Sorting and Thinking

My daughter has been visiting from Wyoming where she is in grad school. That’s my excuse for not getting my act together yet in terms of packing for the ride. Hey – my flight doesn’t leave until Wednesday morning!

But she leaves tomorrow morning so I wanted to make sure we could do fun things before she heads back. I woke up this morning and looked at the movie schedules. Blah – the only thing worth seeing is Guardians of the Galaxy and she’s already seen it 3 times.

Considered going into the city but there wasn’t anything compelling, and it was approaching noon and I still hadn’t seen her in the upright position.

When she finally showed her beautiful smile, I asked if she wanted to go see some nearby gardens. Her smile got bigger and we had a “YES”. Then she set a world record for longest time in a shower but we eventually got moving.

Meadowlark Gardens is a beautiful Fairfax County Park located near Vienna, VA. You can get to it through a new connector trail from the W&OD, or google it for driving directions. We drove since it was already past noon.

Our entire family LOVES watching birds, and this is a great place for bird watching. At one point we saw an explosion of birds from a particular treed area near a pond. They shot upwards screeching in complaint and approbation. I had seen what looked like a hawk heading that way a few minutes earlier, and I surmised he was moving closer.

We went over to watch and saw a juvenile hawk very clumsily move around what is normally a blackbird and small songbird area. They continued to shriek their protest and alarms calls. This poor juvenile had no idea what he had gotten into. Each branch he landed on in the very small bendy trees was a worse perch than the one before. There was no breeze to give him lift to get out of the situation either. After about 10 minutes he rather heavily launched, sending the tree backwards in an illustration of the law of physics, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”, and flapped laboriously to rise into the nearby tall trees where he could sit unmolested by small birds and reflect on his errors.

This is a rather poor photo of when he was trapped by his own ineptitude in a location that was ill suited for his flight dynamics..

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There were other birds at the gardens, including the ubiquitous, annoying, aggressive, non-migratory Canada goose. They have rather taken over the fountain at the Korean Bell Garden, but in an odd way, it seems fitting. If only they didn’t leave so many calling cards!

At the highest vantage point around, we saw and heard a mockingbird. NOT a surprise!

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There were also some charming imposters.

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And not a bird, but if we believe the scientists, this little guy’s ancestors and bird ancestors are related. He certainly looked happy sunning himself on this branch in the terrarium back at the entrance to the park.

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I highly recommend the gardens, and suggest you do not confine yourself to any one season. They have a wide variety of garden types – a cancer garden, herb gardens, a children’t garden (so delightful), butterfly gardens, hostas (how do they keep the deer from munching them?), and so much more.

If you want to bike here from DC, take the W&OD out past Vienna. When you’re almost to Hunter Mill, the connector trail will be on your right. Fair warning: the connector trail and ride is a little bit hilly – but hey, we’re the kind of cyclists who consider that an invitation, right?

And here is the reason we went to the gardens at all:

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