After that, the documentation of the trip took a rather interesting turn. They charm of the landscape was lost to me, and I turned to the car interior and immediate surroundings. Thankfully we made it home to VA safe and sane, and I thought I would share the results of my boredom with you:
We are now in Charlottesville, VA.Establishing new routines, finding new places, meeting new people, and suffering from exhaustion. But totally loving it. Today we spent 5 hours shopping at IKEA and to today spent 7 hours putting everything together! We decided to do that rather than move our stuff 800 miles to a place where it wouldn't fit, we would start new!
But before we started that, we walked about two blocks over and went to the farmer's market. It was great - and like in Madison, it is best before 8AM! Fresh coffee, beautiful produce, and other goodies. I present to you the proof below!
For dinner we just had fresh carrots, goat cheese, Italian bread, scallions, and other local goodies, with the wine jon got at the wine tasting he went to last night. We are both exhausted, so I will say good night.
I have taken so many pictures of our birds, and with a wren house in the tree right outside my window, you would think getting one of him would be easy-peasy... but no. This little guy and I have been dancing around each other for weeks now. I do not think that a wren stands still for more than a millisecond at a time, and they are the same size as the leaves they perch in. That combined with my general lack of patience (some would say severe ADD) has made for a real dance - one that I am positive the wren knows he is a part of! Anyhow, today I finally got an acceptable shot, but thought you might enjoy the lead up to it...
DISCLAIMER: Please note the following shots are numbered for your convenience... I have not included the many that were taken just after he left, or when I knocked the tripod in my excitement to shoot. Accuracy would have them numbered "shot 108, shot 437, etc", but I have simplified it for you.
Above: I decide to focus on the house... Day one (top left) he never appeared. Day two (top right), this was as good as it got. Day three (bottom left) he mocked me by photo bombing my shot as I waited thinking he was in the house! Day four (bottom right) (coincidentally right after finding a four-leaf clover) I got a great pic of the house, but he was twitching a bit fast.
ABOVE: After another week or two of trying to follow him from branch to branch - resulting in many blurry photos of our apple tree - I decided to tripod-up and wait for him to land in one place. This required almost more patience than I could endure, but because it was possible to wait with both coffee and sitting down, I made it. The first shot (upper left), he was almost out of the frame, the second (upper right) he was posed beautifully with his head directly hidden behind the branch. In the third shot (lower left) he shows us how he can hide - yes he really is in the shot. The fourth shot (bottom right); we are almost there.
Finally an acceptable shot. We have now called a truce. I have learned that I will never have the patience (and probably not the equipment) for really amazing nature photos, but it sure is fun trying. It is amazing how much you learn about the habits and reactions of something you are trying to photograph. I have also learned why you see many pictures of finches, cardinals, oriels, and robins, but rarely the little wren.
You can relax now Wren, The paparazzi have left.
I like the resulting photos (above) They show the story of the spring flowers - not just a record of their botany, but recognition of their place in the cycle of spring and in the world around them.
Perhaps that is just true of life in general... neither we or our actions exists in a vacuum, and the context is what often gives us our meaning. Our position and perspective changes within the place and surroundings, what is mundane in one place, is glorious in another. That which hurts us today could be the basis for our happiness tomorrow. Context. hmmm. just another thing to think about when being creative.
I guess it is the same with the horses I photo'ed yesterday. While the horses were fantastic; They are fantastic anywhere anytime! The specific story of these photos is the horse in the specific context of the Midwest horse fair. (see Daily pictures for 4/13/2014 for other horse fair pics or go to THIS Facebook post)
It was also time to say good bye to some of the things that have made winter tolerable. The corn cobs and stalks will be tilled under; the dry weeds that are our 'flowers' during the winter will get used in nests, or fall as their replacements grow; and the sumac that provided some subtle color all winter, will start over. Thanks to them for sticking around through the winter!
This morning was that perfect combination of factors. Enough precipitation to leave drops on the trees, cold enough for them to stay there a while, and not raining so that my camera would get wet.
The droplets were hanging on to every tiny branch and reflecting the surroundings so nicely.
It is amazing how after months of snow, how warm a cold drizzle can feel. A few days of this, followed by a warm day or two and things will actually start sprouting in earnest.
In the meantime, the weather helps keep me inside doing what I should be doing... purging and packing. It seems each corner or cupboard or crevice just yields more decisions, memories and junk to go through.
But, back to the drips... these are for you today. Next week I will get back to the memories and junk in a couple of posts!
Downtown Madison has always been a place that I have loved. I grew up here, and when I was a small child (in the land before Malls) it is where we went shopping, went to church and for entertainment. State Street runs from the Capital building to the University Mall, so it is a slow metamorphosis of people from business to students, with shop owners and restauranteurs being the basis for it all.
It is where the protests happened in the 1960s. It is where parades, protests,parties and people still happen. And, most recently, a huge celebration for UW getting into the Final Four! (click here for 17 reasons you should be cheering for them!)
Cars are generally not allowed on the mall, buses and bikes abound. and even a firetruck now and then.
It seemed only right to go check it out on one of the first warm days we have had. Besides I had just been to the accountants to pick up my taxes, and had enough of reality, so needed the fun of the street.
So I started on the "square" (the area around the capital) and found this group of guys having a sunny day debate. I love the contrast between them and the reflections in the window next to them. From there I headed down State Street. The minute the warmth hits, so do the hammers and cranes. Construction is as much a part of spring in the North as are crocuses and daffodils! These guys (below) all seem to be enjoying being able to work in shirt sleeves for a change!
This young woman (below) was really enjoying the day, the people watching and her cigarettes. When she saw me and my camera, she immediately produced a puff of as much smoke as she possibly could! I caught her and a friend talking on my way back up the street, but they guy passing them seemed to have a problem with them. hmmm. Wonder what the full story is here!
I have always liked when an artist or several artists create many views or takes on the same subject, so while doing my other photos, I try to take pictures of this barn.
It is a white barn down the road from us. I like the minimalism of the setting, The way it catches light. and how the color changes when the roof is seen or not. It also has great access for photography! Here are some of my pics of it from January, February and March.
Below are a couple of others that I really like one very edited and one not so much.
I went out looking for the earliest signs of spring today. They are there; perhaps few and far between, but there!
The first of the crocuses are sticking out between the fallen oak leaves. The next couple of days should be warm, so maybe they will pop up soon. But until the yellows and purple they bring, we can enjoy the ever yellowing finches. This little guy was just glowing in the sun this morning. He and his buddies were flitting in the tress and chirping away!
But two of my favorite events of spring are also evident; moss and the Pasque flowers. The mosses are so green with the moistness they get from the melting snow and the sun they get before they get overpowered by everything else. This emerald green stretches along the fallen trees, the rocks and anywhere it can. I wish I could lie in a bed of it sometime, I am sure it would be soft and have the best musty earth smell ever... probably a bit on the damp side though.
The Pasque flowers don't look like much yet, but they are starting to make their furry presence known. Soon the delicate lavender blooms will emerge and spot the hillside before even the grasses grow around them... They are the "dessert first" flower, holding off working on leaves until the flowers are done blooming. They are an event I wait for every year, so I will be checking the hillside frequently in the coming days.
I hope spring is sprouting around you also. It has been a longer than usual wait for too many of us this year.
P.S. No post about a walk through our woods would be complete without a few pics of my tree buddies so here they are:
It snowed last night for the 147,568th time this winter. I had started grumbling, when I thought "why not just go with it?" I had run across my husband's snowshoes a while back (when looking for something interesting to photograph) But now actually thought about putting them on my feet.
Yesterday I went on a long hike in the woods and fields by our house wearing my heavy winter boots. It wasn't so much a hike as a slog; One that could have easily turned into a leg-breaking incident. There was easily 18 inches of snow on the ground, hiding every downed branch, ankle-grabbing twig, and any uneven ground. Each step was a tentative footfall followed by either surprise or relief.
Nonetheless, I found many wonderful photo opportunities and they are now in my daily pic for today. But decided I probably shouldn't push my luck again - I have never been mistaken for sure-footed.
So I decided with an additional five to seven inches of new fluffy pristine snow, the hazards would be even more hidden, so why not try the snow shoes. Boy were they great! One doesn't exactly glide on the top of the snow with them, but they sure made for better footing than yesterday's boots! The poles were a big improvement also - the trees never seemed handy when I needed something to grab! So with my camera tucked safely in my jacket, I set out to explore the new snow.
After watching the Olympics for days now, I decided to go check out some of our home grown skiers and snowboarders. Tyrol Basin is right up the road from us, and so I drove up there to see what is going on.
This hill has been around since I was a teenager, and it continues to provide great recreational opportunities for the winter. We don't have mountains here, so this hill has to do. It wasn't very busy, and the sun was so warm, it was gloriously relaxing sitting there watching people of every age out for a ski.
There was a group of snowboarders that were really fun to watch. They had the swagger down, if they didn't have all the moves yet! The last picture shows three of them on the ramp at once... they were coming down in a line, and went down like dominoes, when the first one fell, and surprise the second when he came over the hill...then came the third. Didn't seem like a great idea to me. But I am old and know my bones are brittle!!
I really went there to take my daily challenge photo - "S" + transport = where else could I go!
Because of the lack of elevation, Tyrol tends to be populated by beginners and snowboarders. They seem to have a lot of bumps and slider (or whatever they are called) for the boarders, and there were multiple lessons for the beginners. Note the aforementioned triplets on the snowboard hill in the picture below.
It is snowing all day again today... again...at times almost white out conditions. There is a trail across from our house that is my walking trail for three seasons, but in the winter it becomes a highway for the snowmobiles, so I usually stay away. Today I decided to use them as my models! I wanted to check out the trail in this pristine snow, and I was pretty sure they would be showing up. The walk to the trail was daunting! I have a whole new respect for all those snow sports I have been watching from the comfort of my chair. The snow was powder and deep and took quite the slog to make it to the trail. The trail was a bit easier, and really beautiful.
During the summer, I share the trail with bicyclists. They are a quiet crew and often take me by surprise as the come up from behind. The snowmobiles give lots of warrrrrrrrrrrrrrning and the buzz can be heard for quit a distance.
It has been a long cold winter here, and for the first time in my life, the white is getting to me; Maybe because I am older, maybe because I am noticing more as I photograph, maybe just because there really has been a lot of it. I am starting to understand that old tale about the native people of Alaska having fifteen words for the color white. Because, as I write this, I realize it isn't the white I am sick of, but the monotone. While the sky is blue and the snow sparkles, it is beautiful. The deep blue to violet shadows are what has moved pleine air painters throughout the years, but we have had day after day where the sky and the fields are virtually the same no-chroma hue. During mid day they match, at other times the sky is a bit darker, and then sometimes the ground is a bit darker than the sky. Only the orange traffic cones and yellow yield signs stand out. The tree silhouettes were once intriguing, but are getting just a bit "been there, done that" by now.
Late yesterday afternoon I took a trip to the Post Office, then decided to cruise around and look for some photo ops in the area. As I was driving, I noticed a crack in the gray. a pinkish glow started appearing on the horizon, breaking the line between the sky and the ground. It was a subtle change, but one I welcomed with open arms and shutter. I took the shot and got back into my car and drove a short way up the road for a different perspective.
As I stood there (avoiding the splash of snow and slush from passing cars and trying desperately to keep my fingers from freezing) the sky started to change. The heavens opened up...literally. I could almost hear the angels sing (or maybe it was just NPR on my car radio). There was blue and pink added to the gray, and pattern to the sky and texture came out with the shadows. And within moments it had changed to this:
I have stood many times looking at the Monet haystacks in the Chicago Art institute, and marveled at this pioneer of impressionism and light. One of my favorite places on earth is the badlands - the vast minimalist landscapes there change with every cloud or hour that passes. Light changes everything. There is a white barn down the road from us. It is my haystack. I pass it daily, and never pass without checking out the lighting... here are four of my recent snaps of the "white Barn"
Yesterday we drove down to Chicago to attend a memorial service for a wonderful man. He was my cousin's husband and a gentle, intelligent and compassionate human. One of those good people who just go through life making a huge impact with little fanfare. May you rest in peace, Norm.
I love the Metro stations in DC. My dream house is a Quonset hut, so maybe that has something to do with it. The stations are relatively new, and starkly industrial, but with lots of gentle curves that contradict the concrete. They are generally devoid of piped in music and surprisingly quiet until the train whooshes and squeals. There is that same strange time zone that you feel at airports; one that houses both quiet waiting and frantic speed. They are both crowded and lonely. They have views that are long, and high, and downward. There are vast spaces, but there are also small cubicle waiting areas that are intimate. Here are photos I took yesterday of some of the indoor (it was about 11F degrees , so no outdoor ones other than the one I started at on my journey!) platforms. Most of them have been merely sharpened and cropped... otherwise as shot with my trusty Fujifilm S8200.
Tunnels, stairs, and curves;
Waiting and rushing;
I have always snapped pictures, and loved photography. My family will attest to that. I have many pictures of my sons, as teens, that are a hand in front of the lens. I once survived a sail boat ride where I discovered I had a true phobia of being out of sight of land, by looking through my lens finder for the entire voyage.
I rarely look back at the photos I have taken... like with most of the art I do, it is far more about the experience than about the artifact. using my camera makes me slow down. It makes me look. It makes me compose and notice and enjoy.
The last few years, the photos that have been the most frequent have been my product photos. That was good and useful, but I am enjoying getting back to photo for fun!
I joined the Facebook group 365 for 2013. It is a group of people who have vowed to take and post a picture each day for the entire year.
If you are really into history, click here for blog posts prior to 2014 !