Remembering to breathe

Stress levels are high, and my mood is less than cheerful. But I’m trying to remind myself to focus on the good things. And also to breathe. Here are some recent photos taken outside, highlighting trees and vines and leaves. I offer them my thanks for the oxygen they provide, and for their breathtaking beauty.

Tomorrow is likely going to be a very long day.

lily pods


These seed pods caught my eye on my walk this morning. I believe that they are lily seed pods. I find it rather striking how lacy the pod casings are. They look so delicate and fragile. It’s hard to imagine both that these pods would have been fresh and green only a few weeks ago, and that these filigreed pods and their rather brittle-looking stems were strong enough to have weathered a fairly severe wind storm only a week ago.



seeing the forest for the trees

Today, I am grateful for trees. I love them for their beauty, their shade, and shelter they provide to wildlife. I am also rather partial to breathing the air that they add oxygen to. I am very lucky to live in the woods, where I have only to look out the window to see trees. I find it calming to walk in the woods, too.

Here are a few photos I’ve taken of trees. (Most of these are near me in Massachusetts, but one photo is from New York.)

gallery of tree bark

As I was walking back to my car after my lab meeting in Boston last Friday, my eyes were drawn to the patterns, colors and textures of the bark of one of the trees growing along the sidewalk. In this case, it was the range of rounded blobby shapes, in muted greens and oranges, that attracted my attention, and made prompted me to take a photo. Of course, this is not an isolated incident. Tree bark has caught my attention far and wide, and over many a year. Here is a sampling of some bark to be found in my photo library.

More bark at BU, but clearly from a different tree. April, 2010.

Another tree in Boston, this time in March, 2012.

Boston, 2012, March. (Again. It was a good year for tree bark.)

Oakland, CA, January, 2011.

May, 2014, Malahide, Ireland.

Massachusetts, May, 2014.

I actually have no idea what kind of trees any of these are, come to think of it. I’m pretty sure not oak and not maple, but beyond that, I have no clue…

a cute newt

Okay, truth be told, this is probably not a newt. Dr. Google informs me that while all newts are salamanders, not all salamanders are newts. It is, though, definitely an amphibian, and I’d say quite a cute one.

We found this little character while on a trip to my mother-in-law’s a couple of years ago. To give a sense of scale, the maple seeds shown were probably about 2 to 2 and a half inches long.

tadpoles and teeny tiny toads

Among the other various and sundry candidates for yesterday’s photo theme of “cute,” I considered some other baby animals. In particular, these teeny tiny toads came to mind.

The nearby zoo includes, in addition to the various animal enclosures holding non-native animals, large open areas that are home to native flora and fauna. There is a deer park that stretches over many acres of woods that includes a pond. From late May through maybe early July, visiting the deer enclosure also gives you the chance to see these little guys.

Sometimes the pond edges are positively teeming with tadpoles, lining it with dark blotches that can be many feet across.

They are a constantly moving mass.

I find it fun to look for tadpoles that are transitioning. Zooming in, you can see that many of these guys have legs as well as tails. Some just the back legs, some back and front.

And apparently once they are finished growing their legs and losing their tails, they feel compelled hop on out of the pond.

The path alongside the pond is sometimes hopping with them, carelessly crossing paths with oblivious humans with their big stompy feet. (Or others perhaps less oblivious, with their giant hands and their cameras.)

ducklings in a row

I found this draft of a post that I’d started in 2013. Not sure why didn’t get around to posting it. It looks like it was a friday foto finder post for the theme of “ducks“. Anyhow, I wanted to post something today, but I have a bad cold and a splitting headache, so not enough mental capacity to get any new ducks in a row.

The mama duck has all (or most of) her ducks in a clump.

Now she has her ducks in a row.

So fuzzy.

Mama-baby moment.

I love the little pouf of down on this little guy’s head. (And of course I love the rippled reflections on the water.)