Friday, September 25, 2015

Signs of the Season

The Autumnal Equinox was just two days ago, so there aren't any of Fall's flamboyant colors just yet, but there are definitely signs of Autumn here and there in nature. A walk through the Dykeman Spring Nature Park this morning gave up some evidence of the change of season.

Panicled Asters in the wetland
Goldenrod growing by the north duck pond
Winterberry growing by the north duck pond
Calico Aster in the upland meadow
This Wooly Bear was marching right along in the upland meadow
© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Hints and Intimations

Even though the Autumnal Equinox isn't until Wednesday, there are hints of seasonal color and intimations in the weather present now. According to all the local meteorologists, today we ditched the Summer-like heat and humidity for the year and have entered a more autumnal weather pattern; we won't be getting out of the 70s (21º - 26º C) for the foreseeable future. And there are hints of the accompanying color change here and there - single red or orange or yellow leaves appearing in the green, a light, transparent autumnal wash over the landscape. And of course the usual Fall wildflowers are getting more numerous. All of this was evident during my walk through the Dykeman Spring Nature Park this morning.

Yellow and orange and red leaves are appearing in the woods
Fall flowers like these Panicled Asters are getting more prolific
Reflection in the north duck pond à la Monet. The big red block is a bench, but note the yellow and red streaks in the reflection
Hints of a yellow/orange wash have appeared on the landscape, even on the misty blue of the distant mountain
The rolling hills of the upland meadow reflect the changing season
© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Friday, September 18, 2015


This week I got a severe wake-up call...

Back in 1999 I had two heart attacks, one in July and one in December. The December attack was severe enough to send me up to Miriam Hospital in Providence, RI for a quintuple bypass operation. I was put on medications afterward, for cholesterol control, blood pressure control, and a beta blocker for heart rate control. I took my meds faithfully for years, and ate right, got plenty of exercise, and saw my primary physician and my cardiologist regularly. Life was good in the aftermath of disaster.

Then came 2008 and the recession. I lost my job and couldn't get another one. no matter how hard I tried. I was unemployed for 3 years and pretty much lost everything, including my medical coverage. I fell through the cracks of society and the health care system. I could no longer afford doctors or meds. Luckily for me, my family came and rescued me, got me out of  Newport and took me in.

I finally found a new job in my new home in 2011, a job which, after I was upgraded to a permanent, regular employee in the Fall of that year, offered medical coverage. But I never got around to hooking up with a new doctor and getting back on a regular medication regimen. I was feeling good, eating right, getting plenty of exercise, hiking around, even up mountains, and not feeling any ill effects. I figured I had overcome the cardiac troubles and was back to "normal".

A year ago I had a tangle with Shingles which curiously had less of a rash and more of an effect on my right kidney, causing a great deal of pain. My blood pressure skyrocketed, and everyone involved figured this was because my kidneys, which regulate blood pressure, were adversely effected. At this point I had to re-establish a relationship with the health care system, got meds for the shingles and for the high blood pressure, and saw everything go well again after the meds kicked out the Shingles. After it was done, I never continued the Lisinopril, which controls blood pressure, because once the kidney was back to normal I figured the blood pressure issue was over, too.

Ever since I was a child I've had sinusitis problems. My mother was always telling me to "blow, don't sniff" because she was convinced that sniffing caused the stuffing of the sinus cavities. I lived on a steady diet of Dristan as a kid, and for the rest of my life I've had to live with sinusitis. In the last few years the situation has gotten worse, and the really bad, migraine-level headaches have become more frequent. So I made an appointment for yesterday morning with someone at the same medical clinic that tackled my Shingles problem, to find out what I could do to manage my chronic sinusitis.

When they took my blood pressure, a natural thing to do when addressing chronic headaches, the panic struck; my blood pressure was 203/127, well into the danger zone for stroke. So I was bundled off to Chambersburg Hospital's emergency room and admitted for an overnight stay. An IV drip was used to bring down my blood pressure, and when that worked I was switched over to oral meds, which held the line and continued to keep the blood pressure down. I was sent home around lunchtime today. I'm taking meds again, both for blood pressure and for cholesterol/cardiac issues (just in case). In effect, I'm right back where I was in early 2000, right after the surgery.

I won't ever be that self-satisfied, and self-deluded, again. Health issues don't go away, and when things even out and life runs smoothly and you get careless, they jump right back on you and bring you up short. After I called people to let them know I was back and would be back to work, etc., I decided to walk over to the Dykeman Spring Nature Park to sit and reflect on my situation by the north duck pond, surrounded by the soothing arms of Mama Gaia. And while I reflected on my life, I also considered the reflection of Nature on the pond. And took pictures. And the result was this post.

© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Finally, A Steady Rain

After a long, dry July and August, finally we get a day of rain. You can almost feel the Earth sigh with relief as the gentle rain falls all day and gives the area a drink. I walked through the Dykeman Spring Nature Park this morning to see the raindrops on leaves and the mist in the air.

Boneset in the Dykeman Spring wetland
Asian Honeysuckle berries
Orange Jewelweed bejeweled by raindrops
White Wood Asters, a sure sign of approaching Autumn
Looking across the upland meadow from the eastern end
© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Monday, September 07, 2015

It's a Ducky Day

Today the north duck pond was full of Mallard ducks, swimming and dabbling for the Duckweed, their favorite food, that grows on the bottom of the pond. Naturally I thought of Ratty's bantering "Ducks' Ditty" in Kenneth Grahame's "The Wind in the Willows". So here it is, along with some photos of the ducks and their dabbling tails. Enjoy!

Ducks' Ditty

All along the backwater,
Through the rushes tall,
Ducks are a-dabbling,
Up tails all!

Ducks' tails, drakes' tails,
Yellow feet a-quiver,
Yellow bills all out of sight,
Busy in the river!

Slushy green undergrowth
Where the roach swim –
Here we keep our larder,
Cool and full and dim.

Every one for what he likes!
We like to be
Heads down, tails up,
Dabbling free!

High in the blue above
Swifts whirl and call –
We are down a-dabbling
Up tails all!

Photos © 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Wednesday, September 02, 2015


It's hot out there today, has been all week and will be for a couple of more days. Plus despite the high humidity it's also very dry. We haven't had any significant rain for over a month now; the grass is browning and crispy, and even the leaves on shrubs and some trees are starting to brown around the edges. So on my walk through the Dykeman Spring Nature Park on the way to the grocery store this morning I kept to the shade as much as possible, and dabbled my feet in the creek for a little while. Here are some shots from that walk.

A shady stretch of the Dykeman Walking Trail
A Common Whitetail dragonfly among the cattails in the wetland
The creek in the park was a great place to be on a hot day!
An empty hay wagon on the eastern end of the upland meadow
© 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger