Darling buds of December

The buds of May are many moons away, but I have been appreciating the promise held in the buds I see on the trees and shrubs now. I am especially drawn to their little budding forms when they are encased in ice and/or dusted in snow. buds7

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Most of these were taken on various morning walks with the dog this month. (The combination of morning light and post-ice-storm sparkle can be totally mesmerizing. I’ve been caught in its particular snares before.)

rather fond of moss

As the leaves have mostly faded, I’ve found my eyes pulled to other splashes of color. I’m not sure whether the moss is particularly bright this time of year, or whether it’s bright by contrast with the largely gray and brown landscape. In any case, I’ve appreciated the many little mossy installations I’ve encountered on my morning walks.

This scene is on a neighbor’s retaining wall. It looks to me rather like a garden wall in miniature. Or perhaps a distant cliff overgrown and overhung with lush greenery.cliff-garden-moss

I couldn’t quite capture the striking colors of the rock in the photo below. The rock surface itself is almost completely covered in pale minty green lichen. And the floofs of bright green moss practically glow.

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I find the little fuzzy shapes to be just *cute*. A friend suggested that this one looks a bit like a duckling.

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Then there’s this lush pillow of moss, also on the neighbor’s retaining wall. I took the photo just to capture the comfy softness of it, but then when I looked at it, I saw a sleeping dragon. (In case you don’t see it, I’ve added some visual aids here.)

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Having taken a number of moss photos in the last few days, I was reminded that some of the very first photos I took with my new phone (in February of last year) were of some moss on my street.  I think this one looks rather like an aerial view of a scrubby landscape.first-moss

umbrellas saved for a rainy day

It’s been a rainy day, today.  I didn’t think to grab an umbrella when I was out during the day, but I dug up a few from my photo library back at home.

When you have the opportunity to travel and visit exciting locations, you generally hope for clear skies and moderate temperatures. But sometimes (especially in some parts of the world) you get rain. If you are lucky, other visitors will come equipped with colorful umbrellas to add splashes of color to liven the scene.

These were taken near(ish) and far (some very far), mostly quite a few years ago.

First are visitors to Brú na Bóinne in Ireland, the site of ancient burial mounds in 2014. (I was in Ireland for a conference in Dublin.)

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Tourists with umbrellas visiting Brú na Bóinne.

The next photo was taken in Kyoto, when I visited in 2004. The specific locale may have been Nijō Castle. This was back when I only had a pretty so-so point-and-shoot digital camera. I was happy with a lot of photos at the time, but now when I look back at them, I’m sad I wasn’t able to take better quality photos. (This one turned out okay, but a lot of the ones I otherwise like are pretty blurry and/or grainy.) (I was in Japan for  a conference in Nara.)

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Tourists with umbrellas in Kyoto,

This next one was in London in 2015, on the Millennium Bridge. (I was in the UK for a conference in Glasgow. Magically, it didn’t rain at all for the nearly 2 weeks we were in Scotland. We visited London for 2 days, and it rained both of them.)

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Tourists with umbrellas in London.

This is another one from my trip to Ireland in 2014. I believe this was in the garden of Malahide Castle.

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Visitors with umbrellas at Malahide, Ireland.

Next we a visit to Plimoth Plantation (in Plymouth, Massachusetts) in 2014. (I was in Massachusetts because I live here. And visiting Plimoth Plantation for my daughter’s school project.)

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Visitors with umbrellas at Plimoth Plantation, Massachusetts.

And finally, a couple of photos from Versailles, France in 2007. (I had a conference in Saarbrucken, Germany, and visited Paris afterward.)

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Tourists with umbrellas at Versailles

This is possibly my favorite of the umbrella photos, because it appears to tell a story.

 

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Woman pursued by group of umbrella-weilding tourists at Versailles.

 

late fall show

The curtains have closed on the fall production put on by the big trees, but some of the smaller ones decided to put on their own show. Whoever was in charge of wardrobe design for this production sure picked some striking color combinations. I was also impressed by the lighting, which really brought out some of the technical details of the sets and choreography. I can’t wait to see what they can pull off next season.

bittersweet revelations

Bittersweet is an adjective, meaning “both pleasant and painful or regretful“.

Bittersweet is also the name of a woody vine that is recognizable for its brightly colored berries. In the summer, they ripen to bright yellow. In the fall, however, the yellow berry husks open up to reveal a bright red berry.

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These cheerful red and yellow berries really catch the eye in the largely bleak gray post-foliage late fall landscape. These are some bittersweet berries I’ve passed on my morning walks.

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While there is a species of bittersweet that is native to North America (where I live), the variety I tend to see originates in Asia. It is not only non-native, but is considered to be highly invasive. And sadly, as was revealed when the foliage fell, the vines of this plant can strangle trees.

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Seeing the way the vines appear to dig deeply into the tree bark, it looks as if this slow strangulation has been going on for quite some time. Many seasons, and perhaps even many years.

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So while I can appreciate the beautiful looks of the berries, I can’t help but feel rather sad about the fate of the trees these vines choose as hosts.

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Bittersweet, indeed.

briefly outlined

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We woke up to a bit of frost outside this morning.  As I started my walk with the dog, a number of leaves caught my eye, sparkling in the sunlight. I’ve found it hard to capture subtle sparkling with my iPhone camera (at least without spending more time playing with apps than the dog is comfortable waiting) so I can’t share share the sparkle. I did also appreciate the way in which many of the leaves on the ground were delicately outlined in white frost, giving them the appearance of an illustration.

I took a few photos of these frosty leaves as we started the walk, but as it was a bright sunny morning, the frost didn’t last long.

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more concrete abstractions

These are a few photos of some abstract compositions that caught my eye.

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I was surprised to see that all 5 of these photos were taken in 2013, but on several different days, over 4 different months. And probably at different locations. Was my world more full of cracks in 2013? Or was it just a time when I had heightened awareness of things crumbling around me? (Because now feels like such a time.)