Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)

Gusts of wind shook the branch where the bird feeder hung and it fell to the ground. The birds enjoyed unfettered access to the suet.

Sylvan Lake

Whenever the Montgomery Friends of Open Space Farmers Market is in session Shaan works as the assistant farmers market manager. The market normally runs from the summer into the early fall but sometimes they host a winter market. Today's winter market is in the Montgomery Municipal Centre not far from their previous location in Skillman Village Shoppes. Due to the many suggestions from market customers, the market will be held at the new location for the foreseeable future.

After I dropped Shaan off, I drove over to Skillman Park hoping to find something interesting to photograph. The sky was overcast and the air was cold. Fortunately, there was no breeze.

Before Skillman Park transformed into the green space I enjoy today, it had a beginning as the New Jersey State Village for Epileptics. Opened in the early 20th century, Skillman Village was designed as a self-sufficient community specifically for the care and support of individuals with epilepsy. The village, nestled in the Skillman area of Montgomery Township aimed to provide a nurturing environment where residents could live, work, and receive medical care.

Sylvan Lake, Skillman Park
Skillman Park · 24 February 2024 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF27mmF2.8 R WR

The location was chosen for its countryside charm and proximity to transport links, ensuring a community-like setting for the residents. The plan was for the village to be self-sustaining, with residents playing a key role in its maintenance. They managed a variety of agricultural operations, including a dairy farm, pigsty, and poultry farm. The village boasted orchards filled with apple and peach trees, alongside fields of tomatoes and other crops.

Sylvan Lake, Skillman Park
Skillman Park · 24 February 2024 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF27mmF2.8 R WR

To support such a large community, the village was equipped with all necessary systems right on site. A sophisticated water system with wells, a water tower, and a treatment plant was established to meet the needs of the residents. Before the era of refrigeration, ice from Sylvan Lake was harvested and stored in a large ice house by the lake to keep food fresh.

Regardless of the time of the year, I am usually drawn to the area near Sylvan Lake.