biking in its direction. the goose actually leapt into the air and took flight towards my face, catching me completely by surprise.  There was not much of a distance between us, and I did not have much time to respond. Fortunately, a collision was avoided.  It happened so quickly that I was not sure what actually happened to prevent the collision.  The goose went sailing past the right side of my face.  I did not lose my balance on the bicycle.   I kept going.  I Immediately encountered two goslings that suddenly jumped out of the bushes in front of me and crossed from one side of the trail to the other.  I am not sure what instinct caused them to do this.  Then, one of them suddenly turned and returned to the place it had come from, crossing once again in front of me.  Luckily, nobody got hit.  I think the parent goose that had flown past me landed in the water. I did slow down, but I did not stop to check out what was happening behind me.

The encounter shook me up a little bit, but I did recover my wits quickly.

I have encountered aggressive geese on the trail many times in years past, but never experienced anything like this.  I am not sure what strategy to take the next time I have such an encounter.

The Chair

Walking along the Potomac river, between Taylor’s Landing and Dam 4 on the C&O Canal towpath, we came across this somewhat strange sight on the West Virginia side of the river.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWas this chair placed there so that somebody could spend the day fishing, or simply watching the flow of the river?

Was this chair placed there by a kind soul for the benefit of other people – so that they too could enjoy their day and time sitting by the riverside?

Considering that the chair was in a location that seemed to be hard to get to, at a place that you had to drive down a steep dirt road to reach,  at a spot beside the river where the surface seems to be unsuitable for a comfortable walk, is it even possible that the chair was simply swept down the river to land upright in this location and position?P3310030.jpg

You can let your imagination wander, see whatever you wish to see, and make up your own stories, as you walk down the towpath on a Sunday morning.

In the Cold

We were supposed to do the Feaster Five run on Thanksgiving day, but the temperature turned out to be in the teens (in degrees Fahrenheit), and with the wind it felt like -3 degrees F.  We ended up staying indoors, not even daring to try out the shortened course that the organizers had set up because of the weather.

But one can stay indoors for only so long.  We also had to burn off the calories that were consumed during the Thanksgiving meal.  So, we were out the next day.  The temperature had risen to a balmy 20 degrees, still well below the freezing temperature.   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe went to the Weir Hill Reservation.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome of us ran, while the others walked.  We did two loops, each slightly less than two and half miles, around the park.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe survived!

Wind and Water

During our walk along the canal last weekend, my attention was drawn to the pattern of reflections that I was seeing on the surface of the water in the canal.

I was first drawn to the lines in the water, and also the wavy patterns formed by the reflection of the tree trunks.  It would be interesting to understand how these regular patterns form.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe intensity of the lines began to diminish with time, which indicated to me that the phenomenon that was causing them was diminishing with time.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe following pattern that I saw soon after that caught me by surprise.  It looked like I was seeing blocks in the water, with clear demarkations between blocks.  It was hard to comprehend the physical forces that were causing this to occur.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe reflections in the following picture are more conventional, and what I expect to see this time of the year when the water is almost calm.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere is much to see while taking a walk on a Sunday morning if you keep you eyes and ears open to the beauty of nature.

The Sun is Finally Out Again

There are leaves on the ground all over our backyard.PB070001.jpg These are the days of transition, from the greens of summer, to greys and browns of winter.   The days in-between, the days of Autumn, can be quite pretty as we observe the dying of the leaves, but we have not had occasion to see much of that in our neck of the woods this year.  We did make the attempt during the last couple of weekends to see how things were on the towpath.  Two weekends ago,  we saw mainly green.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis was how it looked where we went last weekend, to a different section of the canal close to the place we had been to the previous week.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA We already seem to be at the end of the Fall phenomenon in these parts!  It was a surprising difference that we were seeing between the two places that were just a few miles apart over the the course of a week.

And then it started raining!  The wet leaves stuck to the grass and the pavement all around our neighborhood.  It stuck to the rooftops of cars parked on the street.  It got carried into the storm drains by the storm water flowing in the streets.

The dampness penetrated the layers of clothing and made one feel miserable and wanting to crawl back under the sheets.  There was no motivation to go outside and do some exercise, something that was needed badly!

But the sun is out today.  I am optimistic about what the day can bring.

Mornings in the Park

Went for a bike ride last Wednesday.  Here are a couple of pictures.

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Morning sun cuts through the leaves and the lingering mist

 

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At Widewater

The water levels in the river are quite high, but well below flooding levels. This is near mile 8 of the towpath.

 

Managed to get from Pennyfield Lock to Bethesda on the towpath and the Capital Crescent Trail.  It was a more laid-back ride this time, but for some reason more tiring.