No record this year

shamrock flower in late autumnLast year, I was making it a point to post more than I had any year earlier, and did indeed reach that mark, just a few days past this date last year. It is safe to say that I won’t be setting any records this year, since with this one I am 44 posts away, and I don’t see me knocking out, like, three posts a day from here on.

The move to a new house had a lot to do with this, as did the fewer subjects I was finding in the immediate vicinity. The cold snaps that hit the rest of the country have not avoided this area either, and they’ve served to render a lot of things dormant earlier than usual. One exception (I think, anyway – I wasn’t paying close attention last year to their behavior) has been The Girlfriend’s Younger Sprog’s shamrock plants, which have bravely staggered through the frosts that decimated many of the other plants and are still, somehow, pushing out blooms, albeit rather weakly. There are more trees in this yard, and the dead leaves are a thick carpet that can only be cleared away for roughly two hours or so.

Finding subjects to shoot in these conditions has been rather challenging, and this holds especially true for sessions with students – not just the subjects themselves are scarce, but the background conditions, framing opportunities and contrasting colors and whatnot, are also harder to find. While I am more inclined to shoot little tableaux instead of wider landscape or scenic images anyway, right now there really isn’t much of a choice; thus, students are almost forced to adopt my style, ha ha!

So for the most part, I am engaged in winter and christmas projects, writing, and odds & ends around the house – nothing worth blogging about, though I suppose I could take a bunch of pictures of my food, and put on a wool cap (or “beanie,” whatever) and do selfies. Cast your vote in the comments…

oak-leaf hydrangea Hydrangea quercifolia in autumn colorsBut I can put up a couple of images between long-winded posts, like this oak-leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) found at the botanical garden. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in late fall, and I really like the effect – the leaves have a rich variety of colors, almost like those cheesy plastic fall decorations you can get at lame stores, only real and alive. I might have to look into planting some of these around here in the spring, since they seem to do well in shade. That’s kind of a prerequisite with this house, where large portions of the property get no direct sunlight, or little patches falling between trees that traverse the yard during the day (the patches, not the trees – those apparently only walk around when I’m not looking.) I have been making lists of plants that don’t need much sunlight to flesh out my vegetation options.

This year is virtually guaranteed to produce at least a couple of decent snowfalls here in NC, and I’ve got a few locations lined up which might prove interesting in such conditions, so we’ll see what happens. That’s the only thing I can tolerate about snow – I don’t do winter sports (or any kind,) don’t hunt, don’t ice-fish (or any kind,) and The Girlfriend and The Sprog don’t even want to get into snowball fights. The only thing I can say in favor is that this area is a lot safer for winter driving than the previous one; almost no hills, and roads which are likely to receive attention (what passes for it in NC, anyway) much sooner. There remains a possibility that I could have to go up to central New York at some point, not something to look forward to, and it’s unlikely that I’d have the time to shoot any scenic photos while there, either. That’s even if there was a proper snowfall during my visit, and not the typical grey skies over dirty, unmelting snow and plow icebergs that fill so much of my childhood winter memories. Floridians can get pretty snarky about the snowbirds (northern tourists) that visit during the winter months, but they don’t know what happens to your mood when you spend nineteen days out of every twenty with no sunlight. It’s not good.

[Floridians often have this big thing about being ‘native,’ rather than a transplant, and when someone says they’ve spent their whole life in Florida, it’s a matter of pride, and sometimes arrogance. It’s quite amusing, really.]

long-jawed orb weaver Tetragnatha on dead branches in still waterI’m continually impressed with the cold-weather hardiness of spiders. Last winter, I kept observing tiny green lynx spiders that would vanish with the snow and ice storms, only to reappear as soon as the stuff had melted. And while wandering around looking for pics recently, there were virtually no arthropods to be seen, even in the botanical garden (I spotted two, instead of the typical dozens,) but these branches clawing their way from a still pond sported a few very active long-jawed orb weavers (Tetragnatha.) There’s only one visible in this image, even if you think you see another – that’s just the reflection in the cooperatively placid water. And as tiny as it is in the pic, it’s hard to miss, isn’t it? Framing and contrast, framing and contrast…

I’ll keep looking for pics of interest (well, that I find interesting,) but I’m not expecting a whole lot now until spring. There’s still a zoo trip that may occur, and it’s been a while since I’ve been to the NC Museum of Life & Science, so perhaps I can get something in before the end of the year. We’ll see what happens, I guess.