Wednesday, January 30, 2019

How Do They Do It?

Our temperatures are in the single digits. The wind is blowing like a banshee. How do these feathered animals survive?

Sunday, January 27, 2019

The Beech

During the winter months in my small part of the woods, the beautiful fall gives way to soft winter and then bitter winter and then weeks pass and a warmer breath comes in and we may go back to fall for a small time. The beech trees hang on to their golden/copper flags until the bitter end. The family genus name Fagus (Latin for beech) seems unfair in sound as the tree is elegant with sweeping arms and a smooth and lovely gray trunk reaching to the sky.  The trunk is perfect for carving by lovers, sadly.  The tree is fertile in that it spreads by both seeds and roots and yet it does not comprise a large portion of my woods. The leaves are like copper metallic jewels even in mid-winter.

It is as if some metal artist left behind earrings and pendants at the end of silk and silver gray fingers waiting for some maiden to claim her bling.

They stand out easily in the woods like soft lights.

They outshine the shiny green of evergreen holly.   They are the last to grow in the forest accepting their place in the shade of much larger oaks and tulip trees and are members of a climax forest.  They accept their place beneath those taller soldiers with their heads in the fog.

The base of the elegant beech can be quite a network of roots with impressive gray toes like elephant's feet emerging from the trunk when it grows taller and eventually becoming a massive network beneath the tree. 

This beech below grows next to my drive and I see it every day when I leave.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Morning Visitors

In the early morning as soon as the sun breaks through I will scan the river for activity even before my cup of coffee.  It is winter and the "snowbirds" from Canada stay through rain and snow and sleet enjoying the balmy weather in the Mid-Atlantic. The other day I walked out to the bird feeders to replenish their larder and heard a rasping sound. I stopped and listened carefully. It did not sound mechanical like halyards on a mast or squeaky like tires on snow from my neighbor putting his motorcycle away.  It did not sound like ropes rubbing against the bow of a boat.  It was the only sound on this very quiet morning.

I turned carefully to look toward the sound scanning the trees wondering if it was a woodpecker cleaning his bill against the bark of the tall tulip tree or oak. Then toward the bottom of the trunks where the path to the dock covered in snow lies, I saw a red fox. He was lovely in his healthy fur coat and the sound I had heard was his panting. The sound carried over the air. He hurried toward the river's edge and down the dock, and within seconds, I heard the slap of wings and honk of startled Canadian Geese sharply breaking the silence as they took to the air for safety. It was loud on that quiet snow battened morning, and I would have missed it if I had snuggled on the couch and stayed inside, letting my birds wait until the later warmer hours to feed.  The photo below was taken at another time and may be deer tracks as fox tracks are very straight.

The river was frozen over for a few days, but this did not dissuade "my" visitors from waiting out breakfast on those mornings.

This ice makes my teeth ache just looking at them! We also were lucky to get a rare flock of Canvas Back ducks (below) to visit after the snow melted.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

For Ellen

One of my blog readers wondered what the sunset photo would look like with just the color from the sunset and all else black and white. I attempted that below:

Friday, January 18, 2019

Frozen in Black and White

I struggle much with black and white photos. I realize that simplicity and intimacy seem to work the best when one is trying to use black and white in a photograph.   At least that is what works for me in my mind. But the great outdoors with its complicated scenery just does not seem to fit in my version of black and white. Ansel Adams was a bit of a genius.  I do think that true photographic talent shows up much better with black and white photos.

Winter is mostly black and white.

This above was taken as the sun bounced above a ridge cloud with the angle of the morning sun. I converted it to black and white. (Note the bird feeders covered in snow.)

This shows the real color of that morning.  It is almost a black and white without me changing saturation or color in any way. (Our compost bin.)

This is "almost" black and white, yet I brought up the saturation of the sunset.  That was the feature in the photo anyway.  (My deck still has snow on it, although much has been melted everywhere else.)

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Just a Little Bit of Wonderland for Ya

Stuck in the yard. Both sets of neighbors are gone to Florida as is hubby. I am all alone with the peace of winter. The quiet of white velvet.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019


It was a lovely and sunny and warm winter day on Sunday and since the hunters were not allowed to hunt on Sunday we took a walk through the local park.  Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. This plant below looks like the Oriental bittersweet which is invasive in our area. But it also has traits of the American bittersweet. I was wondering if it was a hybrid since that does happen with the two plants. It was nice to photograph either way.

It was picked in the winter and brought into the house for red accents in holiday decorations.

This vine certainly spreads when you pull that camera lens back.

And spreads

Until it climbs to the top of the tree starving it of light and eventually killing it. Birds eat the seeds of both and thus the plants are spread easily.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019


They are not migrants and not immigrants, but just a massively large group of tourists. Unfortunately, we treat them the same way we treat immigrants. We shoot them!

They get very quiet as the early morning glow moves across the water and begins to penetrate the fog.  It seems as if they fear discovery.

There is some discussion among the leaders about what to do and which way to go, a bit of confusion.

The noisier ones tuck close to shore and slap the water as if they are ready for flight but that is just a bluff and not bravery.

Like all groups, the truly brave are the first to head out across the wide expanse as the day begins giving the others courage to move on.