Red barn

redbarnbybrucestambaugh
Red barn. © Bruce Stambaugh 2014.

I had just finished photographing some early evening scenes along the Lake Erie shore in Lakeside, Ohio, when I came upon this brilliant red barn right next to the Historic Lakeside Hotel. Its beauty stunned me. How the sun highlighted the barn’s red color and white trim also grabbed my attention. I loved how the green leaves of the tree limb intersected and nicely contrasted with the bright red. More than that, my wife and I have vacationed every summer at Lakeside Chautauqua since 1987, and I couldn’t recall ever seeing this barn.

I have thousands of photos from this beautiful gem of a town. The surprise of finding this barn, once seemingly hidden, but revealed by the combination of fresh paint and good timing made it my Photo of the Week.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2014.

No rainy days at Lakeside, Ohio

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From sunrise to sunset, the area around Lakeside, Ohio’s dock is where the action is.

By Bruce Stambaugh

There’s never a rainy day at Lakeside, Ohio, making it the perfect summer vacation spot for all ages.

Sure, it rains at Lakeside. It’s in Ohio after all and on the shallow, sometimes precarious south shore of Lake Erie. That doesn’t mean the weather puts a damper on vacationing visitors, some who come from California and other foreign countries.

The weather, no matter how fierce, can’t quash Lakeside’s infectious community spirit. Sunshine or downpour, you can witness Lakesiders being Lakesiders wherever you go in the little resort town populated with quaint cottages and genial folks.

If it does rain, which it did on more than one occasion during our latest week in the Chautauqua on Lake Erie, no one dismays. Plenty of great activities await, with gaggles of polite people to encounter.

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Steamboat style cottages dot the streets of Lakeside, Ohio.

The new splash park is a cool hit with youngsters on a hot summer’s day. If the weather denies them that chance, you can likely find them sitting on one of the many inviting front porches that distinguish Lakeside cottages and homes.

A wise, gray-haired grandma centers a wicker loveseat, arms embracing grandchildren. They read aloud, do word games, Sudoku, or tell family stories, true and otherwise.

If three generations can’t enjoy a rousing round of miniature golf under the canopy of old-age hardwoods, the family won’t grow bored. They might turn to board games, Scrabble, chess, checkers, or Monopoly.

Thanks to its Chautauqua pillars of religion, education, arts and entertainment, and recreation, Lakeside is known for many engaging activities. Since 1928, shuffleboard has topped the sporting list historically.

Tennis, too, has its fair play at Lakeside. Families, couples, teams, and playing partners ply clay and paved courts for fun and competition.

Should it storm, chairs soon form a tight ring around antique dining room tables, cards are shuffled, and the competitive spirits are expended differently. Instead of power drinks to keep them going, homemade sweet tea and lemonade hit the spot.

Around the two-mile jogging trail that rings Lakeside’s boundary flows a steady stream of fitness. If the weather is too ugly to brave, brainpower replaces muscle power through summer reading or a spirited round of dominoes with family, friends and visitors.

The Lakeside dock is the centerpiece of the summer sun worshippers. Young swimmers, sailors, fishing generations and sun soakers congregate to do their things. In the event that the dock is closed due to inclement weather or northerly gales that swamp the cement pier with crashing waves, alternative plans are made with few complaints.

The handful of Lakeside’s eclectic restaurants and niche cafes, where scores of high school and college students earn a summer’s wage, offer plenty of fare and latitude to accommodate all. Patience whets the appetite for homemade donuts and refreshing ice cream.

Even on the sunniest of days, hundreds of folks hungry for other kinds of food are filled to capacity by the rich stories offered by the weekly chaplains. It’s as cerebral as it is churchy.

Weather-resistant, creatively designed indoor activities abound for children, while adults pick and choose between lectures, programs and displays. Nearly every week, some sort of special community function is offered.

Evenings bring out a large portion of the town’s population for a medley of performances in historic Hoover Auditorium. Others linger dockside basking in the glow of another inspiring sunset, sometimes only minutes after the end of an all-day rain.

Rain or shine, there really are no rainy days at Lakeside, Ohio.

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Watching the sunset from the dock is part of the Lakeside tradition.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2013

Have hat, will travel

hatsbybrucestambaugh
Some of the hats in my utilitarian collection.

By Bruce Stambaugh

People collect all kinds of things when they travel. Post cards, plates, jewelry, T-shirts and mugs are popular items. Souvenir shops in any touristy locale confirm that.

Me? I collect hats, more out of necessity than sentimentality. Given my lack of hair, I call it BPS (Bald Protection Syndrome). At least I have a practical use for my hat hobby.

BPS is the only way I can explain my obsession with hats. Baseball caps, golf caps, air-cooled hats, even a cowboy hat, define my collection.

It dawned on me that my assortment of hats really represents a segment of my personal history. I look at a hat, and I can usually recall where I bought it or in some cases, like the cowboy hat, who gave it to me.

hatrackbybrucestambaugh
Not a spot to spare on my hat rack.
The hats hang on an oak hall tree that a dear friend made for me. The hall tree stands in a corner beside my bed. The hats are the first things I see in the morning and the last at night, keeping the memories fresh in my mind.

The brown, broad-brimmed, pressed velvet Stetson cowboy hat occupies the pinnacle of the hat holder. That’s no coincidence. My daughter and her family gave it to me as a present several years ago when they lived in Texas. I wear it only on rare occasions.

I collect hats the way Imelda Marcos saved shoes. Each peg of the faithful hat rack is full of hats and memories. The hats come in different shapes and colors, but most are ball caps. All generate vivid recollections.

I have too many from a favorite vacation spot, Lakeside, Ohio. I don the bright yellow hat with a big blue block letter “L” on the front most often.

Perhaps some of my favorite hats are the ones I acquired while participating in some special activity. I have a handsome brown cap with the sun rising over the profile of a mountain, all stitched in white. I got that one at the state park where I once hiked and birded in Arizona.

Another hat I wear a lot is the one I received for attending a birding symposium. It should come as no surprise that the hat features a bird on the front.

Still another hat I obtained in Arizona and bought especially for birding is a lightweight, broad-brimmed, air-cooled canvas hat. I only wear it when it’s hot or when we go to the beach with the grandkids.

Two hats in my collection have extra-special meaning to me. I purchased both in Honduras. One is bright red with orange lettering that spells out the name of the poor Central American country.

meandmyhatsbybrucestambaugh
I’m happiest in hats.
The other Honduras hat is black with a red rooster on it, which is very apropos. As unstable as the Honduran government is, I think the roosters actually run the country. They are everywhere and don’t bother to wait for the sun to rise to announce their presence.

The pride and joy sports hat in my collection is bright red with a raised deep blue block “C” on the front. I wear it when I attend Cleveland Indians games to show my support for the often-hapless team. Wearing it may also reveal other blemishes in my character.

Some people collect stamps, others coins or antiques or teacups. I collect hats. Each one has a story and a special meaning.

Vacation season is here. More travel, more memories, and more hats ahead.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2013

My 2012 in pictures

During the course of a year, I take a lot of photographs, thousands to be exact. My son says I take too many, especially of the same thing. But I snap away for several reasons. My mother gave me her artsy eye to see the beauty in the world around me. She painted landscapes. I take pictures. Shooting pictures is also a way to document the year. In addition, I enjoy sharing the pictures I take, either through this blog, in magazines, on websites, or simply printing them out for people to enjoy.

With that introduction, this is my 2012 in review. With so many pictures, I didn’t want to bore you. Instead, I chose a picture a month, kind of like a calendar in reverse. I hope you enjoy my selections.

Happy New Year!

Bruce

sunsetsiestakeybeachbybrucestambaugh
Enjoying a beautiful sunset on America’s number 1 rated beach, Siesta Key, Sarasota, FL, was a great way to begin the year.
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I love birding. This Northern Flicker posed perfectly for this shot in Feb.
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My wife and I celebrated our 41st anniversary in March by visiting Williamsburg, VA. These hats caught my eye.
lakesidedaisybybrucestambaugh
Lakeside, OH is one of my favorite vacation spots. When the Lakeside Daisies are blooming, which they did two weeks early this year, the town is even prettier. These daisies only bloom on the Marblehead Peninsula, and this bee enjoyed the small patch of these special flowers on April 29.
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I feel very fortunate to have Rose-breasted Grosbeaks frequent my backyard feeders. This male seemed fearless as he gorged on oil sunflower seeds in early May.
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I enjoyed capturing our grandchildren’s initial reaction to the surf at Sunset Beach, NC in early June.
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The end of July was the peak of the summer’s drought in Ohio’s Amish country, where my wife and I live.
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Summer fog is not unusual in Ohio’s Amish country. I often take my camera along on my morning walk, and I was glad I had this late August morning.
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A young Amish girl checked out the colorful balloons at the neighbor’s produce stand during their Customer Appreciation Day at the end of Sept.
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Laundry drying against the colorful leaves in mid-Oct. in Holmes Co., OH created a contrasting shot.
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The silhouettes of the corncrib and tree against the Thanksgiving Day sunset made a stunning image.
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Watching our grandchildren and their parents play in the snow the day after Christmas was as magical as the snow itself, and a wonderful way to end 2012.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2012

A much needed respite at Lakeside, Ohio

Perry Park by Bruce Stambaugh
Perry Park, located at the east gate of Lakeside, Ohio, is a beautiful place to rest, relax, read a book, jog, play tennis or just enjoy the peace and quiet.

By Bruce Stambaugh

After the week we had had, my wife and I needed a respite. The most logical place for that was Lakeside, Ohio, our favorite place to relax.

We had begun our annual weeklong stint at the Chautauqua on Lake Erie. Early the second morning we received a call to return home. Neva’s mother was gravely ill.

The call wasn’t unexpected. We quickly packed up and returned home. Neva joined her sister in watching over their elderly mother, Esther Miller. Esther died the next evening at age 90.
Hollyhocks by Bruce Stambaugh
Expected or not, a death is still a death. All of the grieving emotions overwhelm family members in different ways and at different times. Time seems to stand still. All the while, the necessary preparations need to be completed. They tend to take their toll on already frayed feelings.

My wife and her sister met with the funeral home director about the services. They met with the pastor to plan the funeral. Next day, they cleaned out their mother’s room at the retirement home.

The family arrived at the church well ahead of the visitation time to set up pictures and meaningful memorabilia, followed by the greeting of mourners and the funeral itself. Afterwards, we hosted the immediate family for an evening meal at our home.

As you can imagine, it was all very draining mentally and physically. We needed a break.

Neva and I held a one-sentence discussion. There could be no doubt that the best place to renew and recharge was to return to our beloved Lakeside. The next morning we were on our way.

Lakeside homes by Bruce Stambaugh

Despite the sweltering heat, it was good to be back at Lakeside with its lovely cottages, inviting dock, marvelous entertainment and multiple activity options.

With its shaded parks and marvelous vistas, Lakeside’s location on Lake Erie makes it idyllic. Really, though, Lakeside is more about people than anything else. From staff to strangers to long-time acquaintances, everyone is family at Lakeside.

A television reporter once did an expose on this special town. He wasn’t unfamiliar with the resort. He had vacationed there as a youngster.

The reporter knew how friendly Lakesiders could be. To prove his point, the reporter casually walked into a cottage without knocking and asked for lemonade. He wasn’t quizzed as to who he was or why he had barged in. Nor was he told to get out. No. Without a second thought, the homemaker poured him his icy drink.

Lakeside cottage by Bruce Stambaugh

On our recent extended weekend retreat, my wife and I had a similar experience. After finishing a very informative walking tour of Lakeside, one of the other participants invited us and another couple to tour her newly remodeled cottage. She didn’t even know us, and yet showed us every corner of her beautiful place. That’s just the way people are at Lakeside.

Lakeside flowers by Bruce StambaughAt the end of our visit of this lovely summer home, I realized that the kind lady didn’t even know our names. We made our introductions as we profusely thanked her.

What nicer place than Lakeside is there to sit back and forget your worries? You can read a book, play dominoes, go for a lovely morning walk, or just enjoy the view while eating a refreshing ice cream cone. If you’re at the right place at the right time, you just might get an unexpected tour, too.

That’s just how Lakeside and its gracious summer citizenry are. They invigorate you just when you need it the most.

The column appeared in the Bargain Hunter, Millersburg, OH.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2012

The real reason to celebrate July 4th

D.O.G. Street by Bruce Stambaugh
Many of the tenets of our democratic republic were formed in Williamsburg, VA along D.O.G. Street.

By Bruce Stambaugh

Watching starbursts of fireworks from five miles above the earth was an unexpected treat.

My family and I were flying back from vacation late on July 3, 1988. Our hour-long flight path took us along the southern shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Erie. Shortly after we were airborne, the sky began to pop with burst after colorful burst of fireworks.

Parade by Bruce Stambaugh
Parades are just part of the annual Fourth of July celebrations in the United States.
All along the route towns large and small expressed their jubilation for America’s Independence Day holiday with pyrotechnic displays. From high above I imagined the various sparkling bursts reflecting the broad diversity of folks that comprise this great country. Necks craned skyward, people from many cultures, races and religions in urban parks, county fairgrounds or on their own back porches had to also be admiring their local kaleidoscope of explosions.

As the last sparks flickered, I had to wonder then, as I wonder now, if the real meaning behind the celebratory fireworks is fully understood. As they picked up their chairs and folded their blankets to return home, what were they thinking? Was it just another fireworks display or did they truly comprehend the meaning of the day?

Those are questions that needed to be asked then just as they need to be asked today. Remembering our historic roots helps us to focus on where we are now and where it is we need to be going tomorrow.

Fourth of July decorations by Bruce Stambaugh
Homes like this one in Lakeside, OH will be decorated for the Fourth of July all across the U.S.

As we celebrate another Independence Day in the United States, here are a few historical facts that cannot be changed, though some have tried to distort the truth. The Continental Congress actually declared its independence from Great Britain on July 2, 1776. The revolutionary document, penned by Thomas Jefferson, was signed July 4, 1776, making the radical pronouncement official.

At great risk to their fame, fortune and reputations, these bold men, and they were all men, set down the groundwork of a new nation. That foundation was based on one essential notion, freedom.

A few years later that central idea wove its way into the heart of the U.S. Constitution in the form of the first 10 amendments commonly called the Bill of Rights. They itemized specific freedoms, including the freedom of religion, the freedom of speech, and the freedom to gather, among others.

British flag by Bruce StambaughThe people of the American colonies wanted to shake the hold of Great Britain’s rule and run their own lives. This great document announced a new form of government for all peoples. Without it, anarchy would have ruled.

Since its initial adoption the Constitution of the United States has been amended to appropriately represent rights and freedoms for all of the country’s peoples, regardless of gender, race or creed as the population and society’s mores have evolved. To be sure, that evolution has had its civil rough spots to say the least.

From our present perspective, it can be easy to think that some things always were. “In God We Trust,” for example, was added to our coins and currency in 1864 at the end of the Civil War. The phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance was not added until 1954 during the McCarthy communism scare era.

The altitude at which we enjoy the July 4th fireworks isn’t terribly important. The attitude of appreciation and a clear understanding and application of how and why our basic freedoms exist, however, are essential for appropriate social discourse.

As the fireworks explode in honor of this July 4th, what will you revere about Independence Day?

Amber waves of grain by Bruce Stambaugh
Religious freedom was the primary moving force for Amish immigrating to the United States, where their amber waves of grain still roll today.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2012

Lakeside daisies are in early bloom

Lakeside Daisy Nature Preserve by Bruce Stambaugh
Daisies in full bloom at the Lakeside Daisy Nature Preserve near Marblehead, OH.

By Bruce Stambaugh

Bee and daisy by Bruce StambaughThe Lakeside daisies are in full bloom. That may not sound like earth-shattering news. But apparently due to the unusually warm winter here in Ohio, the daisies, like most other flowers, plants and trees, are blooming early. Plus, if you are a lover of all things nature, and especially wildflowers, you don’t want to miss this yellowy exhibition.

The Lakeside daisies are particularly special. They only bloom in a limited number of locations on or near the Marblehead Peninsula in northwest Ohio. In addition, their buttery blooms only last a week before they begin to fade. If you want to see them in person, you had better make tracks to the Lakeside Daisy Nature Preserve near Marblehead. My wife and I were there Sunday, and the preserve was a splash of yellow against the dull limestone gray ground.

The daisies growing in a small patch inside Lakeside were beautiful, too. They’re located right along the Lake Erie shore at the east end of Lakeside near Perry Park.

Lakeside daisies by Bruce Stambaugh
A bee enjoys one of the daisies in a clump of Lakeside daisies in a small preserve in flower’s namesake, Lakeside, OH.

Unfortunately it looks like the blooms will be gone before Marblehead’s annual Daisy Days scheduled for Mother’s Day weekend. Naturalists will lead walks through the preserve, so you can still learn a lot about the lovely little flower even if they aren’t blooming.

The Lakeside daisy (Hymenoxys herbacea) has been listed as an endangered species by Ohio since 1980. If you can’t make it to see this beautiful flower in person, enjoy the photos I took Sunday. If you look closely, you’ll notice some of the petals on the flowers are already starting to wilt.
Nature Preserve sign by Bruce Stambaugh

Lakeside Nature Preserve blooms by Bruce Stambaugh

Clump at Lakeside by Bruce Stambaugh

Daisies at Lakeside by Bruce Stambaugh

Daisies at Lakeside, OH by Bruce Stambaugh
© Bruce Stambaugh 2012