Saturday, June 21, 2008

Welcoming Summer: A Fort Hill Walk

It was these clouds that drew me to Fort Hill.

I was already on my way to Eastham, as banking was scheduled as part of yesterday morning's activities, since I've not yet gotten my sh*t together about direct deposit. I'm a little wary of giving control of my money to computers, truth be told, and so for now, I'm still making weekly trips back that way.

Even more honestly, I miss living in Eastham. It's a terrific little town I've lived in on and off for much of the last ten years, and I've explored it in the car, on my bicycle and on foot. It's as much home to me as anywhere. A place that's familiar to me, where I am comfortable. I haven't really explored Harwich much yet, though hopefully the summer will bring such opportunities. But I like being in Eastham and so I suspect the weekly banking trips are my way to keep going back.

And it's that time of year when - work commitments allowing - it's easy enough to be let oneself be distracted from the beaten path.

I spotted the cloud when it was still just one large puffy mass, as I drove east on Route 6. It was just hitting the breezes off the ocean as it drifted across the outer beach and as I drove, I could see it splitting into four distinct chimneys. I wish I'd pulled over to take a photo then, as it was quite a sight.

I wanted a nice open spot to do so, though, and so I decided a detour to Fort Hill was just what I needed. Plus, I wanted to see if the lupines were blooming.

Fort Hill sits just above Nauset Marsh, which is protected from the Atlantic's surf by the barrier of the Outer Beach. There's a small parking lot on the hilltop, which is a wonderful place to sit and look in all directions.

It's also one of my favorite spots in Eastham for star-gazing, something I used to do often on the way home from late-night work shifts. There are no streetlights, which makes it ideal for meteor shower viewings and spying ships passing the Cape far out to sea late at night. On the right summer occasions, it can offer a view of distant fireworks displays.

If I were an early riser, I imagine it'd be perfect for sunrise, too.

There's a series of nature trails in the area, the first of which slopes down from the parking area to Doane Rock, a great boulder which sits on the shore of the marsh and offers more views along the shoreline.

Standing atop the rock, it's easy to imagine one of the area's native population doing the same while scouting the area in the days before Europeans arrived.

On the hillside that slopes down toward the marsh and Orleans town cove, it's a wild jumble of green, hosting an assortment of twining vines, yarrow, wild roses (many of those tiny white ones I've mentioned so much of late), milkweed, buttercups and also, a great stand of lupines.

I missed the height of the show this year, sort of on purpose, since I wanted to be sure I was able to collect a little seed. I did find a few still in bloom, but they were fairly far off the path.

Leaving the path really needs to be a careful business, as this is one of those areas Mother Nature protects with one of her fiercest defenders, those dreaded Leaves of Three, poison ivy.

I was well-clad, though, and have no interest in a another of those episodes, so caution was high.

Not only did I get a great photo, but also snapped off a small stalk of fully-formed seedpods. I'll hang it to dry and hopefully have seed to plant later this summer.

Further along the path, these pink rose blossoms drew me in with their brilliant happy colors and sweet fragrance.

You never know what you'll see at Fort Hill, from a wildlife standpoint. Gulls are a regular sight, of course, and rabbits. But I have also surprised in my headlights, when arriving for some of those star-gazing sessions, owls and foxes, and other occasions, spied herons in the waters of the marsh.

Today's sighting was this red-winged blackbird, who perched in a dead treetop just above the rock. There were other people wandering around the rock today, so I didn't climb it. Nor was I able to stay and explore as long as I might have liked.

The path near the rock offers some great views of it's own, both into the green marsh itself and of the mighty Atlantic Ocean beyond. (By the way, Atlantic, Robin says "hey, how's everything?".)

Lingering to enjoy the views meant being able to inhale more of that rose-scented air, which I did for a few minutes, until the cloud of cologne accompanying a newly-arrived clump of out-of-place tourists overpowered nature's roses and I knew it was time to move along to the rest of my day.

But not before capturing a few more shots of this special place to bring along with me. Look at that cloud - it thinks it's a whale or a mermaid.


Butch said...

Nice pictures of the cloud formations in front of that blue sky. When I was a young boy, I would lie on the ground and stare at the clouds for the longest times. What a view!

Patrick said...

There have been wonderful light and cloud shows here throughout the last month, and I've been photographing them a lot... when I get them home, they all look pretty much alike, but I'm still glad I spent the time trying to capture them.

The state park near me, the one built ontop a sewage treatment plant, has a lot of roses in one area. Every once in a while, the scent of roses will banish the sewage smell, for a second or two. I'm always impressed, and grateful.

Sue said...

Thanks for the comment Greg! Your pictures on today's post are gorgeous!

I do have a bunch of garden pictures - if you get a chance look at my posts from May - the 2nd, 6th, 8th, and 20th. On May 2nd I post pictures of Kensington Gardens - probably the most beautiful I'd ever seen.

Would you mind me adding your blog to my list of favorites?

Take care,

Greg said...

Butch, it seems I am always catching my cloud photos on the fly somewhere. I long for the day when I can hunker down in a patch of sand or grass and just watch them drift by, changing as they slip o'erhead.

Patrick, keep taken those pictures! The great ones come when you least expect them! The scent of roses is always something I'm grateful for...but I would guess most especially in that environment!!

Sue, thanks for the visit--I'll have to cruise around your recent archives sometime soon! Meanwhile, I'd be honored if you added me to your Faves list!!

lostlandscape said...

Dang those are some amazing clouds--and they look so amazing over the green landscape. I'm getting nostalgic for those green colors now that the wildlands around here have decided to turn brown. It's a nice, brown, for sure, but still brown...

oceanskies79 said...

I love how you have captured the clouds against the blue skies. Thank you for sharing. :)

Anonymous said...

You couldn't have had a better picture taking day. Glad the sun, skies and colors of the flowers all worked to provide you a great "reveal!"

RainforestRobin said...

Yeah! Finally I get a chance to read the whole thing. I stopped by the other day but then got a long distance call, which I had to take. So I came back early this AM and reread the whole thing. It is delightful. I LOVE it.

Your photos of the sea area and your garden in all these posts actually make me want to move back east again.....BUT then all your photos are like beautiful travel brochures; they are gorgeous with blue sky, white fluffy clouds, blue sea, lush green, etc. And I remember in Maine a lot of rain. A LOT OF RAIN! LOL. Does it not rain where you are? LOL Your blog makes me hungry for back east. I know EVERY plant you described here growing by the sea...I could even remember their smell, the roses and yarrow. Do you have bayberry growing near the sand dunes, like we do in Maine?

I remember getting seed from the wild lupines as well. They grew wonderfully!!! So hardy. I also remember, VERY well, the shiny leaves of three - poison ivy! I almost died from it when I was 4 years sister as well. I had it in my mouth, nose, ears, eyes swollen completely shut, all over my body and a fever of 106 degrees. I'm probably immune to it now after several bad bouts as a tiny kid. Although, I wouldn't want to try finding out. LOL After those serious bouts as a wee child I learned to recognize it in ANY stage of it's development, even in the fall when it was just twigs sticking out of the ground and had no leaves, or had those very LOVELYYYYY (said sarcastically) little white ivory colored berries. I can now smell it on the wind if I'm within 100 yds of it. LOL Just kidding!

I REALLY REALLY enjoyed this post. brought back so many memories and longings from my time growing up in Maine and going to the coast every summer to swim in the 37 degree water. LOL

Greg, Thank you for another wonderful post. Loved it! And thank you SO MUCH for saying "Hi" to the sea for me. I was tickled pink over that one!! You are very kind! RainforestRobin

Greg said...

Lost, it's a lot easier being green than Kermit led us to believe! It's a wonderful color...not that brown isn't nice, too, as a contrast.

Oceanskies, Afod - the sun and clouds and sky were the perfect combination for photos that day!!

Robin, I'm SO glad you found this post and were able to take the time to read it all the way through! I told you I'd tell the ocean you said "hey".

Of course most of my best photography happens in early or late day sunshine, but if you've missed the copious rains here on the Cape, then you *might* be reading need to explore the archives more...or just look at last week (6/23 or so), when the garden flooded once again from downpours! We get plenty of rain, baby...

Sounds like an awful poison ivy experience--they say the stuff is growing stronger as a result of global warming (which I suspect is why it suddenly bothered me so last spring), so remain extra vigilant!