I have a slight cold - not a miserable one, but bad enough to justify lots of hot tea and crocheting, and just achy and stuffy enough to keep me off the bike. But by Sunday afternoon I am in dire need of fresh air and movement (and blog material) so I set out for a walk on an old railroad grade trail that leads out of town.
The trail starts just a few blocks away: around two corners, past a small factory, and down what looks like a sandy drive...
...which leads to a boat landing (pulled up on shore for now) and a warning sign:
|"Exotic Species Advisory"|
Boaters are instructed to watch for, and remove from boats and trailers, Eurasion Watermilfoil (uh-oh, Stephanie) and Curly-Leaf Pondweed. These non-native aquatic plants are harmful to the local environment, and can be spread from lake to lake by boats that haven't been properly cleaned between outings.
The small lake (one of two in our village) is covered with smoothly rippling waves:
And now for the trail, which at its start runs along a charming wire fence. (How can barbed wire be charming? I don't know - but sometimes it is.)
To my right are tiny dells full of ghostly milkweed-gone-to-seed...
...and goldenrod preserving itself against the winter.
The lake at my right tails off into grassy marshland.
A deer starts up and runs down the path ahead of me, its white tail waving back and forth like a metronome. (Alas, too quick for a photo - the deer I mean.)
The trail dips and meanders and soon reaches the railroad grade proper, where it levels out and heads west under an avenue of trees.
The ground is carpeted with oak leaves and tiny, flower-like dried grasses.
What's this? Time was, you could walk for miles on this trail. Apparently someone has bought the railroad grade and is unwilling to share.
Guess it's time to turn back. Now I have the sun behind me, so I'm hoping to see things I didn't notice on the way out. Here's the first (I love the blurry background on this shot):
The trail is dotted with dried knapweed. Flower heads, as above, and seed heads:
I love knapweed seed heads - they remind me a bit of the pineapple motif so common in Colonial times. While editing the above photo, I accidentally turned the saturation way up and was amazed by the result:
(I don't usually post tweaked photos, but I had to post this. I love the sparks of violet, the way the colours are brought to life, and the bargello-like effect of the sky above the brush.)
Another leaf, standing out from its darker cousins:
Back on the wavy portion of trail, grass flows like water over a low bank:
More goldenrod curls up against the cold:
Thousands of keys dangle from a tree I can't identify:
(Some kind of ash? Must really work on my tree knowledge by learning to observe things besides leaves, of which this tree has none.)
Here's another shot with a slightly clearer view of the twig. (The leaf scars are opposite but that's about all I know):
Oh for the days when botany was a standard part of the educational curriculum! :)
At this point I realize how tired I am (dang, I'm not that sick), how chilly my fingertips, and how much time has elapsed since the last cup of tea and the last meal. Straight on for home now, pausing only to snap these ghosts of maple leaves on the sidewalk in town:
A good tramp through rustling leaves under bright blue autumn skies, made better by the thought of a warm home and a hot dinner. And the cold air has opened my stuffy nasal passages - I can breathe through both sides of my nose again! (At least for now.) Of such small blessings does wealth consist. :)
P.S. As I finish writing this post on a clear, sunny Monday morning, the East Coast is being lashed by Hurricane Sandy. May all be sheltered from the wind and rain, and come safely through the storm.
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