Category Archives: Photos

Wissahickon Walk

Wissahickon Valley Park, Chestnut Hill, PA, 2022

I’ve visited Philadelphia many times over the past year visiting my good friend.  Duby lives in Chestnut Hill in northwest Philly. It’s a charming area that has deep historical roots. When I arrived for my first visit, I kept remarking how green everything was. Majestic cedars, dogwoods, red maples, ash and sycamore trees fan throughout the city. In fact, Philly has 2.9 million trees with a tree canopy that covers 20% of the city.

My first morning there, Duby took me for a walk in nearby Wissahickon Valley Park. We entered it on a dirt path that is less than a block from his home.

The park’s name comes from the Indian Lenape word wisameckham, for “catfish creek”, a reference to the fish that were once plentiful in the Wissahickon creek that runs through it, eventually merging into the Schuylkill River.

I walk that park most mornings either alone or with Duby.  Although it’s called a park, I experience it as a beautiful forest. The path from the road quickly leads into a canopy of trees. Fallen trees, some covered by fungus and an array of colorful leaves, lay by the side of the path line. If a tree fell across the path, a chunk has been hewn away to allow passage.

I often sit on one of those massive trees midway through my walk just to relax and take in the sounds and absorb the beauty that surrounds me. Occasionally, a mountain biker, a jogger or a hiker passes by. Once Duby and I met Ellen, an 80-year-old tiny but spry Black woman walking her small dog named Howard. She had on delicate black leather ftats with a leather flower near the toe of the shoe. We talked and she told us that she had been a singer in Europe. Her mother-in-law was a doctor and when she heard Ellen’s coloratura soprano voice as a young woman, she sent her to Europe to study voice. Now, she mostly sang in the choir at church. I asked her to sing and she let out a high piercing note that shot through the trees.

A wooden bridge along the path is a popular spot for people to toss sticks to their dogs into the creek below. The dogs run back and forth between the creek and their owners, tails wagging crazily as they drop the stick for another romp. Dog walkers with 3-4 dogs in tow let their charges off for a refreshing dip. Something about a dog splashing around in water, unaware of anything but the creek and playing is joyful to watch. Not a care in the world!

When I leave the park, I feel refreshed — even though I haven’t retrieved a stick or frolicked in the in the creek — I feel joyful!


Sometimes it’s the Small Things

Fledging Bluebird, Glendale, California, 2021

Sometimes it’s the small things that catch us by surprise. Two days ago, I was in my backyard, and caught a glance at a stone-still little bird on the pavers. It startled me and I moved in for a closer look. It was a frightened fledging bird that had left its nest too soon. It was fully feathered and could hop away from me when I got too close.

I fashioned a nest for it that eve that he had pure disdain for. I put a tiny bowl of water close to him. No way would he get near it.

Then, I remembered a few years back, when a baby crow was stranded in our yard for 10 days. Animal Control came out and said fledglings were common in the early summer and his mother would take care of him.

But I still went to the backyard several times a day to see how the tiny bird was doing. Yesterday, afternoon, I noticed he was fluttering his wings and could fly an inch or two off the ground for short distances. By late afternoon, his low flying seemed more coordinated.

Last night, my friend Diana came over for gin and tonics on the back patio and first thing I did was show her the little bird. It stood still as a statue. But after 30 minutes, he came to life: scurrying to the back deck and chirping, chirping. chirping. Suddenly, a flash of blue wings dove down to him and quickly dropped something into his open beak. We were excited and entranced.

As the evening wore on, mom (or dad) came down several more times, first swift as a second, then actually stood on the ground for about 10 seconds filling and refilling the young bird’s open beak.

I was up at 5:30 this morning to check on him and couldn’t find him but an hour later, the chirping began and there he was waiting for breakfast to be delivered.

So, it looks like he’ll make it with his mother’s help and hopefully will earn his wings in the next day or so and fly off.

Sometimes, we just need a happy ending…


Enjoy the Flowering Dogwood

Flowering Dogwood, Philadelphia, 2021. Photo by R.D. Joslin

My friend, Duby recently sent me these photos of a flowering tree in his backyard in Philadelphia. I don’t know why but I knew instinctively it was a Dogwood even though I don’t recall ever seeing one. I attribute this, perhaps, to some vestige of knowledge from my Girl Scout days when I earned a badge in plant identification.



This stunning flowering tree enchanted me with its beauty. I could picture a wedding, a picnic, a christening, or a romantic evening under this majestic ornamental with its showy clusters of white flowers.



The flowering dogwood is native to the eastern part of the U.S., from New England to the Gulf Coast. It’s the state tree of Virginia and thrives with plenty of water and sunshine.

I hope this dogwood tree captures your heart as it did mine.




Northern Lights – A Dance of Colors

Northern Lights, East Greenland, 2017. Photo by Trina Pate


Seeing the Northern Lights is something I’ve always wanted to do, but my friend Trina beat me to it. She has graciously shared her photos from a trip she took with husband Bud In 2017.

Northern Lights, Tasiilaq, East Greenland, 2017. Photo by Bud Pate

They embarked on a  photo trip with seven other people to East Greenland with Natural Habitat Adventures, which was led by a friend who is a National Geographic photographer. Although there is no guarantee, they chose September, a month when sightings often occur.

The “northern lights” are shafts or curtains of colored light visible on occasion in the night sky. They’re caused by collisions between fast-moving particles (electrons) from space and the oxygen and nitrogen gas in our atmosphere. When billions of these collisions occur, the oxygen and nitrogen in the atmosphere emit enough light for the eye to see them. This ghostly glow can light up the night sky in a dance of colors. Displays take many forms: rippling curtains, pulsating globs, traveling pulses, or steady glows.

East Greenland is remote, and mostly uninhabited, except for a few subsistence-hunting communities. In fact, East Greenland’s people had no contact with the outside world until the beginning of the 20th century.

Their base camp was in a wilderness on the east side of the Sermilik Fjord. It is accessible only by boat or helicopter and is considered one of the most remote places on earth. The camp is surrounded by an electrified wire fence, as there are polar bears in the area. All tents are broken down at the end of the season. The area is then complete wilderness again, with no trace that travelers were ever there.

They spent time exploring the Sermilik Fjord, just below the Arctic Circle. While in the zodiac they wore Mustang Survival floatation suits to protect from foul weather. The Fjord is filled with icebergs of all shapes. The coastline is rugged and surrounded by mountains.

Iceberg, East Greenland, 2017. Photo by Trina Pate

On their very last night at Base camp, they finally saw the northern lights. The display went on for hours and was spectacular! It was a clear night with no light pollution. The lights came from every direction. They finally had to go into their tent because their hands were frozen! The trip was a complete success!





Snowfall, Philadelphia, 2021. Photo by R.D. Joslin

Yesterday, a friend sent me this photo from Philadelphia, which captures the beauty and serenity that a thick blanket of snow provides.

Last week, snow from a sprawling winter storm swept across the USA covering nearly 75% of the country. Nearly every state had temperatures that dipped below freezing, affecting 150 million people.

Texas experienced the worst winter weather in decades, flights were grounded and more than 2 million people endured the cold without power or water. Many families (including a good friend’s son, wife and two young sons) slept huddled together in front of fireplaces to try and stay warm.

I talked to friends in Salem, Oregon Saturday eve. They told me about the devastation in their neighborhood from the many trees that had toppled over under the weight of accumulated ice. When they finally ventured out to see the damage, a huge limb fell across their front porch, missing them, but causing significant damage to their house.

Beauty and serenity is definitely needed now as people recover not only from this winter storm but the more than year-long struggle with COVID. And so I leave you with this beautiful winter poem written by Emily Dickinson.

It Sifts from Leaden Sieves

 It sifts from leaden sieves
It powders all the wood.
It fills with alabaster wool
The wrinkles of the road.

It makes an even face
Of mountain, and of plain –
Unbroken forehead from the east
Unto the east again –

It reaches to the fence –
It wraps it rail by rail
Till it is lost in fleeces;
It flings a crystal veil

On stump, and stack and stem –
The summer’s empty room
Acres of seams where harvests were,
Recordless, but for them –

As ankles of a queen –
Then stills its artisans like ghosts,
Denying they have been.