Creatures Great and Small

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My first moose sighting occurred in Glacier National Park a few years ago. For several evenings, we walked from our campsite to a nearby lake to watch for moose. You can imagine my delight when, in the waning light of day, one appeared at the edge of the water, then walked into the middle of it. It wasn’t the only moose sighting during that trip, but the novelty and proximity made it the most exciting.

Closer to home, the smaller things tend to get more attention. There is an anecdote (possibly apocryphal) about Vladimir Nabokov chiding a college student for not knowing the types of trees on campus. True or not, it speaks to the tendency to go about one’s daily life without noticing the details. We can’t notice them all, of course; to do so would be overwhelming. Still, it’s worth taking a closer look at what’s around you in the spaces you usually inhabit, rather than just on walks to “Moose Lake” while on vacation.

A few weekends ago, when it was supposed to rain but didn’t, we ended up doing house and yard work in the absence of other plans. In the midst of it, we encountered these three.

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Five for Friday: Baobabs and Other Trees

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1. Let’s start with other trees. The baobabs are what got me thinking of big trees, so here’s what is labeled as the world’s largest spruce tree, near Kalaloch Lodge in Olympic National Park. This isn’t my favorite park, but the trees were impressive. It’s somewhat humbling to think of this tree having been standing here so many years. It has seen more than any of us ever will.

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2. Not to the baobabs, yet. Staying on point with the idea of trees witnessing more than humans, here’s a coffee table book you may enjoy. I have a habit of buying books like these because they look so interesting, which they are, but they are also a bit unwieldy. Still, weighing heft against content, Wise Trees measures up.

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Five for Friday: National Trails Day and More

Black Hills Regional Park, May 2018
Kayaks on the water at Black Hills Regional Park in May

1. I’d like to start by posting a note of gratitude for the many easily accessible parks in Maryland. While parts of the state are most certainly being overdeveloped, there is still, for now anyway, an abundance of public land for enjoyment of the outdoors.

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Five for Friday: Walking is Wonderful

C&O Towpath
C&O Towpath, north of Violette’s Lock

It’s been a hectic month, so I thought I’d go with an easy read for today. Nothing too taxing, just a celebration of the worlds that open up when you have a chance to take a walk.

1. After the rains of the previous week, we finally made it down to the river last weekend and ended up just north of Violette’s Lock, on the C&O Canal towpath. There was plenty of mud to dodge, but the weather was fantastic, and the humidity and insects are still at manageable levels. The river, though–the river was rushing, carrying so much water and debris following the deluge. It felt good to be out and just walk. Certainly one of those days that made me wish I had a pack full of food and water, with plans to be out for hours. The cherry on top was spotting the first oriole of the season, not to mention leafy green views like the one above.

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Visiting the U.S. National Arboretum

Blue bells at the National Arboretum

We visited the U.S. National Arboretum in northeast DC last weekend on a gloriously sunny day. It had been at least eight years or so since we’d been there, and it was refreshing to see it again. Living in the suburbs sometimes makes me feel as though everything in the city is light years away. Every time we’re in DC, though, I remember that it’s not, which makes me inclined to head in on a whim more often.

The Arboretum is a good place for whims. First, it’s free. Then, if you walk in any direction once you’re there, you’ll find a great view, regardless of whether it’s the blossoming tree just before you, or a vista spanning a section of the Anacostia River. I highly recommend it as a day trip for those in the DMV region, or as an add-on to any out-of-towner’s schedule during a visit. The Arboretum is hilly, so walking it serves as a decent workout as long as you don’t drive from one spot to the next (and if you don’t need to, you shouldn’t!). Although visitors could previously take a tram tour, the website indicates that they have been suspended for the 2018 season.

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