Winter Woods

Our forest in winter feels open. Unlike the other seasons, nothing is hidden. It is like walking into a large empty warehouse where the entire space seems to reveal itself, leaving little to explore. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Winter Fields

The field where we grow our blackberries has a hardness in winter that is hard to describe. It is not barren, Rather it has lost an intimacy with its visitors. A place to pass through, offering little cause to linger. Click on the image for a larger view.

Winter Blackberries

I explored our land this weekend. We have had unusual amounts of rain, freezing rain, and sleet this winter. The snow pack is hard and slippery–normally when I wear snowshoes, it is so I don’t sink too far into the snow, but now I just need the crampons on the shoes to stop from slipping.

Our blackberry field is like an abstract painting of hard black strokes on a brilliant white canvas. This is such a stark transformation from what this field looks like in the summer. Click on the image for a larger view.

Winter Constellations

life_in_maine_winter_constellationsHigh altitude clouds create halos around the bright stars in the winter constellations: Orion, on the right with his famous belt and sword; Taurus, in the center marked by his blazing eye; and the Pleiades, the tight blue group on the left. Click on the image for a larger view.

Road Closed

on_the_road_road_closedThe journey along the Blue Ridge Parkway is not always predictable—what journey ever is? Sections of the parkway can be closed because of landslides. But when one road closes, another opens. This closure was just after the entrance to Mt. Mitchell, the tallest peak east of the Mississippi River.

The ride up Mt. Mitchell is very different from Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. While Mt. Washington is 400 ft lower at 6,289 ft—compared to Mt. Mitchell’s 6,684 ft—the summit is an alpine zone. The tree line extends to Mt. Mitchell’s summit. on_the_road_mt_mitchellThis December, it was a windy 37°F at the summit lookout. A park ranger walked up with us and explained this weather was unusual. Normally, he explained, there would be a snow pack of several feet and freezing weather. He is a member of a troop of rangers that man the summit year round. We ended the day at Green Knob Overlook on the way down. Click on the images for larger views.

Green Knob Overlook, Elev 4,760 ft

on_the_road_green_knob_overlookFrom the Blue Ridge Parkway. At dusk, light seems to be sucked up out of the valleys and into the sky. Anyone below would probably feel the day has ended. But high on a ridge, the light seems to linger just a little longer. And quietly, the landscape yields to the inevitable darkness. Click in the image for a larger view.

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Sun Worshipers

on_the_road_ocean_cityThe few off-season residents in Ocean City, Maryland walking to the beach to greet the rising sun. What a strange power this dawn greeting has over humans, regardless of culture. The ritual seems to be partly driven by beauty, and partly by the optimism of a new day. We all know this event. We have experienced the sun rise above the horizon a multitude of times. Yet, each event seems new. Watching our star clearing the edge of our planet shows a world much bigger than ourselves. And, for a moment, we feel at peace. Click on the image for a larger view.

New Years Day, 2017

life_in_maine_new_year_2017Wishing you a wonderful and prosperous new year.

(The start to our new year was marked by a snow storm that caused
a three-day power outage. We got our power back today.
But it made our forest look very pretty. Click on the image for a larger view.)

A Different Light

florida_different_lightThe light and color we see in the world is an extension of our biology. If we shift our perception to the longer wavelengths of near infrared, we would see the world very differently. Chlorophyll, the chemical that gives plants their green color, is highly reflective in the near infrared. Plants practically glow, at least when healthy. We see this very differently. Continue reading

Blue Jay in Winter

life_in_maine_bluebirdIt was a dark, snowy weekend. We had our usual visitors to our bird feeder: chickadees, junco, mourning doves, titmice, cardinals, and goldfinches. We usually do not have blue jays at our feeders, even though they are a common bird in Maine. These intelligent birds—they are a member of the crow family—have striking plumage in any season. If they were not so common, they would attract bird watchers from around the world. Click on the image for a larger view.

In the Shadow of the Moon

life_in_maine_shadows_of_the_moonI spent the Wednesday walking in the shadows of the moon. The brilliant white of the snowpack makes traveling through the forest under a full moon magical. The air is clean and crisp, and sound seems to disappear into the clear winter sky. The world loses its hard edges. Trees become shadow, and distance and scale illusionary. Click on the image for a larger view.

A Murder of Crows

life_in_maine_murder_of_crowsJust as the sun sets in December, huge numbers of crows come together to roost. I really do not notice these mass gatherings in other months of the year. These groups are not only large, but also noisy. Click on the image for a larger view.