WPC: Shadow

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“How can I be substantial if I do not cast a shadow?

I must have a dark side also If I am to be whole”

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C.G. Jung

 

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For the Daily Post’s

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Shadow

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“There is strong shadow where there is much light.”

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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

Sunday Dinner: Golden

Edgeworthia chrysantha

Edgeworthia chrysantha

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“I did not know that mankind were suffering

for want of gold. I have seen a little of it.

I know that it is very malleable,

but not so malleable as wit.

A grain of gold will gild a great surface,

but not so much as a grain of wisdom.”

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Henry David Thoreau

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“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”

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J.R.R. Tolkien

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Helleborus

Helleborus orientalis

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“But Nature granted to gold and silver

no function with which we cannot easily dispense.

Human folly has made them precious

because they are rare.

In contrast, Nature, like a most indulgent mother,

has placed her best gifts out in the open,

like air, water and the earth itself;

vain and unprofitable things

she has hidden away in remote places.”

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Thomas More

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Mahonia aquifolium

Mahonia aquifolium

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“Ô, Sunlight!

The most precious gold to be found on Earth.”


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Roman Payne

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“Very soon nations will understand

that in reality water is the most expensive

natural resource for their survivals.

Not Middle East oil neither African gold.”

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M.F. Moonzajer

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

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“Times of adversity are golden moments.”

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Lailah Akita

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Magnolia stellata buds

Magnolia stellata buds

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Plan Now For Winter’s Flowers

Muscari

Muscari, Grape Hyacinth

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Color drains from the garden as frost works its wintery magic.  Leaves turn brilliant orange, scarlet and gold before tumbling from their trees on autumn winds, soon to turn soggy and brown underfoot.  Newly bare branches stretch high against the sky, sometimes blue but often grey and sodden.

Shiny green remains only on our evergreen shrubs and trees, now brilliant against an otherwise drab and barren landscape.  We admire red berries against prickly holly and soft Nandina leaves and purplish blue ones now noticeable on the Wax Myrtle and Ligustrum.

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Yet some of us crave flowers, even during the restful months between frosts.  It would be altogether too depressing to me, a Virginia girl, to face long months ahead of a dormant garden without anything in bloom.

In Zone 7 and south, we can enjoy flowering shrubs, annuals, perennials and bulbs during the winter.  Even through periods of freezing weather, snow, ice storms temperatures down into the teens; these plants soldier on.  When they thaw, they just keep growing.  Some of these plants still grow and flower through the winter in zones well to our north.

If you need winter flowers, consider some of these beautiful choices: (Follow the links for more detail about growing each plant)

Shrubs

 

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Camellia Sasanqua

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Edgeworthia

Edgeworthia chrysantha

Edgeworthia

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Forsythia

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Japanese Magnolia

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Magnolia stellata
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Mahonia aquifolium

 

Hamamelis (Witchhazel)

 

Perennials

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Helleborus

 

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Primula

 

Annuals

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Viola

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Bulbs

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Crocus

 

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March 25, 2016 Daffodils 016
Daffodils

 

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Muscari

 

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Galanthus nivalis ( Snowdrops )

 

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Iris reticulata

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Vines, ground cover

Perwinkle flowers bloom on the Vinca minor vine in early spring.

Vinca Minor, Periwinkle

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This is the time to plan for winter flowers.  Find a good selection of Violas, Hellebores, shrubs and bulbs at garden centers now.  Plant through the end of December, at least; and enjoy these beautiful plants for many years to come.

Winter flowers are brighten our gardens and bring a touch of joy to frosty winter days.

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Woodland Gnome 2016

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

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“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”

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A.A. Milne

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“He that can have patience can have what he will.”
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Benjamin Franklin

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

Keeping Company

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Keeping company just makes it feel warmer, sometimes.  Sitting close, holding hands; flocking together. 

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We took off together this afternoon, with the world slowly melting around us back towards its normal self.  We wanted to see the familiar landscape of the Colonial Parkway under snow.

Silly us thought we’d have the place to ourselves.

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But no, lots of others had the same idea today; flocking together along the snow-narrowed roads between frozen “guard rails” of snow pushed up by the plows.

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Save for the sky, it was a “black and white” world of bare trees and pristine snow.  And birds.  Flocks of birds blown up the James from the coast filled the shallows of Sandy Bay, keeping one another company, and hoping for a bit of warmth from the sun.

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Snow still covers the sandy beach along the James River, but two sunny days in a row have melted much of the ice cover off of the waterways.  Sheets of ice still cling along shaded north facing banks and snow still covers the push ups in the marsh.

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Can you imagine snuggling up with your mate in a winter home of frozen mud?  I shiver just thinking of it, knowing that each of these snow-covered push-ups houses a sleeping family of muskrats waiting out the weather.

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Saturday’s sunshine brought us out of our hibernation for a few hours.

It was enough to feel a little warmth against the still frozen winds whipping off of the river. The urge to get out and move again is intense, and we were only a little surprised to share the road with bicyclists in thermal suits today.  Their happiness in the sunny day was contagious.

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Longer days send their own signals to the trees, and many show swelling and opening buds despite the snow.  We’re nearly at the spring equinox, coming very soon in the third week of March.  Daylight Savings Time starts again next weekend, believe it or not.

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Each passing day brings us a little more light; a little more solar warmth  in spite of the wintery weather map.

But wintery it is, still.  Snow melting off of our roof refreezes into hanging icicles.

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The waterways will be solid ice again by morning, and the roads will be icy, too.  Probably a good day to stay at home, and keep one another company.

 

Woodland Gnome 2015

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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