Brrrr…..

After a slew of fairly warm days, I decided to take a walk at one of the local wildlife refuges in Northern Virginia.  Huntley Meadows is one of my favorite places to take walks (with a camera, of course).  There is a central wetland (fairly small) that hosts an abundant variety of birds (especially during the warm months of spring to fall).  In the midst of a relatively warm winter, there have been days that observers reported a wide variety of birds in the refuge.

Yesterday (Saturday) was not one of those days where birds were plentiful and easy to find.  I am sure that trained eyes would do better than I did, but it was barely above 20F when I left for the refuge (about ten miles away), after the sun had been up an hour.  Surprisingly, there were a fair number of people walking around the park.  And there were a fair number of disappointed photographers.

It was cold.  And for the day (at least in the morning), the birds were few in number.  Oh, there were ducks of several sorts and there was an osprey (or something like it) that flew over the boardwalk for a scant ten seconds.  Aside from that, nothing.  It was a cold day for this human.  I suppose the birds don’t really want to go out and about when the wind is brisk and the sun barely peeking out of the clouds.

Oh well.  There were still ducks.

DSC00611_sDSC00632_sDSC00635_s

Meeting before Dawn

I totally forgot that the moon, Jupiter and Venus were going to be in conjunction in the waning days of January.  It was not until morning, near sunrise, as I was taking the trash out, that I looked up in the brightening sky and saw the moon and Venus.  It was seven degrees and I didn’t take many pictures in the crisp January air.  It was, as all astronomical events prove to be, interesting.  And beautiful to behold.

Foxes Big and Small

It’s almost spring!  With winter set to deal one more Nor’easter to the Northeast, it was a good time to visit Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge to see if there are foxes walking around.  Not quite.  The mother and kits were quite easy to spot though.  There were three cars stopped by a pond.  I figured, I’d park behind the other cars and see what was going on.  Soon, other cars parked behind my car.  It was time to listen to music and eat a granola bar.  I thought that there might be an owl nestle in the woods.  Not quite.  It was a fox and her kits.  Not the best view, and they were just basically walking around to check on the humans with the cameras and lenses.

DSC00512_DxOa_sDSC00546_DxO_sDSC00569_DxO_sDSC00592_DxO_sDSC00605_DxO_s

Awakening

Why is the familiar different now
The river by the bend
The trees, the rocks, the birds, the sky
A thousand steps walked alone
In solitude, nature was my friend

And yet today, even as the bird sang its welcoming song
As the winds of winter give way to the blossoms of spring
As the water lapped gently on the rock strewn shore
I heard my heart speak

In winter’s depth a flower bloomed
Joy came forth, the soul consumed
A life, thought dead, was vital still

And so it was this winter day
That the steps familiar had a different strain
There is beauty everywhere
And time enough for us to share

Capitol Columns at the National Arboretum

One of the many places in the Washington D.C. area that I have never visited in the decades that I have lived in the area is the National Arboretum in Northeast Washington D.C.  I don’t really have a reason why I have never set foot on this place.  I enjoy leisurely walks.  I enjoy taking pictures of flowers and gardens.  I enjoy taking pictures of birds.  Apparently, the Arboretum has no shortage of the things that make for a great day outdoors but somehow, I never stepped inside its grounds.  That oversight was corrected, somewhat, by a short trip to the National Arboretum in mid February.

Yes, it was winter.  There were few birds flying about.  The flowers are still weeks from coming out.  The gardens were in a state of hiatus.  Still, the landmark that many people come to see in the Arboretum are the Capitol Columns.  These columns used to be part of the Capitol Building.  When the Capitol was renovated, the columns were replaced by new, improved, more ornate cylindrical blocks.  What to do with the old columns?  Well, why not put them in a garden?  And so, eventually, the columns made their way to the National Arboretum.

It was a relatively mild winter afternoon.  The recent rains filled the reflecting pool with water and made for even more interesting photographs.  People were enjoying themselves in the warmth of the February sun.  A beautiful afternoon that surely will not be the last spent visiting this wonderful place.

DSC05478_sDSC05501_sDSC03571_sDSC03574_sDSC03583_sDSC03598_sDSC05513_sDSC03607_sDSC05524_sDSC05526_s

Delaware Sunrise

I was driving to northern New Jersey for a Christening.  I figured, what the heck, wake up early, try to get to Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge by sunrise, and watch the sun rise.  The sun and the clouds and the sky cooperated.

DSC01445_sDSC01455_sDSC01471_sDSC01475_sDSC01481_sDSC01495_s

I came for the birds, and ended up with the sun.

Cold is a relative thing

It is cold outside.  Heck, it is cold inside.  The first few days of 2018 has been some of the coldest days we have experienced in the D.C. area in quite some time.  Yesterday, I went for a short hike in the park.  After thirty minutes, I was back in my car.  I wasn’t tired.  My hands, however, were aching from being exposed to the cold air.  One of the things that I need to buy are thermal protection gloves that will allow me to take pictures in cold weather.  As it was, I had to take my gloves off every time I wanted to take a picture.

Not that there were a lot of pictures to be found.  It is important, however, to persevere and keep looking for something that may prove interesting.  Practice is important.  In any discipline.  And in photography, you need to constantly look at the world and see what pictures you see.  I must admit, the cold temperatures dulled my desire to look at every angle, at every corner, at every tree or leaf and find a different picture.  I just wanted to walk a little bit and still have fingers that I can move at the end of the day.

So here are two pictures.  Perhaps not spectacular.  Totally reflective of my mood and sentiments on the fifth day of the first month in 2018.  I’ll look at these pictures again, perhaps in the far off future.  And remember that it was cold.

And yet.  I just finished talking with my cousin in Calgary.  She said it was -22F in Calgary over the holidays.  Cold is a relative thing.  In her mind, we are probably enjoying near tropical weather.  Sixteen degrees Fahrenheit?  You think that’s cold?  I imagine that’s what she was thinking when I was complaining about the temperature.

There are things in life that are relative.  And there are things in life  that are absolutes.  It is absolutely cold.  The degree of coldness, however, is all relative.

DSC05310_s

Frozen

With most of the United States in deep freeze, why not venture out on the first day of the year and feel that cold, crisp air?  Why not.  Unfortunately, my favorite museum was closed for the day.

DSC05251_sStill, a little cold weather did not deter this man, nor did the weather deter his drinking companions.

DSC05255_sBut on this cold January day, the first day of the year, the afternoon light made this short trip to the Mall worthwhile.

DSC05267_sDSC05287_s

Aftermath

The early February 2010 winter storm paralyzed the Washington D.C. area for days.  If you didn’t have far to go, the snow made the mundane beautiful.