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On The Beach. June 28, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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My recent trip east to The Sea left me with, among other things, this shot of the sand on the wind-whipped southern tip of Plum Island:

detritus

Fragments of grass had been cast in sand, carved in relief by the wind  and colored by Mother Earth with the reds and browns of her world.

Between the bad light and the rain, this was kind of a low-percentage shot, , but I took it anyway, and I’m glad to have gotten what I got.

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Easing Into Summer. June 28, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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So the Solstice came and went, and it still doesn’t feel like summer here – it’s been raining for most of the past three weeks, and it’s too cool yet for swimming or going around bare-footed.

But the seasons are indeed changing.  The woodland wildflowers, so prevalent in spring, have faded into memory, and the blossoms of summer populate the fields and roadsides.

It makes for easy shooting, with our roadside fields and meadows providing as much color as the most inaccessible of spots might.

So here are some lazy shots from local roadsides, heavy on the wildflower mix and light on context.

The Mix:

Windsor roadside

Daisies, red clover and yellow hawkweed dominate this aggregation of blooms.

More of the same, but heavy on the  orange hawkweed:

roadside in orange

Ragged Robin and orange hawkweed add flecks of color to this cloud of tiny white flowers:

more wooden guardrail

…which I don’t know the name of.  My Audubon guide has several near-matches, but no clear identification.

And lastly, a cluster of white yarrow is offset by a few dianthus:

yarrow and dianthus

Just thought I’d share these before they hit the Recycle Bin – my ‘puterbox is so crammed full of this stuff that it no longer wants to take my downloads!

To The Sea. June 25, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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I had planned to go to the White Mountains of New Hampshire this past weekend, to climb Mount Washington to its Alpine Garden, a plateau at about five thousand feet elevation, where plants generally found a thousand miles farther north might be found blooming in June, diminutive, hearty and a long way from the road.

But the forecast called for Suck, and I changed my plans.

I went to the beach instead.

Where the weather Sucked as well, but it wasn’t a lethal sucking, as the White Mountains are famous for, but rather a gentle sucking,  as one might wish for when at the beach.

Anyway.

It was cool and windy and gray, with an insistent wind driving a fine mist horizontally, perfect for a first day of summer in the tropical paradise of Massachusetts:

raincoats

The cheeriest thing about this scene was the Teutonic seawall separating Nature and Man, and the reassuring sense that Man wasn’t up to the challenge.

But as all clouds have their silver linings, the local surfers dug the wind-whipped world, ignoring the rain ’cause, hey, they’re soaked anyway!

surfers

I, on the other hand, was bummed.  It was a long drive to come up with no photographs, but setting up in the wind and rain was hard to get psyched for.

So I sought out nooks and crannies in the seaside flora, trying to find a refuge from the wind without stepping in some college girl’s refuge from the wind;

Trust me, stay out of the bushes when you’re at the beach.

But there were copious roses and lots of poison ivy, two plants which hold their own in the Urban Wild, because nobody wants to mess with them:

beach roses

Pretty flowers, atmospheric conditions not withstanding:

roses

I struggled valiantly against the wind, then surrendered,  crossing the road to the inland side to photograph a marsh:

sea lillies

and its stalwart inhabitants:

ducks

…including a few baby swans:

swanlettes

…whose Momma was busy trying to mooch food from us motorists.  And a gull bathing with a fury:

gull

He was funny.

But as much fun as this was, I missed the urgency of the sea, so after I indulged in a ten dollar clam roll I headed south to Plum Island, a  bit of wilderness on Boston’s north shore.

The wind was stiff there as well:

windy tree

…but the resident water fowl didn’t seem to mind:

egret

The long, slow drive to the parking lot at the end of the dirt road deposited me in the company of hard-core fishermen, lost hikers and a rare glimpse of isolation just a few miles north of a major American city:

rocks

…with tall waves pounding the rocky shore as gulls scavenged the pools for stranded unfortunates.  It was as desolate and pure as one has any right to expect, being this close to millions of fellow travelers:

empty beach

Hey, when the wind blows, photograph rocks.

I have a few more from this junket which may see daylight, but then again, perhaps that’s enough of the Poorly-Lit Subjects for one lifetime.

Ruby Tuesday: Rain In Two Venues. June 22, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Ruby Tuesday!.
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It just won’t stop raining.  Day after day, for weeks it seems, brief glimpses of sun are smothered under dense clouds, buffetted by incessant winds, and unless one is possessed of impeccable technique and the fastest of lenses, photography comes to a grinding halt.

Enter the blessed variables of Piss Poor Judgment and Irrational Obsession, which conspire to send Yours Truely out into the maelstrom, MacIntosh flapping, umbrella inverted, with half a roll of paper towels jammed down my pants, looking for a reason to exhale slowly and depress the shutter.

This week’s meager gleanings include a shot of daisies dancing in the rain alongside a railroad siding by the Hoosac Tunnel:

daisies in the rain

If that looks scarcely ruby, trust me, there were red lights in there.

And later, a trip to the sea, hoping for some drama amidst the swirling mists.  By the time the salt air filled my nostrils it was long past dark, and I took advantage of a break in the rain to capture this shot of a well-lit steeple in Portsmouth, NH:

Portsmouth steeple

I liked the way the fog rolled by, holding and releasing the shadows and light.

A bit more conspicuously Ruby, that one.

More on my trip East later; for now, thanks to Mary at Work of the Poet for this Ruby meme.

A Walk In The Rain. June 20, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
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Got rained out of work on Thursday, so I took a walk along the railroad tracks near the Hoosac Tunnel.  It was a strange mix of natural beauty and post-industrial destruction, with the cleansing rain putting the best face on the scene as softly furred mullein and optimistic daisies reclaimed an abandoned rail:

mullien under daisies

Sometimes the two plants seemed to be conspiring in their effort to affirm the power of beauty to confound our headlong rush toward its dissolution:

daisy and mullien

Then I took a drive up into the clouds to see what was happening up above.

The air was heavy with blowing fog, and every surface was bathed in fine beads of glistening dew.  I parked at the end of a woods road and made the short hike out to the Raycroft Overlook, a CCC Work Camp project which is itself being reclaimed be the inexorable processes of nature.

The walk along the narrow ridge was magical, with the northern slope dropping steeply off into the clouds:

Raycroft forest

…to the old stonework vantage point from which the Deerfield river can usually be seen a thousand feet below:

Raycroft Overlook

On this day the “river view” dissolved into the clouds, leaving only the insistent red clover under foot to demand its mountainside back from us arrogant interlopers:

red clover

Wrapped in a raincoat and photographing under an umbrella, I was lost in the surreality of the feeling of helming this great stone ship through the swirling clouds.  The experience was cleansing, and convinced me to venture out into the rain more regularly.

I hope you enjoyed these.

Duck, Duck, Geese! June 18, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Like so:

duck duck geese

…reading right to left, that is.  Seems the ducks are shyer than the geese, even the babies, and motored off as soon as I approached.

Love the gosletts, though.

Sating My Moss Obsession. June 18, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, macro photos.
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I’ve always loved mosses, which will astonish nobody who’s followed this blog for any length of time.  And this past week of wet weather has brought the little buggers to fullness:

jellied moss

This is two distinct types of moss, the smaller “jellied” one being one of the dozens of types of sphagnum mosses found in the Northeast.  The taller one is a common club moss topped by what I assume to be sporophytes.   Moss, I currently understand, is an ancient plant and is sexless, reproducing through spores, so the red tops are not “flowers” as I had previously thought.

Live and learn, they say.   😉

A Few From The Lowlands. June 18, 2009

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In the lowlands of Hadley, not far from the perennially fertile Connecticut River, winter rye is as high as an elephant’s (ok, my ) eye:

cow vetch in winter rye

…sharing nitrogen with cow vetch, Vicia cracca:

close-up, cow vetch and winter rye

This shot took many attempts, as it was pretty breezy.  I’m pleased to say that the full sized version of this photo is delightfully crisp and clear.

Patience, apparently, is a virtue!

Random Veggies. June 18, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, macro photos.
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Bushes, flowers, you know: The Usual Suspects.

Buttercups in a farm field in Hawley:

buttercup field

I like the tumultuous sky in this one.

An almost invisible flower on a small, woody shrub along route 2:

shrub bud

As is so often the case, I’d stopped to photograph something else (which didn’t work out)  when I saw this tiny fleck of color.

Sorry, I’ve no idea what it is.

Here’s a close-up of the flower spikes of sheep sorrel, Rumex acetosella,  which en mass lends a shin-high red hue to our unmowed fields:

sheep sorrel

These little buds are about a millimeter across; I always thought they were tiny seeds, until I got Ziggy, my 50mm Sigma macro lens.

I know, “your check is in the mail,” right?

I wish!     😉

On a darker note, here are some yellow pond lilies, a.k.a. bullhead lilies, specifically Naphir variegata:

bullhead lilies

I found these in a pond in Plainfield.

And that’s all for now.

Valley Clouds, Valley Animals. June 18, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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A pre-work ride to acquire cell phone service takes me up through dense, soaking clouds and into the sun, just me and a few Berkshire hilltops:

above the clouds

Gotta call the boss, ya know. It’s rough work, but somebody’s got to do it.   😉

And hey, there’s a fox!  Skanky looking specimen; probably has distemper:

fox

…or perhaps even rabies.  It watches me from ten feet away before approaching me with a fixed gaze.

I roll up the window and wish it well as I head down the long hill in low gear.

Then I’m back down through the soup to the Deerfield river, the location of today’s job:

below the clouds

I love this place.  It’s like this a lot through the warm season, and usually burns off to reveal a summer-blue sky while remaining ten degrees cooler than the nearest big towns.

And being “the Deerfield river,” who should be crossing it while I watch but two deer:

deer crossing

Certainly not a great picture, but interesting enough to share, as I’m taking it within ten minutes of seeing the fox!

I think I’ve filled my quota of wildlife shots for the day, but at lunchtime I get a call from one of my crew that there’s a bear on his car,  with him in it!  I bring my camera and get this:

bear snuffling

I’m embarrassed to admit this isn’t a long lens – the bear’s about thirty feet away, and though it’s a bit shy, it definitely isn’t scared.  I suspect that it’s used to scavenging around humans.

Nonetheless, I stay, um, grafted to the car door.

We only see this one thigh-high guy, though a passing fisherman says he’s just driven by three.

Did I mention that  I love this place?