This morning I went to one of my favorite places, McLean Teddy Bear Park. I hadn’t been there since the middle of spring. While I don’t visit there as often as I’d wish, it’s good to know that this beautiful, serene place is waiting for me should I find the time to get there.
This morning I spotted the hind quarter of a fairly large buck as he slipped away from the parking lot. The sight of him made me wonder how such large creatures can hide so well in a county where more than a 100,000 people live. A few of them are bold enough to open the curtain of their lives to us for just a few moments at a time. Just last week a doe walked along my sidewalk as if she were a woman pleased to be the first one up for a morning walk. When she saw me, she sprinted away noiselessly, as no human can do.
I think I hit a lull in the local wildflower season this morning. There were a few bergamot left, along with a stubborn spiderwort in belated bloom. The prairie isn’t quite ready to explode in variants of wild sunflowers whose blooming will endure until the first frost.
There was also a vigorous orange milkweed, the same one that eludes a good capture year after year.
My family had a great time yesterday during our yearly visit to the Allen County Fair. This trip is our last bit of summer revelry before the school year begins. This year’s fair was replete with the vibrant colors and irresistible smells of food trucks:
I believe that a carnival is no place for calorie counting, so I indulged in two abominations of nutrition, deep-fried dill pickles . . .
. . . and deep fried cookie dough:
Both were extremely tasty, but I preferred the pickles. The doughnut-tender coating on the cookie dough was exquisite, but the filling was too molten hot for me. The tray in which it was served couldn’t be carried about long enough at the fair to let this dessert cool for long.
The domestic competitions in cooking, quilting, and the like are a vital part of the fair. This year’s entries included a whimsical dog quilt:
Along with hundreds of jellies and pickles:
And this intriguing layer cake:
I’m not sure if political booths are a conventional part of county fairs, but they are present every year at our fair:
The difference in those two pictures reflects the reality of politics in Allen County. Republicans definitely have the majority here. Many people here vote a straight Republican ticket with little reflection and no irony, kind of like the guy who wore a Johnny Bench jersey to the fair. When I think of Johnny Bench, the first and only thing that comes to mind is that 70’s commercial he did for Preparation H that featured him sliding into home base with his rear dragging the ground.
Back to the topic of our evening at the fair . . . five hours slipped away before I stopped long enough to wonder what time it was. By eleven o’clock, the lines for carnival rides had grown thin, and the food trucks were shutting down for the night. As we walked back to our car in the dark, I suggested that we visit another county fair or two before fair season ends in late September. I hope we will discover that a fair is just as delightful when it’s wedged into the school year.
Today we ventured to the Columbus Zoo. Every time I visit a zoo, I noticed that pregnant women are very well represented. What is it about zoos that attract expectant mothers? When I myself was pregnant sixteen years ago, I visited the Tacoma Zoo several times. There’s nothing quite like pregnancy to make one fall to earth and see that we very much belong to the natural world, no matter what lofty heights our minds may reach.
The crowd was very dense today. I felt lucky that I was able to linger long enough to steady my camera in front of some of the animals. I reside in a fairly small town, and I don’t know how folks from large cities grow accustomed to heavy crowds and thick traffic.
My daughter and I were hoping to see the supremely puffy Pallas cats frolicking about, but they were resting both times we visited their area today:
This tiger was likewise occupied:
The avian population looked as splendid as ever:
We managed to secure a good standing place for the Cheetah Run, where we learned that cheetahs can accelerate to top speed in as little as three seconds. The cheetahs at this zoo also have a Labrador companion who tries his best to sprint like his feline friends:
After I’d returned home and reviewed all the pictures I’d taken, I realized that I didn’t capture any good pictures of family members who joined me on this trip. In this one, a concrete feline looks like he’s planning to eat my dad’s arm:
I capped a busy Monday with a quick walk through my neighborhood wetlands. These shots were taken within an hour of sunset, and the long light reigned as I walked past thousands of tall thistle that have begun their subtle blooming.
Heavy morning rain yielded to high humidity and gusting wind in the early afternoon. I didn’t see reliable sunshine until well into the evening. At this point, the star of this show is definitely my pink hibiscus. It will open its hundreds of blooms over the next month, and I will photograph many of them, hoping to see them anew each time.
The neighborhood wetlands are thriving in the wake of recent heavy rain. Gray-headed coneflower and its drooping petals are dominating that landscape. There were thousands of them in bloom as I walked through the wetlands this morning:
I also spotted chicory, which blooms in abundance around here, both in drought and heavy rain:
Every year when I first see chicory, I remember the summer of 1988, when so little rain fell that I worried it might be the only plant to survive. That was the summer my dad began working as a church groundskeeper, but the drought gave him no reprieve from mowing. The chicory was so abundant it could be mowed.
So far the summer has established a pattern of cloudy weekdays with sunny weekend mornings. I could use more sunshine during the week, but I hope the Saturday and Sunday light persists.