Sea Blue Lens


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Photo-Heart Connection: November 2014

I’ve missed posting my Photo-Heart Connection the past couple of months, and now Kat has announced that she will be ending the monthly link-up at the end of this year. It’s always sad when something good and much loved goes away, but change is inevitable as we go through life, and the old must make way for the new. That’s what the image I chose for this month speaks to me about, too.

DSC_7645 Melancholia

This image is straight out of the camera and sums up my feelings about November very nicely. The month always seems a bit melancholy to me. The days grow short and the nights long. The sky is often gray and the weather turns cold and damp. Forecasts are filled with rain, fog, and even snow. The colorful leaves fade and fall, leaving naked branches behind. By the end of the month nearly all the trees are bare, tender plants have been frost-killed, and the natural world settles into dormancy.

There’s a sense of the year (perhaps of life itself) rushing to its close, a feeling of disbelief — what do you mean, Christmas is coming again? It seems only yesterday. . . .

It seems only yesterday that my children were young, that I was young. That the whole world was young and clean and innocent, but that was probably only my own naiveté. This is now, and it is what it is.

And so I observe with interest as the sunrise comes a minute or so later and the sunset a minute or so earlier each day, knowing the turnaround will come in only a couple more weeks, when the days will begin to lengthen again. I shake myself out of my lethargy enough to put on boots and warm, waterproof jacket, and go outside with my camera, seeking and finding beauty in bare branches and inclement weather.

Once again, the wonder of seeing the world around me through my lens works its magic, and I make peace with my November.

Thank you, Kat, for creating and hosting the Photo-Heart Connection — this practice which has added so much to my life over the past three years.

 


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Last Look at the Leaves

I woke this morning to white flakes drifting from the sky and beginning to cover the ground. It wasn’t cold enough to last for long, but the message was unmistakable. Winter is very near! Before it gets here, I really wanted to post some photos of the glorious autumn we’ve had here this year.

About a month ago, being encouraged to “change it up” and take a break from still-life photography for our Be Still – 52 class, I visited Laurel Hill Cemetery to photograph the fall leaves. I’ve been there many times in the spring for the daffodil display, and I got some wonderful photos on a snowy day last winter. Can you believe this was my first fall excursion to this beautiful cemetery?

DSC_7044Welcome!

DSC_7061Under the trees, the air itself seemed to be glowing.

DSC_7060It was just as brilliant underfoot.

DSC_7086An unexpected downpour sent me dashing for the shelter of my car.

DSC_7149I thought of heading home, but the rain passed quickly, leaving the color even more intense.

DSC_7098From the benches above . . .

DSC_7094. . . you can look out over the marsh and river.

DSC_7201Raindrops

DSC_7177Victorian era cast iron fence

DSC_7273Mosses and lichen

DSC_7285Paper wasp nest

DSC_7165A perfect maple

DSC_7167Old, crooked gravestones

DSC_7243Kaleidoscope of color

DSC_7253These trees looked as if they’d been purposely decorated by the windblown leaves.

DSC_7322The road back to the gate passes the pretty, vine-covered chapel, built in 1890.

DSC_7326It’s worthy of its own photo essay.

DSC_7332The tower

DSC_7330Even the window glows with autumn light.

DSC_7355One final look back. Goodbye, leaves . . . til next year.


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Out and About

Yesterday my daughter and I took a little drive down to Kennebunkport to see what we could see. It’s one of our favorite things to do, and this is one of our favorite times of the year to do it. The summer crowds are gone and the weather was cool, clear, and perfect.

IMG_5086Peaceful

As we walk from the public parking lot back into the village, I always stop by here, where the road crosses over the river, to take a few photos.

IMG_5095Into the Blue

I love the sight of New England’s cupolas and spires against the intense blue sky.

IMG_5093Touch of Autumn

It is early yet, but we did see a bit of color here and there.

IMG_5099Vacancy

This bird house is awfully close to the street, and I don’t know if it is ever occupied or not. But it’s cute, anyway.

IMG_5116Times Past

There are two kinds of antique shops I love. One is the junk-store kind, where you can prowl to your heart’s content in hopes of unearthing an unexpected (and cheap) treasure of some sort. The other is this kind: like a museum, except you can touch the precious things on display. If you have the money, you can even take them home with you. I do not have it, but I love looking (and touching) anyway.

IMG_5103Pooh Corner

When I looked back over the photos I took during my 365 project, I noticed that I actually do take quite a few still lifes. This was a surprise to me. But I also realized that this is the kind I take — found subjects, rather than ones I have gathered and set up. I just never thought of them as “still lifes.”

IMG_5106To the Loft

What can I say? I love these stairs and that light bouncing around at the top. And I was drawn irresistibly up.

IMG_5107View from the Top

IMG_5108Illumination

IMG_5109Horse with Girl

The tag said this was from China. I have no idea if it’s antique or not, but I thought it was charming.

IMG_5112Little Green Apples

Back downstairs. Though I’m not generally a fan of the chipped paint look, I liked this worn blue table a lot. I can see it in back of my couch. In my dreams.

IMG_5113It Was a Hot Summer

IMG_5121David by the Water

Outside, if you duck and go through a little passageway, you find this surprisingly formal small garden tucked away next to the building.

IMG_5147The Good Earth

Another of our favorite shops. The floors are so tilted it will make you dizzy. All of the pottery here is made by the husband and wife who own the store. My favorite mugs came from here.

IMG_5139Fresh Picked

Another of my “found” still lifes.

IMG_5142Deck with a View

From this deck we could smell seafood, and it was time to seek out some lunch. Clam chowder and warm blueberry pie with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream — which, as usual, I never even thought to photograph — and then it was time to head for home.

So glad we went! Today it is raining . . . and that’s good, too.

Note: All photos were taken with my iPhone 5S.


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Turn, Turn, Turn

This song keeps running through my head: To everything (turn, turn, turn) there is a season (turn, turn, turn) and a time for every purpose under Heaven. My favorite season has just begun. Fall always makes me feel a bit melancholy, yet excited and happy about the changes and new beginnings that always seem to hum in the air at this time of year.

DSC_2849 misty morningMisty Morning  21/365

The last day of summer dawned cloudy and cool, with fog veiling the mountains. By mid-morning it had burned off, leaving a clear blue sky and a sun already shifting to the south. The air is cooler but the light itself seems to have a warmer, more golden quality even at midday.

DSC_2772 blackbirdWatcher

A few flora are flourishing despite the drought:

IMG_1104 yellow daisiesYellow Spiny Daisy

DSC_2833 purple astersMystery Aster

California Buckwheat 23-365California Buckwheat 23/365

Fauna are frolicking in the cooler weather:

DSC_2805 NiñaKickin’ It Up

DSC_2904 bunny hopThe Bunny Hop

Fall visitors are coming back:

DSC_2894 Nutall'sWoodpeckers and Finches and Sparrows, Oh My!

I’ve seen male and female Nuttall’s Woodpeckers here before, but only one at a time. I was really excited to spot this pair in our Charlie Brown tree on the first day of fall.

DSC_2887 WC sparrowRight on Cue

This little guy, the first of the season, showed up the same day, just hours after I said to my daughter, “I hope the White-Crowned Sparrows come back soon.” They winter over here but leave in spring to spend the summer elsewhere — probably somewhere cooler, if they are at all sensible. I haven’t seen one since April. I don’t know why I like them so much. They sing the same few notes over and over, but it always makes me smile to hear it.

And last but not least, the apples have been harvested. We had plenty of help:

DSC_2446 apple birds

DSC_2565 bunny apple

DSC_2656 squirrel apple

But we did manage to salvage a few for ourselves.

DSC_2867 apple basketLast of the Harvest  22/365

At the beginning of September I began a 365 project, my first, with a small group of online friends. It has so far truly been a gift of grace, keeping my interest in photography up even while other concerns are occupying much of my thoughts and time. I thought I might feel intimidated by the group, whose work I already knew and admired, but instead I’m loving it! I’m being inspired and uplifted every day by their photography, while learning to look wider and go deeper with my own. I can’t think of a better new beginning for this fall.


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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.

DSC_0027

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.

DSC_0142

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.

DSC_0054

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.

DSC_0315

DSC_0318

DSC_0321

Then — gone.

DSC_0323

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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Photo-Heart Connection: October

The Way the Wind Blows

I’ve had a hard time with the Photo-Heart Connection this month, and, in fact, almost let it pass me by. It’s not that I lack for photos to choose from. The problem is with the heart.

Fall has always been my favorite season of the year, even though I grew up in a place where fall was marked not by spectacular color, but merely a cooling and mellowing of the summer’s blistering heat. Leaves simply turned brown and fell off the trees, leaving behind bare branches against blue sky.

Seventeen years ago, I left the desert behind and moved east, where I finally experienced autumn in all its glory and loved it more than ever. Now I’m back, not exactly in the desert but close to it. I’m far away from a lot of people I love. And while I’m happy and grateful to be here in this beautiful place, close to other people I love, my heart is torn.

Fall for me is a nostalgic time of year anyway, and this year it feels especially poignant. I love my new home, and find joy in it every day. I’m also seriously homesick for Maine and the friends and family left behind. I feel tears welling up at unexpected moments. I feel a bit like that weathervane up there, turned in a different direction with each passing breeze.

I’m keeping busy (in a relaxed sort of way) and try to do something every day to settle in here a little deeper. Like a transplanted tree, it will take time to put out new roots and become established in this new soil. It will take a bit of protection from the strongest winds. But in the end, those winds will help to strengthen the trunk and roots and branches of that tree.

I try not to think too much about it all, but just let myself feel what comes. I know it will pass. Whichever way they blow, the winds always die down and calm returns.

So that’s my Photo-Heart Connection for this October. For me, fall is still what it was all along . . . a time both for looking back and for new beginnings. I wonder what November will bring?

Thanks to Kat Sloma for hosting this linkup each month. It’s a great chance to look over the images taken during the month and think more deeply about the one that speaks most to my heart.

.


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Retracing My Steps

I just wrote a whole post about how disappointed I was in the photos I took on Sunday, when I repeated Saturday’s camera-less photo walk with my camera.

Then I picked out a few pictures that were sort of tolerable, and started working with them, and decided that maybe I liked them more than I thought.

So here they are, to speak for themselves.

Doesn’t look like a promising start to a nature walk, does it?

But it does get better.

You can sit here . . .

. . . and gaze at the town on the other side of the river . . .

. . . or imagine who might live in this hole.

Here’s that mushroom I told you about . . .

. . . and some really beautiful birch trunks.

A lovely lookout point, another good spot to pause . . .

. . . to appreciate another view.

Edgy red

Leaf rainbow

Grass seed

Softly colored woods

. . . and a single dead leaf to close this chapter.