Thursday, November 22, 2007

Winter Wings

Outside the window, my world has been transformed.

Winter is my least favourite season, and November my least preferred month. Typically it's dreary, barren and cold. The bright leaves of October have usually disappeared and the beauty of a first snowfall has yet to revive the stark, bare branches and long-dead grass.

This year is different.

Two days ago the park pathways shared the colours of a lingering autumn as the sun lit up the leaves - some still clinging to branches but most blanketing the still-green grass. There had been a steady rain overnight and early morning, and they glistened with vivid hues in the late-day sun. The birds and squirrels were busy - anticipating colder days ahead.

Yesterday rained all day long. It was a steady, bone-chilling, windy sort of downpour, and overnight it turned to freezing rain. This morning, most everything was covered with a layer of crusty ice. Since the temperatures have been dropping steadily, the sleet has since turned to snow.

Oh there's hardly any serious accumulation - less than a centimetre on the ground, but it's enough to get kids out scraping up snowballs. And it's enough to convince the neighbourhood creatures that they'd better start stocking up for the cold season ahead.

On the weekend, we bought a bird feeder and loaded it up with a combination of seeds. Within the hour, we were rewarded with several species of birds, greedily pecking at each of the four stations that the feeder provides. They continue to flitter about rapidly, challenging me to snap a clear, crisp shot. So far they're winning.

This year, I'm looking forward to the impending winter. Check with me again come February or March, and I might feel otherwise, but I suspect this season is going to be better than in past years. I feel as if I have a new set of eyes with which to see the surrounding changes. Despite the limited distance between the camera's lens and its subject, there lies a brand new frontier to discover.

I intend to be outside doing just that.

I'll save winter photos for a more notable snowfall. Below are some images that were taken this past week.

The muted shades of autumn provided a beautiful backdrop for the bare trees. It reminded me of a water colour painting.

A cardinal watches me closely from a high branch.

As the trees shed their leaves, the green grass came alive with colour. Here a golden oak leaf glows in the last rays of the warming sun.

The setting sun envelopes and warms this duck. Doesn't she have a coy expression?

A few hours after the rain, droplets of water still clung to the sheltered trees.

Pink and rusty-red appear in the same plant. Nature takes more chances than fashion designers do.

This lovely little mockingbird flew directly into my line of vision and landed on a nearby branch. He appeared unafraid of me and very curious, allowing me to take several shots before he flew off again. My spirits took wing alongside him.

Feed me, I'm yours!

Tired of waiting their turn at the feeder, this civilized trio opted to eat a formal dinner at the table.

Skittles takes a break from standing guard over the constant flutter of birds.

The near-full hazy moon as seen through a tree by my house.


Anonymous said...

We call that period between coloured leaves and falling snow "stick season" here in The Sticks :o))

As we were admiring your picture of Skittles, Q suddenly realized that he was on sentry duty, ran to the window and started to bark at the snow.

Hilary said...

Hi anonymous Cuzzies in Vermont!

Glad to hear that Quintzy is enjoying the snow and it sounds like "stick season" (an apt description) is behind you. :)

Frank Baron said...

Some wonderful shots there Hilary. I especially like the one with the trees against the dim-but-somehow-still-vivid backdrop. Almost northern light-ish. :)

Hilary said...

Thanks, Frank. I kinda thought you'd like that one. :) I hope to see Northern lights like that one. I know they can be very colourful, but I've only seen the very pale white-ish kind.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely beautiful pictures. I'm in awe!

We filled all four of our feeders yesterday morning and this afternoon they are already empty. It looks to be a long winter.

Wayne said...

That's a great post Hilary. Excellent pictures and commentary, and oh the birds... love the birds. The 'watercolor' tree shot is great. And your cat can come and hang at my house any time! Love cats.

Reb said...

Beautiful! All the pictures, the writing, everything! Now I know what a mockingbird looks like. You will have to go visit my sister and see the Northern lights from her place. I only get greens here, but up there they get pinks and yellows too.

Crabby McSlacker said...

Wow, just beautiful. Can't wait for your snow pictures either, as snow is something we don't get to see where I live.

Thanks so much for sharing those gorgeous photos!

Hilary said...

Thanks so much, Gawilli.

Those are some hungry birds. Thanks for stopping by.

Hi Wayne,

Thanks for your kind words. I think I'll hang onto my cats but there's a Jack Russell Terrier going real cheap! ;)

Hi Reb,

I didn't know what the bird was myself. I checked with a bird enthusiast that I know from around my neighbourhood and he identified him for me. Those northern lights sound like they'd be wonderful. Maybe one day.. :)


Thank you so much. I'm glad you enjoyed the pics. Unless it's a particularly mild season, I'm sure you'll see lots of snowy photos. But you'll see plenty of the real thing once you're in your new east coast home.

Anonymous said...

Great photos!

They don't get me excited about winter though....

Kappa no He said...

Beautiful!! and they DO get me excited about winter. Although we don't get snow in these parts. I miss snow...and the Northern Lights too.

Anonymous said...

November in Texas is usually pretty wonderful. Sunny, chilly with leaves a'blowing all the only Fall Color we ever get arrives right around the end of October. Dark and rainy days like today are rare, but do bring on a sense of melancholy. Winter gets old pretty quickly here, but because our summers are so incredibly brutal (110-113 degrees, anyone?) we dream of days that require us to wear a coat and give our eyes a rest from the unyielding sun. Love your pictures.

Hilary said...

Thanks, Susan,

I can't say I really blame you for that. Maybe the next set.. ;)

Thank you Kappa no he,

I'm willing to share some snow with you. Where were you living before you settled in Japan?

Hilary said...

Ooops Wordgirl, you snuck in there while I was responding to other comments.

Thanks so much for your kind words and colourful description of November in Texas... though I wouldn't mind a bit of that unyielding sunshine of summer to get me through the season.

Thanks for stopping by. :)

Sweet and Salty said...

Amazing photos! I'm so very impressed by your artistry with a camera and your photos give me ideas about how to improve my picture taking, so thanks.

I love winter, but then, my circumstances are different. I spent my childhood in South Florida so I love the four seasons and the beautiful colours of fall, the snowfall of winter, etc...

Take care

awannabe said...

I've never seen a cardinal that color before. What is it called? I love the
muted colors of the photo. It would be nice to have a puzzle made from it.

Hilary said...

Well thank you Pavel,

I'm just beginning to learn about photography and I'm finding that visiting other photo blogs helps with ideas and perspective. I never considered that mine might be one of those for someone else. I appreciate your kind words. :)

Hi Awannabe,

I think it's called "female." ;)

The male Northern Cardinals are the bright red ones, and the females are mostly kind of a tan colour, but have kind of red-tinged head, wings and tail feathers. Plus she was in shadow, so kind of difficult to get a clear concept of how she looks.

And yes, there are just enough muted colours to drive me crazy in a puzzle. :)

the Bag Lady said...

As usual, the Bag Lady is sucking the hind tit...she's been waiting and waiting for the photos to load (her computer is slower than normal today - must be the cold weather!)
Anytime you want to come and view the Northern Lights up here (where they truly are goregous!), come ahead! The Bag Lady has a guest room...

Hilary said...

Thanks for the invite Baggie.. if I'm ever out your way, I'll be sure to stop by. :)

Have those photos loaded for you yet?

photowannabe said...

this is a stupendous series of shots. I love them all and especially the "watercolor" shots with the silhouettes of the trees.
Really good stuff Hilary.

Hilary said...

Thank you Photowannabe,

I appreciate your kind words. Your own photos always stand catch my eye too.