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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Springtime at Laurel Hill

You might remember that last October, during the peak of fall color, I took a photo walk in Laurel Hill Cemetery and wrote about it here.

Though I didn’t blog about it, I visited in January, too, when I had to climb a snowbank to capture this view:

P1040616Winter “Wonderland”

This week I went back to catch a bit of the glorious spring that we New Englanders waited for so patiently (or not!) during a very long winter. Now the trees are lacy with new leaves, and from the same spot, the view looks like this:

DSC_9123Spring Wonders

I’ve been here many times before to photograph the daffodil display in April and early May. In fact, I’d gone a few days earlier with my friend Susan. We talked about how, even though neither of us really needs any more daffodil photos, it seems a rite of spring, a sort of victory celebration, to go take them every year. Another winter has passed and we survived!

DSC_9054The Clearing

It’s so hard to cconvey the feeling of it — the sheer scope of whole hillsides covered in yellow and white blossoms. Or maybe it only seems so overwhelming because the world has been black and white and grey and cold for so long.

DSC_9078Magic Carpet Ride

DSC_9074Tree Hugger

Aside from the little guy above, there was no one else around, and so I wandered about, shooting more daffodils with my Nikon. (It’s hard to stop — they really are irresistible.) Then I made my way down to the bottom of the hill and saw them from an angle I’d never seen before.

DSC_9102Flow

I took this photo and a couple of panoramas, including the one in my header, with my iPhone. These feel like I’ve come closer than ever before to capturing that broad sweep of flowers against the background of river and trees that I’ve always wanted.

SpringFlowers_LHPatchwork

There are hundreds of thousands of bulbs here, and I’m sure there must be hundreds of varieties. And wildflowers, too. The mosaic above is only a small sampling.

IMG_1022Sweet Violets

Tearing myself away from the daffodils, I wandered among the old grave markers, marveling at the beauty everywhere I looked. Grass that was carpeted with colorful leaves last fall and blanketed with snow all winter is now sprinkled with violets.

gravestone flowersLove Still Blooms

Many graves are planted with beautiful spring bulbs and other flowers.

DSC_9119Not Forgotten

 Others have been decorated by Nature’s own hand.

IMG_1003Preview

The crabapple trees were just on the verge of bursting into full bloom.

Laurel Hill Chapel 3SeasonsThere Is a Season….

Of course I had to stop by the chapel again, to marvel at how different it looks now from October and January.

DSC_9132Undressed

The building looks bare wearing only a tracery of vines without their customary covering of shiny, dark green leaves.

DSC_9136The Tower

Soon the tulips will be gone, the rhododendron will have bloomed, and those vines will hide the grey stone walls and try to cover the windows of the old chapel with leaves.

DSC_9160

I’ll leave you with a look down the same lane I closed with last autumn . . .

DSC_9017‘Til Next Time

. . . and one last peek at the daffodils as the sun goes down, a view that won’t come again for another year. The comfort is in knowing that it will come, no matter how long the seasons in between. The cycle goes on.

I love coming here in any season, for the solitude, the peace, and the natural beauty of this special place. I’m already planning to bring my camera back in full summer, when the trees will be in leaf and the grass filled out and deep green. I’m looking forward to seeing what surprises await me then.


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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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Photo-Heart Connection: June 2014

DSC_5252Dear Old House

Dear House,

I just wanted to say “thank you.” For taking me in and giving me shelter. For warm winter fires and cool summer breezes. For snow drifts and icicles. For crocus and lilies of the valley and daisies and roses. For squirrels and birds and that one little chipmunk that came to say goodbye. For surprises and treasures from basement and barn, attic and cupboard. For your amazing light and all the photo ops. For fulfilling some lifelong yearnings over the past seven and a half months.

‘Bye, House. I’ll never forget you.

Love,

Me

 

Linking with Kat Sloma’s Photo-Heart Connection. I moved into my new apartment July 1, so I’m surrounded by the chaos of My Life in boxes, but didn’t want to miss posting this month.


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Photo-Heart Connection: April 2014

Yes! [242-365]Yes! [242/365]

It’s funny how often my Photo-Heart Connection image has turned out to be one from the first day of the month. This time it’s different. This image was taken on the last day.

Winters in Maine are typically long and cold. Along about mid-February, I begin yearning for sunshine and warmth. I start to feel claustrophobic from having to wrap up in layers of sweaters, coats, scarves, hats, and gloves just to step foot out of the house. This winter has seemed even longer and colder than normal, whatever “normal” means these days. I’ve tried not to complain, since it was my own free choice to move back here from sunny California last November — just before winter set in. (People have questioned my sanity, or at least my timing.)

April began with piles of snow still lying in shady areas around the house and garden. We even had a fresh dusting of snow mid-month. But just when it seemed she would never come, Spring began showing her colors. She works her way from the ground up. The grass turns green. Tiny bulbs began poking up and then blooming. Sap begins to rise and twigs brighten with red or gold. Leaf buds began to swell, first on shrubs, then trees.

And then…and then…everything seems to simply explode into leaf and bloom, as if all that pent up energy simply must release itself at once. That’s what the image above represents for me. One day, all is cold and dark; the next day — suddenly, finally — Spring is here in all her glory.

She never lets us down. And she is so worth waiting for.

Linking with Kat Eye Studio’s Photo-Heart Connection for April. 


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Mother Nature’s Little Joke

I should not have been surprised, but I didn’t see it coming. Yesterday it rained most of the day, and it was still raining when I went to bed last night. The wind howled and moaned around the chimney all day, but it wasn’t very cold. This morning when I looked outside I was startled to see this:

IMG_2976Patio Seating Still Available

IMG_2965Turn Up the Heat, Please

IMG_2967Cold Coverlet

IMG_2969Waiting In the Wings

A robin sat still in one spot for the longest time as if bemused by the change, wondering what happened to the lovely warmth of the past few days.

DSC_4732“I thought it was spring….”

 Still, a bird’s gotta do what a bird’s gotta do.

DSC_4737Looking and Listening

 And you know what they say.

DSC_4738The Early Bird [228/365]

I’m sure it was all just a late April Fool’s joke, and this was absolutely the last snow before spring comes to stay, right?

Right?

 

 


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Observing the Natives

I don’t usually decorate for Christmas until about a week before the big day, but for some reason, I’m getting the urge early this year. It’s probably part of the nesting that’s going on here in my new home.

Anyway, yesterday I hung a wreath on the inside of my kitchen door and then left the room. Two minutes later (no exaggeration) I heard noises and went to investigate. This is what I saw:DSC_3469DSC_3470DSC_3473

Really?

Keep in mind that this wreath is: a) INSIDE the house, b) behind a dual-pane glass door AND a screen door, and c) is FAKE.

I was truly amazed that the squirrels could see it well enough to think that it looked like a food source. Oh, well. Onward, troops!

The direct frontal assault not yielding profitable results, they decided to try a subtler approach.

DSC_3475

The door handle.

DSC_3476

Well, that didn’t work either. Now she’s getting frustrated. Forget subtlety!

DSC_3477-2

Sorry about the motion blur, folks, but that’s not me. That’s Ms. Squirrel jumping up and down on the door handle.

Man, I’m glad I locked that door.

To give them credit, they are not stupid. After repeated attempts by several individuals over the next hour or so, they realized that persistence was futile, and gave it up. Today they are going about their usual business, without giving that tasty looking but unattainable thing another glance.

Here’s my favorite image, the one that made it as my 365 photo of the day. This guy didn’t even blink as I walked right up to the door and took his photograph.

DSC_3479The Creatures Are Stirring 96/365

I do love my squirrelly neighbors!