Friday, July 31, 2015

Paths Taken

"He [Bilbo Baggins] used often to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep, and every path was its tributary. 'It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,' he used to say. 'You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.'" - Frodo Baggins in The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then too the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost

Photos © 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Sunday, July 26, 2015


A hot summer day
Nature dozes quietly
to sounds of trickling water

© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Sunday, July 19, 2015


I was out early for a walk. It was hot and sultry even as early as it was, and I sought shade and a slight breeze on a bench by the duck pond under a large Black Locust tree. I looked up and saw this - a deep, multi-layered, delicate tracery of browns and greens that pulled my gaze up and in. My morning was complete!

Photo © 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Friday, July 17, 2015

An Unexpected Gift

I went across town to Burd Run to chronicle its run from where it passes under Rt. 11 through the Brookside Ave. wetland and into the riparian restoration park off Britton Rd. I got blindsided only halfway through that project; there was a juvenile Great Blue Heron fishing in the collection pond in the wetland, and it actually let me spend close to half an hour with it. Granted, I was across the pond from it and standing very still. But it was aware of my presence; there had been two birds, but the other flew off as soon as it saw me, and the remaining subject of my shoot would pause every now and then to stare at me and make sure I wasn't about to make any threatening moves. I got other pictures in the course of my walk, but they'll have to wait for another day. It's not often I get to visit with a special bird, especially one that is so infrequent in these parts. It was indeed a gift!

© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Morning Glories

"A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books."
– Walt Whitman

I am one
who eats his breakfast
gazing at morning glories.
– Bashõ 

Photo © 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunday Worship Service

"Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground."
– Exodus 3:5

And now, the hymn*:

* click the YouTube icon in the lower right of the video frame to see the explanation of the music and the English translation of the lyrics
Photos © 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

A Leisurely Stroll on the Rail Trail

Today was a knock-yer-eyes-out gorgeous day - sunny, warm, and low humidity. And I hadn't walked up the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail in a while. So since I'm on vacation, it seemed like a good idea today to get on up there. I had an ulterior motive to walking up there, too: Sensenig Farm, right next to the Rail Trail on Duncan Road, has a produce stand, and I had a hankering for fresh veggies. So on the Trail I went.

Unfortunately, it's still too early for veggies. I keep forgetting it's only the first half of July; we had such an unseasonably warm May that my internal calendar was sure things were well into the growing season two months and lots of hot and wet and humid days since. Not true, alas! Oh well, at least there was lots to look at, and a gorgeous breeze out of the northwest as well, so the walk was good. And look here, I've brought back some things for you to look at. Enjoy!

The Raspberries along the trail are ripe! I gorged all the way up and back.
A look north from the trail over the Cumberland Valley farms to the mountains beyond
Another view to the north
Looks like it's "No Vacancy" at this Purple Martin house on the Sensenig's farm
Hmmmm... Whoever was driving this tractor must have gone home to lunch!
© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Friday, July 10, 2015

A Visit To Conodoguinet Creek

I decided to take a long hike out to Conodoguinet Creek, north of here and basically running up the middle of the Cumberland Valley to the Susquehanna River; our local Branch Creek/Middle Spring Creek runs into it, and I've always wanted to get out there. Today was a great day for it, although still a bit warm, so I made sure to bring a bottle of homemade iced tea along. It turned out to be a 14 mile (22.5 kilometer) hike on the loop out and back that I chose. Needless to say, the first thing I did when I came back was take a long nap! Here are the shots I took on this particular photo safari. Enjoy!

The view towards Blue Mountain from the top of Orrstown Rd. on the hike out to the creek
The first contact with Conodoguinet Creek, along Hickory Run Rd., looking upstream
The same spot, looking downstream
The local swimming hole on Hickory Run Rd.; note the rope swing used to get out over the deepest part of the creek
Looking upstream from the Roxbury Rd. bridge in Mongul, PA
And looking downstream from the bridge
Looking northwest across the Cumberland Valley from the top of Mongul Hill Rd. on the way back home
Another view across the valley from the top of Mongul Hill Rd.
© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

My Vacation Starts Today

Ahhhhh! Twelve days of my very own agenda not bounded by the need to be at work and the need to get up to an alarm. I never sleep in, even on vacation, but the fact that an alarm is gonna go off at a certain time adds an element of stress that sometimes prevents a night of uninterrupted sleep. I have plans, but they're not "musts", just relaxing things I enjoy doing that involve hiking and photography. And if the weather spoils those plans, I have alternatives. It's all about relaxation!

One of the plans is to go back up on the Appalachian Trail, this time for two nights and three days; I now own a lightweight, self-inflating air mattress so sleeping directly on a wooden floor will no longer be an issue. And since last year I've discovered a lot more interesting things to see in the stretch I walked then, so I plan to take my time and take in more of the sights. There are also two day hikes I want to go on. But as I said, weather is a factor here; if the heat and humidity come back (and yesterday was a real wowser!) I'll have to reconsider. I'm not getting any younger, and heat and humidity do not contribute to the comfort I need if I'm gonna be traipsing up and down hills and mountains. So fingers crossed!

Heh, heh! So of course I awoke this morning to rain; nothing big, mostly light drizzle that dampened the pavement and left raindrops on leaves and flowers. And there's supposed to be more of that tomorrow. So I'm doing my initial round of errands today and tomorrow. Today I chose to go grocery shopping, and naturally I went via the Dykeman Spring Nature Park. As you'll see, it was a somewhat damp walk!

New leaves growing on some Virginia Creeper in the wetland area
Multiflora Rose growing along the trail in the wetland area
Mama Robin sitting on her nest in the wetland
St. John's Wort in the upland meadow
Deptford Pink growing in the upland meadow
A view of the upland meadow under gloomy skies
© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Friday, July 03, 2015

Today's Walk

Another single day off today, and as usual I walked through the Dykeman Spring Nature Park on the way to the grocery store. Some new, later-in-the-season flowers are up, I managed to find some butterflies who would sit still long enough to get a portrait, and lo and behold I got one of the wetland's big old Snapping Turtles. Usually they're up in the pond or in one of the swamp pools, and when they get wind of me they just sink under the water. But this one was in one of the shallow rivulets that trace a labyrinthine path through the wetland, which wasn't deep enough for the armored critter to sink out of sight in. Finally! So enjoy our walk through the deepening Summer.

St. John's Wort, with Crown Vetch in the background, along the Dykeman Walking Trail
A very large Snapping Turtle in the Dykeman Spring wetland, keeping a wary eye on me
A vine in the Morning Glory family growing in the upland meadow
A Common Checkered Skipper butterfly in the upland meadow
A Pearl Crescent butterfly in the upland meadow
© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger