The Search For Scragg Mountain

Legend has it that there are trails here in Northfield that lead up to the top of Scragg Mountain. Once there, the views of the Mad River Valley and beyond are supposed to be spectacular. There is an old fire tower, and a cabin once used by the forest service.

It was a sunny, gorgeous fall day and I decided to go in search of these trails.  I’d heard there was a trailhead on Stony Brook Rd.  So I began…

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I’d never been up Stony Brook Rd. it was long and winding… Steadily going uphill. I was sure I was on the right track. The drive was beautiful. The sun warm, the colors brilliant.

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After several miles I came to a dead end road…and found a parking area. So far so good. I parked and began to walk along an old logging road. Excited and happy. A beautiful day for a hike. An adventure…

The trail was littered with leaves, freshly fallen.

The climb was pretty easy. The scenery magnificent. Fall in Vermont…the perfect season for hiking. Absolutely perfect…

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I had my camera and I stopped frequently. It seemed everywhere I looked was glorious fall beauty. The colors so brilliant and vibrant this year.

Above me…

Below me…

Around me…

Rock cairns along the trail indicated which way to go…

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Yet I began to notice the trail getting narrower. Until at times I wasn’t sure I was even on the trail…I caught glimpses of Scragg Mountain…

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But I could find no more cairns and suddenly no more trail…

The search it seemed had come to an end. But as I turned to head back down I realized how much I had enjoyed the journey.

I also remembered that legend has it that on the other side of the mountain in Waitsfield…there is a trailhead.

To be continued…

Foliage Fun

I would be remiss, as someone who lives in Vermont, if I did not share the magnificent foliage that is happening…

Now.

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People come from all over to witness this beauty. To watch nature’s most gorgeous show. I never tire of it. I have hundreds of fall photos…maybe even thousands!

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At the same time, I wanted to have a little fun! I’ve been under the weather for the last week…which gave me time. Time to play with photoshop.

I love trying new things. Experimenting with color and texture. I love photography. So I went for a walk. I took dozens of pictures of leaves that I found. Leaves that had already fallen, but not lost their rich and vibrant colors.

And I played with my photos.

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The beauty still there… But different…more raw. Bolder and deeper. Experiencing the colors in a new way.  Nature needs no enhancing but sometimes a little enhancing helps us see more clearly…

The Quarries

I’ve been taking my students to the granite quarries in Barre, Vermont for years as part of our geology unit. It is one of their favorite field trips!

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And one of mine too.

its easy to figure out why. This massive operation, the cranes and derricks that tower over the quarry…The men and women that descend down to drill and blast the huge slabs of granite from the earth. The enormous trucks that transport tons of granite to a factory down the road… Where the artisans shape and mold these rocks into works of art.

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This art can be found all over the world. From building facades, to monuments, to cemeteries…Graced with Vermont gray granite.  Its durability and beauty famous.

My fascination and awe with the quarries, the immigrants who came to Vermont to work there, the history, the geology…hasn’t diminished over the years.

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And then I discovered the abandoned quarries….

It was quite by accident. Exploring swimming holes with my son and his friends one summer 5 or 6 years ago.

This is one of the largest abandoned quarries. There are trails through this area and an overlook that takes your breath away. Local craftsman come and carve designs in the huge grout piles… Left for Mother Nature to take her course.

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I am drawn to these quarries. I am curious about them and awed by their presence…The legacy left behind…The granite not quite perfect… But perfect to me. My geologist heart beats happily when I see them.

Trails now criss cross throughout these old granite grounds. And this summer I discovered more abandoned quarries as I explored the new trails. It seemed around every corner, there was a quarry… Big, small, and every size in between. Evidence of the workers who once toiled here. Impressive geological formations…the beauty and mystery of our earth’s history, exposed for all to witness…

Every chance I get, I find myself there. Searching for more quarries in the woods. And each time one is found, I stare enchanted and quietly exclaim…

Wow.

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In My Backyard

Moving to a new home is a process.  There is the cleaning and discarding as you pack up. A wonderful way to simplify and streamline the move and life itself. A way of not only getting rid old things that no longer serve any purpose, but a fresh beginning in a new place.  It also is an opportunity. An opportunity to get to know an unfamiliar area. A chance to discover. A chance to explore…

Over the past few weeks I have been doing just that. In my new backyard.

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Out the back door, and up our road lies an incredible place. The local university turned its former ski area into an outdoor recreation area. There are trails for hiking and biking. Trails that meander slowly and others that ascend steeply up the mountain.

There are meadows…

And forests…

 Beauty, color and diversity hidden in plain view…

New friends…

Asters of all shades…

And surprises that make you say Oh! Wow!

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An abandoned slate quarry…

It is a backyard that can be explored for a long time. In every season and kind of weather. A quiet and peaceful place…

My backyard.

Ready…

It’s a beautiful, crisp evening here in Vermont.

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There’s a slight nip in the air… A sign…

Fall is coming…

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Fall is a magnificent time of year…

If you are ready….

I’m not quite sure I am this year. I’m not sure I’m ready because I know what comes next…

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But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Fall is magnificent, it really is. I’m starting to see the signs. I’m feeling the changes in the how the sun sets earlier, and isn’t quite as warm when it’s shining…

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And the colors… The colors of fall…

Black-eyed Susan’s are feeling it too… Changing…

That’s what seasons are about. Change. Nature does it so perfectly.

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Human beings have adapted too. We rake the leaves, we pull out our cozy sweatshirts and sweaters, and we gather wood. To build fires that warm us on these cool fall evenings.

And we tell ourselves we are ready…but as in life, are we really ready? Or just adapting to the changes around us the best we can?

The fire does feels wonderful. I think I’m ready…

Nature’s Show

Each year for science class I have my students observe closely the colors of nature. Nature’s show I like to call it. Sometimes in our hurried lives we miss what’s right in front of us and often what’s  all around us. Waiting to be seen, appreciated, and awed. This is such a colorful time of year… Perfect for beginning this exploration and discovery.

Of course every season has it’s own unique colors.

I stop at our local hardware store, and pick up a variety of paint chips. Then armed with the chips we go in search of these shades of color in nature…

Blue. Like the sky…big, bright, and serene

Green. Like the trees…soft, lush and soothing

Red. Like fall leaves…Vibrant, bold and passionate

Yellow. Like the sun…golden, shiny, and happy

Orange. Like pumpkins…warm, friendly, and optimistic

Purple. Like lavender…peaceful, healing, and spiritual

White. Like snow… Brilliant, pure, and innocent

Pink. Like cotton candy…sweet, fun, and lovely

And all the shades of color in between.

Nature’s show…for our viewing pleasure.

Enjoy!

Young and Old

Normally I am a taker of nature pictures… That is my passion. Capturing the beauty and wonder of the natural world.

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But I also take people pictures. Family pictures, sporting event pictures, milestone pictures…These give me pleasure too. A different kind of pleasure.

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This weekend I took a lot of pictures. It was a busy and wonderful few days. The things I saw, with my eyes and with my camera made me think… About many things, but most of all about being young and being old. And the amazing correlation between these generations.

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I thought a lot about how young children and old(er) men and women share many commonalities. And I thought about what we can learn from them. The most profound of these is their genuine sense of freedom, a wonderful lack of inhibition, a natural, innate desire to embrace and enjoy the moments in life.

I saw couples, in their 70’s and 80’s, dancing in the street… And children dancing beside them.  While on the sidewalk people of other ages watched…smiled… But did not dance. Embarrassed? Shy? Wondering what others would think?  I saw older gentlemen dressed in silly costumes. Shriners have the hearts and souls of children. We can learn a lot from the Shriners.

Today I saw children playing in the fountain… It was hot. I wanted to take off my shoes and join them… But didn’t. Why?

I thought a lot about this. I think I am a pretty carefree person. Yet I hesitated. What causes us to stop being young, or stop honoring the young (old) person inside of us?

I learned a lot this weekend. I learned to dance in the street when the music is good and even when it’s not so good. I learned that parades bring out the child in us, but that we shouldn’t wait for parades to let him or her out.  I learned that inside of me is a child who wants to play in the fountain when it’s hot.  Next time I will.

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