Sunday, November 27, 2011

Poetry in Motion

Birds are wary and do not linger long for photos. They dart in and out of the feeders, hiding frequently in the nearby holly's evergreen bows for shelter and camouflage.   I spend time sitting very still and sometimes they seem to forget I am there until I cross an ankle or turn my head, but still it is difficult to get a crisp shot.

If a hawk lands in a close high up branch they freeze.  They look like stuffed animals at the museum exhibit and do not turn a head to see if the shadow of the raptor is behind or beside.  They do not move one tiny feather.  Their form is that of a hunched life form ready to fly, but tucked tight in the center.  They are usually tucked beneath a flower pot, leafy branch or in deep shadow.

Thus the truth of nature is that motion catches the eye.  You know this if you have tried to view wildlife.  Someone may point out that bird or animal, but you cannot see it, unless it moves.  And then it comes into focus surrounded by grass or leaves or branches.

I learned that even I can be hidden.  As I sat on a plastic stool at the edge of the patio, camera in hand, trying to catch various bird photos I also disappeared.  I heard rustling leaves to my side, but assuming it was a digging squirrel, I only turned somewhat later.  There was a young deer digging for roots or moss.  A warning cry from some bird caused him to pause as he started the climb up the ridge toward my lawn.  He raised his ears, then lowered them, ignoring the warning.  He came out into the clearing  only 15 feet from me and I did not move but held the camera in his direction.  He seemed to sense something was amiss but continued to graze.  I clicked the camera and he did not seem to hear.  I continued to click and then he looked up and stared at me.  He tilted his head as if to get a better focus.  I did not move...he could not see me!  There I sat in full view and he stared for several minutes before something about me...perhaps the movement of my breathing caused him to trot off across the lawn and into the other side of the ravine.

Movement, the dance of the living, that is the key to it all.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Not a Turkey

That time of year again when we show thankfulness by eating and drinking until we make ourselves ill.  I saw this duo in the photo below just a week ago.  They seemed to be saying "We are NOT turkeys!"  I felt it was my duty to post a close-up to make sure you didn't accidentally eat one of these on Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 18, 2011

I Hear Dead Things

Morning is still sleeping, but I cannot.  I seem to be getting up before the sun regularly on these shorter than short days.  The full moon peeks behind high clouds and then ducks back taking the gaunt moving shadows with it.  I sit in a silent room sensing the quiet cold that has settled outside as I tuck the throw more tightly around my legs.  A simple sound could carry a mile on the thin crisp air out there.  Even the few lights on the river seem to twinkle so quietly, almost fearfully, with a silver white glow.

Suddenly, the house seems to take a quick and deep intake of breath as if bracing itself, and I hear the rattle of twigs and leaves beside windows, scraping across the porch, and clacking across the roof.  Just like boney fingers with long nails they tap as if testing to get in, reminding me they are spinning out there, in the waiting cold, flying against and over the house, scratching and biting their way through the woods, clattering and spinning chaotically.

Once the sun is up, they become nothing more than dancing debris, but now  in the dark they are dead things that move.

(I know...compared to the prior post...I am a little bi-polar.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Falling Love

I have always been addicted to the passionate beauty of autumn.  It never hides its love.  No caution is thrown to the wind, only jewel toned leaves.  Autumn does not fear rejection nor criticism nor competition.  It is all about the sex without reproduction.  The trees throw flaming red scarfs to the ground until they stand naked and cold before you.  It is the passionate center of things that is valued.  Autumn stands brave, unapologetic, and stalwart with emotion.  As a teenager I declared it my favorite season, and I even wrote sappy teenage poems to it!  I think that love affair is still ongoing.

I took a walk around my woods as the sun was just beginning to rise a few days ago.  The former night's evening dew still clung to some of the leaves like diamond jewelry.  I decided to select only the reds for this post, because it is, after all, all about the passion.  (I reduced pixel size to save space on Blogger which seems to be losing memory (space) rapidly.)

A dogwood at sunrise just waking.

Dogwood Dew (and she does!)

Stunning reds of the sweet gum tree.

Sweet Gum kiss.

Now don't you really need a cigarette or a shower?

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Rest of the Story

I finally previewed a few of my foggy paddle photos and can now tell you the rest of the story.  First, let me write about the photo that I missed...the best one of the day.  We had just reached the dock.  The water was like a silver mirror and the horizon that met it was covered with cotton batting.  Hubby held the canoe stable and close to the dock and the high tide made it easier to enter with one wobbly ankle.  I was just bending to sit when looking up and only yards away a juvenile bald eagle swooped in what appeared to be slow motion and gently touched the surface of the water with its claws and retrieved a small fish which it carried away to a distant tree.  It would have made a stunning photo even without a telephoto lens since the bird was so close.  Our eagles are extremely shy and it is rare to see one so close.  My heart sat in my throat for minutes.

Slowly the colors of fall revealed themselves as we coasted close to shoreline.

Once the sun had burned off the fog there were only tentative pockets of mist in the tucks of the river beneath the shadows of large trees.  The rest of the shoreline welcomed us with open arms.
We carefully pulled out way through marsh grasses up a finger of the river toward a familiar beaver dam.  It was high tide, but soon to change, so we could not stay long exploring this home.

I did managed to capture a photo of this marsh sparrow who was singing his heart out at the melting of the fog.

And not all of the stars had disappeared with the night.  A few were caught in the marsh grasses.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Bored Walking

I actually took a 2 mile walk stroll around a nearby lake yesterday. I had trouble going down the small hills along the path, but no trouble walking up them. That is progress certainly?

At my age when I walk with a limp from the injury, I age 10 years or more to those that see me.  But with healing comes an ability to stifle the limp and to stand up straighter and I think I look like a different person.   Thus, I took some before and after photos of my walk to show how we see things differently with subtle changes.  I took a photo of one of my favorite places on this lake...the beaver dam with a resting bench that one reaches by going half way around.  The first photo is what the camera saw.  The second photo is what I did in post processing to reveal what my eyes saw.  (I even removed that tiny sign on the tree...!)

Friday, November 04, 2011

Float With Me

If you have never been in a canoe or are not a type to head outdoors in an early morning fog, come let me share my recent morning with you as you sit safely in your easy chair at home under the warm glow of the computer screen.  If, alternately, you love something like this, I am thrilled to share with you my most recent outdoor adventure in photos.

There is nothing quite like that effortless feel as a canoe floats away from its tether at the dock and your first paddle stroke breaks the smooth glassy surface of the silver water picking up speed.  (A description on the intricacies of getting in and out  of a floating canoe with an injury is for my other blog.)   The fog had settled on the river over the night and a very gentle breeze was just beginning to push it away in soft misty drifts.  The sun was hidden behind heavy moisture, but soon would burn its way warmly over head.

I felt as if we had been surrounded by a soft white comforter and we were trying to find our way across toward the open light.  It was not quiet as bird song did begin to pierce the cover of moisture letting us know they were awake and also thinking about the start of the day.  The air was cool but layered clothing kept us comfortable.  The fog re-painted the river and we saw everything with new eyes as we carefully set direction.  Large shadows melted into trees along the shoreline and sharp items became boats at dock.

By the time we reached the open area into the river, the fog was beginning to pull away and formed a wall against the bank on the far side.  It looked so gray against the blue sky.  Fog was drifting without wind as you can see from the mirror of the water's surface; there was just a slight breeze.  It is mid-fall and few boats were visibly moving at this finger of the river.  

Our tourist geese were beginning their shopping trip to the nearby corn fields and were magnificent in flight if not quiet as they flew off the water just ahead of us.

These few stragglers were certainly surprised at our quiet appearance as we passed the corner of this marshy island.  It did not take them long to paddle quickly until they got speed and also took flight.

The fog cleared just as we entered the wider part of the river where motor boats could have been a challenge.  We saw some lovely fall colors, sea gulls diving for fish, bald eagles, marsh wrens and sun.  But that will have to wait for another post.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


Some small towns have those seasons when tourists arrive in droves.  They buzz like noisy bees, poke into nooks and crannies like rude in-laws, and then, they disappear just as quickly as dew on the morning grass.  They come for the spring colors, or the summer waves, or fall leaf changes or winter skiing.   Thank goodness they only stay through the peak because they are not shy in revealing their presence.  They actually act as if they were the owners and not the visitors!

Well, my small river has its tourists as well -  the geese from Canada.  The "early birds" arrive just as fall winds get cold and the rest of the mob crashes in ahead of winters nor'easter.  They laugh and call to each other and generally fill the river with discord as the sun sets.  They are nightlife zealots and the party lasts until well after midnight.  The males in the center of the river and the gals swimming around the edges.  Then in what can only be called a drunken stupor, they finally sleep it off muttering gently through their night dreams with heads tucked under wings until the sun reaches the horizon.

Once morning is pale pink this cabal begins again a noisy cacophony that only a dysfunctional family reunion could mimic.  The noise carries for miles across the water on the cold air.

"Move over!"
"My side!  My side"
"Wake up you sloth!"
"We are going this way!"
"Your mother wears army boots!"
"Your mother doesn't migrate!"
 And on and on they call and honk until finally the noisiest one begins a chant that seems to resonate -  "Your left, your left, you left, right, left."

And, as the sun reveals its golden glory, there is much slapping of wings on the top of the water and increasing noise and bellowing and with much effort they leave the surface.  They move like low flying cargo planes or heavy laden bombers skimming the water, gaining elevation only over time, heading in the direction of distant dormant corn fields.

They leave behind tufts of white floating on the glassy surface and cast against the shore.  An unbelievable quiet fills the air as if the river has just sighed...until the next evening when it is repeated all over again.