Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Just Some Doves

Peaceful, coy, and even elegant. How do they capture it all?

Thursday, January 23, 2020

I Talk to the Trees

This is a follow-up to our walk in the State Park in the prior post. We skirted the marsh and could not help but be enthralled by the golden light and shadows across the waves of grass lying dormant until spring. The ground was dry in places and making it easier to find our way when the path disappeared beneath a layer of fallen leaves or in places where a tree had blocked the normal path.

Perhaps I was more in tune with it all since I had just finished reading The Overstory by Richard Powers.  I was listening for the whispers of the ancient ones and cognizant of all of their gaping scars.  Were some screaming at me in some silent horror at our killing of the planet?

Hubby was the one to notice the texture of this ancient tree along the path.  And I am embarrassed that I did not identify it in the photo.

You have to get in closer to see what hubby saw.

Some sapsucker was enjoying a gargantuan meal.  But we went on a while longer as the hike was not over.  There was a secret message left by another tree hugger along the path at our feet.

We headed back to the car and back home for some hot tea or cocoa!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Over 600 Acres Just for Us

A few days ago the weather was in the mid-40sF with a bright warm sun.  We had the early symptoms of cabin fever and with this sun at our back, we decided to explore a historic park that is about an hour from our house. (Click on photos for a closer look.)

It was a winter Sunday and no one was at the gate to take our money.  We crammed $3 into the slot and drove on up to the historic house site.

Plenty of parking and the only other person we saw was a jogger from the outside neighborhood.

It was luxurious being able to explore, even though we missed the tour of the inside of the house.  It had the separate house for a kitchen and the kitchen garden just beyond, as many houses of this era have.

General Smallwood was a loyal soldier and the 4th governor of Maryland when the constitution was ratified.  He came from the elite white Europeans that founded our country.  His parents sent him to Eton for a "proper" education.  

According to Wikipedia:

Smallwood never married. The 1790 census shows that he held 56 slaves and a yearly tobacco crop of 3000 pounds. When he died in 1792 his estate, known as Mattawoman, including his home the Retreat, passed to his sister Eleanor who married Colonel William Grayson of Virginia.

BUT we came for the out of doors and the exploration of the 682-acre park which covers marshland and beaver habitat and deer home.

We took the trail behind the house that took us down the hill to a wet ravine and exploding marshland.  The trees were magnificent and we could only imagine what they had seen.

The low angle of the winter sun gave great definition to the marsh grasses dotted by wet culverts and riverlets.   We did not see much in the way of beaver or bird although we heard a pileated woodpecker, yet we were happy to have this bit of land all to ourselves.  I fell in love along the way.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Four Gems

Today winter finally arrived! Actually, she arrived a few days ago with a dusting of snow that melted into the ground within hours. But today the temps will stay in the mid-thirties. At least the winds are now down. Hubby and I visited two state parks and one historic site yesterday with the weather in the mid-forties and I took a trunk full of photos. One thing I have noticed is that there are always gems in the grays and silvers and browns of winter if you take the time to pause and scan your surroundings.   I will share four of them below:

Friday, January 17, 2020

New for Me

This Ruby-crowned Kinglet is widespread and common according to Audubon. Yet in my woods, they come briefly in the spring and because they are such rapid flit-abouts, I do not get much of a chance to see them or photograph them.  This one above fell in love with my front room window...or his reflection in the window.  

I am amazed that they can waste so much energy in the winter months attacking their reflection!  They are insect eaters, so they must be finding much sustenance under the leaves in my lawn and the detritus in my flower beds.

Above is the fellow with his red feathers hidden. He raises the red crown when in mating mode!  He is quite the change artist.  There is also a hint of yellow on his wings which is not shown above.  Their nests are those amazing cups that hang.  They are a northern species, nesting in conifers and here only in the winters.  I do enjoy an opportunity to observe a new bird...for me.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Will She Return?

The Winter barely stopped by this month. Where she raced off to, no one knows. She kissed the marsh with a gentle breath and froze the floating leaves in an abstract painting of blues and browns.  The ice was as thin as a veil on a virginal bride and the warm air beneath in its joy below tore holes in the veil soon after.

Maybe she was fleeing the fires of earth down under. Maybe she thought, if she did not stop, she could find a place that would still shelter a cold and frigid winter where she could rest again and be welcomed for her quiet and silent beauty.

The ice began to recede as the sun smiled down again the next morning. Winter watches in the cold dark shadows and seems too wary to return.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Some Artwork for You

In the silver grays of winter, everyone deserves a bird painting...or two...and so, with my compliments, enjoy my house finches waiting for me to fill their feeders...

Or perhaps you want something more in the carnival vein of a celebration...

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Not So Rare?

It must be mating season for the Bald Eagle. We were taking a drive and I came across this field of them near an Amish farm. It seems there were mature and immature and they did not seem to be eating anything...just hanging out in the field and flying overhead. The photos were hard to get as it was off a fairly busy road and I did not want to trespass a well. Click on photos to enlarge.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Two Visitors

The days are short, and therefore, one finds oneself up and ready to greet the winter sunrises. The sailors' doormat on my back deck is not the soft woven rope it is most often in the warmer parts of the year. The freezing night meant that it was hard as an oven grill to my stocking feet as I hurried out to put some seed for my feathered friends. I have bird feeders but sprinkle a little seed closer to the back door near the water dish to watch antics of those feathered friends at my leisure.

I was able to get the house finch (male) in his better color as the sun bounced off the surface of the water and belted his chest with rings of light. 

 A little later the shy dove came by to peek at me.

It is cold out there, but not too cold for them as they are not all puffed up.

Monday, January 06, 2020

A Two Heron Day!

The weather was in the high 40sF which encouraged us to head out for a walk in the nearby natural County park. I happened to glance out the window of our kitchen as I pulled on my hiking coat and saw this regal fellow in my back yard as he sat watch down by the river. Hubby thinks it is a young blue heron because it is sort of fuzzy!?

We must have watched him for half an hour as he groomed his plumes and bits of feathery down floated into the air. 

After some time we decided we had to pull ourselves away to get some exercise and get out of the house.  We took the path that went around the beaver pond at the nearby natural park.  It starts with a mile or so on well-packed dirt and gravel and then melds into the newly repaired boardwalk that skirts the edge around the larger part of the marsh and pond.  The beavers do love to flood the boardwalk path!  They also sometimes store piles of mud on top for future dam repairs.

We found the ice had started to form as a thin layer on the top but did not close off the water.

And we were thrilled to be able to see another heron here at the end of the afternoon saunter.  It does not take much to thrill us old folks.

The time spent enjoying the mild winter day lent itself to other photos that I will share in the next post.

Thursday, January 02, 2020

New Year's and Change in Perspective

Our walk was only 30 minutes because the day was short and the sun was due to set in an hour. I had not brought any light to walk with. There was no breeze and thus the day was comfortable if dressed warmly. It actually made it up into the 50s F by the time we had worked into a steady walking pace.

The beginning of the walk has a small fishing pond that is stocked for children to fish in the spring. It was clearly frozen near the edges. As we walked over the dam and toward the little creek that emptied into the swamp and beaver ponds, I tried to get a slower photo of the little waterfalls that the trail goes beside. My setting was not slow enough, it looks more icy than flowy.

As we came to the sunnier side of the trail, the mosses along the base of the trees seem to keep their lime green most of the winter.

If you squint your eyes at the photo below can you pretend that this is a huge cliff at the edge of the ocean...can you?  Not the best photoshopping...but fun on New Year's Eve.

Can you see the man in the lower left and the man sitting up above in the moss?