BACK TO SUMMER

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Comes June and my digital darkroom heads to the beach.  It isn’t easy, especially at my age (about 34 but, yeah, that’s just from the brain up).  It’s not like getting ready for a shore weekend; it’s packing for two to three months.  There are a couple of soft-goods trips but on the BIG day, the day of the groceries and frig contents, of 32 house plants, of  three printers and the spare inks and 15 varieties/sizes of print paper and the monitor and the tower and the Bose speakers and the wireless keyboard and mouse and the backup drives and all those cables and tiny power supplies (now which one goes where?) and the laptop, and………………

The BIG day is when my daughter, Sigrid, shows up with her GMC and loads up alllllllll that stuff and a couple suitcases, too.   And after she’s loaded the Jimmy she pulls out the two meat loafs she made for me and has time to fluff up the pillows in the town house before we leave.  Then she hauls all my stuff down Route 72 to the island and up to my suite.  Sweet.

Then, I have to find that button that causes everything to put itself away.  Right.

But I digress.  For such a major grunt, why do it?  In part so that I can see and capture the beauty and drama of scenes like the opening image.  It is soul-cleansing.

As my artist friend, Marilyn Flagler, once said “Living near the ocean means continual washing off of the sometimes grimy dust of living.”

~≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡~

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But they’re not all dramatic mornings, are they?  While I was preparing this post there was a foggy morning. My friend, Fog,  always creates a mood of mystery and this morning was on script.

All sound is softened.  It’s still … and moody.  Yes, follow this marker and the posts to …. to where?

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The stillness of sound and light, however, can also reveal other scenes as in this still life.

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On the beach there’s a parade of marching dune grass, added to help stabilize the new, giant dunes.

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Back at my house the fog had left droplets on my Rambler Roses.  The roses and I both liked that.

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As the day moved on the fog lifted to the point where I began to think about a sunset image.  In the event, however, the clouds proved more interesting than the sunset.

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“Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding. Find out what you already know and you will see the way to fly.”
–Richard Bach, Johnathan Livingston Seagull

~≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡≡~

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All but one of these captures were made in the past few days.  I’ve posted , however, on the 21st, the day on which summer began at 12:24 AM.  Glad to see it.

But, there’s always a slight concern for me. It means that the days will now start being a little shorter; a second or so today, three tomorrow…..

Does that mean I have to pack up and go back home already?

 

 

UNLOCKING SUMMER’S FRONT DOOR

It’s time for me to leave the cave and head back to the island.  After two trial weekends, yes, it’s good to be back.  Here’s what I unexpectedly, gratefully, captured at sunset last week.

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It wasn’t shaping up as a great sunset.  There was, in fact, a cloud bank above the mainland, and the setting sun was above that.  By shooting with my telephoto lens, however, I was able to mask out the sun, leaving only this magnificent scene and color.  The foreground grasses provide an anchor for the viewer, and the four men fishing on the boat say,

Yes! Summer’s Here!

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Another major sign of summer’s arrival is the blooming of the Rosa Rugosa or beach roses.  The dune makers (more on this below) spared the extensive clusters of the roses on either side of the ramp to the beach, making a beautiful entrance when in bloom.  They also have a lovely fragrance; it made me wish my camera could capture it.

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Another sign of summer for me is the return of the Purple Martins to Cotov’s Condominiums along Liberty Thorofare.  So is the morning fog.

They’re Back … and their eggs have already been laid.  More to come.

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But the Big Story on Action News is the $128 million beach restoration project, a very impressive, 24/7 engineering project.  Security guards prevent ageing photographers from getting too close but here’s part of the feel of it.  The gulls ignore the Danger sign to feast on bits and pieces that come along with the sand being pumped in; the lady is heading for ignoring the sign but not, one hopes, for the bits and pieces.

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Beach toys for big boys.

Beach toys for big boys.

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A block or two north the beach is open alongside the pipe carrying bottom sand from an off-shore dredge.  The pipe is marked “High Pressure.  Danger.  Stay Back” but the crew has created sand walkways over it.  Oh, well.  Frisbees must fly.

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Did I mention summer fog?  Oh, yeah.  On this morning the pipeline was pumping in off-shore fog.

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The pathway to the beach is now daunting.  A compacted gravel bed has been put in place which is so much easier to walk on rather than just the sand.

This family made it to the top.  They’re settling in but I expect signs soon to keep off of the dunes.

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Anyway, once you get to the top of Mt. Dune an amazing vista opens up.

Plenty of room until the first nor’easter.

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SEPTEMBER SONG

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Oh, it’s a long, long while from May to December
But the days grow short when you reach September
When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame
And I haven’t got time for the waiting game.

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I get it … I get it.   Summer’s slipping away.  Fall is flexing its muscles.

The juvenile gulls are screeing for Mom to feed them, wondering what happened to the dole.

Each evening the sun slowly sneaks a little bit further south.  I’m watching you, sun, and I know where you’re going;  I’ll catch up with you again in January at Sanibel.  Meanwhile, the mornings can be hoody but the days are still hot to balmy.  The last-of-the-season vacationers have gone from the Bagel Shack every morning.  The Shack also put up plastic curtains around its outside eating area to ward off the early morning chill.

There are pumpkins and potted chrysanthemums at the Acme.

After the reds of sunrise the early morning photons are mostly yellow.  They paint the marshes, enhancing the glow the grasses have worked all summer to achieve.

The old Great Blue Heron basks in the copse on nearby Mordecai Island. I look at him thru the binoculars and see him looking back at me. He’s got the early morning sun; I’ve got the coffee; neither would trade.

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Nor would I trade for the summer experience.

From a post four years ago:

“Summer afternoon – summer afternoon …. the two most beautiful words in the English language.”

Henry James.

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With family and friends it was a good summer.  Here are some memories:

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The annual Twilight Sail – one of the best events of the summer.

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Even on cloudy days the beach is still a place to be.

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Storms are part of summer, indeed, of life, and they bring their own drama and stark beauty.

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In mid-August part of the A-cat fleet arrived for the Downbay Regatta weekend.  Always exciting, and seven of them this year.

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Summer brings fog as well, drawing me to …. where?

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One day, friends arrived for lunch!?!

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Our captain, Jenn, for the twilight sail.

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Nobody to protect.

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On Labor Day afternoon the guards went off duty at the usual 5:00PM.  As they climbed the dune to leave the beach they turned, blew a long whistle and waved goodbye.  Those still holding tightly onto the sand and summer waved back.  I’m told this is customary in order to warn all that the beach protection was off duty.  On this day, however, marking the season’s end for the guards as well, it was poignant.

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The day after summer.

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Shucks, I guess the season’s over.

I closed with this image a couple of years ago.  I’m reusing it because it’s perfect for the mood.*

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*There’s also a techy note about using Nik’s Tonal Contrast on this image  The note is on one of the tabs at the top of this post.

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MORE FUN IN THE FOG

In a recent post, Ian Plant, mentor-to-many, said this:

“The collision of moisture and light is where photo magic is made.”

It seemed bang-on for another post about fog and surf. The Jersey shore this spring has experienced more fog than usual.  Up around Sea Bright there was seen a stationary fog bank just off shore that looked like an approaching tsunami wave.  A friend from Avalon, further south, told me that they’ve had a foggy spring as well.  Ours continues along Long Beach Island and while it’s pleasant and rather clear two or three blocks from the beach, the morning fog is parked on the beach and eastward.

Here’s a beach rose (Rosa Rugosa) covered with droplets from the morning fog.

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Soon enough the blossoms age and drop their petals.  Sad but …. life.

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The fog enhances some interesting patterns in the snow fencing of a winding path.

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At the water’s edge my focus (no pun intended) was on the use of a Variable Neutral Density filter to smooth out or homogenize the surf.  (You can read about this — or not — by pulling down that tab at the top of the page … Mastering Variable Neutral Density Filters.)  Here’s one result.  Remember, I’ve not only greatly slowed the shutter speed, it was also a misty scene.

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 Or, from the other side of the jetty….

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I’ll be working this pasture again this summer and fall.  A nor’easter’s waves will call me.

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But, with or without the variable filter, fog offers lots of possibilities for interesting images.  Here’s one that especially pleased me.

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Moral:  “Have a nice day.” is not always a good wish for photographers.

A SPRING FOG

My friend, Fog, showed up again.   I haven’t seen him for about a year and a half.  He’s probably been skulking here and there but not in front of my camera until last Saturday.  That afternoon I drove to the shore for an overnight getaway.  As I left the mainland at Manahawkin  the temperature dropped and the fog appeared.  The Ocean County Sheriff’s office had been warning about this, and they were right.  I dumped Pearl at the house and headed to the beach.  Here was the scene at about 5:30.

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It was still light enough to see what was happening but the approaching mists were clearly on the way.  Just to the left of this walkway leading to the beach I was also welcomed by blooms of bayberry.  I don’t remember seeing this profusion before.  They were enjoying the moisture of the mists.

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As the evening progressed the mists crept further into the town, bringing the usual mystery, silence, and dimmed lights.  There is no motion as though the mist absorbs anything that dares move.  I wonder as I write this about the connection between the words mist and mystery.  It’s there.  Later, the view through one of the windows brings out the same feelings.

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At the docks at the foot of the street the fog had also taken charge.  Nothing moved here either except some shimmer.  Even the in-residence Purple Martins were anxious and just hanging out on their perches.

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The next morning the drive to Fred’s Diner was a matter of cleaving through the fog.  At Fred’s there was breakfast and life.  Friends reappeared,  my last view of them having been on Labor Day.  Materialization from the fog?  No, snap out of it.

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After breakfast, a drive south to the tip of Holgate on the edge of the wildlife refuge.  First sight was this sentinel, also a residue of last year.

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The jetty there was taking a beating.

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Down on the sand, the swells were impressive.

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On the other side of the jetty the dampened swells provided only a modest challenge to this young boy, ready for a day on the beach and the fog be damned..

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Fog is fascinating to me.  For my earlier posts on the subject click on the blue titles below:

Fall Fog at the shore – November 2013

Fog, A Little Before Breakfast – December 2011

Fog Blog, A – Beach and bay scenes – September 2010

Foggy Fall Days at the shore – Ole October – October 2011

Fog Fix, A – July 2011 -Beach and bay scenes, Charon fishing, Pearl Street pavilion, Sandberg’s “Fog”.

Fog, Fall at the Shore – November 2013

Foggy Farewell, A farewell to Charleston Moor – November 2011

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FALL FOG AT THE SHORE

I drove down to the shore house to enjoy it for one more night this year and then to drain its bodily fluids for winter.  What a pleasure driving down the island at 45 mph through blinking traffic lights.  No wonder the locals resent our summer arrival with its return of traffic lights and lower speed limits.   The sky was overcast with broken clouds so no dramatic sunset but it was pleasant to have a couple drinks in front of the gas logs as they brought the house from its winter thermostat setting of 50°.  The near-full moon asserted itself through the spotty clouds and I kicked myself for not having brought my long lens.

Later, a good dinner at the Engleside and a good night’s sleep which Pearl ended at 7:30.  Not bad.  The day seemed gray.  At first I thought the window was just dirty but when I cracked the sliding door I saw that the fog was on its way.

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Later it began to thicken up.

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At the boat landing, however, there was a bright spot.  These marigolds have dodged the frosts so far.  I wished them well.

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I enjoyed one of my favorite breakfasts at Fred’s Diner and learned that they’ll close in two more weeks.  They weren’t busy so we could chat a little. He said that Sandy’s waters a year ago reached the tops of his booth tables. That’s scary.  The town looks as though it has recovered and it has been functional but there are still closed shops and homes that are sad shells.  The town really closes down though I know that several merchants will stay open through Christmas, and a handful even beyond.  Uncle Will’s and Buckalews will continue as oases till next season.  My year round friends down there will survive though some will surreptitously slip away to Florida for a few weeks.

After breakfast the fog was becoming thicker so I set off down Bay avenue to Holgate.  On the way I passed these tidal ponds in the marshes.

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Further down at the end of Bay Avenue at the entrance to the wildlife refuge the foggy waves were more interesting.

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At this time of year pickups and vans are permitted to drive onto the refuge beach for fishing.  Here, one just passed me and another can be dimly seen ahead of it.

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A surf fisherman was working three rods in front of me.

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And this seagull was working the fisherman.

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VERMONT FOG AND FOLIAGE

My last photo trip to Vermont was four years ago.  The itch was itchy.  I googled Vermont photo tours and serendipitously found Kurt Budliger Photography offering an early October tour in the more northern part of the state.  This was appealing as I’ve done plenty of touring down in the Weston-Chester area and below.  Budliger’s landscape images have a dreamlike quality so it’s no surprise that he’s part of the Dreamscapes team which includes Ian Plant, Joe Rossbach, and Richard Bernabe, with all of whom I’ve enjoyed previous productive workshops.  So, into the saddle and off to the great northland.

Evening from the Sparrow Farm

Evening from the Sparrow Farm

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I joined eight others at a nice Comfort Inn in the countryside outside of Montpelier, which served as our base.  We left early each morning to see the sunrises that absolutely no one else had ever photographed.  They would be followed by some early morning scenes before the sun became too harsh.  Then back to the inn for lunch, a rest, and afternoon classwork before setting out again for sunsets and twilight photography.  The classroom emphasis was on composition ideas and post-processing.  I learned things in both categories. Deep sigh:  I keep thinking I know what I need to know but along comes someone like Kurt, and suddenly there’s a couple of those “Why didn’t that occur to me?” things.

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For me, the above was our best sunrise location (Marshfield Pond).  It was still quite gray when we got there and the fog was rolling in from the pond.  It was somewhat surreal; my mood was excited but in awe of what I was seeing.  I was so moved that I captured some video to better convey the mood.  (Please, no comments about watching grass grow; rather, think how you’d be feeling in such a setting.)

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Not all of our sunrises were so dramatic but they were at least peaceful, quieting, tranquil.  Here the boats await the day ahead on Seyon Pond.

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After our sunrise experiences we were guided to other locations to enjoy the scene as the day’s light evolved through the mists.  One such spot was Ricker Pond.

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I then hiked out on the above peninsula and was rewarded with lots of dewy spider webs.  I wish the leaf hadn’t been there or that I had pre-processed by snipping that twig but that’s nature.

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Just as we had early morning shoots, so did we have pre-sunset shoots on the way to a sunset location.  Among these was Moss Glen Falls on Route 100 north of Granville.  I had photographed this with Joe Rossbach in 2009 and had told Kurt that, having been there, I wasn’t keen on returning.  But, his workshop so back we went.  I was astounded at how large it had become as my four year old memory was of a rather unimpressive scene.  Wow!  I was glad we had returned to it.

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Sunsets were also lovely.  They induce mixed reactions.  One is the warm power of the scene.  Another is the primitive feeling of one’s own mortality: day is ending, darkness comes.  This image is of Lake Champlain from Oak Ledge just outside of Burlington.  It also brought back memories of piloting our rented houseboat on the lake years ago with my then two pre-teeners taking tricks at the wheel; of late afternoon anchoring and swimming, leaping from the roof of the boat; and cozying in for the night after a Marty Lou dinner.

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The glow from a sunset can also result in some powerful non-sky-sun images as in this case.  Note the rock alligator emerging at right from the grasses.  Careful!

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We finished the workshop on a hillside above Peacham, founded in 1776.  Here we are in the fog again, waiting for some sign of the valley, and photographing whatever appeared with some promise.

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It was here that I bid my new friends and colleagues goodbye.  On the way down the hillside, however, I passed the cattle on the farm below, ambling out to pasture in the mists.

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It was a splendid workshop, and I brought home some of the best images I’ve done in recent years.

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There is a gallery of these and many more images from the workshop.  It can be seen by clicking here.

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GOIN’ HOME

As much as I resisted the idea it was time to go home, back to my hibernaculum.  It happens every year.   I am stoic and brave  as my kids go back to their non-summer world;  I assure myself that I will just enjoy the quiet and the beauty and the cooler days and the uncrowded streets.  And I do.  But then?  Ah, but then… some signs of serious fall appear.  A morning such that I struggle over getting the gas logs pilot lit but then feel guilty about enjoying the warmth.  The mornings become too chilly to have coffee out on my little deck, and a sweat shirt feels good.  There is little activity to see on the waterway.  A visit to the beach at twilight finds only a few of the committed still waiting for the big ones.

My daughter, Sigrid, had kindly offered to drive down and help me load my car and her SUV.  I spent the day before packing things up for the move and completing my last two photo-related projects for the club.  Moving day dawned, however, with the first fog of the season.  Is that a message of “Go Home!”, or what?  I quickly unpacked the camera and went pixel gathering.

The beach certainly wasn’t inviting.

Nor was the bay.  No movement, no sound … Go Home!

Even Jonathan was sad that I was leaving.

A LITTLE FOG BEFORE BREAKFAST

Yes, I’m a fog fanatic.  My clock radio went off and I heard the announcer warn of fog.  I raised the blind and there it was so out I went.




There is a so quiet, enveloping mystery to fog.  A damp bench waits to give rest and a moment of contemplation. 




I was early enough that they hadn’t yet turned off the campus lights.  This one’s at the entrance.




Clouds were nestled in amongst the trees.

A FOGGY FAREWELL TO CHARLESTON MOOR

 Thursday morning was revealed gradually in the fog.

We saw this many times over the years.  Our development was created by an Englishman (Laurence Nilsen) and carries such English names as Charleston Riding (Riding: an English country subdivision), Mews Lane, Box Hill, Leith Hill and so on.  So, I used to kid my wife on foggy mornings by saying that we’re out on Yorkshire’s  Charleston Moor and we must beware of the hounds.

But, the fog enhances the last of the color.  That red maple is the prettiest tree here in the fall.  It was the root stock for a graft of a Japanese Maple which died many years ago.  The root stock sent out some shoots and I pruned to one and it became beautiful.  Within two days the leaves left, and in three more days so will I.