Friday, September 28, 2012

Encampment Tour Route Stop 2 VFNHP

On Monday 24 September 2012, I started my visit to Valley Forge National Historical Park (VFNHP) at the Visitor Center. This is the first stop on the Encampment Tour Route. I collected an official park map and set out to my car to continue my photographic survey of the park.

I drove onto the Encampment Tour Route towards stop 2 where a group of reconstructed log huts are located. The road leaves the Visitor Center in a broad right curve up a slight incline. The view of the area is quite open with hills in the near distance to the SSE where the Schuylkill River has cut through the landscape on its way to Philadelphia. Today, unlike the view in 1777, the hills are covered with buildings, commercial and residential.

Looking ENE from Stop 2 along the Encampment Tour Route back toward the Visitor Center
To the ESE you can see one of the commercial buildings, the new Valley Forge Casino Resort. That is it straight ahead with the V on the roof. The two buildings to its right are the hotel/resort. 

Above cannon from a distance.

There are two cannons at this stop on the tour which are across the road from the reconstructed log huts.

These huts are like the huts constructed by the soldiers in the Continental Army during the encampment at Valley Forge in 1777-1778. Many trees gave their lives in the name of the revolution, too. According to a pamphlet published by the National Park Service, Valley Forge National Historical Park, and I quote, "Prior to European settlement, Pennsylvania was 90-95% forested. In the Valley Forge area, forests were cleared for lumber, agriculture, firewood, and fences, reducing forest cover to approximately 60% by 1777. During the encampment of George Washington and the Continental Army, almost every tree in what is now the park—and for miles beyond—was cut down for firewood, shelter, and defensive structures. Post-encampment, small woodlots and hedgerows were re-established by farmers. Some areas of the park such as Mount Joy and Wayne’s Woods were re-planted by the Valley Forge Park Commission in the early 20th century. Today, forest communities cover 34% of the park and contain 110 different kinds of trees." 

Looking back from just past the log huts.

Looking towards Mount Joy on the Western side of the park from just past the log huts. 

You don't see many trees along this road. You can see that Mount Joy in the background is covered with trees.

The survey continues.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Valley Forge Survey - Building@County Line and Valley Forge Park Rds

I found this building at the crossroads of County Line and Valley Forge Park Roads. It is a small unassuming building without a marker nor is it marked on the official park map. I was reminded of an Andrew Wyeth painting, Christina's World, when I first saw it in its surroundings.

© Andrew Wyeth; used with permission of The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Andrew Wyeth (American, 1917-2009). Christina's World, 1948. Tempera on gessoed panel. 32 1/4 x 47 3/4 in. (81.9 x 121.3 cm). Purchase. Courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
© Andrew Wyeth

I will need to do some research on this building.

Photographs captured around 13:00 EDT

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Valley Forge Survey - Maurice Stephens House

Near sunset I arrived at Valley Forge National Historical Park to continue my photographic survey. There wasn't much time before the sunlight would be gone. The landscape is such that to the west were tall trees and elevated ground that already blocked direct sunlight to the low lying areas. I had to work fast.

I drove a complete circuit around the park looking for the best location to take advantage of the setting sun. By the time I completed the circuit, the warm golden sunlight no longer draped the landscape. 

Across the road from the Washington Memorial Chapel, I spied the house shown in the photographs below, Maurice Stephens House.
Although this very house did not exist during the winter of 1777-1778 during the encampment of the Continental Army, General Huntington's quarters were in a log structure on a farm that occupied this area.

The waxing moon floated above the tree.

I am attracted by the moon. I try to include it as much as possible.

There is quite a bit to photograph in 3,500 acres / 1,400 ha!

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Valley Forge National Park Photo Survey

History has always interested me, even though I never received good grades in history classes. Living in and near Philadelphia all my life, I have never been far from US history. Back in 1990 I considered moving to State College, PA to purchase a photography studio. I had severe historic separation anxiety. I never made the purchase nor the move. 

Today, I live about 8miles/13km from Valley Forge National Historical Park and I have never seriously explored the park. So I decided to do a photo survey of the buildings and landscape of the historic place. This very land where, over two hundred years ago, the ragtag citizen soldiers of a new nation suffered through harsh cold weather with very little food to be drilled into a trained Continental Army that defeated the well trained professional British Army and became an independent nation.

The park is large, 3,500 acres / 1400 ha. At least large by east coast standards. Valley Forge Park started as a state park. In 1976, with the bicentennial celebration of the Declaration of Independence looming, Pennsylvania gifted the park to the nation. 

There are many scenes to photograph. I have composed a few images in Valley Forge Park over the years.

At different seasons.

If possible I would like to photograph each scene in every season, at different times of the day (think Claude Monet and the Rouen Cathedral). This will be a long term project.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Mid-September Harvest

I picked more fruit from the vines today and a beautiful day it was. High temperature was 81ºF/27ºC with mostly sunny skies. Night before the temperature dipped to 61ºF/15ºC. For tomato ripening, the daytime temperature was great, overnight temperature is low and will retard or stop ripening. Tomato harvesting will not last much longer. 

Above you see cucumber, cayenne peppers, Big Beef, Super Sweet and Husky Cherry tomatoes. I also harvested two Early Girl tomatoes.

I have been recording the weights of all the garden's produce since planting the first seeds back in March. I was and am curious to see just how much a 4' x 4' garden will produce and which were the most prolific plants. I will put up some charts once harvesting has ended. In the mean time, I will enjoy eating the harvest.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Project FeederWatch

I installed the time lapse camera on my breakfast room window this morning. This is the start of fall and winter bird watching from the comfort of my house. This reminded me to re-join Project FeederWatch.

In the line of view of the Brino TLC 100 was one Nyjer / Black Thistle seed sock. The camera started recording at 10:00 EDT/ -5 GMT.

Sporadically through the day, finches came and plucked Nyjer seeds through the material of the sock. They clung to the sock in all positions, including upside-down. Sometimes three birds at a time.

There was one twenty-four minute part of the recording that was very active, starting at 18:45. You can see Goldfinch and House Finch feeding on the Nyjer seeds. If you look past the feeder onto the grass you can see several English Starlings pecking about the lawn, if I may call it a lawn. There wasn't much time before sunset. I guess even birds like to bed with a full stomach.

I have become interested in bird watching over the last few years. In November of last year, I joined Project FeederWatch. It is a citizen scientist project in USA and Canada that runs from November 'til April, when regular folk like myself count birds at their bird feeders. The data collected helps scientists monitor long-term trends in the distribution and abundance of birds in winter.
You can join, too. Just click on the above link.

When you join you will need to pay a participation fee to cover the costs of the kit and services to Cornell University's, Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The kit contains a large poster to help you with bird identification and instructions on collecting, keeping and sending data to Cornell University.

This could be a great opportunity to share the wonder of nature with your children, grandchildren or anyone for that matter, as you watch birds feed just outside your window. I recommend joining now. The kits will arrive in October. Then all you will you need is a feeder or two. Which you could make, but that is another subject.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September Embraces the Garden

September embraces the garden. Autumn is but a fortnight away. The plants have grown tall. The vines climb and the tomatoes tied to the remesh. The potatoes are eager to be freed from their cages.

The main square foot garden is 4'x4'/1.2m square with two potato towers nearby.

Most of the summer has been dry, very little rainfall. Now, the remnants of Hurricane Isaac are passing over.

 Wet ripe Super Sweet Tomatoes are ready for their sacrifice.

Leaves are beginning to turn yellow and wither. The reaper stands in the shadows. 

Only to wait for Persephone's return.

Soon Demeter begins to wail.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved