To get some exercise on a pleasant late November day and perhaps to see wildlife we wouldn’t if we just stayed in our immediate neighborhood, we decided to walk the length of Griggs Reservoir Park with only binoculars and lightweight cameras in tow. The binoculars would allow us to enjoy almost anything we happened to see but things photographed would have to be cooperative and very close.

Brown Creepers search for small insects and spiders by hitching upward in a spiral around tree trunks and limbs. They move with short, jerky motions using their stiff tails for support. Creepers have a high, warbling song; they also give a high, wavering call note that sounds similar to that of a Golden-crowned Kinglet. In the winter season, the species moves into a broader variety of forests and becomes much easier to find in deciduous woodlands. Ref: Cornell, All About Birds

Reflection, (Donna).


We’ve spent a lot of time in this particular park and the adjacent reservoir marking the change of seasons and noting the different birds and other wildlife seen throughout the year. As a way of giving thanks we always carry a small bag useful for holding any trash found along the way, and it always there. There are the regular visitors to the park so there’s usually a social component to any walk taken as we affirm old acquaintances and sometimes create new ones. We pretty much know every inch of the park, the best places to see certain birds, what plants attract certain insects, as well as the location of various species of wildflowers.

Female Ruddy Duck, too far away for a good photo, (Donna). Females and first-year males are brownish  with a blurry stripe across the pale cheek patch. They are a diving duck that feeds on aquatic invertebrates, especially midge larvae. Ref. Cornell All About Birds



A number of years ago when we first started visiting the park the goal wasn’t to make it special in our lives. It was just a convenient place to be in nature without investing more time and gas getting to areas further afield. In doing this we realized there would be things we wouldn’t see but the idea of keeping tabs on one relatively small green space had it’s appeal. We’ve never seen a black bear in the park, probably a good thing as it’s right in the middle of the city, but what we have seen over the the last few years, from Song Sparrows to a Red-throated Loon, and Gray squirrels to Mink, is simply amazing.

Fungi, (Donna)

At reservoir’s edge, a glacial erratic catches the shadow of a nearby branch.


Now, this rather ordinary city park has become a part of us. A place of connectedness. Not separate. In some ways like a favorite easy chair, but in others, especially in the context of the larger sphere of nature, a small window into a world of beauty and wonder. A portal into the awareness of something larger than ourselves that in some fashion will live on long after us. A place where time spent has resulted in empathy not only for the endearing Golden-crowned Kinglet but also the robber fly. Each for at least part of the year makes a living in the park and calls it home. We have come to realize that all deserve a place to be and complete the tapestry of life.

A white duck tries to take a nap at waters edge.

Seed pods, (Donna).


After six miles we arrived back at our starting point tired but with a deep sense of gratitude. Other than the sighting of a Ruddy Duck and a Brown Creeper and some of the usual suspects, it had been a quiet day. But in the mystery of late November light we had had the opportunity to be, under a towering Sycamore as it’s few remaining leaves defied the season, along the edge of the reservoir with the quiet dance of waves as they played with shoreline pebbles, and next to the massive trunk of an oak as it’s gnarly branches wrestled with the sky. We were rich in a enduring way that transcends any monetary measurement.

Park road in November light.


Thanks for stopping by.

A Autumn Notebook

I thought folks might enjoy a few glimpses of autumn near our home. The below images didn’t require travelling to distant places but instead reflect what was seen as nature spoke to us in the intimacy of our own “neighborhood”. Unlike the maple covered hillsides of Vermont, autumn in central Ohio, with it’s more subtle colors, speaks in a soft voice. Putting this post together I imagined a notebook where thoughts and impressions of the season would be written down and, pausing for a moment, contemplated.


This path along the reservoir is walked many times during the year but only on one day did it look like this. 

Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna)


A quest for autumn migrants was momentary interrupted as we stopped to watch the bare branches of a Black Walnut “conduct the music of the sky”. (1)

Tree and clouds, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.


In the canoe, fishing for over an hour without a bite, I started looking at the water’s autumn reflections. A unexpected catch.

Griggs Reservoir


Something sacred, as if transported inside a gothic cathedral? Under a blue dome, we look through “panes” to colors beyond.

Griggs Reservoir


On the water’s blank canvas of color, mallard art.

Griggs Reservoir


Patterns in bark, leaves, and shadows, the endless allure of a Sycamore.

Griggs Reservoir Park

In the mystery, with their small voices, warblers made themselves known overhead.

Along the Scioto River, Griggs Reservoir Park.


Just now, with the help of the faintest breeze, the water’s surface reinterprets.

Griggs Reservoir Park.


With light and shadow the leaves of a mulberry play their tune.

Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).


A quiet park road beckons us to travel into the magic of the moment 

Griggs Reservoir Park.


Sculpted by the river, autumn graces the twisted shape of a tree at waters edge.

Scioto River, Griggs Reservoir Park.


In defiance of the coming winter a Sycamore splashes the landscape with muted color.

Scioto River, Griggs Reservoir Park.


With it’s own beauty, a leaf on the water’s surface takes us beyond what we think we know or perceive.

Griggs Reservoir


A light rain enhances shape and color but brings with it a sense foreboding of what has been and what is to come.

Griggs Reservoir.


The afternoon sun punctuates shoreline trees. We wish for it to not end.

Griggs Reservoir.


Overhanging trees embrace the river with a warmth that betrays the coolness of the day.

Scioto River, Griggs Reservoir Park.


Reflection on the water’s surface, an autumn impression.

Little Darby Creek, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.


Sunny, not to cold, nice day for a picnic, but we’ve moved on.

Griggs Reservoir Park.


An early morning hike graced with shafts of light and color.

Clear Creek Metro Park.


Cold descends, days now short, and among dark shapes the few remaining leaves twinkle.

Hocking River, Clear Creek Metro Park.


That one last leaf in the fall as winter’s cold grips the land has always been a romantic image for me. Perhaps it’s because although we should look forward to the promise of every season we should also never be too quick to let go.

“The Last Leaf”, Battelle Darby creek Metro Park.


Thanks for stopping by.


Note (1): The idea “conduct the music of the sky” was suggested to me by a friend when she looked at the photograph.

Winter and Then Not

There is nothing particularly different about this winter in central Ohio. For a few days the temperature hovered around 5F then almost overnight it was 65F and raining making a recent light snow seem like an hallucination. Cold, snowy, icy, weather always seems to have a hard time taking up permanent residence.


Griggs Reservoir


Freezing, thawing, and then refreezing do make for interesting ice patterns. Below are a few I’ve taken the liberty to enhance so pattern and design stand out.


. . .


. . .


. . . (Donna).


Walking along the Scioto River and seeing our old friend the Kingfisher is reassurance that unlike the weather some things don’t change much.


Across the river a Belted Kingfisher perches briefly.


Along the reservoir a Junco looks on as a gull enjoys a good stretch while not far away a crow appears to be practicing his skating.


Dark-eyed Junco, Griggs Park.


Ring-billed Gull, Griggs Reservoir.


Crow, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).


On a recent day, as the reservoir froze, a grebe seemed almost trapped in one of the few small areas of open water. Hopefully that wasn’t the case.


Pied-billed Grebe, Griggs Reservoir.


In late December so much is monochromatic brown gray dreariness but on a recent outing my wife’s tireless quest for very small but always cheerful kinglets paid off.



Golden-crowned Kinglet, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).


Study 2, (Donna).


In the spring, fascination seems to offer itself at every turn but in winter one often needs to look closely and with intention. On a recent @40F day this little fella was spotted as we walked through the woods near our home.


A very small spider enjoys a warmer late December day, (Donna).


Other things have also brought color to the landscape.


Leaves on ice, (Donna)


Sycamore branches against a blue sky.


Sweet Autumn Clematis, (Donna)


We hope this post has brought some cheer to what in the northern hemisphere can be a challenging time of year. So until next time, thanks for stopping by!


Molly Cat


Should you wish, various prints from this and other posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo. and Donna’s 2017 Birds of Griggs Park calendar is available at Calendar.

A Prayer for Other Living Things

A Prayer for Other Living Things


Winter struggles to become spring

summer comes easily

then fall

as it has for me many times before.


Big Darby - Battelle Darby Creek


Looking back

to time spent in wild places


quiet morning walks,


Forest trail - Michigan


I now, slowly, finally, realize

it’s not only about us

our dreams, desires, and wants.




In the woods,


a sycamore stands

years longer than I

it’s tall white branches

bright against a winter blue sky

speaking in a voice I cannot hear,


Sycamore - Griggs Park


a butterfly

it’s quiet beauty


yellow, orange, blue

moves from flower to flower

not asking my permission,




glistening in the sun

a dragonfly passes

as it earns it’s living

flying forward, backward, sideways,

my presence is of no concern,




a thrush in a nearby tree

with an ethereal song

calls for it’s mate

not for me,




along a path beside a pond

I pause

a bullfrog croaks

then splashes.





Prairie Oaks in December

If you are lucky, a walk at Prairie Oaks in December can mean white Sycamores against a deep blue sky.

The Sycamores come into their own this time of the year revealing beautiful patterns in their bark. Other than the Sycamores, you may see a tree that has gone completely unnoticed when the leaves are out but now the low sun really makes patterns in it’s bark stand out. You are a bit annoyed when its identity remains a mystery.

The Big Darby runs high as a result of recent rains but unlike the Scioto remains fairly clear. I wonder what if anything is biting biting.

On this December day the woods remain quiet. The low sun, even at mid-day, accounts for the beautiful sky, but unless it’s behind you, makes it a challenge to see birds.  Even so, we see a Carolina Wren silently playing hide and seek in the low brush and a Brown Creeper not far away. Across one of the park ponds we see some Gadwalls, a not so common sight for us, and then without the leaves overhead easily spot a Red-tailed Hawk flying.

Twilight extends far into the afternoon and we start making our way back to our starting point but not before we’re entertained by a sculpture courtesy of one of the resident Beavers.

Sycamore Trees - Nov

. Gadwalls - Prairie Oaks


Fungus - Prairie Oaks


Carolina Wren - Prairie Oaks


Beaver Sculpture - Prairie Oaks

. Amazing Tree Bark - Prairie Oaks


Thanks for stopping by.

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