Sea Blue Lens


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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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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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Farewell Visits

In between packing and visiting with friends and getting ready to move, I managed to revisit a few favorite places and take some photos over the past few weeks. I haven’t had much time for processing or posting, but here are some shots from one last trip to Saco Heath, which I love to visit in the spring and fall.

Saco Heath

See the faint trace of an animal trail?

Stripes

This boardwalk used to be made of wood weathered to a soft gray. Unfortunately, the wet conditions of the heath have caused the wood to rot away, and the trail is being rebuilt now with artificial planks which I believe are made from recycled plastic.

Bristle Brush

I love the bristly rows of new growth on these branches.

Rhodora

I was fortunate to catch the Rhodora in peak bloom. It masses in lavender-pink clouds beneath the trees.

Rhodora Closeup

The individual blossoms seem fairy-like to me.

White Bells

I can’t remember what these are. My wildflower book was already packed, so I couldn’t look it up!

Pink Bells

They come in pink, too. Aren’t they pretty?

Seeing Double

We came upon a patch of the tiniest violets I’ve ever seen, barely over 1/4 inch across. Then I noticed this odd creature that looked like a cross between a hummingbird and a bee. As you can see, it is also tiny — less than 1/2 inch long. I looked it up online later and learned that it is a bee-fly. I love the shadow — I didn’t even see that when I took the photo.

Drinking Violets

Here’s another shot of the bee-fly. You can see the blur of its wings and its long, black proboscis reaching for the nectar in the heart of the violet.

Dancer

Can you hear the music?

And now I’m dancing off to somewhere new. But that doesn’t mean you’ve seen the last of my Maine, and certainly not the last of me!