Sunday, November 28, 2021

My Backyard in the Morning

Quiet this early and dark morning except for the return of that male cardinal tapping on the formal room's window.  We call it the formal room because we rarely use it.  I live in the woods, but am never alone!

Fall is almost over.  Thanksgiving week brought some piercing cold winds that tore all those golden and bronzed and crimson leaves from the trees.  They are now caramel-colored crunchy compost across my lawn.

I get drunk on autumn every year and look forward only a little to the cold weather of winter.  Our winter is about 3 and a half months long.  Here we do not usually get the heavy snows that confine one to the house for a week.  But we also do not get that lovely blanket of white that makes everything look so cozy while sitting in front of a fire.

I participate in University of Cornell's feeder watch each winter.  We put out seeds and suet and then count the birds that dine and input data to the University.  This year our brand new suet feeder needs to be hung more carefully as the furry 'birds' have brought down the jury-rigged setup.

Yes, they are really cute and also really smart and also look so innocent.  We feed them with our blue crab leftovers and our oyster bits down by the riverside, but not the entire suet cake!  I am trying to educate them on cholesterol overload. (You have something on your nose!)

We also are visited by other four-footed creatures that love the acorns.  The acorns are everywhere in the backyard from our large oak tree.  Since MANY oak trees are now being faced with disease and death due to climate change and are a keystone species for so many insects, I watch this old warrior closely.

Above he is listening to the neighbor's big dog that has been let out for its' morning run.  We do not get as many deer the past few years, and the deer we do we do get are very shy.

My coffee is now cold and since I woke hubby early to see the raccoon he will not be up for hours more.  Must get my food shopping list done for the week, even though we have eaten too much over the holidays.  Have a nice Sunday morning and I will go read and see how you all are doing.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Not ANOTHER sunset!

I spend a good amount of dinner time running between our dock and the kitchen these days.  The burner gets turned to low and I slip into my outdoor shoes.  Thus far the neighbors have not called the "Whitecoats" to take me away and this is indeed surprising in this day and age where everyone seems to have a complaint against what people do in their own yards.  Although with me, there are signs of addiction!

The sun is very cooperative in moving from the northwest to the southwest and we get to see about 70% of it!   Those taken from the dock area are free of obstacles except for the far peninsula in the distance.

I check the folder labeled Sunsets 2021...10 months in and I have 1,146 files!  Do I delete and evaluate?  I do!  Guess I have to do even more.  But if I take photos 20 days a month and save just 3 each time...I still have 720 photos for the year.  It is an addiction.  I will get on it and delete half of those from the folder before I back it up!

Last Monday we had a beauty and it was very nice straight out of the camera.  

I usually shoot aperture priority and am challenged as I forget to change my other settings as needed.

This means the photos can be dark, which to me is better than overexposed.

But with software, it is easier to improve the exposure.

Sometimes it becomes a matter of taste.  I can guarantee that sunset photos are the most over-posted on social media.  But we love them.

Saturday, November 06, 2021

This May Be Where I Will Fill My Time

On my other blog I was whining with the wine. This blog I want to share how blessed I am and how I cannot complain too much or for too long.

I took these photos while walking around a nearby State Park with my son and his wife a few weeks ago.  The trails wind around a point with most having views of the water with also a few pocket beaches here and there.

This park also provides a place for horses that are used for rehabilitation and for use with children that have learning disabilities.  I understand that horses are far more gentle with these types of people while they learn to ride and accept their fear and disabilities.

These horses and others in different fields were very friendly.  They wanted food.  The signs warned of both an electric fence and to please not feed the animals.

There were even a few birds when my son's dog slowed down long enough for me to keep up and still take photos.

I am one lucky lady to live in such a rich part of the world.  By rich, I mean wildlife of all kinds!  I just have to keep up with the "kids".

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Strange Weather for Fall

Life has been exhausting with appointments, deadlines, lists, etc. Therefore I am going to just spend a few hours admiring the world outside my door and take some deep breaths of that cooler air that has dipped in. Come with me, please.  First, I will tell you about last week.

Last week it rained and rained and rained and the wind blew and blew and blew and white caps came all the way up the river. That big ole front even pushed the tide as high as ever and it stayed for 48 hours before we went back to what we know as low tide.  Some docks went under and owners had to make sure that boats were tied solid!  You did not want to find your boat on top of your dock a day later, or in even worse events some boats just disappeared!

Those who owned canoes and kayaks and floats took everything all the way to their back doors.  This week boaters will have to be careful about the flotsam that is across the waters.    We checked with neighbors on the more open side facing the actual Bay and they did somewhat worse.  Strange weather for fall, but with climate change this is the new normal.

It was perfect weather for ducks...or maybe geese?  Now let us open the door today and see what gift awaits us.  A
s always, the sun eventually breaks through and we realize that we have been spared to plod through another day.

The sky is blue again to contrast with the red maple leaves that managed to hang on.

I will now sit down at my desk and count my blessings.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

At Last! Lunch Part III

The move towards finding a takeout for lunch brought us past more oyster lease sites and in the distance, you can see the famous lighthouse.
We also began to see what has happened in very recent years due to ocean rise. Many front ground trees are dying.
At long last, we see some beach land and maybe we have to wade through a little bit of grass but we are prepared.
But no! Just ahead and around the end of this island is the channel that opens to the great bay and the past hurricanes have cleared all the grasses away for our landing.

The hurricanes have also brought down some very large trees.

Above just some Ents and us.  We have a huge beach all to ourselves and you can't beat the view.  (Even if the horizon is off.)

Well almost all to ourselves...

Well, that was peacefully rewarding and I am glad you came along to the end.  I am going to rest on this log and stretch my legs.  Can you pass me a bottle of water from the cooler?

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Part II of Our Mini-vacation

We had scoured the area for launch sites the day before after we checked into our island hotel.   I was surprised to find the restaurants still a little crowded although it was a full month after the tourist season had ended and still under COVID restrictions, mild as they were.  The hotel was also fairly full.  There was only one formal launch site from the island itself and it put us in the backside of the island and into the marsh. 

 The day we chose for our primary canoe trip, which was the next day, had that perfect temperature in the low 70's F and autumn dry clear air.  Fall was truly settling in and chasing summer on its way. We had the Old Town canoe on the top of the old Chevy.  The back of our car was loaded with boat cushions, life jackets, paddles, and oddly, for my husband, no fishing gear. There was also a small cooler with cold drinks and crackers and protein bars and fruit for a snack lunch.

It cost a $5  permit for the week to use the public launch site, so hubby got the permit even though we were still looking for other less formal launch sites the next day.  We wanted something less busy and more remote.

The next morning we found on the National Park side that there was plenty of accessible interior beach area on the sheltered side of the peninsula and the parking lot was close enough to drag the fiberglass canoe into the water along the flat land access.  At first glance at the low tide, we thought we were going to have to walk into squishy mud, but upon checking, we saw that it was just muddy sand and hard-packed and perfect for entering the calm water.  

Our canoe is around 80 pounds, but we are slow in coordinating the slide-off and then flipping and each carrying an end to the water's edge.  After loading the gear, I usually get in first and hubby gallantly steps into the shallow water after pushing my end towards the deeper part of the water.  

There were more people than I expected on the sheltered beachside of the park peninsula as I pushed off and looked back.  Almost 80% of the park visitors were fishing, camping, or just sitting in the sun over the rise on the ocean side of the park. The waves on that side were high!

If you look closely above you can see the lifesaver shelters facing that roaring ocean side.  They are all empty this time of year.  They must have quite a crowd in the summer because even now much of the beach had tents and RV units!

As we floated slowly along the shallow waters we startled large (18-inch) redfish in small schools of 4 or 5.  We also scooted over wary blue crabs as they backed into the grasses and raised their claws in defense.  The small schools of baitfish flashed silver as they escaped to a safer place.  There was even one porcupine fish the size of a baseball that used his tiny little helicopter fins to float in place pretending that we would mistake him for a floating rock.  He floated inches above the silty sand as we stopped and watched.

Red tunicates/sponges(?) clung to the substrate and survived.

We paddled along the seagrasses not sure how far we had to go to find a put-in, but not really caring.

Further along, we encountered the oyster farming leased sites which make the island famous for its salty oysters served in local restaurants and shipped further inland.

On the marsh side we saw a duck blind or two that the cormorants had claimed as a hotel.

On the other side, we wound in and out of the wandering edge of the salt grasses and encountered a number of feathered fishermen.  Can you just see him standing proud in the direction my canoe bow is pointing?

With a zoom lens, I can pretend I am getting quite close.  This one did eventually fly.  

Well, I guess I have to break this post into three parts, as this post is getting quite stay tuned for some scenery drama ahead.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

An Eastern Shore Respite

While I started writing about our trip on my other blog I think this second post is mostly about the beautiful outdoors that can so easily cleanse the mind and stretch the muscles and if you are smart, stimulate the lungs. With all the stress in the world, there is nothing better than a quiet and steady drift along shallow waters on the protected side of the Eastern Shore.

It is not too difficult to find a place to put in.  There are long beaches and even park docks that make it easy.  We have packed a light lunch and drinks and rain gear as the sky looks kind.

There are others that are out and about in the sheltered marsh.  Younger but not necessarily wiser.  The nice part is that you can get closer to the wildlife and keep a distance from the tame life.

And you can check out the abstract artwork!

We got to watch a good variety of seabirds.  There were even some wild mammals in the marsh.

If as a child, you read the children's book "Misty of Chincoteague" you fell in love with these wild ponies and then read the whole series.  Where did they come from?  How can they live here?  "Several legends are told regarding the origins of the Chincoteague ponies; the most popular holds that they descend from survivors of wrecked Spanish galleons off the Virginia coast. It is more likely that they descend from stock released on the island by 17th-century colonists looking to escape livestock laws and taxes on the mainland."  according to Wikipedia.  Inbreeding became a problem and humans introduced other genes to assure survival.

OK, put on more sunscreen and in the next post we can glide along the shallows and come to a striking and dramatic private beach that we were able to use for lunch.