Sunday, December 31, 2017

Solstice and more

There were good intentions to put up a post to acknowledge the solstice on December 21 but, alas, they remained intentions. However here we are. Can you guess I am quite taken by this constant visitor to the backyard? It is fascinating to watch this hawk as it moves from spot to spot in the yard doubtless seeking food. Despite the amazing head movements by the bird I have yet to see it actually find a meal but it does get an A+ for perseverance.
 The snow on December 9 was just enough to make it fun to photograph and not enough to have to deal with shoveling.
 Trees without their leaves can look quite splendid in a light snowfall at this time of the year.
 By December 16 the snow was well gone and it was time for the delayed final cleanup and cutback of the garden for the winter. Someone forgot to tell the iris it is not time to be sprouting just yet.
 The nandina is wearing it's best look although the berries are not prolific this year.
 The lights for the porch tree were finally located and installed.
 When the hawk sits on the branch above the suet feeder even the woodpeckers beat a hasty retreat.
 It has been quite some time since I did some indoor photo setups. The aim here was to show that I was keeping the light of hope on for someone who was at a particularly low point in his cancer battle.
 Thinking the photo might not be enough we decided to take a trip into DC and visit the Basilica there to light a candle and say a prayer for John to get through his current crisis. December 22 was such a pretty day to visit and we could still walk outside without having to don all the heavy coats, hats and gloves that are now needed.
December 24th and it was time for tea and cookies for me, never mind Santa!
 We made a short trip to Latrobe PA to visit family and saw the most amazing sunset on December 27. Do notice that bright outline to the clouds just above the horizon. But oh my, was it cold.
To close I am leaving you with this candle of hope for peace and happiness in 2018.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Strolling Through the Seasons

 How do you mark the progression from one season to another? In the Fall I watch out for the first pickup truck with a snowplow in front and a salt spreader on back because I use that as an indicator that winter weather must be upon us. But this year I saw that in mid November and it is only today that we have had the first snow. But I guess that goes with the holiday sales that used to start the day after Thanksgiving now starting a couple of weeks before, the piped Christmas and holiday music showing up in the malls and on the radio in mid November and the general cranking up of the frenzy meters whereever you turn.

So yes, today, conveniently a Saturday, we had the first snow of the season. Flakes have been falling here since about 8.30am but the roads remain clear and the big snowplow trucks remain mostly idling at key intersections.
 My Fall tableau on November 20, before the snow but after the first killing frost.
 For a couple of weeks in November we had this lovely redtailed hawk hanging out in our backyard. Great camouflage don't you think?
 Another visitor was one from the large herd of deer that we seem to have around just now. Note the single antler!
 The day after Thanksgiving we took a metro ride into DC to stroll about and enjoy the seasonal views. The day was brilliant with sunshine and our first stopover at the Botanic Garden was cut short as we did not want to stand in the long line of visitors waiting to get in to see the model train display. Instead we strolled on with ample time to stop for photo opportunities. Here, of course, is the US Capitol building.
 Part of our focus on this trip was to follow the path of the Presidential Inaugural Parade route taken every four years in January. Here we paused at the National Gallery of Art East Building to admire the play of sunshine and shadow along with the contrast of the orange Fall foliage and the amazing sky color.
 Strolling on down Pennsylvania Ave we took a sidestep into Pershing Park where (the statue of)  General John J. Perhsing, General of the Armies in World War I, was gazing out at the beginning of the sunset.
 By the time we got to the north side of the White House the light was beginning to go. Turning so the Eisenhower Executive Office Building was to our backs we were treated to this lovely sight as the setting sun lit up these trees to beautiful effect on the corner of Pennsylvania Ave and Jackson Place.
 Five days later we headed into DC agin; this time we chose a weekeday when maybe the crowds would not be quite as great. We stopped for a late lunch at an outdoor refreshment stand on the National Mall. While my companion waited in line to get our food I had fun with this cheeky starling who was waiting just inches from our table.
 That day was not the brilliant blue day of the previous week and there was a strong breeze blowing for much of the time. Leaves were cascading all over the place and there was a clear difference in the tree foliage from only five days previous.
 Now at home it is time for the Christmas season. I am thrilled by how well this wreath looks on my green front door today.
This season it seems more urgent than usual to hope and pray for peace. Please join me in a fervent wish for peace on earth and goodwill to all.