Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Solitary Paddle & A Purple Patch in Catlett

I took Friday off and excitedly began an action packed weekend starting Friday morning on a lake with Big Red while everyone else was at work. The water looked so inviting and blue when I arrived that I was a little surprised nobody else had thought like me. The parking lot was empty, but in the distance I saw 2 old guys drifting on a battered jon boat with their fishing poles.
I paddled off in the opposite direction from them and soon became engrossed with nature, enjoying the warm sun.
The air was still and heavy with the heat, buzzing with dragonflies and butterflies. I paddled lazily along the banks, a couple of times nearly jumping out of my skin as fish leaped from the shallow water. I saw quite a few carp, some of them over 2ft long. I also noticed that nearly every branch and tree root submerged below the water line was covered in frog spawn.
There were millions of these around the lake, this place is literally going to be jumping by the end of summer.
There were also a lot of turtles here, so that as I glided along by the banks my way was heralded by plops as turtles basking in the sun on branches poking out of the water would drop out of sight with a splash. It was so shallow along some of the edges that I could see them scurrying away on the sandy bottom.
I managed to catch one youngster and he very kindly kept his head out of his shell while I snapped his photo. The red on his face is merely the reflection of the boat, and not blood.
I saw this beautiful long goose feather floating slowly on the water's surface, small droplets of water glistening on its vanes. It's about 14" long and I brought it home.
I saw a few of these weird looking critters on a tree trunk. They didn't move when I touched them and were pretty sturdy.
The lake was still empty when I decided to call it a day after about 3 hours. I was aware of my arms and shoulders burning and left after helping a couple who had arrived to feed the gooses who apparently are here every day, including this beautiful domestic goose who gently took the bread from my fingers. Guess I'll have to bring a loaf next time I return.
My next destination was a lavender farm in Catlett which I'd read about and had wanted to photograph.
I parked the car and could see some clumps of lavender from the track. I had to go to a small gift shop to pay my entry fee and as I walked up the slope to the fragrant stems, I craned my neck trying to see the fields. At the top I faltered, twisting my head each way. Where were the purple fields, the long rows of sweet smelling flowers? I couldn't believe it, the farm was actually a patch! These few clumps in the photo above are all there is. You could walk from one end to the other in less than a minute. I couldn't believe it and actually just stood there for a while trying to take it in and hoping that the people there weren't looking at me in a strange way, but they were probably thinking I was overwhelmed by the scent. Well, it was lovely but I still couldn't believe that it was just a patch. All this fuss and build up for this? Well I'd had to pay $6 to look at the clumps so I was going to take a load of photos to get my money's worth, and somehow give the illusion in my pictures that there was more than there actually was. I also noticed that the lavender was a lot paler than I'd assumed. There were a couple of clumps that were a dark purple but most of the flowers were a lighter lilac, even looking blue from some angles.
The patch, sorry I can't call it a field, was throbbing with bees buzzing back and forth, and also butterflies flitting to and fro. They never kept still for more than a second, it was really difficult trying to catch them in a photo. I walked along the black plastic that covered the ground between the plants but after about 20 minutes I'd had enough. The sun was now relentless and I could feel the back of my neck and shoulders getting really sore. I'd got thoroughly burned and wanted the cool AC in my car. I headed back down the path and past a little pen with bunnies eating what looked like Cheerios but I was too focused on getting back to Stuart rather than stopping to take more photos. It was time for some cold, cold air and an ice cream and then some R and R before my next day of fun.

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