Ridley Creek State Park
Tree with Snow at Ridley Creek State Park

Each time it snows, I eagerly await the following morning to photograph my favorite places while the snow is still pristine and the light is  just right–it is one of my favorite things to do. On this day I headed over to Ridley Creek State Park early, knowing my afternoon would be consumed with sledding –something we don’t get to do nearly often enough.

Much to my delight and surprise, I was a lone spectator at the park. Sometimes I just can’t believe that everyone is not out here catching these fantastic views! There I was: just me, myself and I–with this awesome tree. I want to turn to somone and say “WOW, can you believe this?” but, my family was in bed and the only other car in the parking was the ranger’s car.

I’m glad I was able to capture my memory of this tree, and the feeling I had when I took the photo: sheer joy.  I have photographed this tree in fall, with its brilliant yellow-orange leaves and today I was struck by the stark beauty of the snow against its bark; not too much to conceal it, but enough to highlight it’s imposing structure standing guard over the parking lot.

Hidden Valley Farm at Ridley Creet State Park
Hidden Valley Farm at Ridley Creek State Park

Turning out of the driveway, another scene took my breath away was the pasture at Hidden Valley Farm.  Again, this is the kind of picture perfect scene that post cards and inspirational posters are made of. What made it even more perfect was the fact that  there was not a soul in sight and mine were the first footsteps in the snow. This kind of quiet is like none other I have experienced. Where can you go in an area with over half a million people and still find this kind of solace and stillness? What a gift. This is one reason why I continue to support The Friends of Ridley Creek State Park and other organizations like it. The value of this land cannot be measured in dollars, but how it contributes to our health and happiness, and joy it provides to the million plus visitors who come here each year.

Mansion in Snow at Ridley Creek State Park by Pamela Cloud
Mansion in Snow at Ridley Creek State Park

The Mansion at Ridley Creek State Park, designed by architect Wilson Eyre,  is another place I can never get enough of. Every time I see it, I imagine what it must have been like to live there. It’s a true country estate–still today it is surrounded by approximately 2600 acres of wilderness and tucked away from all traces of modern day life. It’s hard to believe that Philadelphia is only  13 miles away. If you’ve never been to the mansion, you can take a look at the Visual Tour I created a few years ago. It’s a real work of art (the Mansion, not my tour!)

Ridley Creek State Park by Pamela Cloud
Formal Gardens at Ridley Creek State Park

At the time the mansion was built, it must have seemed even more remote, as most of the areas around Edgmont and Upper Providence had not yet been developed.  The fact that this home was given to someone as a wedding present I suppose was not uncommon for the wealthy of that time, but it is still mind-boggling.  The photo above is the entrance to the formal garden that sits adjacent to the mansion. Being here instantly transports me to another time. It is impossible not to admire, slow down and just breathe. It’s no wonder why people people choose this spot to propose and get married. This quintessential “backdrop”  seems even more magical in the snow.

Here’s hoping for at least one more good storm before spring so I can get to the other half of the park!

Until then, Happy New Year!

Pam

6 thoughts on “Alone with the Trees – at Ridley Creek State Park

Add yours

  1. That’s a beautiful testimonial, Pam. If only everyone could understand the connection we feel to these places. They may be public land, but they hold a part of us. Thank you for sharing.

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