From gray-brown, bare limbs to this ….. seemingly in only a very few days.
What a pleasure to see it all again. I’m annually in wonder over this massive miracle, these great beautiful bandages over the sores of winter. Welcome back!!
Where have these blooms and leaves been? Wrapped tightly under their coats against the icy cold. It’s what we do as well: we wrap our warmth and color within our warm spaces, holding on while the days drag on to
Sunny, mild, balmy days, perhaps a soft breeze, the birds singing. Oh, the birds.
I wonder at all of the beauty and I’m in awe of its construction…from the simplest wild flower asserting itself from the forest floor…..
…..to the complex, lush, delicate beauty of these Camellias.
From my computer days I wonder if the plants and the trees all have some kind of plant firmware that enables them to do what they do. If so, it’s highly complex code, and so well written to produce such beauty.
These crabapple blossoms just enjoyed a sprinkle and, smiling, seem to be looking around to see if it’s Ok to come out. I smile back in return, thankful for their short but wonderful visit.
A Queen of the season, the daffodils in many varieties are seen all over the campus, like bright lemon lollipops.
The return of spring helps me. I can become full of doubt about life in the face of much that happens that is sad or evil.
I accepted years ago that it isn’t a Norman Rockwell world; recently it has come home to me that it isn’t a Thomas Kinkade world either.
Yet, here comes spring again, the annual rebirth to continue the species. A lot of life keeps on working right.
I made my first trip to the beach for the year and found things in good shape and headed for better. I was pleased and impressed to find many stores open but there are more to come. Even the Ferris Wheel was dressed up for the weekend. Beach Haven favorites and stand-bys such as Buckalews and Uncle Will’s and Hands and Fred’s Diner are open for business. There are, however, still many signs of damage and sadness as people work to restore their summer and even year-round homes. My friend, Nick, continues to restore the boat landing at the end of my street where there is still evidence of damage but signs of life coming back.
These tulips had about five feet of salt water above them during Sandy. Yet, here they are. Nick also has most of the Purple Martin houses re-erected.
At the beach the artificial dunes created post-Sandy presently block the entrance from the street ends and give one the feeling of being on the edge of a great desert.
Clearly, however, people are crossing the desert and the dune, and wandering around
The erosion caused by Hurricane Sandy has exposed a number of groins and jetties from past years.
It’s a good feeling to see people back enjoying what the beach has to offer.
Feeling cold and crotchety in mid-February I decided I should take the cure in Florida. My friend was amenable so off we went, first to her family condo at Delray Beach. The sun was shining and it was warm and we enjoyed a pleasant few days there. We justified the cocktail hours with a little work, redoing a stepping stone path from the lanaii to the lawn with its sunset bench by the lake.
One of the highlights of the area is the Wakodahatchee Wetlands. This excellent project of Palm Beach County’s Utilities Department is a fifty acre meadow traversed by three quarters of a mile of boardwalks through and around marshes and ponds and thickets of nesting and resting bird life. We visited it last year (see Wakodahatchee Wetlands) and it was great even without my long lens. This year I brought the lens (100-400mm) and I was pleased with the results.
There is the usual array of Great Blue Herons, Tri-colored Herons, and Anhingas.
A fun capture for me was this Red-winged Blackbird. I’ve heard them in the fragmites and other shore foliage all my life, and watched them flit between hiding places, never pausing long enough to be captured. This one did, and I was pleased to find the splashes of yellow under the red.
From Delray Beach we headed across Alligator Alley to another favorite place…Sanibel Island. After a few days on the beach there I began to think that maybe I could get into this Florida-in-February thing. It is a quiet, laid back life pretty much focusing, for us, on the beach, the wildlife refuge, the competitive shelling, and looking for the green flash. The opening scene above was taken early in the morning on our adjacent beach. Here’s another scene illustrating what’s referred to as the “Sanibel Stoop.”
As the above scene and the one below suggest, the weather wasn’t splendid every day but it didn’t get in our way. One morning started this way but eventually cleared enough for a float-boat ride with a naturalist through the mangrove thickets of Tarpon Bay.
We also went through the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge three times including once with a guide which was worthwhile. And, we toured the excellent educational visitor’s center. On the refuge trail I managed to capture something new for me: juvenile ibises, long legged, long billed wading birds.
On our last day on our way off the island we took one final swing through the refuge. I was thrilled to capture this Yellow Crowned Night Heron. They don’t come easy; they’re named Night Heron for a reason. This one, however, was locked in on something, never flinching as I got close enough for the capture. The feather detail and colors are beautiful and the yellow stripe and its head spike-feathers are high-five sporty.——————————————————————————————–
I wasn’t going to go this year. Last year’s Hawaiian theme was not very interesting or attractive for me so I wasn’t going to go back. Then I saw channel six’s preview and I thought that the show looked pretty exciting. (Plus, my artist friend, Marilyn F., gave me an extra ticket.) So, off to the Philadelphia Flower Show. The theme was the “majestic beauty and creative genius of Great Britain,” and it was carried off brilliantly.
The central theme display was a great creation involving Big Ben as its centerpiece. What caught my eye, however, was the reflection of Big Ben in surrounding pools which also featured great lily pads.
I spent a lot of time here shooting the reflections and discussing them with another photographer who had a couple of interns in tow. Since the lily pads were reflecting a lot of light I showed the interns how to moderate that with a grad filter (graduated neutral density.)
In fact I had several pleasant conversations at the show with people who came up to me to discuss “taking pictures” and the Flower Show. The tripod effect? One of them closed by telling me she would pray for me. Not bad.
That central theme begged for many more shots. Here’s another scene, part of the theme display, which incorporated the glass block with water flowing over it which I photographed at yet another show a few years ago. I thought the glowing pots were nice.
Speaking of other shows, I realized that I had been going to them for sixty years, beginning with walking from my fraternity house at Drexel to the old Civic Center in 1953. Remember the breathtaking scene which unfolded before you as you rode the escalator down to the display floor? Sixty years of bringing home pussy willows, gloxinia tubers, and the annual gardenia plant to feed the mealybugs! I should get a PHS Merit Award.
Another of the many striking displays was this one of classical Greek statuary and fountains. The arresting feature? The statue show here was alive. As the gentle background music played and the fountains rose and fell she would periodically assume a new classical statue position. Just beautiful and lovely.
The light level was so low, boys and girls, that this had to be a six second exposure at f/14 (ISO 400.) Notice: she didn’t move although you can see signs of others moving behind her. Fun!
Last year I complained about the lack of flowers at the show. All those that were missing last year finally arrived this year. Lots and lots of flowers. The competitive specimen displays were all under a suggestion of canopy which improved the lighting and made one feel more as though one were in someone’s conservatory. Among the other flowers to be seen were these English roses.
Another interesting display area included several themed chambers elevated off of the floor and with circular openings so that one could almost put one’s head inside them. Music was playing inside each chamber. One, yellow and elongated, was playing “We All Live In A Yellow Submarine.” Beatles, English, clever. Here’s one of those chambers.
All in all a very nice experience. I spent four hours on the floor and I haven’t done that in years. I had to carry my feet home in a bag.
Saturday….recuperating from vacation….nothing going on…. how about a walk along the campus’s Red Trail? Great! The flower show opened today, and our own show will be coming along soon. Here’s the first sign…Snow Drops.
Later, the trail runs close by the Rancocas south branch. Here are some reflections of bare branches. Foliage soon. Picture shot for fun(k).
Here’s a tiny “rapids” along Sharp’s Run. Shot and aggressively messaged for fun(k).
After I uploaded this post a shore-friend and photography colleague, Laura M., spotted this face in the rapids. A Rancocas water spirit???
That’s all. Just take your camera along when you go for a walk. You never know what’ll catch your eye.
Not heavy, maybe three to five inches, enough to be beautiful and calling to me. I first noticed it when I saw that my little red house was covered with snow as was its backyard.
My next view was of my new bird feeder. Signs of some early morning customers other than the tin cardinal.
I had been thinking about the snowfall during the wakeup process, realizing that I’d have to get out there and see what the world looked like with soft, white, rounded corners. Bundled and hooded against the wind chill I headed out onto the campus.
Scenes along the way were beautiful, calling to be captured.
The courtyards here are attractive to begin with. I knew the snow would add another dimension to them. Here’s an example:
Also on my must-list this morning was the nearby iconic Kirby’s Mill on the southwest branch of Rancocas Creek. The first structure here dates from 1778 and there have been additions over the years. Its location on the creek with the nearby spillway, its architectural character, and its barn-red paint bring photographers like moths to a flame. The snow just had to enhance it. Here’s the postcard shot.
And across the road:
Back home, enjoying the views from the garden room and a second cup of coffee I was reminded how wonderful my flowering houseplants are, particularly on a day like today:
In describing my move a year ago I mentioned that I had dragged along my stained glass workbench and my inventory of glass and related supplies. In December I added a page to this journal (see tab at top) talking about some of my work over the years. Well, the well has been dry for a long time with life getting in the way but I finally cranked out a new piece:
The bevels have been on the bench for several years but it was now time. The finished panel measures 13″ by 24″. This may be my last bevel piece as they are more difficult than they look. The difficulty lies in (1) getting the bevelled pieces to fit together in the lead came channels that provide rigidity, and (2) cutting the four curves in each of the four corner pieces and fitting them to the bevel came so that there are no light leaks. Bad stuff happens and I had to recut one corner piece.
I’m glad I did the piece as the bevels gather the sunlight beautifully.
Barbara and I recently took a drive up to the shops of Peddler’s Village in Bucks County. One of them specializes in unique crafts pieces which they import from all over the world. A set of lamp shades and lamp globes caught my eye, each made of tiny pieces of glass handlaid into a matrix material. Couldn’t walk past it. Another candidate for my placemat series.
One of the things I enjoy here at the Old Folks Farm is the occasional appearance of deer. Since my townhouse is up against some woods and a trail they seem to be comfortable passing by. I’m sure there are gardeners here who are unhappy about the damage to shrubs and trees, and I would be too. But it’s OK with me if they just pass by.—————————–—-
A Sunday afternoon with no commitments brings me to the back roads of Salem and Cumberland counties. It was beautiful to be out in the country, passing farm fields lightly dusted with snow under a stunning blue sky and not a McDonald’s in sight. At one point I found myself driving into Alloway, still a country village, one where my maternal grandfather, William Rudolph was born. I set out to revisit the family plot which I had discovered a few years ago. Nevertheless, I still wondered through the wrong (Methodist) cemetery, gave up and headed to the Baptist Cemetery where I found it.
The monument is for my great grandfather, Adam S. Rudolph, a civil war veteran, born in the early years of the 19th century while Andrew Jackson was president. He and his wife, Rebecca McPherson, brought my grandfather, William, into this world in 1875. This was a “How about that?” for me as I now understood where my mother’s name, Rebecca McPherson Rudolph came from. It is even more interesting to me in that my late wife and I named one of our daughters Sigrid Rebecca, and she, in turn, has a daughter Madeline Rebecca, and my late brother’s son, Chris, has a daughter named Rebecca as well. Nice.
Comes fall, comes color, but where to seek it. For years it’s been Vermont and I thought I’d go up there again but for some reason it wasn’t sitting comfortably. I opted instead for the Finger Lakes which we hadn’t visited since 2003. In early October we headed for Watkins Glen at the southern end of Seneca Lake, and about five hours driving plus any pit stops. We had stayed in a B&B further up the lake previously but thought the Watkins Glen village would be a good base. Also, my fantasy was to enjoy sunset while sitting on the town dock there and looking up the lake and at the marina. It was a pleasant fantasy and it was realized.
The number one attraction at Watkins Glen is the gorge within the state park. In 2003 we hiked this 1.1 mile trail which rose 500′ through a carved canyon and some 19 waterfalls. I thought I would die before I got to the top (hey, that’s a forty story building) . Since then they’ve added a transfer bus such that one can park at the top, walk down, and then bus it back to the car. Great! Except it only runs on weekends in the fall. So, we just walked in a little way this time.
The day being a little threatening we took off to drive west to Hammondsport at the south end of Lake Keuka, described as “America’s coolest small town.” Well, that’s OK; we thought it was nice, and you could drive around its center square pretty quickly. The stores and nearby houses converted to stores were in the Halloween mode.
From there we went along the lake’s western shore, stopping for lunch at Swissy Castel Grisch and taking in the lake from the restaurant.
With three more days of driving around Seneca, Cayuga and Keuka lakes we came across many scenic opportunities. Here are three of them:
In addition to the many falls in the Watkins Glen Gorge there are over a dozen scenic falls in the area of Seneca and Cayuga lakes. We hiked into four of them and, while the water flow wasn’t great, they were enjoyable destinations. Here’s one I particularly liked but I’m going to have to go back to figure out which one it was.
My guide to the falls in the area was the Finger Lakes issue of Photograph America Newsletter which I have enjoyed using for many other locations. I recommend it.
On weekend mornings Pearl and I have a little ritual. I brew coffee while she’s having her breakfast and then we head to the sunroom to watch the light return. On the way to the kitchen I’ve already turned on the music. I know that the air I need is a mixture of oxygen, nitrogen and some other rare gases but for me one more ingredient is needed: music, preferably classical which Pearl enjoys as well. This morning it’s Dvorak’s Stabat Mater. After her breakfast she joins me for this adoration of life and the beauty that is there for us as we choose to see and enjoy. Above, the return of early, warm light on the nearby woods through a garden room window. I am at peace but feel ebullient about the day ahead … the caffeine, no doubt, but the total experience makes it worthwhile for having gotton up.
In late November I returned for my fourth trip to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.
This time I travelled with eight others, all members of the South Jersey Camera Club. This was one of the many field trips the club sponsors during the year, and it was a fun and productive trip. Full Disclosure: We broke out eaaarrrrly Saturday morning to capture the sunrise, and I discovered that my camera was still in bed … back home. I had all but one of my lenses, my filters, and my tripod and all other gear that we carry … but … no … camera. So ashamed. Fortunately there were three other spare bodies available so the weekend wasn’t a total loss. And, the companionship made up for it.
Our field trip leader, Pat, had us out on the grinder at (it seemed like) 4:00 AM, actually more like 5:45. We drove out to the parking area for the wildlife loop road and proceeded on foot with our flashlights in pursuit of a 7:00 AM sunrise. There was a wonderful ground fog above which the scraggly pines stood starkly. Sure enough, the dawn light began to illuminate the Snow Goose Pool and we could begin to make sense of things. The opening image above was one I captured just as the sun broke above the horizon.
Here’s most of the group that dawn. There were things to photograph on both sides of the road.
Here’s another scene that morning before the sun had actually risen. These two images show why it was good for us to be there at that time. Our leader, Pat, and colleague, Larry, had both come down a day early and had scouted out locations for us.
After that session we returned for breakfast and planned the rest of our day. That included scouting out some interesting wading bird shots and also the famous wild ponies.
The day concluded with pleasant relaxing around a bonfire on the beach in the long shadows of the setting sun.
After that a great group dinner in town which concluded with a small birthday cake for me, it being but two days after the event. I was so moved that I offered a birth-inspired toast;
Here’s to the finest years of my life
Spent in the arms of another man’s wife.
My Mother, God bless her.
A splendid field trip with some wonderful people.