today was such a nice day it compelled me to go out and do some naturing. that used to be one of my favorite summertime activities, solo naturing. eventually i visited nearly every nature reservation in the greater boston area and got to the point where i didn't see anything i'd hadn't seen before and grew bored with it. i don't think i've done solo naturing in almost a decade.

first i went to market basket to get some groceries. i decided to make a greek salad with orzo for dinner as i had most of the ingredients at home and needed to use them up before they went bad. i just needed some feta cheese, cucumbers, and red onion.

my rear bike wheel was making a weird sound. at first i thought it was because the rim was rubbing against a brake pad, but that wasn't the case. when i checked the wheel, i noticed it had a slight wobble. when i got back home, i did some quick adjustment of the rear wheel, tightened the axle cone. once i did that, the wheel was stable again. i still haven't gotten to replacing the crankset, too lazy to work on the bike while it's still working in a single gear.

for lunch i made an oat milk matcha latte and a ham-egg-cheese-sriracha english muffin sandwich. i needed the extra calories as i'd be doing some walking later. i ate while watching the latest episode of loki. i usually don't complain about these weekly-released series because that's how i normally watch tv, i don't binge it. but these loki episodes are infuriating, ending on serious cliffhangers, it's going to be hard waiting for the next episode to come out.

i left the house by 1pm. i decided to visit the northern side of beaver brook reservation. there's where we used to have our belmont victory garden plot. i've been around that area, but never actually walked further than the garden vicinity. it was the perfect combination of close proximity and a someplace i'd never been before to ease me back into naturing. another reason for going was wide open field spaces, perfect for drone flying. besides my drone, i also packed the 18-200mm lens with my camera along with the 60mm macro lens. i brought my rain resistant wind breaker in case it got really buggy. i also brought my picaridin bug spray and a frozen bottle of water.

it took around 20 minutes to travel the 5.5 miles to beaver brook straddling the belmont-waltham town line. i hadn't been up to belmont hill in a while, noticed some new developments. i parked at the rock meadow entrance. i sprayed my head and forearms with bug repellent as a precaution.

how i natured in the past was i always printed out a trail map. this was before i got a smart phone. i also had a garmin gps (etrex vista) that only had a rudimentary monochrome map at best displayed on its 160 x 288 pixel screen. i used it in case of emergency, as i could mark my starting point, and the gps was able to do a cookie crumb trail of my route as i walked so i might possibly retrace my steps if i got lost. a lot has changed since then. hiking with a phone that has all that built-in (gps, camera, phone) is so much more convenient. the only drawback is i must've been pretty remote, because i noticed my phone battery had been depleted down to less than 40%. i'll have to remember to bring a rechargeable battery pack for next time. even with a smart phone though, sometimes it had a hard time finding my location, especially if i was beneath the forest canopy. but still much better than what i was using before. i could also bring up the pdf of the trail map, although a printed version has the benefit of never running out of batteries.

i spent nearly an hour in the open field area before walking into the woods. the field had stands of milkweed, and each milkweed was like an island. some were unpopulated, while others were busy with activities. aphids might show up, followed by their ant protectors. there were a lot of ladybugs who feed on the aphids and don't seemed too concerned by the ants. i also occasionally saw red milkweed beetles.

i crossed a wooden bridge that ran across a section of beaver brook to get into the forest. it was compact dirt paths, and there wasn't much to see under the canopy. it fact, it was quite boring. maybe earlier in the season, when wildflowers were in bloom, it might be more interesting, but not now. there were also a lot of poison ivy to be careful of and of course the flying insects circling around me which i can only assume must be mosquitoes.

i made it as far as the metfern cemetery, where nameless inmates from two massachusetts state institutions were buried between 1947 to 1979. is that just a polite way of saying mental hospitals? i could've kept going to either the water tower or mackerel hill, but decided to head back, especially if it meant more forest trekking. some forest are good, like those with natural trails, but the ones here we one step above manmade artificial trails, which lacked interesting things to see. besides, i still wanted to make time to fly my drone.

i got back to the rock meadow conservation area and found a private clearing on top of a slight elevation. there was a dirt path that was compact enough that i decided to launch directly from the ground instead of using my launchpad. that turned out to be a mistake, as the propellers kicked up a ton of dust before rising up into the sky. at first everything seemed okay, but after i few minutes i noticed the gimbal was malfunctioning, like maybe something was caught inside. i tried to get the drone to land but the bouncing video stream made it hard to navigate, and more importantly, even though the drone was only up in the sky, it took me a few minutes to finally find it. as i was lowering it down for a landing, i noticed the gimbal was working again, so whatever obstruction must've dislodged itself. so i raised it back up into the air up to 400ft.

i had 15 minutes of power left, so i decided to fly west, hoping to see mackerel hill or anything else that was interesting. here's something you should know about seeing the ground from the sky through the drone: everything looks flat. maybe if i was approaching at an angle it'd be different, or maybe if i saw the landscape with my own eyes (stereoscopic vision), but that's one drawback of drone vision. i couldn't find the hill but there was a pond i don't remember seeing on any of the trail maps. from there i spotted the water tower, across from boston national archives building. i did a spin around the tower. at least twice i saw a cooper's hawk fly underneath the drone. that made me a little worried that i was encroaching on a hawk's territory. my radio signal was strong until somewhere near that area; i don't think it was a distance issue, i think the cell structures on top of the water tower created some interference. all those reasons but i had about 7 minutes of power left made me fly back. instead of trying to find my location, i just issued a return-to-home (RTH) command. once it got above me, i stopped RTH and manually landed the drone.

i left beaver brook by 3:40pm. instead of going home, i stopped by my parents' place to inspect the garden. the rain barrels were at near maximum capacity. they should've been 100% full but my father discovered the catch barrel at the sunroom corner wasn't feeding water into any of the other barrels but he shut off the valves. that meant all the water from the sunroom roof ended up being runoff once the catch barrel was filled. once he realized what happened he turned on the valves to equalize the water level. the hops bines all seem fine. i might giving them some fertilizer this weekend to help them grow although we did add two buckets of compost to the hole we dug. i checked the squashes and found 11 more vine borer eggs. what i thought was a striped mallow growing in the corner of RB3 turned out to be a maroon hollyhock. i'd forgotten that a long time ago we had hollyhocks in the backyard, but now every few years a plant will magically appear (2015, 2017).

i left belmont by 4:30pm. i collected some ground cherries and dropped them off at the cafe, where i saw my godmother and my 2nd aunt were both there. after i left, i saw my aunt trying one of the ground cherries and was amazed by how sweet and good they tasted.

greek salad
(3-6 servings)

1 lbs. orzo, cooked

1/2 red onion, diced
2 tomato, diced
1 cucumber, diced
2 cups mini peppers, sliced
1 cup kalamata olives, chopped
1 cup pepperoncini, chopped
6 oz. feta cheese, crumbled


2/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
3 tbsp lemon juice
6 garlic cloves
1 tsp oregano

i started preparing dinner around 8pm. i've made greek salads before, but i don't think i ever made a greek dressing, just used store-bought. i cooked the orzo over the stovetop while i chopped up the other ingredients. when i tasted the salad, it was just too bland. i added some chopped hot pepper rings to spice things up a bit, but the dressing i made wasn't enough, and didn't have enough flavor, i tasted mostly the olive oil with a touch of tart from the lemon and vinegar. so i made a second batch of dressing, this time using nearly equal amounts of olive oil (1/3 cup) with red wine vinegar (1/3 cup) with a dash of lemon juice and some minced garlic. that made it taste better, but the dressing was now more like an italian dressing. combined with the orzo, this "greek" salad felt a lot like a pasta salad. i can't be too down though, it's definitely healthy.

i ate while watching game 1 between the hawks-bucks. i was sure the milwaukee would win at home, but atlanta is a very scrappy team and the hawks ended up winning, basically stole the game after the bucks had the lead. so now i'm not so sure if the bucks will win it all in the end. a lot of new teams with star young players are making a name for themselves.