WINTER WANDERINGS

It’s the first full week since the end of the holiday season and with the morning alarm comes the question that I’ve been raising since New Year’s day:  What are you going to do with the rest of this year?  That’s a troubling question.

On a macro level I guess it’ll be more of the same and that’s not all bad.  More photography in its many forms, e.g. camera club meetings, competitions and workshops, and field trips, always fun albeit maybe a bit more physically demanding.   Don’t know about a winter getaway, yet…maybe…maybe.  But, there’ll be another spring, wildflowers on the trails, balmy days, flowering shrubs and trees.  Then, of course, there’ll be summer at the shore…Saturday mornings on the dock with coffee and friends, watching the kids racing…and beach naps, hard to think about on these cold mornings. Then as fall approaches, the chlorophyll supply in the leaves will diminish revealing their underlying reds and yellows.  Before we know it it’ll be time to put the tree and trains back up again.

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So, maybe I should just leave it up?

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As to the New Year on a micro level it comes a day at a time so that’s the way I’ll be taking it.  For us in the northeast it began with a snow storm.  I went out at about 8:00 AM because I felt that I should.  My resolve melted away in the face of the wind chill but here are some scenes on the campus:

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My wreath greeted me, looking splendid with its dusting.  I also liked the reflections of the winter scene in the windows on either side of the wreath.

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On another recent day we drove down to the shore area just to drive past the snow-covered fields along the way.  Here’s a scene captured at Smithville.  It made me glad that I’m not a Canada Goose.

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Smithville is another virtual hard drive of family memories.  It was a good meeting point for us to have dinner with my shore-resident parents now and then;  it was a place where Sigrid once vociferously rejected the Quail Lodge (now gone) Santa as not being the real one who, of course, worked at Strawbridges; it was a place where, in the 60’s, we celebrated my parents’ 50th with a private party.  The fee covered an open bar and dinner; I remember thinking that the more I drank the cheaper each became.  Ahhh, youth.

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The post title is Winter Wanderings so here are two more images, both made in December.

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The above was made on a trail walk on Christmas morning.

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And, on the stormiest or most bitterly cold days, be reminded that the sun is out there somewhere.  A Happy New Year to all.

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WINTER: IT HAD TO COME!

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.

 

OF WINTER, AND CHRISTMAS, PAST AND PRESENT

I know it doesn’t start officially until Tuesday but….winter’s here.  With night times in the low 20’s and some days only in the high 20’s let’s not be fussy about dates.  A dusting of snow doesn’t bring thoughts of spring, either.

The 1828 Barclay Farmhouse.

I confess: the snow around the farmhouse is last January’s, not this week’s but you get the idea.  The land for the original farm is where Bob Scarborough built the Barclay Farm development in the 50’s.  Pet Peeve Note:  It’s Barclay Farm, not Barclay Farms which the shopping center sign says.

The farmhouse was saved by a group of volunteers beginning in 1974 (including my late wife who was dedicated to it for 25 years).  By 1978 it was on the National Historic Register.  Over the years the Friends of Barclay Farmhouse have overseen its period  restoration and furnishing and a useful role in teaching school kids about early 19th century Quaker farm life.  It was eventually acquired by Cherry Hill Township from the late Helen Barclay, the last surviving family member.  Helen actually lived at the farm as a child, and her restored bedroom with its massive Victorian furniture can be seen on house tours.  The farmhouse has an active life in the community, including a festive Holiday House program in December.

Another sign of winter is that my household humidity is condensing on the cold window panes.  When I raise the blind by the breakfast table in the morning there’s an attractive arch of moisture beads which makes the bare trees more mysterious.  Do you feel a picture coming on?

My trees through the moisture on my window.

But, the dark winter solstice (sun standing still) comes with celebrations of life as we rejoice in friends and family.  We remember many Christmases past, and those who were a part of it, some of whom have left us.   My father believed in the principle that nothing appeared in the house until Christmas Morning, and he and mother pulled it off Christmas Eve, retrieving everything from the attic after I had pinned my stocking to an armchair (no fireplace) and drifted off.  Invariably he had to call my Uncle Jesse to resolve some mysterious problem with the wiring of the trains but it was all there the next morning, bright and dazzling to a five year old excitedly rubbing sleep from his eyes.   I remember that I couldn’t run the trains on Tuesday mornings when Ruby, our ironing lady came.  It was the 1930’s; we had an ironing lady but only one extension cord.  Go figure.

My childhood Christmas garden.

Some of the houses in the village and the Lionel freight set were purchased for my brother’s youth, circa 1925.  I still have them.  The Christmas garden tradition continued in my family but one year, in our salad days, the best bargain I could find was this tree for two dollars.

My $2 tree.

I didn’t think it was so bad but my family has never forgiven me for “Dad’s weird tree.”  I prefer to think of it as an upscale version of Charley Brown’s tree.

Anyway, I’ve had a great December, highlighted by two splendid concerts.  The first was the Philadelphia Orchestra playing Smetana, Prokofiev and two lush Respighi works…The Fountains, and a roof-raising Roman Festivals.   This past week we went to the Philadelphia  Holiday Pops program which included a very full Pops orchestra, the Philadelphia Boys Choir, 1oo voices of the Pops Festival Chorus, some fifty voices of the African Episcopal Church gospel choir, vocalist Rachael York, and Peter Richard Conte (of Wanamaker’s Organ) at the Kimmel Center organ.  I felt as though I had been to a great party.  When all of those voices and instruments lifted up the Hallelujah Chorus, folks were waving their arms from one end of Broad Street to the other.

I’ve watched Scrooge and Miracle on 34th Street (please, the 1938 and 1947 originals, respectively).  I’ve checked out the Christmas Village on Dilworth Plaza, the amazing show at Comcast Center, and the traditional light show at Macy’s (i.e. Wanamaker’s).

Seen at the Christmas Village

My house is decorated, thanks to daughter Sigrid; my tree (real) is up and decorated thanks to my family; the tree lights are the old C7’s with colored aluminum reflectors that I found on ebay; and the tinsel is real, from my dwindling hoard that the EPA has designated hazardous.   I’ve had three festive dinner gatherings with friends, some of whom have been there for almost fifty years; others have left but we remember them.   The Christmas cards arrive, some with not good news about the decline of still other and older friends, and even an obituary notice of one whom I had hoped to see again.  But, life goes on and it can still be a wonderful life if one works at it.  Say, that might be a good movie title, “A Wonderful Life.”

I’ll close this post with my annual Christmas Greeting card.  The scene is my home after the December 2009 snowstorm.  To my non-Christmas friends, God Bless, Be Well, and have a Happy New Year.   To others, add

Merry Christmas.

The cards are in the mail but if yours gets lost, here it is.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

NOT ENOUGH SNOW? OFF TO THE CATSKILLS 3/12/10

Last weekend I joined fifteen other photographers from three New Jersey clubs for two days of shooting around Roundtop Mountain in the Catskills.   Here’s a view of five of the group risking life and limb on snowy and icy slopes, trying to capture the perfect image.

This is the same area we visited last winter and spring, and several of the photographers were repeats from those weekends.  The weather was beautiful; we visited several new sites; and we had fun!

It’s hard not to find beautiful scenes what with running streams, rocks, trees and snow.  The scene below was made late in the afternoon and exploited the motion of the water and the splashes of warm light.

And now for something completely different….a Buddhist retreat with the pagoda, three temples, each complete with recorded chanting, joss sticks, and fresh fruit offerings.  Enchanting!

Below we have a covered bridge over the Artists’ Falls, mostly covered with ice and snow.  The group picture above was taken on the other, down-falls side of the bridge.

Finally, the mountains.  Several more images from the weekend can be seen at my gallery.  Click here.

NEW YEAR’S DAY IN WHITESBOG – 1/1/10

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

Today’s forecast was decent; not much sun but no gale winds so I drove down to Whitesbog.  It was a great day; briskly cold, some occasional thin sun, and peacefully quiet.  The kind of quiet that you suddenly notice. My only company was, from time to time, three pickups and a van.  As you can see below, the slushy village street was empty, the old workers’ houses moody in the thin sun but with some modest touches for the winter holiday.

Even on a largely overcast winter day there is beauty to be seen and enjoyed. On the right below, an ice-tree.

Here’s a typical pond, created by overflow from an adjacent bog. Its attractiveness is enhanced by the ice and the few remaining patches of snow.

Finally, my colleague, Lou Dallara, had a lovely image of a clump of pine needles with snow on them as his first blog image of the new year.  See his blog , scroll-find and click on Pine Needles.   It brightened my day.  The image below is the closest I could come.  The snow’s gone but I loved the remaining droplets.