Monday, February 25, 2013

A Short Walk in Greenbelt Park

I took advantage of the relatively warm weather yesterday to get out for a quick walk in Greenbelt Park, which is a small, pleasant national park just inside the Capitol Beltway.  It was a pleasant, quiet stroll through the woods and, in spite of the perfect conditions, I only saw two other groups of people.

Pictures (click to enlarge):
 The Dogwood Trail near the park road.
The fruit of the Sweet Gum Tree (Liquidambar styraciflua).
The woods are still dormant in late winter.  Green moss stands out among brown oak leaves.
 Relatively new trail signs.
Lycopodium sp. (Club Moss).  This one is about four inches across.
An interesting pine cone.
Another variety of pine cone.
 Dried flower stalks along the Dogwood Trail.
Holes drilled by woodpeckers in a dead tree.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Proto-Garden: Getting Ready for Spring

It is hard to think about spring when it is 30 degrees with 30 mph winds, but having had a less-than-usual amount of time outdoors this winter, I thought I would go ahead and get things started for our garden.  We actually have enough space to have a large garden now and I can't wait.  Last weekend, I cleared off the kitchen table and set up an area for seed starting.  We are about 8 weeks out from last frost here, so it is the perfect time to start things like tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and various other plants.  Michael built a stand to hold a fluorescent light fixture since we don't get quite enough light through the window to keep them going.
As of today, nearly everything has sprouted.  I just have to keep them alive until it is warm enough to put them in the ground.

Pictures (click to enlarge):
 Basil just starting to sprout.
 Snowball Cauliflower sprouts
 Dixie cups make good starting pots.
 Cherokee Purple Tomato sprout.
We also built a cold frame from an old window and salvage lumber we got from the Community Forklift in Edmonston, MD.
 French Breakfast Radish sprouts in the cold frame.
 We planted one raised bed of kale, onions, and garlic in the fall.  Things are growing slowly in it, but they are coming along.
 Garlic just coming up.
 My daffodils have already set buds.
Our bird feeder is popular with a local Red-Bellied Woodpecker (thanks, Katrina!).  If anyone knows what kind this is, let me know.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Old Rag Mountain Stewards at Harpers Ferry

It has been a few weeks since I posted as we have been busy and haven't been able to get out for a hike.  We were able to do a little bit of hiking this weekend, but the main event was spending the weekend with the Old Rag Mountain Stewards.  WanderMindfully had a brilliant idea a few months ago that we should have a winter gathering.  The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club's (PATC) cabin, Highacre, in Harpers Ferry was the perfect location.  Mountain Stewards are tough and used to rustic conditions and, truthfully, there are PATC cabins that fit that bill.  Highacre, however, is located right in the middle of town, with full running water, electricity and a modern kitchen.  Talk about getting spoiled!  As usual for Old Rag Mountain Steward events, everyone contributed to a feast of epic proportions Saturday night.  We had a great weekend catching up, exploring the area, and eating good food.  I can't wait for spring season to start.

Pictures (click to enlarge):

 Highacre "Cabin" in Harpers Ferry.
Looking north over the Potomac River from the bluff in Harpers Ferry.
An old car parked in town.  I think it is a Ford Model T, but feel free to let me know if that isn't correct.
We stopped in at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy headquarters and found the photo of a Mountain Steward who thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail a few years ago.
Looking down the Potomac from the ruins of a church.
Sun glaring off of the Potomac from the C&O Towpath.
Snowdrops blooming in town - the first flowers I've seen this year.
 The rail trestle along the Shenandoah River in Harpers Ferry.
 Underneath the rail trestle.
The church on the hill in Harpers Ferry.