Tag Archives: wandering

Old Back Road Cemeteries

Heading west and south of where I live, it’s not unusual to come across old back road cemeteries.

Some are now tucked away next to subdivisions and shopping centers. Twenty years ago, those things weren’t there, but the cemetery was. Probably for well over a hundred years.

Most of the time these old back road cemeteries sit at the highest spot, surrounded by pretty much nothing. Corn and soy bean fields, maybe a farm house nearby, otherwise nothing.

Came across one while out wandering, don’t even know the name of the road. I just know where it is, now.

Of course I had to pay a visit.

This one is really well kept. Somebody does a nice job of maintaining the grounds.

The oldest head stones date back to the mid 1800’s and when they get that old some of the stones collapse and there is no way to prop it back up. Who ever is taking care of this cemetery goes to a lot of trouble to trim back the grass on even the fallen stones.

I came across one stone that looked old and was in with others that date back over 150 years. I found it interesting, intriguing and disturbing all at once.

There was a name on it, a first name only.

That was it.

No birth date, no death date like all the others.

Just a first name.

Having been raised Catholic, I have a respect for the dead and where they lay. As kids we were told to watch where we walk so we weren’t walking on somebody’s grave.

To this day I have that in the back of my head.

Oops, sorry, scuse me, sorry…

Even so, when I found this head stone I had to fight the urge to take it with me.

What are the chances of ever coming across something like this again.

I think it would look good in my yard.

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A Much Needed Walk in the Woods

Took a much needed walk in the woods today. Since I quit fishing I don’t get out for long walks through woods and down creeks. I’m woefully out of shape.

During the winter and early spring I don’t think twice about blundering through the woods that you see at the top. A few feet in reminded me of the stinging nettles that are mixed in with the ever thickening undergrowth. From the knees down my legs quickly felt like they were on fire.

I stuck with the paths this time, for the most part.

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The sun cooperated a bit and the new growth this time of year has an intensity that quickly wanes come June.

A feast for the eyes.

If you like lots of green.

At Least I got a Fishing License

At least I got a fishing license, even though the rod hasn’t been put back in the car. Had to take it out a couple of weeks ago and it never made it’s way back. At least the trunk is still loaded with everything needed. Now to put it to use, maybe.

The Fox River is doing it’s usual spring high, fast and muddy thing. Catching smallmouth bass out of the river under these conditions is easy. Fish close to shore, fish close to obstructions. It’s called dabbling and after many years of doing that every spring, it’s got old.

Decided today to just go for a walk in the woods, but I also figured I may as well go check out four nearby creeks while wandering the woods. Unlike the river, they were all crystal clear and in perfect shape. Still went with the walk instead of fishing.

The main reason to head out to the woods was to see how the undergrowth was coming along. No leaves on the trees, plenty of light getting down to the forest floor, makes things sprout. Today is the last of the colder days. From here on out, supposedly, it’s all uphill temperature wise. Or so they say.

For now, things are trying to grow. The next couple of weeks should see a dramatic improvement.

The woods I walked today run along two of my favorite creeks, so I was killing two birds with one stone. I got to enjoy both.

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What was once an easy stroll down the creek has changed over the winter. It’s now an obstacle course. Will be interesting to navigate this when I get to it.

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I’ve seen this creek clear like this many times and it’s nice to go to spots where smallies get caught. From a different vantage point, it’s easy to see why.

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Birds, waterfowl and tree dwellers were everywhere. I was grateful when these two chose to ignore me. Faithful readers of this blog will recall my run ins with nesting geese on creeks.

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Many Aprils over the years have been spent fishing this creek with this one pool consistently producing every time. I wondered if I’d come back again this month to find out if it’s still consistent.

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Wandering along the creek I came across a found object, if you want to call it that. I tend to call them Shit I Trip Over. Considering where I am, it makes you wonder how many decades it’s just been sitting here all by itself.

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The signs of beavers on these creeks are everywhere, though the beavers themselves are seldom seen. Finally figured out that with the bigger trees, they just use them for sharpening their teeth.

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I found this interesting at the time, not sure why.

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Headed off to another creek with the intention of wandering the woods along it’s banks, but I was met with more of the same under growth waiting for more warmth. While walking over the little bridge over the creek I noticed that the suckers were making their migration upstream. That I didn’t expect. I assumed like the plants, they would be delayed by a couple of weeks too.

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Mixed in with the hundreds of suckers were hundreds of shad.

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This next one may be difficult to see. I almost didn’t see it, but my shadow spooked it and it moved. I could see the distinctive bars of a northern hog sucker. Pretty good size on it too and it looked to be a good 16 inches. I’ve been told it’s rare to come across them, but coming across them is a good thing. I’ve been seeing them in these creeks on and off for years and apparently they are a sign of high quality water.

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I’m sure this week I’ll put the rod in the car and next weekend I’ll be met with a conundrum.

Do I wander around taking pictures and fishing or just wander around like I did today.

It is kind of nice not hauling around all that fishing shit.

When the Clouds are Right

When the clouds are right, it’s hard to go out and not get half way decent photo’s as long as you include part of the sky.

Today the clouds were right.

But the wind wasn’t.

25 mph winds with gusts up to 50. Temps in the upper 30’s with wind chills in the low 20’s. If you don’t know what that’s like here in northern Illinois, it could best be described as unpleasant.

I knew this when I headed out the door and decided to drive the back roads in the lower Fox Valley, but I saw it as an opportunity to explore areas I haven’t been to in years and mentally mark them for further exploration at a later date.

Preferably when conditions might be better described as pleasant.

Controlling the car in the many open areas became a challenge. Wind gusts would hit the car and staying between the lines wasn’t easy. Luckily few drive these roads so traffic wasn’t an issue.

Pretty much all of the shots below are out the window shots. Of course a few times I had to get out of the car to get a better angle on something and I quickly realized what a mistake that was. Even at 200 pounds I’m no match for wind gusts of 50. Standing out in the open and trying to hold steady was next to impossible as I got pummeled. Even in the car it was difficult to hold the camera steady. A car parked on the edge of an open field and getting buffeted by high winds tends to rock back and forth, a lot.

In some of the shots, that’s not rain, it’s snow.

And not snow flakes, but snow pellets.

And by the time they were near the ground they were going nearly horizontal at anywhere between 25 and 50 mph.

And if you were stupid enough to be standing outside the car trying to get a better angle for a shot when one of these blew through and they hit what little exposed skin you had, it stung like a sonovabitch.

Fungus Hunting

Not sure why I like to go out fungus hunting.

Something about decay has always been attractive.

I have no interest in ever identifying what I find, but that’s true with just about everything I do.

Just another opportunity to be out in the woods, fungus hunting, squirrel hunting, flower hunting. All the same on some level.

It does give me the opportunity to go out blundering through the woods, searching out trees dead standing, dead falls, long dead and rotting trees.

Something relaxing about climbing around all this dead wood. The dead silence of the woods this time of year helps.

Takes a bit of focus I guess, observing rather than just looking.

I’ve been lamenting that most of the shots turn out like crap. Low light, camera shake, disastrous images.

Sunday I was paying attention to what I was doing. A tripod would be worthless here. Nowhere to put it. Trying to figure out where would kill the moment.

I guess I could get a longer lens, set up further away on level ground, zoom in tight.

But that ruins the way I like to do things. Get in tight, within inches, compose as much as possible in the viewfinder so I do virtually no cropping after the fact.

For now, I’ll practice what I know. Slow down my breathing, brace my arms to my sides and at the right moment between slow breaths, push the button.

Doesn’t always work, but I’ll take it.