Laura Hare Nature Preserve at Downey Hill

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The long title of this post names one of the many places I have missed so far that are in 1 hour driving distance from Bloomington. If you are after spectacular rock formations or water falls, this isn’t the place. But it features a 4.5 mile loop through Southern Indiana landscape at its best. Sinkholes …

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… miniature canyons …

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… creeks …

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… and the trees, of course. All this makes up the landscape in the large, accented by the play of light or the lack of it. Then there are the small things: Leaves clinging on,

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moss providing unexpected greenery,

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hopeful trees sprouting,

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and older trees offering vistas in the past.

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This was a most enjoyable hike.

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North Dome (25 Years Ago)

I have written about Yosemite in winter before, using a mixture of pictures from various trips. The first picture on that page is actually the last one I took on a snow showing overnighter to North Dome. In the summer, this is an overcrowded day hike up from along Yosemite Falls with nice views of Half Dome.Berkeley148b

We not only had plenty of snow but also a thunderstorm over night. You won’t get these clouds in the summer.

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As soon as you are out of the valley, the hike is a pleasant up and down, even with snow shoes.

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I think the little hump down below is North Dome. The tracks are ours – there was nobody else.

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I am ready for winter, obviously.

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Two Weeks

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Two weeks can be a long time.

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After a few cold days and an ice storm, the colorful leaves are gone now and the mood changes towards winter.

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What do we prefer: A temporary feast of color, or a clear view into a bleak future?

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The choice is not easy,

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mainly because it will stay like this now for at least four months.

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The Vortex

Here are some pictures from a recent visit to Shades State Park.

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It was amusing to see little oblivious flowers on a dead, moss covered tree trunk. What is the  spider hoping for?

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More typical are the vortex-like canyons that seem to suck you into whatever future there is.

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Helpful stairways only lead downwards.

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Water is still flowing the wrong way.

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The trees remind that we can sometimes point sideways instead of  up.

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Decay

My physics high school teacher’s favorite example for exponential decay was not the textbook one, but rather the decay of foam bubbles in a glass of beer.

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These were good times. Chernobyl was still many years away, and one could happily replace cold war fears of a global nuclear disaster by that of an indecent amount of foam in a beer.

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Not so anymore. Dangerous alcohol has been replaced by even more dangerous drugs, and the surprisingly capable and reasonable politicians by maniacs. Why? How?

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This year I am teaching probability, and have replaced some of the rather morbid text book exercises by ones containing bubble baths, to protect my students from being traumatized by reality. What is the half-life of moral standards?

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The large amount of foam on our pristine creeks are called surfactants, and can have natural or human causes.

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Making that distinction is quite telling.

 

 

 

 

 

Water Droplets

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Using a macro lens with 5-fold magnification is an odd experience. The usual, somewhat trivial “workflow” for taking a picture: Look-Frame-Capture doesn’t apply, because one doesn’t see what one might get until one is really close. 

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This time I was erring around in DePauw’s Nature Park’s quarry with its fascinating ground. How could I predict that the lump of greenness that has survived the recent cold spell here is up close a fully active miniature ecosystem, collecting and preserving water for nutrition and climatization?

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To see what you see here with the naked eye you’d need a magnifying glass. 

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The depth of field is of course abysmal, and I don’t usually have the patience to stack (at least) a dozen images.

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It’s good to know that there is a small world unfazed by the machinations of the big guys.

Ups and Downs

Lake Monroe is Bloomington’s water reservoir, and I imagine its waterfront properties are pricey. Having a large, perfectly situated peninsula becoming a Nature Preserve must have upset quite a few potential buyers.

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It took me a while to check it out. Traffic is low, mainly because parking is very limited. The only trail is straightforward, literally. It does a boring up and down along a modest ridge with an occasional view of the lake. If you go early, you will see herons and in years to come hopefully other critters who enjoy the lack of human presence. 

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So, while walking along, I was wondering what else one could do with a marvelous place like this. A single trail didn’t seem enough. Is this an opportunity lost? 

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At the end of the trail, one reaches a small beach where a few maple trees display their root system in a graceful dance. Changing water levels are hard at work to landscape.

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Let Nature do her work. I am happy to just watch.

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