Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hallow's Eve

My Halloween Owl.
Sandy did not scare my electricity away and brought down only one tree, thus far.  Waiting  for the sunrise to see any damages.  Boy is it COLD outside!  Sandy is on her way north causing levees or dams to break, fires to burn and awesome blizzards.   No matter how many wars man creates, Mother Nature always shows who is really the boss.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Careful Photography

Driving along the road in the Shenandoah National Park this autumn there were many opportunities for photographic moments.  I eventually filled my memory card with an abundance of mountainsides and landscapes with distant vistas and I had to look elsewhere for creative vision.  I saw this lovely bed of dying ferns and stopped to take a photo.

Since this was a small hill at the side of the highway, I did not have to get too low to get the angle I wanted.  I hate giving others a good laugh as I try to pull myself up from the ground.  Many times photographers have to get down and dirty to create new angles in their photography. This time I only had to look up the hill at the side of the road to get the low angle that I wanted.

Later in the day I had to squat a little lower to get these sumac flower heads which are always reliable in fall when looking for red colors. Next I got down on my knees in the wet woods at Gettysburg battlefield to get the photo below.

But be careful...in spite of its dramatic beauty it is dangerous...this is poison ivy. I have to be even more careful and be sure to look up now and again because there are other dangers along the roadside.

Yes, it is blurry because I was having trouble concentrating.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Change of Tenant

You did not ask but I will share. Perhaps some of my visitors remember the soap opera of Fred and Ethel, the osprey pair that built the nest shown in the photo above this summer.  I watched Ethel, who for some reason seemed the more experienced, seduce Fred into the role of fatherhood. Her dance was persistent because he was somewhat dense for a while. Eventually he got the hang of things. 

I never knew whether an egg or two had been laid because the nest is so high, but Ethel did sit patiently throughout the unusually hot summer while Fred brought her breakfast and dinner.  He guarded the nest while she flew to a nearby tree to eat the raw fish he gave her.  Summer came and went without a single hatching of a new osprey.

Eventually they just used the nest as a meet up place to watch the sun set. Then in early October she left for her vacation down south.  He waited a week or so longer sitting in the snag above the nest in the late afternoons.  I could see his solitary silhouette each evening while I made dinner.  Finally, he also began his journey down south.

Today the blue heron, that sometimes argued with them, claims this nest as his perch most mornings and quite a few afternoons.  He is more mellow when I walk down to the dock and allows me a few quick photos before taking off.  

He may stay the winter and it will be interesting watching to see the osprey reclaim their home in spring from this big guy.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Letter From Home

I was late getting home because I stopped on the way to sit by the river today.  Remember those short fall days when sunlight spilled the color of the leaves across the blue glass surface?  The small brown trout waited in that hole beyond the maple root where the children always looked for them.  Trout at peace with the world because the water was now cold and refreshing and  determined children were now in school.  

I sat on "our" bench.  The place where you first touched my hand as I watched the breeze and sunlight play with the top of your hair and realized that you did have a few freckles.  We were at peace with the world back then as well, not looking forward or back but enjoying the moment.

The woods are damp from last night's rain and the pine smells sharp when mixed with the mustiness of the first fallen leaves.  The sun crosses my body in a warm caress and I loosen the green sweater that you said you liked because it brought out the red in my hair.  I wear it often these days.  

I bid goodbye to one more day.  Its end bringing you closer to home when we can sit here together once again.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


I have attracted hundreds of bumble bees to my yard this summer.  Lots of other bees and pollinators as well, although very few honey bees.  Our honey bees come from Europe originally, and perhaps our diet is just too rich for them because they are disappearing like snowflakes on a late spring day.  Beekeepers are studying their demise with much concern.

Click on photos for close-ups.

Many of the fat bumblers are still lingering as fall arrives to catch nectar from the last of the cosmos, zinnias, celosia, lavender, sage and their real favorite, a variegated "cat mint" shrub.  Some, just like us, wear their groceries on their hips.

They no longer buzz noisily as I pass and their darting is more like heavy floating from blossom to blossom.  They actually look a little drunk when in reality they are just cold.  

In the early colder mornings as I pass they rest covered in dew, comatose on the blossoms.  I think they look as if some craft person has stuck them there for decoration.  The bumblers are different in appearance if you are not afraid to look closely.  Some dressed in shiny black bottoms and others a yellow furry coat all around.

And some I have discovered have attitude!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ducks in Action

My husband was watching this fellow through the binoculars getting ready to jump to the dock and join his mate.  They like this dock because my neighbor has a leaky hose and thus the fresh water is available to them.  I tried to catch the jump as he made it, but because he was on the other side you don't get the full effect.  Just a wing flap and he has made it.  Below in a grainy photo due to the dark time of day, the male Mallard seems to be spinning some one-liners to the female...no?  Come here often?  Can I help you with that leaky nozzle?  Did you just get in from a migration?  (As always you can click on the photo for a close-up via Blogger.)

And finally, above is a Mallard that I scared (and he scared me) from under my dock when I went down to watch the sunset that same evening.  He jumped into the water from beneath my dock where he was sitting on a float.  It is not the best focus but I wanted to share the water "angel" he made.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Golden Hours

Those golden hours come ever sooner each day. I used to have time to eat a slow dinner and then slip on sandals and saunter down to the water to catch a sunset. Now the dinner is hurried through or even interrupted and the saunter becomes a careful old lady quick trot with camera clutched to my side.  I feel the cold dusting of raindrops as I bump the salt bush while my attention is on the soft muddy sand or sharp gravel.

Sometimes I get there early enough to see the mallards sorting their spaces for the night and pausing for food at the edge of the grasses.  There is one little one that was slow to hatch this summer and is behind in growing before winter.  The others seem to be paying special attention to it.  Other times my trot is too quick and noisy and interrupts deer in the nearby woods and startles the lazy squirrel from his tummy stuffing repast of fallen acorns and forces the mallards to hide from my camera on the far side of the river.

But the eventual "Goodbye" slows me down and makes me breathe deeper and I forget any food that was left to cool on the dinner plate.

Thursday, October 04, 2012


So, what does this look like to you? The exotic fur of some animal? The beginning of a new species? The skin of a tropical reptile?  Go ahead and touch it...

Does this photo help?

It is actually the reward of a well tended flower bed top dressed with some early summer compost and nurtured by a long hot summer. This small grove of papaya trees from the seeds of our breakfast discard was left whimsically by my husband as a gardening experiment when he discovered it a few months ago. 

It appears that summer, which is now fall, will not be long enough to let the flowers on this tree set and bear fruit. Nights are now cooler dropping into the 60's and by November they will be quite cold into the 40's and at that time these trees will die and have to be recycled once again back into the compost bin. We do tease the exotic thought that, had we nurtured the seeds from our spring breakfast and got them going inside in early March, we might actually have been able to harvest some papaya from this tropical forest this year!