Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas 2013

Best wishes for a joyful Christmas Season
and a safe and happy New Year!

We will be taking a short break until after the Holidays. Please join us on January 2, 2014 to start our fifth year online. Thanks for reading Photography In Place.

Monday, December 23, 2013

A brief report

Tufted Titmouse - Greene County, Virginia 

Most mornings after filling the bird feeders, I put the tea kettle on and stand at the sink for a while to see what's going on outside the kitchen window. No doubt there are more useful, productive ways to spend my time, but then I would miss the mockingbird who comes to cast a proprietary eye on the feeders, like an absentee restaurant owner who shows up now and then to see that things are right, and take credit for it. Mockingbirds don't sing at this time of the year, but their presence is felt.

There are not as many Cardinals around this winter as usual but the titmice and house wrens are taking up the slack. That's the way things go sometimes; one species thrives and another declines. Years ago we had flocks of purple finches at the feeders but now we seldom see one. I hope the Cardinal population rebounds this spring. I miss them.

The squirrels had a successful mating season and are a constant nuisance at the feeders, gorging themselves on millet and scaring the birds away. Overpopulation has led to brawls over food and territory and whatever else squirrels fight about.  A couple of weeks ago one of the squirrels turned up at the feeder with a nasty, gash in his right foreleg, and a day or two later I noticed a squirrel with one eye gouged out.

Nature is not kind to injured animals and I wondered if these two squirrels would die. The words of Ebenezer Scrooge crossed my mind: " . . .they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population" Christmas was a few days away.

But yesterday old Stumpy was raiding the feeder, one useless front paw dangling. He looked healthy and was amazingly agile on three legs. And then to my surprise, One-Eye showed up as well, his eye clean but sunken and lifeless. I don't much think he can see anything out of the damaged eye, but seems to be getting along quite well. The pluck and determination to live displayed by these two small creatures banished my inner Scrooge and I was happy to see them back.

Our cats spend many an unproductive hour watching the comings and goings on the deck. Their interest is instinctual and unsentimental; their eyes unclouded by thought. Some mornings I try to clear my mind and see the world outside the kitchen window as a cat might see it but soon the cats are ready for breakfast and want my attention. I turn away from the window, line up the bowls and open a can of cat food. That makes me feel useful and productive again.

After breakfast the cats find a window and settle in to watch. They consider it time well spent.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Remembering Autumn

Greene County, Virginia 

Tomorrow is the first day of winter here in the northern hemisphere even though the last traces of fall disappeared several weeks ago. Enjoy the first weekend of the new season, and thanks for reading Photography In Place.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Monday, December 16, 2013

Friday, December 13, 2013

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Monday, December 9, 2013

Winter storms

Greene County, Virginia 

According to the calendar the solstice is two weeks away, but winter is no respecter of calendars and blew in here unannounced the week before Thanksgiving. Within two days, frigid temperatures, heavy rain and wind had knocked the last of the autumn color out of the trees leaving the woods bare and gray.

Yesterday sleet and freezing rain fell most of the day. The weatherman on TV says winter storm Dion is responsible. Winter storms didn't used to have names, but we like something to blame for our difficulties, and having a name makes it easier. Now we have Boreas and Cleon and Dion to talk about; in the past all we had was "bad weather."

The man on TV said that winter storm Dion visited 46 states. Imagine that. Can the same Dion that dumped snow in the Rockies be sleeting in my backyard here in Virginia?

It makes sense to me that hurricanes have names. We watch them being born off the coast of Africa. We plot their course across the ocean. Hurricanes have a recognizable shape on the weather map; they have an eye. Hurricanes make a bold frontal assault on some unlucky coastal city and then sweep along northward on their way to die in the north Atlantic. That such a phenomenon should have a name is fitting.

Winter storms that dawdle about in 46 of the 50 states and look like a mildew stain on the weather map don't deserve to have a name. They're nothing but bad weather.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Ocracoke Light Station

Ocracoke, North Carolina

The last of the sun's rays are warming the top of the lighthouse on a cool evening last month, We spent the night in Ocracoke before catching the boat to Portsmouth Village the next morning. The lighthouse was built in 1823 and is the oldest operating light station in North Carolina.

Have a great weekend and thanks for reading Photography In Place.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Portsmouth Village

Jody Styron and Tom Bragg house - circa 1927

The house in the picture above was built as a hunting and fishing club, and is still under a private lease.

These are the last of the pictures from Portsmouth Village. There are still a half-dozen or so buildings that either I did not get to, or that the photographs I did take were unsatisfactory for one reason or another. Perhaps I will have the opportunity to visit Portsmouth Island again next year.

All of the pictures of Portsmouth Village that have appeared on Photography In Place were taken on Saturday, November 9, 2013

Harry and Lida Dixon house

Monday, December 2, 2013