Pawpaw

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!!!
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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.

Fast-Forwarding to Today Temporarily Before Returning Back to My Canadian Adventure

I made it a point to return to the C&O canal for the first time today after the accident in Canada.  The pictures below are perhaps old in the sense that I have posted similar pictures before, but they also represent something new in my recovery process.  I am able to walk decent distances in the park, and I am also able to take pictures! Assuming no setbacks, I intend to slowly but surely try to get back to the stuff I enjoy doing outdoors.  This trip was to Pennyfield Lock.
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On Your Left

This phrase is a call used as a common courtesy on the trails in these parts, usually uttered when a bicyclist is coming up on either a walker or another cyclist from behind.  It serves as a warning to the slower person about your approach, and also a request for the person to move towards the right side of the trail if he or she is blocking the trail.  You hear the phrase  quite frequently on crowded trails, and the responses to this call can vary quite a bit. Sometimes folks do not hear you unless you yell because they have their  earphones on and are listening to something or the other on their mobile devices. Sometimes folks do something unexpected like moving into your path.  But the call works often enough that its usage is a common practice.  I do not know what the etiquette of overtaking on a trail is in other places.  Perhaps in the UK, they say “On your right!”

It happened when I was barrelling downhill on the Capital Crescent Trail (CCT), heading from Bethesda to Fletcher’s Cove on the C&O Canal.  Traffic on the trail was unusually light that morning.  It was a cool morning, actually unusually cool for this time of year, and I was wearing extra gear to keep out the chill.  I felt an occasional drop of water from the overcast skies.  The forecasters had predicted that it would all clear up, but perhaps even this slight threat of inclement weather had been sufficient to deter other bikers from the trail.  (Or maybe it was because people have left town on vacations because of the start of summer.)

My goal for the ride was to tackle two trails that had slopes that were challenging.  I needed the training to be better prepared for the Rockies.   The Capital Crescent Trail and the Custis trail, both trails that I had found difficult in the past in this context, were within reachable distance of each other.

As I was speeding down the nearly empty CCT, I spied this kid in front of me who was walking down the middle of the trail in the same direction that I was riding.  I tried to warn him “On your left!”, but I got no response.  He had his earphones on!  I had to slow down.  I kept repeating myself with increasing urgency as I got closer to him and continued to slow down.  He heard me at the last minute and jumped to the side.  He turned to me with a sheepish grin on his face.  “Sorry, my bad.”  But I was not upset at all. In fact, I had to smile in spite of the fact that he had slowed me down significantly.  It was partly due to the look on his face, and the spirit in which he apologized.  There was no sign of annoyance in his demeanor at being startled, and he also openly accepted his responsibility.  Also, I was not really in a hurry (in spite of my speed), and I was happily distracted by the thought of a kid taking a walk on the trail in the middle of the morning, enjoying the outdoors.  Hopefully he had not bunked school, but in any case, he seemed to be involved a healthy outdoor diversion that was better than idling in front of an electronic display of some sort at home.  I was not upset.IMG_20170607_102733902_HDRLater on during the ride, while on a section of the W&OD trail in Virginia, I sighted a mother (I think!) and her little girl on the trail in front of me.  The two of them moved to the side of the trail when the mother noticed my approach.  The mother sat herself next to the kid, pointed my way, and the two of them waited for me to come by.  As I got closer she waved to me, and the kid gave me a big smile that would have melted any reasonable person’s heart.  I waved back with a smile on my face.  I got a big lift that lasted for a significant portion of the rest of the ride.IMG_20170607_115652484It is sometimes the small things that you remember from these type of outings, and I hope many such opportunities for smaller memories continue to present themselves during the next few weeks of training.IMG_20170602_092609202I managed to tackle the hills on both the Capital Crescent and Custis trails without having to get off the bike and push it uphill.  I am also learning how to better relax while doing rides like this that require some endurance.  I took breaks from riding whenever I felt like it without feeling a need to push myself and keep going.  I eased up on imaginary challenges that I tend to set for myself while riding.  In spite of this outlook, I did manage to keep a good pace.  In the end I covered about 46 miles, and I was in the groove towards the end, hitting four and a half minute miles on the rough trail.  Perhaps I am in decent shape for the final ride already.

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Evanescent

ev·a·nes·cent [evəˈnes(ə)nt]
adjective

  1. Soon passing out of sight, memory, or existence; quickly fading or disappearing.

In an expanded spirit of the theme, I have picked some pictures that may fit the theme in more ways than one.  These are all old pictures.  The situations that some of them represent can never be repeated.  Some of the others took place just because I happened to be in the right place at the right time, and this happened by chance, and it may never happen again.  They all have to do with memories.

The pictures below were taken in 2005 and 2006 respectively.  One had to be there at the right time of the year, at the right moment in time of the day, and on a day with the right conditions, to be able to see these.  The conditions along the C&O canal where these pictures were taken have also changed since the time I took them, so that these conditions may never be duplicated.  It was an evanescent moment in time that one could have said was a figment of my imagination if I did not have the pictures to show.100b1052100_3112The following picture is from 2009.  It was humid on that particular morning, and this caused the mist to rise from the railing on the bridge at Broad Run Trunk on the towpath.  I had never seen this before, and perhaps I will never see it again.  I just happened to be there at the right time.IMG_0616And then there is this series of pictures taken in 2009 of the train that appears out of the mist on a cool morning and then quickly vanishes from sight, as if it had never been there in the first place.  Nobody else was there to see it.  It was like that tree falling in the woods.  It was an evanescent experience that is only remembered today because of the pictures.IMG_0640IMG_0642IMG_0644IMG_0645The following picture is from 2005.   The broken-down building below used to be the Pennyfield Inn, and it used to be next to Pennyfield Lock. The building was built in 1879 and was finally demolished in 2009.  It is now replaced with an open space that feels like it has always been there.   (The building actually has an historical context in that President Grover Cleveland used to stay here during his fishing expeditions to this area.) The Pennyfield Inn is now just a memory.  It existed for only a fleeting moment in time in the grand scale of history, and now has disappeared. 100_0919This picture from 2005 illustrates the evanescence of the life experience.  One of the kids in this picture has just finished high school, the second is in college, and we just celebrated the college graduation of the third.   The circumstances of the old picture below are now but a distant memory.100_0344Here are other submissions to the challenge.

 

The Three Amigos

As seen during our walk on the C&O canal towpath this morning.  They were paying particular attention to me, the photographer.  They sometimes plunge into the canal when they see me pull out my camera, but they did cooperate this time!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere were plenty of turtles in the waters of the canal today.  The water level was also quite high, probably because of the recent rains.