Huntley Meadows Park
I believe that God decided to pull out his paintbrush, dust off his palette, and create some beauty on the afternoon we decided to visit Huntley Meadows Park. As we walked along the boardwalk through this surreal place, I didn't realize I had stopped breathing for several seconds, until I took a deep breath, as I turned around and around just soaking in this incredible beauty. It was a crisp afternoon with a light, chilly breeze blowing every now and then to remind us of the change in weather. It was almost deserted, which left us feeling like we had this stunning place all to ourselves.
Huntley Meadows is nestled smack dab in the middle of suburbia. Covering almost 1,500 acres, it comprises of beautiful forests, meadows filled with wildflowers, vast wetlands, and the best wildlife watching in the Washington metro area. It also boasts of the nearly 200 species of birds that call this place home. I was surprised to learn that this wetland was created by an ancient meandering of the Potomac River. This freshwater wetland is one of the rare natural habitat left in the county.
Gracie, as usual, was off and running right after she got out of her carseat. In anticipation of this, I had my camera ready, backpack across my shoulders, and a spring in my step. Aaron, of course, was chasing her :) Ahhh, I love how much our little family loves to explore! In her eagerness to see everything, Gracie kept running from side of the boardwalk to the other, and since it was open on both sides, I kept thinking she was going to fall in. Especially when she thought she saw some froggies in the water. She sure loves those frogs and would have gone after them had we not pulled her over to the other side. As you enter the park, you will go through a wooded forest along a gravel path. There are a variety of trees, shrubs, and wildflowers all along this path, in addition to fallen trees or trees that had been cut down for various reasons.
Gracie spotted one such tree and thought it made a nice bench. She ran up to it, pointed to the top asking us to help her sit up there, and started swinging her legs with glee as she plucked at the bark on the tree and the fallen leaves around the place. There is something magical about nature and the effect it has on kids. They want to be a part of it and have no fear touching insects or picking up things that I might cringe to touch :) Grace enjoyed her little break on this tree stump immensely.
As you walk through the shady tree-lined path, you suddenly burst into a vast open meadow, filled with cottontails, and flooded with colorful trees. It is breathtakingly beautiful. We found the boardwalk and started down it in a gentle trot to keep up with Grace, who was thrilled.
I have been working on studying light and how to use it in my photography, and felt really lucky to be in this meadow during the golden hour. I have a long way to go with my studies but consider myself blessed to see the light streaming through this massive field of cottontails, bordered by rows of colorful trees.
Gracie's favorite seat in the house: Daddy's shoulders. The view is unrivaled.
The whole afternoon was magical as we walked across the boardwalk into the beauty of the wetlands, took a million pictures, let Gracie explore as we marveled at all these things that God created. It was definitely chilly, and when the winds would pick up, it was downright cold. So, Aaron taught Gracie how to blow on her hands to keep them warm. This entertained us for quite a while as Gracie practiced her new skill. The cuteness nearly killed me.
As we went around the bend in the path to return to our car, we walked through some amazing wooded lands, showing off their fall colors and filtering in the light in a way that only God could direct. It was perfect in every way. It was serene, stunningly beautiful, and inspired a thought in me that this is what poets and writers write about - a spot just like Huntley Meadows. Or, maybe they are content sitting behind their desks only imagining places like this. I am not a poet or a writer, by any stretch of the imagination, but this place could inspire me to become one!
Our trek back to our car was much slower as Gracie insisted on picking up leaves, sticks, rocks, and testing out each bench along the path. Of course, we obliged. We loved our time at Huntley Meadows and it is one of my favorite places now.
Huntley Meadows Park, 3701 Lockheed Blvd, Alexandria, VA.