Another week gone by. I swear, I don’t where the time is going right now. I can keep track of the days, but the weeks… Anyway, for today’s Photo Friday post, I offer you a set of images captured literally right outside our door. Nancy is an avid gardener and her Japanese Irises are blooming right now. They’re gorgeous, especially after a light rain. So here are a few photos I’ve taken over the past week or so.
For this week’s Photo Friday post I offer you a slightly different sort of image. Last weekend, early Sunday morning – 3:33 am, to be exact – I was awakened by something I hadn’t felt in years: an earthquake. The initial tremor was followed about 30 seconds later by an aftershock. Neither was very large: The first was 3.1 on the Richter Scale, the second 2.8. But they were forceful enough to make a rumbling sound that woke me from a sound sleep, and they did make the house tremble a little. And the reason for that was that they were centered, I kid you not, about 4 miles from our house here in Tennessee. They were also shallow – only a few miles into the earth’s crust.
I lived in California for several years. Nancy and I were in Mountain View for the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989, which disrupted the World Series, caused enormous damage, and resulted in many casualties. This little set of tremors was nothing compared to that. Still, an earthquake centered four miles from our house? Yeah, that’ll get your attention.
There is a major fault – the New Madrid Fault – centered around the shared boundaries of Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Illinois. The network of minor faults from that seismic zone reaches our home. Which is cool. Sort of.
Anyway, the image below is the readout from the seismograph in the Geology Department at the university.
Have a great weekend. Stay safe, be good to yourselves and to one another.
The first step to overcoming a problem is admitting we have one.
I have a problem.
I am utterly addicted to the lake near our home, which has been the subject of far too many of my Photo Friday posts of late. Here is another image, captured there just before sunset about a week ago. The water was still, allowing me to use those gorgeous reflections, and the sun was gilding the new foliage on the poplars, maples, and oaks surrounding the lake.
You can see pollen on the water’s surface, and that might actually be the short-term solution to my Lake Jackson addiction. The pollen has only gotten worse in the intervening days, rendering the water somewhat less conducive to reflections and such. So this might be my last image from this spot for a little while. We’ll see. Already I’m thinking that thunderclouds reflected in late summer might make a stunning photo. And then the leaves will start changing. Oh, and late fall brings fog. And imagine this place in the snow…
–Sigh– I’m doomed.
Have a great weekend all. Stay safe and be good to one another.
Those who know me well, know that I am an avid birdwatcher. My older brothers got me started when I was just a kid. And when I say just a kid, I mean that – I started birding when I was seven. For Christmas just before my ninth birthday, my brother Jim created a whole set of life lists and year list templates (before templates were really a thing) and bound them in a notebook. Totally geeky, right? To this day, it remains one of the best presents anyone has ever given me.
I bring all of this up because we are now in the middle of spring migration, when the forests of North America become a byway for returning songbirds heading north to their breeding grounds. Yes, there are migrations for other types of birds as well – certain species of hawks return to our area in the spring, as do shorebirds. But for those birds fall migration is the more significant event. Spring migration is all about birds from the neotropics.
Warblers, tanagers, orioles, certain grosbeaks (Rose-breasted and Blue), flycatchers, thrushes vireos. These are among the most colorful and beautiful birds we see in the States. Brilliant yellows and oranges, deep reds, stunning blues. Many of the birds have gorgeous songs – the thrushes in particular. Most of the migrants are very small; the warblers tend to be only four or five inches from beak to tail. And many of them hang out at the very top of the forest canopy, making them very difficult to spot, much less identify, and leading to an avocational malady known as “warbler neck,” which is pretty much self-explanatory.
For serious birders, spring migration is New Year’s, Mardi Gras, and the Fourth of July all rolled into one. I know that it is my favorite time of the year and I am pleased to say that despite the pandemic, it is something I have been able to enjoy fully this spring. Every morning I walk a few miles on a rails-to-trails path near my home. I get a bit of exercise, and I see my favorite birds. Just about every day I am reminded of a birding experience from my childhood, of a moment with my brothers or an early sighting while alone that convinced me I could identify species on my own. For me, spring migration is about more than seeing the birds. It is about reconnecting with nature, and also with a passion that has remained with me for literally half a century. It is about memory and family. It both calms and invigorates me. A single good sighting on my morning walk can buoy my mood for the entire day.
As a kid, I was self-conscious about my interest in birds. A few of my closest friends knew, but otherwise I kept it to myself, fearing that I would be teased. I was already a nerd. I was short. I wasn’t the best athlete. I was usually in the school play. So already I had a lot of geek cred. The birdwatching, I feared, would be one nerd-attribute too many. Looking back on this, I regret how shy I was in this regard. It has always been so important to me. And yet, even to this day, I feel a twinge of embarrassment when I’m out with binoculars in hand, searching the foliage for a warbler or wren, and someone I know happens past. Old habits die hard.
On the other hand, I once had someone ask me for an interview what my superpower was. And the truth is, my superpower is that I can identify by song almost any bird native to my area. I’m sitting outside as I write this, and just in the moment I pause in my typing I can hear a Red-eyed Vireo, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a Carolina Chickadee, a Tufted Titmouse, a Summer Tanager, a House Finch, and a Nashville Warbler. Yeah, I know – as superpowers go, it’s not much. But really it’s all I’ve got.
In any case, I wasn’t sure what to write about today, and given how much of a balm birding has been for me these past few weeks, I thought I would share this.
For those who are interested, birding is an easy hobby to pick up and a rewarding one to pursue. All you need is a pair of binoculars, a good field guide, and a willingness to learn.
For this week’s Photo Friday post, I offer something a bit different. The original concept for the image is not original, of course. I’ve seen others do what I did: namely composing a photo entirely with water reflections to get a somewhat abstract blend of color and shape and form. I took this one a week or two ago, when leaves were first appearing on trees near the lake. I captured several images – this is the one that I liked best, though if you asked me to tell you why, I probably couldn’t.
I hope you like the image, and I hope you have safe, fun, peaceful weekend.
Another week gone, another Photo Friday post. How is it possible, when we’re basically all sitting at home doing next to nothing, for time to fly by so quickly? March dragged. April has sped by. At least for me.
Anyway, today’s photo is another one from Jackson Lake, near my home. This was taken on a foggy day and captures the lake in a different mood. Compare it to the previous photo I posted of the same view, which you can see here. As I said when I put up that first image, this is a spot I intend to visit again and again as it changes through the seasons.
I hope you enjoy this photo, and I wish you a wonderful weekend.
For today’s Photo Friday post, I have a taste of Appalachian spring. Our white dogwoods have been blooming for the past week or so, and most of our trees are starting to leaf out. Nancy’s garden looks wonderful.
I captured this image after several attempts. I wanted to isolate the dogwood blooms against a featureless blue sky. I don’t know why – the composition just struck me as so simple and expressive of the season and what I’ve been seeing on my walks. I hope you like it.
I wish all of you a wonderful weekend. Be safe, stay healthy, take care of one another.
Another week of distancing, another week of hikes around our beautiful little town. Spring is in the air, despite the light freeze we had just last night.
Early in the week, I hiked out to one of my favorite view points. It’s called Piney Point, and though the usual parking area for this trailhead has been closed, I was able to get close enough and make up the rest of the distance with a little extra hiking.
One of the reasons I love this spot is that during the spring, as trees begin to leaf out, the valley below the point comes alive with a thousand different shades of green. With a telephoto lens, I can capture segments of the hillsides, searching for subtle patterns in the new growth. And so, with that in mind, I offer you two images from Piney Point, both of them providing, I hope a taste of what spring is like right now in the Appalachians.
As the pandemic progresses, the limitations placed on what we can and should do grow more stringent. Here in our little town, that has meant, most recently, a ban on parking at many of the more popular trailheads in and around campus. Too many people are coming from out of town to take advantage of the amazing physical surroundings of our university (the school is located on 13,000 acres atop the Cumberland Plateau) and they’re congregating in the parking areas. Hence the ban.
For those who live in town, this prohibition is not that big a deal. The town is small enough that they can walk to most of those trailheads from their homes. But for those of us who live too far outside of town for such a walk to be feasible, the challenge is greater. And so this week, after having already given up access to the gym, and while still desperate for ways to stay active, I have lost access to some of my favorite hikes.
In the end, though, this turned out to be a boon. Two days ago, faced with this newest limitation, I finally tried a hike near our home that I had been putting off literally for years. I don’t know why I avoided it. Lots of people told me it was a great walk, but I had my favorites, and I am nothing if not a creature of habit. Now, without other choices, I was forced to try this hike.
It was magnificent. The roundtrip was about five and half miles, and it took me to a couple of great spots, chief among them a pair of lakes. One of the lakes, photographed here, is about a mile and a half from our house. It is overgrown and picturesque and stunningly beautiful, even with spring foliage just beginning to emerge. When I arrived there, I flushed a pair of Wood Ducks. Newly arrived warblers and vireos sang from hidden perches
It is called Jackson Lake, and I am already planning my next visit and thinking of times when it will be even more spectacular – at the height of fall color, after a snow in winter, in the midst of one of our many foggy mornings, etc.
For now here is one of the images I captured the other morning. Enjoy. And have a wonderful weekend.
Another week gone, and another Photo Friday post. I’m not sure how the days can fly so when all I’m doing is working at home, living at home, keeping entertained and busy at home, but there it is.
I hope you all aren’t tired of macro photography, because once again that’s what I have for you. These are two photos I took last week down in Shakerag Hollow. One is of water droplets on Dutchman’s Breeches greens. The other is another Rue Anemone. I hope you enjoy them.
Stay safe, stay healthy, be thoughtful of others, and have a wonderful weekend.