Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Nature Notes: Seasons Change

November is when autumn fades into winter here - or slams into it broadside, as it did this year. These were taken from an upstairs window just nine days apart.

I've put the bird feeder back up, and it has a few regular visitors again. Not nearly the numbers as before, but maybe as the winter wears on. We do have an unusual number of crows, though.

I've been stalking crows for years, hoping to catch a flock in the snow, but they are the most skittish of all the birds I have. They spot me immediately and they do not stick around to see what I'm going to do with that strange little black box.

Storm Crows

Kind of a short entry this time, what with holiday to-do lists and all. But I do hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving week, filled with family and friends, good food and warmth!

        For more Nature Notes, visit Rambling Woods

Monday, November 18, 2013

Gratitude, With a Side of Milkweed

I posted recently on Maraca (my other blog) that I had become bored with photography lately and asked for advice. Truth be told, I was about to give it up, at least for a while. Among the great responses was this one from Barb at From the World Lens Photography: "Challenge yourself to 'take the picture you've never taken'. That's what I do sometimes, and I don't allow myself to switch to another subject until I've really, really explored the first one."

Well, I have taken a zillion random, so-so shots of milkweed in the field, and I was at it again on Sunday when those words came back to me.  I realized I had never brought milkweed inside, where I had better control of it. It's always seemed kind of wrong to me, doing nature photography indoors, capturing or cutting things down in order to photograph them. But desperate times call for desperate measures. I gathered a few pods and set up the rarely-used light box. Here's what happened:

At first the seeds formed a core, packed tightly as a pinecone, wrinkled and brown.

Milkweed 7

As the warmth of the light began to dry out the pod, the seeds began to wake and rise, like ghosts lifting from their  shared shroud, trailing white satin.  I had to work quickly from there, they were changing so rapidly. But it was time to think about starting dinner.

Another comment came back to me then, from NatureFootstep at Catching the Light: "Most important, take the image when you see it. Never wait - then it is gone."

Right. Sorry, Hubby. The Shot waits for no one.

Milkweed 6

Who would guess, from the blowsy mass of  tangled white cotton we usually see, that milkweed seeds are actually arranged in orderly rows, each layer waiting patiently for its turn to rise and fly.

Milkweed 5

With no wind to blow them free, their silks continued to balloon, barely holding on, sending more and more strands up to the sky, like ships raising their sails.

Milkweed 3

A simple change of perspective revealed an entirely new kind of "flower", one perhaps nobody has ever noticed before.

Milkweed 2

And just like that, in the space of a couple of hours, the thrill was back. And yes, Barb, I'll keep working with these until I've exhausted all the possibilities.

So thanks, Barb and NatureFootstep - and thanks to Karen, Sylvia and Colleen for your suggestions too, and to all who posted such encouraging comments. And thanks to you, Michelle, for hosting this meme!

All of you keep me going, in more ways than you know.

      For more Nature Notes, join Michelle at Rambling Woods.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Drops of Sky

It was one of those perfect fall days, a world of golden woods and cerulean sky...here and there, perfect orbs of lingering rain, or maybe dew, glinting on fallen leaves. Miracles are sometimes very small.

Sky Gazing

Drops of Sky

Posted for I Heart Macro at Shine the Divine and for Michelle's Nature Notes.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Kid Buys an Airplane!

Brandon's New Baby

Behold the newest addition to the family: a 1946 Aeronca Champ, a very cute, very small airplane. My older son is a corporate pilot, and this is his first plane of his very own. Needless to say, he is ecstatic...walking on cloud 9, so to speak.

He is one of those lucky souls who always knew what he was born to do - and he was born to fly. Of course, I have to set aside my overprotective, mother-hen tendencies to be happy about this latest turn of events. But I'm working on it.

In fact, my son tells me that the door can be taken off, so I can lean out and take aerial photos from it. And I plan to do it!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Nature Notes: Puffballs


Found dozens of these papery orbs covering a rotting log in the woods. According to at least one source on the web, they appear to be pear-shaped puffballs, and they are a "choice edible species" while they are young. Which is to say, still soft and white with no spore holes. I'm disappointed to have missed the boat on them, but they are said to come back every year, so maybe next time. I didn't find any morels or chickens-of-the-woods this year, either, and I was totally ready to give those a go.

I'm thinking these particular puffballs look like fabulous shapes and textures for pottery. Porcelain would do nicely...don't you think? Could be just the inspiration I need to get back into that.

 I'm definitely getting back into macro photography, too, and I'm getting reacquainted with my little Canon G9. I have no macro lens for the Rebel, but the point and shoot lets me get very, very close to a subject. I always do photo memes from my other blog, Maraca, but I'm making an exception for this one and linking to Laura's blog, I Heart Macro at Shine the Divine as well as to Michelle's Nature Notes.

Have a great rest of your week, everyone!

**PS / UPDATE** -  LATE BREAKING NEWS: My kid just bought an AIRPLANE! More on that to come...
**PPS / UPDATE** 11-04-13 - Wanna see our new airplane? Click here to see the Champ!