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Posts Tagged ‘Close-up photography’

This past Saturday, while sitting in my kitchen sipping tea, I heard this thud and wondered what it could be. I did assume that something had fallen down but I had no clue what it might be.  But later, as I began mowing grass in my back lawn, there sat a little red breasted nuthatch and I knew then what the thud was, this little bird as it hit a window or the side of my home!

When this happens during the winter months, I usually collect the little birds and cup them in my hands until they warm up and recover. But this was the first day of September and really quite warm. Still, I did not want the little bird to be in danger of my mower or a cat or any other predator. I decided to collect it in my hands anyway and hold it until it had recovered from the shock.

Well, apparently, it had recovered for the most part because it quickly slipped from my hands, landing on my shoulder. I stood very still for a time and when the bird did not seem in much hurry to leave, I decided to take a photograph of it sitting there rather calmly, giving me close inspection!

This photo was taken (slowly so as not to scare the little guy) using my cell phone camera.

After a time, though, I felt that I needed to get back to mowing grass and I gently gave the little tyke the boot.

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And Spring I got!

I've already begun thinning the seedlings, but, I must admit that this is the hardest step for me. It just breaks my heart to do it even though I know that if I don't, there won't be room for the root (radish) bulb to swell.

I've already begun thinning the seedlings, but, I must admit that this is the hardest step for me. It just breaks my heart to do it even though I know that if I don't, there won't be room for the root (radish) bulb to swell.

Not too shabby for seed that’s nearly four years old, eh?

And, while Mother Nature and Old Man Winter have still not worked out their differences, fortunately, there are still plenty of other signs of Spring. Snowdrops are peaking through piles of dirty snow, the maple sugar sap has been flowing for a few weeks now and the daytime temperatures are hovering around the 45° to 50°F (sometimes even 55° and 60°F) range a bit more often than not. It won’t be long now before I can start working on my deck garden again. … Hmm! I think I’ll have to visit a local garden center pretty soon. … Then again, my houseplants, especially my maternal grandfather’s Christmas Cactus, could use some TLC too!

My grandfather passed away in September of 1984 and I became custodian of his Christmas Cactus. But, believe it or not, I've already repotted this plant several times, just not lately! As you can see, it is desperate need of repotting again.

My grandfather passed away in September of 1984 and I became custodian of his Christmas Cactus. But, believe it or not, I've already repotted this plant several times, just not lately! As you can see, it is in desperate need of repotting again.

The need to repot is especially noticeable here. See how small the "leaves" are? Notice another difference? In the shape of the "leaves" ... the one on the left is a November or Thanksgiving Cactus and the one on the right is a December or Christmas Cactus.

The need to repot is especially noticeable here. See how small the "leaves" are? Notice another difference? In the shape of the "leaves" ... the one on the left is a November or Thanksgiving Cactus and the one on the right is a December or Christmas Cactus.

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This past May, with much sadness and disappointment, one of my all time favorite magazines titled Wildlife Art, ceased publication. Perhaps what makes this an even sadder event for me, at least, is the fact that it was this magazine that was the first to publish a nature photograph of mine with a byline as well as a few Field Notes and even a Letter to the Editor.

Nature's Perfection Magnified appeared in the September/October 1998 issue of Wildlife Art magazine.

Nature's Perfection Magnified by Janet P. Wilkins appeared in the September/October 1998 issue of Wildlife Art magazine.

But, what makes Wildlife Art‘s disappearance even worse is that for wildlife or nature art enthusiasts like myself, Wildlife Art magazine was an invaluable source of information; everything from listings of new original art or prints, gallery and exhibit announcements, artist accomplishments, upcoming competitions, etc. No doubt, other art magazines and art websites will take up at least some of the slack; in fact, some have already begun to do so. But Wildlife Art magazine was so much more; it was a beautiful print publication, one whose issues became “collectables” in their own right! To put it another way, Wildlife Art magazine had, at one time, been all things to all lovers of the wildlife and nature art genres.

So, what part can I play now? Well, while I certainly can’t do all that Wildlife Art magazine managed, I can, like those aforementioned other art magazines and websites, contribute to taking up at least some of the slack too. Thus, to begin, I have already created a new page for this blog where I will post contact information, due dates and websites (when one is available) to those conservation stamp art competitions that are open to all. Later, I will create other new pages for some of the wildlife and nature art exhibits and calls for entries as the information is made available or, to be more accurate, as I find the information. Actually, to some extent, I’ve been doing this all along for a few competitions and exhibits; they are listed in my blogroll. I feel that this is a good start! And, as time goes on, I’m sure that I will find many more ways in which I can contribute too.

Finally, to those of you planning on entering a few of these competitions, may I wish you all the best of luck!

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Wow! I just can’t believe that I let nearly two seasons pass before changing my header image!

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Here in New England, early summer already promised to be an exceptional year for flowers and fruit. Case in point, elderberry.

You see, one morning, while I was out back beside the big bird feeder (aka, squirrel and deer feeder), tossing out some stale bread for the birds, I noticed these tall shrubs with large bunches of tiny white flowers.

Now, I knew that elderberry was “present” in New England but, I’d never really seen it before. Well, maybe I had seen it but I didn’t really know what it looked like. So, naturally, after photographing the flowers, I looked them up in one of my field guides.

Well, I’ve always known that you could make elderberry wine or jelly from the berries but, I didn’t know that you can eat the flowers in pancakes and fritters too. I chose to wait until the berries formed and, maybe, just maybe I’d try my hand at making elderberry wine!

Right, … not so fast! This morning, I decided to check out the berries’ progress and, while I did find a few bunches of berries …

The droplets of water are courtesy of hurricane Hannah.

The droplets of water are courtesy of hurricane Hannah.

The vast majority of the “bunches” looked more like this!

Oh well! Truth be told, I’ve never made any wine before nor have I ever tasted elderberry wine. (I am somewhat partial to the sweet or semi-sweet dessert wines, though. Could someone tell me if elderberry wine is a sweet or semi-sweet wine? Maybe it’s neither?) On the other hand, it says in my field guide, that “bark, root, leaves, and unripe berries toxic; said to cause cyanide poisoning, severe diarrhea.” 😯

I think I’ll pass on the elderberry wine making for now!!! 😉

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Whoa! I sure can tell by my blog stats that I haven’t been blogging for a while! I’ll give a brief explanation for my absence in a bit. But, hey, first things first! Let’s start with revisiting a couple of my past entries like the one I called A Confederate Soldier.

William Buckner Taylor was described as a young man of “light complexion, light hair and gray eyes, his height was 5′ 5 1/2 inches.” When he enlisted at “Pinner’s Point, Norfolk County, … VA on February 19, 1862[,]” he was just 18 years old and listed his occupation as a laborer.

Mr. Taylor was first captured on “July 3rd, 1863 at Gettysburg and sent to Point Lookout, Maryland[.]” On February 18th, 1865, he was exchanged but then recaptured “on April 1, 1865 at Five Forks, and released on June 20, 1865 from Hart’s Island, New York.”

Where Mr. Taylor lived and worked, met his wife and raised his family between 1865 and 1900, I cannot say at this time. However, in the 1900 census, Mr. Taylor is listed as a stone mason and widower, “age 59, birth is listed as Feb 14, 1841[.]” This means that he should have been 21 years old instead of 18 years old at the time of his enlistment and that the date on his headstone is incorrect too. But, if you’ve ever tried researching your own family history, you would know that these discrepancies are quite common.

Living in his household in Topsfield, MA, according to the 1900 census, were his children,

“Mary B Taylor, age 15, birth April 28, 1885, born in MA
Lilian B Taylor, age 13, birth November 20, 1887, born in MA
William O. Taylor, age 6, birth March 27, 1894, born in MA”

And, by the 1910 census, William Buckner Taylor was listed “as a boarder in the home of Norman McLeod [in Topsfield], his age is listed as 69.”

Mr. Taylor passed away in 1911 and while he is buried in Topsfield, MA, “[t]here is a memorial marker to him located in Oak Grove Cemetery, Portsmouth, Va.”

Oh yes! About that grave marker … this “is a military headstone, provided by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. They will provide a headstone when one is not present for a veteran of the Civil War, both Confederate and Union, … [although] who requested it, I can’t tell you, … [i]t could be that a Son’s of Union Veteran’s could have requested it.”

—Cynthia Buck-Thompson [Personal email, June 8 and 9, 2008]

***

Cynthia Buck-Thompson is a Civil War Living Historian as well as “the family genealogist.” Her husband reenacts with the 9th Virginia, Company B as well as Artillery for the Maryland Park Service.

I’d like to thank Cindy for all the work she did to answer my questions, every bit of the information listed here has been provided by Cindy.

***

Another entry that I’d like to revisit is the one that I called Spring Greens, especially, the part in which I mentioned the rhododendrons at Bradley Palmer State Park. They weren’t in bloom back in April and, thus, I was unable to post any photographs on my blog. So, I wrote “I promise not to let you down. I will keep track of their progress and take many photos to post when the time is right.”

Well, I did keep track. The “buds” seemed to be many, the only “flaw” I expected was the fact that some heavy pruning had been done among the lower branches. Still, new growth was appearing and I fully expected that the shear number of blossoms would be enough to “detract” from the pruning.

Unfortunately, by mid-June, when the parks’ rhododendrons should have been in all their glory, … well, … much to my surprise, not to mention my disappointment, there were barely a handful of blossoms! Oh, there were plenty of buds that had opened up, but few of those buds had any blossoms to show. I just couldn’t believe my eyes!

Perhaps, even stranger still, was the fact that, back in April, I had taken a couple of cuttings from the rhododendrons. (Now, before you all come down on me for taking cuttings of plants in a state park, please remember that these rhododendrons are hardly “wild.” Bradley Palmer State Park was once the estate of its namesake, “a noted attorney of the early 1900s who represented Sinclair Oil in the Teapot Dome Scandal and President Wilson at the Versailles Peace Conference after the First World War.” These rhododendrons were purposely placed to “line old carriage roads.” Besides, remember that the rhododendrons had already been heavily pruned! Apparently, though, their caretakers forgot to fertilize them. [Bradley Palmer State Park])

When I got the cuttings back home, I placed them in a vase then placed the vase in my bay window. But, for weeks, nothing happened. The cuttings didn’t die but the buds didn’t swell either. Then, about the beginning to the middle of June, suddenly the buds just shot up and opened up and I had rhododendron blossoms in my bay window!

Is that not weird or what? Did I have a premonition of sorts? I mean, really, the only other explanation that I can give you is that I did fertilize the cuttings, albeit with an indoor plant food, but still!

***

Okay, now about that brief explanation for my absence from blogging these past few weeks.

You see, I am fast approaching a very special anniversary. On August 27, 2008, I will become a five-year breast cancer survivor and, while I am just thrilled to pieces to be reaching this milestone, as I reflect on how far I’ve come in these past five years, I’ve also become acutely aware that I have not taken as good care of myself as I had promised I would do once I was finished with therapy. Oh, don’t get me wrong now, I haven’t fallen to pieces altogether! But, once in a while, we all need to step back and take a good look at where we’ve been and where we want to take our lives next. Fact is, this was just the perfect time for me to do that!

So, what more can I say? I’ve had my break from blogging, I’ve made some new plans, including some new ideas for this blog, and, … well, … I’m back! I sincerely hope you’ll all forgive me for my absence and, I certainly hope to see you all return too.

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Have you noticed how the common names of plants sometimes depend on where you live? Okay! Now, I know you’re probably thinking, “well, that was an obvious statement.” But, when I say it depends on where you live, I don’t mean that you must live great distances apart like from the east coast to the west coast or from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico. No, when I say it depends on where you live, I mean as in my situation, in the same state, just a few miles apart, from inland to along the coast!

Take, for example, a rose whose Latin name is Rosa rugosa. Inland, they’re called a wrinkled rose but, along the coast, they’re called a beach rose. Same clothes, different label. Go figure!

But, what is even more amazing, is just how much this rose seems to LOVE neglect. Heck, I think it even LOVES abuse! I mean, really, what other plant does not want any TLC? Especially a rose! I have two of these rose bushes in my yard and nearly killed them when I tried to rid them of ants. And the plants along the coast? They endure salt spray and salty sand. I think that’s just INCREDIBLE!

Just take a look at this beach rose blossom! And look at those healthy leaves!

And when I say along the coast, I don’t mean just in the vicinity, I mean right along the shoreline as in this next photo!

Oh! How I wish I could include the fragrance of these rose blossoms in this post! It is pure heaven! 😀

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