Saturday, July 26, 2008

Lotus Bloom

I took this photo today at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and just wanted to share it because I love it so much. I may post other images later, as the gardens are in full bloom right now and just astoundingly beautiful, but for now you can enjoy this one perfect bloom.

Friday, July 18, 2008

It's a Weird World

Check out these interesting creatures that Jeff caught on film (ok, SD card) while we were hiking in Prince William Forest Park last weekend. Don't they look like they belong in some Japanese cartoon?

Monday, July 07, 2008

Blackberries and Hail Marys

This weekend, Jeff and I were supposed to go camping in the George Washington National Forest, but the weather did not cooperate. A forecast of rain and thunderstorms had us wary, and when we woke to rain on Friday, we said no way. We were going to be doing primitive camping and three days of being sopping wet sounded less than appealing.

Not getting in any hikes would have really killed our schedule, however, so we headed south toward Richmond where the forecast looked better. It was hot and humid but not rainy as we marched off the miles at Pocahontas State Park and Belle Isle. Things looked fine as we headed on to Lake Anna, and as we got started on our 5-mile excursion, we could hear the roar of boat motors on the lake and the sounds of people enjoying Independence Day. About halfway into the hike, those sounds began to be replaced by the roll of thunder. It was distant, however, and the skies were still looking good. Plus at this point, we'd be just as quick finishing up the hike as we would be backtracking. We thought we'd just hurry along and hopefully make it out before the storm rolled in.

But that's before we saw the blackberries. Lining a clearing through which we had to pass were bush after bush after bush of first-of-the-season berries. I grabbed a couple to snack on, and then offhandedly said to Jeff, "We ought to pick these and take them home and make a cobbler." The word "cobbler" perked his ears right up and got him rooting through my backpack looking for a bag to gather them in. A quarter-full bag of dried mangoes was the best we could come up with, but that didn't stop us. We'd walk a few steps, grab a few berries, walk a few steps, grab a few berries---until the trail ducked back into the woods and left the bushes behind. At this point, we didn't have enough to make much of anything, but lo and behold the trail spit us back out into the clearing. We were destined to gather blackberries. And that's what we the thunder got louder and the sky got grayer. "Just one more" seemed to be our mantra. Or "Oh that one's just too perfect to pass up."

Eventually we had not just a full bag but a couple of extra handfuls too. And that's when we decided to put it into high gear and take off. It was too late, however, as the wind picked up and the sky turned black. Thunder clapped. And lightning, still a bit distant, crackled. We were off and running...or sort of. You try running with an overflowing bag of berries and hands gently clasping the extras. It's not easy. And we had at least 1.5 miles, if not 2.0 to go.

With a huge clash of thunder, the skies opened. Wind shook the trees and small branches rained down along with huge drops of water. Lightning pierced the sky, much closer than I'd prefer. This was a big, bad storm, and it was right overhead. And so we ran and ran, through puddles and along the trail as it ran with us, washed out by the rain. A litany of Hail Marys passed through my lips. When you've got nothing else you can do, prayer seems as good as plan as any.

I'll admit, it was a bit scary...but still we held onto those berries as we sloshed our way back to the car, sopping wet but with nearly all our berries in tow and intact.

So okay, it wasn't the brightest thing we could have done. But damn if that blackberry cobbler isn't delicious.

(And now, after a much less eventful hike on Sunday, I also have a bowlful of raspberries in my refrigerator waiting to be turned into sorbet. Mmm. I feel so darn pioneering.)

**Parents no need for alarm. Jeff and I maintained a good distance between ourselves as we ran, so if one of us was struck by lightning, the other one wouldn't be and could give CPR. That makes you feel better, doesn't it?