Summer storm

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I found the perfect spot to watch this storm roll in.

Some of my favorite childhood memories include watching storms. When I was very tiny, thunderstorms scared me. A lot. But my parents held me close and let me watch some from the safety of their bed, and I began to appreciate all the bluster – along with the beauty.

The way my house is situated, surrounded by trees, I don’t get to watch many storms. But I ran out for a quick errand today, and afterward, was mesmerized by the storm clouds surrounding my town.

I drove over to Joyner Park, one of my favorite nature spots, and watched the storm move in.

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I thought for sure it would rain any minute. But this storm didn’t want to stop.
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The wind promised a rousing tempest, but then relented. These clouds moved on.

Fleeting beauties

Is it my imagination, or are there fewer butterflies around? Or maybe like me, they’ve been avoiding the heat. I’ve managed to see a few . . .

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I’ve learned to take my camera, or at least my phone, when I walk for exercise.
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This little guy was attracted to something on my front porch.

My (almost) 6 mile hike

I was all excited a few weeks ago when a 6 Mile Hike with a park ranger showed up on my Facebook news feed. Unfortunately, it was in just a few days, on a Sunday morning, and littlest Grandson and I had a church date. I sent my regrets, but noted I would be interested in future hikes, and one was scheduled for this morning. As in early. As in 8 a.m.

But, hey. A hike around the local lake, and an expert most likely willing to talk about flora and fauna and who knows what? I signed up. My daughter did, too, but we’ve both been sick lately. She opted to rest instead.

Despite my diet, I stopped by for a Bojangles biscuit (a 6-mile hike requires fortification), showed up early, and drove through the park to the visitor’s station. I marked time until just before 8, when I decided I’d better see if the lead hiker was waiting around. He wasn’t, and wouldn’t be for a while. I mentally tossed a coin. If I waited, chances were even that he’d decide to cancel anyway, considering I was the only eager hiker there. (Heck, apparently even he wasn’t excited about the prospect today.) I bailed, and on the way home decided to hike on my own. Six miles is a lot of walking for me, so I looked at this like a practice run.

There are a lot of joggers out at 8:30 in the morning. And dogs. A variety of birds, too. My phone camera can’t capture birds well, but I did see beautiful flowers.

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This colorful spot calls attention to one of today’s hidden forms of slavery.

Wildflowers were abundant, too. I saw some daisies, and the magnolia trees and the honeysuckle are in bloom.

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He loves me, he loves me not. These wild daisies might be too tiny to tell.

I walk a lot at Joyner Park. It’s close to home, and right now, it’s pretty much still in its natural state. That will change, when they add the ballparks and the playground.

There are several trails that loop around the 117-acre property, but the outer one, called the Farm Loop, is 2.2 miles long. I opted for that one. It’s part sunny, part shadow this time of day, and if I made it around twice, I’d probably call it a day.

Birds are abundant in this picturesque park, but I always keep a lookout for critters, too.

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Found this guy near the end of my walk. By this point, I felt like digging a hole to get out of the heat, too.

I made it twice, logging 4.4 miles, with only a few-minutes long break to rest. I might have gone for another round, but 6 miles is a long way to go without anyone to commiserate with about the heat and humidity, and to ask why did I work out so hard at the gym last night when I knew I was hiking this morning.

If the next hike is a go, I’ve got two weeks to prepare. Then I’ll find out if I can hack a 6-mile trek. At least my chicken biscuit wasn’t wasted.

Sometimes it pays to look back

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When I looked behind me, I saw the beginning of a passable sunset.

February has to be the most impatient month. It’s not like January, which marches by all business-like while everyone’s making grand plans for the new year and putting everything in order.

Although the days are slightly longer, they’re also often colder, here in the southeastern U.S. The leaves have all fallen, except for those red oaks that stubbornly hang on throughout even the worst weather until the new spring leaves sprout and push them loose.

The second month of the year is ushered in with cute groundhog photos and wishes for an early spring. Next comes excitement for the upcoming lovers’ holiday – or dread – depending on your relationship status. Whatever you feel about Valentine’s Day, or Winter itself, February can be loaded with emotion.

I spent much of this past week looking back at my life – not a very bright thing to do in February – because it’s already kind of a grumpy, icy, colorless time of year. It was late in the day before I finally talked myself into that walk I’d been thinking of taking since this morning. Partway through, I peeked behind me, and found, if not the most colorful sunset, at least a pretty one.

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Joyner Farm in silhouette.

Dwelling on the past never does anyone much good. However, sometimes, it pays to take a quick peek over your shoulder.

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Joyner Farm, a slightly different perspective.

Joyner in fall

One of the more picturesque features of E. Carroll Joyner Park in Wake Forest, NC, is its winding handcrafted stone wall.
One of the more picturesque features of E. Carroll Joyner Park in Wake Forest, NC, is its winding handcrafted stone wall.

Although the sun has has finally shown itself, it has been overcast (and cooler) in Wake Forest for days. Fall blew in gently earlier this month, ushering in nights in the sixties and days with low humidity, making it much better weather for walking. As luck would have it, though, when my husband and I took one of our youngest grandsons to a favorite park, the humidity and the heat had returned, shortening our visit to about an hour.

The park has no playground yet, but there's plenty of room for the little ones to explore.
The park has no playground yet, but there’s plenty of room for the little ones to explore.

While E. Carroll Joyner Park, situated on 117 acres in northern Wake County, is eye-catching year-round, fall is my favorite season to visit. The winding trails meander through the woods, around the pond, past the amphitheater, up toward the pecan grove, the old barn and homestead, and through sunny meadows.

A view of the old barn on a recent, sunny Saturday.
A view of the old barn on a recent, sunny Saturday.

Green metal swings and benches beckon walkers and joggers to linger and enjoy the vast, open skyline, especially when it’s hot. When it’s cool, though, it’s equally inviting to explore the park’s roughly three miles of trails.

The park, opened to the public in 2009, is home to a number of activities throughout the year, including the popular Six Sundays in Spring concert series. Its 1000-lawn seat amphitheater and Walker Garden add to the location’s amenities.

Joyner Park is slated to have ball fields, a community center, and several playgrounds in the future. I have to say, though, I’m pretty fond of it the way it is – open, mostly undeveloped, and a relaxing place to walk.

Joyner Park, late fall.
Joyner Park, late fall.