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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Chives in bloom

I don't normally think about the beauty of flowering herbs or vegetables, but if there's anything that my fellow photographers have taught me, it's that beauty is all around us.

These chive blossoms are such an unusual colour - they stand out among the greens in the vegetable garden. These are probably the last of the blue flowers until the chicory blooms n August.

If you have chives, pluck the blossoms and put them in a jar of white vinegar for a week or two. You'll end up with a gently scented vinegar that has just a touch of purple colour. Strain the flowers out before it gets too strong. Merci beaucoup, Hélène!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Skywatch Friday

Not taken today; it's been rainy this week. This was taken at the end of a glorious week of summer sun. Summer? Yes, that's what it seemed like. Fortunately for the gardens, Spring has returned with a bit of rain to help those plants grow!

This was taken on one of the ridges above the Mohawk River valley to the west of me. In Rotterdam Junction, to be somewhat accurate.

See all the participants over at the Skywatch Friday page. Definitely worth a visit.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


A close up of one of the irises in the front garden. It's interesting how all the separate plants know that they should bloom at the exact same moment.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lily of the Valley

We are a little behind Eric's Le Muguet, but Lily of the Valley do bloom here. And they smell wonderful, too. Very fragrant. If you decide to grow these, be aware that they spread readily to other parts of the garden - you may see these everywhere in your garden within a few years!

I don't know of any traditions regarding Lily of the Valley. I was fascinated to read Eric's account. I also had no idea they were poisonous until I looked them up.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Roku eats chives

It's no mistake. Roku is a Japanese Chin dog, and he likes flowers. His favourites are dandelions and chives. Our chives have spread about and there is a clump hanging over the sidewalk and he grabs one just about every time he goes by.

That dog loves his veggies!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Tiny crab

This fellow was washed up by the waves and seemed to be a bit dried out when I found him. I have no idea what he is other than a crab of some sort. I'd say he's about as large as a US quarter dollar coin.

We re-hydrated him in a container and then put him back after taking his portrait.

Photo taken in New London, CT at the Ocean Beach Park.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sea gooseberry

Last week, I spent some time in Connecticut, in the Mystic area. Naturally, we spent some time at the seashore. My little one was fascinated by these clear blobs washed up on the beach. I didn't know much about them, only that they hadn't stung me when I was a child, and so I let him pick them up. This is a close-up of one.

My research (thank heaven for the Internet!) tells me that this is a sea gooseberry, scientific name Pleurobrachia pileus - one of a very large group of comb jellies. As far as botanists are concerned, these creatures are not jellyfish. Great. Now I have to undo 40+ years of misinformation!

We tried to bring some home in a jar, but they disintegrated overnight, so I didn't get many photographs of them. It was very difficult to focus in the bright sunlight, but the adventure of picking them up and putting them in tide pools was well worth our time. Especially when Mommy got that look on her face... Boys can be so gross sometimes!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Fair winds and following seas...

I've been away for a bit and this is the reason why. There is a connection to the area. Current US submarines are nuclear powered - that is, they use a nuclear reactor to make steam (to make electricity, not bombs) - and the research facility for naval reactors is quite close to my house. Additionally, the Navy has a reactor prototype facility about a half hour away. A fair number of Navy submariners are in the area, despite being some 200 miles from the sea.

My oldest is a sailor in the US Navy, and his submarine is deploying, so I took a trip to say hello and goodbye. It's a very bittersweet moment. I watched for a long, long time.

Fair winds and following seas.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


A very quiet place and very still water. This is a stream, and we haven't had rain in a few days, so it's a little low and not running very fast. Perfect for a still-life portrait.

And reflection.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Fallen tree

Judging by the amount of moss on the underside of this tree, it's been on its side for a long, long time. But it hasn't given up - all along its length, new sprouts are rising up, reaching out and growing.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Skunk cabbage and violets

Was there ever a more unexpected combination? Growing in and among the skunk cabbages are these beautiful, delicate violets. More than that, these are white violets, not the typical dark blue violets we see so many of.

The violets have such a delicate fragrance and the skunk cabbages... well, don't break one and you won't have to learn about their smell!

This scene looks like a terrarium to me. It was an overcast day. The tree branches are just beginning to bud, and the light is filtered perfectly, evenly, wonderfully down to the forest floor.

This is on the bank of the Cowhorn Creek, literally in the middle of the city. This spot is no more than 4 blocks from the busiest streets in Schenectady. Well, assuming you climbed the hundred feet or so out of the valley. But there's almost no traffic noise down here, it's easy to completely forget that I'm in the city at all, and imagine I'm in a primeval forest.

I haven't figured out how to get good photos of the birds down here yet, so that's why there haven't been any. Photos, that is. Birds there are aplenty. I saw 2 species of woodpecker, robins, cardinals, several varieties of finches I couldn't name, chickadees, nuthatches, sparrows, mallard ducks and wood ducks. No Canada geese though - they've found better feeding grounds by now.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Purple Trillium

This is a purple Trillium. I looked it up, and found out it's also called wake-robin. I didn't know that. I tried to capture a fairly representative image of the entire plant in situ rather than do my typical macro image.

This is a cluster of trillium plants growing on a hillside a few feet off the path in Vale Park. It would be easy to walk past these and never notice them, which is probably good for them since picking them can damage the plant to the point where they can die (I didn't know that either.)

This spot is quite shady, with a full canopy overhead (well, it will be full when the leaves all come in!) and well drained. I wonder if the leaf litter helps protect them from the winter's chill?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Flowering crab apple

I miss all the flowers, so I've been like a madman taking their portrait everywhere I see them. These are ornamental crab apples of some kind. I tried to look them up, but there are too many for me to make sense of which is which!

These are definitely apples though, because they smell wonderful.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Strawberries and violets

The vegetable garden has started flowering! Are strawberries considered a vegetable? I don't know, but they come back year after year, like the violets, and like the violets, they're in bloom!

Nature is wonderful - all this beauty in just a few feet of soil in the middle of the city.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Theme day - Shadows

It's the first of the month, and that means that it is Theme Day for people in the City Daily Photo community. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants

This is me, standing on the remains of the old fortification on the Mohawk River in the Stockade district. The stone blocks I'm standing on used to be the basis of a fort protecting the river. Fort might be too generous here - gun emplacement might be more accurate. Anyway, there is a similar stone setting across the river and a long chain was stretched between them in order to block passage of hostile boats. I'm not sure how many hostile boats there were back then, or how many times those guns were used, but today, this spot is a fine place to watch the river.

This particular photo was taken just after the last ice moved down the river. There is so much silt in the river from all the melting snow that it almost looks like soil! Sometimes, when the ice jams up on the bridges downstream, the spot where I'm standing is covered by the swollen river. Thankfully, no problems this year.
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