Weekly Photo Challenge: Seasons

Late May

Late May


“I know I am but summer to your heart,

and not the full four seasons of the year.”


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.





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.





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.



Late February


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.





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.





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.”


Sherwood Smith


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


Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014-2016

Wednesday Vignette

January 19, 2016 Cold 003


“How you refill,

Lying there. Something like happiness,

just like water, pure and clear pouring in.

So good you don’t even welcome it,

it runs through you in a bright stream,

as if it has been there all along.”


Peter Heller


January 19, 2016 Cold 002


Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016


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Wordless Wednesday


February 11, 2015 daffodils 008



She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”

A.A. Milne



“The promise of spring’s arrival

is enough to get anyone through the bitter winter!”


Jen Selinsky


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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

On Such A Winter Day…

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The world feels bare and empty today.


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Empty skies show no trace of the winter

storm blowing towards us from the South.


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Growth has paused,

And winter’s winds have nearly cleared

Away summer’s remains.


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Leftover reeds and crisp bleached leaves

Make a tattered fringe around the edges of things.


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Bare branches; bare tangled stems of vines,

Bare muddy marsh,  bare sandy beaches

All waiting.


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The sun finally burned through morning fog

And rose low in the empty sky.


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It’s harsh clear light shows too much;

Makes shadows too dark.


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The birds know.

The birds feel the coming clipper.


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Only the sturdy ones remain,

The survivors,

Who congregate in ponds and coves,



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On such a winter day.


Woodland Gnome 2015

In Search of Silver….


The exfoliating bark of this favorite Sycamore tree caught my eye along the way in search of silver...

The exfoliating bark of this favorite Sycamore tree caught my eye along the way in search of silver…

Jennifer issued her challenge for photos of silver a week ago tomorrow; yet I still hadn’t found any “silver” photos to craft a post.

It has been a topsy-turvy week; lots of travel, lots of drama.


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And very little time for the pleasant photo hunting we usually enjoy…

Begonia, "Sophie"

Begonia, “Sophie”


I was about to make do with the slim response of a shot of Begonia, “Sophie” with her silver marked leaves, but this morning was one where there was no time to post even this single photo.


Another crop of this B. "Sophie" photo.

Another crop of this B. “Sophie” photo.


And so after lunch, my partner suggested we take a bit of time to relax and head out on a drive.

Finally, an opportunity to search for “Silver.”

Granite shoring up the river's edge.  Do you see the spider's web?

Granite shoring up the river’s edge. Do you see the spider’s web?


Have you noticed that once you set your mind to search for something, it nearly always turns up?

We had just pulled over on the causeway between Sandy Bay and the James River when the beautiful Sycamore tree, Platanus occidentalis, caught me eye.


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Yes!  Silver bark!


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Not particularly metallic, perhaps, but a beautiful rich and shiny grey at the least.

I snapped a few photos, and as I worked around the tree, the glinting silver rocks shoring up the bank of the river caught my eye.

These huge chunks of granite certainly looked silvery in the early afternoon sun.


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Perhaps it is another of my oddities, but I find stone astoundingly beautiful.

I enjoy the color, texture, form, and antiquity of rock.

Especially when rock is host to vines or small trees, it always catches my attention.


Cypress trees growing in Sandy Bay, beside Jamestown Island.

Cypress trees growing in Sandy Bay, beside Jamestown Island.


And then, looking across the water, the sculptural forms of ancient and wind polished Cypress trees shone in the sun.

Silvery?  What do you think?  Close enough?


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Not yet stumps, these trees were green cloaked a season or so ago.

I’ve never figured out what makes these beautiful and long-lived trees die so suddenly, standing among those still living.

A mystery, but a beautiful one.


Bath time?

So much life and living in the world today!

Birds and dragonflies; finally some butterflies; flowers blooming; berries ripening; wind blowing grasses and leaves.

We had plenty of company on the park roads today, too.

This little dragonfly waited patiently on the curb at one of our stops.  I wondered why he was still there as we left.  Do you see his torn wing?  Such a beautiful creature, and larger than a hummingbird.

This little dragonfly waited patiently on the curb at one of our stops. I wondered why he was still there as we left. Do you see his torn wing? Such a beautiful creature, and as large as a hummingbird.

With a rising tide, the crabs and turtles living in the marshes  lurked out of sight.

The Eagles must have sought shelter in the shade,  too, because they weren’t to be seen on their nests and favorite perches.

But we know they are just waiting for the cool of evening to fish for their dinner.


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We returned refreshed and relaxed.

And with a small cache of photos, now I can finally give you, “Silver.”


Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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One Word Photo Challenge: Silver




June 15, 2014 Father's Day 029

The Colonial Parkway was a popular place for families to gather this Father’s Day weekend.

We were so happy to find Osprey Eagle families in some of the many nests we watch.

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Most of the Osprey and Bald Eagle couples have little ones in their nests now, and so stay busy feeding them.

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This couple found a few minutes to relax and enjoy the river just before sunset yesterday evening.

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Since there is always work at hand which needs attention, and hungry mouths to feed,

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One must take one’s moments of sheer peace and relaxation where one can….

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Photos by Woodland Gnome, 2014

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Families Flock Together For Father’s Day

Canada Geese gathered on the bank of the James River today.

Canada Geese gathered on the bank of the James River today.

Families are flocking together here in Williamsburg to celebrate one of the most enjoyable holiday weekends all year.

At the beginning of summer, with all of the commencements, graduations, and “moving up” ceremonies complete, there is a communal sigh of relief to have made it to summer vacation time once again.

A few weeks break in the break-neck schedule most families keep is a welcome respite.

Wildflowers at the end of DoG St. in Colonial Williamsburg this afternoon.

Wildflowers at the end of DoG St. in Colonial Williamsburg this afternoon.

Finally, a little unstructured time to enjoy the pleasures of summer:  cookouts, fishing, afternoons of swimming and catching the sun on a peaceful beach somewhere.

And our beloved Colonial Parkway was nearly bumper to bumper with visitors today enjoying this cool, sunny June Saturday together.

Happy Father’s Day to all of you who offer strength and guidance to the young folks in your life. 

Near the Colonial Capitol

Near the Colonial Capitol

There is no substitute for a wise and loving Dad in one’s life, no matter how old or young we find ourselves.

I hope you are enjoying this beautiful weekend with someone you love!

Daylilies in bloom for Father's Day weekend in Virginia.

Daylilies in bloom for Father’s Day weekend in Virginia.

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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May Evening

May 27. 2014 Herons 039

“When despair for the world grows in me,

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be —

I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water,

and the great heron feeds.

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“I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought or grief.

I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light.

For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”

Wendell Berry

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We came out of the coolness of the house this evening as the clouds were gathering, sun setting, and temperatures dropping.

We first went to visit and photograph a friend’s garden, and then drove right past the road towards home heading for an evening drive along the Colonial Parkway.

Our friends' forest garden, full of Mountain Laurel and lush with trees and ivy.

Our friends’ forest garden, full of Mountain Laurel and lush with trees and ivy.

The water, marshes, wildflowers and great trees make this a soothing place.

Such a treasure of mostly undisturbed eco-system where the great birds find safe havens and abundant food for their young.

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After the first mile we spotted a Great Blue Heron wading in the marsh near where fishermen park and wander down to the bank of the creek with their coolers and poles.

No one was fishing tonight, so we pulled in , and I hiked back to where I could get a clear view of the heron through the trees .

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A peaceful and soothing evening, but you must know that the air was thick with Mayflies and heavy with the approaching rain.

Definitely not a place I wanted to linger, with flies landing on hand and camera as I searched for that angle with a clear view through the dense branches.

Flies still hovering, I slipped back into the cool safety of our car for a short ride to the parking lot

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We had already spotted two more herons on the opposite bank, and a Bald Eagle watching from a pine.

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Another hike down the path to the beach, but the breeze off the James River smelled fresh and kept the flies at a distance.

The beach was nearly deserted; the best time to find birds.

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After yesterday’s crowded lots and full beaches, we enjoyed the silence and emptiness of the park this evening.

Fellow photographers leap-frogged with us from spot to spot along the way to Jamestown Beach.

My partner has a good eye for spotting wild life, and often mentions turtles and ground hogs, rabbits and lizards- only a few of which I see.

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He spotted this next heron, and made a wide U-turn to head back to share it with me.

He simply said, “Have your camera ready.”

What a beautiful surprise when we pulled up, alone on the road, and close enough to take photos from the car’s open window!

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We watched the clouds grow heavier and closer against the water.  We could smell the coming rain.

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The geese were gathering into flocks for the night, the solitary herons looking for one more fish before their sharp eyes could no longer penetrate the shallows were they waited.

Ospreys, deep in meditation on the abundant beauty of it all, sat still as sculptures on their nests.

This early summer evening offered its gift of peacefulness, wrapped in thick, fragrant May ethers.

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The Mayflies gradually faded away; and as evening turned to shadows, we allowed ourselves another moment to contemplate the abundant beauty of it all.

“To stand at the edge of the sea,

to sense the ebb and flow of the tides,

to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh,

To watch the flight of shore birds

that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents

for untold thousands of years,

to see the running of the old eels and the young shad to the sea,

is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal

as any Earthly life can be.”

Rachel Carson

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

We went to the Parkway in search of birds today, and began to find them almost immediately. 

Our Great Blue Heron a moment before he took flight.

Our Great Blue Heron a moment before he took flight.

Wading, perching, flying, eating, swimming, resting; the birds have returned.

Another Great Blue Heron, a little farther down the Parkway, near the College Creek bridge.

Another Great Blue Heron, a little farther down the Parkway, near the College Creek bridge.

Everywhere we went we heard birdsong.  The little ones darted past us in quick flights from perch to perch.

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There were dozens of scarlet cardinals, with their brownish mates.  We saw bluebirds, starlings, clouds of red winged black birds, and dozens more who moved to fast to name.

A flock of Red Winged Blackbirds

A flock of Red Winged Blackbirds

Of course our Red-tailed Hawk was there surveying his marsh.

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Red-Tailed Hawk

And the Great Blue Herons fished in the shallows of College Creek.

Canada Geese gathered on the James, and on its muddy rain-soaked banks, looking for shelter.

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Canada Geese on the James River

Another grey day, with low sky and  chilly wind.  At least we were thawing out here today.  But the persistent damp and cold faded against the brilliant beauty of the wild birds returning to the park.

Duck's where the James empties into College Creek.

Ducks where the James empties into College Creek.

We noticed trees budding against the grey clouds.  There is a quickening; an impatience  to begin the season. 

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We felt it in the movement of the birds today, the beat of their wings and their lively chatter.

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So come along to the Colonial Parkway, in James City County, beside the James River.  Join us as we watch for wings.

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All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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We love this photo of the bank of College Creek, to the right of the Colonial Parkway bridge. Relax your eyes. Can you spot the “faces” in the side of the bank? Can you spot the “caves” along the shoreline? This is a favorite fishing spot during most of the season.   (click on any photo to enlarge it)


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Geese behind our friends’ home on College Creek


January 24 ice 065

For three days now the world has been frozen.

Rock hard ground, sheathed in ice and snow;

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The larder is locked.January 24 2014 birds 034

Any worms or insects the birds might hope to find,

Securely encased in frozen mud.

Any fallen seeds,  buried under ice.


Berries top the bird buffet;

Berries, and any human offerings

Left  behind in kindness, to sustain

The great, gathering flocksJanuary 24 2014 birds 033

In search of food.

Food to fuel survival

Until the world grows soft again,

And offers up its bounty.

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The world is frozen,

A glinting, glimmering, hard and shiny

Version of itself.

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White sunlight bouncing from ground to leaf

To icicle adorned landscape;

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Glinting in eye piercing patches of brightest light

From water and snow.

This frozen light,

Clear and hard;

Offers no warmth.

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The world is frozen, brittle, sharp and painful.

Wind sucking warmth from finger and face,

Snow numbing toes and hands.

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Icicles threatening like crystal knives,

Gathering girth as frozen night follows frigid day.

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Birds crunch frozen berries from ice glazed shrubs,

Filling their gullets with ice,

Flying to keep from freezing, staying close in

Living clouds of winged family flocks.

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Ruffling feathers against the wind,

Standing on ice, wading in briny waves.

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A small miracle, to remain warm

And alive,

In this world of ice.

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Words and Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

What is There To Eat?

Bringing Birds To The Garden

Families Gathering

Ligustrum in the Winter Garden

Snow Washed

January 24 2014 birds 017

Our Forest Garden- The Journey Continues

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