Thursday, March 23, 2017

Spring Battles

If you are a reader of my blog for some time you know about Fred and Ethel. They return every year to their spot on the river around St. Patrick's Day...usually 2 to 3 days after.  We built their home about 8 years ago because they wanted to make home on the top of my husband's boat and that could not be allowed.  One of the earlier posts on their nest building event that year is here.  

Fred and Ethel are our resident osprey, if you have not guessed.  Our nesting site cost about $300 to build, so we were quite serious in getting them to nest somewhere else.  They have visited for at least ten years now.  

The male has arrived today and is waiting for his mate.  They vacation in separate areas which probably contributes to their longstanding relationship.   But upon his arrival he found this:

   I was wondering what on earth these Canada geese were thinking!  But they came, rearranged some sticks and then the female started to rest there during the day.

Sometimes one would fly down for a swim while the other waited in the nest spot.  Then at other times one would sit and one would watch.

Today Fred arrived and perched on the mast overlooking his former home.

The geese were certainly concerned and began to hunker down.  Soon Fred made his presence known.

He is smaller but has talons and a sharp bill.

This went on for some time with him calling in his sharp voice and then sweeping over the tops of the cowering geese.  Fred does not like my presence from past altercations so he finally left to the far side of the river.  

I am pretty sure this is not the end of the battle and that he will be back.  His mate should arrive in a few days, and maybe, he is just waiting for reinforcements.  Such drama on my spot in the river!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

One of My Favorite Gardens

Our trip to the city a few days ago gave us an opportunity to visit the Enid Haupt Garden behind the Smithsonian castle in Washington DC.  We were there as the most recent snow was melting away.

The recent hard freeze had turned the magnolia blossoms to dirty tissues as so often happens at this latitude.

This is a four acre public garden that also includes a permanent Zen garden and some temporary outdoor art/sculpture. 

Many people do not know that it is a roof garden that it is over the National Museum of African Art, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, and the S. Dillon Ripley Center.  If you look closely you can see some of the skylights in the plantings. 

Enid Haupt was an Annenburg and came from the family that published a racing form, the TV Guide and Seventeen magazine among other things. But rather than fame for publishing, she is considered the foremost horticultural philanthropist in America by some people. And this garden is one of my favorites. She provided an endowment of over 3 million dollars which thus allowed a legacy for years. You would never know you were in the heart of a city.

Unfortunately, this garden is under a plan of removal and replacement by something with more sweeping grass and less "garden" as entrances to the museums below are recreated. The new design is very contemporary and a bit teeth cringing in my opinion when placed next to the red brick Smithsonian Castle. You can go here for more information. The museums do need repair and remodel and the roofs in some areas are leaking, which means the garden would have to be torn up to fix that.  I am not in favor removing the tradition feel of this escape.  I am glad I visited and will continue to do so. The new work on the museums and gardens is costing over 3 billion dollars in expense, taken mostly from private donations.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


I had this rare visitor a few days before this nasty storm. He lives somewhere in the acreage of the woods around the houses in the neighborhood, but keeps well hidden except for his woodpecker call and very loud and hollow tapping. This one seems to have particularly magnificent breeding colors. Taken through my kitchen window as they are very timid and would have never let me get close if I was outside, so the photos are a bit blurry.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Do you see what I see?

It is said by those who study such things that we are programmed by nature to see faces in abstract images. I collected some daffodils and brought them inside for a small bouquet on the table. I see a rather impish spring entity in this photo. Do you see him?

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Blue Buttons

A while back I was down in the dirt trying to take photos of a ground cover weed of the speedwell family and I posted those photos here. A few years ago I got a hybridized vagabond speedwell that had taken a ride in some plant that I purchased and I cannot remember what plant, so do not ask. I saw a small bloom on this hitchhiker and decided to plant it in the side of one of my flower beds. He loved it and spread his wings and filled the side of the bed. I dug him up in a couple of years and planted a little bit somewhere else. Each spring they thrust their blue blossoms up to the sun long before anything else, except for a few daffodils and my hellebores. Today was like real spring and after weeding I took my camera down to the earth braving the spiders and ticks and got these photos:

Can you see that the blossoms are slightly larger and certainly more saturated with color than those I posted in the earlier post?

The blossoms do not last long, but after cold gray winters, they are button-faced-joy.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Roaring In.

"March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb." The origin of this saying depends on where you research. Is it an old Welsh saying (but applied to April instead), or perhaps something that came from historic Pennsylvanian settlers? In early spring Leo is the rising star in the skies and that may account for the lion image. March is also the month of the Mars god...or the war god. In another reference someone traced the saying back to 1694 in a English writing by John Fletcher. 

 Where I live, both March and April are sometimes violent and unpredictable and sometimes calm and sweet, and not necessarily in a linear fashion.  This month we have had two tornado warnings, which is a somewhat rare occurrence.  And weather has gone from being 80F in an afternoon and down to the low 40sF the very next afternoon.  It is hard to get one's wardrobe together when heading out.

(It will also be harder in the future as NESDIS is facing a large budget cut and they are the ones that maintain the weather satellites...what a waste of money.)

Latest Global True Color Imagery - The most recent true color daytime imagery from around the world.

Friday, March 03, 2017


Sometimes the lighting is just late-afternoon perfect in the city, the photo subjects are curiously hungry and swim closer than your wild ones on the river, and you can hold a camera steady for those better than everyday shots even after a small wine-soaked lunch.