301: Communing with summer

Today is by far the hottest day we have had this summer.  Even early this morning it was hot and steamy, the air thick with summer.  Instead of taking my usual walk I decided today’s outdoor time would consist of finding a comfortable shady spot and learning about summer through stillness.

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144: Playing Possum

(Walking on the pond.)

Today we’re having the kind of weather that afflicts us with spring fever.  It’s in the 40s, which feels almost warm enough to break out the summer clothes.  Well, okay, maybe not quite that warm.  There is a brisk wind blowing, keeping things just slightly cooler than it feels like it should be.  The air smells fresh with the slightest scent of false springtime perfuming it.

(Not a sign of spring.)

There is so much melting and thawing going on that it sounds like there is a river running under the snow pack.  The birds sound happier than usual, and we had a most unusual visitor join us for lunch.  It was doubly unusual since this particular creature — the opossum — is nocturnal.  Perhaps the warm up confused the poor thing.

(Heading towards the woods.)

I first saw our visitor while M and I were having lunch.  It waddled up to the kennel/cage we use as a platform for one of the bird feeders.  I think it was trying to get to the suet hanging on the outside of the cage, but it walked into the cage instead and couldn’t figure out how to get to it from there.  After spending about five minutes trying to dig under the cage, it gave up and walked off to one of the bushes near the house.  I thought that was the last I’d see of it.

I went out for my walk shortly after that and guess who I met along the way?  It was our lunch guest, the opossum, strolling in the center of the pond.  It eventually made its way to the woods, but I had plenty of time to watch and take photos.  I don’t think it even noticed me there.

(Moonlit woods?)

I was in the woods shortly before spotting the opossum on the pond, having fun with different settings on my camera.  I mostly played with the white balance.

(Woods at sunset?)

The first photo of the woods was taken with the white balance set to tungsten.  For the second photo I used the open shade setting.  I also fiddled with both in Photoshop because I’m working on a series with an otherworldly feel to it.

Today is day 3 of the 10-day challenge.  I did not want to get up at 6:00am.  Nope.  Not at all.  I hadn’t slept well and wanted nothing more than to try to sleep for a few more hours.  I finally made a deal with myself.  In exchange for getting up and meeting my yoga commitment for the day, I could take a nap later.  Sometimes you have to bribe yourself with something sweet, like a nap.

(Dream sky.)

The yoga was good.  I did a hip opener series, something I badly needed.  All the cross-country skiing is good for building muscle in the lower body, but not so good for flexibility.  I felt much better by the time I finished.

No CD today.  We’re listening to Radio Paradise.

(Sky dreaming.)

Staying close to home (13)

(Last night’s sunset.)

It’s another gloomy day here in the Bogs.  The low responsible for this weather sits and spin, sits and spins, bringing the clouds and the rain and the gloominess.  But there is a beauty in it too.  Last night’s sunset is a good example of some of that beauty.

I had to stay close to the house today when I went out.  I was expecting a delivery.  As usual with this sort of thing, I had no idea when the guy would show up.  At first I thought I would sit on the porch and watch the birds in the bird bath, but after a little while I started to wander around, staying close enough to be able to hear the truck when it pulled into the driveway.

Do you remember that view above from yesterday?  No?  Here it is (with the one above for comparison):

What a difference a day makes, eh?

(Reflections on a gray day.)

One of the remarkable things about today’s outdoor experience was how quiet it was.  Not that we live in a noisy neighborhood, or not the typical kind of noisy neighborhood.  But usually there is a rooster crowing (the neighbor’s rooster crows at all hours of the day starting just before sunrise), a cow mooing, a donkey braying, a horse whinnying, or a dog barking.  That was not the case today.  It almost reminded me of how it is just after a good snowfall when the world is hushed and seemingly at peace.

(A view of the neighbor’s woods and cornfield.)

Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.

~ Stanley Horowitz

Faces from the County Fair (Part Two)

(Miss Maddy on an antique tractor.)

My favorite faces at the county fair were those of my granddaughters, Emma and Maddy.  Maddy really liked the tractor she’s sitting on in the above photo.  Her father tried moving her to other tractors but she kept wanting to come back to this one.

Almost all of the pigs were sleeping when we passed through the swine barn.  It made me wonder how much time they usually spend sleeping.

Many of the sheep were already shorn, but there was this one…

Looks like it could use a haircut.

I think one of Emma’s favorites involved the horses being put through their paces by the young girls.  I gather Emma has had a few riding lessons.

(Emma watching the horses.)

(Trotting towards the camera.)

The alpacas cracked me up.  I’d like to learn about raising alpacas.  They seem like interesting animals.

Faces from the County Fair (Part One)

It’s that time of year again.  Or rather, it was that time of year again as the fair ended yesterday.  If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that attending the Portage County Randolph Fair has become a tradition with us and with our oldest son and his family who join us each year to have a look at the animals, maybe ride a ride, maybe sample some food, and just generally enjoy the day and each others company.

Every year I find the fair to be a more interesting experience, partly because rural living has become more and more our way of life.  Not completely.  Not yet.  Probably not ever as we do enjoy certain aspects of being near a few cities that allow us to indulge in the benefits of their cultural scene.  But when you have a small amount of acreage to take care of and you realize that acreage includes other beings that depend on your good guardianship, you start to get more involved and attuned to country living.  Well, we did.  I really can’t speak for others.

In my attempts to photograph the county fair in ways that differ from previous years, I’ve found myself focusing on different aspects each year.

If you have an eye for the little details of blogging, you will have noticed that two of the categories I picked for this post are “food” and “harvest.”  That is part of the purpose of the county fair.  Animals are sold to be harvested (as food) or for reproduction or for the harvest of their milk as a result of the reproduction.  Auctions take place throughout the week.  While browsing through the swine area I noticed that some of the pigs were going for $1.45/lb.  The Big Pig went for $13.00/lb.

That’s some pig.

I suppose a disclaimer is in order so here goes:  I did not take these photos with the intent to pass on some sort of message.  I took them as part of my own learning process in life, healthful living, and photography.  If you find some sort of statement or message in them, that’s cool.  But that’s also your interpretation.  I’m still working on mine.  I am, as someone once said, a work in progress.

Usually when I take photos of animals I try to encompass the entire body.  Last year I started to focus on faces but quit after a few shots, deciding to try it again another time as it didn’t seem to be working out.

The cows, both dairy and beef, don’t seem to be the Happy Cows as advertised on television (perhaps because they are not living in California where, it seems, all of the happy creatures live).  But it could be they would prefer to be on the farm and not at the fair getting gawked at by crowds of people.

Sometimes they gawk back.

The girls (my granddaughters) enjoyed looking at and petting the animals.  Miss Madison Grace in particular got very excited over some of the sheep and pigs.  She showed no fear when it came to reaching out and touching the animals, no matter how big they were.

The Scottish Highland cattle are my favorites, in part because Scotland has been (so far) one of my favorite countries to visit.  I like their long hair, long horns, and their long and beautiful eyelashes.  I like that they remind me of seeing them in the Highlands of Scotland, grazing amongst all that rugged beauty.  Right above them (at the fair)  there is a sign which states “Freezer Beef.”  I’ve taken pictures of the calves — usually stationed below the sign — in previous years.

It is, to me, an enlightening experience to look into the eyes of the animals I photographed on this visit to the fair.  Not that I haven’t looked before.  It was different this time although I still can’t pinpoint the how’s or why’s of it.

I’ll be back with a few more faces from the fair tomorrow.


(129:  Toad.  Photo © 2009 by Robin)