Places & Pheathers – Town, Country & The Pied Pipers of Raptor

Small Business Saturday has arrived, and we supported the cause by window-shopping in one of the small towns near us, Pitman, New Jersey. I like the reflection of the Broadway Theater in the door.

It’s fun to check out how the small businesses decorate their windows to draw shoppers inside.

We went from town to a small woods and field behind our home. As we walked, a large bird swooped in front of us, almost as if it was showing off a bit, and flew to a tree on the edge of the field. What excitement filled us to see not just one very large hawk, but two. I zoomed in with my camera and after downloading was able to make out their markings. I believe they are a pair of red-tailed hawks, although one appears to be much older than the other. Not only did we see them, they were very aware of us and split up, one flying into the horizon beyond the woods and one towards the homes nearby.

I followed the hawk that flew to the trees near our neighborhood as if it was the Pied Piper of Hamelin, or as my imagination deemed it while I played catch up with it on foot: The Pied Piper of Raptor. I never did get close enough to get a photograph without using the zoom on my lens. Smart birds! What a perfect Saturday we’ve had, a little bit of town, a little bit of country.

This post is part of Skywatch.

Place – Which Way to Tall Pines?

We always assumed it was called Tall Pines because of the tall pines surrounding it. Once a golf course and restaurant, it is now a 110 acre state preserve. In some areas you can still see where the sand pits were located. The trail in the photo is part of this week’s Which Way Photo Challenge.

We saw the silhouette of a large bird in the distance and thought perhaps it was a young eagle, but on closer inspection saw it was only a big buzzard. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are eagles and hawks nesting in this area in the Springtime.

The preserve was dedicated in June of 2016. It has taken us two years to visit and ride our bikes on the trails. I’m sure it will be a favorite excursion in the future. When we crossed the creek there were so many criss-crossing trails and choices we were lost for about twenty minutes, but soon found our way back.

This aeriel view courtesy of Google Maps gives you a sense of the immense size of the preserve.

Autumn is an especially good time to visit. We enjoyed the view of this small footbridge at the edge of the pond. These photographs were taken near noon today. The only problem we encountered were the beggar ticks, a burr type of seed, that hitchhiked home on our clothing.

If you like to hike and live in, or are visiting, Southern New Jersey, take advantage of this beautiful park

Place – The Blue Castle & Castles in the Air

“Experience the thrill of living in a Castle built 50ft. above an old pirates cave, overlooking the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean Sea.” ~ Blue Cave Castle


The Blue Cave Castle photographed from the Samara Resort in Negril Jamaica. This modern-day castle is my entry in City Sonnet’s Photo a Day Challenge for October 30th/Castle.

For some reason the challenge and my resultant photo made me think of the phrase: “Building Castles in the Air.”

“Building Castles in the Air”—Extravagant hopes and plans that will never be carried out. ~ Dictionary.Com

I must admit I have built plenty of ‘castles in the air’ in my lifetime. Instead of chiding myself over too many dreams, when I have a good idea that has potential to bear fruit I’m going to follow the advice of Henry David Thoreau

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” ~ Thoreau

I also very much like these wise words from Richard Whately

“To know your ruling passion, examine your castles in the air.” ~ Whately

What castles are you building in your daydreams? Perhaps our castles in the air might lead to some spectacular new adventures. I’m ready to build some foundations under my dreams and see what comes. Onward!

Place & Perspective – Negril Lighthouse/Rick’s Cafe/Carpe Diem

The Negril Lighthouse was built in 1894. You will find a perfect view of this landmark in Jamaica from another landmark, Rick’s Cafe.

We arrived at Rick’s Cafe in minutes from the Samsara, a great hotel in between Rick’s Cafe and Seven Mile Beach, just in time to see a diver prepare to jump from the cliffs.

Ten second video of the jump.

My husband has jumped off the moderate sized cliffs the Samsara is built upon numerous times; I have not. I decided this was my year to jump. I contemplated the sea below, the height, and decided to seize the day and finally jump off the cliffs.

There I go, my hair makes me laugh, it looks as if it wants to stay behind and is yelling, “NO!”

My husband jumped with the underwater camera this year. Here’s a quick glimpse of what you see and hear when you jump in from the cliffs.

I’m glad I did seize the day, the next morning the sea was rough, churned up by Hurricane Michael’s path to the left of Jamaica. If I had waited I would have missed my chance.

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” ~ George Eliot

This post is part of Skywatch Friday

Place – Ten-Photo-Daytrip/Wheaton Arts

A daytrip to Wheaton Arts is a must if you are in the Philadelphia area and love blown glass and glass artworks.

Walk through the museum first. You will find a wide array of glass vessels, history and even a few items called whimseys. Whimseys were what the glassblowers worked on for themselves during their lunch hour.

In modern times glassblowers create many unique items, such as this marionette.

Even nails were decorated with blown glass.

We were pleased to see paperweights created by renowned glass artist Paul Stankard.

Here’s a close-up look at a bit of the art contained in the paperweights courtesy of a large poster.

Our next stop was the glassblowing studio. You can feel the heat in the building. The glow of the furnaces as sand is turned to liquid is so bright and hot it is impossible to gaze at it for any length of time. You can see the heat and glow reflected on the back of one of the glassblower’s shirts.

To say it’s fascinating to observe these craftsmen/women as they work is a definite understatement. I could have watched them all day. Another bonus is the gentleman who narrates and explains what they are doing.

If you are able you can schedule a lesson in advance and make your own paperweight. Even the most awkward crafter will create a beautiful paperweight under the tutelage of the glassblowers.

This is a worthwhile way to spend a few hours. Wheaton Arts is open April through December/Tuesday through Sundays, 10am – 5pm. Wheaton Arts is closed on most holidays.

Here’s something good to tell you, Wheaton Arts also sells the wares of the glassblowers and has a General Store filled with old-fashioned toys and candy. There is also a nature walk circling the property.

Place – Fortescue/Free and Easy

Free and Easy, to me, means fishing. It was finally warm enough in our area to fish on the Delaware Bay in Fortescue. We were welcomed by a committee of one as we crossed the salt marshes, an osprey on the town sign.

In all directions, the sky was a glorious blue.

The jetty, popular with fisherman, was never so exposed. The tide was at its lowest when we arrived. Only one fisherman pulled in any fish, and they were too small to keep.

The low tide exposed hundreds of my favorite treasures: sea glass, oyster shells, and driftwood. We had a lovely day. We love to observe the change of seasons along the Delaware Bay.

Place – Philadelphia in the Fog

The fog surrounding Philadelphia transforms the city and surroundings with a metallic silver hue. These sights were photographed from the opposite side of the Delaware river on the shores of National Park, New Jersey.

National Park is a great place to watch planes arriving and departing from Philadelphia International Airport.

Cee’s Foto Challenge this week is Metal. Think how many metal water towers we pass each day, never notice, but depend upon for their durability.

Peculiarities & Place – The Atlantus and Cape May Diamonds

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Sunset Beach in Cape May, New Jersey, has two unique draws: The Atlantus and Cape May Diamonds. The Atlantus is a concrete ship sunk here in June of 1926. Slowly, the ship is being claimed by the sea.

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Cape May Diamonds are quartz pebbles polished to a diamond-like clarity by their passage down the Delaware River. The man in the photograph must be a serious beachcomber; he brought along a small rake to search for Cape May Diamonds.

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I enjoy sorting through all the beautiful pebbles. Most are polished to a lovely smoothness.

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I didn’t come home empty-handed. Here are a few of the ‘diamonds’ I found on a piece of moonshell. For us, a visit to Cape May always includes a quick stop-over at Sunset Beach.

Place & Quote – Cape May, New Jersey/Solitude

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“And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” ~ Mark 6:31

One of the best aspects of towns along the seashore in the off season is the ease of finding solitude. For those of you who see shapes and faces in objects, do you see the shape of bird wings on either side of the sun? I do.

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The shoreline of the Cape May Point State Park is a perfect place to walk, do a little bird-watching, or admire the Cape May Lighthouse.

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Cape May, New Jersey is a lovely place to spend a week or a few days for a seashore getaway. More to come on this southernmost tip of New Jersey to follow this week.

Place – The Woods

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The weather has been a bit warmer, the snow has began to melt, a perfect time to walk in the woods and get some sunshine.

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We were surprised to see ‘No Trespassing’ signs in an area that both my husband and I played in as children, and walked in as adults. It saddened me to see that the signs had been put up by a local church. It seemed unfriendly somehow, but then, on further thought, I realized the area is within walking distance of Rowan University, and the signs are probably there to prevent late-night partying and bonfires.

I enjoyed the walk, and so did my husband, but for some reason it also made me feel a bit blue. I had that strange heaviness inside that sometimes comes when we revisit places that have meant a lot to us throughout our lives. It reminded me of friends who I used to play with in this area who are now gone on to heaven, or have moved so far away I only see them once every few years.

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Beyond the unexpected sadness, I did enjoy the walk. This small piece of land has beautiful patches of moss. The variety is amazing.

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One eerie thing about this area is the absence of birds and wildlife. It’s very quiet, no birdsong, no scurry of startled squirrels. Whenever we walk here we remark on the strange hush. We have wondered many times if it might have to do with chemicals leaching from the glass factory waste still in the ground. The Glass Factories that thrived here from 1780 – 1929 gave Glassboro its name.

When we walk in this area we always find new pieces of glass ‘culls’ or waste glass that was dumped over 100 years ago. Most of it has been covered over by years of soil, but when it rains, especially the big nor’easters that barrel through, pieces will come to the surface again. Here are a few we found Saturday. If you look close, you can see the melted bottle top of cobalt blue that was discarded here.

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I don’t know if I’ll walk here again. The ‘No Trespassing’ signs warn of prosecution, and the remembrances make me miss friends who are gone.

Place – Woodlands in Winter

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The woods are crisp with fallen leaves and cold temperatures. I took a woodland walk with camera in tow, searching for the perfect fallen tree as an answer to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Inner and Outer. Within the trunk of a split tree I found a beautiful abstract design. It’s easy to pass by and never noticed the unseen ethereal beauty created by weather and mossy tendrils.

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As I walked I purposely trudged my feet kicking up the wonderful scent of the woodland path. I found another instance of inner and outer in the recesses of a knotty fallen branch. It reminded me of a miniature bird nest; I found myself fascinated by the complexity of what on first glance appeared simple. The swirling bark was the perfect choice for the Color Your World – 120 Days of Crayola/Shadow.

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I searched for greens amid the fallen leaves and was surprised by how many I found. Here’s my Ten on Tuesday & One, highlighted by the brilliant yellow of a dandelion bringing a touch of sunshine into the day.

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Place – Finding Your Place – Discover Challenge

A cottage in Pitman Grove
A cottage in Pitman Grove

I enjoy taking part in many of the WordPress Challenges.

This week, tell us about a place that has helped shape who you are.

Pitman Methodist Campground, also known as Pitman Grove,  is a favorite place for me to walk throughout the year. I walk down and around the twelve paths leading to the center meeting place, the tabernacle, in every season. During the summer, local churches each take a turn conducting Sunday night services in the tabernacle. I usually attend a few each year.

The town of Pitman grew up around the camp. Residents still hold dear the true meaning of Christmas. A few years ago there was quite an uproar in regards to a sign in the center of town. ‘Keep Christ in Christmas,’ was deemed controversial. The townspeople responded by placing miniature replicas of the sign on their lawns…yours truly included.

I still use this sign every year!
I still use this sign every year!

Yesterday I walked along the campground paths, taking a few photographs for what I intended to be a ‘Wordless Wednesday’ post. Hmmm….a lot of words written here for what was intended to be wordless. Smile.

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The Hagerty Family, residents who live in one of the original houses, set up a sensational Christmas display of lights every year to celebrate the season. The display attracts people from all over the area. I appreciate the banner they have across their property. Frank Hagerty knows best what spreads holiday cheer.

“It’s about sending his personal message of Christian faith to parents who walk through rows of displays including mangers depicting baby Jesus and the first Christmas.” Frank Hagerty quoted in the South Jersey Times

Place – Longwood Chrysanthemum Festival

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Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, is having its yearly Chrysanthemum Festival. As always, the conservatory is filled with beautiful flowers and amazing feats of training the chrysanthemums to grow into unique shapes.

Here’s a close-up of one of the techniques they use.

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There are shapes of all kinds to marvel over and enjoy. Most of these are created with only one chrysanthemum plant. Amazing!

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Whatever the season, Longwood Gardens has something outstanding to enjoy.

Place – Rocklands Bird Sanctuary/Feeding Station

The view of Montego Bay, Jamaica from Rocklands Bird Sanctuary
The view of Montego Bay, Jamaica from Rocklands Bird Sanctuary

“Rocklands was established by Lisa Salmon, a self-taught ornithologist , one of Jamaica’s first environmentalists. Miss Salmon or “the bird lady” as she was affectionately known purchased the Rocklands property in 1954.”

~ Jamaica Travel and Culture

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In the mountains of Jamaica, near the town of Anchovy, a thirty-minute drive from Montego Bay, my husband and I entered a world unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before. I posted a picture of a hummingbird on my finger a few weeks ago, and this is the accompanying story of that moment in Anchovy, Jamaica, at the Rocklands Bird Sanctuary.

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Before we even encountered the birds, we were amazed by the surroundings. Sitting on the beautiful terrace, bordered by hand-crafted concrete planters, the abundance of lush green beauty began soul-soothing us immediately. For me, this was a slice of heaven on earth. I love plants, nature, and birds and Rocklands Bird Sanctuary perfectly combines all three.

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The key to the experience is “patience,” our guide Fred told us, and we found it to be the case. The hummingbirds eyed us up a bit from their perches near the roof of the terrace, deciding if we were worthy of their attention.

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My husband patiently held the small bottle of sugar-water and finger at the ready, and was rewarded with tiny bird feet touching down. (There is bird-seed spread on his legs to draw other birds in.)

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I came away from the experience with Rocklands Bird Sanctuary forever imprinted upon my heart. I was also inspired to create a few bird feeding stations of my own, but that is a post for tomorrow. 🙂

Postscript: Don’t miss out on the trails that surround this beautiful sanctuary if you are able to take a tour.

Phun & Preparedness & Place – Ingenuity Part I

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Jamaica is one of our favorite places to visit. I love the land, the sea, and most of all the people. The DeCameron, a lovely hotel in Montego Bay, is one of our favorite places to stay. They are expanding in size, and we enjoyed watching the work going on around us. We were very impressed by this man’s ingenuity in shielding himself from the hot sun with a large piece of cardboard. The cardboard is light in weight, but its broadness cast a large shadow, protecting him from the heat. I would never have thought of such a good idea, but I will definitely file it away in my thoughts as a perfect solution for blazing sunshine.

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Place – The Lure of the Shortcut

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On the way home from fishing this past weekend, we had plenty of time left in the afternoon, and nowhere we had to be, so we turned down a road that looked interesting and had the possibility of being a shortcut. We quickly realized a shortcut was not going to happen, but we came upon some really interesting sights as we headed back to main roads.

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Coastal New Jersey is home to many sand pits. This is an abandoned section of one of those. Picturesque in one way, eerie in another…a good setting for a Stephen King novel.

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