Monday, September 28, 2009

Juices Flowing

Just days before this post I am filling a suitcase with layered clothing for my trip, yet, I am feeling full of the creative juices as the air turns crystal clear and crisp fall winds are encouraging me forward. (Well, as most of my readers know, I am back.) I love this time of year. Did I mention that I absolutely LOVE this time of year? Everything is going into a deep long sleep but all are giving out the most beautiful vibes in the process to encourage us to remember their energy and their spirits, and of course I will remember. I will daydream throughout the gray-blue winter days of their warmth and loving spiritual hugs. Their farewells are as passionate and as demanding as the grande divas of opera are in their farewells. It is the lieto fine of this year for me. I am not overly fond of winter and will spend much of my time curled into my chair in front of the fire until early spring with its enigmatic chores. But this fall...right now...I will dance and dance and lift my arms high to honor the moment. (Please click on the photos for some fall art expression.)

Saturday, September 26, 2009


I sit on the deck of my house waiting with telephoto in hand to catch those darting and faithful hummingbirds. There are at least three that visit the feeder with increasing regularity as the sun begins to retreat. They will fight with each other rather than eat like buddies and usually the weaker one has to leave for a time until the top bird gets his fill. I have seen them dart and chase each other for quite sometime at sunset before one of them wins and is allowed to drink.

This time I have decided to wear dark colors and sit very still in the deck chair as prior attempts at photographing these flirts have been met with gray blurs. The mosquitoes are biting and it is hard to sit still and wait for the buzzing hum of the bird to alert me. My arms are getting fatigued from holding the focus and my camera battery is waning. I have seen such lovely photos of these birds including photos with them landing on people's arms on other blogs. Why are my hummers so very timid?

Years go while birding on a boat on a river in Belize we came across a hummingbird spinning like a top on the calm surface of the water. Our guide motored closer and we scooped up the hummer who was so much smaller than I ever thought. He weighed nothing in my hand...seeming less than the composite of his feathers. We returned him to land but he was very weak and landed in nearby grasses, perhaps to die anyway, but at least knowing someone cared.

Suddenly I hear the hum just behind my head, then to the right and then to the left behind my field of vision. I squelch the strong desire to turn and look. He has discovered my presence and is actually checking me out before he heads to the feeder. The first time he disappears back into the woods, but the second time he becomes braver and flies over my head and onto the feeder nestled in the moonflower vine at the other side of the deck.

He actually sits on the feeder but each sound of the click of my camera causes him to rise and hover inches above the feeder anticipating any danger. Then back to sitting on the feeder and another click and he hovers. This goes on for some time before I have too many photos to download with ease and I return to the house to see what I have captured. They are far, far less than I had hoped in terms of clarity and I have resized some that I have sharpened to post here. Although hardly good photos, you can click on them to see the few late travelers who visit my deck in the afternoons as winter pushes forward.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Very Impressive Weed

Eupatorium fistulosum

This plant found in a moist field in West Virginia has been given the common names of Joe Pye Weed, Trumpetweed, Queen of the Meadow, and Purple Thoroughwort among other things. The name Joe Pye Weed probably came from the name of an Algonquin native (not named Joe) that used the weed to treat various illnesses including typhus. It is a perennial that can get 10 feet tall and this clump was about 6-7 feet high. It is considered a weed by farmers. The height and the lovely deep rose color caught my attention as we were driving by on our misty, rainy day. It is related to the sunflower but the flowers themselves are hard to identify and what you see as they mature is lots of pink feathery fuzz. Butterflies love them. I used to have a wild plant at my other house. Maybe I will try to find some room for one here. (Click on photo for better view.)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Lunch Crowd

"I tell ya, Fred, I am gonna stop eating at this place for lunch. It is gettin' to be just too darn popular!"

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

More RED

Mid-August begins the change of colors in the high mountains of West Virgnia and these photos were taken August 19 in the Canaan Valley area. They are all the rich reds that nature can throw at you and if you are redesigning a room for fall, these hues should be very helpful. Mother Nature never seems to get it wrong in terms of color combinations or saturation levels. The photos have been reduced in size, but clicking on some of them will enlarge them somewhat. I think they are smile inducing even in this smaller size.

(Still very far away and enjoying 33 degree mornings.)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Red Sally

Pseudotriton ruber

From my research it appears that this red salamander is found throughout the Eastern United States. It lives near springs and swampy areas. This little delight was in the middle of our hiking path (a utility road) just above the the Blackwater River and I was amazed when I really saw it. It was like a lovely jewel that someone had dropped on the path.

There was a small ditch filled with water from several mountain springs on the uphill side of the trail and that side was also covered with deep green and lime green mosses and ferns growing lushly to accompany the lyrical sound of the gurgling water. He was only 2.5 inches in length and initially I mistook him for one of the new maple leaves that were starting to fall in the Canaan Valley mountains. It was the alert observation of my husband that brought our hike to an abrupt halt for photos and insured we would not step on him/her. He lay very still much like some of the wild snakes I have encountered. I am sure he was thinking "I am a red leaf. Move on. Please, just move on!" which after a few camera clicks, we did. This red color has not been enhanced or photoshopped although I did do some sharpening of the photo. Amasingly, this is the true color. I think he/she is a young specimen as the spots are supposed to blend into the back when they are mature. (Click on photo for a slightly closer look.)

Even though I am not here I look forward to any comments on this when I return. I love comments!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Youth is Wasted on the Young

Fledgling cardinal photos taken in early August.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Farewell to the Fat Lady

Just when I think that I can no longer stand the heat and pulsing humid breath of summer in my face, just when I can no longer bear the light of the sun washing everything bright white, summer begins its departure. I have changed my rhythm to moving very slowly or at least, determinedly, toward whatever destination awaits in the shade where the air does not feel as though it is pushing on me like a wet blanket smothering whatever initiative I had before I left the house. I have portioned my chores into smaller units and no longer feel that I must weed each and every flower bed. The flowers are bending low from heavy rains or turning to rust or just forming heavy seed pods. The goldfinch have eaten most of the zinnias to bristly heads. The butterflies are the only ones who continue to dance like feathers across the lawn. Perhaps it is because they know how short their life is.

The garden holds the fall colors of red and yellow tomatoes and hot peppers and spaghetti squash and beans. The greens are gray and tired or turning to parchment beige. The insects no longer sing happy rhythms. They buzz with intensity like burning saws as though they were beginning the cutting of firewood for the cold nights ahead. All sound is dizzy percussion.

And then it happens. When I wipe my glistening brow as I pause from the harvest and look up at the tree tops and the sky, I notice something so slightly different that I cannot identify what it is. The angle of the sun has changed, the color of the sky is a different blue, and the high tops of the tulip trees begin to fan a cool breeze my way tossing a golden leaf here and there in the process. The cooler air kisses my hot forehead. I now realize that it is summer that has packed her heavy trunk and is dragging it away up the driveway followed by the sound of dried leaves in the wind. Suddenly I miss her and wish she would stay just a little longer.