Evening on the Wissahickon

I came not from the old world but from the ancient world, India. I was indeed captivated by the cityscapes, the feats of man-made structures and the exploits of architectural niches in the new world. When I could get past those magnificent cities, I’ve felt “world is big” all the time. Cities make me claustrophobic. American charm doesn’t end in cities. It is true soul lies in the great wilderness. I’ve been to only 5 states so far – fascinated by nature in each one of it. Colossal Niagara falls, giant Saguaro cactus, red woods touching the sky, I’ve lost words… pondering nature, creation, and God.

It has been only 6 months in Philadelphia – getting to know the history and culture. I’ve no idea how I landed in the article about “The lost gold mine of Wissahickon” from Google. Eventually found about Friends of Wissahickon and registered for the history trail along the Forbidden Drive. Trial guide Sarah West is very knowledgeable and patient in answering our questions. My American husband, who was born in Philadelphia, had not ventured past the Historic Rittenhouse Town until last weekend. When we pulled in the parking lot heavily shielded under trees with the creek running alongside, both of us didn’t know what lay ahead of us.

Wissahickon Creek

Wissahickon Creek

Wilderness

Wilderness

Wissahickon Creek runs 23 miles passing thru northwest Philadelphia, joins Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. Wikipedia says its name come from Lenape word “wiessahitkonk”, for “catfish creek” or “stream of yellowish color”. Mills of Wissahickon were producing paper to gun powder making it the first industrial area of North America. The first paper mill in America was built by William Rittenhouse during early 18th century. Benjamin Franklin noted without the mills, Wissahickon can supply pure water to Philadelphia. Eventually Fairmount Park Commission acquired 1,800 acres of the Wissahickon Valley in 1868 and demolished all the mills along the creek. Wissahickon turnpike was permanently closed to automobiles making the turnpike, “Forbidden Drive”. When the rest of America continue to become industrialized, Wissahickon slowly returned to original wilderness.

Bridge History

Bridge History

Bridge

Bridge

It is not just history that makes stop talking and hones other senses tingles with enthusiasm. Wissahickon valley is Wissahickon schist, prime bedrock underlying the Philadelphia region. This is Precambrian to Cambrian stone, has flecks of glittery mica, small garnets, and many-toned shadings of gray, brown, orange, and blue. I was jumping in joy as I started to spot mice and garnets in the schist. We loved the history walk and the region in general. My husband and I resolved to trail in the 1800 acres as much as we can and to bring our kids in the future for a practical hands on lesson on geology, history, and nature.

Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy

Schist with Sparkling Mica

Schist with Sparkling Mica

To me, after all these years, I can feel “Evening on the Wissahickon” is still close to “Morning on the Wissahiccon” 🙂

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My Most Beautiful Masterpiece

One of the famous quotes from Claude Monet is “My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece”. Here is mine. My mother had a great garden while growing up in the most amazing mountains of Western Ghats, Kodaikanal in India. She had beans, carrots, tomatoes, spinach, cabbage, potatoes, and about a million rose plants. Life took us to the busiest cities in the world – Chennai, and Bangalore. My mother moved on to container gardening. I’m grateful for the small yard in the traditional row houses of Philly as I moved in with my husband after wedding. As much as I love snow, I was waiting for spring. I had my stock of indoor container plants long before that – Golden Pothos, Chinese Money Tree, Lucky Bamboo, succulents that I picked up in Philadelphia Flower Show 2015, and the Key Lime and Valencia Orange dwarf trees as a Valentine’s Day gift from my husband 😉

I started with the Garden Tenders training by PHS in March of this year as I really want to understand gardening from northeastern to tropical style. They also gave me some seeds to start – I picked up broccoli, spinach, onions – all organic ones. My style is organic and self-sustaining. It took me a while to start gardening as I got busy with the kitchen remodeling and started on first week of May, slowly digging working next to my husband. It was back breaking but at the same time loads of fun too. I bought the $1 stepping stones from Dollar Tree to mark the boundary for the garden. I also got some cute decoration as they say bright shiny objects ward off birds. Stuck plastic cutleries to shoo neighborhood cats. Planted the seeds from PHS Garden Tenders and added strawberry patch, blueberry bushes in containers. Moved my container trees out to bask in the bright sunlight and gentle spring showers. There are some valuable lessons learnt from internet too – citrus peels and moth ball in plastic containers with holes will deter cats from using my evergreen shrubs as their bathroom. I took the “shiny objects” lesson seriously – got the Slinky Wheels for $1, put some metallic streamers to avoid birds, later added balloons learning and improvising as I go – spending frugally at the same time ecofriendly measures to grow garden. Here is my masterpiece.

Garden

Garden

Vegetables

Vegetables

Fenugreek

Fenugreek and Green Chili

Containers

Key Lime, Valencia Orange, Bluberries

Bless

Bless this Garden

Couple

Cute Frog Couple

“Every day I discover more and more beautiful things. It’s enough to drive one mad. I have such a desire to do everything, my head is bursting with it.” ― Claude Monet