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.


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.


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.


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.

Version 2

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.


Bittersweet, indeed.

briefly outlined


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.


Version 2frost-outlined-leaves3frost-outlined-leaves5

a little past its prime

Current mood: shrivelled and slightly prickly.


The photo above is one I took a couple of days ago of a rosehip in a bush that I pass on my daily walks with my dog. I still found the little fruit photogenic, even though it clearly had left behind the rosy days of its youth. (For comparison, this is a photo of a rosehip from the same bush taken in August. See how plump and chipper it looks? It was probably just as prickly back then, but the thorns were masked by the lush green leaves of youth.)


I’m feeling rather shrivelled myself after a very long day. (Including 3-hour town meeting that only wrapped after 10 p.m. It was long, but I’m still thankful to have a functioning democracy.) I’m also feeling rather prickly for a variety of reasons that I don’t need to get into.

fairytale scene under construction

Warsaw is a fascinating and beautiful city, with many stories to tell. It is also filled with many spots that look like they were taken right out of a fairytale. Even this construction site I came across the evening I arrived looked like it was from a storybook page.

The sun sets on the fairytale scene, still under construction.
Gilded building blocks, ready to complete the enchanted scene.
Fairytale roads require precision construction.
Somehow even the graffiti-covered dumpster appeared slightly magical in the golden light.
Fairytale onlookers over the construction zone.

The next day, I walked the same way, and the scene looked only slightly less storybook-like by day.

Fairytale construction work by day. (You didn’t really think it was elves, did you?)

There were other places around the city, as well, where it was clear that a lot of maintenance goes on behind the scenes in a fairytale. Someone has to take care of the magical creatures, after all.

Taking a break from the care and maintenance of magical creatures.

(These photos were from my June 2018 trip to Poland. More to come soon. Probably.)

potentially pigeon-proof

I’ve mentioned that I’m often amused to take photos of public statuary adorned with pigeons. In some places, though, the pigeons are prevented from perching. Take this statue, which appears to be of some sort of large angry goose. In case the scowl isn’t enough to scare off potential perchers, spikes have been added, giving the goose the appearance of bristling in anger.


Then there’s this noble-looking lady. Her hairdo appears to have been given a few hatpins.


I can’t determine whether the netting on this pair was for the purpose of pigeon prevention, or whether there was some other reason they needed to be restrained. (Perhaps they were prone to dropping things on passersby?)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I took these photos while visiting Poznań, Poland in June 2018 for a conference. (Somehow I appear not to have posted any photos from that trip yet.)

posing and perching

When I travel, I enjoy admiring public works of art, and have many pictures of statues in my photo library. I am also often amused at the way that pigeons will adorn the statuary, especially in parks. Here are a few photos from our 2017 visit to New York City of  a few statues at an entrance to Central Park.


I actually have accumulated a collection of photos over the years of statues with birds on their heads. But putting together a retrospective is beyond my capabilities for tonight.