The Beauty Around Us

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The Power of Believing in Yourself

Do you know the story of The Little Engine that Could?

An early version goes as follows:

A little railroad engine was employed about a station yard for such work as it was built for, pulling a few cars on and off the switches. One morning it was waiting for the next call when a long train of freight-cars asked a large engine in the roundhouse to take it over the hill “I can’t; that is too much a pull for me,” said the great engine built for hard work.

Then the train asked another engine, and another, only to hear excuses and be refused. In desperation, the train asked the little switch engine to draw it up the grade and down on the other side. “I think I can,” puffed the little locomotive, and put itself in front of the great heavy train. As it went on the little engine kept bravely puffing faster and faster, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”

As it neared the top of the grade, which had so discouraged the larger engines, it went more slowly. However, it still kept saying, “I–think–I–can, I–think–I–can.” It reached the top by drawing out bravery and then went on down the grade, congratulating itself by saying, “I thought I could, I thought I could.

This little engine knew the power of believing in yourself and how doing so can push your performance.

Saturday’s bicycle ride didn’t go so well.  Bob suggested going on a bicycle ride the next day.  I didn’t know if another bicycle ride so soon would bode well for me, but I agreed to go anyway.

The bike trail that we chose to ride was the Oil Creek Bike Trail, a paved bicycle trail through Oil Creek Gorge.  The trail follows the path of development of the oil industry in the 1860’s. The story is told via interpretive signs along the bike trail. The Oil Creek Bike Trail is 9.7 miles one direction.

Whoa!  If you read my previous blog post, you know that I didn’t do well on a 3-mile bike ride.  Now I am about to attempt an even longer bike ride.  Distance wasn’t a factor.  I knew that I could ride as far as I felt comfortable, turning around whenever I felt the need to do so.  I also knew if I made it to the end and couldn’t make the return trip that Bob was capable of riding his bicycle back to the starting point.  He could drive the car to the other entry point and pick up myself and my bicycle.  Time wasn’t a factor.  I could pace myself and take all day to ride whatever distance I chose to do.

We drove to Drake Well in Titusville PA and parked in the bike trail parking lot. We rode our bicycles from Drake Well, south, to Petroleum Center.  Bob utilized the MapMyRide app, which traced our route.

 

The ride south is very easy, once you climb the hill out of the parking lot.  The trail levels out, and there is a gradual down slope.  I walked my bicycle most of the way up the hill.  I rode rest of the trail, stopping only for photo opportunities.  The down slope of the south bound trail, however, did concern me.  I mentioned it a few times to Bob.  He kept telling me that the trail was level.  At one place on the trail, where I told Bob that I was coasting downhill, he suggested that I turn around and ride towards the north.  I didn’t have to expend much, if any, effort to bicycle north.

The following pictures were taken during our south bound ride.

_LG26704Oil Creek

20180805_152125277_iOSWe rode awhile before we encountered a nice view of Oil Creek.
Bob says the trail has changed since he last rode it.
The vegetation has grown, obscuring views of the creek.
That would be expected, as it was 25-30 years ago that Bob last rode the trail!

The Drake Well Marathon & Half Marathon event, in its 11th year, was being held at the same time that we were on the bike trail.  I read somewhere that this marathon is a qualifier for the Boston Marathon.

_LG26705We shared the bike trail with marathon runners.

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One of the refreshment stops along the trail had a unicorn theme.

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Bob’s recollection of this trail from 25-30 years ago had Oil Creek on his right, not left, side.

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When we crossed the bridge in the distance, the creek moved to our right side.

I am glad that my Olympus camera, along with the 40-150mm lens can accompany us on bicycle rides.

_LG26706We saw a great blue heron from the bridge.

20180805_160809345_iOSBob on the bridge

IMG_20180805_120940Bob took this picture of me on the bridge.
Note my attire.
I believe my attire is better suited to the weather than the jeans and t-shirt that I
wore during my previous ride at Allegany State Park.

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What a lovely view from the bridge!

20180805_162227930_iOSThere is a railroad bridge in the distance.

I wish we could have timed our ride for when the Oil City & Titusville (OC&T) Railroad train would have passed over this bridge.  Bob and I rode the OC&T Railroad train about 4 years ago.

20180805_162345606_iOSRailroad Bridge
The trail goes under the bridge.
Go slow so you don’t wind up in Oil Creek!

We began our ride at 10:45 am and arrived at Petroleum Center at 12:30 pm.

After eating a light snack at a picnic table at Petroleum Center, we turned around and began our ride back to Drake Well.  My mantra (Thank you for the word that I was looking for, Stacey) the entire ride back to Drake Well was “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”  By the way it helps a lot having a writer in the family, when you are at a loss of words.  My stepdaughter, Stacey, is an editor for a local newspaper and blogs as well.  If you would like to check out Stacey’s blog, click here.

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The Oil Creek Bike Trail at its southern terminus

20180805_170414449_iOSThe Railroad Bridge

IMG_20180805_130411The shadows under the railroad bridge attracted Bob’s attention.

20180805_170442948_iOSRailroad Bridge with Oil Derricks in the Background

20180805_170716696_iOS-EditBob and I under the Railroad Bridge

IMG_20180805_131909If only we could have planned our ride to coincide with the OC&T Railroad train schedule!

20180805_174016634_iOSA lovely spot to soak in the beauty of Oil Creek

20180805_174930090_iOSThere are benches located all along the trail.
We saw two shelters along the trail as well.  I didn’t think to photograph one of them.

The hill down to the Drake Well parking lot was a very welcome sight.  As I flew down that hill, my thoughts were “I thought I could, I thought I could.”  The trail running from Petroleum Center to Drake Well does require some effort, as there is a gradual (very gradual) incline.  I had to make a few rest stops on the way back to Drake Well.  I had to walk my bicycle a little bit too. I didn’t get overheated; my chest didn’t hurt: I didn’t get out of breath; and I didn’t feel weak or faint, as I did during yesterday’s ride around Red House Lake in Allegany State Park.  It was a great ride!

We returned to Drake Well shortly before 3:00 pm.

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My bike odometer recorded the trip as a distance of 19.22 miles.

This is the farthest I have ever ridden my bicycle, although I did come close when we rode around Erie’s Presque Isle in September 2016.  The bike trail around Presque Isle is 13.5 miles long.  We hope to do that loop again, one day soon.

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My maximum speed during this ride was 17.5 miles per hour.
Guess where?
The hill down to Drake Well of course!

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I averaged 6.4 miles per hour.

One last picture .. how hot was it?

20180805_190145318_iOSOur car displayed an outdoor temperature of 95°F, when we returned from our bicycle ride.
It was probably 15° cooler on the wooded trail.

I definitely feel that I got some exercise.  Yesterday my leg muscles were hot and humming.  I was so tired.  Soon after returning home I fell asleep on our reclining chair, until inner thigh pain bolted me upright and out of the chair.  A hot shower, massage and Valium relaxed those throbbing muscles, allowing me to sleep through the night.  Today I went for a short bicycle ride.  I felt the expected muscle ache. I didn’t push myself.  I rode easy.  I know I need to rest, and I will rest the remainder of today and tomorrow.  I hope to ride again later in the week and the weekend, increasing my distance each ride.

I would like to ride the Oil Creek Bike Trail again. Early fall would be a good time.  We will enter the trail, though, at Petroleum Center and ride north.  I would much prefer to bicycle the gradual incline, when fresh rather than after riding 9 miles!

Reflecting back, I feel glad and proud that I was able to complete the Oil Creek Bike Trail in both directions.  As it was for the little engine that could, I believed in myself and pushed my performance.  I changed my mantra from “I think I can” to “I thought I could”.

 

 

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New Bicycle

This past Saturday Bob suggested that we go look at bicycles. My current bicycle is a 26″ Huffy ladies bicycle that we purchased in July 2006.  My agility is not the same as it was 10+ years ago (or even the same as it was a year or two ago!).  I can’t step into my bicycle. I have to swing my leg over the seat to mount and dismount. Doing so causes me hip pain, as I mount and dismount.  I had been looking at low-step step through bicycles online.  I didn’t want to purchase a bicycle on line, though, as I felt it necessary to ride the bicycle to determine whether or not it met my physical limitations and was comfortable to ride.

Our first stop was at Walmart to see what, if any, step through bicycles were available. We found one step through bicycle. The step through portion of the bicycle was still too high off the ground. I couldn’t lift my leg high enough to step through.

Our next stop would be in Jamestown, but we were hungry. We stopped at Sheetz for a light lunch. We each purchased a meat and cheese package with beverage. We ate our lunch, at Sheetz, at an outside table.

After lunch we drove to Hollyloft Ski & Bike, located in Jamestown NY.  Upon arrival at the bike shop, I asked if they had any step through bicycles. The salesman, whose name was Tom, showed us a bicycle manufactured by Specialized.  In the showroom I determined that I could comfortably step through and mount / dismount the bicycle. The salesman suggested that I take the bicycle for a test drive. Tom fitted me for a helmet. I have never worn a helmet, while riding a bicycle. I rode the bicycle, first, in the parking lot. Tom watched. When I completed my ride around the parking lot, Tom adjusted the seat to fit me.

It was time for a longer test drive. There is a dead end street next to the bike shop. I rode the bicycle to the end of that street, changing gears along the way. The bicycle has seven gears, with gear 1 being easier than gear 1 on my current bicycle. I liked how I sat upright on this bicycle, how the gears operated by the click of a lever, and the big tires that seemed to give me more balance.

You guessed it. We purchased a Specialized Low Roll bicycle. We accessorized the bicycle with fenders, rack, mirror and a computer. The computer is about the size of a watch. It records trip statistics–average and maximum speed, time spent on trip, and miles ridden. I now have a clock in front of me, while riding. I can erase each trip’s statistics. The odometer, however, maintains the total miles ridden. Oh, I purchased a bike helmet as well.  We had to return to Warren for the bike carrier. While we were gone, the bike shop installed the accessories and tuned up the bike. Great service all around!

We returned to Hollyloft and picked up the bicycle around 3:30 pm.  We carried Bob’s bicycle with us from Warren.

From Hollyloft we drove to Allegany State Park near Salamanca NY. We entered the park via the Quaker Lake entrance. Our first stop was at the Quaker General Store, where we ate a light dinner. Bob had a BLT wrap; my dinner was a hot dog.

20180804_203216375_iOSOur bicycles at the Quaker General Store

 

After dinner we drove to the Red House Lake Beach parking lot.

20180804_212604299_iOSMy new bicycle

We rode around Red House Lake (a distance of approximately 3 miles).

_LG26700Red House Lake

_LG26701Fishing Pier at Red House Lake

_LG26702Red House Lake

20180804_214222211_iOSIf I have to sit on the ground, I am glad for the scenic view.

I believe the temperature, which was in the mid to upper 80s, the hot sunshine, and what I wore to ride caused me to be grounded a couple times during our ride. I wore jeans and a t-shirt.  I believe I got overheated.  I felt weak, faint.  I was  breathing heavier than normal, finding it difficult to catch my breath. My chest hurt too, although that may have been caused by indigestion.

This wasn’t the best ride, but I do really LOVE my new bicycle!

 

Gilbert Reservoir

We visited someplace new to us today.

There are three water supply reservoirs totaling over one billion gallons in upland reserves that serve the Bradford, PA water system:

1 – Gilbert Reservoir – 206 Million Gallons – Constructed 1888
2 – Marilla Reservoir – 120 Million Gallons – Constructed 1898
3 – Heffner Reservoir – 760 Million Gallons – Constructed 1956

Two of the reservoirs, Marilla and Gilbert, are open for free public access. Both the Marilla and Gilbert Reservoirs are located along Pennsylvania Route 346, approximately five miles west of Bradford. Both reservoirs offer awesome scenery and a wide variety of shared recreational opportunities. Visitors are encouraged and welcomed to enjoy miles of hiking trails, in addition to canoeing, kayaking and fishing at these two reservoirs.

We have visited Marilla Reservoir a few times. I have shared several photographs of Marilla Reservoir on Flickr that you may view by clicking here.

Across from Marilla Reservoir is a gravel road that leads to Gilbert Reservoir. Today we followed the gravel road for 4 miles UP, OVER and DOWN a hill.

_LG26287The gravel road dead ends at a parking lot located at Gilbert Reservoir.

The reservoir grounds have been upgraded recently.  A new trail leads to a new fishing pier.

_LG26290Gilbert Reservoir
This trail leads to a fishing pier.

The trail and pier are handicap accessible.

_LG26293Bob walked past the pier into the woods beyond.

Bob asked me to join him in the woods.

Don’t even go there! 🙂

Bob wanted to show me something that he had found in the woods.

_LG26298Bob found these butterflies, which were attracted to pieces of charcoal.

_LG26301Bob takes in the view from the fishing pier.

_LG26300This is another photograph of the reservoir from the fishing pier.

On our way UP, OVER and DOWN the hill from Gilbert Reservoir, as we approached Pennsylvania Route 346, we were treated to a magnificent view of Marilla Reservoir.

_LG26303Marilla Reservoir

The scenery at both Marilla and Gilbert Reservoirs is absolutely beautiful.  I am sure that we will make return trips to both reservoirs many more times.

Our Chincoteague Vacation (Part 2 of 3)

This blog post continues our 3-day Easter weekend vacation at Chincoteague Island.  Our first vacation day was a travel day.

On Friday, March 25th, we ate breakfast around 6:30 am at the hotel. Our complimentary breakfast selections included scrambled eggs, bacon, biscuits and sausage gravy, a variety of breads and bagels, cold and hot cereals, a variety of hot and cold beverages, waffles, and pastries. After breakfast we returned to our room and enjoyed a second cup of tea/coffee, while sitting on our third floor balcony. The rain, which was in Friday’s forecast, had not yet started. It was a breezy 57 degrees. I was comfortable sitting outside, with a fleece jacket on.

A little later in the morning we drove the 12 miles to Route U.S. Route 13 for gas at the Exxon station. When we reached the U.S. Route 13-Chincoteague Road intersection the night before, the fuel station had just closed for the day. Bob wanted to get gas there to earn Plenti points. There is a Food Lion store next door to the Exxon station. We made a quick stop there to pick up a few grocery items. We returned to the hotel to drop off our purchases. Soon afterward we left the hotel and drove to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, located on Assateague Island.  The Best Western Chincoteague Island hotel is very close to the wildlife refuge, less than 1 mile away from the gate.

There is an admission fee charged to enter Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, unless you are on foot or bicycle. Daily admission costs $8.00 per vehicle. A weekly pass costs $15.00. We purchased the weekly pass, as we planned to visit the wildlife refuge on Saturday as well. When I am 62 years old, in 2 more years, I will be eligible to purchase a lifetime national park pass for $10.00. That pass will be a worthwhile purchase!

We followed Beach Access Road to the Assateague Island National Seashore. (See Google map of Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge provided below.)

WildlifeRefuge

We saw a fawn soon after passing through the wildlife refuge gate. I missed the shot, as I didn’t have the camera ready to shoot.  It was a windy and rainy morning; the lighting poor.

_LG20373 4x6Seagull at Assateague Island National Seashore

_LG20378 4x6Northern Shoveler alongside Beach Access Road, across from Little Toms Cove

We returned to our hotel, when the rain began to fall so hard that it was difficult to see anything.

Late morning we visited the NASA Visitor Center, which is located on Wallops Island about 5 miles from the Best Western Chincoteague Island hotel. According to its About Us webpage, the visitor center “features exhibits about aeronautics, orbital and sub-orbital rockets, scientific balloons, current missions, and the history of Wallops Flight Facility. In addition to exhibits, the Visitor Center also features an auditorium, a Science on the Sphere Theater, an observation deck, as well as numerous free public programs, events, and group tours of the facility. The Visitor Center also serves as the viewing site for rockets that launch from Wallops Island. Located inside the Visitor Center, the Gift Shop, open seasonally, offers models, patches, games, clothing and a variety of NASA souvenirs.”  The outside grounds has rockets and aircraft used for space and aeronautical research including a full-scale four stage reentry vehicle used to study the earth’s atmosphere.  I took several photographs, while at the visitor center.

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The Nike-Cajun sounding rocket
is able to carry a 77-pound payload to a height
of about 90 miles and has been used at Wallops
since 1956.

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Four-stage Reentry Vehicles were used to study phenomena
associated with high speed reentry
through the Earth’s atmosphere including
radio transmissions during reentry conditions.

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 Space suit seen inside auditorium

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In the auditorium we watched an informative 20-minute film about the space mission.

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Bob took this picture of me wearing a space suit.

_LG20390 4x6This is the view from the observation deck.

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This rocket was visible from the observation deck.
A much better picture was possible from the ground.
Little Joe was used to test the Mercury Spacecraft prior to manned light.
Monkeys Sam and Miss Sam were launched from Wallops
utilizing this rocket vehicle.

We walked behind the Visitor Center and found three more exhibits.

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This rocket was not identified.
Bob said to say it was a UFO.

_LG20395 4x6The Astrobee F, a solid-propellant sounding rocket first launched from Wallops Island in 1972,
could lift a 200-pound payload to about 260 miles altitude.

_LG20397 4x6The Aerobee 150, a liquid-propellant sounding rocket with a six-foot solid-propellant booster,
was used from 1955 to 1985.  It could lift a 150-pound payload to 160 miles altitude.

After visiting the NASA Visitor Center, we ate lunch at Royal Farms.  Royal Farms is a privately owned chain of gas station/convenience stores headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland. The store is very reminiscent of Sheetz, a gas station/convenience store with which we are familiar.

After lunch, on our way back to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, we stopped briefly at the Public Landing at Queen Sound located on Wallops Island alongside VA 175.  Two seagulls were vying for my attention.

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Queen Sound Seagulls

We soon made our way back to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.  We followed Beach Access Road, once again, to the Assateague Island National Seashore.

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Friday’s weather was quite changeable…heavy rain, thunder and lightning to heavy fog to sunshine with temperatures in the upper 70s. I have never seen fog such as in these two photographs, while at the seashore.

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Everyone still had fun!

 

We turned around at the seashore and was again driving along Beach Access Road.

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We watched this egret for quite some time alongside Beach Access Road.  The egret sat in this tree for a long time.  All of a sudden, the egret flew to the water below.  I missed photographing the short flight.  We watched several more minutes, while the egret fished.

_LG20442 4x6Egret fishing

Our next stop was the Woodland Trail.

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This is Woodland Trail (photo taken by Bob).  It was shocking to see how much the area had changed from when we walked the trail in past years.  There were so many dead and fallen trees that the area looked barren. An Internet search revealed that this area suffered from a southern pine beetle infestation that killed many trees this past fall.

_LG20448 4x6We saw this pair of Vultures, soon after beginning our walk on the Woodland Trail.

The Woodland Trial is one of the best places to see the wild ponies of Chincoteague.  You have to walk about a half mile into the trail to get to the observation platform from which you can see the ponies.  There are signs marking the way to the pony viewing so you can’t miss it.  We saw several wild ponies grazing off in the distance.

_LG20453 4x6Chincoteague Wild Ponies

From the Woodland Trail we drove to the Wildlife Loop, which opens to vehicular traffic at 3:00 pm.  While driving around the loop, we saw an egret, a pair of Mallard Ducks, and a pair of Canadian Geese.

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Wildlife Loop wildlife

We, then, returned to hotel and relaxed for about 1 1/2 hours, until 5:00 pm.

We ate dinner at the Chincoteague Diner & Restaurant, conveniently located next door to our hotel. This was our first meal besides Sheetz-like sandwich wraps and fast food burgers that we ate since leaving home on Thursday at 12:30 pm. Bob ordered a prime rib dinner. I ordered a meat loaf dinner. We each ordered dessert too. Bob had a slice of coconut cake, and I had a slice of chocolate cake. Service was excellent, and dinner was delicious.

We returned to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, after dinner. We drove the Wildlife Loop once again. Then we followed Beach Access Road to the Assateague Island National Seashore.  I watched the ocean waves for a time, while waiting for sunset.

_LG20493 4x6Assateague Island National Seashore

We watched the sunset from the boardwalk Toms Cove Visitor Center.

LJG20503 4x6Toms Cove Visitor Center

LJG20507 4x6Sunset across Little Toms Cove

LJG20540 4x6Sunset across Little Toms Cove

At 7:30 pm we returned to our hotel, where we stayed for rest of the night.

Heaven on Earth

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“On earth there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it.”
– Jules Renard

I visited a piece of heaven on earth earlier this week — our friends’ backyard garden.

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I will share with you lines from a poem, “A Garden Poem” by Robert Cording that I discovered this morning, as well as photographs of Shelly and Bob’s backyard garden.

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A garden is both personal and private,
A place that is its own world,
A place that engages the imagination as well as the senses.

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Among other things it is a passage to somewhere else –
To the personal and shared past its scents evoke,
To the distant places to which its forms allude.

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Trees, flowers, water.
From the shade of a maple,
A warbler sings in Spring’s muscular blossomings.

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Water spills from stone to stone and disappears into the pool below,
Everything is growing,
Changing with the light that dapples a patchwork of sun and shade,
And delights with quick transformations of colors.

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A garden is full of the distance we call dreams.
Dreams of home, of family, of friendship.
A garden is a place that is its own world and ours.

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To make a garden is to honor life and its blessings,
To make a garden is to come home.

Happiness

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“Happiness is a butterfly,
which when pursued,
is always just beyond your grasp,
but which, if you will sit down quietly,
may alight upon you.”

– by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Spring Has Sprung

Harry, one of the owners of the store at which I work as a cashier, mentioned that his Hellebores were in full bloom. He invited me to stop by and take some pictures. I dropped by yesterday afternoon and took some pictures of Harry’s garden.

I saw pink Hellebores.

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At the base of a bottle tree I saw Kaufmanniana Tulips.

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Before I left the garden two pieces of garden art caught my attention.

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This “fellow” made me smile.
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A young lad named “Joel”
Harry’s garden shows so much promise of more beauty to come!
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