Favorite Place

The subject of this week’s challenge  is an easy one for me to tackle, and obvious to folks who know me.  You will find me any free weekend exploring some section of the 184.5 mile long C&O Canal towpath.  Last weekend took us to a section near Point of Rocks for our Sunday walk.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe branches of the sycamore tree stand out in winter.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are the locks and lockhouses,

Lockhouse for Landers Lock

the aqueducts,

Catoctin Aqueduct

and the Potomac river (which looked especially blue that morning).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe mergansers come around only in winter.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe bridge at Point of Rocks looked stunning in the morning lightOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA and this almost looks like a piece of art when the endorphins are flowing on a lovely morning like the one we we had!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In Search of a Story

My blogs have had the tagline of “Anything Goes” since the beginning, which could indicate either an aimless drift in a random direction, or, if you want to be kind, some sort of attempt on my part to include all of my disconnected interests in my postings.  You decide!  But one of the things that I hope you do discover in the blogs is that some of them tell stories of some kind or the other, be it that of the tree that grows in the woods, or something as silly as talking about the experience of consuming a bowl of cereal, or perhaps something else that takes my fancy at some particular moment in time. With this kind of a mindset, my response the topic of this week’s challenge comes somewhat easily.

My story for the day touches upon the “bomb cyclone“, a term that I had not heard of until very recently.  As I understand it, a bomb cyclone weather phenomenon is characterized by a rapid and large drop in barometric pressure, which leads to extreme wind speeds that can cause a lot of damage.   It leads to the story, in pictures, of last weekend’s walk along the C&O canal. This particular outing happened to take place after a bomb cyclone had passed through the region.

It was a sunny morning on the trail as we set out on our walk.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe encountered quite a few fallen branches on the trail due to the aftereffects of the storm, and, being good citizens, we spent a significant bit of our time cleaning up the trail for those who were going to come after us.  (We were not about to break any speed records that day.)  And then there were the sections where we could do little to help, sections that would require professional equipment for cleanup.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe did encounter cyclists who must have had to carry their bikes over fallen trees.

We did make it to our destination close to the mile 31 marker where Edwards FerryOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand lock 25 are locatedOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAbefore turning back to return to our starting point.

The story would not be complete without a picture of the bald eagle that we encountered,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand a picture of the chopped up pieces of a fallen tree that we saw beside the trail, a little too late for Valentine’s  day.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA We did about 7 1/2 miles of walking that morning.  That is my story and I am sticking to it! 🙂


The Spider’s Web (8/19/2007)

Jeff French and I were lifting this ugly piece of furniture over the stairs at the entrance to the apartment building. It was an oddly shaped green table, with a backsplash and long legs, and it was also quite heavy and ungainly to carry. We were going to Apt 13 on the ground floor, but the brilliant designers of the particular apartment building had put in steps to first take you up about half-way to the next floor and then back down again to the level of the apartment. (The thinking process behind such a design is mind-boggling!) So, here we were lugging this monstrosity up the stairs – when the backsplash that I was holding on to (which I should not have been doing in the first place) separated from the table. I lost my grip and the table landed on the steps. Luckily it did not have too far to go. It hit my thigh as I fell back against the steps and sat down. Never mind – not much harm done other than a bruise and some soreness in the thigh.

We then somehow got this thing into the apartment and were greeted by the fellow who lived there. He seemed to be somewhat incoherent. He had bandages on this foot, had some trouble walking, and was apologizing profusely about not being able to help. Jeff thinks that the person was doing this because his pride had been hurt because he could not help, but I think that this dude was still drunk from the previous night (or maybe he also had something that morning). His wife kept telling him to get out of the way, but he kept on getting in the way, until he had to stop because of the pain.

The couple tells us that they want this huge table in their small kitchen. We manage to get it in there, but there is not enough room. When we finally get the table against the wall, we see that there is not enough space to open the door of the fridge completely. (The dude is going to have a hard time getting that beer from the back of the fridge!) There is nothing more to be done about it, and Jeff tells the guy not to call us later to take the table back. We then also deliver a computer table to the folks. We barely manage to get this other rather forgettable piece of furniture into the apartment, this time without it falling apart in our hands. The thing is very heavy because it is made of particle board, but unfortunately it is not very strong. I wonder how long the table will last. Fun times at the furniture program!

I was out in the back yard yesterday afternoon, standing on a ladder trying to take pictures of the beautiful white flowers on the Crape Myrtle tree,IMG_2146when I noticed the robin standing on the lawn.IMG_2136I got down from the ladder and tried to walk across to the other side of the bird to take its picture with the right lighting. But the bird did not cooperate. It kept moving in the same direction that I was moving in, parallel to me. Eventually I had to give up. It was when I looked back towards the deck that I noticed a nest under the deck, on top of one of the beams that held the deck up. I could see the tiny beaks of the babies facing upwards in the nest, as if expecting some food to be delivered.IMG_2140I was convinced that the bird I had encountered had in fact been trying to lead me away from the nest. Anyway, when I came back later the bird was in the nest trying to feed the young.IMG_2154Another robin was sitting on the neighbor’s fence with stuff in its mouth, but it flew away when it saw the humans. The first robin stayed put in the nest looking at me. It was not about the abandon its young that easily. Another cycle of life begins under the deck.

I have been trying to get some inspiration to write during the past few weeks, but all I see in front of me when I sit down in front of the computer has been a blank page. There are too many cobwebs in the mind, and it is difficult to escape the spider’s clutches. My mind is out of whack. Anyway, I did a run on the C&O Canal towpath from Brunswick to Harpers Ferry this morning in an effort to loosen some of the cobwebs. It was a cool cloudy morning, and it was positively cold on the bridge at Harpers Ferry with the wind blowing between the cliffs.IMG_2160The waters are low on the PotomacIMG_2161and there were a few intrepid folks who were making their way towards the middle of the river by trying to climb over the exposed rocks.

Much of the murky green water that is a fixture in this section of the canal is gone but not all of it. It is a good breeding ground for skeeters, but none bothered me during this run. (What in tarnation are skeeters, you ask? You will have to find out yourself.) I had company from the freight trains on the other side of the canal, including a monster train led by 5 or 6 diesel locomotives pulling more than 130 cars (yes, I stood there and tried to count them all!). I still feel a rush when one of these trains roars by blowing its horn, shaking the ground, and causing dry branches and other things to drop out of the trees. This is what you call POWER, baby! I managed to even get myself in position to take a picture of a locomotive rushing out of the tunnel at Harpers Ferry.IMG_2168OK, so I get my kicks out of some very simple and perhaps silly things! What is the harm? I need to get my laughs before the spider gets back….

Autumn Finds Its Way To Our Neck Of The Woods

It has been a somewhat disappointing transition process in our surroundings so far this autumn season.  Other than the occasional exceptions, leaves have been slowly but surely falling off the trees without a hint of how colorful and pretty that process can be on a good year.   It must be the weather.  Nevertheless, we have persisted in looking for the signs of significant change as we walk the C&O canal towpath during the weekends.  Last weekend was a particularly drab one, with the threat of bad weather discouraging others in our group from walking with us.  But the two of us did go out to check out the changing of the seasons.

Regardless of how pretty the process of autumn is in our parts, one cannot escape the feeling of change in the air. The cooler, and soon to be cold, weather forces you to contemplate the winter months that lie ahead.  The changes in the landscape remind you that soon it will be time once again to batten down the hatches and power through a time of year that provides a challenge and a mood of its own.  The cycle goes on.


I had forwarded an article that I had read online regarding the pawpaw to some of our friends last week since the fruit was somewhat familiar to us from previous walks along the C&O canal.  The article noted that pawpaw was actually being grown on certain farms in our area, and that the fruit was extremely tasty, and that it was becoming more and more popular, just as it had been in times past.

It was a pure coincidence that we began to see signs of the pawpaw fruit as we started our Sunday morning walk today from Whites Ferry.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe noticed that the pawpaw trees were all over the place, and that there were fallen fruit under many of these trees.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOut of curiosity, we picked a few fruit along the way to take back home with us.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA We had reached the farthest point of our walk and were on our way back to the car when we we saw somebody walking towards us actually consuming one of the fruits that he had just picked.  So we started trying out the fruit ourselves.  It was extremely delicious and the flesh was easy to extract and eat.  It was a great treat! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis discovery led to increase our collection of  pawpaw fruit from from the trees as we kept walking.  We shook the trees so that the ripening fruit would drop to the ground.  Some of the riper fruit was consumed immediately.  This is what we ended up with to take back with us.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Unfortunately, some of the fruit that we had collected to take back was too ripe and would not hold its form when carried.  By the time we got back to the car, some of them had burst, and we had no choice but to consume them immediately.  But some fruit did make it home.  So we will be having really fresh fruit for the next few days.  An experiment will also be conducted with the seeds…

Welcome to my Magical Wonderland (6/15/2008)

Still true after all these years!!!


It is a place where giant dragonflies keep you company as they buzz over the waters.

It is a place where the turtles say hello from the trunks of the fallen trees in the middle of the water.IMG_5226It is a place where turtles swim in the waters with most of their bodies submerged and heads above the water – where they quickly dive beneath the surface when they sense that you are looking at them.

It is a place where butterflies stay still enough that you can get close to them to take their pictures.IMG_5217It is a place where the butterflies play with your shoelaces when they think you are not looking.

It is a place where the green heron hides behind the branches of the tree that has fallen over the canal, and moves around as you approach, trying to make sure that you cannot get a clear picture of it.IMG_5230It is a place where the large great blue heron takes off overhead from a spot just near you, and you did not even realize that the bird was there.

It is the place where the startled deer swims across the canal when it notices your approach.

It is the place where the geese hiss at you when you pass them and their little ones.

It is the place where you can say hello to the folks and get a smile in response.

It is the place where canoes glide silently over the waters as the folks who are rowing chatter amongst themselves and navigate around the trees that have fallen into the waters that happen to block their way.IMG_5225It is the place where little children stagger aimlessly on their tiny feet across the trail while their guardians try get them to move in a general forward direction.

It is the place where the grand old river rushes noisily over the rocks, and where the cormorants perch on the branches of the fallen trees in the middle of the river.IMG_5210It is the place where squirrels, and bluebirds and cardinals show you the way on the trail.

It is my magical wonderland, and if I am lucky, I get to visit it for a few hours every once in a while.

Chasing the Deer

The scene unfolded during our Sunday morning walk along the C&O Canal.

We were headed back from Swains Lock to Pennyfield Lock along the towpath (the trail).  The canal, which happens to have water flowing in it in these parts, was to our right, and to our left was vegetation and a somewhat sharp drop off to the Potomac river.  The only people on the trail in front of us were a middle aged couple who walking towards us from the distance.

We heard a commotion behind us.  After initially ignoring it, I turned back to see that there were two deer running on the towpath in our direction, being followed by two bicyclists.  One of the deer was bigger than then other, probably a parent.  Even though the deer had seen us, they keep coming, veering neither left or right.  They were scared by the cyclists, and also of what lay on both sides of the trail.

We turned to face the deer.  I feared a possible collision and I moved to protect my broken ribs.  The deer finally stopped not too far from us.  The bigger one then jumped into the trees and bushes on its left, towards the river, and the young one followed.  The bicyclists went by.

As the people coming towards us got closer, the bigger deer crashed out of the bushes beside the river and ran across the trail into the canal.  It swam across to the other side of the canal and climbed up the hill beside the canal.  You could barely see it behind the trees. There was no sign of the smaller deer, but we knew that it was still on the other side of the trail, separated from the deer that was probably its parent.

As the folks approaching us went by, the little deer jumped out of the bushes beside the river in front of them.  It saw the people approaching.  It took off in the opposite direction along the trail, heading back towards where it had originally come from, and away from the other deer.  The folks who are now walking behind the sprinting deer are pantomiming and trying signal to the deer to cross the canal to be with the other one.  The deer is in a panic, neither can it understand human communications.  Go back and get your young one, we ourselves say to the bigger deer who is on the other side of the canal.  Of course, we are not speaking the deer’s language.

We did not wait to see how the drama of the lost deer finally played out.  I would not be surprised if the two deer eventually found each other.  While they might be considered creatures without intelligence by some human beings, animals have capabilities that would surprise many of us.  They are not necessarily limited by the kinds of senses that we human beings normally use.  (Check this out!)

The places that we frequent during the weekends allow us to experience things that may be considered out of the ordinary, things that we do not see during the normal course of the day in our usual surroundings.  It may simply be that the turtles are hanging out on the logs, or the great blue heron are fishing, or that the wren is singing on a tree as you pass by.  You just need to keep your senses open and a different world opens up to you. But our experience last Sunday was unique even by those standards.