Frantically searching for yet one more mild-weathered day for cycling-as I typically do this time of year- only two days were left as possible options. Of course when left with just two days to cycle before winter shuts it all down, you make sure you find just the right place to finish out the season…and hopefully the right person to join you as well!
I was fortunate that one of my dearest friends, a newly-retired teacher of 32 years, was more than eager to go! After narrowing down the options of places, the clear winner was historic Oxford….Oxford Maryland that is. Now, historic to we Americans is laughable I know compared to Oxfords I can think of elsewhere, but 1683, the date of our Oxford’s official founding, is pretty impressive to us yanks.
The first place my friend and I stopped was the Robert Morris Inn.
Originally built as a shipping house in 1710, it began operations in 1800 as a full-time inn…the oldest full-service inn in America. Robert Morris, Sr., was an agent for a Liverpool shipping firm and greatly influenced the town’s growth. His son, Robert Morris, Jr., was known as “the financier of the Revolution.”
Walking on the historic, wide-planked floors, and gazing at the oversized wooden mantels over the well-worn brick fireplaces, we fell into a reverent awe as we imagined the conversations held in these very rooms. According to the brochure of the Inn…
Four of our 310 year old rooms were indeed slept in by Founding Father Robert Morris, George Washington and many other dignitaries of the day and since. Red brick fireplaces around which heated discussion on the arguments for independence from Britain took place and negotiations for sugar cane, tobacco and French wine worked out. Wood paneling, red brick fireplaces and oak timbers are all as they were 310 years ago, hand built by ships carpenters from locally acquired materials and the red bricks from England, used as ships ballast. One cannot get any more historic than this.
Other notable persons of the history of Oxford include: Jeremiah Banning, sea captain, war hero, and statesman; The Reverend Thomas Bacon, Anglican clergyman who wrote the first compilation of the laws of Maryland; Matthew Tilghman, known as the “patriarch of Maryland” and “father of statehood” and Colonel Tench Tilghman, assistant to George Washington and the man who carried the message of Cornwallis’ surrender to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia.
Until the American Revolution, Oxford enjoyed prominence as an international shipping center. With the loss of British ships and their variety of imported goods and tobacco replaced by wheat as a cash crop, businesses went bankrupt, and the population of a once thriving Oxford dwindled. It would be 100 years till the sleepy town awakened to prosperity again, this time due to the completion of the railroad in 1871 and improved methods of canning and packing, which made marketing the oysters from the bountiful Chesapeake Bay near tiny Oxford possible.
Yet again, business was booming and houses were going up everywhere until the early part of the 20th century when the oyster beds were depleted, and the packing houses shut down. Businesses went bankrupt, and the railway and steamships eventually disappeared. Oxford became a sleepy little town once again, inhabited mainly by watermen who still worked the waters of the Tred Avon.
Oxford remains a waterman’s town today, but is enjoying a new resurgence based on tourism and leisure and as a well-know cycling destination of the mid-atlantic. The suggested cycling route usually includes a trip across the Tred Avon River aboard the Oxford Bellevue Ferry, believed to be the nation’s oldest privately-operated ferry service.
Knowing this was a popular cycling destination, I assumed there must be trails going around the town. It was with great pleasure that my friend and I discovered the town itself was the cycling trail. As we cycled through this quaint little town surrounded by historic, flag-bearing houses…upon narrow, cobble-stone streets…lined by trees ablaze with autumn leaves…on the banks of a river…
there was no doubt we had picked the the perfect grand finale of our cycling season!
Heaven reached down to kiss me yesterday with the convergence of my schedule, my son’s schedule, the tide schedule, and a gorgeous, mild-temperature spring day….all perfect for a mid-afternoon kayak outing.
The sky was a cloudless blue, the perfect backdrop for the emergence of new leaves budding out next to the evergreens, which brave the winter months gracing us with their beauty year round…
My son wanted to head for the nearest little island in the creek, which he and his older brother have enjoyed exploring since we first moved here. It is a perfect nesting spot for geese, and evidence was spotted of that before we even disembarked….
We were fortunate enough to spot the first egg of the clutch, and hopefully not the last. We’ll come back to check the progress next week and maybe catch mama laying on them as we did a few years back. The female goose lays eggs about 36 hours apart, and can lay anywhere from two-ten eggs per breeding season. The incubation period is 28-30 days, so we should certainly get a glimpse of mama at some point during that time.
The little island is carpeted with luscious, emerald moss decorated with newly fallen red maple buds-mama goose certainly has good taste in homes…
On our return trip we were treated to “Harold” or perhaps “Henrietta.” Either way, it is always a surprising delight when he or she appears from nowhere, squawking its displeasure at us for daring to enter its domain.
The houseboat, which appeared at Thanksgiving time two years ago, is still gracing the creek with its presence …
I would love to get a peek inside this home, and can only imagine how peaceful it must be to live literally on the water. I am blessed enough, though, to be able to live next to it and am always thankful to be a witness to the wonders of nature the creek brings in all of its seasons.
Until next time, happy spring to those of you in this hemisphere!
It is a quiet Sunday morning as I write this. The air is cool enough to leave the door cracked just slightly, allowing the sounds of nature to flow inside. The birds are singing their morning songs as they flit around in their busy springtime activities. A tufted titmouse pair are continuing their gathering of nest-building material for the box just outside my window, while a hummingbird stops to sip at the nectar feeder just below the future titmouse abode.
Gabby cat is enjoying an early morning walk around, simultaneously keeping a lookout for possible adventure with one eye and the approach of our neighbor’s dogs with the other…
A squirrel enjoyed an early breakfast of sunflower seeds scattered beneath the feeders before attacking the feeders directly. In due time he was joined by two other squirrels that soon gave him chase before they all raced up a tree, resembling a reverse playing of firemen sliding down a pole.
The male cardinal is visiting another feeder closer to our pond, and the sounds of the waterfall flowing fills the air with its soothing sounds, in perfect harmony to the music of the wildlife surrounding it.
The creek is at high-tide and is still and deceptively quiet under a misty haze and overcast sky. In the surrounding trees, the birds and squirrels make up for its silence aided by honking geese in the distance, while cinnamon ferns, jewel-weed, and iris decorate its banks as they continue to spring more to life with each passing day. Somewhere nearby a wood duck couple are certain to be enjoying its serenity, while playful otters and busy beavers are certain to be disturbing it.
At any given moment an eagle is likely to do a fly-by low along the creek, or perch in one of the nearby trees watching for fish and other small creatures to fill its stomach and feed its young.
Harold, our resident blue heron, has yet to my knowledge made his daily appearance, but that too could happen at any given moment and may even include a sighting of Henrietta, seen accompanying him of late…tis the season!
Peaches, the cat of unknown origins, who has unfortunately decided to adopt us, draws my eye away from the creek again as he takes up one of his favorite spots beside the pond…much to the dismay of Gabby, and Bitty as well, who is perched beside me now glaring at him from her window seat.
The cardinal seen earlier is now perched closer to my window, almost hidden in the lush leaves, until roused by a blue-jay who was earlier hopping up and down on a branch above him and making a general ruckus. For whatever reason, Mr. Jay felt the need to antagonize the cardinal until deciding to fly off towards the creek with the cardinal giving chase.
In a break from nest-building duties, Mr. Titmouse flies over to give his wife a morsel on a nearby branch, and the lone squirrel is back posing for a picture.
Our door is now shut and the fireplace is lit to chase off the chill-enticing kitty with its warmth-as my husband and I enjoy the quiet of early morning. The wood ducks paddle into view, and all seems right with the world.
I purposefully laid aside my camera for the most part this morning-deciding to add in older pictures later-and purposed instead to just sit still and enjoy all the sights and sounds outside the lens…
…because sometimes in our single “focused-ness’ of life we miss the peripheral beauty going on around us, and that is a lesson in and of itself.
“I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.”
– William Wordsworth, Daffodils
It seems that March this year decided to try a hostile take-over of April…but, despite its many snowy, blustery attempts, April has at long last landed, bringing all its promises of future beauty along with it. March, of course, had its own beauty despite its stormy attitude, so here’s my look back on this very temperamental month:
Above, the very loud and large pileated woodpecker, and below, one of our backyard monkeys, doing what they do best.
A morning walk with my fellow nature-loving neighbor provided the following photos…
A glimpse in her backyard, where the infamous white cats reside, but I was zeroing in on one of the upside down dead trees she repurposes for bird feeders…
Another peek in her yard shows some of the many daffodils she decorates our street with…
I took my buddy, Princess, along for our walk. I wouldn’t dream of leaving her home, the neighbors love her and sadly our walks are soon coming to an end. 😦 Watching her health deteriorate has been the hardest thing this month, I hope she will be with me for some warm spring days, but she is getting tired so I will enjoy the days we have left and treasure her companionship while I can.
My dear friend Lesley and I along with her daughter and precious granddaughter attended the Philadelphia flower show. I don’t have many pictures due to the very large crowds, but this one turned out ok and was a nice sneak peek at spring…
Of course there were the lingering snow days I posted of earlier thanks to our many Nor’easters…
The sure promise of warmer days here on the creek are the first wood duck sightings, usually blurred by the distance, but they still make my heart sing!
Things will only get more beautiful with the blooming of Azaleas right around the corner, but I was treated to an early show of their charm in our recent southern excursion. For now, I will enjoy the warming days in our area, thankful for the beauty each new day brings.
Until next time,
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love…Psalm 143:8
With three Nor’easters in the last several weeks, March has certainly come in like a lion. It still remains to be seen if this transitional month will exit like a lamb-one can only hope! As I look out my widow, spring is literally budding forth…time for one last look back at this year’s winter memories.
American robin, below, enjoying morning sunlight on rocks before getting drink from waterfall…
Geese oblivious to the icy waters…
A variety of birds decorate the bare branches like natural ornaments…
Tufted titmouse enjoying a sunny morning at the feeder…
Sparrows breakfasting together…
Grey squirrel gone rogue… enjoying an acorn instead of raiding my bird feeders…
Male cardinal enjoying what’s left of beauty berries…
…and posing beautifully on dried hydragenea blooms….
Downed holly tree, one of a handful that fell in creek in past few months…lots of spring clean up awaits, but on the bright side, our main creek view has greatly increased….
The hammock became a convenient platform feeder during the deep snows..
And many other seeds were enjoyed under the protection of a sleeping vine…
Blue jays continually beautified our landscape….
The below adorable site I happened to catch one morning made me really glad I have not gotten around to fixing this bird home….
I was so glad my husband came to get me one morning to watch a flock of robins enjoying the holly tree berries…
Our bench sat vacant as a silent watcher over the frozen creek and snowy landscape…
And so, another winter is almost past in our part of the world, and the beauty of spring now begins to bud forth, replacing one natural beauty with another. Whichever natural tapestry God is weaving in your part of the world, I hope you enjoy the daily show!
Until next time!
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love…Psalm 143:8
Christmas decorations have been put away and the New Year has cheerfully been rung in around the world…now to mentally adjust to the new date of 2018. I can still remember back in high school when we had an assignment on what we thought the year 2000 would be like….back then, that was like trying to imagine living in outer space. Eighteen years into this millennium and it still sometimes feels surreal to me.
We had our first snowstorm of the season in early December which gave me some beautiful pictures to look back on. As I sit writing this, we are in the midst of our first blizzard, dubbed a “bomb cyclone.” Thankfully, we have not lost power, and I have been baking off and on for two days. Something about snowstorms puts me in the baking mood, which my family always appreciates.
I was out early the day after the December snowfall taking pictures before I even had my morning coffee….for me that’s saying a lot. I wanted to get some pics before Princess and the neighbor’s dogs started leaving their tracks.
Something about the morning after a freshly fallen snow is just magical.
The snow was the kind that clung to the branches, and the snow-laden limbs overhanging the creek were indeed picturesque.
I had plenty of bird food, with one area in particular resembling a southern smorgasbord, minus the grits, of course. Between the sunflower seed, peanuts, a variety of suet cakes and mealworms I was a shoo-in for birder of the neighborhood.
Unfortunately, it has also become a natural hunting ground for the neighbor’s cats and at least one hawk. I try to keep everything in as safe an area as possible for them, which can be a challenge… a place with no hiding spots for the furry intruders but with a covered brush area for the ground feeders, to hopefully hide from dastardly Mr. Hawk.
Whenever I see the little dark-eyed junco around the feeders, I know a snow is in the near future-he certainly lives up to his nick-name “snowbird.”
He was caught below doing his happy little “snow victory dance.”
This is a good article about how to welcome the little guy and other wintering birds that may come to your area.
The snow only lasted a few days before the weather warmed up, only to plunge us into a bitter cold streak a week later. The birds kept me entertained as the cold brought them to the feeders early each day.
The secret to keeping blue jays happy and continually coming back is found in the power of the peanut!
Though the male cardinal is known for his beauty, I find the female equally beautiful…
The little group of finches gathered together at the feeder one morning reminded me of little old men meeting up at a country store to gab over breakfast…
The wood thrush is a rarely seen visitor, but he makes his presence known by his hopping about and flinging through the leaves so violently with its beak it’s a wonder he doesn’t give himself whiplash.
Besides birds, the squirrels are always good for a show, and I really don’t mind them raiding the bird feeders or grabbing the jay’s peanuts.
He was not the only wild mammal to visit our yard…before I had barely opened my eyes one morning I spied a fox trotting off with something in its mouth. I was relieved to see it wasn’t my cat but a little sad to think one of my squirrels had just become his breakfast.
The geese didn’t seem to mind the frigid water temperatures and they delight me each morning as they honk their goodbyes when leaving the peninsula. They don’t wander into our section of the creek often, so I enjoy it when they do.
I end with a morning view from our anniversary getaway. The deck was obviously too cold to enjoy, but the scenery was well worth waking up to.
I hope my dear blogging friends going through the blizzard with me are staying warm and cozy and enjoying the beauty of the snow and the wildlife it highlights.
Until next time,
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love…Psalm 143:8
Well, Thanksgiving is behind us, and though it is not officially the end of fall, winter doesn’t seem too far off. I love living in a place where I can enjoy each of the four seasons, and quiet mornings, sipping coffee, seem a wonderful way to savor them.
Once again, I have gathered those pictures from my morning photo shoots to relive the moments. With fall being very hectic I missed October’s post so am combining the two months…I hope you enjoy.
Woodpeckers like these are the reason I ask my husband to leave the smaller dead trees on our property standing.
The net was put on the pond in October, and the frogs put on quite the show as they bounced on it like a trampoline. There is a large opening allowing them access into and out of the pond, and one was actually observed bouncing, then doing a backflip into this exposed area…Nadia Comăneci would have been impressed.
Taking a break from gymnastics….
The squirrels enjoyed raiding the peanuts and sunflower seeds from the bird-feeders…
Downy woodpecker is a frequent visitor to the bird feeder area, especially enjoying the suet…
Another favorite at the feeder is the tufted titmouse, such a friendly little guy…he flys off to nearby branches to bang open the sunflower seeds.
Sparrows and chickadees were also in abundance, however, the chickadee was not very photogenic;) Though I think the below sparrow is a white-throated one, I am not confident of that-feel free to educate me!
Of all the birds I enjoyed watching in the last two months, I was more than thrilled when the typically seen cardinal reappeared after more than a months absence. His presence one morning in the tree below made my day!
I tried to convince myself the cardinals were not around the feeders because of the abundance of fall seeds, but after seeing red feathers on the ground, and the character below on at least three occasions near the feeders, I was beginning to worry.
I’ll be the first to admit, though I admire nature more than most, I am not at all a fan of hawks!!! If I saw them flying with a snake dangling from their mouth I may feel differently, however, I have only ever seen them zooming by with poor, helpless songbirds in their clutches.
Lastly on my trip down photo memory-lane… I was able to photograph the raccoon below as he neared the creek at low tide, then nimbly walked across a newly-fallen tree to the peninsula on the other side. I wish I could have gotten his front, but he is still a beaut from behind.
It was an adventurous two months of coffee-time scenery, and I enjoyed many other nature moments and firsts not captured on film. Though it’s hard, sometimes I resist the dash for the camera and force myself to simply sit still and treasure the moment.
Until next time, may you have many memorable nature moments as well.
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love…Psalm 143:8
October – and the skies are cool and gray O’er stubbles emptied of their latest sheaf, Bare meadow, and the slowly falling leaf. The dignity of woods in rich decay Accords full well with this majestic grief That clothes our solemn purple hills to-day, Whose afternoon is hush’d, and wintry brief Only a robin sings from any spray.
And night sends up her pale cold moon, and spills White mist around the hollows of the hills, Phantoms of firth or lake; the peasant sees His cot and stockyard, with the homestead trees, Islanded; but no foolish terror thrills His perfect harvesting; he sleeps at ease.
I have enjoyed reading many Autumn poems this season, and it would be interesting to know, of the four seasons, just which one has inspired more poets.
While each season holds its own special enchantment, fall definitely has a magic of its own…the cool, misty mornings; later sunrises, earlier sunsets; trees bedecked in jeweled tones; leaves dancing on the breeze before floating gently to the ground, scents of smokey fireplaces drifting in the night air; outings to pumpkin patches and wandering through corn mazes, while pumpkins, gourds and mums decorate the landscape.
For this post, I simply wanted to share some of my favorite fall pictures, past and present. I hope you enjoy!
The above picture of the snail posed perfectly on the pumpkin greeted me as I stepped outside one crisp, fall morning.
Mature trees lining the streets make fall an especially favorite time for walks….
A pair of geese enjoyed a few hours on a fallen log one autumn afternoon…
and my buddy “Harold” remained longer than expected as we kayaked into view another fall day…
Fall colors through the window of a favorite reading spot…
Green makes way for fiery oranges, yellows and reds …
Geese honk their arrival in the evenings as they rest for the night on the peninsula, and at a favorite park during the day they glide over then land with a splash…