Of course. I love my peonies. I’m probably boring everyone with photos of peonies, but every year they fill the air with the most wondrous fragrance and the blooms grow more abundantly each season. I love the ethereal look of them, the way the ants industriously get them to bloom, the delicate, soft feel, the way they sit in a container so prettily… Okay, enough already, right?
I can’t help it. I love my peonies. And I guess they’re not really mine. They’re nature’s peonies, but they happen to reside in my garden.
I know the song is Rainy Days and Mondays, but it happened to be a rainy Friday when these pictures were taken. I walked around in a rain that had turned to mist, noting how green the plants have all become, how lush the ferns, how the droplets clung to the surfaces, especially the hosta’s broad leaves. The shade garden looks a bit like a secret world calling to me.
Well, sort of, anyway. The past few years, I have found driving in the snow a bit annoying, especially when the weather is unexpected, the roads aren’t cleared, cars are in places they have no business being, and a one to one-and-a-quarter hour commute from work to home can take upwards of four.
But I absolutely love the stark crystalline beauty of snow. Which I guess is the yin and yang in me. After all, how can I feel that way, when I am also so enamored of flowers in riotous bloom, the gentle new green of Spring, the flaming colors of Autumn? I suppose it’s Nature that I love, in all its glory, even at its most overwhelming.
On my way home from the post office/bank/grocery store early this frigid Saturday morning, I was complaining aloud about how cold I was as I clung to the steering wheel that somehow, impossibly, still felt like an ice cube in my hands despite the heat blasting so hard my eyeballs were turning to sawdust. I was grumbling and sour and using, as usual, language I would certainly avoid in company other than my own.
And then, I actually looked out of the car window.
And stopped, right there in the middle of the deserted, snow-covered road.
And got out, despite the temperature that had not yet topped ten degrees.
Because what I saw was beautiful.
Crossing the road on cold-numbed feet, I took the photo above with my phone, of the Hosensack Creek as it passes beneath the bridge on Schultz Bridge Road. (At least I believe it is the Hosensack at that point, and not one of the other numerous watercourses in this area–if anyone knows for certain otherwise, please enlighten me.) I stood there a while longer in contemplation of the grandeur Nature provides us. Though chilled, I no longer cared quite so much because, like the Grinch, my complaining, whining little heart grew ten times larger in those few moments.
So I went home, stuck my tingling toes into a pair of actual snow boots, slipped on my ear muffs, and went for a walk. In my own yard, but a walk through the snow nevertheless. The below photos are of the Hosensack Creek as it runs though my property (and yes, I am at least positive it’s the Hosensack here).
I also took a photo of the little stream that runs perpendicular to the creek. As I stood beside it listening to the flowing water making its way through the ice, I realized it sounded like an enormous, clogged toilet constantly giving way. Not very romantic, but true. The sound made me laugh out loud before I headed back inside to warm up by the fireplace, realizing how very fortunate I am to have this world to live in.
There was no levee. I only liked the sound of it as a title, while the Led Zeppelin song played in my head. What broke loose was a raincloud of immense capacity, which caused the worst flooding of the Hosensack Creek that I have seen in the nearly two decades I’ve lived here. My neighbor said in the 45 years of his residence, flooding had never been this bad. Unfortunately, there’s more heavy rain predicted for tomorrow.
When I first realized the waters had come up in torrential rage, the creek was flowing over the guardrails and had completely flooded the road. I thought I saw (and later realized I was not mistaken) at least two of the neighbor’s sheep roll over the guardrail with it, the fence to their pen having been torn away by debris. Several cows followed, the most unfortunate of them getting sucked into the flow under the bridge to bob up again on the other side. Never fear, all of them were found (some a good distance away and only one of them limping a bit) and herded back home. A single sheep still remains afield as of this writing, so traumatized by the experience that she refuses to let anyone near her.
What follows are photos taken at various stages, including the aftermath. They do not do justice to the powerful flow of water when the flood first came roaring down.
These sheep had attempted to swim to safety while still on their side of the road, but were swept up against the guardrail. Their sisters had a rougher ride downstream. The cow in the background tried to swim back toward the barn as well, but was sucked into the current shortly after this photo was taken. Forced by water under the bridge, it surfaced on the other side and was later found a against a tree, frightened but alive. The owner brought the cow home, unharmed. People arrived, drawn by the drama, but also to help find the animals, including Lehigh County Animal Rescue and fire personnel.
When I took this photo, the water was not flowing as hard. The second fence post back is four feet high. It had been underwater.
The Hosensack runs about twelve to fifteen feet wide under normal conditions. You can see how far it had spread. The floodwaters cut a swath through the woods. In the valley beyond, the water went from one side to the other, a width of about six or seven hundred feet.
This is the Hosensack sweeping through my property. My youngest son witnessed a cow bobbing up and scrabbling for a log that broke under its weight about fifty feet to the left. The cow was later rescued.
This is the shed you can see in the previous picture (two above) and the vegetation that now blankets the fences since the water receded.
Below is all the damage to the bridge. There is a road closed sign at each end of this stretch but, yes, certain people keep moving the cones and driving around. *sigh* (Before posting this, Penndot arrived en force. Not sure what they’re doing, but NO ONE is going around those signs now.)
A short ride from my home (or an ambitious walk) is a view across the valley to the hills. In this photo the hills are blue with distance, although on sunny days one might find them green with the trees that clothe them. A short downpour had just ended as I arrived and I happily climbed from my car to photograph the scene. What I like most about this photo is the water droplets still clinging to the vegetation.
Rain makes changes to the environment, both subtle and extreme. In this photo, which I took following a brief but heavy downpour, one can still see the raindrops clinging to the hardy Queen Anne’s Lace with the rain clouds visible in the background. The earth looked refreshed and rejuvenated by the rainfall, and totally inviting. I could have remained there looking out over the valley for hours.
As stated in my prior brief blog (Roadside Ferns – the photograph of which is above and will be used as the feature image for the Lehigh County blog), I am sharing the beauty and history of Lehigh and areas nearby. This photo is among my favorites, and was taken some years back right on my very own property. Over time, nature’s cantankerous weather has changed the path of this creek which has been listed as one of the top ten pristine waterways in the county. Though the creek and the woods bordering it are still lovely, when I look at this photo I realize I will never see this scene as it is depicted here again. I’m glad I had the camera in my hand that day.
This very primal scene of stark contrast depicts barren winter trees reflected in the pool created in Hosensack Creek by the land’s curve around a fallen ash tree. This photograph illustrates the wild beauty that can still be found.
I have decided to add to my regular blogging with an active photographic journal of my little section of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. I want to share the beauty and history of this place where I have been fortunate enough to reside for almost twenty years. I will even venture a little beyond Lehigh’s boundaries (photographically, I mean) to nearby areas where other scenes as picturesque and interesting can be found. However, I am starting with this photograph aptly titled “Roadside Ferns”.
A walk down a local road provided this photographic opportunity, proving that beauty can be found nearly everywhere you look. These graceful fronds caught the sun in such a way as to display color from emerald green to the deepest hunter. Looking at this image, one might never guess that I was crouching on blacktop and a mailbox stood only feet away awaiting rural delivery.
Somehow, in the craziness of trying to accomplish all I’ve set myself this summer, I had forgotten my little pond out front. Not that I’d actually forgotten it’s existence. Fixing or removing the waterfall and making changes to the layout of this small body of water is on my to-do list. I’ve underlined that chore multiple times. Perhaps even hard enough to push the pen point through the paper.
Still, I can’t remember the last time I looked at the pond except in disgust (awful, that–after all, the state of neglect is not the pond’s fault). All the same, nearly every day I find myself hearkening with a smile to the bullfrog’s deep callings accompanied by various little peeps in its vicinity while I’m engaged on the small hill’s upper side–either weeding, planting, planning or occasionally relaxing on the porch.
I took the embarrassingly short walk down there today to check things out and found to my utter delight the water lilies are in bloom. What a wonderful, inspiring surprise. I promptly decided to push caring for the water feature to the top of my to-do list. It does, however, seem to be getting along quite nicely without me, having formed it’s own flourishing little eco-system with no help at all from moi.
I am put in mind of Jeff Goldblum’s character’s utterance in the first Jurassic Park movie. “Life finds a way…”
The only pets I have at this point in time are cats. Five of them. And true to cat behavior, they occasionally wreak havoc in some fashion. Well, more than occasionally…and always in the wee hours of the morning, when I have important things I need to attend to…like sleep. Subsequent to this nocturnal kitty behavior, I spend my mornings bleary-eyed and catering to their needs before my own (well-trained human that I am), after which most—if not all—of my five cats promptly curl up somewhere and go to sleep.
Not so much this morning. The sated-with-food-time-to-ignore-you phase of their morning was interrupted by the sound of what I misinterpreted as little feet running across the roof. Up they jumped from their various degrees of slumber and began racing from window sill to window sill in search of the culprits.
Squirrels, I thought. I even went so far as to open the front door and yell, figuring any animal with half a brain would take flight at the sound of my voice. Sure, like my cats do (not). Apparently, I angered the squirrels and they began to stomp across what I had been assured seven years ago at installation were the very durable shingles of my new roof. I began to worry their aging durability was being put to the test, and went outside to shout again, until it occurred to me I was voicing my displeasure at a possibly bigger animal.
I ducked back inside. The hunter instinct of my kitties (except the deaf one, who slept on undisturbed by the ruckus) shot to the fore, and they began an anxious chase from one side of the house to the other. By this time, I could hear the distinct noise of claws and what seemed to be the dancing of bears to and fro. The bears even went so far as to tumble against the metal chimney pipe, which reverberated through the house like a bell.
What the hey?
At this point, a dark shadow glided past the window. A very large, very dark shadow. When another swept past, I hurried in the direction it seemed to have gone and through the window spotted a vulture landing in the dead pine tree beside the driveway. He was not unaccompanied. A couple of his buddies had preceded him. They seemed quite content hanging out among the barren branches and, in the meantime, the bear party continued unabated on the rooftop.
Wait a minute. Wait a stinking minute.
I decided the time had come for a full-blown investigation. For one thing, I needed the cats to return to their somnolent state, since they’d worked themselves into such a frenzy I feared extreme havoc was in the offing. For another, I had a sneaking suspicion my visitors weren’t bears, after all.
Marching outside, I found to my astonishment no less than fifteen—fifteen!—vultures cavorting across the roof of the house and the garage. Not sunning themselves as vultures sometimes do, but roughhousing like a bunch of—well, a bunch of cats. Needing proof, I started taking photos with my phone. Needing my head examined, I talked to them as well, addressing the venue as if they were, indeed, just a feathery brood of kittens. Apparently they liked it. One of the vultures on the garage roof came to the edge and cocked his head from side to side in great interest as I regaled him with a rambling monologue about his cuteness (yes, I did call him cute—did I mention I was bleary-eyed and addled thanks to the nighttime antics of my cats?)
Dismissing what one might consider the creepiness of more than a dozen carrion eaters arrayed across my domicile, I reveled instead in the never-ceasing wonder that is Nature. Even so, as I climbed into my car and pulled away from the committee hanging out on the roof, I did a quick check of my pulse. Just in case.