The sure-tell elements of Spring are making their grand entrance, grass is greening and wildflowers are popping! This weekend come out to Arc of Appalachia's Annual Wildflower Pilgrimage and enjoy some hiking, relaxation and photo opportunities! The Arc's preserve region spans among five counties in Southern Ohio and boasts some of the most spectacular natural and historical sites.
Arisaema sp. (Common: Jack-in-the-Pulpit)
Claytonia virginica (Common: Spring Beauty)
Houstonia sp. ( Common: Bluets)
Come enjoy guided or self-guided hiking this weekend! Nature awaits your presence!
Spring is upon us! It is so nice to look outside and see the grass becoming greener as the days start to become longer! Spring also seems to symbolize the joys of Nature's re-birth, Nature unfolding her gifts of color to us. Spring also opens up new doors in our lives allowing us to get out and rejuvenate ourselves, move around in the fresh air, and enjoy the sights and sounds of all the biodiversity around us.
(Below is beautiful Erythronium spp. or Trout Lily. Notice some pollinating friends upon this beautiful gem! Just one of the remarkable wildflowers to be seen early Spring at Serpent Mound!)
This Spring has welcomed me with a new position that I am excited about, Museum Aide with the Arc of Appalachia Nature Preserve! Last week I met with Nancy Stranahan- Arc Director, to learn more about their organization and their goals. Later that day I was offered the position! I have had a sincere interest to be a part of their wonderful organization since I learned more about them in 2009. It was during the Fall of that year that I met with Bruce Lombardo, previous Site Manager of Serpent Mound and Fort Hill at that time, to learn more about volunteering at the historic Fort Hill Museum. Mr. Lombardo was very informative and gave me a brief history about the hilltop enclosure, trails and the history behind Fort Hill's beautiful old forest retreat. I was hooked and from then forward I would keep volunteering when I had time available. (Below is an inside look at Fort Hill's museum.)
So, starting this Saturday and Sunday, the Serpent Mound Museum will resume its operation and will be open again to the public! Fort Hill Museum will be open as well to the public and they are always in need of wonderful volunteers to help with the operations of keeping Fort Hill open as well as other volunteer duties that may be found at their website: www.highlandssanctuary.org/. It is here that you will open the door to seeing some of the best outdoor flora and fauna within the State of Ohio. Check out the upcoming events at the different Arc sites, daily operational hours, Appalachia Forest School, and learn more about the Arc's mission of land preservation. Hope to see you soon!
How the years go by so fast! My daughter's birthday was yesterday, the "Big 3"! My son John decided that her cake was to be decorated with flowers and hearts. He is quite the thoughtful "Big Brother"! The cake is a yummy Starlight Yellow glazed with a sinful, but yummy, vanilla buttercream frosting~ HOMEMADE! It may look a little lop-sided, but it is much more tastier than those store bought cakes and cake mixes! John had fun helping with decorating and of course Hope wanted to dip her little paw into it before the finish!
Little milestones such as children's birthdays, tooth fairy visits and flower gifts from my son John, are special little moments that are gone in a blink-of-an-eye. One must stop and seize that special moment when it is there to grab. I find myself so very busy these days that it seems as though I haven't paused enough from the "Big People" worries to enjoy the antics and comments from "the little people" :0).
Each day I am trying to guide my focus to be more "balanced" and in tune with my little ones. Yes, I homeschool, watch movies with them, and take them for ice cream cones, but I find myself needing to listen more to their little sayings and dreams. This is it, we have nothing but now. Time to enjoy it!
Its been a while since my husband and I have had the chance to take a spontaneous day trip since the little ones came along. Yesterday was one of those days to seize the moment and take a jaunt to the only place that brings me to a relaxed and refreshed sense of being, Hocking Hills Hills.
Grandma picked up the kiddos and off I went to the college to attempt to study for finals week and to visit my husband, Sean, who works in the college's IT department. I had this lingering idea that visiting Hocking for a little R&R was in store and so I located a very nice cabin at a reasonable price last minute and next thing I knew we were on our way. Arriving in the evening, we met the owner who lived right up the lane and stayed at a retreat called Two Trees Inn. It was decked out with large windows which welcomed the morning sunlight for that cup of coffee, a wonderful hot tub, pool table rec room, and was secluded nicely among the Hocking Hills Forest. If you ever decide to escape to Hocking, look up Two Trees Inn, a great place that sleeps up to 12 guests and lots of open space and friendly owners.
Today we awoke and the clouds slowly left the area to bring in the warm sunshine which paved our path to Ash Cave for a small hike and photo op before coming back home. Before our arrival to the trail path, we drove through a small town called Laurelville. We were hungry for a good lunch and decided to stop at a small diner called The Ridge Inn. This was an unexpected delight and everyone would find something delish on their menu to try. The restaurant was elegantly decorated and featured beautiful photo images for sale by local artists as their wall decor. Pottery was on display at the front counter from the local potters as well. The food was superb, we started with a chicken quesadilla appetizer and I went for a Gwen's Favorite Chicken Salad sandwich halve paired with a tasty bowl of loaded baked potato soup. My husband tried the Cobb salad and all was excellent to the palate. We would make the drive to this restaurant again in the future!
After our lunch, we made our way to Ash Cave and the experience was picture perfect as always with the sunlight gracefully kissing the Eastern Hemlocks and moss covered sandstone throughout the hike. It was so serene, calm, and peaceful. I almost couldn't bring myself to depart the waterfall area of the cave. Hocking Hills clears the mind of the clutter and releases the soul into a state of tranquility and happiness. The beauty that the Hills beholds is the perfect medicine for the worried mind, the stressed, and those who need clarity to continue their creative abilities. Hocking is a cleansing of the heart, mind, and soul.
Now at home again, I feel relieved and ready to resume my day to day hectic routine. Everyone needs that one place to escape to even if it is just for a day or a couple of hours at a time in order to regain their energies to deal with our fast paced society and all of its demands. Sometimes it is hard to pull ourselves away from what we are doing in order to enjoy life and to rest. Life is too short to not enjoy nature's beauty that is all around us. My hope is for everyone to have that sacred place that helps relieve the troubles, worries and stresses that our daily activities may bring to us. If you are ever in Ohio, take my advice and check out Hocking Hills for the spectacular hiking opportunities, local artisans, great food and people. You won't regret it!
So this is my first attempt at "blogging". My husband, Sean, suggested that I keep daily writings to put all of my thoughts in one spot. This would make it easier to keep track of where I want to go and help document my creative flow. This is something I would've probably done years ago, keeping a diary of sorts that is, but you know how it goes---life was just too busy for that!
Life is still busy, but I have surfaced with a new sense of purpose after these last few years of having children, attending college, and dealing with the ups-and-downs of married life. This is somewhat a "re-birth" of myself, or another way to put it in perspective, the start of a new quest in my life, Dora's Quest. I have gained new knowledge and insights along the way from young adulthood to now that have finally formed into pleasant outcomes to some extent, but still yearning for perfection and smoothing of the rough edges. I have been trying to figure out my life's purpose or path and I think that I've always known it deep inside, but have had to experience a multitude of hardship and challenges to bring the best out of me.
After the birth of my first child, I was a whole new person. No more partying, no more being spontaneous and doing as I please, this really made me realize that caring for a child out of pure joy and love was more rewarding than doing all the frivolous things I used to do. I decided it was time to educate myself and I wanted to so that I would know more about the world to help me be a better mother to my son, a better wife to my husband. After our move to the country, I decided it was time to attend college and I did.
Going to a small community college was fine with me. The college had a limited choice of degree options and since I had some land to play with I decided upon the Agriculture degree. This was a two year, associates level degree and I thought if I complete this then I will just transfer if I wanted to a four year college. Attending college has been the best thing I could've done for myself and my family. I acquired an obsession for insects and the field of Entomology, excelled very well through my Biology courses, tackled the pesky Algebra with flying colors, had a baby girl in the middle of all this, started volunteering for Highlands Nature Sanctuary (Ft. Hill and Serpent Mound), volunteered to do stream quality monitoring to learn about aquatic insects, attended some advanced naturalist workshops, and at the end of the degree took some wonderful ceramic courses with a great instructor, Nancy Ache. It was the culmination of all these subjects that brought me to now. So, as I prepare to graduate with my two year degree in Agriculture, I have decided to pursue my love of artistic and biological sciences and try my hand at ceramics and insect photography while exploring other similar possibilities. I will take a few years off from full time college to pursue this part of "Dora's Quest" and to raise my babies.
The next few posts will be geared toward my creative approach towards my ceramic work, beekeeping, gardening, homeschooling, and my photography. You never know until you try and I would rather have fun doing what inspires me than doing what limits my capabilities. The hardest part sometimes is believing in yourself and pushing your confidence level up to where it should be. I have come to terms that if I enjoy myself doing what I do then this should become easier for me as I move forward. Happy days ahead!
My interests are varied and I am always diving into new, fun, adventurous hobbies and activities. My philosophy is to try to experience all you desire in this lifetime and make the most out of what you have. Always follow your instincts and keep working on loving yourself and others. I have two beautiful children and a wonderful supportive husband that has helped me through all my endeavors. I am a budding ceramic artist with interest in all techniques and lots of color. My inspiration comes from nature, life experiences, dreams and family. I hope you enjoy my blogs about life, purpose, balance, and creativity! Thanks for stopping by!