Fifty-one weeks

21 September, 2014        Fifty-one weeks

Fifty one weeks from now I am entered for my first “double” triathlon – two triathlons in two days. So far my long-time triathlete buddy/brother Andrew is also going to do it. And perhaps his actual brother Peter. On Saturday we’ll do an “Olympic” distance triathlon. In this case, that’s a 1,500 meter swim, a 24.5 mile bike ride and a 10k run. I did a race approximately that long in May of this year and it took around four hours to complete. Then – this will be the fun part – we wake up the following morning and complete a “Sprint” distance triathlon. The swim will be precisely half as long (750 meters or not quite half a mile). The bike will be just over half as long at 13.5 miles. And the run will also be precisely half as long, a 5k. 3.1 miles. So probably two hours-ish. I did my first triathlon (a sprint) in 1987. And I’ve done over a hundred, including many long races, but this will be the first time I’ve ever done two in two days. It’s going to be a blast.


The race is called the SAGA Outer Banks Triathlon and it’s going to be in Manteo, NC. I did a sprint race down there about twenty years ago. I’m looking forward to this one. I’m negotiating the change from doing a long distance race each year to doing shorter races and having satisfying experiences. I know this one will fill the bill.


It’s been a nice week here and I was happy to spend some time with my old buddy Kent earlier in the week. He used to live only a mile away and we spent a lot of time together at the Y plus countless games of miniature golf. Or bowling if the weather pushed us indoors. We were pretty evenly matched as golfers but he was a lifelong bowler and he was good at it. I cannot say the same for myself. So naturally I pushed for miniature golf whenever we could. Including more than one time in the snow. Kent moved back home to Seattle a few years ago so it was nice to spend time with him again.


Pictures haven’t been spectacular this week but I’ve gotten a few I enjoy and I hope you do too. I’ll put them up in just a moment. But first this public service announcement. After a fashion. Most of us are aware of this but here in central Virginia, autumn officially begins tomorrow evening at 10:29. South of the equator that’s the beginning of spring. Although I knew this was when the season changed, I didn’t know precisely what that meant. And I am interested so I looked it up. Forgive me if you already know this and/or are uninterested. But in the six months that comprise spring and summer here in the northern hemisphere, the sun stays north of the equator. It’s warmer because the sun’s rays are hitting us more directly. For the next six months, the sun will be south of the equator (below it) and the sun’s rays will be hitting us at more of an angle. So it will be cooler. So the precise instant of the end of summer is the instant the sun passes from north of the equator to south of it.


I never knew that. I’m glad I know it now.


Anyway – on to the few decent pictures I’ve taken this week. I think green herons are around a lot but they just hide. Or lay low. But for some reason they’ve been appearing more recently. Maybe some are migrating through or maybe some young are reaching adulthood, I’m just not certain. But they’re around a lot more right now. I saw this guy squawking on Thursday morning. I took this picture around 11:00 AM:

I took several pictures but he was only "talking" in this one and I enjoyed it.

I took several pictures but he was only “talking” in this one and I enjoyed it.

That was relatively high up (near the parking lot) in Pony Pasture. We were just getting started. Clouds were beginning to pile up in the east an hour later when we were in the field (a.k.a. “pasture”):

Late summer clouds puffing up

Late summer clouds puffing up

Even closer to the parking lot there are hibiscus (some sort of Rose of Sharon) blooming. This one is pointing at the morning sun:

It looks pretty against that dark background

It looks pretty against that dark background

Magnolia flowers are long, long gone. There is a magnolia tree next to my driveway at home. I  open my car door right in to it when I get out. It just began to show seeds this week and it’s very eye catching:

This would make an eye-catching centerpiece on a dinner table

This would make an eye-catching centerpiece on a dinner table

Evelyn and Mackey and Turner and I made it to the river again this morning; it was very, very beautiful. Far downstream – almost to the golf course – there is a little cut out in the river bank. When the water is low like it is right now (it’s only about 3’ 6” at the Westham Gauge, at the Huguenot Bridge) a big Marsh Mallow plant spreads out on the river bank there. Marsh Mallow blooms very late. I took this picture this morning:

Marsh Mallow - see that bee coming in from the right? So much fun.

Marsh Mallow – see that bee coming in from the right? So much fun.

Notice the bee? Bumblebee? They do not make honey. I’d like to see more  honeybees around.

We saw one other pretty flower just as we were leaving the park, this jewelweed was growing on the creek bank:

I love seeing all this stuff, but sometimes I'm even MORE amazed when I see the picture.

I love seeing all this stuff, but sometimes I’m even MORE amazed when I see the picture.

Also – out of order, I apologize – we came across an unusual (to me) caterpillar on the edge of the pasture. I finally decided to branch out a little bit (“branch out” is a great verb phrase to use when you’re identifying insects) and learn what this is. I submitted (recently) an “ID request” to BugGuide.Net. So perhaps next time I  post I’ll be able to enlighten you about this. It’s a nice looking caterpillar:

Fall Webworm - Hyphantria cunea

Fall Webworm – Hyphantria cunea

I’m backtracking all over the place. As a reader I loathe disorganized writing. And here I am being a disorganized writer. But when I began this post, I had no idea what that caterpillar was. So I posted the image on and went back to work. Thinking I’d post the answer next week. Then I work away, fiddling with images and writing sentences and some paragraphs and took a quick break. And glanced at BugGuide. And someone had ID’d that caterpillar. I’m going to cut-and-paste their answer: “Makes us think Fall Webworm – Hyphantria cunea“. And their name was with it. A couple from I don’t know where. How cool is that? I saw it this afternoon, took a picture, put it on the web and there it is. The two people are “contributing editors” to and this is their little bio: “City, state, country:    Skokie, Cook Co., Il

Biography: Jane is hospital pharmacist, retired. John is high school math and physics teacher, retired. Both are amateur botanist/naturalist(known locally in Chicago Wilderness as citizen scientists), active volunteers in natural area restoration primarily along the North Branch of the Chicago River. Volunteer Master Stewards for the Forest Preserve District of Cook County through the North Branch Restoration Project. Teach classes locally in native wildflowers and trees and dragonflies.”

Very, very fun. Anyway. I digress, yet again.

PS Before I go – Ev and I went out for dinner tonight and we walked there – Pesce and Vino, practically across the street. It was neither forgettable nor unforgettable; I’d recommend it if you want to try someplace new. It was Sunday night and it was calm and low key. The service was superb and the broccoli was the best I have ever had – ever. Anyway, the point of this digression was the clouds were so stunning on the way home, I ran in the house and grabbed my camera and came back out for a few shots. I don’t really know how to photograph clouds. And any photograph that has wires in it like this is strictly sub-amateur quality. But the clouds were gorgeous. See you next week,


I am loving these clouds. I am painfully embarrassed by the wires but oh well. Those clouds are worth it.

I am loving these clouds. I am painfully embarrassed by the wires but oh well. Those clouds are worth it.


About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
This entry was posted in Birds, Flowers, Fun, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!) and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Fifty-one weeks

  1. Andrew W. Meiller says:

    Dude! Now the pressure is DEFINITELY ON ME! Once it’s in a Blog Post, I am practically committed!

    • I KNOW you’ll be there – I’ve heard your tone regarding this endeavor – it is a tone of unmistakable commitment. See you in 51 weeks! (Sooner, I’m sure, but I’ll see you then!)

  2. Jean Yerian says:

    John and I took grandson Shea to Pesce and Vino for a belated birthday dinner. I thought it was pretty good. We’ll go back sometime after we’re in Richmond … maybe with you and Ev??

  3. Hi Jean! Ev and I would love to join you and John at Pesce and Vino after you get back down south. The food wasn’t bad and you can’t beat the location. It’s cooled off a lot here in Richmond already! I think it’s going to warm up again soon though. Looking forward to seeing you when you come back. Enjoy your time in what I presume is at the moment the Great-Green-North. Have a great day,


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