Monday, 16 February 2015

On the Path... a winter walk
February 16th, 2014

The cold weather we've had of late has kept me indoors more than I should let it. Today was more bearable so I went for my walk. A camera in hand gives more reason to go, though today there was little that caught my eye.

Not many weeks from now, this will be one of the tree tunnels on the path. Sun and a bright blue sky make any day more pleasing.

Silver Maple tree bundled buds are biding their time... ready to burst open at their appointed time. They're one of the earliest trees in our area to bloom.

We take our seasons for granted, but it really is remarkable how they come & go on schedule. Astronomers tell us that the earth travels around the sun at about 66,000 miles per hour, or about one and a half million miles per day. 

That means we're about 50 million miles from spring. It's all mind boggling when you think about it. 

It also brings to mind a quote I always got a kick out of:
"Life on earth can be hard, but it does include a free trip around the sun every year".

Silver Maple buds...

There are a number of things I check on my walks. One is this log with fungus on its end. The fungi have melded into a frozen mass.

In the woods at the top of the path there are Birch, Hemlock, Oak and Maples. Young Birch hold their leaves through winter. Many Oak do too.

I didn't see any squirrels today. Some are probably tucked away in these two nests. They both looked to be in good shape and a good size.

Looking like decorated frosting on a cake, these Cedar leaves were no doubt weaker ones, brought down by the strong winds we had a few days ago.

Nature sculpted this small figurine of a woman, wrapped in a blanket, having an afternoon snooze.

Whiter than white. I thought the snow looked white until I saw this Birch. The lenticles are clearly visible and the bark looks even fresher than the new fallen snow.

This looked very unusual. I think it's two trees joined by a lateral branch to form an 'H'. I'll have a much closer look when the snow around them isn't so deep.

This leaf caught my eye. With its stem caught in the snow, it was pirouetting in a very slight breeze. Maybe I should shoot a video now & then.

It's always a joy to meet friends on the path. The gentleman happens to be my barber. We always stop for a brief chat.

Another result of the strong wind we had... snow, pounded into the grooves of the bark. I don't remember seeing it quite like this before. That's why it caught my eye.

The majority of Black Locust seed pods hang on the trees through winter, but inevitably some fall to the ground. In spring, the rest will. Which of the thousands of seeds that eventually fall will become a tree? Some for sure. The stand of Black Locusts across the street is slowly spreading.

Nothing I captured today could be called particularly exciting, but it reminded me once again, on this cold winter day, of how important nature is in my life. 

It's beyond words. It's a feeling. As some wise soul once said, "Thoughts run deeper than words, feelings run deeper than thoughts".

- fini -

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Oshawa 2nd Marsh
February 3rd, 2015

We didn't get a January thaw this year. We didn't get much snow in January either. But the month made up for the lack of snow with frigid temperatures. For most of the month it felt like we were living on the steppes of Russia, a la the Dr. Zhivago movie. Freezing temperatures, bitter winds. 

February started with a good fall of snow. Since today was a balmy -10° C, I thought I'd go to the marsh—it had been a while. Not all our decisions are good ones. 

Even though I wore a parka, toque, etc. and took hand-warmers, I still found myself wondering why I was traipsing around in the snow, camera in hand, with a bitterly cold wind blowing off the lake. But then, I always try to make it to the marsh at least once in each calendar month, and since I missed January, I thought it was mild enough to venture out. 

I know it's always colder at the lake—the marsh is on its north shore—than it is in the driveway, I just wasn't expecting the difference to be as pronounced as it was today. It's the damn wind. It's always the damn wind. 

Enough griping. I did get a few shots, but nothing to write home about. 

The Chickadees are always a treat. They land on your hand with their gentle touch, pick out a tasty looking seed, look you in the eye to say thanks, and then fly to a nearby branch to enjoy it. No matter how cold it may feel to us, nature has given them the wherewithal to snub their beaks at cold temperatures. They always seem to be as happy as a kid in a candy store.

It was too cold to feed them by hand for long, so I cleared a spot and spread some seeds on the snow.

They have an uncanny sense of timing. Often as not, by the time I get them in the frame and hit the autofocus, they're gone... milliseconds before I was going to press the shutter button. I've had more shots than I can count of empty branches, where a split second before there was a Chickadee. They have a serious case of ADD, or an overload of caffeine. Contrast them with Mourning Doves.

Even in this weather, others drop by the feeders in the marsh and add seeds for our feathered friends.

One White-breasted Nuthatch was with the Chickadees. He was a shier one. The Chickadees were 'pushing him around'. He seemed intimidated. Caught him with his beak at an odd angle.

This Chickadee was doing 'the Nuthatch thing', clinging to the bark, half upside-down.

Snow sticking to the trees does make a pretty sight.

In Ghost Road Bush. Tall, straight trees... mostly Ash I think. They'd make good ship masts, which is where a lot of them were used in earlier times. I always think of Robert Frost's poem when I see a scene like this.

Here's the poem if you haven't seen it in a while. It's one of my favourites.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

                         by Robert Frost
Whose woods these are I think I know.   
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow.   

My little horse must think it queer   
To stop without a farmhouse near   
Between the woods and frozen lake   
The darkest evening of the year.   

He gives his harness bells a shake   
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.   

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.

White-throated Sparrow. Thanks Gerry & Jim. He was amongst another group of Chickadees. Snow can make for a simple background.

Milkweed poking through the snow. Hard to see with the snow behind it, but it had a few seeds clinging on. 

Cold Lake Ontario. The water was 35° F today.

Despite my griping about the cold, I was glad to get down to the marsh to check it out. It was good to get back to a warm home with all fingers & toes intact though.

The Friends of Second Marsh web site...
A direct link to a map of the paths/trails in the marsh...

A link to a page that has my past posts re the marsh, in one place rather than scattered throughout this blog...

- fini -

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