Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I think that I shall never see. . .

Our trees have started dress in their fall colors and look a little bit different every day. One of my favorites right now is our Scarlet Oak. One reason it is a favorite is that we planted this tree about 12 years ago and it has really grown and become quite handsome. It is at its prettiest right now. Before long the leaves will turn a dull, cripsy, brown, but I like how oak trees hold on to their leaves through most of the winter. The oak looked especially pretty as I snapped this photo with the sun shining on it and making the leaves almost appear to glow.

Another favorite is this Sweet Gum which has turned a brilliant shade of red. The maple tree on the left has not yet begun to change colors, but the little crabapple in front has already lost all of its leaves and is sporting only tiny red apples.

As the tree lose their leaves, bird nests, once so cleverly hidden, begin to reveal themselves. This nest must have been built by a mourning dove because it is little more than a pile of sticks. It is a miracle these nests are adequate enough to hold in the little eggs, let alone the baby birds, yet somehow they seem to manage to do both. Mourning doves are certainly not the Einsteins of the bird world, but the sound of their soulful coos are a sound of summer I never want to be without.

The final picture is the view off of our front porch. This scene will change dramatically over the next several weeks. Once the trees have all lost their leaves we will once again have a view of the river. As the trees have grown over the years our front porch view has changed quite a bit. Sometimes we miss having the more open view, but we love the trees and wouldn't wish them away for anything.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fall Festivities

Now that gardening season is pretty much over, there is more time to enjoy other weekend activities. This time of year there are many fall festivals to check out. One I have not missed for many years is the Parke County Covered Bridge Festival. Although the covered bridges are a draw, the festival is mostly about shopping. The festival originated as a way to showcase local crafts and handmade goods but has gone on to include flea market type booths as well. I always start my CBF day in Rockville which is the hub of the festival. I love circling the old courthouse, checking out the new and returning vendors. This year I finally purchased some handmade wooden jar lids I have looked at many times over the years. The ones I chose are made of a beautiful Burr Oak. They encase a standard canning jar lid and ring so that you can store pasta, beans, rice, or what have you in a canning jar that becomes a work of art with the addition of the elegant lid. Another stop in Rockville is always the Senior Citizen's Center. A lot of people bypass the Center, which is about a block away from most of the other vendors. The people at the Center really appreciate their visitors and are eager to help. I usually buy a tea towel that has had a top sewn on to it so that you can hang it from your oven door. This year I purchased one from a lady who was only days away from her 95th birthday! I also found pair of earrings I had to have that were handcrafted from a lady that I wasn't quite sure really belonged at a Senior Citizen's Center. However, I think that this is a case of "seniors" looking younger to me every year! My daughter has made a tradition of picking up a jar of pickled okra here as well, and I stocked up on persimmon pulp. There are not many places around where you can pick up all of these items in one stop.

After Rockville, we take a short, scenic drive to Bridgeton. Bridgeton is the home of my favorite covered bridge. Actually, the original bridge was tragically destroyed by an arsonist a few short years ago. However, the bridge was rebuilt using the original plans and is just as lovely as the original, minus the feel of history that you just can't replace. The bridge sits near a stately grist mill which has been continually operating longer than any other mill east of the Mississippi River. In Bridgeton there are miles and miles of booths that are so much fun to explore. There are tents of antiques, yard art, jewelry, purses, artwork, fragrances, kitchen gadgets, and food galore. This year, we discovered another feature of the festival we hadn't really noticed before. Dogs! We saw dogs on leashes, dogs in strollers, dogs in front packs, dogs in specially made backpacks, and dogs with backpacks. We saw dogs of every size, shape, and color. Not only were people out enjoying the beautiful fall weather, hundreds of their best friends were along for the ride. I don't know if my dog Toby would enjoy the crowds and the noise, but the dogs we saw this day seemed to be having a doggone good time, so who knows?

It is nice to have a bit less work to do in the yard and more time to get out and enjoy the cooler weather and beautiful fall foliage. I hope we will be able to take in a few more festivals before it is too cold and all thoughts turn to Christmas shopping. If you would like to know more about the Covered Bridge Festival and the area's many covered bridges, here is a good website with a lot of pictures you will want to visit:

Thursday, October 16, 2008

You don't see this everyday!

Part of the fun of traveling is seeing things you don't generally see at home. There were a lot of things I saw in Colorado that you don't generally see in Indiana. Here are a few more pictures I hope you will enjoy. The first is a poster that was nailed to a telephone pole, much as someone would post a lost dog poster. But beware! This is no lost dog the reader is being asked to be on the lookout for. Even so, some local resident found a way to inject some humor into the situation by adding a personal note to the poster. If you can't read the note, click on the picture to enlarge it.

Another thing you don't typically see in Indiana is a spectacular view from a shopping center parking lot, such as this view that was found in the shopping center across the street from my Colorado Springs hotel. The view from most shopping centers in Indiana usually involves asphalt. I like how the developer left this scenic area open for all to enjoy rather than extending the shops to this corner. Do you see the snow on top of Pikes Peak to the left? I'm happy to say we don't usually see snow in October in my hometown!

This was also the first time I saw someone rock climbing in person. This was at Garden of the Gods. To me, it just didn't seem possible that someone could actually make it to the top. Then again, I didn't stick around long enough to see if he actually made it, but I hope for his sake this climber was successful. I am also posting a picture of a balancing rock at Garden of the Gods. This park is simply a must-see for anyone visiting the Colorado Springs area. Unless you live in Colorado Springs, you just don't see stuff like this every day!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Home from Colorado

Like most things you spend a lot of time looking forward to, my trip to Colorado Springs was here and gone before I knew it. It was a great trip. It was a lot of fun to visit with my friend Robin, go sightseeing, and to do a fair amount of shopping. My favorite stop was probably Manitou Springs, shown in the photo below. Manitou Springs is a quaint little town known for its historic mineral springs and funky shops at the base of Pike's Peak. Just walking along the sidewalk was a treat, as well as taking in the vistas and sampling some of the famous waters (which I did not think tasted very good). We also visited a Victorian home and museum that was built between 1895 and 1897, Miramont Castle. Miramont means "look at the mountain" and the home was aptly named as it faces Red Mountain. The home has seen better days and is in need of further restoration, but is nonetheless a treasure that was saved from demolition in the 1970s by the people of the area who knew it was a treasure worth preserving.

It is always good to get away and do something different, and of course it is always even better to get back home again. It was chilly while I was in Colorado and I'm glad Robin told me to bring my winter coat. I certainly needed it! Meanwhile, back home in Indiana, it was sunny and a pleasant 80 degrees. It seems I brought the Colorado weather back with me because since I've been home it has been cooler, and this evening it is raining.

Here are a few more pictures from my trip. The first two are from Garden of the Gods, a beautiful and fascinating place. The third photo is from the Cave of the Winds park. I wish there was a way to also capture the wonderful evergreen aroma that permeated the cool, crisp air that day. The last photo is not very clear, but is the view from my hotel window one evening as the fog dramatically rolled in and hovered about the mountains. With nearly every picture I took I would remark that I knew the photos would not do the view justice, but I had to take it anyway. I spent a lot of time just trying to soak up the view and memorize the grandeur of the mountains. The photographs help you to remember what you saw, but cannot begin to capture the actual sights. The Colorado Springs area is very beautiful, and I am so happy I got to spend a few days there.