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» Thursday, October 06, 2011Fresh Air, Food, and Friends
Today was our annual work picnic, preceded by an all-hands meeting, so I had to be up promptly by the alarm for dressing and breakfast before heading out the door a little after 7:30. I left all the fans on in anticipation of a warm day and was not disappointed—darn it.
Traffic was hideous, although I managed to skip part of it by using Akers Mill Road rather than taking I-285 all the way. Spring Road was bumper-to-bumper, though, and I thought I'd never reach the freeway. After Roswell Road—and what the dickens is it about the Roswell Road exits, both directions, that makes traffic thicken up so?—the traffic vanished and I did fine until reaching the last turn into the street that led to Jones Bridge Park. I counted: the left turn signal stayed green for three cars only every single time. Considering the line was usually twelve cars at the time, you can see this turn took a while.
Thankfully they ditched the Stone Mountain area park from last year and went back to Jones Bridge Park from 2009. No pretty fall photos this year; the leaves have hardly turned at all. In fact, they are falling off the trees having just gone sickly yellow and brown. However, it was nice and cool this morning, with a good breeze, so those errant leaves were swirling around everywhere. I walked down to the river almost as soon as I arrived and had leaves dropping in my hair.
Everyone else was late due to that left turn as well, but about 9:15 we did have our meeting—some attaboys, some awards, some time-in-service acknowledgement (the smallest I have seen in several years!)—and then I whisked down the path along the river. There are stone steps down to the river in several places, and at the bottom of one was a dad with a small girl feeding Cheerios to the mallard ducks. There had to be two dozen (at least) male and female ducks pecking hungrily at the food.
By this time it was already too warm, so I stuck my jacket back in the car and then went back for a real walk down the entire path, and then into the woods, just in time, as someone had put on some loud music. Sigh. This is such a pretty place, with its own music: the rattle of the river, the quacking of the ducks, the birdsong...why ruin it?
It's only a small wood; if you climb the hill along any part of the path you come up behind a house. But if you angle yourself correctly, you could be Laura and Mary in the Big Woods, or Caddie Woodlawn running about in pioneer Wisconsin. (Heck, once down the steps to the foot of the river, looking in either direction, it's sheer Huckleberry Finn, and with the breeze playing through the trees and ruffling the water, you could understand the appeal of independence on a raft.) There were already brown and yellow leaves underfoot that crunched pleasantly, and the distinctive sound of a wren, a cardinal, and a chickadee up in the trees, even if I only saw the wren.
I returned to the picnic complex just as Richard said grace, and then we queued for lunch: chicken and pork barbecue, beans, potato salad, fruit, chocolate chip brownies, and various drinks (I just had water). Later someone put out chips and brownies, but I just grabbed a handful of the latter and then went back to the lakeshore for a while, watching the ducks go "bottom up" as they trolled for dinner, and also watching three geese come in for a landing on the river, gliding in with their wings spread and finally their webby feet making contact with the water, then taking a shorter stroll in the woods.
I did get back for most of the cakewalk, which is fun to watch: everyone goes in a circle, from one chalked, numbered spot to another. When the music stops, you must be on a number. A number is called and you get a dessert. Elmira made everyone laugh during one circuit, doing a daisy chain in and out of the other participants. Also chatted a bit, then headed back to the lake to take a few more pictures.
I missed the two I really wanted: I heard a rustle along the leaf-strewn rocks and mudflats that edged the lake. When I looked down, there was the cutest little chipmunk, both his cheeks crammed skin-tight with food, darting in and out of the rocks, scampering right at the base of the stone staircase, coming from my left and finally disappearing to my right.
Plus I am pretty sure I saw a blue heron flying across the river. It was a bluish-grey bird, and certainly was not a goose, which fly with their necks stretched out; this instead had the S-kink of a flying heron. That was so cool!
So I took another tramp in the woods, emerging at a culvert where I took some photos of the varied foliage growing around the water source, including a berried bush, bright orange flowers, and a huge bush taller than myself with leaves bigger than platters.
By then I was casting eyes at my watch; there's a reason I picked Thursday for my sole telecommute day during end-of-fiscal-year—on Thursdays, it can take up to 90 minutes to get home, and it has taken me two hours on the worst days. So I decided to leave while the going was good. I was diverted by a new shopping center on 141; it had a Barnes & Noble, so I nipped in for a few minutes. Found a new "Good Food" magazine for James and also The Sherlock Holmes Companion on the remainder shelves, which contains ordinary synopses of each of the canon stories, but also fascinating illustrations of Holmes covers and interior art over the years, and inserts with various information: about Doyle and his creations, about the inspiration for Holmes (Dr. Joseph Bell), actors who have played Holmes or Watson, Holmes in the movies and on stage, etc.—worth it just for that!
There's only one thing wrong with Barnes & Noble...
...it's not Borders. ::sigh::
The fresh air was making me sleepy anyway, and although I'd avoided the sun most of the morning, by the time I drove home the sun striking my arms made them feel burned.
Got home to discover James already home. I logged back on to work, but not much going on yet, as they haven't yet authorized FY2012 to be spent.
Turkey for supper with wild and brown rice, and now watching the last part of Prohibition.