Weekly Photo Challenge: Seasons

Late May

Late May

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“I know I am but summer to your heart,

and not the full four seasons of the year.”

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Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

Living here surrounded by forests and wetlands, tides and seasons are the metronomes of our live.  We watch the passage of time in every budding branch, ripening berry, brilliant crimson leaf, and ice clogged marsh.

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November

November

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But time is cyclic here, like the tides.  The creatures come and go in their comforting rhythm as one month melts into the next.  We’ve learned where to watch for them, and when.

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January

January

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No rhythm escapes notice.  There is nothing subtle about the changing of the seasons in coastal Virginia.  Each carries its distinct beauties and its mood.  They may meld slowly one to the next, but there is time to savor and appreciate each in its fullness.

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February

Late February

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And these things remain constant: water flows,  trees glisten in the sunlight, birds call to one another, wind ripples across the creeks, and all things change.  We watch the rising and falling of the tides and see the currents flowing through our lives. 

We watch seedlings sprout, and see rotted trees fallen from the last storm.  But even the fallen serve their purpose,  holding sunning turtles this day, and herons in their meditations another.  Life goes on; nothing ever lost or wasted.

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July

July

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Seasons:  the changing costumes of the one creation.  Whether they pass as swiftly as spring, or as slowly as a glacier encrusted ice age; they demonstrate the dynamic life animating everything on our planet.

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September

September

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For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge: Seasons

 

“Except. What is normal at any given time?

We change just as the seasons change,

and each spring brings new growth.

So nothing is ever quite the same.”

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Sherwood Smith

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Ice covers the marsh at Halfway Creek where Canada Geese gather in search of food.

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014-2016

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Sunday Dinner: Community

November 6, 2015 Parkway 101

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“Everybody is a story.

When I was a child, people sat around kitchen tables

and told their stories. We don’t do that so much anymore.

Sitting around the table telling stories

is not just a way of passing time.

It is the way the wisdom gets passed along.

The stuff that helps us to live a life worth remembering.”


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Rachel Naomi Remen

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November 6, 2015 Parkway 061

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“I alone cannot change the world,

but I can cast a stone across the waters

to create many ripples.”


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Mother Teresa

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November 6, 2015 Parkway 088

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“One of the marvelous things about community

is that it enables us to welcome and help people

in a way we couldn’t as individuals.

When we pool our strength

and share the work and responsibility,

we can welcome many people,

even those in deep distress,

and perhaps help them find

self-confidence and inner healing.”


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Jean Vanier

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November 6, 2015 Parkway 096

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“The world is so empty if one thinks only

of mountains, rivers & cities;

but to know someone who thinks & feels with us,

and who, though distant, is close to us in spirit,

this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden.”


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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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November 6, 2015 Parkway 100

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

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November 6, 2015 leaves 018

 

 

 

 

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Wild Beauty

A marsh on Jamestown Island

A marsh on Jamestown Island

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The garden quickly grows a bit shaggy this time of year, looking like it needs a good haircut.

Abundant rain and steamy temperatures fuel growth so fast, you might think you can sit and watch it all expanding.

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Native trumpet vine grows through trees, entangling with other vines.  This grows in Jamestown Island.

Native trumpet vine grows through trees, entangling with other vines, here  on Jamestown Island.

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Vines creep inches a day.  Weeds spring up lush and thick overnight.  Grasses spread their rhizomes to claim fresh territory in the beds and mulch.  And everything grows green.

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July 4, 2015 Jamestown 006

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Everything.  A thin layer of algae or moss will grow in the most unexpected places.

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Queen Anne's Lace grows near a pond on the Colonial Parkway.

Queen Anne’s Lace grows near a pond on the Colonial Parkway.

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We can’t keep up with it all.   The world looks a little wild and unkempt in July.

But it is wildly beautiful.

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July 4, 2015 Jamestown 016

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Every trip around the garden to weed, trim and prune yields at minimum a wheelbarrow full of culled greenery.  Shade grows deep beneath the expanding canopy of vines, branches and leaves.

Such abundance!

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Trumpet vine climbs over, around and through this sapling pine.  They will grow together for many more years to come on Jamestown Island.

Trumpet vine climbs over, around and through this sapling pine. They will grow together for many more years to come on Jamestown Island.

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There is a tension between maintaining a neatly trimmed garden and letting the plants do what they will.

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July 4, 2015 Jamestown 068

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You see it along the roads where crews trim so far back from the pavement, and then let nature take the rest.  You see it along the Parkway, and at the edge of the woods, and anywhere a human hand neglects to bring order for more than a few days at a time.

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July 4, 2015 Jamestown 020~

It remains a fine line to tread in the garden.  “What may grow, and what must go?”  the perennial question a gardener ponders in July.

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There is a certain tension in a newly trimmed lawn, swept hardscaping, pruned hedges, a well pruned bed of annuals.

And then there is the exuberant release of wildly blooming branches and top heavy perennials.  Day lily, Phlox, Rudbeckia, Coreopsis, Echinacea, Salvia, Lantana, Achillea ... these have risen miraculously from the bed.

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Wildflowers along the Colonial Parkway between Williamsburg and Yorktown.

Wildflowers along the Colonial Parkway between Williamsburg and Yorktown.

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Buds open, stalks grow, leaves uncurl, color fills the spaces so recently blanketed in snow.

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Native blackberrries grow through a native shrub we call Beautyberry.

Native blackberrries grow through a native shrub we call Beautyberry.

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Every gardener must negotiate their own balance between the tension and the release; control and abandon.

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Our garden, July 1

Our garden, July 1

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And some gardeners live in awe of the artful hand of nature, left to tend the garden in her own, sublime style.

What surprises she offers!  What generosity and enthusiasm she brings to the design!

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July 4, 2015 Jamestown 007~

Gardening in a living forest, by necessity I lean towards the wild side of beauty, towards allowing nature her hand in creating our garden.

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Vines  climb through Rose of Sharon and scamper onto a Dogwood tree in our garden.

Vines climb through Rose of Sharon and scamper onto a Dogwood tree in our garden.

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That hand has not always been gentle, or kind.  This is a dynamic collaboration; always evolving.

There are always surprises.  There are ongoing challenges.

But what beauty emerges in the process!

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Our garden on the fourth of July:; a Salvia grows through Colocasia, punctuated with a dark leafed Canna.

Our garden on July 4; a Salvia grows through Colocasia, punctuated with a dark leafed Canna.

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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A wildflower growing on Jamestown Island

A wildflower growing on Jamestown Island

Bee-Friendly

July 4, 2015 Jamestown 087

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“Once again…welcome to my house.

Come freely. Go safely;

and leave something of the happiness you bring.”

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Bram Stoker

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“There is no hospitality like understanding.”

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Vanna Bonta

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“Create inclusion – with simple mindfulness

that others might have a different reality from your own.”

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Patti Digh

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July 4, 2015 Jamestown 085

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“It only takes one cat – or person –

to make another feel welcome and special.”

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  Laura C. Monteiro

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July 4, 2015 Jamestown 082

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“But still – that is our vocation:

to convert the hostis into a hospes,

the enemy into a guest

and to create the free and fearless space

where brotherhood and sisterhood

can be formed and fully experienced.”

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  Henri J.M. Nouwen

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July 4, 2015 Jamestown 080~

We are all strangers in this strange land; all but the natives who greeted us in 1607 and their children’s children who live among us now.

The genius, the energy, and the stubborness of “Americans” comes from our identity as immigrants, as newcomers.  Every new wave of immigrants brings some special something with them, which woven into the fabric of our culture keeps us ever new and relevant.

America remains in a constant state of rebellion against what is outdated and stale.  We welcome the fresh breezes from the sea to clear away the smog and offer us a view of the infinite blue sky.

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Jamestown Island, July 4, 2015

Jamestown Island, July 4, 2015

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Happy Independence Day! 

May our Nation be always blessed by love.

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Jamestown Island still bears sweet fruits for those who stop to gather them.

Jamestown Island still bears sweet fruits for those who stop to gather them.

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Woodland Gnome 2015

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July 4, 2015 Jamestown 043

Silent Sunday: Change

Jamestown Island, March 6, 2015

Jamestown Island, March 6, 2015

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“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes.

Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow.

Let reality be reality.

Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
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Lao Tzu

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Jamestown Island, May 19, 2015

Jamestown Island, May 19, 2015

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“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world.

Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
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Rumi

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May 19, 2015 hot 012

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“I alone cannot change the world,

but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
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Mother Teresa

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May 19, 2015 hot 034~

“Change the way you look at things

and the things you look at change.”
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Wayne W. Dyer

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

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May 19, 2015 hot 035

Wordless Wednesday

 

Honeysuckle vines, growing wild on Jamestown Island.

Honeysuckle vines, growing wild on Jamestown Island.

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“I will be the gladdest thing under the sun!

I will touch a hundred flowers and not pick one.”

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Edna St. Vincent Millay

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

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May 19, 2015 hot 025

 

 

Five Photos, Five Stories: Hot

May 19, 2015 hot 001

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It was early this morning, coffee not yet made, and I was just beginning to stir together some pancake batter,  when I heard my partner’s muffled voice calling to me.  He wanted me to come outside with him to see something exciting.

He had found a good sized turtle on our driveway, and wanted to share it with me.

I peered out of the open back door to see what was going on.  And there, near the top of the drive, was a beautiful turtle just sunning himself in the steamy morning heat.  There had been heavy rain this morning just before sunrise, but the clouds had long ago cleared out, turning our garden into a sauna.

Not yet dressed for encountering neighbors, I made the compromise between photography and modesty by snapping a photo from the porch.

But then I wanted to see more of this beautiful turtle.  So I ventured a little further up the drive, camera aimed and ready.

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May 19, 2015 hot 002

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Turtle had the instinct so many of us feel when we know we’re being watched. He decided it was time to move on.  He took off at a turtle’s run for the shadowy roots of the Beech tree, disappearing before I could steal a third shot of him this morning.

I suppose we were both feeling a little modest, and I didn’t pursue him.  I left him to his peaceful morning, and quickly headed back inside to mine.

But my partner was happy now that I had seen our morning visitor, and I was happy to have gotten  a photo of him.

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Are those leaves already turning in May?  Shot this afternoon along the bank of the James, where turtles love to sun themselves on the rocks.

Are those leaves already turning in May? Shot this afternoon along the bank of the James, where turtles love to sun themselves on the rocks.

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Yesterday Barbara, at Silver in the Barn, invited me to take part in the Five Photos, Five Stories challenge ,which is quickly spreading  across the blogosphere.  I relish the relationships formed and connections found as we each write about our experiences and share our world through photos.

And so I made the commitment to accept Barbara’s challenge, and now pass that challenge on to Jenny at Jennifer Nichole Wells.

Jenny hosts the One Word Photo Challenge each week and takes amazing shots of miniatures which she creates and stages herself.  Jenny always has interesting little stories about her miniature scenes. She is a natural to invite to this challenge.  I hope she accepts.

This is a simple challenge:  To participate, you simply post a photo each day for five consecutive days, and tell a story about each photo.  The story can be truth or fiction, poetry or prose.  Each day one must also nominate a fellow blogger to participate in the challenge.

So I’ve combined my first day of the Five Photos, Five Stories challenge with Jenny’s One Word Photo Challenge: Hot today.

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May 19, 2015 hot 018

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“Hot” was a prescient pick for today.  It has been hot and muggy all day long.

We’ve had summer temperatures this third week of May, when our highs are normally still in the 70’s.  We topped out near 88 this afternoon. The only comfortable place was in the shade.

Huge, fluffy clouds were gathering  by mid-day, and there is  a possibility of thunderstorms again this evening.

We took a drive on the Colonial Parkway late this afternoon to watch the clouds build over the river.  Once on Jamestown Island, in the deep shade, our car thermometer dropped to around 86.  Even though it felt hot and muggy, with mayflies buzzing around and landing on me whenever we stopped to take a photo, the cool greens and blues of the landscape look cool.  A slight breeze fluttered off of the river, barely lifting my hair.

Summer has settled early over us here in Virginia, and it is hotThat is the long and the short of our story for today.

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It was hot and muggy on Jamestown Island this afternoon, the steamy air full of hungry Mayflies.  Can you spot the yellow Iris growing in this marsh?

It was hot and muggy on Jamestown Island this afternoon, the steamy air full of hungry Mayflies. Can you spot the yellow Iris growing in this marsh?

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With appreciation to Jennifer Nichole Wells for hosting the

One Word Photo Challenge:  Hot

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Woodland Gnome 2015

 

May 19, 2015 hot 022

*   *   *

Five Photos, Five Stories: Dormant Isn’t Dead

Five Photos, Five Stories: Perspective

Five Photos, Five Stories: Turtle Mama

Five Photos, Five Stories: Chocolate Cake

Winter’s Last Stand?

March 6, 2015 birds 008

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Is it too early to hope we’ve seen the last of frozen marshes and piles of freshly shoveled snow?  The optimist in my heart wants this breath of spring to last; the daffodils to open, fruit trees to bloom, and weather to settle into comfortably warm days and nights.  Long experience living in this region tells me it is too early to relax winter’s vigilance.  We’ve had snow here into April, and Easter often dawns wet and cold.

But Saturday eventually warmed up a little by late afternoon.  It was a sunny day, if windy; and I was convinced, after several promptings, to join my partner in a drive to see what we could see.

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March 6, 2015 birds 034

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We headed towards Jamestown on the Parkway.  There seemed nothing new to see.  No nesting eagles; no budding trees.  Only puddles, snow piles, bare trees, and icy marshes presented themselves to my winter jaded eyes.  I was having difficulty finding the beauty of the day.

But we persevered, and had gotten onto Jamestown Island when a pair of geese, standing near the shore, inspired me to leave the warmth of our car.

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March 6, 2015 birds 002

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As I scampered down the bank, avoiding mud and ice as much as I was able, they began paddling out into the creek.  There were no clear shots through the underbrush and trees.  And there was no dry path to the water’s edge.

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March 6, 2015 birds 003

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But as I was almost giving up, I spotted a Great Blue Heron wading in the shallows on the other side.

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After one photo he saw me, too; and I got off on more shot as he took wing.

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At least we had found where the birds were sheltering.  And we found bright swollen buds on a few trees here and there, even as their roots disappeared under a stubborn layer of briny ice.

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It hasn’t dropped below freezing here for nearly three days now.  Songbirds fill our garden, and we hear the hoots of owls and honks of geese and urgent calls of hawks circling overhead.

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March 6, 2015 birds 019

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More daffodils break through the soil each day to start their climb towards the sun.

Have you noticed that seasons never change with any real clarity?  Even though we turn the page on our calendar, and the Weather Channel actors declare “Meteorological Spring,” (a term I never heard until a few weeks ago); the actual melting of one season into the other remain a bit fuzzy.

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March 6, 2015 birds 014

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There is always the in-between time of see-sawing back and forth from warm to cold to hot to chill before we settle back into the new routines.

Yet every small step towards spring brings joy. 

The pond behind our house has nearly thawed.  The piles of snow beside our drive are nearly melted.  We saw a robin pluck a living, wiggling worm out of the front lawn this morning.  Sunshine pours in through the windows, and I found freshly grown sprouts and leaves on the catmint when I cut it back this morning.

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March 6, 2015 birds 029

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We hope this melt is the last of the season, and that we can get on with the business of welcoming spring.

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March 6, 2015 birds 007

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“Real” astronomical spring won’t arrive until March 20, late next week.  Friends in Oregon post that they are a full month ahead and enjoying unusually warm, strangely dry weather for March.

We are watching the sky, the birds, the trees and The Weather Channel, hoping we have already survived winter’s last blast for this year.  I’m still a little skeptical….

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March 6, 2015 birds 020

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Woodland Gnome 2015

 

Shelton Glass Works

December 6, 2014 glass 006

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Gorgeous color always catches my attention, but especially on grey, wet December mornings.

My partner and I enjoyed the annual December crafts show at Trinkle Hall this morning, on the edge of William and Mary’s campus, near DoG St.  We return every December to enjoy beautiful hand crafted items.

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December 6, 2014 glass 001

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Most of the artists return year after year, but we are always excited to discover someone new.

What a treat to discover John Shelton’s gorgeous cobalt blue glass today.

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December 6, 2014 glass 005

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Every piece is painstakingly blown and finished by hand.  Light shining through this glass produces an absolutely luminous blue.  John had green glass and purple glass pieces as well, but we were particularly drawn to his blue.

The first glass artists came to Jamestown in 1608.  A group of Germans and Poles, they built a glass works with furnaces, and began production.  Their work was sent back to England,  but they didn’t survive “The Starving Time” of 1610.

A group of Italian artisans tried to revive glass making in Jamestown in 1621.  They kept production going for several years, but eventually had to abandon the business.  A reproduction  glass house stands today at the entrance to Jamestown Island, where visitors may watch artisans demonstrate how these first colonists produced hand blown glass.

Hand blown glass may be purchased in many shops around Williamsburg, Yorktown and Jamestown.  In fact, we realized that a piece we purchased at the Craft House several years ago is one of John’s.  His signature is on its base.

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With my apologies to John for taking only one photo of him, and that with his eyes partially closed.

With my apologies to John for taking only one photo of him, and that with his eyes partially closed.

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John Shelton has run his own glass works in Williamsburg, VA, for more than 40 years.  He uses intensive, old world techniques to produce some of the most exquisite glass I’ve seen anywhere.  His pitchers, bowls, vases, glasses and decanters are each a work of art, blown into timeless designs; each a signed original.

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December 6, 2014 glass 003

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He is a true master of his craft, and is recognized in Early American Life Magazine’s Directory of Traditional American Crafts.

John is generous with his time, talking about glass with his customers at many shows throughout the year.  He will return to Trinkle Hall tomorrow for the second day of this year’s show.

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December 6, 2014 glass 004

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If you don’t make it to Williamsburg this weekend, you will find other opportunities to enjoy John’s work and perhaps purchase a piece for your own home.

We love glass, especially hand blown glass.  We display it where it may be illuminated by the sun and its color come to life.

We were so glad to meet John Shelton today.  He shared a little about how he creates all of the glass he uses in his work.  It is a very long process, and he never uses recycled glass.

As John is a local artist, and so we will look forward to seeing him, and his work, again soon.

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December 6, 2014 glass 007

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

Water Views

 

College Creek, a tributary of the James River.

College Creek, a tributary of the James River.

 

Forest Garden, and all of the Williamsburg area in fact, exist on a series of peninsulas.

We sometimes joke about living on “Williamsburg Island,” because water surrounds our area.

 

The York River, to our north.

The York River, to our north.

 

The Chesapeake Bay divides us from the Delmarva Peninsula, and then the Atlantic Ocean rolls in further east.

Our little finger of land is bound by the York River to the north and the James River to our south.

 

The James River, to our south

The James River, to our south

 

There are so many little creeks and ponds, bays, tributaries, reservoirs and rivers that we cross numerous bridges, large and small, to go anywhere.

Even our “Peninsula”, the term for our area on the local evening news, has its own little peninsulas.

October 29, 2014 fall color 017

 

Our geography is formed by flowing water and the tides.  

Much of the real estate is at sea level here.

On Jamestown Island, where archeologiests race with the rising river to complete their work.

On Jamestown Island, where archeologists race with the rising river to complete their work.

 

That would be the rapidly rising sea level, caused in part by subsidence;  sinking land all around the Chesapeake Bay.

Fringes of marsh border most of the dry land here.

The banks of our main rivers and creeks were recently “hardened” by government contractors bringing in truckloads of granite rock to hold the land in place.

 

Powhatan Creek

Powhatan Creek

Rock is something we rarely see here, unless it has been imported.

Far more frequently, we see shells.

In fact, it is commonplace to find oyster shells dropped over the garden by a snacking bird.

 

October 29, 2014 fall color 060

We love the water. 

We love watching its changing moods, and the quality of light reflecting from its surface at all times of day and in all sorts of weather.

Jones Mill Pond

Jones Mill Pond

 

We enjoy watching the changing year reflected in the water which surrounds our home.

 

Passmore Creek

Passmore Creek

 

Like all of the elements on Earth, water can be life-giving or deadly;  destructive or beautiful.

 

Indian Field Creek

Indian Field Creek

 

Yet we are drawn to live near flowing water.

Our bits of forest are always bounded by water.

 

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And those waterways were once the highways here.

In earlier times, before our modern roads were built, most travel was by small boat.

The Colonial Parkway skirts or crosses many waterways on its journey from Jamestown on the James to Yorktown on the York RIver.

The Colonial Parkway skirts or crosses many waterways on its journey from Jamestown on the James to Yorktown on the York RIver.

 

Most homes were built near water, and the waterways provided a rich variety of clams and oysters, fish, duck, and goose for food.

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And so we still are drawn to drink in the beauty of the water views which surround us.

Never attracted to inland life, we find happiness on the edges where land and water meet.

 

College Creek, explored by the Spanish in the late 16th Century, was passed over for settlement by the 1607 English colonists who chose Jamestown instead.

College Creek, explored by the Spanish in the late 16th Century, was passed over for settlement by the 1607 English colonists, who chose Jamestown instead.

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

 

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