Our South Jersey Camera Club field trip energizer bunny, Pat W., had scheduled a sunrise shoot at the Forsythe Wildiife Refuge at Oceanville, NJ.  Turned out that there were four of us crazy enough to emerge from warm beds and drive fifty miles or so to enjoy a 19° F. and windchilled  dawn. 

Once we got out on the refuge road it wasn’t so bad (all photographers lie a little) and we persevered.  As the sun rose the light became warmer.  Not so the photographers.

We finally came across a gaggle of snow geese which had been a primary reason for the trip.

We waited patiently for them to decide about us.  Finally they’d had enough of our company and, breaking into flight, became  (et voila) a skein of geese.

One thinks of the refuge as being a bird sanctuary, particularly out on the meadows.  This one and a companion, however, were also enjoying the meadows and they provided comic relief as they bounded from sedge clump to sedge clump, frequently sinking into the muck in between.

There are always the Canada Geese  Their multitude, testiness and droppings are unpleasant but when they break into flight it’s wonderful; their plaintive honking, calling to each other, so moving on a moonlit fall or winter night.  I remember a childhood writing that Sigrid had from somewhere.  It had to do with the geese flying away far overhead, and it ended with the child’s cry: Be Careful!   Years ago I gave Marty Lou a gold pin of a pair of them in flight.  In part it was a rememberance of our years on Chesapeake Bay; in part because geese mate forever.

Don't miss that left turn ahead.


Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas

As I wasn’t sure that Santa had received my change of address card I decided not to hang around for Christmas.  At the last minute we found the only cruise still available over Christmas and booked a week crusing the western Caribbean.  Accomodating 4500 passengers she could have held my summer town’s winter population and more.
The first day was purely a cruising day and I luxuriated at not having to pack/move/unpack.  It was a symbolic end to a few months of stress and fatigue.  I fell into my first nap to the shushh of the ship cutting through the sea, arriving on a gentle, warm breeze through the open balcony door.  There were no schedules or other anxieties looking in either direction.

Coming and Going

 We quickly determined that we wanted to be where the other 4498 were not as best we could.  The Royal Promenade is an incredible mall that divides the stateroom sides of the ship.  Here one finds a Starbucks, a Ben & Jerry’s, a pizza parlor, a conventional coffee and pastry shop, a cupcake shop, liquor store, and a variety of jewelry, accessory  and clothing shops.  But, at 7:00 AM all was yet quiet as I stole down to retrieve coffee for our on-the-balcony wakeups.

The Royal Promenade (before people).

On subsequent days we lounged and read, walked about the decks, enjoyed some shore excursions, saw some of the shows available, the best of which was a dramatic ice show (yes, a decent sized performance ice rink), and navigated our way around most of the crowds.  I took far too many sea shots but it was good practice

The shore excursions were too touristy for our taste.  In every case one ran a gauntlet of shop keepers urging us to see their goods.  We picked a couple of tours that took us away from the dock to get a sense of the local life.  A highlight was the turtle farm on Grand Cayman.

For a change of scenery, a variety of things to see and enjoy aboard ship, excellent service, and more food than could really be enjoyed, it was a good experience.

First Light

 I’ve also posted more images from the trip in one of my galleries.  Click here to see them.


Just a week ago we were being caressed by Caribbean breezes as we enjoyed our wakeup coffee on the balcony of our stateroom, or our evening wine there as the day departed.  Since my return I’ve certainly enjoyed the few days of temperatures in the high 40’s or low 50’s.  But, one of those patterns that the weather forecasters cheerily tell us are travelling here from Kansas or Wisconsin inevitably arrived.  Now, this morning, here’s the first silent signal: Winter is here!

Just a few days late for Christmas.

Unless you’re a winter resort it’s a good kind of snow, just enough to be pretty and evocative.

OK, who didn't put the chair back?


But, too late for this year's Christmas card.