Insects And Some Other Cool September Stuff

I was out searching for wild mushrooms everyday this past week. It has been a cool and rainy Summer which has resulted in an abundance of wild mushrooms. I have found many hen of the woods, or, as they are called in my area, rams head mushrooms. hen of the woods mushroom

I have found many other species too and have been including  them in   some of my favorite dishes, such as shrimp, scallops, wild mushrooms sauteed with onions and garlic served over whole wheat pasta.dinner meal of shrimp, scallops, hen of woods mushrooms over pasta

I took my macro lens on some of my hikes and, in addition to wild mushrooms, uncovered some more of the beauty of nature up close. 

One of the most unique was this creature. I found it sitting on a milkweed pod.  heel bug insect on milkweed pod

It kept facing me, in this defensive pose,  as I approached from all sides. I have learned it is a wheel bug  ,  a member of the assassin bug family, and is know for it’s painful sting. Here is a link to some more photographs of the wheel bug.close up wheel bug on milkweed pod

There were many signs of the coming of  Fall on my walk. Many of the leaves are now changing color, especially members of the heath family, including the blueberry bushes. bright red bluebery leaves

And some of the red maples.bright red maple leaves

The woods are a lot quieter now, many of the song birds have already begun their migration south. And many of the insects, dragonflies and butterflies  are now gone. I still saw a few wasps and bees and this butterfly. moth or butterfly on tree

And some other insects I haven’t seen before.unidentified insect on leaf

I found this caterpillar suspended from a silk thread as it dangled it’s way to the ground in search of food before the cold weather sets in. caterpillar dangling from silk thread

Even though I only had my macro lens I was still able to get a photograph of this deer watch me walk by,deer in woods

and a photograph of this interesting reflection of the sun in the clouds. 

I don’t believe I have ever taken a walk in the forest  and woodlands of Northeastern Pennsylvania without seeing something new, beautiful or interesting.

I enjoy every one of my walks, and even more so during mushroom season, since I can take some of nature home with me and  add it to a delicious  meal. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hikes. 

All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child. Marie Curielady bug beetle on white flower

Share This:

It’s Still Summer, But Fall Is In A Hurry To Get Here This Year.

Today started out  cloudy, breezy and cool, with temperatures in the mid 40’s and, even though we still have some Summer left it felt a lot more like Fall.  I decided to again place my macro lens on my camera and take it along on my search for wild mushrooms. brown maple leaf sitting on ground

As I  walked in the mixed pine, birch and aspen woods in search of aspen scaber bloete or red tops, as my dad called them, I noticed a lot of the leaves are now beginning to show some color. bright red blueberry leaves

Many of the blueberry bushes, both low and high bush species, are turning a brilliant red. red blueberry leaf

And some of the leaves on the birch, yellow white birch leaf

and maple trees are also changing into their fall colors. maple leaf turning red

There were a few wild flowers still in bloom,  I don’t know the names of this one,purple wild flower

nor the name of this beautiful white late blooming orchard, white orchard in bloom

but I do know this is a species of ragweed, not well lied by those of us, me included, who suffer from allergies. insect on ragweed flower

I was disappointed I didn’t find any red top mushrooms but I did find a wild crab apple tree,wild crab apples

and sampled it’s very sour fruit. wild crab apple with a bite

I left the birch/ aspen/ pine woods and decided to search for some  hen of the woods or, as we call them, ramshead mushrooms. I didn’t find this one  in the woods. Some friends found it in growing in their yard and let me harvest it . These mushrooms grow mainly on old oak trees so the woods are very different. hen of the woods or ramshead mushroom

I usually hike second growth forests with a mixture of maple, oak, pine hemlock and the occasional ash and hickory nut tree. The ground is usually covered with many species of ferns, which are also changing color early this year. , close up of fern which has tuned yellow

and my mortal enemies,   brambles and thorn bushes,thorns on a thorn bush

and blackberry brambles which have caused me many scratches on my legs and tumbles to the ground when walking into them in the thick underbrush as I look for the old oak trees which may have a ramshead  mushroom growing on it. blackberry thorns

There were some mushrooms growing along paths, 

including what I think is a cauliflower mushroom and,

some old puffballs,

but, unfortunately I didn’t find what I was looking for, a ramshead mushroom. But there is always tomorrow and it is always good to be outdoors in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. Macro walk 

Summer ends and autumn comes, and he who would have thought it otherwise would have high tide always and a full moon every night.”  –  Hal Borland

Share This:

September Hikes With My Macro Lens. More Of Nature Up Close

It’s hard to believe it’s September already. It seems we were just anxiously awaiting the return of the song birds and the first flowers of Spring.  Seasons change so quickly it seems. It is almost fall now and here in Northeastern Pennsylvania late summer brings mushrooms. red top or aspen scaber bolete mushroom

I was out looking for red tops. or aspen scaber bolete,  (a nice specimen shown above)  these past few days. Like most mushroom foragers, I don’t  reveal my favorite spots, so rather than give hints to where I was,  I took took my camera with a macro lens to share some more of nature close up. close up of yellow jacket on leaf

The first thing I noticed, due to the cool weather we’ve been having, it was in the low 40’s a couple of mornings,  was the reduced activity of the insects.close up of wasp on leaf

I found many wasps, bees and yellow jackets almost motionless on the leaves and flowers on my walk. And I noticed many ladybug beetles also almost in a dormant state in the early morning cold. close up of lady bug beetle on leaf

But  many, including yellow jackets  are still active as the day warms up, especially when you step on their nest, as I did and got stung on my shin. Ouch!close up of yellow jacket on leaf

 My search for red tops mushrooms brought me to areas of new forest growth with younger, pine, aspen and birch trees. And, what my dad called  ‘mushroom bushes” also know as sweet fern. Here is a close up of a sweet fern leaf already changing colors as the summer ends. . sweet fern leaf

It has been dry and I was disappointed to find only a few mushrooms growing, mainly pigskin puffballs, or what my dad called, “shoe polish”. This one was too old to cut in half and explain the reason for that name, but, stay tuned, I will demonstrate in a future posts. close up of poison pigskin mushroom

I also found some more unusual objects on my walks, including this oak gall, created from hormones injected by a wasp when it lays it’s eggs on a oak leaf. Pretty fascinating. oak gall

And not sure if I should get into this, but it is part of nature, I found, what I think is bear do do on the ground. Not positive but if any one knows please comment.possibly bear droppings

I do know this is deer do do and deer droppings

and this white substance on this leaf was droppings left by an unknown bird.bird dropping on a leaf

Well onto something more appealing, some left over blueberries,close up of blueberries

and some chokeberries. I just learned these berries, which we were taught were poisonous,  were one of the staple foods of Shoshone Native American tribe. chokeberries up close

And the oaks also had plenty of acorns this year. close up of acorn

As I wrote in my post from my hike last week, there were still some flower in bloom or about to bloom.    close up of wild flower bud

I didn’t find a lot of mushroom but it is always nice to roam the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania with my eyes peeled, you will always uncover some of the beauty of nature.  It is raining as I type, hopefully there will be more mushroom pictures in my next post. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hikes. Macro photographs. 

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” –Albert Einsteingrass up close

Share This:

Late Summer At The PPL Wetlands.

Last Sunday I got up early , on a clear and cool late summer  morning,   to try and find some wild mushrooms.  I was unsuccessful so I decided to head to the PPL Wetlands in Salem Township. It has been almost three weeks since I last visited and I miss walking along the Susquehanna River, the canals and ponds. two turtles on a log

Once again I found many turtles sunning on the shores, rocks and logs in and around the waters, a sure sign that the waters are cooling down because of the decreasing sun and lengthening nights. green colored pond covered with duckweed

Another sign of the end of Summer and the approaching Fall was the absence of the chirping of the song birds.  It seems many of warblers and other song birds may have already begun their migration south. I didn’t even see many robins or red winged blackbirds. But there were still a few catbirds fluttering about and making plenty of noise. catbird in leaves on tree branch

The calming sounds of the cicadas could be heard from the tree tops and there were quite a few dragonflies darting about. dragonfly on a twig

At first I thought, being late August,  that there wouldn’t be as many flowers in bloom as Spring. And there weren’t, but, upon closer observation I found quite a variety of flowers still in bloom, including these pretty cardinal flowers. red cardinal flower in bloom

There were also still a full thistles in bloom, although most of these have gone to seed.purple thistle flower in bloom

There were still plenty of jewelweed or touch-me-nots blooming along the trails including many yellow ones  which I hadn’t seen earlier in August. yellow jewelweed or touch-me-not in bloom

There were also many daisy like flowers growing,daisy like flowers in bloom

and these not too popular flowers were now starting to bloom, the allergy aggravating ragweed. yellow ragweed flower in bloom

And, as flowers do, they did attract many insects including bees, wasps and butterflies. butterfly on flower

The milkweed flowers have now turned into pods and even these pods attract certain types of insects.insects on milkweed pod

And  the jack-in-the-pulpit flowers have now produced their unique fruit. Here is a link to some of the other flowers I found on my walk. FLOWERS.

I walked along the trails to the riverlands and always pretty Lake Took-A-While and the many folks still fishing in or walking around it’s waters or picnicking near it’s shores. Lake Took-A-While PPL Riverlands

I walked back through the trails of the river and wetlands, hearing mainly the  serenade of cicadas in the trees but also hearing, and seeing a few birds, including this  large flycatcher, I think it is a kingbird, kingbird on branch

this smaller flycatcher, flycatcher on branch

a juvenile woodpecker, juvenile woodpecker on tree

and some wood ducks, a great blue heron and a few green herons. 

As I left the wetlands I saw this fellow watching me leave. I could roam these trails all day, so much flora and fauna in these wetlands, but I had to head home, knowing that soon Fall will arrive and the wetlands will begin to enter their long winter nap. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. PPL wetlands photographs.

When summer gathers up her robes of glory, And, like a dream, glides away.Sarah Helen Whitman

 

Share This:

Mushroom Hunting With My Macro Lens

It’s August, and we have had plenty of rain this past month, and that means mushrooms,  here,  in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  king bolete mushroom

My dad taught me and my bothers how to pick two species of bolete mushrooms from an early age. I was about three when he first took me searching for red tops and cozie mushrooms.  Some of my most cherished childhood memories were on these mushroom hunts.red yellow or bi color bolete mushroom

I  have continued the tradition,  and hope to write more about it in a future blogs, check the archives search for past blogs about mushrooms. Today I will just quickly share some photographs of mushrooms I found, on my hike last weekend.  Some of which like this old man of the woods bolete mushroom I can identify. old man of the woods mushroom

I now eat over 50 species of wild mushrooms but will not identify which are edible and which are not here on my blog since many mushrooms are poisonous and can make you very sick or even kill you. These jack ‘ o ‘ lantern mushrooms are very poisonous.jack o lantern mushrooms

I would advise you not to eat any wild mushroom unless you are 100% it is edible.  Having provided that warning I not only enjoy eating them, I love the many colors, shapes and sizes that are found here in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania. This is a milker or milky mushroom,milker mushrooms

so named because of the white latex like substance that oozes from the mushroom when cut or broken. milker mushroom

Some, like these coral mushrooms are shaped differently then the common mushroom.coral mushroom

The color range from bright reds like this species of russula mushrooms rusulla mushrooms

to the bright yellow chanterelle mushroom chanterelle mushroom

or the black trumpets. black trumpet mushrrom

I also came across some jewel weed or touch me not flowers and, as always is the case the insects found them too. bee in jewel weed flower

I again spent more time that I had planned photographing the many colorful insects attracted to the flowers.  beetle on jewel weed leaf

Like mushrooms, I am always amazed by the many  species, and their different sizes and color. macro of fly on jewel weed leaf

I also came across this tiny toad,young toad

this newt or red eft newt or red eft in leaves

and found this late season recently hatched egg shell but I am not familiar with the  birds that would best this late in the season. 

I gathered a nice variety of wild mushrooms , and enjoyed them for dinner. I love the summer and my hikes searching for wild mushrooms. Here is a link to some more photographs of mushrooms, insects and some other stuff I observed on my hike. Sorry but I am not going to tell you where I hiked, mushroom hunters don’t share that information. lol  http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/mushroom-macro-hike-August-6-2017

Falling in love is like eating mushrooms, you never know if it’s the real thing until it’s too late.– Bill Balance

Share This:

A Hike In The Poconos But Still No Mountain Laurel.

It was another overcast Sunday this past weekend  , with some showers still in the area in the morning. I had planned to hike the Broad Mountain, where I knew  from past hikes the widespread mountain laurel , our state flower, would be in bloom. The radar showed some lingering showers over the Broad Mountain so I decided to drive further north and hike in State Game Lands 119, hoping to find plenty of mountain laurel in bloom.

As I drove on Interstate Highway 81 I passed many woodlands and  entire mountainsides covered in laurel and I hoped to find the same at the gamelands. Shortly after beginning my hike I realized this may not be the case. The wood were green and lush, but like the day before, may have been too overgrown  to support the growth of the state flower. 

It was overcast but still a nice morning for a walk.  There were some flowers in bloom, not as  showy as the mountain laurel, but pretty in their own way, such as the stargrass,

and spiderwort that were scattered along the path. 

The trees overhead were filled with the song of birds. I heard yellow warblers during my entire hike but this tiny birds were well hidden in the now lush green leaves of the tree tops. I did quite a few male eastern towhees perched high in the branches. 

I just learned that  the males  leave the safety of the underbrush , where I have seen many of them over the years picking blue berries and mushrooms, to find a high perch to sing and attract a mate. 

I saw, and heard, so  many other birds fluttering in the tree tops and scrub oaks but it is so hard to photograph them. After waiting for about 10 minutes I was finally able to capture a photograph of this common yellow throat. 

I walked past the gas line that was on the left as I approached from the parking area. I had followed this gas line down to the D & L trail on my last three hike in the game lands but this time I continued along on the trail that followed  an old railroad bed.

There were plenty of low bush blueberries along the trails, and I found a few that had ripened. I usually am picking my first ripe ones near the summer solstice. They were delicious. 

Also blooming now is the fly poison, this pretty white flowers are actually very toxic and was used by American colonists to kill flies. 

The trail crossed over the head waters of the Little Nescopeck Creek.

And there were quite a few robins in this area. 

The trail was almost a continuous, but slight upgrade. As I approached the top of a ridge the trees became older. There were some nice old oak and hemlock trees up here.  

I hiked out about three miles. Just as I decided to turn back the sun broke through the clouds bringing out the many shades of green in the lush new growth of the woodlands. 

As I walked under the trees I heard the high pitched call of an osprey and sure enough saw this one fly overhead. 

And I also saw a pair of Baltimore orioles fluttering in a tree. 

They flew from branch to branch  and I think they must have had a nest in the tree. 

I continued to hear the sounds of many different songbirds in the trees but had a hard time finding them in the leaves. I was able to see, and photograph this catbird  who had captured a caterpillar. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/State-Game-lands-119-birds-June-18-2017

I walked back to my jeep in the brilliant June sunshine disappointed that I wasn’t able to find any stands of our state flower, the mountain laurel. Still it was a nice hike in these game lands which, I am growing to love more with each hike I take.

I drove my jeep on the long dirt road from  the parking area to the little quaint resort town of Penn lake. So many beautiful places here in Northeastern Pennsylvania and not enough time to explore them all. But I will try. Here is a link to some more  photographs from my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/State-Game-lands-119-June-19-201

“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche

 

 

 

 

Share This:

Cumulus Clouds, Wind And Sunshine: A Pleasant Birthday Hike At The Rails To Trails.

I circled our sun one more time yesterday, and one year older as I write, but, thankfully I am still able to explore the beauty of this planet I was born on. rails to trails-18

After a few hours at the office, and a nice lunch with my nephew and partner Charles, , I left  work early to take advantage of the beautiful June afternoon. rails to trails-22

It was a perfect day for hiking,  puffy, cotton-like clouds floating in a deep blues skies, with a strong  northerly wind bringing us cool, but refreshing weather.rails to trails-2

I decided to hike out, and take another look, at the pitch pine barrens near our local Rails to Trails, and the birds I saw there on Sunday.   rails to trails-20

This area reminds so much of the pitch pine wetlands I hiked as a child. I would have hiked there yesterday, I always did on my birthday, except for the fact they are now underneath  an industrial  park and residential development. I am so glad some folks on our planet realize how precious our environment is and seek to protect areas like this. The Land Trust and Rails to Trails folks must be given all the credit they have earned for keeping these areas preserved and letting folks visit them. rails to trails-17

Unfortunately. I only saw a few birds on my hike in the barrens, a nuthatch scampering down a tree, rails to trails-10

a sparrow along the trailrails to trails-3

and this elusive fellow, I think a hooded warbler that avoided me for 15 minutes singing, and hopping, among some scrub oaks.rails to trails-13

I continued my hike along the trail, finding this late blooming lady slipper orchid, or duck flower. rails to trails-24

And seeing these coming attractions of Mother Nature’s net display, our state flower, mountain laurel buds. They should be in bloom net week. rails to trails-5

And plenty of these plants, which in a few months, will attract many butterflies and insects, milkweed. rails to trails-31

I hiked out about a mile and concluded no cool birds or animals will be seen on this hike, when I heard some fluttering above me. I saw two blue jays attacking a bird. This is a common sight, birds chasing each other from their nesting area, but what was unusual here was the bird being chased, a beautiful scarlet tanager. rails to trails-40

And, they chased it almost directly into my face! The blue jays flew off, leaving the scarlet tanager to rest in the trees and let me get some photographs. rails to trails-37

This is why I have love the outdoors. Since my dad took me on hikes when  I was first able to walk I have loved this planet. And I love walking and exploring it. . You never know what beautiful things you will see, or what type of critters, from ants to bears, you will encounter. Hopefully, I will have many more years left, to, as my dad taught me, keep my eyes peeled, and walk many more mile on this wonderful world we live. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike yesterday http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Rails-to-Trails-hike-June-1-2017rails to trails-34

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
W.B. Yeats

 

Share This:

Another Hike In The State Game Lands: There Really Is a Cuckoo Bird. I Saw My First One Today!

It was a chilly and windy start today, temperatures in the mid 40’s here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  But we had some sun, which is always a good thing, but even more so in May.  I decided to hike out in the State Game lands, 119 out in Dennison Township. state game lands -1

I always enjoyed hiking in the woods. I would spend hours hiking the woods near my house as a child and young adult. Although I had no camera,  nor was there any internet, I still loved to share stories of what I found with my dad, my family and my friends.state game lands -4

So the tradition continues, with a larger audience   on my blog and Facebook page. .  Today, after leaving my jeep,  the  first thing I saw was a bald eagle. He swooped down over the hill before I could get a photograph.  Shortly afterward I saw a much smaller, yet still beautiful bird,  high in the treetops, a scarlet tanager. I have seen quite a few this year.state game lands birds -5

I decided to take the same hike as I did the first time I visited here two weeks ago and hike up to the gas line and followe it to the D & L trail.state game lands -1

There were still plenty of flowers on the high bush blueberry bushes. It  looks like it will be a  great crop this year. state game lands -15

I saw a few wild flowers too, the May flowers were scattered about,state game lands -21

as were the fringed polygala.state game lands -22

I only saw one of these, a painted trillium, one of my favorites. state game lands -25

The pink azalea were just starting to bloom up at these higher elevations. it’s like getting a second Spring up here. state game lands -18

I made my way to the D & L trail where I found a nice bunch of oyster mushrooms growing on a fallen tree. I didn’t bring a knife or bag but stuffed a few in my pockets. I love these mushrooms. They have an anise flavor. I just had them for dinner and they were delicious. state game lands -28

I walked the trail up to Moosehead lake again seeing a few birds along the way including this one, I think a female rose breasted grosbeak. state game lands birds -16

I was disappointed to not find any water fowl on the lake but sat and enjoyed the view for a bit. state game lands -31

It clouded up now, and got very windy. The wind created a tick problem. The narrow trail through the thick brush and overhanging trees caused many of them to be blown on me. I pulled of 18 of them today. state game lands -14

I walked the same trail back and I was fortunate to see this bird in a tree.Yellow billed cucko -7

I didn’t know what it was when I saw it but I have learned it is a yellow billed cuckoo. It was a beautiful bird and was the first time I ever heard of or saw one. Here is a link to some more photographs of this beautiful bird. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/birds-of-pennsylvania/nggallery/birds-of-pennsylvania/yellow-billed-cuckooYellow billed cucko -3

I didn’t see a single mammal on the hike, not a deer, bear, squirrel or even a chipmunk, although I heard a lot of them.  state game lands -13

I saw a lot more birds on the way back, orioles, robins, sparrows, American redstarts and even a few black-capped chickadees. Some I was able to photograph, others flew away before I could. But I enjoyed seeing everyone of them. Here is a link to some more of the birds I was able to photograph on my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/State-game-lands-119-May-21-2017–1state game lands birds -14

I returned to my jeep and did a thorough tick check before I entered my jeep. Even with the frustration from the many ticks, it was still a great day to be outdoors in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/State-Game-lands-119-May-21-2017-

state game lands birds -29

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. … There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”

—Rachel Carson,state game lands birds -26

 

 

 

Share This:

Another Spring Walk Close To Home.

The weather has warmed up and it’s finally  starting to feel like Spring here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. And it was another nice day to take a walk this afternoon. I,again, walked out to the mining reclamation area and  railroad tracks near my house. railkroad hike -29

On the way I saw a lot more insect activity as the wild flowers continued to bloom. Bees and wasps were buzzing about.railkroad hike -1

And there were now quite a few moths  and butterflies fluttering about,  with one occasionally landing on the ground. railkroad hike -13

I  walked through  the wetlands that have formed in parts of the reclamation area   and once again saw no ducks or geese. The duck egg I  found the other day was gone. Sadly, I believe, not because it hatched, but because it was eaten by a predator. railkroad hike -14

There were many  red-winged blackbirds in the wetlands including a lot of males fighting for their territories, railkroad hike -41

and the females, such as this one. railkroad hike -40

High overhead I spotted , I believe, was  a red tailed hawk. railkroad hike -6

I walked to the railroad tracksrailkroad hike -30

and to some more ponds on the other side. I was disappointed since there are usually frogs and snakes near these ponds, but not today, although there was evidence that there will be a lot of frogs in the coming weeks and months, based on the thousands of tadpoles or pollywogs in the water. We would spend hours looking for and catching them, and frogs and salamanders as kids. railkroad hike -23

The duck flowers continue there short blooming season,railkroad hike -36

as are these pretty  flowers, I believe blue-eyed grass flowers   blooming profusely in the wetlands near the ponds. railkroad hike -24

 

As along one of the paths in the reclamation area I looked down at a small pond and was surprised to see ,a sandpiper,  looking for a meal. I didn’t think anything would live in the  ponds that it could eat, but I guess I was wrong. I am not sure what type of sandpiper it is, after looking through my field guides for 15 minutes my guess is an upland or solitary sandpiper. railkroad hike -32

And I spotted this birds fluttering in the brush, again I think it may be a palm warbler but not sure.railkroad hike -9

Unfortunately I had to head back home. I could spend the entire day out here in Spring, my favorite season. Well Summer is pretty good too, and looks like some Summer weather headed our way the next few days. I hope I can sneak out of the office early since a lot going on in the great outdoors of Northeastern Pennsylvania this time of year. Here is a link to some more photographs fro my hike today. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Railroad-hike-May-18-2017-railkroad hike -19

“I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anybody could ever want.” Andy Warholrailkroad hike -20

 

 

Share This:

Poland Day Eight: Czestohowa: The Splendor Of Jasna Gora , Home Of The The Black Maddona, And A Hike To A Lake

After my long morning hike I returned to the hotel for  breakfast, consumed a lot of coffee,  and spent some time editing the many photographs I had taken this past week in Poland. Around noon, looking out my hotel window, I noticed  a lot of folks carrying Easter baskets as they walked toward the monastery. Poland Day Eight Czestochowa Monestery -1

This is another Polish custom my dad had always followed, as did many others in my home town who were  of Polish decent, the blessing of the Easter baskets. I decided to walk on over and have a look at how they observe it here in Poland. Poland Day Eight Czestochowa Monestery -19

At home most families packed  a rather large basket. Our family included kielbasa, bacon, dyed and peeled eggs, butter shaped like a lamb, ham, paska bread and red and white horseradish. Here in Poland the baskets were much smaller and seemed more ceremonial. Here are a few a woman allowed me to photograph. Poland Day Eight Czestochowa Monestery -47

And there seemed to be no set religious service. People, mostly families, the entire few hours I was at the Monastery, came, had their baskets blessed by a priest and left. In my Parish at home there was a single service at which time all of the baskets in the community were blessed.  After having their baskets blessed, many people stayed and enjoyed the impressive grounds of the Jasna Gora Monastery, which is actually a medieval fortress.  I also decided to stay and explore this historic place.Poland Day Eight Czestochowa Monestery -12

I again visited the beautiful Basilica and Shrine of the Black Madonna and did not take photographs out of respect. I have since learned that photography is allowed.  Unfortunately, because of the Holy Days the museums were all closed but there was still plenty to see. Poland Day Eight Czestochowa Monestery -32

I made my way up to the upper walls that surround the Monastery.  They withstood the onslaught of Swedish attackers in the 17th century and it was attributed to the protection of the Black Madonna. Poland Day Eight Czestochowa Monestery -44

They also provided me with a nice view of  downtown Czestochowa and I was able to see were I had hiked earlier in the day, beyond the smokestack in the distance. Poland Day Eight Czestochowa Monestery part two -30

Above the walls were the towering steeples that can be seen from all around the surrounding countryside. Poland Day Eight Czestochowa Monestery -14

And below  the walls were the beautiful statutes depicting the Stations of the Cross. This is a link to some more photographs of the many sights of this impressive and historic structure. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Eight-Czestochowa-Monastery-Saturday-April-15-2017-Poland Day Eight Czestochowa Monestery part two -41

And, of course their was another, and more important aspect of the ancient fortress, it’s religious and spiritual importance to the Polish nation. As mentioned in my early post the Black Madonna arrived at the Monastery  in 1382.  During the middle ages hundreds of thousands of pilgrims visited the shrine. Poland Day Eight Czestochowa Monestery -25

And on September 8 1717 the Polish King declared Our Lady of Czestochowa as the Queen of Poland.Poland Day Eight Czestochowa Monestery -6

It was a favorite pilgrimage site of Pope John Paul II and almost 4 1/2 million pilgrims visit the shrine every year. Poland Day Eight Czestochowa Monestery part two -33

But it’s importance to me stems from it’s importance to my dad and his devotion to the Black Madonna until the day of his death. I feel so at peace in this place. Poland Day Eight Czestochowa Monestery -16

I spent a few hours exploring the many nooks and crannies of the old fortress and the many paintings and statutes that adorn them. Here is a link to some more photographs from my tour of the Monastery.http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-day-Eight-Czestochowa-Monastery-part-two-Saturday-April-15-2017-Poland Day Eight Czestochowa Monestery part two -13

I left the Monastery through it’s main gate as still more families were entering to have their Easter baskets blessed. Poland Day Eight Czestochowa Monestery part two -46

This proud grandfather and his grandson were happy to pose for this photograph. Poland Day Eight Czestochowa afternoon lake walk -29

I decided to explore more of this charming city and so I headed to a lake I saw on the maps.  I again walked through mainly upscale residential neighborhoods.Poland Day Eight Czestochowa afternoon lake walk -14

But as can be found everywhere in Poland there was always a church,Poland Day Eight Czestochowa afternoon lake walk -5

and a restaurant mixed in. Poland Day Eight Czestochowa afternoon lake walk -25

It was another mile to the lake and, having walked a lot earlier in the day, I was tired when I finally found it. It was a quiet  little lake, with a few swans swimming about and some locals casting their fishing lines into the waters. I would liked to have stayed a little while and enjoy the peace and quiet but it again looked like rain so I decided to head back. Poland Day Eight Czestochowa afternoon lake walk -11

The rain held off, and it was a nice, but long walk back to my hotel. I knew I was close when I came to the beautiful park that is situated between my hotel and the Monastery.Poland Day Eight Czestochowa afternoon lake walk -34

It was another wonderful day in Poland and the lovely city of Czestochowa. And the one  thing  needed to make it complete was to find a good restaurant for dinner. And this I did. I had a delightful meal at the famous and highly recommended Dobry Ro. This was their interesting version of mushroom soup, made with a puff pastry. Delicious. soup-1k.

I returned to my hotel tired but  with many new and wonderful memories.  I felt so much at home in this foreign.. Here is a link to some more photographs from my afternoon hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Eight-Czestochowa-afternoon-walk-to-lake-

And the day wasn’t over, I had fallen asleep around 9 pm so I was pretty much in a deep sleep when at 11 pm I heard explosions. Awakening from my sleep I first thought I was at home  and it was  July or New Years Eve. Seeing the strange room of my hotel I realized I was in Poland and now really started to wonder what was happening. I went to the window and figured out that the source of the explosions was fireworks coming from the direction of  the monastery. I posted this on Facebook and was told, by some friends the Eastern Orthodox churches in Europe do this to celebrate Easter. Interesting.  Here is a short video I uploaded to my YouTube channel.  https://youtu.be/H3Jsrk1UzCY   The fireworks  were over soon and, fortunately, I was back asleep, getting rest for another wonderful day in Poland. fireworks -1

“…I pray that young people from East and West will walk together along the path of freedom, working to overcome all conflicts between races and peoples, so as to build a world of authentic brotherhood and carry the liberating message of the Gospel everywhere.” – Pope John Paul II,                                                Czestochowa, Poland, 1991

Share This: