Peculiarities & Place – The Atlantus and Cape May Diamonds

img_5006-2

Sunset Beach in Cape May, New Jersey, has two unique draws: The Atlantus and Cape May Diamonds. The Atlantus is a concrete ship sunk here in June of 1926. Slowly, the ship is being claimed by the sea.

img_5009-4

Cape May Diamonds are quartz pebbles polished to a diamond-like clarity by their passage down the Delaware River. The man in the photograph must be a serious beachcomber; he brought along a small rake to search for Cape May Diamonds.

img_5011-2

I enjoy sorting through all the beautiful pebbles. Most are polished to a lovely smoothness.

img_5140-2

I didn’t come home empty-handed. Here are a few of the ‘diamonds’ I found on a piece of moonshell. For us, a visit to Cape May always includes a quick stop-over at Sunset Beach.

Place & Quote – Cape May, New Jersey/Solitude

img_4996-3

“And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” ~ Mark 6:31

One of the best aspects of towns along the seashore in the off season is the ease of finding solitude. For those of you who see shapes and faces in objects, do you see the shape of bird wings on either side of the sun? I do.

img_5022-2

The shoreline of the Cape May Point State Park is a perfect place to walk, do a little bird-watching, or admire the Cape May Lighthouse.

img_5019-2

Cape May, New Jersey is a lovely place to spend a week or a few days for a seashore getaway. More to come on this southernmost tip of New Jersey to follow this week.

Place – The Woods

img_4914-2

The weather has been a bit warmer, the snow has began to melt, a perfect time to walk in the woods and get some sunshine.

img_4911-2

We were surprised to see ‘No Trespassing’ signs in an area that both my husband and I played in as children, and walked in as adults. It saddened me to see that the signs had been put up by a local church. It seemed unfriendly somehow, but then, on further thought, I realized the area is within walking distance of Rowan University, and the signs are probably there to prevent late-night partying and bonfires.

I enjoyed the walk, and so did my husband, but for some reason it also made me feel a bit blue. I had that strange heaviness inside that sometimes comes when we revisit places that have meant a lot to us throughout our lives. It reminded me of friends who I used to play with in this area who are now gone on to heaven, or have moved so far away I only see them once every few years.

img_4907-2

Beyond the unexpected sadness, I did enjoy the walk. This small piece of land has beautiful patches of moss. The variety is amazing.

img_4889

One eerie thing about this area is the absence of birds and wildlife. It’s very quiet, no birdsong, no scurry of startled squirrels. Whenever we walk here we remark on the strange hush. We have wondered many times if it might have to do with chemicals leaching from the glass factory waste still in the ground. The Glass Factories that thrived here from 1780 – 1929 gave Glassboro its name.

When we walk in this area we always find new pieces of glass ‘culls’ or waste glass that was dumped over 100 years ago. Most of it has been covered over by years of soil, but when it rains, especially the big nor’easters that barrel through, pieces will come to the surface again. Here are a few we found Saturday. If you look close, you can see the melted bottle top of cobalt blue that was discarded here.

img_4903-2

img_4900-2

img_4897-2

img_4900-2

I don’t know if I’ll walk here again. The ‘No Trespassing’ signs warn of prosecution, and the remembrances make me miss friends who are gone.

Place – Woodlands in Winter

img_4726-2

The woods are crisp with fallen leaves and cold temperatures. I took a woodland walk with camera in tow, searching for the perfect fallen tree as an answer to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Inner and Outer. Within the trunk of a split tree I found a beautiful abstract design. It’s easy to pass by and never noticed the unseen ethereal beauty created by weather and mossy tendrils.

img_4727-3

As I walked I purposely trudged my feet kicking up the wonderful scent of the woodland path. I found another instance of inner and outer in the recesses of a knotty fallen branch. It reminded me of a miniature bird nest; I found myself fascinated by the complexity of what on first glance appeared simple. The swirling bark was the perfect choice for the Color Your World – 120 Days of Crayola/Shadow.

img_4729-2

I searched for greens amid the fallen leaves and was surprised by how many I found. Here’s my Ten on Tuesday & One, highlighted by the brilliant yellow of a dandelion bringing a touch of sunshine into the day.

ten-on-tuesday-plus

Place – Finding Your Place – Discover Challenge

A cottage in Pitman Grove
A cottage in Pitman Grove

I enjoy taking part in many of the WordPress Challenges.

This week, tell us about a place that has helped shape who you are.

Pitman Methodist Campground, also known as Pitman Grove,  is a favorite place for me to walk throughout the year. I walk down and around the twelve paths leading to the center meeting place, the tabernacle, in every season. During the summer, local churches each take a turn conducting Sunday night services in the tabernacle. I usually attend a few each year.

The town of Pitman grew up around the camp. Residents still hold dear the true meaning of Christmas. A few years ago there was quite an uproar in regards to a sign in the center of town. ‘Keep Christ in Christmas,’ was deemed controversial. The townspeople responded by placing miniature replicas of the sign on their lawns…yours truly included.

I still use this sign every year!
I still use this sign every year!

Yesterday I walked along the campground paths, taking a few photographs for what I intended to be a ‘Wordless Wednesday’ post. Hmmm….a lot of words written here for what was intended to be wordless. Smile.

img_4267-2

The Hagerty Family, residents who live in one of the original houses, set up a sensational Christmas display of lights every year to celebrate the season. The display attracts people from all over the area. I appreciate the banner they have across their property. Frank Hagerty knows best what spreads holiday cheer.

“It’s about sending his personal message of Christian faith to parents who walk through rows of displays including mangers depicting baby Jesus and the first Christmas.” Frank Hagerty quoted in the South Jersey Times

Place – Longwood Chrysanthemum Festival

img_3699-2

Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, is having its yearly Chrysanthemum Festival. As always, the conservatory is filled with beautiful flowers and amazing feats of training the chrysanthemums to grow into unique shapes.

Here’s a close-up of one of the techniques they use.

img_3701-2

There are shapes of all kinds to marvel over and enjoy. Most of these are created with only one chrysanthemum plant. Amazing!

img_3714-2

img_3723-3

img_3725-2

img_3726-3

Whatever the season, Longwood Gardens has something outstanding to enjoy.

Place – Rocklands Bird Sanctuary/Feeding Station

The view of Montego Bay, Jamaica from Rocklands Bird Sanctuary
The view of Montego Bay, Jamaica from Rocklands Bird Sanctuary

“Rocklands was established by Lisa Salmon, a self-taught ornithologist , one of Jamaica’s first environmentalists. Miss Salmon or “the bird lady” as she was affectionately known purchased the Rocklands property in 1954.”

~ Jamaica Travel and Culture

img_3362-2

In the mountains of Jamaica, near the town of Anchovy, a thirty-minute drive from Montego Bay, my husband and I entered a world unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before. I posted a picture of a hummingbird on my finger a few weeks ago, and this is the accompanying story of that moment in Anchovy, Jamaica, at the Rocklands Bird Sanctuary.

img_3400-2

Before we even encountered the birds, we were amazed by the surroundings. Sitting on the beautiful terrace, bordered by hand-crafted concrete planters, the abundance of lush green beauty began soul-soothing us immediately. For me, this was a slice of heaven on earth. I love plants, nature, and birds and Rocklands Bird Sanctuary perfectly combines all three.

img_3365-2

The key to the experience is “patience,” our guide Fred told us, and we found it to be the case. The hummingbirds eyed us up a bit from their perches near the roof of the terrace, deciding if we were worthy of their attention.

img_3376-2

My husband patiently held the small bottle of sugar-water and finger at the ready, and was rewarded with tiny bird feet touching down. (There is bird-seed spread on his legs to draw other birds in.)

img_3383-2

I came away from the experience with Rocklands Bird Sanctuary forever imprinted upon my heart. I was also inspired to create a few bird feeding stations of my own, but that is a post for tomorrow. 🙂

Postscript: Don’t miss out on the trails that surround this beautiful sanctuary if you are able to take a tour.

Phun & Preparedness & Place – Ingenuity Part I

img_3505-2

Jamaica is one of our favorite places to visit. I love the land, the sea, and most of all the people. The DeCameron, a lovely hotel in Montego Bay, is one of our favorite places to stay. They are expanding in size, and we enjoyed watching the work going on around us. We were very impressed by this man’s ingenuity in shielding himself from the hot sun with a large piece of cardboard. The cardboard is light in weight, but its broadness cast a large shadow, protecting him from the heat. I would never have thought of such a good idea, but I will definitely file it away in my thoughts as a perfect solution for blazing sunshine.

img_3506-2

Place – The Lure of the Shortcut

IMG_2936

On the way home from fishing this past weekend, we had plenty of time left in the afternoon, and nowhere we had to be, so we turned down a road that looked interesting and had the possibility of being a shortcut. We quickly realized a shortcut was not going to happen, but we came upon some really interesting sights as we headed back to main roads.

IMG_2937

Coastal New Jersey is home to many sand pits. This is an abandoned section of one of those. Picturesque in one way, eerie in another…a good setting for a Stephen King novel.

img_2940

Place – Opposites in Island Joy

IMG_5183

Treasure Beach, Jamaica

Two islands that I love are opposite to each other, located in the North and South of the western hemisphere. Jamaica and Block Island, Rhode Island are two of my favorite islands in the world. Neither of these islands can be reached by car. Jamaica requires air travel, and Block Island requires a ferry ride, or a quick flight in a small plane.

I’d say the most obvious differences between these islands is the heat or lack of it. Block Island might become hot and sunny in the summer, but the water always feels a bit cold to me. Jamaica’s blue-green waters maintain their warmth, and are always inviting. Block Island is a place of bustling activity, Jamaica’s atmosphere is laid-back and more relaxed. I love both these islands, and enjoy the unique aspects of each.

 

Islands - Block Island

Block Island, Rhode Island

Phavorites & Place – Morguefile and Mars

The planet Mars is close to earth in June of 2016. This week will provide you with a good opportunity for viewing the red planet. Nasa’s website provides good information on how to best view Mars. Nasa – Mars in Our Night Sky.

“In 2016, the planet Mars will appear brightest from May 18 to June 3.” ~ Nasa Website

Morguefile photograph courtesy of TomWildoner
Morguefile photograph courtesy of TomWildoner

Since I don’t have a photograph of Mars for this post, I searched one of my favorite royalty-free sites for a good example. I found this interesting atmospheric photograph, taken of Mars in 2014, on the Morguefile site courtesy of Tom Wildoner.

Place – Buying Local/Farm Stands and Markets

roadside plant stand

The Brown Farm is located in Heislerville, on the way to the Delaware Bay. The owner sells the ‘odd’ plants I enjoy finding. I was excited to find penstemon, a tall perennial that attracts hummingbirds, and a new variety of purple bee balm. I also bought some butter lettuce, the rosettes so perfect, my husband thought they might be flowers themselves.

roadside plant stand 4

I try to buy from small businesses as often as possible. Plants  and farm roadside stands always draw me in. I am a true believer in the Health Benefits of Eating Local.

roadside plant stand 3

Searching out new places to stop and chat with the owners is one of the joys of our weekends.

roadside plant stand 2

Prompt & Place – Hope/Creamy Acres Part I

I love birds. The songs they sing as the sun rises fill my heart with joy. Watching them fly from feeder to feeder in my yard is one of my greatest pleasures. Birds often give my spirit an instant uplift of hope.

hope perches

Recently, while visiting Creamy Acres, a farm and garden center located near my home, I expected to see the normal barnyard animals. While we walked among the goats, rabbits, chickens and calves, a piercing cry suddenly alerted us to the presence of the exotic. When we located  the source of the sound coming from the top of the farmhouse porch roof, we were astonished to see the magnificent plumage of a peacock. Sometimes small surprises and pleasures can fill a whole day, and even beyond, with joy. In my own life, unexpected  blessings, like the sighting of a peacock on a porch roof, bring a sense of hope, even if many of my circumstances at the moment are dark.

“‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—”
~ Emily Dickinson

The first stanza of this poem by Emily Dickinson is a favorite of mine. The rooftop peacock (the ‘thing with feathers’) is still perched in my soul, the remembrance giving me a bit of wind beneath the wings of my spirit.

I also cherish the multitude of  hope-filled verses within the pages of the Bible, and  use as an example this verse in Isaiah that compares hope with the image of an eagle. God bless your day with hope.

“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” ~ Isaiah 40:31

Photograph – A Walk in Ceres Woods

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
II Corinthians 13:14

photographer 3

I’ve heard some say they have a hard time believing in the Trinity. I believe. How could I not? There are three trees behind me in my shadow photograph. I can’t see them, but I know they are there. Why? Because of the evidence of their presence. The evidence of the presence of God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit surrounds me every day. I only have to take pause from the unending busyness of life to dwell with them in my spirit.

“And Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.”
—Percy Bysshe Shelley

Spring was evident everywhere yesterday. The calendar says “winter,” but the budding woods proclaims, “Spring.”

photographer 2

State of Mind
“This week, let your inner world and the outside one converge in a photo.”
“Photos show us the surface of things, but they often tell much deeper stories about the objects they depict — and about the people who take them.” WordPress Photo Challenge

photographer 4

One of my greatest pleasures is walking in nature in every season. These photos were taken in Ceres Park a beautiful woods covering fifty-two acres a few miles from my home.

photographer 6

The signs of Spring were all around us: wet, soggy ground, the budding of undergrowth, the touch of sunlight setting even the bark of the trees aglow. The mosses seem to be awakening first, sending up stalks that will soon bud into capsules filled with spores.

photographer 5

Ceres parked is dotted with marl lakes. The mineral turns the water a magical green. I will have to go back to capture the true iridescence of the water another day. The heavy rains of last week muddied them a bit, but if you look closely, you can see swathes of green within the waters.

photographer

Plants & Place – Longwood Gardens & Anthuriums

anthirrium hanging basket

Winter Joy is standing beneath this enormous display of anthuriums. The basket of tropical blooms is hanging from the ceiling of the Longwood Gardens Conservatory in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. In the midst of winter, what a blessing it is to have this lovely garden within an hour’s drive of my home.

An extra dose of winter joy awaited me as I browsed in the visitor center gift shop. The same anthuriums, probably grown in overabundance for the display, were on sale for a fantastic price…$6.50 for an 18 inch plant covered in bloom. JOY!

anthirrium windowsill

Place – Sweet Shop

Color Your World – 120 Days of Crayola – Fuchsia

Sweet Shop

Today we drove to Haddonfield, New Jersey and strolled around town doing a bit of window-shopping. We stopped in the Posh Pop Bakeshop and tried their coffee and rose macaroons. Delicious! Fuchsia letters labeled each jar: Tiffany, Vanilla, Rose, Neapolitan, Chocolate and Nutella. I sampled the rose and it was fabulous! One day I would love to make macaroons.

Photograph, Phun and Place – July in January/Wharton State Forest

Wharton 4

Nothing is quite like a rope swing for defying, and then succumbing, to GRAVITY. When you are flying through the air life seems weightless.

“Show us the effects of gravity in your photo this week.” ~ WordPress Photo Challenge

“Wharton State Forest is the largest state forest in the U.S. state of New Jersey. It is the largest single tract of land in the state park system of New Jersey, encompassing approximately 115,000 acres of the Pinelands northeast of Hammonton. ~ Wikipedia

Wharton

In these dreary and chill days of January I enjoy paging through photographs of summer scenes. Winter has its own merits: warm fires, hot cocoa, ice-skating, etc., but if I had to choose I’d live in the summer’s heat year-round.

Wharton 5

Here’s to a bit of weightless fun, an homage to defying gravity.

Wharton 2