RUNTRAILS' 2020 JOURNAL

 

  

Eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly feeding on Miss Huff lantana flowers in our yard

 

   
 
 
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  SCENES FROM PTC'S VAST NETWORK OF  
  CART PATHS, PART 2: WILDLIFE, NATURE,
&ACTS OF KINDNESS 2020-STYLE

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 17

 
"Walking is the perfect way to see into the life of things. It is the one way of freedom.   
If you go to a place on anything but your own feet you are taken there too fast,
and miss a thousand delicate joys that were waiting for you by the wayside."
 
~ Elizabeth Von Arnim, The Adventures of Elizabeth in Rgen
 
 

During the many years that I ran, especially on trails, I often saw little things along the way that caused me to Stop.Right.There. to take pictures -- pretty flowers, unusual rocks, colorful leaves, various critters.

Now that I'm just walking, even more interesting natural things catch my eye. Here's an example, a cheerful holiday medley of bright red Japanese maple leaves that fell down to dark green English ivy in November:

This entry features more of Mother Nature's gifts that I observed in my daily walks along Peachtree City's multi-use paths. I'll have separate entries for such treasures at other venues where I hiked.

At the end of this page I'll also include a few human-made gifts designed to make residents smile.

WILDLIFE

Peachtree City is a planned community of about 35,000 people. Approximately one-fourth of its land mass is green or blue space -- trees, parks, golf courses, streams, wet areas, ponds, and lakes. The network of about a hundred miles of cart paths winds through all of this.

This environment is a haven for all sorts of wildlife, from a gazillion squirrels to lots of white-tailed deer. Other species include rabbits, chipmunks, possums, armadillos, snakes, and many kinds of birds.

Critters inhabit the wild spaces, as well as residential yards. They're everywhere.


Don and three deer watch each other in front of a house; a fourth deer was off to the right.

Fortunately, Don is not at all impulsive with wildlife. He notices deer, squirrels, ducks, geese, and other animals on our walks but doesn't pull toward them. He looks back at me and I give him a treat. He's a Very Good Boy.

On off-leash trail hikes, he doesn't chase wildlife. We can't trust Holly and Casey off-leash because they are more impulsive.

It's very common to walk fairly close to deer on the cart paths, as in the next picture. They aren't very afraid of people or even dogs unless they bark or move toward them. I've gotten within five feet of deer with Don, although I've never gotten a picture with him quite that close.

I often walk Don past ponds or lakes with ducks and geese. These birds are also used to many people and dogs walking past so they don't fly away if a dog doesn't bark or come toward them.

As with the deer, Don will stop and just look at birds and other wildlife, look up to me for praise or a treat, look back at them, and move on. He's Mr. Cool with critters partly because he's so laid back, partly from early guide dog training, and mostly because he's smart enough to know there are rewards for good decisions!

 

 

 

 

Above and below:  blue herons in two different locations

Another type of bird we see in Peachtree City is the turkey vulture. One week there were dozens on the ground and in the trees at this pond:

 

And we have snakes. Doesn't every part of the country? Note this warning for venomous snakes along one of the boardwalks at Flat Creek Nature Area:

I occasionally see turtles on or near the cart paths. When they are on the pavement I move them to safer ground.

Don pretty much ignores turtles, even when their heads and legs are out of their shells. I mean, if wildlife that moves or makes noise doesn't get him excited, a turtle sure won't! This is a common box turtle:

I often see little dead snakes along the multi-use paths where golf carts have smashed them but don't remember seeing any live snakes on my walks this year -- and just one in our yard.

FUN WITH FUNGI

During a wet summer I see a lot of interesting fungi and lichens along the cart paths. Some have unusual colors, some are in interesting shapes or groupings.

Here's a random sampling from this year:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I stuck my foot in the last photo for some perspective on how big those fungi are! That's a size 10 men's running shoe.

ACTS OF KINDNESS, 2020-STYLE

Hand-painted "kindness rocks" have been around for a few years but I hadn't seen very many until we moved here in 2017 and began walking on the cart paths. This spring after the COVID pandemic hit there were definitely more of them along the paths.

The next photo shows the "mother rock" near the city library to encourage people to place or take kindness rocks, but on my walks I saw mostly individual rocks that had been placed randomly along the paths.

 

A new twist this year was about a dozen different motivational signs I spotted tacked to trees along the various routes I took. The signs appeared to have been painted by the same person.

Most lasted several months and made me smile when I saw them. Here is one of them:

I hadn't noticed this bear mailbox post at one residence until it was dressed pandemic-style:

The mailbox rests on top of the bear's head; I cropped it out.

Some other residents delight passersby with seasonally dressed characters, including Manny the Manitou mailbox and what I call Burl Gurl, decorated for the Fourth of July:

 

Most of these things I would have seen even if I'd been running or riding my bike but when I'm walking, it's so much easier to not only spot the smaller ones but also stop to take pictures of them.

Even the colorful fungi make me smile!

Next entry: scenes from multiple hikes this year at Line Creek Nature Area

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Casey-Girl, Holly-Holly, & Dapper Don

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2020 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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