Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hemlock Bluffs & Leaf Shadows

Here in the Raleigh area, we have had two perfect days in a row for getting outside.  Yesterday I went to Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve for my walk.  I chose the Swift Creek Trail, an easy loop that I walked twice as I usually do.  You have to watch your step on the boardwalk, which is damp and very slippery.  The only hard part of this walk is at the end - more than 100 steps back up the bluff, with two decks with benches along the way for resting.

There are a few hemlock trees at Hemlock Bluffs, but it is not a hemlock forest.  There are some magnificent tulip trees here, among others, and many varieties of flora and fauna.  I always hear birds, and yesterday I wished I had my binoculars.

Here are a few pictures I shot along the way.

The sun was very bright and the shadows were deep and intriguing.  I began to look for shadows everywhere, and I took these pictures of the beautiful leaf patterns.  The brighter the sun is, the deeper the shadows; and a tall tree will cast a fuzzier shadow than a small bush.

Eventually, I started playing with my own shadow, and took these pictures for fun.

Stevens Nature Center, a center for educational programs and a resource in the natural history of the area, is the gateway to the trails.  Yesterday there was a small group of children on a walk with one of the park staff.  Overheard:

Child:  "Oooooh, look what I found!"
Park Staff:  "That's a chewed-up pinecone."
Child:  "Awesome!"

That child is awesome in my book.  What's awesome in yours?

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