Art Drop-offs – June Ends and July Gets Off to a Good Start

I’ve been walking with my husband on the Pennypack Trail this week. Each morning before he goes to work we have gone out  and gotten in some miles. Why are we doing things this way? Because it is really hot right now – 95+ F during the day – so we want to go early and beat much of the heat.

We’ve been covering the same section of trail this week – between Welsh Road and Byberry Road,  the upper half. This side is almost 100% in the shade and runs beside the water. Once again, we are thinking cool.

I’ve left tiles all week. I admit to a little confusion about which day I set down which tiles. My computer was out sick for a few days and I didn’t get to organize the photos in my usual manner. So – I’ll do my best. Here are the tiles and where they went.

June 30: oops, these are little clay rocks, not tiles. On a rock by the trail.

Also June 30. Set on a bench at the memorial for the train crash that ocurred here in winter, 1921.

July 2 – yellow tile on a ledge. It’s not easy to see (bottom photo, look to the left side). Sometimes I like to give the art a challenge…

July 2 – Dark tile on a bench.

More July 2 – Tile on a bench. I particularly like this bench because of the sentiment expressed and the lovely contemplative location.

More July 2. I’m pretty sure some of these just mentioned must have been from July 1, but, well, it will always be a mystery.

July 3 – Tile on a ledge. I often use this location. It seems made for display.

July 3 – this item is not one of mine but I participated in its life. Look. See that little red bit (the helpful arrow was not there in real life. I just happened to notice a spot of red and had to look and see what it was.)

July 3 Rock #103

It’s a little rock painted red with some gray sections. I looked it over, admired it, and gave it a ride a little further down the trail.

I’m going to wait and see what happens. I may bring it home, but I thought I’d let others decide if they want it before I just grab it.

July 4 – The trail was very crowded today on the holiday. Never a time when people were not passing. Still, I managed to set down one tile near this bridge.

My husband does a great job as a spotter!

OK, that’s it for now. As for who is still in place on the trail and who has been taken home, I am mixed up. I will say that more than half are already gone, including all the clay rocks.

Until the next time…

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A Short Walk in an Arboretum

On Sunday afternoon, June 17, my husband and I took a short trip over to the Morris Arboretum, about 15 minutes from home. We wanted to take a short walk and shake off the effects of sitting all day Saturday at the art show I participated in in Allentown, PA. The Arboretum fit the bill – we’re members, so we can go anytime and stay for as long or short a time as we want. Plus, the Bloomfield Farm side was open this day – unlike the regular grounds that are open daily, this side of the site is not – you have to catch the once-a-month date to see it.

You may remember the Arboretum from previous posts:

and I did an art show there last fall.

So, good, off we went. It was a hot, sunny day, perfect for being outside.

We parked at the lower section of the location and walked across the street to the farm section. Look at the milkweed blooming!

At the farm (it’s called that because of its history, but it is mostly a wild landscape) we passed the education building and equipment sheds with their green roofs – wow, I just loved these. The whole building complex is meant to display methods of sustainability – it captures rainwater and is sited for energy efficiency, among other things.

Even the birdhouses had green roofs.

There are a lot of beehives. I did not venture close. No. I did not.

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We stopped in the gristmill – it’s a real mill that’s been here since the 1700’s and is in the process of being restored step by step. We joined the tour for a short time

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but I wanted to go back outside.

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We wandered down to the community garden. Mint is planted around it – I think deer are put off by mint, maybe? Though there is a fence around the garden as well, more deterrents don’t hurt. Deer are persistent and numerous, being pests, really, in our area. Anyway, the mint crushed in my fingers – ahhh, the smell!

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We wandered through the aisles of the garden. I liked these lettuces wearing hairnets to keep off the sun…

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There was a lot of growing going on, that is for sure.

When we left, we had shaken off our stiffness and felt better for sunshine on our faces.

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What I Have Learned About Box Elder Bugs

About three weeks ago I took a picture of some insects attending a convention on a post in the Norristown Farm Park. I became interested when I realized what looked like insect-drilled holes on this post were moving.

Box elder #2

And they were not holes, but bugs.

Box elder #3

I got closer and took a few pictures, waving away the intrepid souls who were attracted to me and my nosy ways.

Box elder #1

I walked around the post. The bugs were congregated only on the sunny side.

When I got home I looked up – bug with orange details – and found out that I’d come upon box elder bugs. Never heard of them before.

Turns out they are not remarkable in any way, except to themselves. They feed on seeds and leaves of box elder trees, a variety of maple (never heard of that before, either). In the fall they hibernate (in houses sometimes, which causes consternation among homeowners, but no damage) and in the spring they come out looking for warm spots to get together and work out their dining schedule.

That’s why they were only on one side of the post. It was the warm side.

Well, that’s pretty much it. Box elder bugs and box elders exist, and they seek warmth. The box elder bug story! Say hello if you see one. You’ve now been introduced.

Box elder #4

On the Run

Let’s say you are getting off the exit at Paper Mill Road off 309, Springfield Township. You look to your right as you come up to the light.

You look some more.

You look some more. What is that dangling from the branches of that tree? Some new kind of fruit, just now revealed by the leaves falling?

Look one more time.

OK, I’ll explain. Behind that fence someone had planted gourds in a garden. The vines left home and traveled up that tree perched in the no-man’s land at the highway exit. Gourds like to hang as they grow, so the vine made a great decision.

I love seeing the triumph of ingenuity and the motivation of hope, no matter who is exercising it!

Corn and Soy and Harvest

On November 12, my husband and I went to Norristown Farm Park to take a walk. The temperature was right around freezing; in fact, we’d had a hard frost the night before, first one of this season.

We wanted to see the state of the harvest. As you know, this park is a working farm, carrying on a 100+ year-old tradition. Formerly part of the state mental hospital property and tended by patients in years past, it is now a county park. Corn and soy are grown over much of the grounds.

My husband had been in the park earlier in the week and observed the harvesters at work. Now that they are finished and gone, things are very different. The roads in the park had felt very enclosed by the 8 ft. tall corn; now it is possible to see great distances across the land. The surrounding roads and suburban development are visible after having been hidden for the last six months from park-goers in the interior.

Still, the park is large and in most places you can imagine yourself quite alone.

The row patterns are revealed now that the corn is cut down.

Take a look at the same location with the passing of two months:

And you may be wondering about the soy crop, as so far I have only shown corn. Our walk did not take us up into the main soy fields, but we skirted the lower edge of one I showed a couple of weeks ago. The soy looked like this in the field at that time.

It has all been cut and the fields are bare now.

November.

Soy. Just Soy.

Ho much do you know about growing soybeans? If you are me, not much.

I got curious about it as I’ve been noting the fields at the Norristown Farm Park, where we run or walk among acres of corn and soy. This park is still a working farm; its past is that of a farm attached to the Norristown State Hospital, where patients worked the fields as part of their treatment years ago. In the past, it was thought healthful for mental patients to have occupation, and this land grew all kinds of crops plus housing a dairy herd and trout farm.

These fields were green earlier this year and have turned golden and now faded to this tan color.

Details of the plants, photos taken last weekend:

I took a small stalk home, as I wondered when the harvest would occur and I wanted to inspect the plant more closely.

I learned through some internet research that the plants must be thoroughly brown and dried before they will be harvested. You can see the stalk of this plant is still a little green.

I took some photos for details.

Now I understand what will happen next. One day a harvester will come through the fields and the soybeans taken away, the fields shorn down.

I like being informed about what I see going on around me. Even if it is just – soybeans.

Look Up to the Sky

October is a time for beautiful skies in my area, the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA. Take a look at these photos.

October 11, red sky at morning – sunrise. Taken from my house, looking out into the back yard.

Glenside/Jenkintown, PA, October 16, taken as we were driving to the grocery, about 7:15 AM.

Another sunrise from my back yard. October 19.

Another Haven

About 15 minutes from my house are the Whitemarsh Foundation properties, preserved land that includes an open space area, a historic farm, and the Dixon Meadow House. This farm is privately owned but protected from development; the open space is for the public to wander and enjoy; the house is used for various activities related to the land.

This location is very near Chestnut Hill College, Morris Arboretum, and the beginning of the Green Ribbon Trail. All of these locations lie in or near the watershed of the Wissahickon Creek.

Earlier this week I took a short trip to this peaceful spot. Here’s a view from the house, where I parked the car:

and here is the view from the opposite site of the open space – you can see the house off in the distance.

There is a boardwalk across the wetlands section and I saw a lot of milkweed.

 

I also saw a LOT of large milkweed bugs. The season is coming to an end for them.

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I noticed tiny orange insects on a few pod stems.

I did a little research and I think these are milkweed aphids. Opinions seems to be that they are not harmful, or maybe they are a little harmful, but what it takes in getting rid of them is more detrimental. It also seems that not much is known about these insects. Maybe people are paying more attention now that milkweed is being grown on purpose, rather than being seen as just a weed taken for granted. Monarch butterflies have friends and friends of monarchs like milkweed, so I have the feeling there will be more information coming along.

I am happy to have this location for me to enjoy and for the monarchs, other butterflies, grasshoppers galore, and lots of birds to have a place to thrive.

Walk Through A Changing Landscape

Since my husband changed offices, from the city to the suburbs, he has been exploring different places to walk – necessary rehabilitation of his serious knee injury nine months ago. He has found some places we never knew existed. I’ll show you one today.

It’s the Gwynedd Wildlife Preserve, a property of Natural Lands, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and restoring land in the eastern PA – southern NJ area.

This property was a farm for over a century. It’s now located in suburbia, about five minutes from Montgomery County Community College (of poetry marathon and Senior Games fame). The idea is to return the land to a native state. The site has different areas in transition; there are a lot of open fields as well as some wooded areas.

The preserve also connects to the Green Ribbon Trail, which winds along within the Wissahickon Creek watershed. (We hope to connect with and check out this end of the trail soon; you might remember me mentioning it in connection with a section I frequent, some miles away, nearer my house).

My husband was very enthusiastic about the site. So we went for a walk there on Sunday morning, October 1. We parked in their tiny lot and started out up the blacktop road.

There are several well-marked trails designated by color, but you can wander around without worrying too much about it, as long as you have some sense of direction. I think I’ll just show you pictures and describe them, since we did just that – wander.

Here is what a lot of the place looked like. Mowed paths and long views. You would have no idea that a lot of people live very near.

This caterpillar crossed our path. The photo is blurry because my hand shook, not because he was moving so fast. We saw a lot of these little guys on the ground. I love them; I like their outfits and their sense of purpose.

There was a pile of split wood near the office/garage. Look at the insect holes – what a pattern.

I do not know what kind of tree this was but I liked the leaves.

This bush also is unknown to me, but I like the dark berries and the sparkly sunlight coming through the leaves.

How about this birdhouse? I loved the look of it up there on this tall pole.

A good portion of the site is wooded. We went through two sections, this one pictured here, and then we crossed the road into another section.

After we finished walking in the woods, we came to where a woods is being created. These trees have been planted with the idea that they will turn into a forest. We saw oaks, maples, sassafrass…of all ages and sizes. The white sheaths keep them safe from hungry deer.

I do know what this tree is. Hickory. This specimen was at the top of a hill, alone. A farm tree in the middle of fields, that has been its life. The big green cases hold the small brown nut; they dry on the tree and split open, and the nut falls to the ground.

And my favorite – milkweed. They are drying up, splitting open, and spreading their seeds. I LOVE milkweed. Just saying.

And here is some more milkweed, with some really well-turned out insects hanging on. I researched them and learned they are specimens of…the large milkweed bug. Yes, that is truly their name, and they feed on milkweed. There is something very satisfying about this straightforward name they have, isn’t there?

All right, there you have it. I’ll come back to this spot. It was tranquil, a place for contemplation and enjoying being alive.

Bur Oak Update

The bur oak saga continues. Look here for our initial meeting…

I put the acorns into a bucket of water for 24 hours, as advised by some research my husband did on the internet about planting them.

The idea is that the ones that sink to the bottom, well, they are eligible for planting. The ones that are floating after 24 hours, sadly, will not germinate.

After the time was up, four of the acorns were sinkers. OK, on to round 2!

Once again, guided by the internet, we put them into a plastic bag with some dirt, and stored them in the refrigerator until we can plant them. Maybe in the next day or so. My husband said he will get a few deep pots for them – apparently these little guys put out a tap root that requires room. No shallow yogurt containers will do.

Here is the refrigerator scene. We will see what happens next…

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