A Scenic Walk with Ollie, the Cavalier, Children’s Garden, Geese and Baby Ducklings

My friend Ollie, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel, at a gazebo in his gated community

That’s a long title for this post, but it was hard to summarize my recent adventures succinctly. On Saturday, I had two walks, one with an adorable doggy and one without, and I thought I would combine them into one post. This is inspired by Restless Jo’s Monday Walk.

First, I stopped to take care of two cats for a client. Their names are Oscar and Simon.

Oscar
Simon

I told the owner that the cat names made me think of The Odd Couple. Of course, for The Odd Couple, their names should be Oscar and Felix. (Felix is definitely a cat name and even the name of a famous cartoon cat.) But then, the writer of The Odd Couple is Neil Simon, so there you go.

My dog care clients always seem surprised that I have quite a few cat care clients also, with the assumption that cats are more independent. So, for the dog people, I’ll explain. Most cats eat at least some wet food, if not primarily so. This food has to be served fresh, and any leftover food has to be scraped and scrubbed from their bowls. Litter boxes need to be cleaned. Additionally, a lot of cat owners also feel that their cats will get lonely and need some human interaction. Alas, cats also tend to have some messy issues … like puking up hairballs. Ah, yes, it is sometimes a dirty job. Mike Rowe would be proud.

The cats are located so conveniently near the park that I thought I would visit and walk there again after caring for them. This is Verona Park, which I recently blogged about, but I thought I would take photos in a completely different area. So, I took some photos in The Children’s Garden outside the playground area.

Another name for The Children’s Garden is Eden Wild.
The Children’s Garden at Verona Park

It’s a pretty little garden with some flowering chives, irises, circular stone paths and benches for sitting. In the far background, you can see the children’s playground.

Irises at The Children’s Garden
Children’s Garden at Verona Park
Viburnum?

I tried to identify this white flowering shrub and think it may be viburnum.

More irises at The Children’s Garden. I believe these are the Japanese variety.

There were also some pansies in a barrel planter …

and some polka dot plants in a painted wheelbarrow.

I’m not sure why it’s called The Children’s Garden other than its location by the playground. As far as I can tell, children aren’t involved with maintaining the garden. I had different expectations, thinking it would have more whimsy.

I can imagine a garden that references gardens in children’s literature such as the talking flowers in Alice in Wonderland, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s Secret Garden, Peter Rabbit and Farmer McGregor’s vegetable garden or even the nursery rhyme, “Mary, Mary Quite Contrary.” Can’t you just imagine some appropriate statuary or plaques with literary quotes? Wouldn’t a little fairy garden be fun? Possibly, there could be some interactive station to teach children about plants or gardening also, as they have in some children’s museums.

I’m not criticizing the pretty garden at all, but I, evidently, have a lot of ideas. How easy it would be to execute the ideas is another question, but it’s fun to dream.

I then walked to the other side of the lake and saw a lot of geese, ducks and other birds. I got a few good shots of these. After planning this post, I saw that there’s a photo challenge for Birds Weekly — birds beginning with a G in the title. Since I do have some goose photos, I thought I’d join in.

There was this lovely sitting mallard, who didn’t seem too afraid of me.

And several lovely Canadian geese. The deposits they leave behind aren’t so lovely, but it didn’t seem to be too out of control.

And some mallards and Canadian geese together … socially distancing.

Then, I saw these mysterious water birds perched on wood in the middle of the lake. Perhaps, Mark S. of Naturalist Weekly can help me identify them? Or if anyone else has a guess, please let me know in the comments.

After this excursion in the garden and around the lake, I drove to see my friend, Ollie, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel. He was happy to see me.

This is kind of an impressionistic image of him. It can be hard to
photograph a wiggly dog.

He was very happy to see me as in, “Here is my belly. Please, give it rubs.”

He greets me with loads of kisses. This may be a cute face shot … (I mean, talk about puppy dog eyes) …

but it does not show off one of his signature features (or features of the breed,) his floppy, curly-haired ears.

He and I walked past some pleasant places in his community, like this pretty gazebo …

And this lovely pond with fountain …

and some flowering shrubs.

We walked along the main road and passed by some public buildings on our way which were not so interesting to photograph, but any land in New Jersey that is allowed to go wild is very woodsy, so there were some interesting spots even sandwiched between these buildings such as here, this rock ledge overgrown with ivy …

And Cherokee rose …

As we walked around the community center building, Ollie met a couple of admirers. One passenger in a car stopped at a light had to roll down the car window and share her admiration. We also came across a man, a Cavalier owner himself, who had to stop and give Ollie some pets and attention. I’ve noticed as an introvert that walking a dog gives you an outlet to talk to strangers more than anything else.

We were really astonished as we took the sidewalk path that hugged the rear of the community center building to come across a plastic tub full of baby ducklings!

If I had any way of anticipating what was in this red plastic tub, I never would have walked a dog right up to it. It was a thorough but delightful surprise. Ollie was behaving like such a nice gentleman. He didn’t bark, poke his nose far into the bucket, try to climb in or, otherwise, disturb the ducklings. So, I thought I could pause long enough to snap a photo.

It’s a little mysterious what the ducklings were doing there. My guess is that someone at the community center is caring for these ducklings, because they have no mother. I tried looking at the community center website to see if there would be mention of them, but there wasn’t. I did see an article from 2017 where township police rescued baby ducklings from a storm drain, so I suppose it is also possible that a similar incident repeated itself. At any rate, I am happy to have had a glimpse and a photo op.

What is your favorite part of my walking adventure?

Happening in the Garden, #Six on Saturday

This post is in response to the Six on Saturday garden photo challenge hosted by The Propagator.

1.) Irises

Our irises seem to be at their peak right now. Driving to the house the other day, I was really happy to be greeted by all these irises.

2.) Peonies

Just a short while ago, I saw that the peony bush was full of buds about to open. Then, two or three opened. Now, it is full of big open blooms with frilly interiors. I didn’t frame this photo as accurately as I wanted, because of the sun blacking out my phone, but you can still see it’s a big, healthy bloom.

3.) Azalea

Our white azalea is also fully bloomed out. I don’t think it did quite as well last year.

4.) Chives

This is an unusual place to see a flower, but this is our chives in the herb garden. We have been buying some grocery store herbs still, because some of our plants are too small to harvest. We have plenty of chives now though. I love being able to go out to the garden and trim some for the recipe I’m making.

5.) Parsley

Italian flat leaf parsley is really great for a lot of recipes too.

6.) Peppermint

There’s a trend for a new style of salad with watermelon, feta cheese and fresh mint. It may sound odd, but the combination is really tasty. I made a salad like that with our fresh mint last spring and may need to do that again.

Stillness, #Double Tetractys, #Lucky Dip -Saturday Mix

Photo by Susan Joy Clark, Verona Lake in Verona Park, NJ

Stillness

It

is calm

and peaceful,

safe and serene,

where there is no fear of flood or high tide.

As David said, “beside the still waters,”

I know my God,

lovingly,

will guide

me.

© 2021 Susan Joy Clark

This was written in a double tetractys format for Lucky Dip — Saturday Mix. According to their page, here is an explanation of the tetractys form.

“Tetractys, a poetic form invented by Ray Stebbing, consists of at least 5 lines of 1, 2, 3, 4, 10syllables (total of 20). Tetractys can be written with more than one verse, but must follow suit with an inverted syllable count. Tetractys can also be reversed and written 10, 4, 3, 2, 1

Double Tetractys:  1, 2, 3, 4, 10, 10, 4, 3, 2, 1

Triple Tetractys: 1, 2, 3, 4, 10, 10, 4, 3, 2, 1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 10

and so on.

‘Euclid, the mathematician of classical times, considered the number series 1, 2, 3, 4 to have mystical significance because its sum is 10, so he dignified it with a name of its own – Tetractys. The tetractys could be Britain’s answer to the haiku. Its challenge is to express a complete thought, profound or comic, witty or wise, within the narrow compass of twenty syllables.’ – Ray Stebbing”

Phlox, #Flower of the Day, #FOTD

Our phlox is growing really beautifully. It was a little tricky to photograph because of its location behind some shrubs. (It grew there on its own.) I stepped into the shrub area for the one photo, and just as I was getting ready to squat in the garden for another, presenting an interesting angle of myself, a stranger’s van pulled into the driveway in order to turn around. I waited until it passed. 🙂 This is for Cee Neuner’s Flower of the Day Photo Challenge.