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.
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.
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!)
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!