Sunday, March 27, 2016

Birds who have visited me, part 1: pileated woodpecker

post #277
       Finally, here is the whole story of the day the visiting pileated woodpecker decided the bugs in our old apple tree were worth the risk of me and my camera being on the other side of the window.  The tree trunk is only 3 feet from the house.  I can't believe he didn't know I was there. The photos are taken through the window so they are not picture perfect, so to speak, but obviously it is better to go with the photo you can get than waiting for some perfect situation!
       I was using my Canon Rebel, at least 5 years ago, and a 17-40 lens. No cropping that I remember doing. It is still a happiness to share these once in a lifetime photos.  It was totally a true privilege to spend all that time with this busy and determined visitor. 

To set the stage.... what I saw first from where I was sitting, and the only photo of the bird I expected to be able to make.

I learned later that the red stripe below the eye is a way to tell it is a male.

beak evidence

seeing beneath the feathers


These raised-up head feathers happened unexpectedly and briefly -- perhaps a warning of some sort? There may have been some rustling in the leaves on the ground.


        Please note that I have no idea why I never before put this series on the blog in the five and a half years I have been doing it weekly.  Earlier today I checked the images for this bird on Google, and there is nothing like this -- but there are fascinating photos of the holes they chip away at for eating and the ones for nesting, and great photos of babies. In those cases, the photographer probably was able to set up a way to keep watch on the nest. In my case, since I feel I had a proper visit, I just made what I could have from what transpired. Hard not to believe in good luck....
I love the lines here -- head/beak, elegant neck feathers, claw -- all that plus a single eye!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Now a salute to the first day of spring!

post #276
       I can never keep from making a few photos to celebrate the beginning of this most wonderful of seasons. When I was a kid in Connecticut, I definitely considered winter to be the very best. I loved playing in the snow with my sisters. As soon as I moved to Kentucky in 1974, however, I was overtaken by the beauty of spring. Wild flowers! Redbud trees! Dogwoods everywhere! Birds going wild with breeding and nesting and eating bugs! The magic of so much awakening and bursting out in a short time!
      My plan for this blog has been to have several posts featuring the birds who have visited me over the years, but today I am putting that project off still another week. First I need to say hooray for the very coming of spring itself. Then to shout out a thank goodness for April.     
       So here is what I have seeing over the past week:

the crocus crowd, looking this good for a whole day!

Meanwhile, nearby, the very beginning of blooms on a forsythia bush

As a photographer, never forget to look overhead for what may be unexpected.

In forty two years here I have never before caught the moment when this moss along the bank of the driveway's edge was flowering!  I was simply on my way to pick up the mail, only to notice that this special event was going on. One day. I was disbelieving at first. Could that be a fungus??  NO WAY. 

in the garden, showing off

In the middle of all this nature mystery, Grayson Rural Electric Coop decides we need a taller pole for the long wire to our house. So here are three photos from that unexpected project.  I'm glad I was here to watch.

This job took two trucks and 6 guys! I'm sure they had other projects nearby as well.

I later went to town and to the post office, where these flowering trees may be blooming too early, so sharing their beauty only briefly.  I hear they don't like frost, and we might have had one last night. 

Meanwhile, in the house, my loyal sweet potato continues its growing journey, bringing the one sprig of basil along with it. My next plan for it, if it lives another few weeks indoors, is to plant it outside, to see what happens  then!  I take my magic wherever I can get it. 
          And here's a special hello to those of you who are visiting this new post on this very first day of spring!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

a salute to my writers group

post #275
         Today I want to honor and acknowlege the writers group I am part of.  We have been meeting for ages, usually monthly, and usually for at least 4 hours. The group has its origins in the Appalachian Writers Workshop in Hindman, Kentucky. This past Friday the weather was warm, and we were all able to be there -- which is not to be taken for granted. The light was right, so I couldn't help myself from taking a couple of photos of each person as we worked around our favorite table at a Panera's in Lexington. 
         Sometimes we do meet in less public spaces. That's when George Ella will have her guitar to share a song she's written. We each bring something we are working on -- poetry, essays, parts of a novel or a memoir, manuscripts for picture books, even sometimes book reviews or excerpts from our personal journals. Although I do more photography than writing most of the time, I work with words as well; they helped me come up for the title for my recent exhibit, What Caught My Eye. There's a high level of trust and of appreciation for what we each literally bring to the table.
          Well, I hope they will all continue to trust me!  I didn't ask their permission to put this on my blog nor did I pose any of the photos. It just felt like a good day to catch us all at our work on words, which of course is usually a solitary endeavor. I hope my effort here works to give a feeling of how much it can mean to writers and artists to learn from people we trust and rely on to help us move forward. In addition, it's plain wonderful to be with friends who believe in each other.  We miss Lou, who passed away, but her wisdom and words remain a part of our ongoing conversation.

George Ella

Leatha and Martha

Marie and Leatha


Sunday, March 6, 2016

The mingling of winter's ending and my exhibit's ending

post #274
       All good things.... time to move on..... wow, what adventure is next... why have I been so busy.... and how come I am not as well organized as I'd like to be....  Many things to think about besides the crass and even shocking sideshow currently taking place in the American public arena. I'd like to think my photos celebrate a certain American generosity and groundedness, and, when push comes to shove, this quality of American life will prevail. Americans from all backgrounds are way better than what Donald Trump has stirred up with his mean-spirited and egomanic behavior.
        Well, with that out of the way, I am following an idea that came to me combining the intensity of ending my retrospective photo exhibit with the sudden and unexpected snow experience we all had around here on Thursday -- when the forecast gave rain for the day.  Ha!! I made it home, but barely. There were wrecks in too many places, and even our interstate closed down for awhile to clear them. So my plan is to alternate winter and exhibit, the orderliness of one balancing the unexpected of the other, both sharing mystery.

signs of snow

the banner outside the Arts Center 
overview of the exhibit, just hours before we took it down

out the kitchen window

first of the views with the black walnut tree and barn

So glad Randy Kinsler could come on the last day -- we worked together in his bookstore years ago; I loved it.

out the back door - many tracks from visitors at home during the night.  No group photos available.....

I started the wood stove in case the electricity went out (which it did, for a few hours!)

Sort of by accident, this photo montage from a fire tower near Hazard, KY, was hung under the fire alarm..  Wonderful!

the beloved sycamore tree

bird feeding  (downy woodpecker)

If this had been the rain it was supposed to be I wouldn't have been able to make this photo!!!

getting ready for the exhibit soon to replace mine
Does it seem clear by now that this inconvenient snow was also beautiful and fascinating and a time taker!!??
Guess what's coming... Happy March to all!