Saturday, December 31, 2011

a misty wet day in the northern woods

It’s the last day of 2011. It’s been a great year. In celebration, I headed up into the woods. But first…


…partially frozen puddles in the driveway!



microbubbles. that’s the reflection of the garage, incidentally.



bigger bubbles. or, small planets with complex atmospheres living in our driveway puddles.



ice monster eyeballs.



What does the worm think about water freezing up?


OK, enough of that – up we go.


One of those fairy convocations I mentioned the other day.





two points if you know what this is*.



These logs could occupy me for days.

*it’s an ash seedling that’s dive bombed into moss.


Yet another example of mischievous lichen. The one in the back KNOWS it can easily distract my point-and-shoot, making it focus back there instead of on the front-and-center stalk. Lichen is even worse-behaved as a child than I was.


I’m still pretty much a goofball.

I have all kindsa resolutions for 2012:

- Balance out all the running and cardio at the gym (I’ve been whaling on the stationary bike on my non-running days) with stretching, and lolling about in the sauna at the gym. Continue this no-sugar kick I’ve been on, because it feels great.

- Run a coupla half marathons. First one’s in May.

- Put my friends’ phone numbers in a more prominent place so that I will actually call them. (I have relatively few phone numbers committed to memory these days. Not sure how that happened. Some folks moved or switched up cell providers and I never bothered to memorize the new numbers.)

- Keep hanging out in the woods. Get to know the various spots to hike around here. I’ve actually done quite a lot of hiking in Vermont, just not in a while and/or right around here.

- Keep doing Reiki. Keep wailing away in chorus, sitting in the front row next to our contractor Jonathan (he’s even more prone to misbehaving than I am), and barely avoiding getting yelled at by our choir director.

- Continue this lovely game of enjoying life, first and foremost, and letting the rest it take care of itself.

That’s the plan, anyway. How about you?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

panoramania in just twenty minutes

Howdy, world! First up, in an unusual twist, I went for a quickie hike the other day up Black Mountain, which has a fantastic bang for buck ratio. A twenty minute hike from one of the trailheads gets you panoramic views in three directions:


To the east, world-famous Mt. Monadnock. You can see where the next generation of camera would come in handy for a shot like this – my trusty point-and-shoot, which has developed its neural network in concert with mine, wants to focus on the nearby foliage.


To the south, Mt. Wantastiquet looming over the Connecticut River valley and Brattleboro, with – if you squint – the nuclear power plant in the distance. (Just to the right of where that power cut chops up the flank of Monadnock.) I know it doesn’t look like it’s looming from here, but trust me, if you are in downtown Bratt looking east, that sucker looms.



To the southwest, the West River sneaking up on the Connecticut River.



And to the west, using super-duper zoom, we have Mt. Haystack. My dad’s buried within sight of Haystack. Hi Dad!

Aw crap.

I just realized that today marks the four year anniversary of his death. Wow. Just…wow. I think of him every day. Particularly lately, as I’ve been working out at the same gym he used to go to.

Where was I. Black Mountain’s cool because it features a bunch of different kinds of ecosystems, including species somewhat unusual for these here parts.


To wit, red pine. (Two needles per bunch.)



And the trails leading up to the summit are flanked by mountain laurel, which ought to make for a pretty fantastic spring. Note to self: go back in the spring.

Friday, December 23, 2011

on showing up. (also, drunk chorus girl mushrooms.)

please to note the green angel hovering in the space above the garage door. why wouldn’t angels take the form of optic glare and whatnot inside a camera? may as well show up somewhere, right?
ahhhh, the fog is burning off. nice.
thank god for goldenrod.

mmmmmm, MMMMM! oh hey: two more angels, one white, one amber. (yes, that was my brain you just heard, realizing that in the 3D, that orb of amber light must be between the leaves and the lens.)

gentian. you’ve seen gentian here before. I know this isn’t pretty, but hey: it’s a friend, and the process of turning all this stuff back into Basic Matrix Substance has to happen somehow, right? here it is.

the snow was melting this whole time – it was sunny, but sounded like it was raining.
I went back inside briefly.
some people know what it’s all about.

and back out we go. wish I knew what this guy is. grrrr.

same species. just not as tall.

could you be any more beautiful?
and now for a closer look at the flower stalks when there are more layers of them:
after this, I tried a series of head-on shots into the individual flowers. there was not enough light – I gave up, and went with a side portrait:
what do you think? pretty, no?

onwards to the intricacies of leaf decay.

happy moss, just after the winter solstice. so much green poking up.

jaunty little buggers.

moss, moss, everywhere.

I believe this is a fallen bird’s nest.
still with me? and now for an obsessive series about a shelf mushroom.
speaking of jaunty.

awww, a heart! these are all the same type of mushroom, I’m pretty sure, growing on a downed branch, that can’t make up their mind between standing up straight, as shown above…
…or sprawling flat like a lichen. This one’s doing both. “Bartender! Another beer!”

this one looks like it’s waking up from a nap.

others happily dangle upside down. there was a whole chorus line of this sort:
(I don’t know about you, but I keep hearing “New York, New York”.)

others engaged in competitive napping.

this makes me so happy.

While playing with these mushrooms, I came across a convocation of moss reproductive spores.
like so.
these guys are super-elusive to photograph close-up.
this is the best I could do. I’m not sure why: they’re tiny, to be sure, but a lot of stuff I photograph is tiny. I think part of it is the camera tends to be in love with all the texture that’s available in a perspective like this, and it wants to focus somewhere else.
like so: enticingly sparkly water on a rock.
but honestly, I think it’s the little beings themselves. they are willfully elusive. every time I see them I feel like I’ve stumbled across a convocation of forest fairies. (and as above, why wouldn’t fairies take the form of moss fruiting bodies? gotta show up somewhere, right?)
this is why I like spending time outside like this: the woods are a place where a lot of other beings are busy leading their lives, completely out of the awareness of most humans. Yes, you can travel to remote wilderness to experience nature’s majesty. or, you can also go out in your back yard.
it makes me start jonesing for more serious macro lens capability.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Solstice!

Charlie and I went for a walk this morning.
He led the way.

He posed while I played with the “burst” setting on my camera, getting multiple shots off in quick succession. He quickly realized it was too cold for a cat, even a solar-warmed black cat. He retreated to the deck, while I checked out the usual things I check out.
Orange leaves on the Umm…Barberry? bush.

Scads of buds on the pieris bush. 2012 is going to be a banner year for this one.

Plenty of goldenrod seeds? wait. Aster? Help. Plenty remain, whatever they are. I think goldenrod, but I must confess – a ton of asters and golden rod went to seed during a two week span in October when we were out of town, so I am not 100% confident here.
Remember the deformed magnolia buds? They’re still around.
It looks like some of the bulges burst open and seeds started to come out, but perhaps the wet weather this fall caused them to rot in place.
A whole tree full of ‘em.
I know I said I’d tell you alllll about my weekend, but that feels like a long, long time ago.  Time has been moving slowly for me lately, the way it did when I was a kid. I think it’s because ever since the full moon on the 10th, I’ve been extremely tuned in to where we are in the year – exactly when and where the moon will rise over the ridge each night, flooding our bedroom like god’s own flashlight in my eyes. The exact placement of Orion in the night sky over our garage. And so on. The winter solstice this year is Thursday morning, 12:31 am, GMT. For us East Coast people, that’s 7:31 pm tomorrow, Wednesday. YIPPEEE!!! Bring it!
So the weekend. We went out and visited my dad’s house for maybe the second-to-last-time (it is under contract, for a song, I might add, and we’ll be closing soon on it. Cross your fingers.) We went to a holiday party and had a good time visiting friends old and new. Sunday, my week’s long run was only four miles, and then I went to a winter solstice ritual I’ve been going to for years now. More visiting with friends old and new. Leaving the house several times like that on a weekend is unusual for me. It’s fun, but it takes a lot out of me.
Apparently I’ve transitioned from being an extrovert to being an introvert. I’m not sure that’s “possible” but my experience certainly suggests it’s the case.
Or, as Charlie put it this morning,
Are we done yet? Can we go back inside?