Monday, June 9, 2014

Snapping Turtles

This was not meant to be a nature blog, but for the past couple of weeks I have gotten close to several of the different species of wildlife on the Blackstone Bikeway on my bike rides.  I have been riding this bike path for three years now and while I occasionally would see river turtles, for the first time this morning, I saw a snapping turtle.  Actually, it was more like 8.  They were littered along the path, very close to fences and the paved path.  The mama turtles were laying their eggs.  

I couldn't get over how many there were when I had never seen them before, but then it hit me.  Today was the earliest I had began my ride.  In trying to beat the forecasted rain, I started my ride an hour and a half earlier than normal.  On the way back, the time I would have usually started, the turtles had already laid their eggs and were gone.

It was interesting to watch them scoop out a hole in the dirt.  While I didn't see any eggs, one of the turtles was loudly grunting as she was trying to lay her eggs.  While on land, these turtles are reputed to be belligerent, but the ones I saw seemed pretty calm, probably because they were busy with the task at hand.  On the return trek of my ride, I ran into one crossing the bike path to head back to the river.  

In 9 -18 weeks, whatever eggs haven't been eaten by skunks, squirrels or other predators will hatch.  I will have to keep an eye out for these baby turtles in late summer.  

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Elegant Swans

On my bike rides, I usually see two pair of swans.  They usually are not very close to the path, but in the past week or so, I've been fortunate to get some pretty nice photos.  Enjoy.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Mother Goose, Dad and the Goslings

Everything to do with spring seems late this year.  I've only seen two families of Canadian Geese on the bike path and the goslings are nearly grown!  Mother Goose is very protective and hisses at us bikers as we pedal by.  She stared at me as I first passed, then stopped the bike to grab the camera.  But she soon lost interest and the little family headed to the water.  Today, another family was to the side of the path, the goslings napping on a very warm and beautiful day.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Gone Fishing

Spending a lot of time on the bike path affords me the opportunity to see many varieties of the local wildlife.   My camera is always with me.  On this particular day, I was riding my regular route and in the distance along the river, I saw a Great Blue Heron flying in my direction, landing along the edge of the bike path about 100 or so feet from me.  I immediately slowed down and got off the bike before I reached him.  Many of the herons I've seen have been skittish and if I get too close, they usually fly off,  but I figured at least I'd get a clean shot of this one flying.

But he looked curious.  He let me get within 20 feet of him, watching me, but not moving.  With my adrenaline pumping, I kept my movements slow and small, the camera was on, the lens was zoomed and I started shooting.  As I photographed him, I noticed a small fish swimming and I knew he was waiting for it.  He was, and in a quick sudden move, he had it in his mouth.  I got a couple of photos before he ate it.  Once he was done, he flew away.  

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Upstate NY is Always a Good Idea

For us city folk, our two long weekends in spring and fall around the Cooperstown area are truly relaxing.  Stumbling upon the Meadowlark Inn in East Springfield, New York was serendipity.  What began five years ago as a three day stay in order to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown has now become a bi-annual trip to relax, unwind and visit with friends. Since our first trip, we always stop at this abandoned property along the way and joke about buying this 'fixer-upper' and making it our compound.

Since food allergies are an issue, we originally chose the Meadowlark because of their suite with kitchen facilities.  We left Thursday afternoon, packing light with a grocery list for Friday morning.  Since we were the only ones at the inn Thursday night, I snuck out early in the morning without disturbing George and Tina, the innkeepers (our friends).  

I googled Dunkin Donuts on my phone and found one about 40 minutes away.  Since Price Chopper was in the same direction, I thought I'd go for a little ride and get an iced coffee.  Not my greatest idea.  Along the nice scenic ride, a deer jumped in front of the car less than 50 feet in front of me.  Once my heart stopped pounding, I found myself descending a mountain complete with runaway truck ramps every few hundred feet.  When I got to the vicinity of Dunkin Donuts, my GPS said 'you have reached your destination'.  It was Walmart.  (I learned later there actually was a Dunkin Donuts inside.  As I turned around, I caught sight of the DD sign across the street!  Thank goodness!

We all went to nearby Sharon Springs to have dinner at the 204 Main Bistro and visited with the owners Jim and Norm, our servers, Nick and Eva and met up for martinis on Saturday afternoon with Josh and Brent, the Fabulous Beekman Boys!  Tina and I spent a little time in Sharon Springs lunching at The Black Cat and walking on Main Street, perusing the small shops there.

Have lemon drops, will travel!  Glad to have met up with Josh and Brent, The Fabulous Beekman Boys at the  Beekman 1802 mercantile before they hit the road for some book signings, promoting their new cookbook!

David and Mikey always enjoy speaking with Josh about school.

The Heirloom Vegatable Cookbook is the third Beekman Boys cookbook.  Their cookbooks are wonderful, easy to follow with gorgeous photos.  They have the Heirloom Cookbook and an Heirloom Dessert Cookbook as well.  Pick one (or three) up, you'll be glad you did!

Lunch at the Black Cat is always delicious.  Their Tuscan Chicken on Ciabatta is my favorite while Tina gets the Thanksgiving dinner sandwich.  

We met a new friend Wendy who is opening up a shop on Main Street in Sharon Springs.  She is a very talented artist and has some wonderful designs.  I bought a couple of beautiful trivets and a small makeup bag.

Another new friend Melissa makes some really nice soaps and other skin care items.  She can be found at Pixie Pants Designs online.  Her pine tar soap is amazing.  My son has been frustrated with acne and this soap has been working wonders in less than a week!  He (and I) are thrilled!

The weekend weather was gorgeous.  We hung around the inn and the boys played a lot of baseball with their dad on the Meadowlark's Little League field.  George let them drive the tractor while he worked on the new outdoor room he's building.  Tina and I chatted.  I told her about wheatgrass which is supposed to have wonderful health benefits and she introduced me to bulletproof coffee.  We had a Sunday barbecue.

And there was chess of course in the lobby.  

And in what seemed like a blink of an eye, the five day weekend was over.  Back home, with police sirens screaming in the background, home and car alarms going off and people honking their horns to pick up their passengers at 7 am in the morning.  

So if you happen to find yourself looking for some R & R in the Cooperstown area, check out the Meadowlark Inn in East Springfield.  George and Tina will provide immaculate accommodations, belgian waffles for breakfast and beautiful grounds to play chess, baseball, or just chill and relax.  Maybe you'll even run into us there!