Looking For Wildlife? Even in November The PPL Wetlands Never Disappoint

It was another nice November  day here in Northeastern Pennsylvania on Saturday.  The skies were mostly sunny and I knew the sunshine would quickly warm the temperature from the 34 degrees early morning start. I decided to drive  to nearby  Community Park and look for the bald eagles that have been  seen at the lake.  leafless birch trees and clouds surrounding Lake Irena

I was there three times last week with no success in seeing the eagles..  I walked around scenic Lake Irena and, once again,  no bald eagles. clouds and trees surrounding lake Irena

In fact, like on my previous visits,  there was very little wildlife at the park . I saw a few crows and heard some  black-capped chickadees in the woods.trees and clouds and lake Irena

And a  few small airplanes taking off from the nearby airport.small plane taking off above trees

I saw no other wildlife until I finally spotted a few chickadees feeding on some pine cones as I completed my walk around the lake . black-capped chickadee feeding on pine cones

It was still  a peaceful and scenic walk. However  I do love to find and photograph wildlife on my weekend walks so I decided to head to a location where I am almost assured to  see some  wild critters, the PPL Wetlands in Salem Township. Here is a link to some more photographs from my walk out Community Park. Community Park November 25 2017. leafless trees along pond

Almost as soon as I arrived at the wetlands I saw, and heard a number of different species of birds in the branches of the leafless trees. There were a number of woodpeckers high in the tree tops including this red-bellied woodpecker. red-bellied woodpecker on tree limb

And this downy or hairy woodpecker.

The trees, thick undergrowth, and abundance of water  make the wetlands a good place to find wildlife even in the Winter. I found a lot of birds feeding on the berries of a plant humans avoid , poison ivy.poison ivy covered tree

This tree was covered in a poison ivy vine. And juncos, bluebirds and black-capped chickadees were enjoying the berries of this dreaded plant.black-capped chickadee feeding on poison ivy berries

Although most of duckweed in the ponds and canals has died from the cold some of the more sheltered ponds still have a thriving growth of duckweed  and thus still  some green color. duck weed covered pond

I did not see any ducks on this hike. The mallards left a while ago but there were still some wood ducks here on my last hike a few weeks ago. I was surprised to see a few cedar waxwings remaining in the wetlands. cedar waxwing on tree branch

As I walked toward the river lands section of the park I spotted a few birds adding color to the drab November scenery. First this blue bird,blue bird on tree branch

and then this cardinal. cardinal on tree branch

I also saw a few colors remaining on the now dormant plants and trees. The red oak leaves still have a little color. red oak leaves

As do the bright red  berries of this shrub, I believe a winterberry holly

and these dark purple berries also added to the beauty of my  hike through the  wetlands even in late November. 

I walked under the late autumn sunshine to the riverlands and scenic Lake Took-A- While. There were no kingfishers, cormorants or blue herons on the duck, only a  flock of canada geese enjoying the warmth of the November sun. canada geese on lake

As I began my return walk to the wetlands I heard the shrill cry of a red tailed hawk high overhead. It was being chased by a couple of crows and quickly flew away.  I also saw another red tailed hawk land in a tree. I watched it hoping to get a better photograph but it flew off hidden by the trees. red tailed hawk in tree

In addition to the many birds I saw on my hike there were a number of chipmunk, red squirrelsred squirrel with nut on tree branch

and gray squirrels scurrying through the trees and brush. gray squirrel on tree trunk

The reptile kingdom was also present on my walk. I was surprised to find this lone turtle sunning on a log in the now cold waters.  turtle on log

And I even found a few representatives of the insect world including this caterpillar, wooly caterpiller

and even a butterfly visiting a late blooming dandelion.

As I  approached my car I encountered a flock of dark eyed juncos. These birds spend their summers in Canada and return here in the Winter.  Hence they are also known as snow birds. Hopefully they will not see a lot of snow here in Northeastern Pennsylvania this year. Snow delighted me in my younger years but not so much these days.  Here is a link to some more photographs of some of the birds I saw on my hike. PPL Wetlands birds November 25 2017.

Since I was a young child I have always been fascinated by the beauty of nature, especially of all living creatures. I have always walked the woods of my home here in Northeastern Pennsylvania looking for them.I  now get great pleasure sharing my discoveries on social media and here on my blog. It gives me great comfort in the difficult times I am trying to find my way through. And the PPL Wetlands and Riverlands never disappoint, not even in November. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. PPL Wetlands November 25 2017.

“No matter how few possessions you own or how little money you have, loving wildlife and nature will make you rich beyond measure.” 
― Paul Oxton

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A Few Short Walks Close To Home

It’s late November now and that means an early sunset here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The sun now sets around  4:40 p.m. Not much time after a day at the office to get out for my  walks with my camera. WW II tank and memorials at park

However, being a holiday week, and with the hope of another sighting the two bald eagles I saw out at our Community Park last weekend, I left the office early for a couple of short walks out Lake Irena this week. 

On Tuesday there was some sunshine and temperatures were around 45 degrees which is around average for this time of year.  There no water fowl on the lake and only a few folks enjoying the beauty of the lake.walks along Lake Irena

I took a quick walk around the lake before the sunset and was disappointed I  didn’t see the eagles. In fact the only wildlife I saw or heard were a few crows flying overhead. bridge over stream

It was still nice to get out and enjoy the late Autumn sunshine. Here is a link to some more photographs from my walk. Community Park November 21 2017 gazebo in park on sunset on walks

I left the office early and returned the next day but this walk was in much different weather conditions. Lake Irena took on a much different appearance. It was cloudy, colder and windy at the park.bare trees and clouds at lake

I again took a quick walk around the lake and once again did not see any eagles.  And, as on the previous day, the only wildlife were some crows flying in the stormy sky.crow in flight

As I was photographing the crows I thought I was going to be rewarded with a bald eagle sighting. However, the large object flying in the clouds wasn’t an eagle. It was a jet flying low, probably on it’s final descent into the airport at Avoca. jet airplane in flight

It was blustery and cold on my walk. Once again I only walked around the lake twice. Here is a link to some more photographs from my walk. Community Park November 22 2017.storms clouds and lake

 I took another short  walk close to home on Thanksgiving morning. I had to prepare some food for our Thanksgiving dinner so I decided to take a quick walk out the Rail to Trails path before I started. rails to trails entrance

The Broad Street entrance to the trail was open again. The drainage work on the trail being almost completed. 

It was a sunny, and colder morning with temperatures in the mid 20’s. The skies were cloudless and deep blue. I loved the contrast of the pitch pines against the blue skies. I spent many hours hiking under these trees over the years. pitch pines on trail

I was surprised, and happy, to see a number of people walking and running on the trail. They, too, like me,  were probably wanting  to burn  off some calories before the feasting that lay ahead. tree lined trail

There were also some wild critters on the trail on this cold Thanksgiving morning. I saw a few squirrels, chipmunks and a number of birds. including this tufted titmouse . tufted titmouse on branch

I walked out about two miles before I decided  to return, enjoying the beauty of the trail. Here is a link to some more photographs of my walk. Rails to Trails November 23 2017.tree lined trail

I am so glad we have this beautiful trails and parks so near home. They provide me with peaceful sanctuaries to walk and think, and were much needed in the difficult times of these past few week

I was so fortunate to enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving dinner prepared by my nieces Kelly and her husband Ethan, my nice  Cassidy and nephews Charlie and Brandon. They carried on this tradition started by their parents. It was nice to share the day with our entire family. Of course, it was not the same, the void was deep. But we made the best of this situation as we could. And I know Charles and Linda were with us in spirit and were so proud of their children for keeping this tradition. 

“When I’m in turmoil, when I can’t think, when I’m exhausted and afraid and feeling very, very alone, I go for walks. It’s just one of those things I do. I walk and I walk and sooner or later something comes to me, something to make me feel less like jumping off a building.” 
― Jim Butcher

tufted titmouse on branch

 

 

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A Windy Walk At Our Local Community Park Was Rewarded With A Bald Eagle Sighting.

It was overcast and very  windy this morning here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I was unsure where I wanted to hike but stopped  out our local Community park before I made my decision. 

I have been visiting this park since I was five years old and recalled those happy first walks in the Spring with my dad and siblings. They do a good job maintaining the park and it is always nice to see picturesque  Lake Irene. 

I decided to visit this morning since I thought the wind may have brought some migrating water fowl to the lake and I had heard reports of a bald eagle sighting this week. As I walked along the lake the ducks, geese and cormorant I had seen on my last visit where gone. However, the lone pie-billed grebe I had seen was still here, swimming and diving by itself in the cold waters of the lake. pie-billed grebe on water

I walked around the lake in the strong wind and threatening skies. The trees are now bare and made for a somber walk, not like the delightful walks I have take during the Spring and Summer.leaf covered path

I didn’t see them  but there are still beavers in the area. fallen tree chewed on by beavers

I also was surprised to find a few mushrooms still growing in the cold temperatures. yellow mushroom in moss and pine needles

I had just completed  my walk  around the lake and was going to leave when I saw what appeared to be two bald eagles soaring high overhead. bald eagles soaring high in sky

I am not a raptor expert, so I wasn’t sure at first, but, after taking a photograph, and enlarging it, I was sure they were two juvenile bald eagles.  It was amazing to see how rapidly they moved in the wind, They circled the lake and took off in the distance to the south. 

I now decided to remain at the park and walked around the lake and surrounding  park for the next two hours. juvenile bald eagle

I walked the trail that lead past the Hazle Township Babe Ruth field.ballpark and trees and cloudy sky

I walked down to the new road that was builr on the old railroad right of way. I had only hiked this area once before the road was built about ten years agoroad and clouds .

I wanted to find the path down to the Black Creek that flows near here. However I  couldn’t locate it and made my way, now walking into the strong northerly wind, back to the lake. oak trees and clouds

I walked around the lake a few more times but the eagles did not return. There were two men fishing and I had a nice chat with the friendly park caretaker who told me the two eagles have been seen regularly at the lake.  The only other wildlife I saw was a few crows.crow in flight

And a flock of northern juncos in the shrubs along the lake. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds I saw on my walk. Community Park hike birds.

It was near lunch time and I was hungry and decided to leave. I was disappointed the eagles didn’t return but,  as I have said before, it is always a good day when you see eagles soaring in the skies of Northeastern Pennsylvania. And as always my hikes in the woods help so much in dealing with the great loss in my life.  Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. Community Park Hike. 

“A boy’s will is the wind’s will, 
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.” 
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Last Day Of Summer At Our Local Community Park

The dry, warm and  sunny weather continued throughout this past week. Thursday  was the last day of summer here in the Northern Hemisphere.  I decided to take a late afternoon walk out Lake Irena at our local community park.pavilion in trees

I have posted a  number of blogs about this pretty place and they can be found in the archives. I found that, despite the summerlike temperatures this past week there were many signs of fall, including a lot more color in the trees surrounding the lake. trees showing fall colors along lake

I found a number of Canada geese gathering together in anticipation for their flight south for the winter. canada geese on lake

I also observed this unusual sight, birds not of a feather flocking together. If you look carefully at this photograph you will see a cormorant  among this  flock of mallard ducks. cormorant with mallard ducks on lake

I watched the ducks and their friend the cormorant for about a half hour as they seemed to enjoy each other’s company. cormorant in weeds

I tried to approach to get a better photograph. The birds took off, the ducks flying one direction,mallard ducks landing on lake

and the cormorant off on it’s own. It swam through the waters with it’s snake like neck,cormorant head out of water

until it perched on this stump. cormorant in rock on lake

I walked under the large oaks along the shores of the lake hoping to find some wild mushrooms but the dry, sunny weather we have enjoyed is not good for the fungi. tree lined path along lake

There were still  a few wildflowers in bloom. I may have, in a prior post misidentified this as ragweed. I know believe it is golden rod. .butterfly on golden rod flower

And they attracted some insects and this beautiful butterfly. butterfly on goldenrod flower

It was the last day of summer, and the sun is now setting around 7 p.m. here in Northeastern Pennsylvania so I had to end early but it was another enjoyable walk taking in the beauty nature has to offer us, even in our own backyards. Here is a link to some more photos from my walk..  walk.

tree lined lake on last day of summer

By all these lovely tokens September days are here, With summer’s best of weather And autumn’s best of cheer.Helen Hunt Jackson

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Insects, Mushrooms And A Frog, A Mid Summer Hike With My Macro Lens

It’s mushroom season here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and I’ve been spending most of my free  time searching for the many edible species I like to eat. Today, I wanted to get home early to watch the Eagles football game so I decided to take a quick hike out nearby Community Park and scenic Lake Irene with my macro lens. Lake Irene and clouds

It’s mid summer now the many insects that are found in our area are at their peak.  Dragonflies were darting along the lake and perched on the rocks, branches and plants on the shores. dragonfly perched on branch

There are not many flowers in bloom now, but the ones that are blooming attract a wide variety of insects, including a lot of bees, bee on flower

and beetles.beetle on flower

Most of the butterflies are now gone but I did find one of their offspring this caterpillar.green caterpillar on ground

And there were many types of grasshoppers and crickets jumping through the brush. grasshopper on ground

I walked around the lake, sampling some of the many, now ripe, blackberries. close up of blackberry

And found the tea berries in bloom. There bright red berries will be found throughout the fall and winter. tea berry flowers

And the jewel weed or touch me not  was still in bloom jewel weed flower

as well as some other flowers I was unfamiliar with. flower in bloom

I didn’t see any turtles today but did find the leopard frog sitting near on of the many puddles and ponds along the trail. 

And I did find some mushrooms, which have been growing everywhere because of the plentiful rain we have had in Northeastern Pennsylvania, 

including this unusual one, an old man of the woods, 

and this milker mushroom. 

I wasn’t out long but, as I always do, I enjoyed exploring the trails along lake Irene , especially in the Summer. There is always something to see if you keep your eyes peeled. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hikehttp://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Macro-walk-Community-Park-August-17-2017-

Hurt no living thing:
Ladybird, nor butterfly,
Nor moth with dusty wing.
~Christina Georgina Rossetti

 

 

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You Don’t Need To Go Far To Enjoy Nature, Early Summer At Community Park

It was a beautiful Tuesday afternoon this past week, and I decided to take a quick hike out to our local Community park to enjoy the early Summer sunshine. 

I enjoy my walk around Lake Irena since you never know if you many see an eagle, osprey or just some loons, ducks or geese. 

The Summer is now a week old and the low bush blueberries have ripened in the sun. I enjoyed a few handfuls on my walk.

 The mountain laurel have faded already, Summer passes so quickly. 

And I saw some of the first mushrooms appearing in the woodlands along the lake. It won’t be long until I am searching for the edible species that grow in our area. 

As I walked along the wetlands at the northern side of the lake I saw some tree swallows flying neat a tree stump and, discovered this nest of young swallows. 

I watched the nest for an hour, hoping to catch the parents feeding the young chicks. 

My patience was rewarded as I was able to capture mom or dad feeding their youngsters a meal of fresh dragonfly.  I was probably just as hungry as the chicks, but wanted to capture the interaction of the birds as they were fed.  Here is a link to some more photographs of the tree swallows. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Community-Park-Tree-swallows-June-27-

My hunger overcame my curiosity and so I decided to head home, enjoying my walk through the woods as the evening sun filtered through the trees. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Community-Park-June-27-2017-

I returned the next evening, another beautiful sunny day, with my 400mm lens hoping to capture even better photographs of the swallows.

 Unfortunately the swallows didn’t co-operate. They were either sleeping or had left the nest. It was still a nice day to be out and I took a few photographs of the many  dragonflies along the lake. 

As I have always said you don’t have to travel far to find the beauty of nature,  jus a hike in the neighborhood park has many secrets to offer, if you keep your eyes peeled and look for them .

One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.  William Shakespeare

 

 

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I Finally Found Some Mountain Laurel, Almost In My Own Back Yard At Nearby Community Park.

If you had followed my last two posts, you would know I  looked for, but  didn’t find any mountain laurel, our state flower, on my two hikes last weekend. It was a beautiful evening on Tuesday, the last day of Spring and I decided to hike out nearby Community Park and always picturesque Lake Irena. 

The sun was only one day from it highest point in our skies here in Northeastern Pennsylvania and already had ripened some of the low bush blueberries or “huckleberries” as they are know in these parts, growing along the shores of the lake. They

tasted very good. 

The park and lake were again crowded with families , fishermen, and walkers enjoying the delightful weather. 

I walked across the berm of the dam holds the waters of Harvey Creek and created the lake in the early 1960’s. e

As I walked into the woodlands surrounding the lake on it’s eastern shore I came upon large numbers of mountain laurels shrubs in full bloom. 

Photographs cannot capture the beauty of this flower shining in early evening sunlight. 

I walked the trail into the deeper woodlands and wetlands on the northern end of the lake and encountered even more mountain laurel. 

I was disappointed there were not more animals or birds in the woods but did see a few turtles, 

and plenty of dragonflies enjoying the sunshine. 

I walked along the other side of the  lake looking for frogs, snakes or some more turtles in  the many lily pads growing in the lake. 

It was after seven p.m. when I decided to leave the park. The sun was still high in the northwestern sky as it filtered through leaves of the trees along the lake. It was a perfect night to end the Spring.  I didn’t have to go far to find some fresh huckleberries and enjoy thre beauty of out state flower. You just got  to keep your eyes peeled. Here is a link to some more photographs from my walk. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Community-Park-June-20-2017-

 

“I pray that the life of this spring and summer may ever lie fair in my memory.”
–  Henry David Thoreau

 

 

 

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Finally Sunshine, And A Quick Hike Out Community Park

We finally got a mostly sunny day here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.It was still a bit cool for me,  mid 70 degree temperatures.  I like it hot, 90 degrees would be nice. But it was beautiful and I decided to head out Community  Park and look for eagles and ospreys on the lake. 

The park was not as crowded as I expected, with just a few families at the playground,  a couple of folks fishing and just a few people walking around the lake. 

There were not many critters either. I saw a few chipmunks, a squirrel and only one bird, this robin and only for a few minutes until he/she flew away. 

I did see a few turtles on the logs in the water but they were hard to photograph because of the angle of the sun. 

I did notice on my walk that it won’t be long until the state flower, the mountain laurel are in full bloom. They will transform our woodlands into a magical garden.  I love walking in the forest when they are in bloom. 

Some of the sheep laurel, a smaller relative of the mountain laurel are already blooming. 

I walked around the lake and found the trails near the wetlands section flooded from the local rains. 

The skunk cabbage still are green, although they will soon start to fade. They are the first plants to appear in the spring but also fade  and disappear in early summer. 

The many species of fern are in their prime now. 

I found fresh signs that there are still beavers in the area, 

It was a perfect evening for a walk under the trees as the sun filtered through to the forest floor below. 

And it should be a great night to watch the almost full strawberry moon in the clear skies. I love this time of year. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Community-park-June-8-2017-

“On this June day the buds in my garden are almost as enchanting as the open flowers. Things in bud bring, in the heat of a June noontide, the recollection of the loveliest days of the year – those days of May when all is suggested, nothing yet fulfilled.”
–  Francis King

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Mid Spring At Community Park

The annual spurt of growth is at it’s peak here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Even the oaks, always the last get their leaves, and the last to lost them on the fall are clothed in their fresh green coats. Community park -20

It was cloudy and cool, but no rain, so still a nice afternoon for a hike out the nearby community park. Community park -1

Once again it was crowded with many people enjoying the trails, playground and picnic areas as well as fishermen along the shores of lovely Lake Irena.Community park -30

As I approached the lake I noticed another sign that the season is moving on, the flowering of the hawkweed. I remember  this weed in my backyard as a young child and knew it’s blooming  meant that the school was almost over. Community park -2

The abundant flowers of the low bush blueberries have now produced tiny berries. They should begin ripening near the Summer solstice next month. Community park -4

I took a  walk around  the lake hoping to  see the bald eagle, osprey, loon, or at least some water fowl I have seen in the past. No luck this time.  I did not a single bird of any kind but heard a few blue jays, robins and crows and spotted this fellow in a tree. Community park -32

There were also a lot of wild flowers blooming along the trails, including the pink azalea or honeysuckle,Community park -8

may flowers,Community park -21 

lady slipper orchards or  duck flowersCommunity park -35

and even a few painted trillium. Community park -23

And there was some wildlife, if you can call turtles wildlife. Community park -15

I saw quite a few along the logs, rocks and shores of the lake where it abuts a wetland on it’s northern end,Community park -17

including this snapping turtle. Community park -13

As I made my way back I even found some mushrooms growing on a log, not an edible species like the oyster mushrooms I had found on Sunday. not to my knowledge anyway. Community park -7

The woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania are so pretty this time of year, with the pink azaleas in bloom. I am hoping I can get out for another hike this week, although there is rain in the forecast. I will still hike in the rain but, unfortunately, not with my camera. But I am sure there  will be many sunny days ahead this Spring. Here is a link to some more photographs I took on my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Community-park-may-23-2017-Community park -28

“The nation behaves well if it treats its natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired, in value.” ― Theodore Roosevelt

Community park -24

 

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Up Close Or From Far Away: Everything Looks Good This Time Of Year.

The heat was on here today in Northeastern Pennsylvania Temperatures climbed into the upper 80’s.  I was hoping heat would bring out the insects so I took a short walk after work with my macro lens. Macroand community park -4

I enjoy seeing thing through the macro lens, it lets me look into an entire new world. I saw this insect on a windows in my house.Macroand community park -1

I left my house and walked through my neighborhood looking at flowers, leaves and weeds from a different perspective, such as this poison ivy leaf.Macroand community park -7

Or these comfrey flowers.Macroand community park -6

The peony flowers in my mom’s yard always attract ants but they sure lood different up close. Macroand community park -16

I was surprised, and somewhat alarmed, by the absence of the bees and wasps. There usually are a lot more buzzing around by now. Hopefully they will appear then the rhododendrons bloom in  few days. Here is a link to some more photographs I took with my macro lens. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Macro-walk-May-17-2017-Macroand community park -11

Although I have a lot of garden work and chores to do I  decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and visit Lake Irena out at Community park.Macroand community park -24

I wasn’t the only one with this idea and the park was crowded with families and young children at the playground,  folks at the picnic grounds and walkers and fishermen at the lake. Macroand community park -45

I took a quick walk around the lake noticing that the pink azaleas were just starting to loom up here on the mountain. They were blooming two weeks ago at the lower elevations at the PPL wetlands. Macroand community park -28

There were also a lot of low and high bush blueberries still flowering as well as an abundance of wild strawberries. Macroand community park -26

I was hoping to see the osprey or bald eagle again, or at least the looks and ducks that are sometimes seen on the lake but all I saw were two geese and this noisy  blue jay.Macroand community park -39

It was still a great way to spend some time on this hot, summer like afternoon and I  am looking to many more days like this in the coming months. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike at the lake. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Community-park-walk-May-17-2017-Macroand community park -3

“This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.”—John MuirMacroand community park -22

 

 

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