A Trip Through the Amish Area

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While in Lancaster, PA, my wife and I toured the Amish area. Through our tour guid, we learned about the passion and purpose, which inspires these Godly people.  Their Christian spirituality is the framework that sets  their lifestyle. 

The picture below show mules that are the power force to pull the plows, hay wagons, balers, hay cutters, and wagons through the acres of farm land. 

mule power

Tractors often must be adapted for off-road use only, lest they provide the opportunity to go too far from home. This usually means steel tires rather than rubber.

Tractors with steel tires

 The Amish look to God for help in this dangerous world.  When they are face with problems, their first instinct is to pray rather than to seek a quick fix. They learned patience; they feel demanding a quick fix signals a lack of trust in God. 

I hope you enjoyed this little article and have an opportunity to tour and visit an Amish community.

Angel Oak Tree

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When looking at the Angel Oak Tree, it’s like a walk through a mystical time period.  Spots of hazy, heavenly, light shows its beams through the leaves onto the branches.  I expected nymphs and winged fairies to flitter under the huge canopy of the massive oak tree.  This centuries-old tree continues to grow near a dirt road that leads to the Angel Oak tree; which is surrounded amongst many Low Country trees. 

Angel Oak Tree

The Angel Oak tree is located on St. Johns Island, about twelve miles south from downtown Charleston, NC.  When I saw the Angel Oak Tree in 2019, it is free admission.  There just aren’t many free places to stop, and this is one that is definitely worthwhile.

This peculiar tree is said to be one of the oldest living oak trees east of the Mississippi River.  Arborists estimates the Angel Oak tree is 400 to 500 years old. Several reasons for the Angel Oak’s longevity is its natural hardiness, long taproot, and widespread root systems, that anchors the tree deep into the ground.  This is how it has survived natures elements of winds, storms, earthquakes, and hurricanes through-out the centuries.  It does show scars from natures elements; but the old oak tree still stands strong and brave.

Angel Oak Tree

The uniqueness of the tree is that it grows both up and out.  Its massive, twisted, and gnarled branches reach out like tentacles from a giant monster.  It’s said, by tour guides, the tree stands 66.5 ft (20 ml), the trunk measures 28 ft (8.5m) in circumference and produces shade that covers 17,200 feet (1,600 m2). 

Local folklore tells of another source for the name of the tree; ghosts of former slaves are said to appear as angels around the tree. 

 In her Ghosts and Legends of Charleston, Denise Roffe interviewed a woman descended from the slaves who toiled on the island’s plantations. She recounted the legends of the tree, including that it was once home to huge birds (likely vultures) who fed on the bodies of lynched slaves. The old woman continued saying that many people were buried under the tree including Native Americans who met under its shady branches. She stated that these spirits still gather around the oak and that they also work to protect the tree.

Recorded history traces the ownership of the live oak and surrounding land to year 1717.  When Abraham Waight received it as part of a small land grant, the tree stayed in Waight’s family for four generations, and was part of a marriage settlement to Justus Angel and Martha Waight Tucker Angel. The Angel Oak tree is now owned by the City of Charleston and has become the focal point of a public park.

Many weddings and engagements take place under the canopy of this beautiful historical tree.  

Jefferson Hotel, Richmond, VA

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On our one-day bus tour, we arrived at the Jefferson Hotel a luxury hotel located in Richmond, VA, opened in 1895.   In 1969, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Not only is the Jefferson Hotel known for its authentic opulence, it has become synonymous with its extraordinary dining, breathtaking architecture and flawless service. This is what we saw as we entered the hotel. The photo to the right is the rear view.

You can see the stairs that led us to our dining area.  This particular day a group of school children sang Christmas carols as we journeyed up the stairs to our tables.

Carolers

We did not stay in the hotel rooms, but we did enjoy the feel of luxury.  We had a great luncheon with our bus group of 50 spread across five tables (10 each to a table).  We sat on the second tier of the rotunda which gave us a birds eye view of the plush, phenomenal décor of statues, columns and paintings. 

Table for ten


We were instantly served a mixed salad with a house dressing.  After we finished the salad, the servers brought our meal, a choice of salmon or pork tenderloin, garlic mashed potatoes, assorted vegetables, and warm rolls. My thick salmon was garnished with a lemon sauce that seeped through the salmon. My taste buds savored every bit of this fine cuisine.  Desert was a cheesecake garnished with fresh strawberries and whipped cream along with a choice of coffee or tea.

It is beautiful every day of the year, but exceptionally stunning during the Christmas season with its beautiful Christmas display of ornaments, an ideal time to visit the Jefferson Hotel. 

PAMUNKEY INDIAN RESERVATION

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We arrived at the reservation just before the guide finished the previous group. When we off loaded from the bus, our tour guide divided us into two groups. One group was led into the museum and the other half to the one room school house.

A display inside the museum showed primitive pieces of hunting equipment, pottery, tomahawks, tools and a small section of bead works and clothing.

I read a pamphlet about this one-room frame school house which for decades the state partially supported. This school on the Pamunkey reservation offered elementary education to a small number of children until it closed in the 1950s; but many Virginia Indians who desired to attend high school were denied admittance to the racially segregated public schools. In Virginia, they either had to leave home to attend a government Indian school in another state or quit school before completing their education. This Pamunkey Indian school is now part of the tribal museum on the Pamunkey Reservation.

Inside, three black chalk boards hung on the wooden wall. On one side of the room sat a wood burning stove. In the cold and chilly months, the warmth from the stove was a blessing to the young children. I enjoyed the history and heritage about this reservation.
The Pamunkey tribe is one of only two that still retain reservation lands assigned by the 1646 and 1677 treaties with the English colonial government.  The Pamunkey reservation is located on some of its ancestral land on the Pamunkey River adjacent to present day King William County. Virginia.
Since we are on a bus tour, our time at the reservation was cut short.  I wanted to see the fish hatchery that Pamunkey Indians maintain.  One of the main staple of their diet is fish. The Pamunkey have maintained a philosophy that if you took fish from the water, you should put some back.  I did learn a little information about their hatchery.
In 1918 they started an indoor fish hatchery with an 800 gallon holding tank, gas powered motor, hatching jars and holding tanks.  As soon as the eggs hatched, they were gravity-fed back into the Pamunkey River.  Since then, the Pamunkey Tribal expanded the hatchery from 12 hatching jars to 24 and upgraded the facilities and filtration system.
Now with a larger hatchery and more equipment to spawn the shad fish they can tag the shad to help document life history characteristics.  Spawning shad (broad stock) will be manually spawned and fertilized eggs will be incubated in the hatchery.  Upon hatching, the young shad fry will be intensively cultured for about a 16 day period.  During their stay at the hatchery, the dry will be marked with Oxytetracyclin (OTC) on a set sequence of days that will give the shad produced from the PTG hatchery a unique tag.  All shad produced from this facility will be released back into the Pamunkey River.

Sparrows

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These very common small birds are friendly birds and are often surrounded by half a dozen or more of its kind. During cold winter months they feed on seeds and grains. In the spring, summer and fall they feed on insects, flies and mosquitoes. Normally sparrows are noticed in joyful conditions, sing musically and chatterers about the day’s business. There are times a sparrow will mourn; this only happens when the bird’s mate has been killed or its nest and young is destroyed. Although some people may consider them a nuisance and of no monetary value, but accordance to the Bible in the days of Jesus, these tiny birds were an article of commerce as they are now in the Far East.

Eastern Song Sparrow

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Chipping Sparrow

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Your comments are appreciated

 

Kayak Photography

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I photographed this Egret from my kayak on the Warwick River; a 14.4 mile tidal estuary that meanders through tall grasses and cat-o-nine tails to cut its way into the James River.

This piece of paradise is a birders’ delight.  I spotted Herons, Egrets, Sandpipers, and at least six other small bird species I couldn’t identify.  One hairy critter smoothly swam across my bow.  As it went ashore I identified it as a muskrat.

This beautiful peaceful setting is in Newport News, VA.  In 2013 the population was estimated to be 183,412, making it the fifth-most populous city in Virginia.  According to the United States Census Bureau the city has a total area of 120 square miles (310 km2), of which 69 square miles (180 km2) is land and 51 square miles (130 km2) (42.4%) is water.

egret on river.jpg

Dragon Fly

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Wow!!!! Here is another of God’s creations known by the non-scientific name as a dragonfly.  I wonder if this insect inspired man’s flying insect called a helicopter.  Maybe in the very existence of the dragonfly they were giant flying dragons and through time they dwindled down to the 3 to 5-inch colorful insect we see now during our warm and hot summer months.

It is written that the dragonfly in almost every part of the world symbolizes change and the perspective of self-realization; and the kind of change that has its source in mental and emotional maturity also the understanding of the deeper meaning of life.

Dragonfly.jpg

Bird with an Itch

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Great Blue Heron contemplating its move. As a Heron, balance is tricky. I had this itch that needed immediate attention. My frustration is having an itch I can’t scratch. I was concern I’d make a fool of myself. After all we are known for gracefulness. I was happy to satisfy this itch and still stand respectfully.

Heron with an itch-2.jpg