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Archive for December, 2013

 

 

 

1. Staghorn Sumac  Fruit

Fuzzy staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) berries look much different after it rains.

2. Staghorn Sumac Fruit

This is what staghorn sumac berries look like when they’re dry.

3. Rolling Stone

I didn’t think I’d ever see a rolling stone, but this one rolled down a small hill right in front of me. Gravity, sunlight, and ground frost at work.

 4. Pileated Woodpecker Chips

I learned a long time ago that when you see wood chips all over the ground at the base of a tree it can only mean one thing-a pileated woodpecker has been at work.

 5. Pileated Woodpecker Hole

Sure enough he / she had drilled these white pines (Pinus strobus) full of holes. Pileated woodpeckers usually drill into trees that are already sick and are often hollow. Their holes are always rectangular with the long axis vertical, and with rounded corners. This tree isn’t long for this world but while it stands owls, ducks, bats, and other birds will live in these holes.

 6. Pussy Willow

This pussy willow (Salix) seemed to be a bit of an over achiever, with its furry, silvery buds showing in December.

7. Wild Cucumber Pod 2

When I was a boy my friends and I used to spend quite a lot of time throwing things at each other. Snowballs, crabapples, dirt clods, acorns-anything that wouldn’t inflict serious damage-were used as ammunition. One favorite source of ammo was wild cucumber vines (Echinocystis lobata.) The fruit has terrible looking spines that are actually soft and harmless until they dry like those in the photo. In this stage the spines are quite prickly, but since they’ve dried out and dropped their seeds they have little weight and that means they are worthless for throwing.  Probably a good thing.

8. Mealy Pixie Cup Lichens

The pebbly texture and trumpet shape point to the mealy pixie cup lichen (Cladonia chlorophaea.) Though these lichens resemble golf tees they aren’t even one tenth the size.

 9. Burning Bush Fruit

Birds don’t seem to be eating the berries of the invasive burning bush (Euonymus alatus) this year and that’s a good thing, because this shrub doesn’t need any help in its mission to take over the understory. Since its introduction from Asia as an ornamental in 1860, Winged euonymus has spread as far south as the gulf coast, north into Canada, and as far west as Illinois.

 10. Empty Goldenrod Gall

A bird went to great lengths to get at the goldenrod gall fly larva (Eurosta solidaginis) that was growing inside of this goldenrod gall. Both downy woodpeckers and chickadees have been seen pecking at these galls but there are other predators after the gall fly larva as well. The galls form thick walls to discourage the parasitic Eurytoma gigantean wasp from laying her eggs in the gall chamber. If the wasp is successful when her eggs hatch the wasp larva quickly eat the gall fly larva.

11. Engraver Beetle aka Ips calligraphus calligraphus Damage on Log

The Engraver Beetle (Ips calligraphus) is called the calligrapher beetle because the damage it causes under the bark of pine trees looks like some form of ancient text. These beetles usually attack weak or dying trees but they can also kill healthy trees by girdling them.  Adults bore small holes in the bark and lay eggs in a cavity. Once the larvae emerge from the eggs they make tunnels in the inner bark. Once they stop feeding they will pupate at the end of these tunnels. The pupae then become young adults and fly off to find another tree. These beetles carry spores of a bluestain fungus (Ceratocystis ips) which can grow on the outer sapwood and stop the upward flow of water to the crown.

How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before its afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon? ~ Dr. Seuss

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Merry Christmas

Christmas Tree 2-3

 

Merry Christmas 2

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1. Snowy Trail

Last Sunday morning I woke up to about 8 inches of fresh, powdery snow. It was so light and dry that it was easy to walk through but if we get much more I’m going to have to start wearing snowshoes.  I’m hoping that some of the trails I want to visit today have already been packed down by previous hikers.

2. Snowy Forest

Despite how dry the snow was it covered everything as if it were the heavy, wet variety. The local newspaper said that this year and 2003 rank as the top years for earliest snowfall since 1960. Historically, early snowfalls mean snowier winters in this part of the country.

 3. Snowy Stream

The local stream was starting to freeze over. Since this photo was taken we’ve seen 10 degree below zero temperatures, so it has probably frozen over completely now.

 4. GBH in Snow 

This great blue heron seemed to want very badly for me to believe he was just another clump of grass, but the wind blew away his cover and revealed his hiding place.  As is often the case when I see birds here, I didn’t have my tripod.

 5. GBH in Snow

As I watched he kind of lurched across the ice toward what little open water is left.

 6. GBH in Snow

And after slowly folding one leg up into his feathers there he stood, as if contemplating his upcoming dip into the icy water to look for breakfast. You can learn a lot about patience by watching herons. I think this one might be a juvenile because of the black and white feathers on the top and the leading edge of his wing.

7. GBH Tracks in Snow

I noticed by the big footprints that he had also walked from the frozen pond up onto the road before I got there. He was probably hoping to warm his toes. I didn’t know until last week that herons would put up with snow, but since then I’ve heard that they will hunt the fields for mice and voles in the winter and jerry from the Quiet Solo Pursuits blog says he sees them in Michigan year round. I guess if they can stand a Michigan winter they can stand just about anything! I’ve even seen photos of them with ice on their feathers. It’s amazing what nature will teach us if we just take the time to pay attention.

 8. Snowy Ashuelot

It’s always hard to tell if the Ashuelot River will freeze over in this spot in Swanzey. It hasn’t for at least four years now, but even though it stays open I think it might be too deep here for herons to fish in.

9. Geese on Ice

Except for a couple of sentries keeping watch over both land and water, all the Canada geese on the river were sleeping.

 10. Bird Corn 

This ear of corn was low enough on the stalk so geese could have reached it, and I wondered if they had. I can’t think of another bird except a turkey that would have enough strength to open an ear of corn. It might have been a hungry squirrel too.

 11. Snowy Trees 

By 3:30 in the afternoon the sun was low in the sky and trying to break through the clouds, but it never really made it. It is the time of long nights and I think this snow is here to stay for a while.

12. Golden Stream

Before I left the wetland the sun finally broke through just enough to turn this small stream to gold. This happens frequently enough but I usually see it out of the corner of my eye as I’m driving by. Seeing it up close is one of life’s simple pleasures because for some unknown reason, it always makes me happy.

Snowflakes are one of nature’s most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together.  ~Vista M. Kelly

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1. Pond Ice

This photo of pond ice does something to satisfy that abstract craving that I have every now and then. It seemed to want to be in black and white so I granted its wish, even though it hardly changed from the original. These shards of ice were quite long and looked like they had just started to form. The process of ice crystals beginning to form in super cooled water is called nucleation.

 2. Bracket Fungi on Bracket Fungi

There were bracket fungi growing on this tree when it fell. Bracket fungi have their top toward the sky and bottom toward the soil but when the tree they grow on falls, what was horizontal can become vertical. They solve that problem by growing young, horizontal bracket fungi from the older ones that now grow vertically. That’s determination.

 3. Bracket Fungi on Bracket Fungi

A shot from another direction shows that these bracket fungi have teeth.  I think they might be Steccherinum ochraceum, which is a tooth fungus that can form brackets and is strongly affected by gravity and sunlight.

4. White Pine Bark

This old white pine had very colorful bark. There were several other old specimens growing quite close together but this was the only one that looked like it wanted to be as colorful as a sycamore.

 5. Crumpled Rag Lichen aka Platismatia tuckermanii

Last year I did a post with this lichen in it and at the time I thought it was an example of a spotted camouflage lichen (Melanohalea olivacea), but after doing a little more research I’m now fairly certain that it’s a crumpled rag lichen (Platismatia tuckermanii .)The large greenish brown discs are apothecia or fruiting bodies, and they help identify this lichen. I usually find these on birch limbs.

6. Heather Rag Lichen

I think this is an example of a lichen called heather rags (Hypogymnia physodes), but there are so many that look almost the same that I can’t be completely certain. This lichen has gray, inflated, puffy looking lobes like heather rag lichens do, but so do many others. Heather rags gets its common name by its habit of growing on unburned heather in the United Kingdom, but it is also quite common here in the north eastern U.S.  No matter what its name, this example is a beautiful lichen.

7. Heather Rag Lichen Closeup

Lichen books say to look for soralia bursting from lobe tips when identifying heather rags lichens. Soralia are clusters of intertwined alga and fungi that form a granule-like mass, and I think I see a few of those in this close up. Soralia are a vegetative way for lichens to reproduce. Once separate from the main body of the lichen they will start new lichens, just as taking a cutting from a plant produces a new plant.

8. Small Brain Jelly Fungi

These yellow fungi looked like tiny dots, about half as big as a pencil eraser, on a fallen log. It wasn’t until I saw the photo that I realized they were very small examples of “brain” fungi, possibly Tremella mesenterica, also called witch’s butter. If so they are the smallest examples I’ve seen of that fungus.

9. Pear Shaped Puffball

I saw some pear shaped puffballs (Lycoperdon pyriforme) on a log and noticed that the darker, outer skin had split to reveal a lighter inner surface.  I assumed that this meant that they were ready to release their spores and poked one with a stick. Sure enough it puffed out some spores, which show as light gray powder in this photo. Inhaling enough of these spores can result in lycoperdonosis, which is a respiratory disease that starts out like a cold. The disease causes symptoms similar to those found in pneumonia, and is sometimes misdiagnosed as tuberculosis or pneumonia. If left untreated it can be fatal.

10. Sweet Birch Seeds aka Betula lenta

If you see a cherry tree with this type of growth on it you have found a sweet birch (Betula lenta,) not a cherry. I’ve pointed that out because its bark looks a lot like cherry bark and they are sometimes confused. The cone like object pictured is a female catkin. These catkins begin to shatter and release their seeds in late fall. The seeds, a few of which can be seen in the photo, are called nutlets and are winged, much like an elm seed. The easiest way to identify sweet birch is by chewing a twig. If it doesn’t taste like wintergreen, it isn’t sweet birch. Native Americans boiled the sap and made it into syrup. If enough corn is added, birch beer can also be made from it. After chewing quite a few twigs it seems to me that syrup or beer made from this tree would taste a lot like oil of wintergreen, and I don’t know if I could handle wintergreen flavored flapjacks.

11. Plagiomnium cuspidatum Moss

I found a large patch of baby tooth moss (Plagiomnium cuspidatum) growing on a flat boulder in the sun. This moss can be a little tricky to identify because it has two types of stems with different growth patterns. Vegetative stems trail like a vine and stems with fruiting capsules (sporophytes) stand upright as they are in the photo. Each leaf has tiny serrations from its tip down to about mid leaf, and that’s a good identifying feature.

 12. Plagiomnium cuspidatum Moss Immature Sporophytes

The sun had melted a dusting of snow from the patch of baby tooth moss just before I found it and many of the sharply pointed  immature sporophytes had tiny drops of water clinging to them. When mature the sporophytes will be more barrel shaped with flat ends, and will bend until the capsules droop just past horizontal.

Go to the winter woods: listen there; look, watch, and ‘the dead months’ will give you a subtler secret than any you have yet found in the forest. ~ Fiona Macleod

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1. Back Door View

Last Saturday morning this was the view from my back door, a measurable snowfall for the first time this season.  Naturally I had to take a walk in it.

 2. GB Heron

Old mister heron was in his favorite tree looking very cold, with one foot tucked up into his feathers. Of course I didn’t have my tripod, so this is the best I could do with photos of him. I was very surprised to see him in such cold weather.

 3. Heron's Fishing Hole

This is one of the heron’s fishing holes. Not his favorite, but at least it wasn’t frozen over. I would think that frogs would be deep in the mud by now, so fish must be the only food that he gets from here.

 4. Heron's Fishing Hole

This is the heron’s favorite place to fish but he probably won’t be fishing here again until March.

 5. Winterberries

Native winterberry shrubs (Ilex verticillata) grow on the banks of the heron’s fishing pond. The berries seem even brighter against the gray ice and white snow.

6. Dead Tree in Ice in Black and White

We had a cormorant fishing from this dead tree one summer but I haven’t seen him at all this year.  As long as he was out at the end of the tree he used to let me get as close to him as I was in this photo, but no closer. He was smart too-the sun was always behind him when I saw him, which meant that it was in my eyes, so taking photos was almost impossible.

As a side note, this is the first black and white photo that I’ve taken that has ever appeared on this blog. The only difference between this and the natural version is the ice had a tiny hint of blue in it; otherwise this was a black and white shot even though it was taken in color. I didn’t really have to do much of anything except let it lead me to where it wanted to be. Mr. Tootlepedal just won third place in a photo competition with a black and white photo and it was his example that inspired me to post this one. You can see his award winning photo by clicking here.

 7. Trail View

We didn’t get more than two inches of snow but it was heavy and wet and stuck to everything.  I saw sunlight at the end of this trail so I followed it.

 8. Fallen Trees

Snow really highlights features that you normally wouldn’t pay much attention to. I’ve walked by this huge clump of blown down trees countless times without giving them much thought, but the snow really highlighted their massive, now vertical, root system.

 9. Snowy Scene

The sky was very changeable and the sun seemed to stay just out of reach no matter which way I went.

10. Footprints

I think it was nature writer Hal Borland who noted how it is almost impossible to get lost in winter because all you have to do is follow your own footprints back the way you came. I agree with that unless it happens to be snowing when you’re trying to follow them.

 11. Sun Through the Trees

The meadow seen through the trees up ahead looked like it might have some sun shining on it or at least, brighter light.

12. Brown Grasses

No sun here, but I like to watch the wind blow across the fields of dry grasses in waves, as in “amber waves of grain.” I was glad there were no waves this day though, because it was cold enough without the wind. Little bluestem grass (Schizachyrium scoparium) seems to be the most common grass seen in waste areas and vacant lots in this part of New Hampshire.

13. Blue Shadows

When I was in high school I had an excellent art teacher named Norma Safford who used to annoy me by insisting that the winter shadows I painted be in shades of blue. I didn’t think blue looked natural and thought instead that they should be in shades of gray, and I told her so. Imagine me, the color blind kid telling the great Norma Safford how to paint! This lady has roads named in her honor. Not surprisingly, the camera shows that she was right and I was wrong.

 14. Wetland View-2

I finally caught up with the sunshine at this wetland and saw that it was melting the snow quickly. By the time I got back home it had almost all melted from my yard. The latest forecast says that we could get as much as another foot of snow tonight, so it sounds like it’s going to be a white Christmas.

The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found? ~ J. B. Priestley

Thanks for stopping in.

 

 

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Swanzey Lake is a place that I visit quite frequently because of the easy accessibility of the surrounding forest. Like most lakes in this area there is a road that goes completely around it. Off this road, near a huge boulder covered with rock tripe lichens, is another road that I’ve wondered about for years. I was able to finally hike it recently.

 1. Class 6 Road Sign

This is a class 6 road which means, unless you know someone who has traveled it, you’re better off walking it than driving it-at least for the first time. I know of another class 6 road with two old timber and plank bridges out and nowhere to comfortably turn around.  I had no idea where this one might lead, but I was determined to find out.

 2. Class 6 Road

It wasn’t long before I was regretting leaving the Yak Tracks behind, but as it turned out the icy spots were relatively easy to avoid. I’m not in a Yak Track frame of mind yet, but I’d better get in one soon. Some of these old roads just end in the forest and others connect with networks of other old, forgotten roads.  There’s really no telling where they lead, and that’s part of the fun. Fun that is, as long as you carefully note any detours onto other roads that you might have to take. In some cases it’s possible to get seriously lost out here if you aren’t paying attention. I haven’t heard of any lost hunters yet but it usually happens every year at about this time.

 3. Ice Needles

I saw the longest ice needles I’ve ever seen along this road. The ones in the photo were at least 6 inches long and had frozen together to form thick ice ribbons.  Since they are extruded from the ground by hydrostatic pressure, they are almost always covered with sand or soil.

 4. Ice Pillars

Instead of curling like they usually do these ice needles grew straight up and brought stones along for the ride. Several of these ice pillars were capped by tiny pebbles.

5. Stone Wall

Stone walls mean this land was cleared once, and somebody lived out here. In 1822 the New Hampshire State Board of Agriculture suggested what farmers should do with all of the stones they found in their fields:  “Almost all farms have stone enough to make a wall for every necessary division and enclosure. Labor used in this way answers a double purpose; it secures the fields from the ravages of stock, and improves them by removing rocks which are not only useless, but inconvenient and injurious in their natural situation. A farmer ought to consider it his proper business, as he has means and opportunity, to secure his lands by stone walls.”  All he needed was a horse, a stone boat, and a strong back. And a couple of sons would have come in handy, too. By 1871 there were an estimated 252,539 miles of stone walls in New England and New York, enough to circle the earth 10 times at the equator. Today it is almost impossible to walk through these woods without finding them.

 6. Hilltop Wood Lot

Somebody is still cutting trees here. None of these are very old and most are hard wood.

7. Hoar Frost Almost every inch of this hemlock twig was covered in ice.

8. Puddle Ice

It must be wind that makes waves on mud puddles-even small ones-this one couldn’t have been a foot long.

 9. Birch Log

Puddles weren’t the only things displaying wave patterns. This fallen birch was as big around as a truck tire and might have made some interesting lumber. Spalting is a caused by fungi growing on dead trees and the wood is prized by woodworkers due to the unique colors and patterns that can form in the log. I was wishing that I could cut a slab or two just to see what the grain pattern would look like. This could be a very valuable log.

10. Sugar Maple

Next to the birch log stood a nice old sugar maple (Acer saccharum.) I don’t know why sugar maples are so often found near roads, but I’m guessing they were planted there so the sap buckets would be easier to get to. A paper titled Relationships between Soil Salinity, Sap-Sugar Concentration, and Health of Declining Roadside Sugar Maples by Graham T Herrick says that scientists all over the country are seeing dying sugar maples along roadsides. Road salt residue in soil inhibits plant water uptake and tips of branches in the crown start dying off. Before long the entire tree is dying. The strangest part of the study shows that the amount of sugar in the sap actually increases as the tree dies. The tree in the photo has probably never seen salt used on this old road, so it has had a chance to live a long, healthy life.

 11. Hemlock Varnished Bracket Fungus aka Ganoderma tsugae

I found several hemlock varnished bracket fungi (Ganoderma tsugae) growing on an old eastern hemlock stump (Tsuga canadensis.) It has a white outer edge and underside when it is young and looks very different than those in the photo. They are annuals that grow new from the mycelium each spring, and these examples were at least a year old, I think. This mushroom is said to be among the most valuable medicinal fungi. The Chinese have used it in their medicine for over 2000 years.

 12. Jelly Fungus

It was cold enough to freeze this orange jelly fungus but the sun must have thawed it out.

 13. Frosty Hole

This hole in the ground was about as big as a quarter-just right for a snake. Judging by the hoar frost around its rim there was plenty of moisture of coming out of it.  At this scale it looks like a cave.

 14. Icy Road

I won’t be leaving those Yak Tracks behind again until March, I guess. Snowmobile and four wheel drive clubs do a great job of keeping these old roads open, but there’s nothing they can do about the ice.

 15. Suburbia at End of Road

Suburbia. Not exactly the wilderness I was hoping for and not what I was expecting to find at the end of a class 6 road, so back I went the way I came. At least now I don’t have to wonder where this road leads and I know where I can go for a short walk that has plenty of interesting things to see.

An old road always looks richer and more beautiful than a new road because old roads have memories. ~ Mehmet Murat ildan

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1. Wrinkled Crust Lichen Phlebia radiata

A couple of posts ago I showed what I suspected was a lichen that I found growing on a pine log. Though it felt fleshy like a fungus I had the idea in my mind that it “should be” a lichen, and so when I got home I looked through hundreds (literally) of lichen photos with no luck identifying it. Luckily Rick from the Between Blinks Blog had seen examples before and knew it to be a crust fungus called Phlebia radiata, or wrinkled crust fungus. These curious fungi lay flat on whatever they grow on much like crustose lichens would, and radiate out from a central point.  They have no stem or gills or pores. Most interesting about them to me are the various bright shades of pink and orange they display. This is a fungus that doesn’t mind cool weather, so it is often seen at this time of year. Thanks again for the ID Rick!

 2. Green Algae Trentepohlia aurea

So let’s see, this one I showed in a post from about a month ago is orange like a fungus, grows on stone like a lichen, and is hairy like a moss. I guessed that it might be some kind of strange orange moss, but I’d never seen anything like it. If I hadn’t stumbled across it online while searching for something else I never would have guessed that it was actually a green algae called Trentepohlia aurea. I know, I said the same thing-“it isn’t green, it’s orange.” These algae get their bright orange color from a pigment known as hematochrome, which forms in nitrogen starved algae and protects and hides the algae’s green chlorophyll. It can be orange, yellow or red and it also colors some lichens, making their identification even more difficult.

 3. Beard Lichen

Bristly beard lichen (Usnea hirta) is often found on the ground but it doesn’t grow there; the wind blows them out of the trees. Many lichens like sunlight and grow in the tops of trees where there is less shade from the leaves. Native Americans used lichens medicinally for thousands of years and lichens in the Usnea group were described in the first Chinese herbal, written about 500 AD. Today scientists estimate that about 50% of all lichen species have antibiotic properties.

 4. Fringed Wrinkle Lichen

Last year I found fringed wrinkle lichens (Tuckermannopsis Americana) growing in a birch tree near a pond and they are still there this year. The color of this lichen varies greatly from when it is wet or dry, but its wrinkled surface and the way that its fruiting bodies (Apothecia) appear on the lobe margins help identify it. The purple dye used to color the togas of the rich and famous in ancient Rome came from lichens, and many other dye colors can also be extracted from them.  Some of the rich colors used in Scottish “Harris Tweed” also come from lichens.

5. Indian Pipe.

The seed capsule of this Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora) split open to release its seeds. The seeds are so small as to be nearly microscopic, and are wind borne.  Each plant will release thousands of seeds, but if they don’t fall in exactly the right conditions, they won’t grow. Indian pipes need both the right fungi and the right tree roots to grow because they don’t photosynthesize and make their own food. Instead they parasitize both the fungi and the trees they grow on.

6. Cattails.

Cattail (Typha latifolia) seeds are also borne on the wind, but there will be plenty left when the female red wing blackbirds come back in the spring. They and many other birds use the seeds to line their nests. Native Americans had uses for every part of this plant and one of their names for cattail meant “fruit for papoose’s bed.” Even the pollen was harvested and used in bread.

Some of the information on Native American uses for cattails used here comes from the folks at The International Secret Society of People Who Sleep with Cattail Pillows. No, I’m not kidding. Their motto is “You’ll Do Good Deeds, If You Sleep on Seeds!”

7. Bolete Mushroom

This tiny mushroom was all dried out but its dime sized cap had plenty of pores on its underside that were worth taking a look at. These pores are tubes where the mushroom’s spores are produced. Mushrooms with pores instead of gills are called boletes. If a shelf or bracket fungus has pores it is called a polypore.

 8. Broom Moss aka Dicranum scoparium

Broom Moss (Dicranum scoparium) is a North American native that grows on soil, stones or logs, but I usually find it on the ground in semi shaded places that don’t get strong sunlight. The scoparium part of the scientific name comes from the Latin scopae, which means “broom” and the common name broom moss comes from the way that all of the curved leaf tips point in the same direction, looking as if someone swept them with a broom. Scopae also describes the brush like hairs used to collect pollen that are found on the abdomens and legs of some bees.

 9. Woodpecker Tree

When you come upon a tree that looks like this in the forest you might think that a bear had gone after it, but this damage was caused by a woodpecker-a Pileated woodpecker, to be exact. I see trees that look like this all of the time, and have even seen trees cut in half with their top on the ground. I wish I had gotten the large pile of woodchips at the base of the tree in this photo, but I wasn’t thinking.

10. Juniper Berrires

The fruit of an Eastern juniper (Juniperus virginiana) looks like a berry but it is actually a soft, fleshy cone. They are a deep, bluish purple color but are covered with a white wax coating that makes them appear lighter blue. The most common uses for the “berries” are as flavoring for cooked game or to flavor gin. Native Americans used them medicinally and in food.

11. Snow on Monadnock

Mount Monadnock has had its first snowfall, though the bright sunshine almost hides that fact in this photo. Once the snow really starts to fly bare granite won’t be seen up there again until late spring. I decided to climb to the summit one warm April day years ago and had to wade / crawl through waist deep snow. By the time I made it back down several hours later I looked like I had been swimming with my clothes on and even had to pour water out of my wallet and shoes. Climbing with no snowshoes was a foolish and dangerous thing to do, but at 18 I wasn’t always the sharpest knife in the drawer.

About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow
.
~A.E. Housman

Thanks for stopping in.

 

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October and November were much drier than normal here but finally, on the day before Thanksgiving, it warmed up a bit and rained over 2 inches. I thought, with all that rain, that waterfalls might be worth looking at, so off I went.

1. Ashuelot Depth Marker

Normally this depth marker in the Ashuelot River can’t be seen. When it is, you know it has been very dry. After the rain on November 27th, it is underwater once again.

 2. Disappearing Waterfall

I decided that my first waterfall would be Beaver Brook Falls, north of Keene. The only way to get to them is by walking, and when you do you have to pass the disappearing waterfall that flows down the hillside on the far side of the brook.  This stream appears only when we’ve had a large amount of rain and if we don’t have more it will disappear in a day or two.

 3. Beaver Brook Falls

The falls were roaring as I expected. The mist was reaching me from across the pool but there was very little ice here. Montucky had a great shot of a frozen waterfall on his Montana Outdoors blog and I’m hoping that this waterfall will be as beautiful if it freezes. It’s hard to imagine such a large volume of water freezing, but it can.

4. Stream Ice Formation

Brickyard Brook, which is south of Keene, had more ice on it and some of the formations, like these long needles that had formed on the shore, were really interesting,  Watching ice grow is more exciting than watching it melt, in my book.

 5. Ice on Stone

The stones in the brook had cooled off enough so Ice crystals were forming around them as well. If the weather stays cold these ice skirts will grow larger and will finally join with those along the shoreline, and that’s all we’ll see of this creek bottom until March.

 6. Brickyard Brook

Brickyard brook was a good place to practice my water blurring skills. Blurring water shows the viewer that the water is moving instead of just sitting still. At least, that’s what I get from statements like “blurred water conveys the impression of motion in a still photograph.”  I’m not sure why anyone would think the water in a stream was sitting still, but that is the argument usually made for blurring water.

There is quite a war of words going on between those who blur water and those who don’t, with those who don’t saying it doesn’t look natural and those who do saying that it is “dreamy” and gives a greater impression of motion. Personally, I think it’s over done, but I have seen some really beautiful blurred water photos.

 7. Brickyard Brook

I think blurred water is best used when the focus is on the water itself as it is in this photo. When water is just one part of a wider landscape photo made up of many different elements, blurred water seems distracting because it forces the viewer to focus on the water instead of the landscape as a whole.

 8. Bailey Brook Lower Falls

After Brickyard brook I headed north to Nelson, New Hampshire to see what the cold had done to Bailey brook falls and yes, it was as cold as it looks-and slippery too. There are two waterfalls along this short stretch of brook and the lower falls shown in this photo were in deep shade. In this instance I had no choice but to blur the water, because no amount of upping the ISO or fiddling with f stops helped. I could only hope for sunshine at the upper falls.

 9. Snow Along Bailey Brook

The folks in Nelson saw dusting of snow the night before but before I left most of it had melted anywhere that the sun had touched it.

10. Icicles

The sun wasn’t melting the ice though.

11. Bailey Brook Upper Falls

There was a little more sunlight at the upper falls, but I decided to blur them anyway because there wasn’t much of anything else of interest in this scene.

12. Brook Ice Formation

This would have been a great place to sit and have some lunch, but I don’t usually carry any. Maybe I should start, and spend a little more time sitting in the woods rather than just hiking through them. I’d see a lot more birds and animals that way.

 13. Ashuelot River

All the added water made for some good waves in the Ashuelot River. I think this photo shows a good example of when not to blur water. Even though the water itself is the focal point in this instance I think it would have ruined the shot.

What do you think about blurred water in photos? Do my thoughts on the subject make sense, or am I all wet?

A cheery relaxation is man’s natural state, just as nature itself is relaxed. A waterfall is concerned only with being itself, not with doing something it considers waterfall-like. ~Vernon Howard

Thanks for coming by.

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