Mr. RSG, I dedicate this photo journey to you. I’m sorry you missed some wonderful stuff.
I had a wonderful fall day in the woods today. It was 75 degrees, partly sunny, and breezy. A perfect fall day. One of the last I’m afraid. It won’t be too long before the depressingly dark, dreary days of doom, I mean winter, will arrive in the midwest.
I’ve been to the arboretum twice already this year.
Once in the late springtime. And once in the early summer. Every time I go, I think THAT’s the best time of all. It just keeps getting better each time.
I invited Mr. RSG (aka Mr. Cranky-Pants) to go with me. He declined on account of it being a great day to change the oil and run some errands.
That’s really unfortunate for him. But I really didn’t mind the solitude. Me and Nature go WAAAAY back. It’s a great place to collect my thoughts, daydream, and be in harmony with the earth for a while.
Right off the parking lot is a beautiful flower bed. I walked toward the first water element that’s off this path. It’s the only paved path in the arboretum.
I headed out late, around 12 pm, so I didn’t go far before I stopped for lunch. I knew I was going to need the energy to walk for the 3 hours I’d be there, so I stopped here at this wooden bench to eat.
I agree, this shot is not much to look at.
But this was my view, on the left side of that tree.
I chose to sit on that side of the pond with the tree in my way because there were three busloads of noisy middle schoolers, screaming and shouting and eating THEIR lunch at the pavilion, so I stayed at the far end.
Thankfully, that was the first and last time I’d heard or seen from them…
When I was done, I picked up a few acorns from the forest floor from the Red Oak trees nearby. There was lots of little ones, and a few HUGE ones. I think I came home with about a dozen in my pocket.
After that, I walked around the pond to the other side…and onto a field of rolling mounds of grass to take a picture of the trees…and a maroon minivan. Hey, I just realized…it kind of blends in with fall color scheme. Cool.
When I stepped off the highest hill and walked back toward the walking trail, I spotted this critter out of the corner of my eye, after nearly stepping on she/he/it. I jumped about 2 feet. Then calmed down and I remember the lesson from the cowboy at the homestead two weeks ago who informed me that garter snakes are harmless.
As if to show me, she/he/it stopped for a moment to pose seductively for the camera.
“Yeah, baby. Make love to the camera! You’re an ANIMAL! And I’m spent.”
Thank God for this next part…calm, quiet, man-made water element and polished granite cubes to plant my fanny if I so desired. Safe.
Um, where’s the water? It’s partly on the cube in the foreground, two cubes around the corner you don’t see, and in channels on the surface of the pavers.
I didn’t have time for a rest.
I had things to see, pictures to take, thoughts to think, and roses to smell.
I walked some more and walked to the prairie section of the arboretum. Through the tall, dying grasses…
…to this next bit that I could. not. take. my. eyes. off. of. That copse of pine green and rust right in the middle surrounded by other greens and oranges just had gripped my attention. I spent about 15 minutes trying to capture the perfect picture. Too far and the prairie grasses in the foreground interfere. Too close and the perfect angle was lost.
And as I walked, I spotted this little…spotted butterfly.
This, my friend, is a genuine Buckeye butterfly, and if you look closely, the tip of it’s right wing is broken. Fortunately, it flew just fine, but she waited long enough for me to snap a few photos in macro mode.
I continued my walk to the other end of the Heron pond. Today, there weren’t any. I walked through another path and turned around and snapped this one.
I walked on and spotted another small treasure. A beautiful, fuzzy, Wooly Bear caterpillar. I have never EVER seen one of these in my ENTIRE life.
I was mesmerized by its little undulating crawl into that curled up leaf. I actually have about 30 seconds of video of it. It’s really nifty.
I wanted to take a few still pictures of it, so as it was scurrying away, I moved the leaves around it with a stick, so it wouldn’t try to hide under them.
Mr. Wooly Bear didn’t like it. He curled up in the fetal position. Yeah, when I’m really scared, I do that too sometimes. I apologized to Mr Wooly Bear and meandered onward.
By now the sun was in the west, and I was walking east and the blue sky was poking through the clouds. I love this shot for the layers of cool blue, cottony white, warm red, straw brown and verdant green.
By now, I’m getting tired. Real tired.
I stopped at the bench under a tree for a rest. I read for about a half an hour.
What was I reading? Anthony Storr’s Solitude: A Return to the Self. All of chapter 8, Separation, Isolation and the Growth of Imagination. I read about lonely writers, like Beatrix Potter and Rudyard Kipling, who found solace from their painful, isolated childhoods through beautiful stories.
As I was reading, I’d pause now and then. I hear and feel the breeze pick up. A branch from a nearby tree groaned every once in a while under the strain of the wind. I was thinking about my favorite things – reading, writing, Nature, and the time alone with my thoughts.
I didn’t want to leave.
But I had to.
So I trudged on back to the car, and caught sight of my shadow on the path.
It made me smile.