Sherman takes in a summer scene while taking a break. Being a little on the older side, Sherman takes a lot of breaks.
However, family and friends have noted that Sherman always pauses on the hill right behind our house or my parents' house before he heads inside.
I suspect he pauses behind my parents' home because he is waiting for my father who Sherman loves dearly.
As Sherman pauses a little more every day, I hope to be able to pause a little more myself.
That's just the nature of things 'round here.
We have all heard the saying, "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again." However, there is also the popular motto that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different outcomes.
My dream of capturing a photo in the theme of the "Birds and Blooms" magazine maybe falls somewhere between those two adages.
I thought I had a chance at fulfilling this goal earlier this year when I spotted the Baltimore orioles feeding on the nectar of the blossoms on my apple tree. However, the shot turned out a little less stunning than I had anticipated.
I thought I had a deal with the orioles that in exchange for providing an unending grape jelly supply that they would pose for some stunning photos. They create beautiful scenes as they pose in the garden surrounding the feeder. But apparently, I had misunderstood the terms of the contact. They usually fled when I appeared with the camera and tried to get a photo.
Despite the orioles' dissing, I kept trying for some more birds with blooms photos. I managed to get the birds, but not with blooms. Other birds I was able to capture included a rose-breasted grosbeak, a goldfinch, a gray catbird and a blue-headed vireo posing for photos.
Still failing to add flowers to the mix, in mid-June I captured a bird on a wire photo. One of the bluebirds that had frequented my parents' yard gave me a side glance as I took his picture.
I spent hours stalking the hummingbird feeder trying to get the "perfect" photo. Some turned out. Most were just photos of empty feeders.
The only flowers present were the plastic ones on the feeder. It seemed to me that a lot of my bird pictures were missing the blooms part. However, even action photos at the feeders seemed nearly impossible as the hummers kept avoiding the camera. They would feed at the port on the opposite side, thwarting my tries.
So on the verge of insanity, I gave up trying to get the birds with the blooms and just went straight for the blooms. Blooms in and of themselves were relatively easy to capture good photos of, unless there is a strong wind.
Trying to capture the beauty of each blossom can sometimes be trying if the lighting isn't right. However, the blooms colors and delicate features shone through.
Nonetheless, butterflies as a photo subject never seemed to disappoint on the blooms part. However, there were some trying times as busy butterflies flitted in-and-out of frame and focus. They also failed to cooperate with any direction I tried to give them.
Earlier this June, the rhododendron bush was busting with blooms and was a very popular place for the pollinators. Tiger swallowtails, spicebush swallowtails and bees covered their blossoms. At one point there were a total of ten butterflies feeding on the bush. The whole bush was either buzzing or fluttering with activity. Sadly the blooms faded and the butterflies moved on.
However, I did capture an eastern tailed blue butterfly, who was perched on a leaf.
Back in the garden, a silver-spotted skipper decided to fulfill the blooms requirement part of a photo by feeding on some calibrachoa blossoms.
The act was actually kind of uplifting for me.
The particular calibrachoa or million bells plant in question was one that I had tried to keep alive throughout the winter. It looked terrible as I brought it out this spring.
Nonetheless, to my surprise it flourished and possibly looked even fuller than it did last season.
Other flowers flourishing in mid-June included the foxglove behind the garage. Or rather, these were plants I left so I didn't have mow the bank.
While, I couldn't get the butterflies or birds to pose with the foxglove, I was able to get a bloodhound to. Clem posed pretty with the posies while the other dogs just ignored my pleas.
Of course, Clem just posed in the flowers and didn't eat them. While foxglove is pretty all parts of the plant are poisonous to animals and humans.
However, the plant is used to make a medication for the heart.
Meanwhile in the woods, the flowers I found blooming were multiflora roses. They are pretty, but also pretty invasive. They have taken over and pushed out some native plants.
Kyle decided to try the roses and apparently found them edible. He also found the first bud of the season on my peace rose edible. I declared war on him for his discretion. Hopefully, the peace rose will try to bud again as was just the start of the growing season.
While the growing season for roses had started, the lady slippers were ending their time for blooms. I discovered a few of the orchids that were still trying to hold on. However, by mid-June no blossoms could be found.
Gus, however, has been successful in learning how to swim. He first tried just wading. He then turned to swimming laps around the neighbor's pond. He was usually the first one to the pond after he discovered his newfound dogpaddling skill.
Another successful try included the canines' chipmunk hunting. This was rare. I would watch as countless times the little critters would run down a tree and between the legs of several searching dogs. Clem managed to dispatch one chipmunk in the yard. However, another one committed suicide by drowning in the goat bucket. Not to worry though, at least two other chipmunks showed up to fill the void. These little guys sure try my patience as they dig up my potted plants and landscaping.
While chipmunks seemed to abound, I couldn't seem to find any fawns. I tried to see if any of the neighborhood does had little ones following them around. Nonetheless, I didn't see any. I grew jealous of Facebook posts of folks who just happened upon fawns in their yards or gardens. I still held out hope that one or two little spotted deer would show up on a trail camera. Meanwhile, I kept searching for more birds and blossoms.
Will I drive myself crazy in the attempt for the perfect birds and blooms photo?
I turned to a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson for some answers, "Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow." I hope to keep growing as I hope my flowers keep growing.
That's just the nature of things 'round here.
More blooms without birds. ;-)
The peonies were out in full bloom.
Their fragrance was as delicate and beautiful at their blossoms.
A quick internet search turned up some interesting peony quotes.
Some of my favorites were:
as pretty as a peony;
a peony for your thoughts (probably a play on a penny for your thoughts;
and when in doubt add peonies and a rose is a rose, but a peony is a friend forever.
While some spring flowers have faded, many more are ready to open.
This appeared to be the time for the peonies to show off.
That's just the nature of things round here.
A male ruby-throated hummingbird perches on a zip tie securing some plastic spikes. He was guarding one of the feeders that I have put out. The spikes were placed on the chainlink fence to keep one of our cats from scaling the dog kennel. They didn't work and most of them have since been removed. That's just the nature of things 'round here.
Detours in life can be a blessing and sometimes not so much. Detours are sometimes meant to keep us out of dangerous situations like a bridge being out. Oftentimes, we take detours to try to avoid what we think might be a messy situation and then end up getting a little lost.
The Cambridge Dictionary's website, defined the term as "a different or less direct route to a place that is used to avoid a problem or to visit somewhere or do something on the way."
A quote by Sir James Jeans, stated, “The really happy person is the one who can enjoy the scenery, even when they have to take a detour.”
Despite a little life detour, I decided to enjoy the scenery and took a little time for myself. There was a lot to see and learn during my digression from the path that I had been traveling.
Of course, our daily walks were filled with detours and distraction mostly thanks to curious canine noses. Most of the time, the dogs can be rerouted back to the beaten path. However, I tried to curb Sherman's detours. He had a terrible sense of direction and the rest of us usually ended up traveling to where Sherman is.
Nonetheless, I too was guilty of being detoured by distractions. A fifty-yard digression from the path netted me a photo of a spicebush swallowtail. I had been trying to get one to pose for me for weeks.
Butterflies weren't the only creature that had me bypassing the beaten path. The call of a scarlet tanager sent me traipsing into parts unknown.
The Cornell Lab's All About Birds website said the birds "spend much of their time skulking among the wide leaves of deciduous trees in the forest canopy, where they are hard to see. They sing a burry, rambling song and give a distinctive, harsh chick-burr call."
Longtime local birder and author Gary Edwards in his book "Birds of Venango County" also mentioned how difficult it could be to spot the bright birds.
"However, be aware that the red part of the spectrum is weak in dull light. As a result unless the bird is in full sunlight, it can be surprising difficult to see in the green canopy," Edward wrote.
On another deviation from the path, I spotted and photographed a couple of ovenbirds that All About Birds described as "rather chunky for a warbler ...".
Edwards penned that the ovenbird is a common summer resident in Venango County.
According to All About Birds, "the ovenbird gets its name from its covered nest. The dome and side entrance make it resemble a Dutch oven."
"The female ovenbird builds a nest in thick leaf litter on the open forest floor at least 60 or 70 feet from the forest edge. She chooses a spot under or near a small break in the canopy, often near where a tree has fallen or near regrowth from some other disturbance," the site continued.
A common yellowthroat was also a recent diversion.
"Yellowthroats are vocal birds, and both their witchety-witchety-witchety songs and distinctive call notes help reveal the presence of this, one of our most numerous warblers," said a post on the All About birds site.
The warbler is an abundant summer resident, according to Edwards. He also wrote that the bird was one of the most widely distributed warblers in Pennsylvania.
Of course one photo subject that was always worth the detour was the barred owl. The owl continued to hang around the area and provided some haunting calls.
The nursery located in Orefield, Pa., described the pinxter bloom azalea as the first to bloom of the native azaleas and that still found naturally in most of state.
The digressions to find the honeysuckle led to the discovery of a couple of new patches of pink lady slippers. While they weren't huge patches, it was nice to see that the orchids were doing well.
According to a post on www.gardeningknowhow.com, "Lady slippers need well-aerated soil and moist conditions.... Dappled sunlight under tall trees is ideal for growing a lady slipper wildflower."
After the post I surmised that the wet spring conditions may have contributed to the additional lady slippers.
The post also claimed that the pink orchids exhibit a slightly sweet-smelling aroma. I may have to digress off the path to confirm this.
It continues to be widely used as an ornamental and can be found throughout North America," said a post on www.invasive.org.
I had been making weekly detours off our path to check on the vernal pool full of wood frog tadpoles.
There seemed to be more, yet they didn't appear to me to be growing.
"Females lay masses of 1,000 to 3,000 eggs, which hatch between 9 and 30 days later," according to a post on www.nwf.org. It is possible that I may have missed some small frogs hopping around.
However, the post went on to state, "Maturity may be reached in one to two years, depending on the sex and the population of frogs. A wood frog’s lifespan in the wild is usually no more than three years."
Meanwhile, back the neighbor's pond a frog also concerned about its lifespan quickly rerouted out of the range of Sadie's frog hunting exploits.
The neighborhood deer may have been doing some detouring of their own. In the past, there were fawns in the area by this time. However a neighbor reported seeing a doe with two fawns and then finding one of the fawns had been attacked by a predator.
I haven't seen the one doe that frequented the area around the pond with her fawn. It is possible that she had chosen a safer haven as the trail cameras picked up some coyotes in that area.
The trail cameras also caught a fox detouring through my parents' backyard.
Some detours might be inconvenient. Some could be lifesaving.
I think I will still chose to enjoy the scenery while trying to find a good path as long as Sherman stays with the group.
That's just the nature of things 'round here.
Finally, it felt like we had progressed to spring.
Actually with temperatures in the 80s, it seemed like perhaps the area had bypassed the season and went straight for summer.
While the spring plants were coming along nicely, members of the Applegate gang didn't follow suit.
Meanwhile, frogs, brought out by the sunshine and warmer temperatures, paid no mind to the muddied waters and splashing canines.
Unfortunately a break in the May monsoon season, had left the wood frog tadpoles almost high and dry. I checked shrinking pool daily. There was still water, but not much. I hoped that more spring rains would be coming along to help fill the pool back up, as there was no way to really haul water back to the area.
While the wood frog tadpoles were on the verge of not doing well, area violets were coming along nicely.
It appeared to be more violets this year than in previous years. There were so many varieties and shades. They seemed to be everywhere, in the woods and in the yard. The only variety of which I was certain on the name was the yellow halberd-leaved violet.
Just as the violets covered the ground, the trees were also breaking out in blossoms. It seemed like the apple trees had flowered overnight. Then after a few days, the warm wind was already driving petals off of the branches.
As the apple blossoms came and went, so did the tulips in the garden. The earlier tulips had already lost their petals as the stragglers provided pops of color here and there. I was always surprised at the varieties that came up. I had a tendency to plant and forget. I surmised that this is why when we moved into my grandparents' home, we saw flower bulb packages stapled on the old garage wall. I did, however, remember that I had added to my mom's tulip bed next door last fall. However, I couldn't remember which ones they were, as the tulips of the same variety that were planted in my yard had been consumed by Kyle, the goat.
Meanwhile, other woodland plants were coming along nicely. Wild strawberry blossoms dotted the landscape.
The tulips have burst forth with color.
It felt that spring may have finally sprung. Of course, April showers seemed to transform into a May monsoon season. Despite the rain, the flora and fauna were stirring.
Ernest Hemingway no doubt said it best with “When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest.”
After enduring many false springs, the tulips displayed their vibrant colors to put on their annual show.
Lil' Bit was forced to endure some posing with a posies photography sessions.
While the garden was filled with showy tulips, the yard was dotted with purple as the violets popped up. The rain kept the mowers at bay and so the violets ruled the day.
The flowering crabapple had begun to show its true colors as well.
Seemingly devoid of color, a white daffodil captured my interest. Perhaps it was the lack of the bright yellow that made it easier for me to see the delicate form of the flower.
However, there was no lack of color at the bird feeders. The orioles have returned and are consuming grape jelly at a high rate. While filling two jelly feeders, I felt that I should just put the grape goo on autoship from Smuckers.
The orioles were not solely to blame for the exorbitant jelly consumption. A pair of catbirds also helped out.
More hummingbirds have arrived.
At first all I had seen were the males, but the females showed up a little later. The need for another hummingbird feeder was quickly realized when our local feeder guardian was reinstated to his post. He sat on the feeder's hook and chased all the other hummers away.
However, an additional feeder on the other side of the house, meant he can't be in two places at once.
In addition to the hummingbirds, I was finally able to get a shot of the white crowned sparrows that have been visiting.
Several male rose-breasted grosbeaks enhanced the color around bird feeders.
Not to be outdone by all the birds, a red squirrel decided to strike a pose.
While my bird feeders saw several visitors, a solitary sandpiper made its annual appearance at the neighbor's pond.
I kept checking my next favorite watering hole beside the neighbor's pond, a vernal pool home to many woodfrog tadpoles. The pollywogs have thrived despite temperature fluctuations. I loved to check on their progress and was waiting for some legs to start forming.
However, my curiosity about the vernal pool quickly drew unwanted attention from some other animals, mostly mine. First the dogs felt the need to muddy the waters. Then Kyle decided he desperately needed a drink. I think he may have slurped up some tadpoles in the process.
Admittedly my critters are known to sometimes disrupt the tranquility of the woods. However, there was one wild creature that seemed utterly unaware of the chaos my creatures create.
I spotted a what I thought was racoon sleeping high up in a hemlock tree when we ventured out for a morning walk. When we returned to the woods in the afternoon, the racoon had not moved. I spoke up and clapped my hands to see if there was any response. There was no reaction. I wondered if had taken a photo of a racoon taking its final nap. It was in the tree where the barred owl had been seen. However, the next day, there was no racoon. Whether or not the raccoon had awakened or succumbed to a dirt nap, is something that only Mother Nature knows.
That's just the nature of things 'round here.
Yards and woodlands were all atwitter over the past few days. It would appear that the spring bird migration was definitely getting warmed up despite some dips in the temperature. Canada geese settled at the neighbor's pond, but they weren't the only birds making an appearance.
This past Sunday's warm weather brought the first hummingbird of the season to the yard. It visited the feeder very sporadically and I was able to snap a couple of photos on Monday. I don't believe that the hummer was one of the regulars we feed during the summer. When Wednesday rolled around, there was no hummingbirds in sight.
The spring snowstorm on April 18 brought some chipping sparrows to the feeders. They appeared less than thrilled about the cold weather.
Over the next few days a couple of pairs of purple finches showed up a the feeders. While my sightings were considered normal, an April 10 post on the Seneca Rocks Audubon Society's Facebook page touted a rare visitor.
"A yellow-headed blackbird is currently being seen coming to the feeders of a residence near Knox. This is a rare visitor to Pennsylvania and Clarion County. This birds normal range is the mid-western plains of the US and Canada," the post said.
However the bird sighting that I was atwitter about was a barred owl that I first photographed in mid-April. I had heard owls calling over the past years, but wasn't able to capture any photos.
I absolutely loved this owl. It was so very cooperative in terms of pictures.
"The Barred Owl’s hooting call, 'Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?' is a classic sound of old forests and treed swamps. But this attractive owl, with soulful brown eyes and brown-and-white-striped plumage, can also pass completely unnoticed as it flies noiselessly through the dense canopy or snoozes on a tree limb," stated a post on allaboutbirds.org.
The post went on to say that "the great horned owl is the most serious predatory threat to the barred owl. Although the two species often live in the same areas, a barred owl will move to another part of its territory when a great horned owl is nearby."
However the post on allaboutbirds.org raised the possibility that the owl I photographed might just stick around.
"Barred owls don’t migrate, and they don’t even move around very much. Of 158 birds that were banded and then found later, none had moved farther than 6 miles away," the post stated.
The bumblebees were also out and about feeding on some trailing arbutus.
More and more spring flowers were encouraged by the warm weather this past weekend.
Sherman decided to help the flowers out by watering them.
Clem then felt compelled to follow suit. That's just the nature of things 'round here.
In the interest of health and safety, only one cat, Wiggles, was captured for an Easter photo. None of the animals were harmed in the making of this post. Well, some of them may have had their pride hurt.
A rare sunny day prompted one of the annual Applegate animals' Easter photo shoot. The goal was to make Easter cards, but that didn't happen. Friends and relatives would just have to be happy with Facebook posts.
Originally, the session started with all four dogs out and about. That was determined to lead to failure. Either one was in the shot or no one was in the shot. There may have been one good opportunity, then there was a fuzzy butt photobombing session. Gus also decided he needed to try to eat the plastic Easter eggs used as props when I was distracted. Every few minutes I had to pry one out of his slobbery jowls.
So it was quickly determined that the photos would take place one dog at a time. This seemed to work better and treat dispensing could be done more accurately. My parents' house wasn't originally intended to be in the backdrop, but I had to take what I could get.
I did get at least what considered four good photos for the cards that never happened.
Of course, there were many photo fails and outtakes. Those garnered the most Facebook comments and likes.
One commenter asked why they're weren't any goat photos this year. It was because I valued my health and safety. However, they saw me coming with the bunny ears and went into hiding. I was able to capture Kennedy eating a daffodil that I was trying to photograph.
Meanwhile, things were looking a bit more like spring outside with the daffodils opening.
Needless to say, some of the daffodils were harmed in the making of this post. That's just the nature of things 'round here.
The cast and crew of The Nature of Things wishes you all a Happy Easter.
"I felt like I was on a trip toward spring with Mother Nature at the wheel.
I was constantly asking, "Are we there yet?"
Last year the trailing arbutus was already out and covered in blossoms. This year the buds were tightly closed waiting for warmer weather.
Also last year, I had posted photos of blooming violets in early April. This year only the violet's leaves have made an appearance so far.
An article titled "The Wood Frog, a Frog for All Seasons" by by Kelly Vowels on the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest's site bernheim.org explained how the eggs may have survived freezing temps.
Wood frog "eggs are adapted for this fluctuating temperatures. The mucoprotein jelly around the eggs have a melting period higher than the fluids found in the eggs.
So when the ponds freeze, the jelly will freeze before the egg and will pull water out from the egg. These dehydrated eggs are more resistant to freeze and are more able to survive the fluctuating temperatures in late winter and early spring," Vowels posted.
With this new information, I had hope that the eggs would produce tadpoles.
It did appear that the neighborhood deer were starting to shed their winter coats.
Kyle also looked a little rough around the edges as he began to shed his coat as well.
Are warmer temperatures here to stay? Will I need a simple windbreaker or a winter jacket? These questions will be answered on a daily basis as spring is a season of transition.
Change is the only constant.
That's the nature of things 'round here.
Weekly checks of the trail cameras in the surrounding woods often makes me giggle.
The motion-triggered cameras captured deer and other wildlife with their natural and curious expressions.
What causes the deer to take interest in the cameras could be a variety of things. The cameras are an unusual bump on the tree with a different smell.
Some cameras also may have emitted an audible click when snapping a photo. A click that would not have been a natural sound.
Some of the night vision on the cameras emit a red light at night that would also create a distraction.
I just love the deer's inquisitive and innocent expressions. It is a chance to get face-to-face with them that I may not necessarily have when viewing them in person.
Meanwhile, a series of photos showed that a raccoon shared the spotlight with the deer feeding on a mineral block.
In addition to the deer and raccoon, a puffed up male turkey strutted his stuff in front of a camera. I speculated it may have been a selfie for a Tinder profile.
My trail cameras did show that the wood ducks had returned to the neighbor's pond. A photo-bombing deer also entered into the shot.
Aside from the game cameras, I was able to get a couple of photos of a brown creeper. Longtime birder and author of "Birds of Venango County," Gary Edwards wrote that the creeper is an uncommon year-round resident for Venango County. He penned that migrants moving north peak in April. That statement may have explained the creeper's recent appearance.
As I impatiently waited for the colors of spring to appear, the trail cameras were a much needed distraction.
Of course the deer weren't the only ones who get up close and personal with the camera. It was a daily struggle to keep Kennedy, the goat from messing with the camera. He adjusted the angles with crooked photos as a results.
That's just the nature of things 'round here.
But life abounds...
If you look for it.
And then it expands our possible knowledge.
Meanwhile, Facebook friends posted photos of crocuses. I had some yellow crocuses that had finally emerged. While the tulips sprouted up with their green leaves, it would be weeks until they would develop any color. Daffodils also sported buds with the promise of bright blooms.
The air around the neighbor's pond reverberated with the sounds of frogs' mating calls. The croaking of wood frogs could be heard during the warmer days. Deeper in the woods, I heard additional croaking. I followed it to find a vernal pool filled with wood frogs. An informational graphic found on the Cable Museum's website explained that the sounds of wood frogs, boreal chorus frogs and spring peepers can be heard in March.
Here a is a link to the graphic www.cablemuseum.org/school-field-trips/museum- mobile/museummobile-spring-programs/first-grade-spring-a-northwoods-frog- chorus/? fbclid=IwAR2Jjv7lj3YacCZWMJV_R2RrWXbNcrusbMxwR6vcQm3uEKViH 3G1_2WNGko
Meanwhile, more robins kept appearing. My parents' reported that they had some bluebirds interested in taking up residence in a bluebird box in their yard.
What the floof is a borb? The Urban Dictionary defined floof as "an adjective used to describe a ridiculously fluffy object or an animal."
The entry said the word is derived from fluff and usually refers to a long-haired cat or an equally hairy dog.
An article posted at www.audubon.org titled "How Do Birds Cope With Cold in Winter," provided some clues.
The post explained that shivering is actually not a bad sign in birds "Birds shiver by activating opposing muscle groups, creating muscle contractions without all of the jiggling typical when humans shiver. This form of shaking is better at retaining the bird's heat," the article said.
The post went on to state that "some birds save energy by allowing their internal thermostat to drop."
" ... Black-capped chickadees and other species undergo a more moderate version of this, reducing their body temperature as much as 22 degrees Fahrenheit from their daytime level in a process called regulated hypothermia," the article explained.
Meanwhile, the Bartramian Audubon Society posted results from its Christmas Bird Count in December.
"The Pleasantville count found the lowest number of species since 2014, but the second highest tally of individuals. Highest ever numbers were recorded for bald eagle, common raven (pictured), Carolina wren, cedar waxwing, white-throated sparrow, hermit thrush, and gray catbird," said a post on the society's Facebook page.
Over on the Seneca Rocks Audubon Society's website, longtime birder Gary Edwards' list of spring arrival dates reminded me that despite the weather there were still birds on the move. I had seen an increase in robins over the past few weeks. I also heard the "peent" of an American woodcock and had some red-winged blackbirds at the feeder.
What kind of weather these returning birds will face changes every day. They may have to floof up and become borbish in order to deal with the cold. That's just the nature of things 'round here.
The show was so pleasing to the eye, that I was inspired to put my own spin on it with my lens ball. It was a little tricky trying to find good placement for the glass orb. Several times it almost rolled into a very cold creek where retrieval may have been next to impossible.
However on some days, the museum has trouble with its climate control system. Sometimes, the heat is broken and the air conditioning was turned up to freezing.
Additionally, the sprinkler system was out of control on certain days and the museum's lighting was hit or miss.
Maneuvering around the icy exhibitions also proved dicey. With the freeze and thaw cycle, traversing throughout the displays was challenging on certain days.
Some of my museum tour members had trouble with footing on the slick surfaces. In fact, there were several days that the goats didn't make the rounds.
I even had trouble getting around to see the different displays. I almost ended up as part of the exhibit in a very cold creek. Grabbing a tree for support wasn't any help when one side of it was covered with ice.
After one thaw and refreeze, the snow was actually sturdy enough for the heaviest of our tour group to walk on top of it.
Other days when the museum's sprinkles wouldn't shut off, crossing the creeks became a problem. The tour group often had to find other ways around.
Nonetheless, the canine museum tour members preferred the exhibits created by other animals.
The dogs especially like the displays titled "Calling Cards of the Wild." I hated these exhibits and found them offensive and disgusting. Unfortunately, they were placed everywhere for the canines to find.
Meanwhile, the dogs on ice show would probably becoming to an end as the museum's heat was turned up.
I felt the ice was not safe enough for them to perform anymore.
At one point, Mother Nature had added some green to the mostly white displays.
However, the next day the artist decided to add some white to the green.
Whether or not the exhibits remain white or turn to green anytime soon is up to the museum's curator.
That's just the nature of things 'round here.
When tragedy strikes, there are those who show up. They take the time out of their lives to help community members in need. Nothing brought this sacrifice closer to home last week, when the neighbor's house at 104 Sawtown Road, Oil City, caught fire.
At first, nothing seemed amiss at a little after 3 p.m., I just thought when I looked down the road that the freezing rain was making it hard to see. Then, I heard air breaks next door. I soon realized that the siding on the neighbor's house had melted and then spotted the flames.
Also on the scene was Community Ambulance Service, which happened to be parked outside my home on the roadway. The fire was located on the corner of Sawtown and Old State Road where there really wasn't any parking and the deep snow also hampered things.
Fire vehicles and volunteer vehicles filled residents' driveways up and down the road.
I kept checking out the window, hoping that some of the home could be saved, but knowing in my heart that most of the time these old homes don't survive. I did snap some photos from my side of the fence. Better photos probably would have been taken from the front side of the house, but I did not wish to get in the firefighters' way.
Some shots with a better vantage point were taken from my attic window.
I lamented the fact that a home that had stood through storms and all kinds of weather for more than a century was now succumbing to fire.
This was more than just a house, it was a homestead. According to county records, the home was purchased in 1970 by Ralph and Ester Myers. They and their family lived their while my grandparents occupied my current home. They had a large extended family and the home was used to house generations of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
The current occupant Robert Myers, had worked diligently to maintain the old structure. There was a tin roof added in the past year. When I spoke to him a day after the fire, Myers said he had recently spent money to update the front door.
"This hurts," he said, as he and some of his kin tried to sift through what was left. What was left was just the tin from the roof and some still smoking timbers that filled the home's basement.
He told me he was home when the fire broke out and believed it may have been caused by a ventless heater in a bathroom.
The home was not insured and Myers lost everything in the fire.
A Go Fund me account has been set up by his daughter. Here's the link www.gofundme.com/f/5tjrb4-help-my-dad-get-a-place-to-live?utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet&utm_medium=copy_link_all&utm_source=customer
On Facebook Thursday night, several family members mourned the lose of their childhood home. Community members commented on how they couldn't believe what was happening and that the property held many memories.
Thursday night as the fire raged on, there seemed to be a point when the firefighters just stepped back from battling the blaze. It appeared to be inevitable that the home would collapse as the fire gutted the structure.
The volunteers kept ready to spring into action in case the fall of debris got out of control. The fire burned for several hours.
Needing to get up for work the next day, I went to bed at 8 p.m. with the lights from the fire and emergency vehicles dancing across the bedroom ceiling. Reports indicated that the scene was mopped up after 10 p.m.
The fire kindled one of the worst fears for my husband and I living in an older home. What lurks behind old walls could be the downfall of the structure.
I was greatly reminded how much of a debt we owe to volunteer firefighters. I was grateful for those who gave up their free time and sleep to protect the community.
The incident served as a reminder that these agencies need our support. As the labor market tightens and time is at an all time premium, one wonders what would happen if no one showed up. Whether we can volunteer our time or money, we need to do it.
I need to remember when that fundraising letter comes in the mail to not set it aside, but return it with a generous donation.
As looked at a photo I had captured of icy tree branches being illuminated by emergency vehicle lights, I was eternally grateful for those who showed up and those that will hopefully continue to show up.
That's just the nature of things 'round here.
Recent snowfalls have made traversing in the woods a little more challenging.
It is especially harder when certain pack members block the trail for their own purposes.
The first significant snowfall of approximately 10 inches was quite an obstacle. Packing down the first path of the year was quite the workout, despite what my "smartwatch."
I quickly worked up a sweat trudging through the deep snow even though it was bitterly cold out. Yet, my watch kept quiet. This is the same watch that tells me I have had a dynamic workout after I finish folding laundry.
Nonetheless, the dogs enjoyed the snow. Occasionally, Clem would help break the trail. However, he was not one for traveling in a straight line.
The goats on the other hand, were less enthused about the weather. There were several days when they didn't venture out of their shed. However when they did, their expressions looked like they were saying, "This is some bull crap."
Meanwhile, I was hopeful that the heavy snow would deter Gus Gus' quest for deer poop. He seemed to have an uncanny ability to find it.
My hopes were quickly dashed as the senior Saint Bernard took Gus under his tutelage and showed him how to dig for droppings.
There was no shortage of deer scat in my parents' backyard as as many as ten deer arrived almost daily to feed. They can also be seen cleaning up under the bird feeder.
Trail camera photos seemed to depict that the deer were about as happy about the snow as the goats were.
Meanwhile, a blue jay provided a little color in an otherwise white landscape.
The winter berries were definitely easy to spot.
Bitterly cold temperatures were still creating feathery frost formations. I think I have pretty much photographed all the ice and frost that I could find. (See more slideshow below).
However while the dogs and I can handle the cold weather, my camera battery didn't. Halfway through a frost photo shoot, the camera battery packed it in and quit. That's just the nature of things 'round here.
McLeod wrote that the legend behind frost was toned down a little big in Anglo-Saxon myth. "... Jack Frost became less threatening and more of a trickster figure," he penned.
To me, Jack Frost seemed to be more of an artist creating shapes and formations of beauty.
Despite the bitter cold, the woods were a shimmering sight to see. A slight breeze dislodged the frost crystals from their resting place. The camera wasn't able to capture the ethereal scene.
After reading Haby's article, I believed the frost that I photograph most would be depositional frost.
Meanwhile, I am not the only one who was in awe of Jack Frost's artistry. A few quotes from the internet echoed my thoughts.
"It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp winter air is full of it," by John Burroughs.
"But frost, like the crystallized dreams of autumn, began to coat the clearing with its sugar glaze," by Victoria Steele Logue.
Another quick google search turned up the saying clear moon, frost soon.
As Mother Nature seemed to have a love hate relationship with Jack Frost recently, it doesn't seem that will stop him from creating his crystals.
That's just the nature of things 'round here.
Gus Gus was growing like crazy and had weighed in at almost 30 pounds at his first vet visit.
However the week after Christmas, Gus Gus wasn't feeling well.
His lethargy and loss of appetite prompted a frantic call to the vet. He was put on a bland diet. After a few days, Gus Gus had gained back his energy and appetite.
The term sick as a dog definitely fit Gus for those few days. I surmised that the possible culprit behind his stomach discomfort might be poop.
Clem, Sherman and Sadie have successfully trained Gus to find poop in the woods.
Gus now makes a beeline for any pile of disgusting deification he can find in the forest. He seems very adept at it already. It would be nice if I could have trained him to find something like truffles or treasure.
With the area wildlife sharing our trails, trying to avoid any and all poop is next to impossible. I have declared our trails as "poop free" zones, but so far no one has complied.
It also doesn't help matters that walking poo dispensaries, Kyle and Kennedy, are along for the trip.
My current solution to try to keep Gus from his poop detecting and digesting is a small red harness that he is quickly outgrowing.
The harness sometimes helps me get a handle on the situation. Although Gus does well off lead, the poop is too much of a temptation and often causes him to stray.
Gus appeared to be getting along with the other dogs, especially Clem. I said something to Clem about watching after his 'little brother" and realized that Sherman might think of Gus as more of his little bother.
I am sure the new year will bring new experiences for Gus and the rest of us alike. Here is hoping that we can keep the misadventures and poop eating to a minimum in the coming weeks. However, Gus and the rest of them seemed determined undermine my goal.
That's just the nature of things 'round here.
As if things weren't chaotic enough at the Applegate household, on Nov. 29 we welcomed a new fur family member. Gus Gus was 8 weeks old at the time and was quickly initiated into the holiday hat photo session.
He took the festive torture like a pro and even had the sad puppy eyes pose down.
Additionally Sadie, was not spared from the photographic persecution.
Lil' Bit could not contain his disdain.
A few days off during the Thanksgiving holiday afforded a couple of hours of bird watching in the side yard.
The dark-eyed juncos have been back for a couple of weeks.
The goldfinches have lost their summer yellow coloring. They flocked to the thistle feeder to fill up from the winter cold.
The hemlock tree was visited by many birds and others.
There were at least two red squirrels harvesting cones from the tree. Earlier in the week, I also saw evidence in the snow on the porch that one of the squirrels had inspected a package left on the porch by FedEx.
A male cardinal also perched in the hemlock tree. He cast a disapproving look when the photo session lasted longer than he thought it should.
A female cardinal also used the hemlock tree as a perch.
A downy woodpecker has been working over the suet.
Even before the snow fell, white breasted nuthatches were visiting the feeders.
While the feeders were busy, birds were still busy feeding on berries and other food in the woods.
Last week, a few cedar waxwings posed for photos.It was nice to see their yellow tails and the red of their waxwings.
Earlier in November, I had the chance to catch a raven playing catch in the air with some object. I was astonished at its aerial maneuvers.
Meanwhile, a clipper system delivered some snow and created some beautiful scenery.
"The Nature of Things" features the writings and photographs of Anna Applegate, who is a lifelong resident of Pinegrove Township, Venango County. She is a graduate of Cranberry High School and Clarion University. After a 15-year career in the local news industry, she made a change and now works at a steel finishing plant in Sandycreek Township. She is a avid lover of animals and nature, and a gifted photographer.