A Walk in the Woodlands: My Photographic Journal

The hot pink blooms of a sassanqua camellia stand out from the fall colors of the woodland trees.

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If one were to ask me what my favorite holiday is, I would say Thanksgiving. Even though Christmas decorations and traditional carols are among my favorite things, there is nothing quite like a gathering of family and friends to share a bountiful meal. It is a time of reflection and thankfulness.

I love to cook and eat, so I look forward to a feast with my family and best friends: green salad, butternut squash soup, roasted turkey, garlic mashed potatoes, creamed onions, sweet yams, corn pudding, green beans almondine, traditional celery and onion stuffing, and pumpkin pie - all served with several kinds of wine. Everyone contributes by bringing a personal favorite . It is a special time for sharing traditions and recipes.

After all of the preparation and clean-up, however; I look forward to time outdoors where I can relax and refocus. This is when I grab my camera and head for the oak woodlands in our nearby botanical gardens where I can leisurely stroll and lose myself in the peace and beauty there. Besides the glorious color palette, the forest smells especially woodsy, the leaves crunch underfoot, and I can hear wildlife busily foraging for their winter stockpiles. Ah! there is so much to take in!

Wandering amongst the trees in search of white-spotted towhees to photograph, I follow the break of a twig and the rustle of leaves and instead find a handsome squirrel taking stock of his winter stash. He has stopped to chew a bit. His bushy tail and bright coat tell me that it's been a generous year. I wonder how he can remember where he buries all of his edible treasures!


The rustling of dry leaves leads me to a foraging squirrel!

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One of my favorite areas by the koi pond which inspired a spring haiku of mine is now as colorful as an artist's paintbox. The Japanese maples are glorious! Crimson, orange,and yellow-green contrast w/ the gray trunks of the tall oaks. A sassanqua camellia is loaded with rosy blooms. The afternoon reflection of the tree canopy on the water surface has been rippled by two fish swimming in tandem. This creates an interesting tapestry effect against the muddy green bottom. The golden leaf debis that has collected along the edges of the water compliments the red hues of the reflected maples overhead. This is nature's random art at its best! The dazzling amber boughs of the spice bush and viburnum shrubs are laden with clusters of purple and red berries- a feast for the forest creatures as well as my eyes.

The ripples from swimming koi distort a pond's muddy bottom.

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Fallen leaves contrast with the tree canopy's reflection in a woodland pond.

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The spicebush berries are a colorful feast for the birds, mice, and squirrels.

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As I make my way along a narrow beaten path through the ivy back to the road, I notice many clusters of tan fungi in the moist shade but have to stop when I spot bright red-orange toadstools underneath some wild strawberries and brambles. I am thankful that God has given me an eye for detail and the heart to appreciate it. The stone wall along the road is covered with tendrils of fall-colored red and green boston ivy. I am admiring it when I see quick movement and hear the tiny rustle of dried leaves. It takes a bit of focus before I see the small alligator lizard who has taken over an abandoned bird's nest. What a lucky guy!




Colorful toadstools sprout from the forest floor.

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An alligator lizard has taken over an abandoned nest.

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While walking along the main road out of the gardens, I am able to capture that rare resting moment when a plump sparrow stops to span the area with a quick eye and fine-tuned ear. She bids me good-bye with a shrill "tseek-tseek" as she flies away. It has been a day of rejuventation for me in both mind and spirit and has given me even more reasons to be thankful at this time of the year. I hope you've enjoyed my photographic journal!

A plump female sparrow surveys her surroundings.

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© 2011 Catherine Tally

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Comments 34 comments

SimpleGiftsofLove profile image

SimpleGiftsofLove 5 years ago from Colorado

Lovely hub, beautiful pictures, enjoyed taking "the walk" with you! Up, beautiful, interesting, and following!


cat on a soapbox profile image

cat on a soapbox 5 years ago from Los Angeles Author

Thank you for the lovely compliments! I am happy to have met you and am looking forward to following you as well. I love your hub name.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

Really nice hub with photos. Thanks for sharing.

Would like to link this to my newest fall photo montage if you have no objection.


twodawgs 5 years ago

This is really great, I love your images. Thumbs up for uplifting.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 5 years ago from North Texas

Gorgeous photos!

Voting you UP and beautiful.


Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

Great hub, gorgeous photos. A lovely walk

Thank you for sharing


vasantha  T k profile image

vasantha T k 5 years ago from Bangalore

lovely pictures. Best wishes.


cat on a soapbox profile image

cat on a soapbox 5 years ago from Los Angeles Author

Hi RTalloni- Thank you for your kind comments. I have been enjoying your nice read about your trip to the great Pacific Northwest and Alaska as well. It is great to share!


Genna East profile image

Genna East 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

These photos are simply breathtaking. Looking through your photographic journal is like flipping through the pages of National Geographic…it is that well done. I love nature, and it isn’t often when I can see the beautiful details this close, captured in a moment of time.

Your words of the walk are an excellent narration. You do not miss much, Denise. Beautifully done!


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 5 years ago from Western New York

Absolutely beautiful - the colors are so vibrant! I love camellias - I wish we could grow them where we live (we're in NY state, so the snow just kills them)! Thanks for the gorgeous photos!


cat on a soapbox profile image

cat on a soapbox 5 years ago from Los Angeles Author

twodawgs, Thanks for the great compliment! "Uplifting" was my goal. I'm delighted to have you as a new follower.


cat on a soapbox profile image

cat on a soapbox 5 years ago from Los Angeles Author

Au fait, So glad you stopped by! I'm happy that you enjoyed my photos. Thanks for the vote up. It was such a beautiful day!

vasantha, It really means a lot to me to get encouraging comments from fellow hubbers. Thanks so much!


cat on a soapbox profile image

cat on a soapbox 5 years ago from Los Angeles Author

Rosemary, It is always pleasure for me to see you visit. Those orange toadstools made me think of forest fairies!Thank you for your sweet comments.

Genna, Wow! That's an awesome compliment!! It's great that so many of us share a love of nature that is reflected in our work here on HP. Thanks for your ongoing support and inspiration.


cat on a soapbox profile image

cat on a soapbox 5 years ago from Los Angeles Author

Hi Leah! I appreciate your thoughtful comments. Yes, we are lucky to have camellias here. I think I prefer the winter blooming sassanqua varieties over the Spring blooming japonicas especially since there are some wonderfully scented ones. They are often companions with the Japanese maples and provide great contrast when the leaves turn. Thanks for stopping by!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America

These are jaw-dropping photos! That is a beautiful locale.


cat on a soapbox profile image

cat on a soapbox 5 years ago from Los Angeles Author

Thanks so much, Patty! In the 1950s, Manchester Boddy, a newspaper publisher, opened his 160 acre property of camellia and oak forest, gardens, woodlands, and chaparral to the public. It is called Descanso Gardens and is located in the Verdugo Mountain area of La Canada, CA. I could get lost in it! I think I'll do a hub about him and the gardens.


fidencio1 profile image

fidencio1 5 years ago from Louisiana

Thanks for sharing your walk with us. Good to see others enjoying all of God's creation. Everything He created will bring us peace when we stop to look and ponder. Glad you appreciate the smallest of details in everything you see. Great hub.


cat on a soapbox profile image

cat on a soapbox 5 years ago from Los Angeles Author

fidencio1- Thank you for your kind comment. I couldn't agree more about taking the time to stop and ponder. I've always felt closest to God when I am nearest to nature, and I find peace when I am near Him. We only need to open our eyes, ears, and hearts.


alzel127 profile image

alzel127 4 years ago from Indiana

I know how you feel aren't Gods creations great?. Great pictures.


cat on a soapbox profile image

cat on a soapbox 4 years ago from Los Angeles Author

Absolutely, alzel! Thanks for the nice comment.


Flickr 4 years ago

what lovely pictures. wow. thanks for sharing.


cat on a soapbox profile image

cat on a soapbox 4 years ago from Los Angeles Author

Hi Flickr- Thank you so much for your nice compliment.

I am glad that you are following me and hope I can keep it interesting for you! I encourage you to share some of your favorite vegan recipes. I'd love to try them!


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 4 years ago from The Midwest, USA

Hello Cat, what an absolute joy to find this hub. I love the photos and what you said, very much. Beautiful photography, that makes me want to take a walk in the woodlands, very soon. Voted up,beautiful and interesting and awesome.


cat on a soapbox profile image

cat on a soapbox 4 years ago from Los Angeles Author

Hi, oceansunsets What a pleasure it is for me to read your thoughtful comment! Thank you very much.


itakins profile image

itakins 4 years ago from Irl

Great walk -I enjoyed it thoroughly.Have you any red squirrels in the US now,or are they all grey?


cat on a soapbox profile image

cat on a soapbox 4 years ago from Los Angeles Author

itakins, I am so glad to receive your comments. Yes, we have red or fox squirrels in the U.S. but on the East Coast. Here in So. California we have mostly gray or brown ones. Tree squirels have bushy tails for balance, and ground squirrels are less showy ones for burrowing. I hope you got lost in the woodland walk if only for a couple of minutes!

Thanks for stopping by. Come visit again.


cherriquinn profile image

cherriquinn 4 years ago from UK. England. Newcastle upon Tyne

wow! what a beautiful hub and what fantastic photographs. I love the colours. You are obviously a very talented photographer and I love the environment you've just taken me through, it sounds and looks breathtaking.


cat on a soapbox profile image

cat on a soapbox 4 years ago from Los Angeles Author

Hello, cherri, It's always nice to see you've dropped by!

I'm blushing at your glowing reviews! I really DO love both nature and photography. In a beautiful setting, there is a perfect picture at every turn! Here, in So. California, after a summer of relentless heat, the woodlands in Fall offer a peaceful respite for me. Since we don't have big dips in temperature, trees are slow to turn color and many are not deciduous at all. The Japanese maples provide stunning layers of color and are one of my favorite subjects. Thank you for your encouraging comments!


epigramman profile image

epigramman 4 years ago

Hello Catherine - just arrived home from work at 1:47am and this world class hub presentation absolutely takes my breath away with photography which belongs on an art gallery wall - sending you warm wishes and good energy from lake erie ontario canada


cat on a soapbox profile image

cat on a soapbox 4 years ago from Los Angeles Author

Hello Colin! Thank you for your beautiful comments- they mean so much , - esp. at 2 am :) It was a spectacular day, and I would have loved to have shared it with you! Your warm wishes are much appreciated and the good energy has fueled a second wind which will lead me to read or write.! I wish you sweet dreams and an awakening to a perfect day. :)


chef-de-jour profile image

chef-de-jour 3 years ago from Wakefield, West Yorkshire,UK

A wonderful display of images - especially that lizard peering out from the dry grass nest. As a nature lover myself I can appreciate your need to step outside and mingle with the real world (as I call it sometimes), and to enhance your days out with words and photos - inspirational.

Those dark berries remind me of blackthorn or what we in the UK call sloes - extremely bitter plum-like berries that are used to make a sloe gin!

Here's to more creative walks! Thank you.


cat on a soapbox profile image

cat on a soapbox 3 years ago from Los Angeles Author

Hello Andrew. I'm delighted that you enjoyed my walk in the woodlands. It's always my pleasure to find other nature lovers here on HubPages! Thank you for stopping by to visit and for leaving your thoughtful comments. Yes, here's to more creative walks w/ keen senses- cheers!

Cat :)


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 2 years ago from Lancashire north west England

As a fellow nature lover this charming walk that you have shared with us, was a pleasurable read. I could almost smell the woodland. Great images, beautiful work. Voted up.


cat on a soapbox profile image

cat on a soapbox 2 years ago from Los Angeles Author

Good morning, Dave. I appreciate your visit :) I'm happy that my descriptive walk in the woodlands created a sense of being there. It has been unseasonably warm and windy- one of the worst drought years on record for us. I have missed the refreshing breath of the woods and the damp leaves underfoot. What is the season like for you in NW England?

Take care.

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