• Tag Archives White Clay Creek Preserve
  • Running Photo Blog ~ White Clay Creek

    I have gone back to my regular routine of running in White Clay Creek Preserve, near my home in Landenberg, PA. 

     

    Actually, walking and running. My sister wants to get in shape for summer, and due to arthritis and other painful issues, she can’t run. So we began walking together once or twice a week, carrying hand weights.

     

    Below are some of the sights from the past week.

     

    Today I walked with sis. We drove past this vineyard on our way to the parking lot.

     

     

    Following are photos from today’s walk.

     

     

    We walked along a section of the Penn Del trail and passed by the ruins (not pictured) of what once was the longest covered bridge in Landenberg. The bridge burned down in 1960 and was never rebuilt. The fire is generally thought to have been arson.

    According to an author friend who is doing research for a new book on the history of Landenberg, the bridge in question was built in 1874, and was 75 feet long and 14 feet wide.

    My online friend–he runs the Landenberg community Facebook Page–told the group that Landenberg once contained more covered bridges (a total of 10) than any other town in America.

    Chester County, where my family has lived since the early part of the 20th century, was the county with the most covered bridges, and the state of Pennsylvania held more covered bridges than any other state in the Union.

    As I have mentioned before, I get much of my inspiration for writing while running the trails next to the White Clay.

    Following is a scene from my book, The Notice, which makes mention of the bridge in question, along with the small church and graveyard just down the road. The church, London Tract Meeting House, was built around 1730. (I can’t remember the exact date off the top of my head.)

    London Tract Church is nicknamed Ticking Tomb Church, because one of the graves is said to emit a ticking sound. There’s a legend regarding this grave, but I can’t remember the details. It’s on google if you want to find out more.

    The sophomore asked if I wanted to see the area where she’d grown up.

    So we went for a drive. She directed me out Route 24 a little way, and then down various back roads, still in the late afternoon sun. We crossed into two other states and back before traveling down other creepy, overhung, winding roads and ending up back in the sticks somewhere.

    We drove by her parents’ house. I thought it looked like a mansion, high on top of a hill. I asked if she wanted to see them, and she just laughed. She said no, they didn’t need to know she was here, not right now. I got the impression they didn’t get along but I didn’t ask anything else. We rode around for a while, up and down hills on snaky little twisty back roads bordered by a creek, with old, rusting guardrails alongside. We passed road kill in various stages of decay, being fought over by vultures. More vultures circled lazily, high above an open field.

    We drove around for at least forty-five minutes, through woods and fields full of deer, cornfields and a few little churches, (none of them Catholic). We passed fieldstone houses and barns that looked hundreds of years old. A few stood so close to the road, it seemed they could have been touched by putting a hand out the car window. It was obvious some had once been inns or hotels. They were huge and rambling, maybe a little overgrown but still inhabited. Old structures stood in the middle of nowhere. Their fieldstone walls had been built up high, but now they were crumbling and not holding back anything anymore. We passed another strange sight. It was a fieldstone wall built into the side of a steep bank, with a tiny, arched, cave-like opening that may or may not have led somewhere.

    Horses, cows and sheep grazed in meadows next to long stretches of thick woods. Pastures full of cows bordered neighborhoods on the tops of hills, with huge houses, much bigger than the ones in my neighborhood. I’d never been through such a place in my life. The whole area came across as a different world, but what really stood out to me were all the bridges. They were everywhere, coming one after the other around every turn we took, and they were all shapes and sizes. Some were ancient covered bridges, so old I was surprised they were safe. I asked the sophomore why there were so many bridges. She replied that there was no way in or out of the area unless you crossed the creek. It wound in and out and around, and you had to cross it to get through the actual town. When I asked her nervously if we were almost there, she just laughed and said we’d been through already. I asked her when, and she replied that it wasn’t really a town, just a wide place in the road. An old store stood there, along with a church and another ancient bridge.

    I had no idea where I was. Up until then I hadn’t even known such places existed, especially that close to my hometown. Mom didn’t take us on vacations. She made it a point to expose us to what she deemed “culture,” and dragged us to New York City every summer to visit the Museum of Modern Art, the opera, science institutes, and off-Broadway plays. I hated every damn minute of it. I never complained, but unfortunately, with the exception of New York City, my only travels consisted of trips to the beach with Brad every summer. But I’m getting out. I’ll see the world…and I’ll forget her.

    The area surrounding us seemed surreal. I was reminded of that painter Brad’s mom liked, the one who painted farms, a lot of barns, all in muted tones. The image of a huge pig flashed through my mind and was gone as fast as it came. We crawled down another winding road along the creek and then on through some kind of deserted little crossroad next to an old stone church and a graveyard. The place was enclosed by a fieldstone wall, half falling down. The gravestones slanted this way and that. Next to the road stood a tall stone with a plaque mounted on it. I pulled over hastily to read it, thinking it might tell me where I was, but the words that jumped out of the dimness were “Indiantown,” and “William Penn,” along with the date: 1683. Then the sophomore began talking about the graveyard. Apparently, one of the graves was haunted. She called it Ticking Tomb, whatever the hell that meant.

    The words Mason-Dixon jumped out of her chatter, but all I noticed were the lightning bugs, flickering and flashing among the gravestones. Then I let out the clutch and we squealed away. The whole thing was giving me the creeps. As I sped on, she warned me not to turn off toward what looked like a place I could pull over. I need to take a leak. This place is creepy.

    The sophomore told me to keep straight on the road, or else we’d come to a dead end where stood the ruins of another covered bridge. It was burned down by arsonists fifty years earlier, and never rebuilt. She said it would have taken us to the next state again if we could have driven that way another quarter mile. I went on straight, still needing to take a whiz. Then we came to yet another little one-lane bridge, looming in the dim light of dusk. It humped in the middle and I was almost afraid to go up it, not knowing what might be lurking on the other side. MaybeBilly Penn’s ghost, or some pissed off Lenape holding a hatchet.

    My hair seemed to stand on end. I shivered, even though it was eighty-five degrees, as we finally went on. After the bridge the road narrowed even more. It became mostly gravel and I hoped Brad’s car didn’t get hit by tar chips. I can’t afford a new paint job. I navigated potholes, stepped on the clutch and shifted into low gear to get the Trans Am up a steep hill that was bordered on either side by high banks and more trees. They arched gloomily over the road in the twilight before it widened a little again, and we went down the other side. Where the hell are we? This place is creepy as shit.

    I asked her if she knew where we were, and she laughed again as we continued on up another hill, passing more cornfields on the left and dark woods on the right. She told me to take the next right. Go out the back way; we’d be back on the highway in ten minutes. It was getting dark as I turned at the stop sign, and we went on down another stretch of road. It was perfectly flat, bordered on either side by nothing but meadows and cornfields and one old farmhouse, way back at the edge of the woods. Damn…what a place for a race. Wish I knew about this a few years ago when Ceej and that little punk bastard were racing. This place would have been perfect. That little stuck up punk…wonder whatever happened to him…

    Her next words—something to the effect that the place had been known as the Flats for as long as anyone could remember, and that her uncle used to race his ‘68 GTO there before he went on to be killed in Vietnam—made my hair stand on end again. But then I saw the sign. Some state park buried out there in the boonies.

     

    The above scene is told from the POV of protagonist Jason, who while a high school senior had a fling with a mysterious older woman known as the sophomore. (For more on the sophomore, please read book 3 in my series).

    Though told from Jason’s POV, I wrote what I saw as child in my own hometown, and what I see today while running. Some readers grow impatient with my dreamy flashback scenes, but I want my grandchildren to someday read my vision of the town where their great-great grandparents lived.

     

    Here are some shots from the past week or so.

    White Clay Creek
    View of White Clay Creek. Taken in Delaware.
    A bridge in Landenberg Pennsylvania
    This is the bridge that Jason was nervous about crossing. It does hump in the middle, and it’s difficult to see what might be waiting on the opposite side. Located on Sharpless Road, a short distance from London Tract Meetinghouse.
    White Clay Creek Preserve, Landenberg, PA
    Snowdrops next to Sharpless Road.

    Sharpless Road, Landenberg. This is the other side of the hill that Jason and the sophomore drove down.

     

    This morning, sis and I drove home on the above road. (Sis didn’t really know it existed!) It’s one of my favorite places to run, since the view from the top of the hill is stunning no matter the season. Note the slight tinge of red buds in the trees.

    Besides the benefits to my health, running also takes off any load of worry or anxiety I may be having. And it’s also a great way to get inspiration.

    Below is an abandoned farmhouse nearby. We walked past it today. This is what it looked like last summer.

     

     

     

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  • Spring Cleaning

    My husband took a week off from work so we can get our house into shape. 

    Well, not only the house, but cars, motorcycle and other things. For the past few months we’ve been working on renovating and redecorating certain rooms of our home. It’s a work in progress, and won’t be complete for another year.

    The first thing we did was turn our old bathroom into a powder room by removing the shower stall. (It was approximately the size of a coffin, and I’m glad it’s gone). The powder room is beautiful, making up for the fact that I have to go all the way upstairs for a shower now, until we finally finish the home makeover with a new master bath.

    We changed out two rooms. Off the kitchen, we had a sitting area with a tiny TV inside an antique sideboard. Since we don’t watch much TV, this was the perfect set up. We could catch the weather in the morning, and go downstairs to watch Netflix in the evenings.

    Now our dining room furniture occupies the space formerly known as a sitting room, and the room we used as a dining room is a formal living room.

    A new master bedroom is next on the list, before the master bath. It’s quite a project, so my husband took this week to finish some painting and other needed jobs, like changing the oil in his Harley-Davidson and my car, and installing shocks or something. Plus, getting some seedlings ready for the garden.

    I’m getting ready for Easter, and a baby shower for my son & daughter-in-law, whose little boy was born 10 weeks early. The baby is doing well in the NICU, and has already gained back all the weight he lost after birth, plus 3 ounces 🙂

    So, there is spring cleaning going on. I’ve been washing all my quilts as I take them off the walls. Today I washed a few I hadn’t gotten to.

     

    quilts2
    A few of my quilts. I made all three. The Double Irish Chain quilt was my first. The Sunbonnet Girls were hand appliquéd and embroidered, using 1930s reproduction fabric. The other quilt is a Monkey Wrench or Churn Dash pattern which I made for my daughter, also using reproduction fabrics.

     

    I have always enjoyed hanging out my laundry. I take after my mother in this respect. (She lives next door and we share a clothesline). Mom has been hanging her laundry since she was married in 1956, and probably for much longer. She  loves hanging the laundry, and I do, too.

    I barely use a clothes dryer. I hang everything outside year round, unless the cold is too bitter or the snow is too deep. On those days I use the dryer, or a clothes rack. My mother hangs her clothes in her basement.

    Mom has a dryer now, but we never had one when I was growing up. This led to certain issues at times. During the winter, our jeans didn’t always get dry overnight on the basement clothesline, so every once in a while, my sister and I would go to school wearing damp jeans. Brrr.

    Cleaning the house is a pain, but after it’s finished, I always feel better.

     

    A comment on one of my recent posts stated that it was “all over the place,” and while it wasn’t true of that post, its seems it is with this post. Sometimes my mind needs a spring cleaning as well.

    Not really a cleaning; there’s nothing dirty there, or at least not that I know of. I just need some down time, or a change, to get myself out of the winter blues. This winter wasn’t bad weather-wise, in fact it was one of the best, but so many things have happened that I find I need to clear my head. If this post seems to be rambling, its because I’ve been under a lot of stress. Writing is therapy.

    Today I went running, which is also serious therapy.

    white clay
    Scenes from my run in White Clay Creek Preserve, here in Southern Chester Co., PA. The barn, top right, is not in the park, but on a road nearby.

     

    While running, I usually pray the Rosary and then listen to music. Today I prayed the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and then ran without the music for awhile, praying for my little grandson, and others who came to mind.

    It’s a terrible thing to see friends so torn up about the candidates for president. I hate the division. This time in America seems the worst in my lifetime, and I am so concerned that I find I must just let go and let God, or else worry myself sick.

    I have been praying for God to send us a leader every day for months now. I find that asking and then saying “Your will be done,” takes away my anxiety. I don’t know what His answer will be, but I do trust that whatever happens, it will be for my good, the good of my loved ones, and the good of everyone who follows Him.

    Trust in the Lord with all your heart
        and lean not on your own understanding;
    in all your ways submit to him,
        and he will make your paths straight.

    Proverbs 3: 5-6

    This verse has helped me tremendously. Any scripture regarding trust is a help to me, since I have spent parts of the past 7 years in a fog of crippling fear.

    Fear of Obamacare (which my family was blessed to have escaped), fear of my religious freedom being yanked away by the Democrats and their HHS mandate, fear of unemployment as my husbands job was outsourced, and when the contract was broken, watching him be forced to reapply for the same job he had been doing for over 20 years, seeing my sister struggle with unemployment, and the list goes on.

    The past 8 years have been a train wreck for many Americans. For me it culminated when I watched the man occupying the White House standing with his hand on his heart in front of a mural of Che Guevara in Cuba, alongside Fidel Castro’s brother.

    What a colossal slap in the face to all of us. And then the news of another terror attack in Europe. It’s too much, but I suppose I should get ready for more. Obama has almost a full year to further degrade us.

    I didn’t expect him to fly home from Cuba the way any other President would; I knew he would ever do that. I was sort of surprised to see him dancing the Tango in Argentina, though. Seems he can always go lower.

    The only consolation is that he will be gone next January. I hope God answers my prayers, and the the prayers of millions of other Americans who have suffered so much, and have been asking for a leader. We need a leader. We don’t need someone who believes it’s “her turn.”
    For those who vote with their vaginas, I hope you will not have to endure what many of us have had to endure. Even if some of your social issues do not progress in the way to which you have become accustomed, (my way or the highway) at least you will be safer with a strong Military, and counterterrorism measures put in place. So there will be an upside for you, as well as for the rest of us.

    Many prayers for the people of Brussels. I’m very sorry for what happened. America is weeping right along with you.

    Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
    and let perpetual light shine upon them.
    May the souls of the faithful departed,
    through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
    Amen.

     


  • A Vacation in Photos

    Last week my husband and I were supposed to go to the beach for a week’s vacation. Here’s the photo of the forecast for Rehoboth Beach, DE, near our beach place.

    Weather Forecast

    As you can see, the forecast showed a washout. There is nothing worse than being stuck inside in the pouring rain at our beach place. Neither of us could bear the thought of it, so we decided to stay at home and find things to do. It was the right decision, because not only did it rain every day in Rehoboth and nearby Lewes, DE, but roads were underwater due to high tides and flooding.

    What a complete and utter waste it would have been to be stuck down there. We’re lucky we decided to stay home. Though it rained every day, it didn’t always downpour, and we were able to find things to do, and then go home and sleep in our own house.

    So, here is our week in photos.

    Monday.

    Since the sun shined for part of the day, we decided to take a ride on our Harley-Davidson. We took back roads through Chester County, PA, and on down to Cecil County MD. Here are some of the sights. All in all we were gone for about six hours. We stopped twice. We had a late lunch at Woody’s Crab House in North East Maryland. The food was good. I tried a soft-shell crab for the first time. Though it was good, I will probably stick to crab cakes from now on. I had a beer at Woody’s. (My husband doesn’t drink). I had been hoping to see an old friend whom I’ve known since high school, who works at Woody’s, but she wasn’t there. I found out later that we left right before she began her shift. Sigh…  On the way home we stopped at Milburn Orchards in Elkton, MD. My husband bought 4 cider donuts. I ate half a donut and he ate the rest. We also bought Honey Crisp apples, our favorite.

    Barn near Chatham, Chester Co. PA
    A barn near Chatham, PA.
    Appleton Road, rural Chester Co. PA
    Appleton Road, rural Chester County, PA.
    Milburn Orchards, Cecil Co. MD
    Milburn Orchards, Elkton MD.
    Woody's Crab House
    My husband enjoying a break from riding at Woody’s Crab House, North East Maryland.

     

    Tuesday.

    It was cloudy and warm, with showers. We stayed at home and relaxed. That evening we took a walk in White Clay Creek Preserve, near our home in Landenberg, PA. We walked to Delaware and back. White Clay is a huge park.

    White Clay Creek, White Clay Creek Preserve, Landenberg, PA
    White Clay Creek, Landenberg, PA.
    White Clay
    Remains of a railroad bridge in White Clay creek State Park, Newark, DE.
    White Clay Barn
    Back in PA. A spooky old barn in White Clay Creek Preserve.

     

    Wednesday.

    Wednesday we visited Longwood Gardens, in Kennett Square, PA, about 20 minutes away by car. It was a bit rainy, but that didn’t stop us from having fun. The fountains, flowers and conservatory were beautiful. We poked around a little museum for awhile. It was the former home of Pierre DuPont, who lived on the estate that eventually became Longwood Gardens. It was a bit creepy to see the old kitchen, and Mr. DuPont’s office, and other rooms. Almost every room had a fireplace.

    Longwood Gardens Fountain
    Fountain, Longwood Gardens.
    Bird Of Paradise, Longwood Gardens Conservatory
    A Bird Of Paradise in the Longwood Gardens conservatory.
    Percy
    Thomas and Friends children’s display.
    Orchids, Longwood Gardens Conservatory
    Orchids in the conservatory.
    Tiny toy room inside Pierre DuPont's home at Longwood Gardens
    A tiny, tiny miniature room behind glass in the Pierre DuPont house.
    Dragon at Children's Conservatory, Longwood Gardens
    A dragon in the children’s conservatory.
    Longed Gardens Flower Walk
    Dahlias along the Flower walk.
    Fireplace inside Pierre DuPont's house at Longwood Gardens
    One of many fireplaces in the DuPont House. My husband posed for scale purposes.
    Path with Fountain, Longwood Gardens
    Brick path and fountain.

     

     

    Thursday.

    A cold and rainy day. We stayed at home. I did whatever I wanted to do, including sleeping late, staying in my pajamas most of the day, reading, looking at Twitter and Facebook, and watching binging on Netflix. My newest, (and only) show is Call The Midwife. I absolutely love this show. The setting is like nothing I’ve ever seen, the actors and actresses are phenomenal, the stories are heartwarming, (and sometimes tear inducing) and as an added bonus, there are cool nuns. and There are 4 seasons available on Netflix. I’m trying to space out the episodes so I don’t run out before season 5 begins airing. My husband played the guitar and listened to music all day. Sometimes I listened with him, before going back to Netflix.

    Friday.

    On Friday we saw an afternoon showing of The Martian. It was the first time I ever viewed a movie in 3D. It was awesome! The movie was well done, and made us feel happy as we left the theater. Vacation week was all about decompressing and getting away from things. If you haven’t done so already, go see The Martian! And then read the book. It’s next on my list. After the movie we had dinner at my husband’s favorite restaurant, Carrabba’s. Actually it’s my favorite, too. It was a great evening.

     

    IMG_4876

    Saturday.

    We took my mother with us and visited my daughter and our grandkids. They are 3 and 2 years old. We had a fun visit with them.

     

    Sunday.

    On Sunday my husband returned to work and our vacation was officially over. The good news is that we’re going to the beach tomorrow for the weekend!