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Posted by on Apr 22, 2014 | 4 comments

Love for Del Ray Trees

Love for Del Ray Trees

It’s hard to walk around Del Ray without noticing the trees. Despite vicious storms over the past few years which caused significant damage, our trees continue to amaze with their brilliant spring blossoms, gorgeous autumnal color and unique shapes and textures. In honor of Earth Day and Arbor Day this week, we thought we’d take a closer look at some of Del Ray’s signature trees. The spotted and flaky bark of the sycamore has intrigued me for years. By summer, it will have large leaves which help provide much-needed shade. Our state tree/flower, the dogwood, grows only to a height of about 15 feet, making it ideal for small properties. I’ve seen a couple different colored versions of this dainty flower around town. It’s hard not to love the flowering cherry tree with those billowy puffs of pink. Though many of our flowering trees are past their prime by now, the cherry still seems to be going strong. Bradford pears produce wonderful white blooms in spring (and an odd...

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Posted by on Aug 20, 2013 | 1 comment

A Wild Life at Huntley Meadows Park

A Wild Life at Huntley Meadows Park

At Huntley Meadows Park, life is peaceful and wild. Visiting the park over the weekend for a nature journaling class, we escaped the congestion back home, took refuge under the tall canopying trees and found friendship in the distance from chirping birds and splashing frogs. If you’re new to the area or haven’t been to Huntley Meadows, make a note on your mental to-do list to visit. Its wonders can be enjoyed all year long, with many activities available at night and during the cold winter months. All around you the trees are majestic and grand, but there’s even more to see at ground level — mushrooms on stumps mimic barnacles on a ship, the fallen tree’s branches form the handles of the ship’s wheel. Trails are clearly marked, we took the Heron, soon to find out why it bears that name. As we reach the trail’s boardwalk, the trees subside, forming a window to a rich and lush marsh. If I had a telephoto lens on this day, perhaps I would have a...

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Posted by on Aug 19, 2013 | 3 comments

DIY Kids: Nature Journaling at Huntley Meadows Park

DIY Kids: Nature Journaling at Huntley Meadows Park

When I signed up to take a nature journaling class workshop about a month ago, I enrolled my 9-year-old daughter Ana for the same class designed for children, and Katie enrolled her 7-year-old son, Jack. Both classes were taught by Margaret Wohler, a vivacious and talented staff naturalist and illustrator for Huntley Meadows Park, a 1,500 acre wetland park in Fairfax County just a few miles down Route 1 from Alexandria. Even though it was raining steadily on the Sunday afternoon of the class, we stayed dry under a pavilion at the park as Margaret gave the kids some basic sketching lessons and warm-up exercises. She talked about learning five basic lines to look for when drawing — a straight line, a curved line, a circle, a dot, and an angle. If you can draw those, you can draw anything! She gave the kids a chance to practice drawing those very shapes by copying simple designs. Like the 19th century naturalists, Margaret taught the method of recording the date, location, time, weather,...

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Posted by on Aug 14, 2013 | 0 comments

Visiting the Four Mile Run Farmers and Artisans Market

Visiting the Four Mile Run Farmers and Artisans Market

In Del Ray, we’re so lucky to have a bustling farmers market where we can find delicious fruits, vegetables, bread, dairy products and more every Saturday all year long. But the Del Ray market isn’t the only one in our neighborhood — have you stopped by the Four Mile Run Farmers and Artisans Market on Sundays? It’s like having a double dose of delicious — two markets, two days, what’s not to love? The market isn’t nearly as large as the Del Ray Farmers Market, but you’ll find a nice variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables, dairy products and meats from local farm-raised animals. The line-up of vendors changes every week. This past weekend we were lucky enough to find the Furloughed Feds selling their homemade baked goods. The Furloughed Feds are Danielle Fidler and Nathalie Simon, local residents and colleagues at the EPA. You may remember Danielle from this 3-part series about her eco modern home renovation. S’mores cupcakes, strawberry scones, coffee cake, rhubarb pie, oh my. The Furloughed...

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Posted by on Jun 24, 2013 | 3 comments

Urban Birding: The Old Town Ospreys

Urban Birding: The Old Town Ospreys

You don’t have to travel far to see some pretty amazing wildlife in Alexandria. I read about the family of osprey taking residence along the waterfront in Old Town and had to witness this ornithological extravaganza in person. The family is easy to find. First, head on over to Founders Park along Union Street in Old Town. You’ll see the giant nest sitting on a dock post in the river. Walk to the end of Dock H for primo viewing. Admire the gazebo and nautical-industrial lamps along the way… At the end of the dock (watch out there aren’t any railings) you’ll be able to get within 50 feet of the nest, a carefully constructed dwelling comprised of large sticks and debris. Osprey are known for building nests on telephone poles, so it’s no big surprise this family set up shop here. While the babies rest comfortably, watch as mama bird goes hunting for fish, the sole diet of the osprey. Her wide wingspan is glorious and graceful. She’s fierce and skilled,...

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