Magical Perspective

August 21, 2016 flowers 023

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“The same view you look at every day,

the same life, can become something brand new

by focusing on its gifts

rather than the negative aspects.

Perspective is your own choice

and the best way to shift that perspective

is through gratitude,

by acknowledging and appreciating the positives.”

.

Bronnie Ware

~August 21, 2016 flowers 023

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“Incidentally, the world is magical.

Magic is simply what’s off our human scale…

at the moment.”

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Vera Nazarian

~

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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“We see only a part of the surface of things.

The rest will be forever hidden from us,

to be appreciated for its felt

but unfathomed presence.”

.

Richard Taylor

~

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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.

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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.

~

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.

~

September

September

~

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

CYW: What Color is February?

Sunset over College Creek this evening

February 16 ‘Indigo’ clouds over College Creek this evening

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What colors do you associate with February? 

My partner and I went out in search of color this afternoon, and found the world showing mostly shades of grey, brown, green, blue, and light.  I’m counting ‘light’ as a color as it was so wonderful to see the sun this afternoon!

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February 16,2016 sunset 040

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Yesterday was snow, sleet and freezing rain.  So we can add white and silver grey to our February color palette, too.  I wandered out in the late afternoon, when the storm had passed, thinking I might cut a stem of something, anything, for a vase.

I made a wet and sloppy circuit around the front garden, too disheartened by the thawing slush to even cut a tightly closed Daffodil bud.    I decided to wait for a better, warmer day when it felt ready to open on its own.  It was far too icy wet to explore further up the drive or down the hill in search of Hellebores.  That vase yesterday sadly went unfilled…..

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Our garden, yesetrday

Our garden, yesterday

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This is that time in February when we search for color. 

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Yes, one notices the thousand shades of green in pines, hollies, Magnolias and Ligustrum braving the cold.  One sees the first leaves of bulbs shouldering their way up through the frozen soil.

But where are the warm reds and oranges, yellow, pinks, lilac and blues of summer’s garden?  February feels so drab by comparison.

~

February 15 'Inchworm' green and February 17 'Jazzyberry Jam' shine in this bit of turf beside the pond.

February 15 ‘Inchworm’ green and February 17 ‘Jazzyberry Jam’ shine in this bit of turf beside the pond.

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Jenny’s colors this week reflect a much more lively palette than this February day can provide.  We may find tints in the sunset sky, but the intensity of ‘Hot Magenta,’ ‘Laser Lemon’ and ‘Jazzberry Jam’ remain a distant memory in the depths of a Virginia winter.  Maybe we’ll take a rain check until May…..

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February 18 'Jungle Green' shadows surround this Great Blue Heron meditating on Halfway Creek.

February 18 ‘Jungle Green’ shadows surround this Great Blue Heron meditating on Halfway Creek.

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A neighbor’s wild Crocus patch along the road often blooms in February.  Perhaps those soft shades of lavender petals and bright orange stamens will break ground soon.  Our souls need color to see us through this next bit of cold and muck!

~

February 20, Lavender Crocus which bloomed this day two years ago.

February 20, ‘Lavender’    Crocus which bloomed this day two years ago in the edge of a neighbor’s yard.

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But the sun shone brightly by this afternoon, and the clear sky reflected deep, brilliant shades of blue.   We drove out of the woods and spotted a pair of swans feeding along the edges of Jones Mill Pond.

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Our brilliant winter sun slid ever so slowly down the sky, playing hide and seek behind clouds heralding the next cold front slipping through here tonight.  We watched those purple tinged clouds grow fiery red, orange, pink and yellow as the sun sank towards the horizon.

Each day grows noticeably longer in February; one of this month’s few blessings.

~

College Creek at Archer's Hope

College Creek at Archer’s Hope

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So Jenny, we weren’t entirely successful in our hunt for this week’s CYW color challenge colors.

But here is what we did find, and we find it lovely enough for this mid-February Virginia day.

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Wait, Could that be 'Laser Lemon' in this evening's sunset? February 19, scored.....

Wait, Could that be ‘Laser Lemon’ in this evening’s sunset? February 19, scored…..

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Thank you, Jenny, for sponsoring the Color Your World photo challenge this spring.  I’m happy to participate in Jennifer Nichole Wells’s new “Color My World: One Hundred Days of Crayola” photo challenge.

Jenny is working from the Crayola Crayon chart of colors, and offers a new color challenge each day for 120 days, beginning January 1.

I’ll aim for one post each week, sharing photos of as many of that week’s colors as I’m able.

~

And finally, February 14, 'Hot Magenta' Hellebores give us that shot of color we crave so badly....

And finally, February 14, ‘Hot Magenta’ Hellebores give us that shot of color we crave so badly….  These, blooming in our garden before this latest snow…

~

Woodland Gnome 2016

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February 16,2016 sunset 024

The Beauties of the Earth

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May 24 2014 vines 004

                “Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth

                 are never alone or weary of life.”

                       Rachel Carson

 

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              “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth

                find resources of strength

               that will endure as long as life lasts”

                      Rachel Carson

 

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            “One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself,

              ‘What if I had never seen this before?

               What if I knew I would never see it again?’ “

                    Rachel Carson

 

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“It is a wholesome and necessary thing

for us to turn again to the earth

and in the contemplation of her beauties

to know the sense of wonder and humility. ”

Rachel Carson

 

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

Wild Ice

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

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

The incoming and outgoing tides sound a constant, slow rhythm; shaping the contours of life along our many creeks, marshes, and rivers.  We are close enough to the coast that the James, York, Black, Mattaponi,  Piankatank, Rappahannock, and  Chickahominy rivers all respond to the tides flowing in and out of the Chesapeake Bay from the ocean.

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Powhatan Creek, near Jamestown Island

In our area, we all live surrounded by water; often brackish water, as salty water from the sea mixes with fresh water flowing off of the land.

This was the slow realization of the first English colonists trying to survive in a hostile new land.  Jamestown Island is surrounded by water, but it is all too salty and filled with life for drinking.  There is no fresh water spring on Jamestown Island, as there are just a few miles inland where the settlers eventually moved.

The James River at Jamestown Beach, near the ferry dock.

The James River at Jamestown Beach, near the ferry dock.

Drought that first summer made the James even lower and saltier than usual.  Living on the banks of a mighty river, whose origins lie far to the west in the Appalachian mountains; the settlers grew ill and died from the river’s water, the only water they could reach without confronting the native people defending their land.

Jamestown Beach on Tuesday afternoon.  At 21 degrees, with a wind, wild ice gathers at the high tide line.

Jamestown Beach on Tuesday afternoon. At 21 degrees, with a wind, wild ice gathers at the high tide line.

I’ve stood on the banks of the beautiful James, called The Powhatan in honor of the native chief before the colonists renamed it for their English king,  just outside of the archeological dig and reconstruction of that original Jamestown settlement.

There is a statue there of John Smith, looking out across the water, always seeing the possibilities for a rich and good life in this wild, new land.  Smith was the one who learned to communicate and build relationships with the leadership of the Powhatan nation, a confederation of 30 tribes living here in Tsenacommacah, the densely populated lands east of the fall line at Richmond.

Salt spray frozen on the rock jetty at Jamestown Beach.

Salt spray frozen on the rock jetty at Jamestown Beach.

Our coastal rivers in Virginia are named for these original people who drew their life and living from them.  And, our rivers still respond to the rise and fall of the Chesapeake Bay.  Our Bay is the meeting place of fresh rain water and water from natural springs carried by our rivers towards the sea, and tidal water surging in twice daily from the mighty Atlantic Ocean.

Green algae and other jetsam frozen at the high tide mark on the beach.

Above:  Green algae and other jetsam frozen at the high tide mark on the beach.                              Below: Ice also collects at the base of the fence on the beach.

With the briny water comes all the life of the ocean:  oysters, crabs, scallops, shrimp, black sea bass, flounder, menhaden, shad, and even the occasional dolphin.  The colonists who stayed at the mouth of the river, where it meets the Bay, learned of these abundant sea foods and lived in plenty even as the colonists holding the fort at Jamestown starved.

January 7 ice on beach 007The saltiness of our rivers and creeks makes them slow to freeze.  It is the rare extended stretch of freezing days and nights which allows ice to form any real distance from the shoreline.

The constant rising and falling of the tides disrupts the ice even as it forms, breaking it again and again along the high tide mark as the water recedes.  Wind swept spray may freeze on our rock jetties for a time until the sun melts it away.

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Rock and sand hold the suns’s heat, making it even harder for the salt spray to freeze along our  beaches.

Canada Geese feeding along the marshes on Halfway Creek.

Canada Geese feeding along the marshes on Halfway Creek.

And it was this wild, briny ice we found along the James river yesterday, on a broad sandy beach near where the ferry docks.  It encased bits of jetsam washed up at high tide, and clung to the fence protecting the jetty.   It was 21 degrees, colder with the brisk wind, despite the bright afternoon sun.

Ducks swim in the open channel of Halfway Creek Tuesday afternoon, as the temperatures hover around 20 degrees.

Geese swim in the open channel of Halfway Creek Tuesday afternoon, as the temperatures hover around 20 degrees.

And in the more protected marshes, ice still clung to the thick mud, left behind by the retreating tide.

Kingsmill backs onto Halfway Creek and the Colonial Parkway.

Kingsmill backs onto Halfway Creek and the Colonial Parkway.

The deeper channels through the marsh were not yet frozen, allowing Canada Geese, ducks, and other sea birds open patches of water to congregate and search for food.

The geese searched for bits of grass, seed, algae or other vegetative material left in the silt of the marsh.  They will eat an insect or small fish if it happens by, but prefer to eat plants.

Large flocks gather together in our area.  Some have migrated south, and others live here year round; able to find a constant supply of food.  With few predators, the  numbers of shore birds continue to increase.

College Creek at noon today, temperatures approaching 33 degrees.

College Creek at noon today, temperatures approaching 33 degrees.

Our College Creek was frozen well away from its banks this morning, it shallow draft finally succumbing to several days of relentless cold.  Only the deeper channels in the middle of the creek remained open and flowing at midday, allowing the tides to come and go.

Our marshes were hardened with ice, high tide having come and gone in the deep cold last night.  It gets harder and harder for the wild things who rely on the Creek for food to find any.  They will move further inland; move to the cow  pastures and horse pastures; the edges of woods; the neighborhoods even in search of the next meal, until the Creek melts back to its usual muddy softness once again.

College Creek at noon today, flowing freely in the deeper channel, but frozen in the marshy shallows near the shore.

College Creek at noon today, flowing freely in the deeper channel, but frozen in the marshy shallows near the shore.

All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

Winter Rainbow

Beauty Where You Find It

Nature has many scenes to exhibit, and constantly draws a curtain over this part or that. She is constantly repainting the landscape and all surfaces, dressing up some scene for our entertainment. Lately we had a leafy wilderness; now bare twigs begin to prevail, and soon she will surprise us with a mantle of snow. Some green she thinks so good for our eyes that, like blue, she never banishes it entirely from our eyes, but has created evergreens.

Henry David Thoreau, Nov. 8, 1858

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