Sea Blue Lens


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Soul Food

Like everyone else I know, I’ve been grieving the results of Tuesday’s election. This post will have nothing to say about that, because I have nothing to say that hasn’t already been expressed by others…many others. This post is about what I did yesterday afternoon to distract and soothe myself.

I picked up my camera and I went for a walk.

fallen leafFallen Leaf

I followed the Saco Riverwalk, which begins just a few blocks from my apartment. To get there, I had to pass the covered bridge to the little park next door, where I paused to take the photo above.

fernNext I found this delicate fern growing out of a crack in the wall of a railroad overpass.

pathWhen I got to the river walk, the path was so leaf-strewn that it was barely visible. It’s narrow and slopes steeply down to the river’s edge, so I kept my eyes on where I was placing my feet.

daisy-boulderI came across a few wildflowers still blooming. This large, round boulder is a puzzle — it looks completely out of place atop the angular granite riverbank. I wondered how it got here.

rose hipsRosa Multiflora is a terribly invasive plant, and there’s a lot of it in this area. But it is beautiful! It’s covered in tiny white flowers in the summer and masses of small red hips in the fall and winter. I’ve read that they are edible, but I’ve never tried it.

twigsMany trees have already shed their leaves. You’d think those ones at the very tips of the branches would have been the first to go, but they are hanging on tenaciously.

benchA favorite resting place. I love this view to the neighboring town across the river.

birchesThis clump of birches is one of my favorite places to take selfies. Yes, I did get my phone out of my pocket and snapped a few. Not very successfully, though – it’s a windy spot, and I couldn’t keep my hair out of my face!

bare birchesAnd here are the tops of those birches. This makes me think of spatter painting.

oak leavesThere’s not much red left, so I was especially pleased to spot these oak leaves.

dsc_0989The river widens into a little bay here and the path curves left to follow it around.

bittersweetWith apologies to my friends who have to pay florists exorbitant prices for a bit of bittersweet — this stuff is everywhere.

wall of goldAnd here the trail swings back to the right…

power easement…to follow this power line easement.

chickadeeI don’t know what those tall, auburn-colored plants alongside the trail are, but they were filled with the rustling and twittering of small birds. I saw many chickadees, busy doing whatever chickadees do in the fall, calling out their cheery little “chickadee-dee-dee.” (This image is greatly cropped, since I didn’t have my tele lens with me.)

leaf carpetAt the top of the hill, more trees and so many leaves! I sat down in the middle of these for a while, just inhaling their delicious spicy scent. The river walk has turned away from the river now, and is circling back toward town.

yellow leavesFrom here, there’s just a glimpse of the water. The tide was out so the water level was very low. (The Saco River rises and falls with the ocean tides all the way to the center of town.)

red leafOne more surprise: a single scarlet leaf on a bright golden maple tree.

trail's endAnd that brings us to the trail’s end. Those steps on the left lead up to a small parking area, where I begin my zigzag path along the neighborhood streets and sidewalks toward home.

On the way home, I looked up and saw this:

crisscross cloudsCrisscross Clouds

And an hour or so later, the day’s final gift:

sunset viewFrom My Window

I needed that, so very much. I hope it has lifted you up a little bit, too.


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Windsday Walk and Click

DSC_0806Please Please Please Stop Blowing!

OK, I admit I didn’t get far for Walk and Click Wednesday this week. The weather has been chilly and the wind has been blasting for most of the past couple of weeks. It’s the kind of wind where small trees in large pots get blown right over and your patio chairs go missing. They might — if you’re lucky — be found later up against the neighbor’s fence. But in between gales I did take a stroll or two around the yard to see what was blooming.

The first stop was the apple tree outside my bedroom window. The sweet scent filled the whole back yard and there were so many bees at work that it sounded like the tree had a motor running.

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Next, the Lady Banks’ Rose. Each flower is barely an inch across, but the mass of them is amazing. They have only a slight fragrance, which in this case may be a good thing.

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There are several pots arrayed beneath the roses. These little Paludosum Daisies reseed themselves and come up every year. They’re one of my sister’s favorites and she gets excited when she sees their first tiny leaves popping up around the yard in the spring. The tiny purple flower sharing the pot is filaree, one of my favorite “weeds” — I think it’s as pretty as the daisies.

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We were all excited to see the grape hyacinth. The bulbs were planted so long ago that no one quite remembers where they came from, and this is the first time they have bloomed.

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Rosemary is a plant that does well here. It’s heat and drought tolerant and, best of all, the rabbits don’t like it! We have many varieties around the yard. They bloom in different shades of blue, but they all smell wonderful.

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This hot pink Autumn Sage is a lovely contrast to the blue rosemary. Unfortunately, the bunnies think this is delicious. I keep a cage around it, but removed it for the photo.

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My French Lavender has been blooming almost continuously since I got it last fall. The rabbits won’t eat it, but they sometimes nip off a few branches and leave them lying underneath it. Maybe each new generation has to try it for itself? Mother Rabbit: Leave that alone, you won’t like it. Baby Rabbit (trying it anyway): Ptooey! You’re right, Mama, it’s yucky.

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And have you ever seen a lavender flower really close up? They are surprisingly intricate.

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The Mexican Poppy shrub in the corner of the front yard has just begun to bloom. I love their texture. They look like crushed tissue paper, and they fade sort of like old tissue paper, too.

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The California poppies were started from a six-pack of seedlings from the nursery a few years ago. They’ve seeded themselves over a large part of the yard and spread farther every year. The rabbits don’t bother them and their cheerful orange faces are always a welcome sight.

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There’s even more, but that’s probably enough for now. Wind or no wind, I know I’m fortunate to have warmth and flowers when my friends back east are still waiting for snow to melt. I hope you enjoyed our little garden tour.

Linking with Lissa’s Walk and Click Wednesday.
laf Custom Designs


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Lilac Love

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For Walk and Click Wednesday this week, my sister and I paid a visit to Kilcoyne Lilac Farm right here in Acton. Imagine six acres of blooming lilacs, surrounded by beautiful mountains under a wide blue sky. Imagine 73 perfect degrees and a gentle spring breeze. Imagine inhaling the fragrance of lilacs until you think your lungs will burst. Come along as we park beside the road and walk in.

IMG_0691Traffic Alert

This sign greets visitors entering the driveway.

IMG_0692Home Sweet Nest

As we arrived, I saw a small bird fly out of this nest tucked under a porch roof.

IMG_0717Almost Too Much

The sight and scent of so many lilacs was almost overwhelming . . . but in the most delightful way.

IMG_0698I’m In Love

IMG_0697Mountain View

There were lilacs of every conceivable color.

IMG_0706Baby Blue

IMG_0702Pure White

IMG_0694Deep Purple

IMG_0719Palest Lavender

I’ve never seen lilacs like this one before. I love these frothy, curly petals.

IMG_0711Neigh-bor

This old boy seemed to be enjoying his leisure just beyond the lilacs.

IMG_0716Reluctance

All good things must come to an end. Senses filled to overflowing, we headed back toward the exit. But not without stopping by the shed to buy a bouquet to take home, to savor the scent of this day a while longer.

DSC_0614Keepsake

What a memorable walk this was, and what a wonderful discovery! In all the years I lived in Nevada and California, I only knew of lilacs from having read about them. When I moved to the eastern US in the mid-1990’s, I fell in love with them at first sight — and smell. I’d never have guessed they could grow in the high desert of Southern California. I’m happy to know that I can experience their heady joy here and now, and in every spring to come.

PS – All these images, except for the last one, were taken with my iPhone. When my sister and I left the house, we intended to grab some lunch and go shopping, so I didn’t take my camera. Stopping to smell the lilacs was a spur-of-the-moment impulse. We never did get to the stores, and we weren’t sorry at all.

Linking with Walk and Click Wednesdays, with many thanks to Lissa for hosting. I look forward to it more each week. Come on over and join the fun!


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The Long Way Home

Where we left offWhere We Left Off

It’s Walk and Click Wednesday and time to finish up that walk I started two weeks ago. I’ve left you waiting at the mailboxes long enough. Let’s venture on up that road.

DesolateDesolate

I don’t know if this place is abandoned or not, but it had a forlorn and forsaken look to it.

Good fencesBoundary

Robert Frost wrote, “Good fences make good neighbors,” in his poem “Mending Wall” but the saying has been around a lot longer than that. I thought this rail and cactus made quite a good-looking fence.

ShellShell

I’ve been curious about this little roofless building ever since I first saw it, so I decided to explore.

FramedFramed

It is, I believe, an abandoned well house. The capped-off well head can be seen inside.

TracksTracks

I walked up this small wash alongside the road. When I turned and looked back, there were many doggish tracks to be seen. My guess is coyotes — we often hear them howling at night, sometimes very close to the house.

TreasureTreasure

I found three of these old tiles in that wash and brought them home with me. Why? Well . . . I don’t know, they were interesting and . . . I guess it’s like collecting sea glass at the beach. [Susan and Jenny, stop laughing.]

Going UpGoing Up

I noticed this dirt track going up the hill. It was evident that no vehicle had been that way for a long time, so I headed up to see what I could see.

Still StandingStill Standing

This yucca was growing alongside the track, still bearing flower stalks from last year’s bloom. When I moved here near the end of last May, the hills were covered with flowering yucca. It was an amazing sight. I’m curious to see if the show will repeat this year, or if it was a special welcome just for me.

The Other Side of the MountainThe Other Side of the Mountain

It looked like there was once a structure on the top of the hill, but nothing is left but a water faucet, the foundation of a wall, and some concrete rubble. This was the view down the other side. See that fenced area on the side of the mountain over there? We can see that from our house, too, and always wondered what it was for. When I downloaded my photos and zoomed in on this image, I could just make out several horses in the upper left corner of the fence. So now we know: it’s pasture.

Eyes Upon MeThe Hills Have Eyes

Have you ever had the feeling you were being watched? I got that feeling and when I turned around was startled to see these two characters checking me out.

Looking DownLooking Down

So I headed back down and homeward again.

Horse CountryHorse Country

They’re quite serious about these signs. I often pass riders on this road.

Through the FenceThrough a Fence

Why did the photographer cross the road? To capture an irresistible vignette spotted from the other side, of course. I was seriously hoping no one from the house was watching!

Against the SkyAgainst the Sky

I turned onto a smaller side road to make that circle back home, and loved this old fence atop the roadside bank.

Gate to NowhereGate to Nowhere

Almost there! See that trail? It will take us right to the back of the garage.

Watch Where You Step!Watch Your Step!

But don’t go too fast, or you’ll miss these tiny flowers growing right in the middle of the path. Each of these blossoms was only a quarter of an inch (or less!) across.

Finish LineFinish Line

And here we are, home at last. This line of posts, all that’s left of a very old fence, marks the boundary of our property. I hope you enjoyed our little hike!

Linking with Walk and Click Wednesday, with thanks to Lissa for hosting!


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So Long, Chickadee

There will be lilacs!

There will be lilacs!

It’s official, spring has sprung. But my walk this week has me thinking back to last fall.

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Scout

In my bird book, I noted my first sighting of a Mountain Chickadee on September 19, 2012. At first there was just one, but soon we had small flocks in residence, hanging out with the house finches and white crowned sparrows.

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Mind If I Join You?

Then I began hearing an odd little tapping noise. What on earth? Oh, I see! A chickadee would pluck a hard, round seed pod (they are actually tiny cones) off the big arborvita at the corner of the house, carry it to a crape myrtle or pine branch, and hold it between his feet while pecking it open with his beak, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap.  Over the next few weeks, they stripped every seed off that tree. Only then did they join the other birds at the feeders.

One day I caught a glimpse of a bird I couldn’t identify. It looked a lot like a chickadee, but its beak was twice as long. A day or so later, I spotted another one, got a better look at it, and had to laugh–it wasn’t another species, it was just one of my little chickadees with a sunflower seed in his beak. Unlike the house finches, who crack and eat the seeds right at the feeder, the chickadees carry away one seed at a time, again finding a branch on which to peck it open.

They’re rather gregarious little birds, often chattering and scolding from a nearby branch as I sat on my patio or cleaned and refilled the bird bath. But my picture-taking efforts were frustrating. I couldn’t get very close with the camera, and they move quicker than I can aim and focus. I’ve taken dozens of images and deleted most of them.

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Please, stop wiggling!

A few days ago, I was walking around the yard with my camera, taking photos of the spring buds and blossoms that are beginning to appear, when a chickadee alighted on a branch right next to me. He watched me turn and raise the camera, and sat quietly while I took eight precious, perfect shots.

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Then — gone.

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Two days later, they were ALL gone. Every. Single. One.

God speed and fare thee well, my little friends. Thank you for your gracious parting gift. I hope to see you again come fall!

I’m linking with Lissa for Walk and Click Wednesday. This was a short walk–I didn’t even get out of my own front yard. I haven’t forgotten that I promised to take you the rest of the way home from the mail box . . . the long way . . . so we’ll do that next week.
laf Custom Designs


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Checking the Mail

It’s time for Walk and Click Wednesday. Though the day I took this walk didn’t look very promising, I was restless and wanted to go exploring a bit, so I decided to walk down to the mailbox, a little less than half a mile from the house. Well, I actually went quite a ways farther than that, but that’s as far as I’m taking you today.

DSC_0021Nah, It’s Not Gonna Rain

The weatherman said no rain for us that day. He didn’t mention the snow that would fall overnight.

DSC_0026Mother of All Pigs

The folks who lived here before us raised pigs. I love this sign on the front of the tack barn.

DSC_0028Red Lantern

I’ve lived here for nine months and didn’t realize the glass in this lantern was red until I went behind it to take this photo and saw the light shining through it. I really need to get out more.

DSC_0032The Dr. Seuss Tree

These three Arbor Vitae are planted in front of the barn. I think the one in the middle must have been abducted by aliens and subjected to nefarious experiments at some point in its life.

DSC_0036Pine Cones, Extra Large

These cones are huge compared to the “normal” ones on the property. I gathered a basketful after I got home.

DSC_0044What Is This?

Halfway down the driveway is this huge shrub (it’s taller than I am) but I don’t know what it is. It looks very old. The ground beneath it is so riddled with animal holes that I’m amazed it’s alive at all.

DSC_0043At the Heart

This is a closeup of the trunk and the mysterious depths below. It makes me think of those children’s stories where a timid boy or girl suddenly becomes very small and goes sliding down a tunnel beneath the earth. Of course, s/he will save the fairy kingdom and return home safely by dinnertime.

DSC_0048Spring Song

As I passed by this row of pines, I heard a tremendous chatter of bird voices. As I got closer, I saw that it was a flock of robins, maybe two dozen of them.

DSC_0056Robin!

This made me very happy. I’ve only seen one robin here before, when he stopped at the bird bath last fall. They don’t seem to live around here, so I’m guessing they are just passing through on their way to wherever they spend the summer. By the way, that pink stuff on the ground is pepper berries. California Pepper trees are a common landscaping tree in this area. They have beautiful ferny leaves and long hanging clusters of glossy pink berries.

DSC_0050 Brake for Cowboys

This sign is on the gatepost next to our neighbor’s corral.

DSC_0057Mini Moos and Friends

Another neighbor trains working dogs. She has a small flock of sheep and three miniature cows, as well as a large flock of ducks, that the dogs get to practice their herding skills on.

DSC_0060News Gathering

And here we are at our goal. On this day I took the long way home, walking up the road and circling back home the roundabout way. We’ll do that another Wednesday, okay?

laf Custom Designs

Linking with Lissa’s Walk and Click Wednesday. Come check it out! Better yet, take a walk, take some photos, and join in.


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Snow Day

The weatherman told us we might expect some snow overnight, so when I woke up at six this morning I had to take a quick, shivering peek through the curtains.

A light in the darkness

A Light In the Darkness

We didn’t get a lot of snow, maybe a couple of inches, but it was enough to make a magical scene in the pre-dawn dark, with only the neighbor’s porchlight providing a spark of warmth.

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Mountain View

By 9 a.m. the snow was already fast disappearing, especially from the roads and on south-facing slopes. The heavy cloud cover had given way to brilliant blue. This image was taken looking back at our place and the mountains behind.

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“You get back here right now!”

On my way back to the house, I passed by these very noisy crows. I’m not sure what they were cawing about — maybe they were calling to their friend up there in the sky.

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Rabbit Corner

As I walked past the spot we call Rabbit Corner (see all the tracks?), I heard birdsong coming from that big bush. I thought at first that our resident mockingbird was providing the concert, but it turned out to be a pair of California Thrashers. I was delighted to see and hear them, especially since they haven’t been around the past couple of months. I hope they’re nesting!

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Spring Song

One of them accompanied me along the path up the hill, singing all the way, and I went back to the house grinning like a fool.

I think Spring must be on her way, don’t you?

I just realized it’s Walk and Click Wednesday. I’ve been wanting to join in on that, so I’m going over to link up right now.
laf Custom Designs