Day Three Hundred Thirty-four

Back to Cranberry Slough

Back on Day 320, my husband had a meeting and was unable to join us on a walk around Cranberry Slough, part of the Palos Trail System of the Cook County Forest Preserve near Palos Park, Illinois. Since my husband and middle son, home for Thanksgiving weekend, would be joining me today, I thought they would enjoy the unusual topography and great views, and we headed back.

Cranberry Slough1Unfortunately, in the two weeks since the last time we were here, the remainder of the leaves have fallen or turned the dull brown of late fall. But on a positive note, the full sun, low in the sky, gave us some great lighting for a family walk through the woods.Cranberry Slough 2I have only one month to go on my walking resolution! My 2013 grail bird, the pileated woodpecker, remains yet unseen. We did see some large square holes in dead trees near the trail, and I wonder if it could mean that there have been some in these woods . . .

Good walk!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Layers

The Best Layers are at the Bottom (of this Post)

While out walking this week, I kept on the lookout for “layers,” so that I could participate in the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge. I snapped a picture of a pine cone that first day, but wasn’t thrilled and had trouble finding any other ideas.

Today, while out walking in my neighborhood, I decided to settle and simply look for more pine cones. It was harder than I thought it would be. Pine cones, I determined, are one of those things that you see all of the time, but can’t find when you’re looking for them.

(It would probably have helped too if I knew something about pine cones before I left–like not every pine tree has cones every year. I also learned, after some research, that there are male and female pine cones, but I’m not sure at all how that relates to my photographing layers.)

Finally, I found and photographed a few pine cones. The layers are pretty cool. (I have a good friend who would animatedly bring up her favorite mathematician, Fibonacci at this point.) Most of the cones I left untouched but did “stage” one picture in order to get a more interesting photo. I’m not saying which one; feel free to guess.

The strangest thing of all is that upon returning home, I found the coolest layers right outside my door.

This fungus has been growing all summer and fall on the stump of a maple tree that we had cut down because it was just too close to the house. I love how there are both physical layers and layers of color, and I think this picture shows it best:

IMG_2023Fun walking, fun (fungus?) challenge!

Day Three Hundred Twenty-four

Since last week when I “discovered” the fall beauty of the Bradford pear tree, I’ve noticed a number of them around town.  A few of them are still hanging on to their color.

Today, I grabbed my camera and set out walking to document their glory. Unfortunately, one of them is in someone’s back yard, and I had trouble getting a good vantage point without trespassing or looking like a complete nut-job, so I did not get a picture of it. Another pair is along a main street in front of the Catholic grade school where cars were gathering to pick up their students; I did my best to document it . . .Searching for ColorOn my way back, I caught a mallard family enjoying a large puddle at the park and avoided walking into an overgrown eye-level branch while noticing its unique seeds.

Good walk!

Day Three Hundred Sixteen

Fall Bradford Pear Trees

While driving to yesterday’s walk, I noticed a pretty tree along the way. I couldn’t place what type of tree it was, but saw orange, burgundy, and green–all on one tree on a church’s property. It’s close enough to walk to from home, so I headed up there today to take some pictures and figure out what kind of tree it is.

All of the leaves below were on that one tree. It’s pretty, isn’t it?

Fall's Last ShowFunny thing is, I figured it out what kind of tree it is while I was walking home. I saw a newly planted one along the sidewalk that still had the nursery tag on it; it’s a Bradford pear. Learn something new every day . . .

I also snapped some pictures near the tree and love the colors. And yes, that’s snow on the ground. We had our first measurable snow last night. I’m afraid that winter’s on its way.

Fall's Last Show 2Good walking!

Day Three Hundred Fifteen

An Oak Forest in Oak Forest (Illinois)

With our weather forecast showing dropping temperatures and rain turning to snow, we headed out fairly early for a walk this morning. My youngest son was off of school today for the Veteran’s Day holiday, so he and I headed to the Midlothian Reservoir in Oak Forest, Illinois.

We walked along the paved Blue Trail and then deep into the woods on the unpaved Yellow Trail of this Cook County Forest Preserve. Evidence suggested that this trail is used frequently for horseback riding, but we did not see any horses. In fact, but for a couple of deer and one jogger, we had the whole place to ourselves.

Oak forest in Oak ForestI’m pretty sure we’re past-peak as fall colors go, yet there was still actually some color and even some green left in these woods! I was also surprised to find a marshy pond in the middle of the woods, and I saw a great blue heron land on the other side of the water.

Oak forest in Oak Forest 2We ended up walking farther than I had planned, because I must have missed the turn-off that would have allowed us to loop around. Instead, we retraced our steps and came out the way we went in. Unfortunately with this delay, we got caught in a little rain, but with my camera tucked safely inside my rain-resistant jacket we were able to get back without getting too wet. I couldn’t resist pulling my camera out once though for a quick picture of a large hanging wasp nest!

Thank you, veterans, for your service.

Day Three Hundred Eleven

More Color

I don’t want to keep repeating myself, but I can’t help it; the colors around here are gorgeous. They have sucked me in. I’m trying not to think about the approaching day that they will all have turned brown, and we will rake them up, blue-bin them, and send them to a yard-waste landfill.

For the time-being, the only thing to do is to go out walking and enjoy their beauty.

I started out by heading to the same colorful bush that I photographed two days ago. Today though, I decided to play around a bit with my aperture settings. The picture on the left is set at F5; the picture on the right is set at F29. I don’t know enough about photography to argue with the pros, but these too pictures look almost exactly the same to me. (I like both of them–but I’ve always been a fan of pink and orange.)

Fall 1I continued walking around town noticing color everywhere. While skulking about along lot lines and gardens, I found a sheltered daisy hanging on to summer!Fall 3But my favorite today has to be the tiny bushes near the train station in town. The different shades of purple, pink, and white, were just so pretty. I didn’t even stop to think what people in town would think of me as I climbed back behind the bike rack to get close to these colors. Fall 2 It was worth it.

Day Three Hundred Nine

It’s Not Always Easy Taking Pictures While Holding an Umbrella

Even though it was raining, the colors were so beautiful today; how could I not go out for a walk and take leaf pictures in the neighborhood? I had to hurry before the leaves all turn brown and fall off!

November LeavesI planned to only take pictures of single leaves with a variety of colors on a single leaf, but I couldn’t resist a single bush that was green, yellow, pink, and purple; it was just too pretty to pass up.

IMG_1816Looking at it now, I probably should have adjusted my aperture so that more of the bush was in focus, but I was really struggling just to hold my umbrella in one hand while taking pictures with the other. It was tricky!