Modern Fairy Tale

You can tell me all you want that fairy tales don’t exist. They can’t come true. Wednesday was the day I stopped believing that.

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Two Shadows
Two shadows, side-by-side, for the rest of our lives.

You can tell me all you want that fairy tales don’t exist. They can’t come true. Wednesday was the day I stopped believing that.

Wednesday, we went to Tinker Nature Park for a light, breezy stroll. I brought along my camera, as usual. I stopped frequently to take in the scenery and plan some good shots. I wasn’t aware he had done some planning himself.

As we made our way around a tight bend, a Radio Flyer wagon gleamed in the distance. A toddler played in while her mother rested on a nearby bench. A hat partially covered the girl’s fine, doll-like hair, and her blue eyes sparkled as beams of light danced across her face. She smiled sweetly at Jeff, and I could see his cheeks morph to a deep pink.

A few paces away, I asked “How would you like to try for one of those in a year?”

“One of what?” He sounded as though he genuinely didn’t understand my question.

I pointed back at the wagon and responded, “A little Jeffrey May.”

Red returned to his cheeks. “I thought you didn’t want one.” It’s true—we had been back-and-forth on this issue for the past year.

I shrugged. “A year is a long time, though. But we’d have to be married first.”

“You still want to marry me?”

Our relationship had been tested numerous times over the past almost three years. We pulled through and have been happier than ever recently. “Well… yeah, if you still want to marry me.” I looked him in the eyes to try and get an idea of what he was thinking. I couldn’t tell.

“Why wouldn’t I want to?” It almost sounded like a rhetorical question, but I still felt an answer bubbling out of me.

“Over the past few months, I’ve been a little…” I thought of an appropriate word. “Crazy.”

“All women are crazy,” he chuckled. Before you jump down his throat for feminism advocacy, relax, he was joking.

Fairy Trail sign

We continued along Fairy Trail where the huts are. “You already took some pics of those,” he reminded me as I stopped and analyzed the scene.

“I know.” The object of my appreciation at that moment was not a fairy hut but a group of trees with large roots that resembled huge gnarly feet. They reminded me of Tolkien’s Ents. I took a couple of shots while Jeff stood around with his hands in his pockets.

Tree With Feet
Tree feet

We continued our discussion for almost a quarter mile and turned down the path toward the boardwalk. For some reason, I almost always take the boardwalk for its sense of mystery.

Boardwalk

“I think if we got through the past few months, we can get through anything,” he said. “We’re stronger now.”

I turned and gazed into his chocolate eyes. “I agree.” I meant it, and I wanted to tell him that he meant everything to me. I couldn’t find the words.

Finally, I told him, “Most men would have broken up with me any time over the past few months. I would have broken up with me.” I stared at the ground, ashamed of my recent behavior.

He wrapped an arm around me, pulling me into him. He stroked my hair for a few moments before releasing me. When he did, our view through the sparse trees revealed a crisp, clear pond in the distance.

Birdfeeder

Further along boardwalk trail, we spotted a birdhouse amidst the cattails. As I lined up and snapped my shot, I couldn’t see what Jeff was doing behind me. When I turned to face him, he was rolling his eyes.

“What?” I knew stopping every ten steps annoyed him slightly, but he put up with it. I was becoming self-conscious about it.

He took a few steps toward me. “You know I love you, right?”

“Yes.” I smiled. “I love you too.”

“I want to be with you for the rest of my life.” He pulled a small white box out of his pocket and dropped down onto his right knee. My heart thudded in my chest as my brain finally caught up to what was happening.

He opened the lovely white box, and my jaw dropped. I saw a platinum band with a pink sapphire garnished with two small diamonds on either side. It was sparkling in the sunlight, just like the fairy tales describe.

“Will you marry me?” he asked.

The questions erased in my mind, and I immediately knew my answer. “Of course, I’ll marry you.”

He wrapped his arms tightly around me. We lost track of time as we held each other. After few moments, I asked, “Are you going to put it on my finger?”

I packed the camera away and replaced it with my new fiancé’s hand. With the excitement of a sparkly new symbol of the next stages of our life together, the park was now the furthest thing from mind.

See? Modern fairy tales do exist, even for a moment.

1 so far - Burlesque

Love is Orange

Back at the intersection, the sign for “Trailhead” appears up ahead. Before long, we’re back to the parking lot. Feet and legs ache, skin is sweaty, and mouths are dry. After 1.7 miles, our courtship must resume another day. 

OT - Burlesque view of trees and vines

Remember when you first started dating someone and instantly felt the pangs of love? Every text message, every phone call, every touch brings back those feelings. You want to know everything about them, and you feel like you won’t be whole until you do.

As you may know from previous posts, I’m in love with Whiting Road Nature Preserve. Since my first visit, I’ve been obsessed with seeing every inch of it—memorizing every detail.

Jeff and I returned with Magnus a few days ago. The Real Feel in Rochester has been approaching Hell, so we arrived early. As we parked, we noticed how busy it was. We’re both introverts. Regardless, we were already committed.

We randomly chose the Orange trail, eeny meeny-miny-moe-style and soon discovered we were virtually alone—not a soul in sight. Oh, and when I said the Yellow trail was my favorite… Well, that was until I met Orange.

OT - Orange flowers 2

The trail snakes through trees, fields, and heavy forest areas. In many a bend, berries turn the path into shades of blue and purple. Monarch butterflies float along. Trees, young and old, seem to reach out with their roots. Dragonflies zip by to play in the lovely golden fields, which are dotted with bright orange flowers and trimmed with green thorny bushes.

Three plaques are scattered throughout the fields, created by Webster Girl Scout Troop 455. They are hand-illustrated and teach about the various birds, butterflies, and plants. It’s difficult not to smile at the talent and work required to produce such a project.

Around a corner, a large metal wagon wheel catches the eye. A “Private Residence” sign commands attention to the intersection. Who lives there? Why does the residence have its own trail? So many questions, not enough answers.

OT - Private Residence sign (Burlesque)

Further ahead, a fork splits the road. Forks are always intriguing. Which way should we go? The current trail is interesting and beautiful, but what if the other trail is more interesting or more beautiful? Decisions, decisions.

A steeply sloping hill ascends toward more orange blazes—up we go. The forest is welcoming, as is its shade. A strategically-placed bench sits around a corner to the left, set back from the rest of the trail. Clear indentations from mountain bike tires mark the dirt in every direction. It makes sense—this spot with major elevation changes, bridges up ahead, and plenty of dirt to kick up, makes for a great hot-spot for mountain bikers.

Several bridges pass through the remainder of the forest until the trail clears. We can practically feel the end up the trail coming up. Back at the intersection, the sign for “Trailhead” appears up ahead. Before long, we’re back to the parking lot. Feet and legs ache, skin is sweaty, and mouths are dry. After 1.7 miles, our courtship must resume another day.

The Return to Whiting Road

Brown trail begins - mapLast week, Jeff and I visited Whiting Road Nature Preserve and completed the Blue trail.  This week, after battling rain showers and thunderstorms, we finally returned and to scout out the brown trail.

The Brown trail is 0.40 miles long and branches off early on from the Blue trail’s north entrance.  Brown’s footpath is wide and clearly suitable for horseback riding as well.  In fact, we encountered some horse plops along the way.

The trail has a completely different feel from the Blue trail.  The beginning of this trail is still wooded, but soon the trees clear, and fields of greens and golds begin to be seen in the distance. The trail forks–the right fork leading toward Whiting Road and the left fork toward the rest of the Brown trail, spotting monarch butterflies, dragonflies, caterpillars, and more.

Nearing the end of the Brown trail, Green could be seen sloping downward into a more darkened woods.  Immediately we felt excitement and wanted to turn in that direction.  However, puppies are made for short journeys, not long ones, and we decided to use this as a reason to return later.

We did have time for one more trail, however.  The Yellow trail seemed to fit into our time budget, and Magnus was having a good time.

This turned into my favorite experience at Whiting Road thus far.  There aren’t exactly hills to climb, but a dramatic view of a drop-off around a sharp bend in the trail gave the impression of a change in elevation.  Some of the most interesting plant-life can be appreciated from the Yellow trail, including mushrooms, vine-covered trees, and Ramariopsisa white stalked fungus resembling coral.

We stood awhile at the top of a hill where an unmarked trail branched off.  There, we inspected an old metal gate that could have blocked the trail long ago.  It looked so out-of-place sitting there with tree branches growing through and around it, like nature knows it just doesn’t belong.

Yellow trail old gate

Finally, back on the Blue trail, and back to the car we realized we had just completed 1.4 miles, and it felt like nothing.  The beauty and serenity of Whiting Road Nature Preserve rivals that of other local favorites, especially considering the location.  We look forward to seeing you here someday when you come for your visit!

Next week, we have an interesting story to tell about Irondequoit Bay Park West. 

Clear, Blue, Easy

Trail fork.JPG

You might have thought the title referred to a female product, but no.  I am talking about the Blue Trail at Whiting Road Nature Preserve.

We were searching for obscure places to visit around Monroe County, and someone suggested Whiting Road Nature Preserve.  She was quite right — we certainly don’t hear about it much.  This hidden gem didn’t come up in many Google searches for local trails for some reason. Of course, I immediately jumped onto their website, and they have an extensive network of trails.  Sweet!  A new expedition!

We planned to visit almost two weeks ago, shortly after our trip to Lodi.  Unfortunately, the weather in Western New York is thoroughly unpredictable.  (I’m glad meteorologists don’t get docked pay for being wrong, because none would want to work here if they did.)  Anyway, it has been raining just about every day since, so we finally made the trek today.  I’m glad we did.

The first visible entrance from the main parking lot on Whiting Road is the Blue Trail.  According to the park’s posted map, this particular trail is 0.70 miles long.  Several other trails branch off for various lengths, creating quite the hike if time allows.  We were unfortunately only able to experience some of it as there was a thunderstorm to contend with.  Nobody wants to be wandering around under a bunch of trees with lightning…

Clear, Blue, Easy.  

The Blue Trail is a very easy stroll.  It features no hills, streams, climbing, or fancy footwork.  The path is clear, with no fallen branches or path obstructions.  The trails are also clearly marked, thanks to local scout troops.  In fact, some of the signs include mini maps to help hikers find their way.  This is a splendid idea and sometimes much more of a help than simply painting on the trees.

As we made our way back to the car, we nearly passed by a brick building set off some from the main path.  It apparently used to serve as a smokehouse and is currently being restored by Girl Scout Troop 106.

The trails do allow leashed dogs, as well as bicycles, cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, and horseback riding.  We saw some mountain bikers, but they were so far gone, we pretty much had the trails to ourselves.  Take a look at some of our shots.  We plan on doing the Yellow Trail and more next time!