Saturday, January 30, 2016

Padded Thoughts

The sound of the woods changes dramatically after the snow storm.  I am in a white padded room where the hush of my breath is the loudest noise I hear.  If I move slowly past the dusted trees, the only other sound  I hear is the sound of my feet packing the wet snow, a sound like satin sliding against a wall.  Nothing else is moving in the early morning woods.  I am the first to leave a mark on the way to the river.  I hate that my mark is large and ugly.  I wish I could fly like a bird leaving only the flick of a flake...arriving with just a dusting from a branch.

Having a camera to capture and preserve the purity and sinless beauty when nature blankets all the corners and jagged breaks and shafts of darkness with soft whiteness brings a preserved moment of peace.  It seems to arrest time for just a bit.  I feel as if a restart button has been pressed when I look at my winter album.  It is time for us to stop, sigh, and hold our thoughts.  Time to be solid in our place in the universe, time to be a part of the beauty.  Time to study how the platforms of ice move slowly against each other gently shoving and adjusting how they fit in complete and peaceful silence with the others.  

But nighttime in this white world is a different game.

This night I am snuggled deep in the soft quilt and just drifting into a rewarding sleep after my day of chores when the shrieking cry of a woman being sliced open pierces the darkness.  I hold my breath and race to the top window that overlooks the yard.  The loud and haunting cry comes again and again like a knife through the dark.  It is the reminder from the red fox that the world needs to plan for a fertile spring well ahead of time.  It is time to think about rebirth even earlier than we expect.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Round and Round She Goes

Yesterday when the sun disappeared early behind a very cloudy sky it just winked before it disappeared over the horizon and flashed us with such color.  I walked through the drifts of snow on my deck to capture this. 

Then early this morning while I was making my coffee I was up early enough to capture this sunrise beauty. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Life and Death

The red shouldered hawk has been visiting the yard on a regular basis.  There are two and I assume they are a pair as I have seen them together in the spring.  Now they play the game of divide and conquer.  One flies high over the yard calling and whistling and the other flies into the back yard waiting ever so patiently near the bird feeders.  It is as if he is watching the Discovery channel episode of song birds.  The other day he landed beneath the feeders hidden in the scrub and seemed to be peering beyond the trunk of our large oak tree.  The birds did not act as if they feared his presence as they came and went at the bird feeders with regularity.  I could not get close enough for good photos, so while some were taken outside, most were taken through the window.

I was studying him with my binoculars when he swooped down behind the tree into the leaf cover and hunkered flat.  At first I thought he has missed the squirrel which took off from under his wing just before he landed, but after watching carefully I noticed he was eating something.  If you look at the area near his bill you can see he has something in his mouth.  When I used the binoculars I saw it was a worm snake, about 8 inches in length.  In this cold weather it seemed unusual for this reptile to be in the leaves, but clearly the hawk was sharp-eyed.

He came back later in the afternoon and waited on the snag above the bird feeders.  He sat there most of the afternoon and did not seem to mind when I stepped outside onto my deck as long as I stayed close to the house.

He flew closer to the feeders and kept his back to me so that he could fly away.

 ...And he was rewarded in a short while with the capture of a tiny titmouse which he grabbed in his claws and carefully plucked and ate while sitting on a nearby branch.  I do not mind the loss of a songbird, there are many more in my yard.  If he had lingered longer I would have, of course, brought in the bird feeders.

There is no doubt in my mind, he will be back when this big winter storm arrives.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Walk With Me

Come walk with me.  Bring your camera or your binoculars, although there are few birds to see this time of year.  The day is mild so all you need is a light jacket and water and a snack.  They have recently cleared the trails and even though there is heavy leaf cover, the trail can still be followed.

The trail starts out just off the road beside an open field.  You can hear the crows in the distance, probably arguing with some red shouldered hawk across the way in the row of cedars that define the boundary of the farm.

The woods are open and sun peaks through winter clouds to light the way.  Holly trees are scattered in the under story.  Some with berries.  It is hard to sneak up on any wildlife as our feet crunch loudly on the beech and oak leaves.

When you come down off the ridge you can see a small stream that meanders to the sea.  During heavy rains it might even be a river.  This area used to be sand dunes, so the water has washed the soil away and left a squiggle of sandy shore.

We make our way past a forest of very healthy mountain laurel and we make a note to return in the spring and then the trail suddenly opens up once again and we can almost smell the salt water.

We are soon rewarded with the view of the Bay and the sun breaks through just in time for another photo.  It is hard to believe it is January.

Friday, January 15, 2016

End of Day Paintings

Can there be too many beautiful sunsets?  Nah.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Flood Tide

After my hike/walk the other day I walked down to the dock to check on stuff. We were having a flood tide, a very strong flood tide!

 The salt bush were surrounded by water and all the flotsam and jetsam were being pushed onto shore.  The wind was also pushing the water into the back of our little creek.

I was able to get these photos because the temperatures were in the 60sF and I did not have to bundle against the very strong winds or spray of water.  By nightfall temperatures were to drop to freezing and below, though.

Waves were being pushed onto the dock and if this continued for many hours more, we would have a nice icy surface by morning.

The outside corner by the dock ladder became a funnel for all the leaves, grasses and that little yellow plastic floating toy, which can just barely be seen floating on the water between the ladder and the pillar.   Everything was eventually being pushed up and over.  We are lucky this is not ice being pushed against the dock.  That can cause damage if long and strong.

Such tides make you respect nature and her whims, tantrums and angry moments.  I wonder what this will look like by morning.


Monday, January 11, 2016

The House Finch

This is the time of year when I watch my feathered friends through the window while sitting in the warmth of my house. I should be brave and go outside dressed for the cold but as I age my joints do not always behave the way I wish when I get down on the cold ground and then try to get up again.   Anyway here are some photos of my red house finch outside my bedroom window. He is puffed up like a cotton ball and enjoying my seeds. 

Photos were taken through he window and not a sharp as they should be...oh well, I think his beauty still shines through.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Returning to Normal

Finally the cold and gray seems to be moving away somewhere and we are now getting the even colder sunny days of winter. The sky will be clear meaning the air will be colder, but this seems normal to me, at long last.  It is odd still how a bright yellow sun in the winter seems less like the hot fire it is and more like a distant light bulb.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

When Winter Comes

My car did not have shelter the other night and I was able to document the artistic painting done by winter's daughter as she flew over. 

I remember as a small child before there were double and triple glazed windows watching this art show in the early mornings of our farm house before the heat of the house and glow of the sun made the crystals melt away.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Calcium Carbonate Art

Cold nights and cool days
Frost dusts the still green lawn 
No guilt in starting a fire in the fireplace 
Then taking out the plastic bags that were stowed away after summer
Listening to the click of calcium shells 

First the pink and soft sunset colored scallops
The skeletons of the animals that used to dance across the ocean floor
And wave silky veils about
Romantic and feminine 

Then the testostorone shapes -- points and defense
This is the shell of the hard sounding named conch
It seems to still have the energy of the animal it once housed
Even though it lost the battle

Then there is the "moon shell"
Does not this one look like a "man in the moon?"
And finally,

These are like the capiz shells 
That they make into lamps and hanging art in the Philippines.
Except these are only the size of nickels and quarters

None of the shells above are rare
Tourists spent the mornings crunching thousands of them under their feet
Ignoring their beauty
And failing to know their history
But a few of us who believe in preserving memories
Collected them

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Barefoot Wnter

This new year has finally brought mornings when I cannot go outside barefoot any longer.  The nights are now much cooler, although mother earth or father time has not blown a frosty breath across the yard just yet.  We have been harvesting persimmons most of the month and made cookies, cake, pudding, eaten them raw, and finally gave the last of them away to neighbors.  The texture is not for everyone, but we do love them.

I took this just as the sun was coming up the other morning.  I am always re leaved to see that once again this year neither the crows, squirrels or raccoons have found these.  They seem like some odd exotic import from a more tropical land and hang over the holidays like ornaments on the tree.  They cannot be picked until they are just becoming squishy.  If picked hard they still have alum and cannot be eaten.  We bring them inside and let them get even softer for a day or two and then they can be eaten from the shell with a spoon like gelatin.   They are perfect orbs of potential.