Tuesday, September 8, 2020

OUR FIRST WALK IN A WHILE...

to a quiet part of the Manassas National Battlefield Park last Sunday.  We tend to avoid crowds these days, but we went to an area where we thought it would be very quiet, and get some exercise at the same time.  When we got to this particular parking lot it was full of cars, with only one or two spaces left.  We decided to turn around and go back the way we came.  




On the way down the hill we looked to our right and saw the shell of one of the homes built on this land.  A little further down a sign, also on our right, telling of an old family cemetery.  No people!  When we stopped and I got out of the car, in my peripheral vision I saw something and looked down in front of my feet.  I think it must have been a lizard scurrying faster than my eyes could focus, and the grass covered its body.  It disappeared into the undergrowth in seconds.  My only inkling that it was a lizard, was the way the grass moved, weaving from side to side in a flurry of movement.  My eyes could not pick up any shape.  It was bigger than a frog and a frog would jump anyhow.  Recollecting the way lizards move when I see them scurry in the desert - on nature shows - this is where my mind went to.  
Just as we parked on the side of the road (no proper parking spot but safe enough), another car pulled up behind us.  A couple got out and we all put our masks on and we waited for them to pass, putting plenty of space between.  We were too busy avoiding each other's space to even think of saying hello, very unlike me but I was nervous.  A new norm?  I hope not!  I will make more of an effort to at least acknowledge people I come into contact with next time.  We stayed apart by a whole lot more than the recommended six feet, so it made casual conversation impossible.  None of us got close enough to say one word.  This Pandemic is having more of an effect than I realized, as I truly have not been around a lot of people since this all started, and that was several months ago.  I immediately went back into my introverted shell.  Oh well!
They were maybe ten years younger than us, and we let them look around before we entered the small cemetery (there was only one gravestone in those walls that we could see). They didn't stay long and walked back to their car soon after.  
It gave us a chance to take our time.  The day was glorious and we didn't want to miss a minute of this lovely weather.  Hardly any humidity.  It is as though September has flipped a switch.
I asked Gregg to smile and he jokingly said, "How would you know?"  He had a point!
Our car is the one on the right.  As you can see, pathways had been mowed for visitors.  The grass at each side was well over waist high and it looked beautiful!
This area is called Chinn Ridge, and that solitary grave belongs to Bernard Hooe Senior, as you'll see below.



We found the following on the Manassas Battlefield Trust Facebook page, dated January 22nd, 2015.

"Captain Bernard Hooe (pronounced Hoe) Sr was born in 1740 and was a member of an old prominent Virginia family.  Three generations of Hooe were patriots in the American Revolution.  Captain Hooe's grave is located within the National Park.

"Bernard's father, Howson Hooe, served on the Committee of Correspondence and Safety in 1776.  Howson Hooe married Anne Francis Harris in 1724.  Her father, Nathaniel Harris, obtained the land in 1717.  Howson and Ann then deeded the land to Bernard who built a large two story home in 1809 and called it "Mayfield".  Then in 1853 a descendant of the Hooes, William T. Downman sold the property to Benjamin Chinn.  Today we know this land as Chinn Ridge or the Chinn Farm."
Gregg reminded me that those wispy clouds are called Cirrus.  It certainly was a lovely sky that day.  
These signs mark all the graves of the 1775 Patriots.  Whenever we come to these places we can't help but realize how much we owe to our Veterans, for the sacrifices they made for us and still make for us.  We will always be eternally grateful.



I found a poem called "Grass" by
Joyce Sidman

I grow in places
others can't,
where wind is high 
and water scant.
I drink the rain,
I eat the sun;
before the prairie winds
I run.
I see, I sprout,
I grow and creep
and in the ice
and snow, I sleep.
On steppe or veld 
or pampas dry,
beneath the grand
enormous sky,
I make my humble
bladed bed.
And where there's level ground,
I spread.
Lovely, both poem and grass.
We were coming out of the cemetery and as I started making my way up the hill to another area, Gregg called me back and pointed to this little guy.
Thank you Gregg!  
What fascinated me about this Praying Mantis, its eyes, its head turned in my direction, definitely keeping an eye on me.  I can count on one hand how many times I have seen any in many, many years, so I was delighted when Gregg found this one.
























Yes indeed, totally fascinated and mesmerized, as you can see by all these photos!
The other thing that amazes me is when I take photos with my cell phone and they come out better than any other point-and-shoot camera I have ever had.  I cropped a few for a closer look.  
The photos below were taken with our larger camera with the zoom lens and are Gregg's.   




 I cropped a few of these also to get an even closer study.
Again, truly amazing creatures.



Back to the cell phone now.  This is the view while still in the small cemetery, and that was the hill we wanted to climb, which would have led us to other areas where homes had originally been built, the shells of homes at least.  
As we walked up the hill there were grasshoppers jumping everywhere, and dragonflies flying over our heads.  We were all enjoying the sunshine.
When we heard the sounds of laughter from several children just over the hill, out of sight but on our path, eventually seeing a large family heading our way, we decided to walk back to the car.   
We also remembered we would have been heading to a more crowded area, which we were trying to avoid.  The family of happy youngsters was a sign, and they certainly deserved to be out in this beautiful weather, except that the old fogies ran for cover, and yes I am joking just in case you thought I was serious.  We didn't run, we just walked very quickly.  Yes I am still smiling and yes I am still joking but with point made.
We had a wonderful time and look forward to other walks.  It will be quieter during the week and we will come back.














42 comments:

  1. I adore the grass poem, you always find the best poems. Your Mantis photos are amazing and should be on a magazine cover!!! He would totally blend into a tree. He does look so evil though, and almost like a robot insect! There is something so otherworldly about them. He sure posed nicely for you! I love that WALL, wonder how long ago it was built...

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    1. Thank you for that very sweet compliment Ginny :) I am also happy you liked the poem. I browse through several poetry books and read them like a novel, a few pages here and there, until I get through the book. This was one of them that I enjoyed. Like you I loved the wall but have no idea when it was built.

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  2. Wonderful photos of the praying mantis all photos too.
    Lovely to walk along the mowed pathway and what history is there in that..lots of it.
    Take care, and I enjoyed walking with you.

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    1. Thank you Margaret, glad you enjoyed. You take care also :)

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  3. I am so glad that you were able to get out - and that you took us with you.
    Love the Preying Mantis. Most of ours are green and it is a love time since I have seen one.

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    1. Thanks EC, the praying mantis is extraordinary and is more formidable than I had thought. Good for the gardens though I hear. We have green ones over here but I am not sure if I have seen them on our trips.

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  4. Hi Denise - I have enjoyed my summer wander with you, those praying mantis photos are the best ever! Can you see I'm grinning at you with my mask on?!!
    Wren x

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    1. Hi Wren, so glad and yes I can see you grinning with your mask on ;) It's all in the eyes :)))

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    1. Estou feliz que você tenha gostado das minhas fotos. Muito obrigado! Um abraço e uma boa semana contínua para vocês :)

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  6. What a lovely area. And what fabulous shots of the mantis! Aren't they amazing?

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    1. It is a very pretty area and yes, I agree. They are amazing! :)

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  7. Beautiful. Thank you for the tour.

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    1. You are very welcome Rue, I am happy you enjoyed it :)

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  8. Hello Denise,

    Wonderful photos from your visit to the Battlefield. I love the Grass Poem. Awesome series on the Praying Mantis. Some places it is hard to keep your distance from people. So many people want to enjoy the outdoors on a nice weather day. Take care, enjoy your day!

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    1. Thank you Eileen, I agree, sometimes it is very hard. And it is good to get outside and get some much needed Vitamin D :) You take care and enjoy your day also.

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  9. Cell phone does take amazing pictures. You must have an iPhone. Mine takes okay pictures but not like these. That is one handsome walk walking stick. I have not seen one and many years I can't even remember when but I know I've never seen one here in Florida and I've been here for 36 years. All the photos are beautiful and it's good that you could all get outside and social distance at the same time and yes the mask has changed our environment completely

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    1. I do have an old iPhone Sandra. Isn't it a wonderful insect? Thank you, yes it was good to get outside, and I agree that masks have changed our environment :)

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  10. A beautiful outing, where you learned a lot! Lovely photos of the mantis.

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    1. Thanks Christine, love learning about the places we visit :)

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  11. Lots of work went into this post. History is well kept there.

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    1. Thank you Red, I have always enjoyed reading about history :)

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  12. Fun looking fluffy hay. Great photos of praying mantis.

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  13. So glad you got in this wonderful walk.

    Yes, I fully agree, we keep social distancing. It is logical. And not to be worried about, in any way.

    Nor be worried about whether or not, you tried to smile or say "Hello." Perhaps they were very glad you did not...

    We continue to live in very different and trying times. We do the best we can. We don't worry about, what we have to do. My view! ~smile~

    💛🍁💛🍁💛

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    1. I think you are right BB, no worries next time. Just jumping in for the first time and testing the waters is always a challenge for me. But how I enjoyed that walk, it was wonderful!!! As for the people, you can always tell those who want to converse compared to the people who do not, 99% of the time anyhow. I wasn't feeling in a very chatty mood myself that day. Like I said, just testing the waters. Enjoyed your view, thank you :)

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  14. That pic of the Cross is interesting. Did not know, that there were such, for those who were in the Revolutionary War. Interesting.

    Suppose this is a different but similar marker, to the Southern Cross.

    Should ask my grandson, who loves History. ~smile~

    💛🍁💛🍁💛

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    1. If you find out the info from your grandson please let me know. I would be very interested.

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  15. it's good you got out, fresh air and sunshine can not be beat. we have been out a little. rides in the car, if we get out, we mask up and social distance. i feel like i need the fresh air, i need to take pictures...i need to feel alive!!

    i enjoyed this post, and yes, greg has a good point. i always smile at everyone...but who would know!!

    the praying mantis is so cool. i saw one yesterday in my yard, brown like yours. they sure are interesting characters!!!

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    1. How true Debbie, just can't beat the sunshine. I definitely was missing taking my pictures :) Glad you enjoyed. I smile at most everyone, and I returned a smile to the young man walking by our table at the restaurant when we met up with our family member a few weeks back. I was close enough to see the crinkles at the corner of his eyes. It's all in the eyes :) Did you take a picture of your praying mantis? Bugs are amazing creatures and fun to study in photographs.

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  16. I think the pandemic is making tremendous changes to our culture. I find it hard to get people to understand me when I am wearing a mask.
    I love prairies, the woods are my first love but their is something like the sea in prairies.

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    1. I can understand that Yogi :) Woods and prairies and standing on a beach in the wintertime, seeing the waves rolling in, all favorite things I like to do.

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  17. Love the praying mantis. Glad Greg spotted it. I'm glad you were able to get out and about. Yikes your poem reminded me I left the water on and I need to go out and move it to another spot!!

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    1. Thank you Ellen, I'm glad too. We've had some rain, we don't need to worry about the grass for a couple of days :)

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  18. I so enjoyed your lovely walk in the Battlefield, Denise. The poem you shared is quite touching. I'm sure it felt good to breathe the fresh air in the wide open space. I share your same fears when we encounter folks on our walks. I'm afraid some are not being as careful as they should.
    The praying mantis photos are superb! I haven't seen one for a while. They are most interesting and you captured their inquisitive nature beautifully!
    Take care as you enjoy more walks in this cooler weather.

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    1. So glad Martha Ellen :) It certainly felt wonderful getting out in all that fresh air. Fortunately most people we met on our walk a couple of days ago wore their masks, or at least put them on when they saw us coming, but I know others have different opinions about wearing them. Thank you so much, you take care also and I hope you enjoy the same. It will be good to see the back of the summer humidity :)

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  19. It looks like you had a good day to be out and about.

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  20. Oh Denise, what a fantastic post.
    Loved all the photographs and the poem too.
    Thank you so much for taking time to put these fabulous photographs here.

    All the best Jan

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    1. So glad Jan and I am delighted you enjoyed this post :)

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  21. Wonderful pictures of the praying mantises. I especially liked the top two. Such an interesting color--almost like sculptures. And that poem about the grass is lovely. Glad you were able to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather.

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