Jun 8, 2009
Last weekend while I was visiting my family in Columbus, Ohio, my mom and I visited the yellow-crowned night herons that nest above a quiet suburban street in nearby Bexley, as I’ve blogged before. It’s something we do nearly every time I visit in the summer time, and I’m always amazed that such odd and interesting birds would choose to nest above a residential street. Bexley is a quiet neighborhood, but still: there certainly are quieter, less-populated places for a couple of secretive wading birds to perch and preen.
But apparently I don’t think like a bird. Yesterday here in Newton, I saw two red-tailed hawks perched at the top of a tall conifer not far from the Waban T-station: a sometimes bustling spot. Although I’ve seen a lone red-tail in the vicinity and assumed he or she had a mate somewhere, I didn’t expecte to see the two of them perched side-by-side, quietly calling to one another while I walked the dog far below.
I know there are wild turkeys in suburban Newton as well as the occasional great-horned owl…but an encounter with one of these wild things always catches me by surprise. Being accustomed to seeing Newton, Keene, or even Columbus as being “my” human habitat, it’s easy to forget that other beings share our space. The very fact that humans are largely oblivious to the wild things in their midst–especially if those wild things perch quietly overhead, far above the comings and goings of earth-bound bipeds–makes a quiet suburban street or subway right-of-way a surprisingly apt place for otherwise secretive birds. I’m well accustomed to watching my back when I walk the rough streets of my parents’ gang-infested neighborhood, but now I know I should keep my head up even when I roam the lush and leafy suburbs.
May 24, 2009
Not long after I’d questioned the merit of short picture-posts, real life pulled me away from my laptop, precluding even those. But this week’s Photo Friday theme, Shiny, is an excellent excuse to share this image of the shiny metallic tables and neon-bright chairs at the new neighborhood ice cream parlor, a place which provides tasty treats for the eyes as well as the tongue.
May 18, 2009
This past week I haven’t felt like taking the time to blog; instead, I’ve been doing other things. But I’ve still carried my camera with me everywhere I’ve gone, snapping photos here and there as I feel like it. These aren’t photos I took with some specific bloggable purpose in mind; they are simply photos I snapped because at the time, I saw something that struck my fancy.
Many of the photos I’ve snapped over the past week have been images of flowers: shooting pretty pictures of flowers in May is like shooting fish in a barrel. It occurs to me that snapping pictures of flowers for no good reason is a bit like gathering spring bouquets: you don’t do it because handfuls of flowers are “useful,” but because handfuls of flowers are lovely. The purpose of your gathering, in other words, is purely aesthetic: you see something, you admire it, and you want to keep the memory of that lovely, admired thing.
I’ve been itching, as I always do at the end an academic year, to get back to blogging “for real”: part of why I’ve stayed away this week is my desire to start writing longer, more meaningful entries again rather than simply slapping up quick picture-posts as I do at the end of a long semester. And yet, I haven’t found (or, more accurately, made) the time for such posting. So in the meantime, while I settle into whatever kind of bloggish stride makes sense for the summer, here is a bouquet of lovelies to admire. Sometimes you don’t have a real reason for gathering flowers; you simply do it “just because.”
Apr 26, 2009
Suburban Newton is the last place I’d expect to see bloodroot blooming, but here it is, sprouting from the crevice between a residential stone wall and the city sidewalk. Has bloodroot bloomed perennially from any available nook since this too was forest? If so, its blood-red sap pulses more powerfully–and with greater persistence–than I’d ever imagined.
“What’s a flower like you doing in a place like this,” I’ve wondered these past few days on my morning dog-walks. And yet, suburbia turns out to be wilder than I’d thought, a world of surprise fringing every inch of sidewalk. What is this never-before-seen flower sprouting from a garden I pass every weekend? What crazed creator dreams up flowers that look like lampshades, their innermost parts visible only if you put your camera on the ground and shoot upwards, blindly. Even something as tame as a domesticated crabapple is wilder than I thought, sprouting buds that look more like voracious aliens than anything I’d gladly stick my nose into.
It’s a jungle out there, and in spring you never know what sorts of oddities will show up in place like this.
Click here for a photo-set of images from yesterday’s dog-walk. Enjoy…and if anyone knows what the lampshade-like flower is, please enlighten me.
Apr 19, 2009
It’s a color we haven’t seen in New England since autumn, when half of the maples turned gold and the other half turned red: a clash of primary colors. In the meantime, winter was a time of gray and white, starkly monochromatic and more trying, I think, for its lack of color than for its intensity of cold.
In winter, we saw occasional splashes of color: a dash of red on a passerby’s hat, or a welcome shot of green on a knitted scarf. And year-round, there is in Boston at least the briskly bright yellow of taxicabs, and the similar shade of reflective vests worn by cyclists and joggers to avoid getting hit by those same taxis. But the gold of the season’s first forsythia is different: living and thus far more precious. Even the most brilliant neon doesn’t glow with the ardor of a forsythia in full flower, for these cells are alive and burning, not so much carrying color as singing it.
We haven’t seen this color naturally occurring in New England since autumn, for in winter not even the sun burns yellow, its winter glare being harsh and white, the color of ice. Only after the trees leaf and the sun’s rays are tempered by green will they turn yellow like a child’s crayon. In the meantime, our most trusted trove of gold grows on trees.
I am, apparently, so smitten with this particular forsythia in Newton’s Waban Square, I blogged a nearly identical picture this time last year (click here, then scroll to the second photo).
Apr 18, 2009
It looks like downtown Waban is getting a new ice cream shop, conveniently located on my weekend dog-walking route. I can already feel myself getting softer in the middle.
Apr 12, 2009
Yesterday morning, as if on schedule, our resident rabbit appeared in the backyard and stayed there, sniffing and nibbling, through hours of drizzle until afternoon downpours drove him away. On the day before Easter, shouldn’t he have been busy with other things?
Whatever your preferred sign of spring, we’ve seen them all these days.
Here’s hoping your Easter Sunday is sweet and springy.
Mar 30, 2009
I’d love to know the story behind the large canine pinch collar someone has put around a tree in the vicinity of Cold Spring Park. Are Newton trees so rambunctious, they need prong-collar correction? Or did some dog, on his way to Cold Spring’s newly debuted off-leash area, throw off the choke of oppression before he got there?
Whatever the explanation, this much I’m guessing: this tree’s bark is probably worse than its bite.
Mar 27, 2009
This image (a cropped version of this original) is one of the first pictures I took with my new camera several weeks ago. J and I had walked to Cold Springs Park in Newton, we saw a pair of mallards swimming in bright sunlight at close range, and I zoomed in for an extreme closeup of his iridescent head dripping with pond water. Wonderful!
This was the kind of image I was lusting for, then, when I heard that a Eurasian teal has been spotted in Newton. If I could get as close to the teal as I had to the mallard, I thought, and if the light and my luck were just as good, I could snap a picture-perfect image. Instead, when J and I spotted a small duck dabbling with a pair of noticeably larger mallards at Cold Spring Park this afternoon, the light was all wrong for an extreme closeup. It didn’t help, either, that both the teal and mallards were feeding, so much of the time I found myself looking at a headless teal:
If you snap enough pictures, however, eventually even a headless duck might be inspired to step out of the water to make himself ready for his closeup.
This is my contribution to today’s Photo Friday theme, Extreme Closeup; you can click here to see my complete photo-set of Eurasian teal images. Only after we’d begun to walk toward home did J and I learn that we’d missed seeing the wood ducks that have also been dabbling at Cold Spring Park. I guess we’ll have to try to take their closeups some other sunny day.
Mar 19, 2009
Some folks carefully tend their own gardens; as for me, I watch the leaves of others. After spotting the season’s first snowdrops several weeks ago, I’ve been stalking crocus buds, vowing to be on hand the moment they opened. Sure enough, yesterday’s sun was enough to push these petals toward blooming…and just as surely, today’s gray has forced them to fold. Such is the nature of spring’s ephemera: here yesterday, gone today.
Once again, the picture illustrating today’s blog-post was the inspiration for today’s Tweet, illustrating the way these two media (blogging in both micro and macro modes) can feed one another.
The time-traveler in me also wants to note that this year’s first crocuses appeared a few days before last year’s.