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Posts Tagged ‘Laid Stone Walls’

In typical March fashion the first week of the month was cold and very windy, so it came in like a lion. Everyone I know is hoping it goes out like a lamb but meanwhile the snow is still melting, and with sixty degree temperatures expected in the near future I’d guess that this scene will be snow free by the weekend. I’ve been itching to climb again but with all the ice that came with February I haven’t done it.  Instead last weekend I went wandering, just to see what I could see.

I wondered if the red winged blackbirds had returned so I went to a place I knew they’d be if they had, but I didn’t hear them. I did see that ice had re-formed on the stream though.

There are plenty of cattails for them to build nests with when they do come back. There is a pond I go to where I can walk right along the edge, just where the cattails grow, and I often scare the female red winged blackbirds when I do, so I know that the nests are tucked down in the stems, quite close to the water. I’ve seen females picking large grubs out of the previous year’s decomposing stems as well, so nature has provided everything they need in a cattail stand; both food and nesting material. They’ll be back before long.

 I saw a group of mallards and as usual they were rushing away as fast as they could go. Usually when I get shots of mallards I see more tailfeathers than anything else. They’re very skittish in these parts.

I believe these were willows but they grew on the far side of another stream so I couldn’t get close to them, but many of the willows that grow here have yellow or yellowish branches in spring. I thought their color was very spring like and beautiful whatever they were, so I was happy to see them. They made an impressionistic scene, I thought. Or maybe post-impressionistic; I can see Van Gogh painting it.

I went to the river thinking I might see some interesting ice formations but I think the water was too high for them. Instead I admired the beautiful texture and colors of the water. It really is amazing how the appearance of river water changes. It’s very dependent on the quality of the light.

Closer to shore the sunlit ripples were hypnotizing.

A fallen tree had washed downriver and become stuck on the rocks, and it showed just how cold it was.

This ice is so clear it can’t be seen, but those bubbles were trapped under it.

This ice was anything but clear. I couldn’t tell if the patterns I saw were part of the ice itself or what was under it, but I liked them.

Much like beech and oak leaves do, black locust seed pods (Robinia pseudoacacia) often fall in spring and this one had landed in an icy footprint. You often see these pods with one side gone and the seeds open to the elements, just as these were.

The tiny brown seeds of a black locust look like miniature beans and that’s because they are in the same legume family. Their coating is very tough and they can remain viable for many years. They’re also very toxic and should never be eaten.

There is a stone in a local park that has what appear to be paw prints in it. Not on it; they’re actually depressions in the stone. They’re small like a housecat’s paw and I can’t imagine what might have made them or even if they really are animal prints, but seeing them always gets me wondering. Maybe they were just gas bubbles that popped as the magma that the stone came from was cooling, or maybe they’re impressions from ancient leaves that fell in mud that hardened. I didn’t bother to try to figure out if the stone was sedimentary or igneous but maybe one day.

Speaking of stones, here is a well made stone wall to contrast all the “thrown” and “tossed” walls I’ve shown on this blog. This is just the kind of wall I used to build; a puzzle made of stone, and I miss being able to do it.

I saw a beech tree, large and fairly old, with buds on it that are quite different from our native beech buds. Instead of thin, long and pointed like a native beech it was short and more round, so I think it must be a European beech (Fagus sylvatica). I’ve read that they can escape cultivation but this one lives on the grounds of the local college, so I can’t say it has done that. I’ll have to get a look at its leaves later on.

Native nannyberry buds (Viburnum lentago) with their two bud scales are good examples of valvate buds. These buds always remind me of great blue herons or cranes. Nannyberry is another of our native viburnums but unlike many of them this shrub produces edible fruit. Native Americans ate them fresh or dried and used the bark and leaves medicinally.

While I was thinking of buds I thought I’d check on the red maple buds (Acer rubrum). I didn’t see any open yet but the outer bud scales are definitely pulling back.

I saw a skunk cabbage spathe (Symplocarpus foetidus) that had opened so of course I had to look inside at the spadix.

There were plenty of flowers on the spadix and they were releasing pollen already. The flowers don’t have petals but do have four yellowish sepals. The male stamens grow up through the sepals and release their pollen before the female style and pistil grow out of the flower’s center to catch any pollen that visiting insects might carry from other plants. The spadix carries most of the skunk like odor at this stage of the plant’s life, and it is thought that it uses the odor to attract flies and other early spring insects.

Lots of animals have been waiting all winter for anything green so I’m sure they’ll be happy to see green grass again. I’ve seen both porcupines and muskrats eating dead grass in winter.

I went back to see how the cold had affected the spring blooming witch hazels (Hamamelis vernalis) and found that all of the petals had rolled themselves back into the wooly buds so they didn’t get damaged. With 60 degrees right around the corner I’m guessing that they’ll be in full bloom by the weekend.

The thing that surprised me most was finding crocuses showing color. Though this flower bed isn’t in my yard I know it well enough to know that it has quite a few reticulated irises in it and they have always bloomed before the crocuses. Maybe the gardener pulled up all the irises? I don’t know.

Wandering souls discover sleepless dreams. ~Paul Sachudhanandam

Thanks for coming by.

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1. Monadnock

I don’t think I’ve ever shown much of what our landscape looks like in November. Some people think there’s nothing worth seeing at this time of year; that everything is either brown or white, but that simply isn’t true and I hope the following photos will prove it. I don’t usually do too much landscape photography because I find it much harder than any other kind and because I’m not that good at it, but I probably can’t lose by starting off with Mount Monadnock. A three year old couldn’t mess up a photo of this mountain from this spot.

2. Monadnock Summit

3,165 ft. high Mount Monadnock has bald granite on its summit because a fire set in 1800 to clear the lower slopes for pasture got away from the settlers and burned every tree on its summit. Between 1810 and 1820 local farmers thought that wolves were living in the blowdowns left from the first fire, so they set fire to the mountain again. This fire raged for weeks, burning so long and so hot that it even burned the soil, which the wind and rain eventually removed, leaving the bare granite that we see today.

3. Climber on Monadnock

Monadnock is the most climbed mountain in the United States and the second most climbed in the world after Mount Fiji in Japan. It’s not unusual to find standing room only on the summit on a fall weekend, but on this morning it looked like one climber had the whole thing to himself. I’d bet that it was pretty cold up there and that probably kept people away. It won’t be long before it’s covered by many feet of snow.

4. Meadow

Something that really says New Hampshire to me is a field surrounded by stone walls. The stones were found when the field was being cleared and to get rid of them the farmers put them along the edges of the field. Stone walls built in this way are among the earliest and most common, and are called thrown or tossed walls since that’s how the stones were put there. Since forests were being cleared rapidly wood for fencing was in short supply and stone walls eventually replaced the earlier wooden fencing. If the field was used as pasture wooden rails were often added to the tops of stone walls to keep animals from jumping over them.

5. Stone Wall

Laid walls took more care and time to build and were often used for show along the front of a house or other places that were seen by the public. They are more orderly than dumped or thrown walls and show the skill of the builder.

6. Granite Gate Post

This wall had a gate with granite gate posts. You don’t see these very often.

7. Woods

I’ve been walking in these forests almost since I learned how, so I can’t think of this state without thinking of them. New Hampshire has 4.8 million acres of forest so the woods become a big part of life here. Big open spaces are rare and often have cows in them.

8. Old Road

I should have said that I’ve been following trails and old logging roads through these forests since I learned to walk. Though I’ve done it in the past just walking into these woods with no trail to follow is a very foolish thing to do. The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department handles between 150 to 200 search and rescues each year, and many are lost and / or injured. Besides, I love walking the old forgotten roads because there is often a lot of history to be found along them. Stone walls and cellar holes tell an interesting story.

9. Porcupine Falls

If there’s one thing New Hampshire has plenty of it is water, and even in a drought most of the streams run. The water is clean and clear and many people still fill bottles with it at local springs. I like to just sit and listen to streams chuckle and giggle as they play and splash among the moss covered stones. At times nature is like a little child and this to me, is that child’s laughter.

10. Ashuelot

The Ashuelot River is also fairly clean now but it wasn’t always that way. I can remember when it ran all colors of the rainbow, depending on what color dyes the woolen mills happened to be using on any given day. To now see people catching trout in this river and bald eagles nesting along its course seems truly miraculous to me.

11. Ashuelot

I like going to see parts of the Ashuelot River that aren’t that familiar to me like this section up in Gilsum, which is north of Keene. I particularly like this stretch because of its wildness. Major floods tore through here a few years ago and scrubbed the river banks clean of soil right down to the bedrock in places. A steel suspension bridge that crossed near this spot was torn loose and wrapped around trees and boulders like it was made of aluminum foil and pieces of it can still be found bent around various immoveable objects to this day.

12. Pond at Sunset

But enough about flooding; I prefer the placid waters of our many lakes and ponds. I was thinking as I started putting this post together that I can’t think of a single town in this region that doesn’t have a lake or pond, and most have both. The pond pictured is Wilson Pond in Swanzey last Saturday at sunset.

13. Hills at Sunset

Other things we seem to have a great abundance of, at least in this part of New Hampshire, are hills. In fact Keene sits in a kind of bowl and no matter which direction you choose to leave it by, you have to climb a hill. So of course I wanted to show you hills, but I found that photos of hills in November aren’t very exciting. On this day though the setting sun in the previous photo turned the sky a peachy color and the hills a deep indigo blue, improving their appearance considerably I thought.

14. Hills at Sunset

As the sun continued to set the color of the sky became richer and deeper. I was driving home at the time and had to keep stopping to take another photo because we don’t see skies like this every day. It was so beautiful that I spent more time just sitting and staring than I did taking photos. This kind of beauty isn’t just seen; it’s felt as well, as if you are bathing in it, and I don’t see how anyone could have room for anything but peace in their hearts after witnessing such a display.

15. Stream at Sunset

Just to see if I could do it all of the photos in this post were taken in one day, and what a day it was. But as every day must this one had to end, and I just happened to be near a stream when the light began to fade. I expected the pink and orange reflected sky but I didn’t expect the beautiful blues. A perfect end to a perfect day.

If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. ~Tecumseh, Shawnee

Thanks for coming by. I hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving Day tomorrow, or just a plain old good day if you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving.

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