Photo Challenges – LAPC #235

At least 65 years plus in age, my birdbath still holds water for my backyard birds. It mimics the full moon that has been gracing February’s cold night skies. It first belonged to my maternal grandmother. I remember being nose-high to its edge, peering over the rim at the silvery reflections. It resembles a crystal ball. Strange, I am considered a reasonable person, but I have no desire to know the future, near or far. I gaze into it to remember the joys of the past.

Today’s post is part of Lens Artist Photo Challenge #235: Shadows and Reflections in Monochrome. Thank you to both the hosts and the participants in this challenge.

The reflected sky is part of Skywatch Friday. Water, Water, Everywhere can even be found in a backyard birdbath, thanks to Jez for hosting.

Plants – Things People Grow/Sea Beans

There is nothing fancy about the Sea Grape. I love the plant/bush because it reminds me of the first time I vacationed in Jamaica. We traveled there with my son and daughter-in-law, her parents and sister, and it was there we first heard the news that a new grandchild was on the way. Sea Grapes bordered the walkways of the Runaway Bay Club Caribbean. They grow wild all over the island nation. I fell in love with them at first sight. Thick leaves, with red veins intersecting the two halves; I began to dream of how to grow one at home. Unfortunately, transporting seeds/plants from one country to another is prohibited. I was out of luck. Eventually, I did order some seeds online from Florida, but they never sprouted.

Flash forward to Sanibel Island, Autumn 2021. I once again found several sea beans on the beach. I soaked them, planted several, and a few grew for me. Oh, Happy Day, it turned out one of those sprouts was a Sea Grape.

Sea Bean – Drift seed, a seed of any of a number of tropical plants growing in coastal areas, the seeds of which are found floating upon ocean currents, by means of which the seeds are dispersed.

WordFinder

The Sea Grape has thrived, although it grows slowly. The newest leaf it developed is the largest so far. Sitting beside the plant is a teacup of shells also found on the Sanibel Island beaches. We were horrified by the hurricane that slammed into this area in October 2022. We keep track of the progress being made in rebuilding, and we will certainly visit again and support the community as soon as possible.

I subscribe to this wonderful shell seekers YouTube channel. This video shows both South West Florida beachcombing, and some of the devastation on Fort Myers Beach. If you miss summertime, and are in a state of winter-induced torpor, this video is a good way to dream of warmer days.

Pheathers – Winter Robins

The woods that border my neighborhood is a cherished retreat for me in all seasons. Of course, today’s first frosting of snowfall prompted me to grab my camera and head outdoors. I managed to zoom in and get a close-up for Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge.

On the path before me a robin rustled among the leaves for insects. As I captured his image, I realized the woods was alive with a large flock of robins.

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The robins are drawn to our woods by the native holly trees growing tall beneath the canopy of larger oaks, tulip trees, and sweetgums. I stood for quite a while, taking photos, an easier task than usual as there were dozens of birds all around. I stayed in one spot, and they soon perceived I was no threat. One few so close overhead, I was sure his wing must have grazed me as he swooped by.

It was a curious morning; the wintry frosting of snow belied the springtime sparkle of the sun. Half of the surrounding view shouted, ‘Spring,’ but the cold air and flurries adorning the foliage sagely disagreed and whispered, ‘Winter.” I felt myself in a natural sanctuary, blessed by the song of the birds, the brilliance of the sun. The atmosphere around me was aglow with one of my favorite colors, a light-infused ethereal green. I added my voice to the praise and thanksgiving, “Thank you Lord, this is one of my best days.”

A few of the friendly flock of robins. Amazing to see so many on the first day of February, 2023.

Though my orientation hadn’t changed, my feet exactly on the same stretch of ground from where I photographed the robins, I somehow captured the image of a new bird with my lens. This photo is part of Skywatch.

Phlowers – Longwood Conservatory Winter/Part 2

The Longwood Gardens Conservatory boasts a gorgeous display of orchids. Not only can you view hundreds of varieties, you can also gaze out upon the ongoing construction of Longwood Reimagined in the Orchid room. There are many signs on the grounds, and articles available on the web, that apprise visitors of the future gardens and buildings. It’s quite exciting to imagine myself walking in these structures in the future.

The orchids in today’s post are part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.

While the sun glare, magnified through the window, can make it difficult to take a larger photo, a close-up of these beautiful blooms in the orchid room is enhanced by the back-lighting.

There is no one dominant species of orchid in the display, but I am always drawn to the faces of the Paphiopedilums. Just like pansy blossoms, they seem to have a perky personality.

This lovely orchid almost seems artificial. The inner recesses of the labellum are sunrose yellow, the January 30th color for City Sonnet’s January Colors and Letters.

Postcards – Throwback Thursday/1903

North British Station Hotel, Scotland – Opened in 1902, it is now known as the Balmoral Hotel.

It’s been a long time since I have posted one of my vintage postcards. This one has entranced me for a week or two. I found it in a local Antique Conglomerate, in a box with many others, marked at just fifty cents. Oh my! What a bargain. It is postmarked September 1903, with the image of Edward VII on the half penny stamp. The ephemera I hold in my hand is just a few months shy of being 120 years old.

The age alone makes it a worthy treasure, but for me, it is always the written message, the address, the speculation over the person who picked out, wrote a message, and sent the card, Then, of course, next is wondering over what the person who received it thought of the correspondence. If you are like me, perhaps you too would come up with a whole story around the short message and names.

The postcard is in great shape. I tried to square it up for a photograph, and realized it wasn’t going to happen; the bottom is two to three millimeters less in width than the top. Comparing the date with the opening of the hotel I see it was probably one of the first images taken and sold as a postcard of the location.

Now for the fun part: the messages. The writer of the card had a lot to say in a small space and also used the front. I love the mention of the canaries. I wonder what the L stood for in the name. Was L a man, or a woman? I also wonder what the first name of Miss Young might be…

Eyemouth is a beautiful coastal town about fifty miles from Edinburgh. The word ‘Fruiterer’ means just what it sounds like, a seller of fruit. The recipient might have had a grocery shop, or small stand on High Street. ‘It’s a nicht one,’ is Scottish for night.

This postcard was very clear and easy to read. Other postcards I have are sometimes near illegible. At those times I take a photo of the postcard and magnify it on my computer, creating larger optics to better read the message.

My take on the messages:

Edinburgh 16/9/03
Front:
Dear Miss Young
I have just found
time to send off the P.C.
you requested me to forward.
Hope it will find a
space in your album.
L. Tait
Along the side:
___own Production” Could
you sell any
Back:
I send this just
for a “Lark” and hope
your Canaries are getting
on, & that you don’t miss
the one I took home.
Its a grand whistler.
“Its a nicht one”
Address:
Miss Young
Fruiterer
High Street
Eyemouth
Postmark:
Edinburgh
10:30 AM
SP 13
03

Vintage postcards are a great way to break up the tedium of winter weather and staying indoors.

Photograph – Midweek Monochrome #120

Mid-Week Monochrome #120 – My mode of transportation yesterday, out in the woods, searching for robins. I am hoping to combine several of my photos into a watercolor painting. Recently, I captured a few moments on video of this happy robin bathing in a swamp. There was a sweet magic in the moment.

My creative side has been recharged in the pursuit of the perfect composition. I’ll keep a blog record of my progress on this watercolor on my Snippets Art Blog. With all the water included in the video and photograph below, I will also include this in the Water, Water, Everywhere Challenge from Photos by Jez.

Skunk Cabbage beginning to emerge in January.

Peculiarity – Lens Artist Challenge/Antique Planter

I’m taking part in the Lens Artist Challenge. It’s rare now for me to post twice in a day, but I have been waiting to use this macro photo and today the challenge seemed to present the right time to do so.

This is a cull/waste glass gathered from the earth after laying buried for well over a hundred years. Bits and pieces were dumped decades ago when the town was founded on a thriving glass industry. It is smaller than a dime. I posted more about this and where this piece, along with many others, lay in the ground: The Woods.

I collected this piece of glass a few months ago, studded with sand and bits of earth, and placed it in a plastic container with some mosses until I had time to create a terrarium. Two months later, I finally got around to the terrarium, and was surprised to find delicate lichens growing on the glass. Amazing.

Product – Update/LED Grow Trays

To say they are exactly what I hoped for is an understatement. LED grow trays, Kennedich Seed Tray Kits, are performing beyond my expectations. No leggy seedling growth is occurring beneath the intense lights. Hooray! These, and other similar trays, are still available for purchase online. In combination with seedling heat mats, even seeds three years old are sprouting in days.

Phlowers – Six on Saturday/Longwood Conservatory Winter

Here’s a sampling of the hanging baskets in the Longwood Gardens Conservatory yesterday. It’s hard to capture the size/scale of the flower baskets. To say they are large is an understatement.

Some of the plants are: Cape-primrose (Streptocarpus), Anthuriums, Cinnamon-Wattle Acacia, Bromeliads.

My favorite walk was along the acacia passage. The Cinnamon-Wattle acacias were in bloom. The fragrance was incredible. There was definitely a feeling of enchantment present as we gazed down the corridor. Periwinkle is one of my favorite colors, and the combination of the streptocarpus with the soft yellow of the acacia was stunning. The streptocarpus are part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.

I also had some moments of inspiration. I don’t know if this is a hanging basket of some type for displaying flowers, a light fixture, or something totally unique to my imagination. I am determined to create better hanging basket arrangements this year for the porch and outdoors and this will be my artistic muse for the project.

As we walked within the walls the soft winter sun outdoors illuminated everything inside with a glow of Royal Silver. I wish I could somehow capture and copy the indescribable atmosphere in a watercolor painting.

Here’s a silly self-portrait of us in the conservatory; a visual description of our joy. It’s a little distorted, the mirror had a funhouse quality, but it still captured our happiness in being in a place filled with flowers and fragrance.

Prevention & Pests – Praying Mantis Pods – Again

What a beauty! My husband and I went on a meadow/woodland walk over the weekend, on an intense search for praying mantis pods. We found three.

Over the course of the past two years, I stopped putting the mantis pods about the gardens because the hatched mantises might eat what I loved: butterflies, ladybugs, and hummingbirds. In fact, in my error, I think I even carried away from the yard a mantis pod or two. Big mistake!

When did I realize I had made the bad judgement call? A week or two ago, trying to get a jump on eradicating insect pests without using chemicals, I gave earnest thought to why my plant foliage had suffered constant assault during the past two summers. In short, sawflies, and other insects who devour foliage, have bamboozled me! The sawflies have been the bane of enjoying the garden beds. The hibiscus, and especially my roses, become the victims of their larvae stage munching. The rose leaves begin to resemble stained glass as the insects eat and grow larger. I have tried to handpick the pests off, but with dozens of rose bushes, it is impractical. I wondered anew why the problem has been impossible to control and realized the infestations coincided with me banning mantis pods from my gardens. We went on the mantis pod hunt a few days after this light bulb moment.

Within twenty minutes, half a mile from my home, we found three pods in the weeds bordering a dirt road. We knew there were probably hundreds more we didn’t see as they are well camouflaged among the beige and brown grasses. I don’t feel bad about moving them. The border grasses and wildflowers edging the road are considered disposable and are frequently mowed. We probably saved the pods from the whirling destruction of mower blades.

Praying Mantises are often themselves the victim of predators. Several on the predator list live in my yard or frequently visit: spiders, bearded dragons, lizards, chickens, snakes, hawks, owls, cardinals, scorpions. I would add large toads to the list and other insect-eating birds.

Photo Challenge – Pick a Topic/Beachy Dreams

Strathmere, New Jersey, in summer, wish I was there. Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge, pick a topic photograph, prompted me to think ‘beachy’ for some reason. It’s warmish here in the Mid-Atlantic today, but I would still exchange it for hot summer. Look at that lovely sky!

More ‘beachy’ vibes, two beautiful seagulls.

Four more ‘beachy’ birds round out my Wednesday post. I was trying for a Wordless Wednesday but couldn’t keep from writing just a bit.

Pheathers – Cornell Lab Live Bird Cams

The joy of this pair of Bermuda Petrels, as they met up in their burrow, and welcomed an egg, gave me joy this morning too. Throughout the cold Northeast Winter, and sometimes chill Spring, watching these cams several times a week, if not daily, brings me joy. Take a look at all the amazing feeders, nesting live cameras, and other highlight videos on this amazing site.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Live Bird Cams

The Panama Fruit Feeders is one of my favorites. I enjoy viewing the unique birds and other wildlife that visit.
The Giant Albatross Cam is interesting.

If you don’t have a bird feeder in your yard this one is fun to watch and usually very lively!

Paths – A Woodland Walk

A few years ago, I took a weekly photo of a path through the woods to show how the seasons change the appearance of the area I live in. This year, same woods, different path, an old habit with new direction.

The summer canopy of green leaves has shattered, falling away from the sky to the floor of the woods, carpeting it in many shades of amber. The grey of exposed tree trunks and limbs is dotted with the green of ground pine, holly, and laurel. Another soul who walks this way, created a bit of enchantment and direction when they lined the way with fallen branches.

New photos of THE PATH will be added to the sidebar weekly, with a link to THE PATH page containing all the weekly photos posted in one place.

Here’s a look back at THE PATH, different area of the woods, that I took in 2017, and a surprise to me, this is the third time I am attempting a weekly photo, I found this earlier video of the same concept from 2014. THE PATH 2014.

This post is part of Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge: Amber

Phlower – Crown of Thorns

I love the soft pink of these dime-sized blooms on my Crown of Thorns, the color almost a copy of cotton candy. The plant lives outdoors on the screened-in porch for five months of the year. Through the Autumn and Winter it delights me with flowers when everything outdoors is dormant. No coddling needed, the plant is easy to grow and maintain. This beautiful flower is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Praise – I Am His

I AM HIS, AND HE IS MINE

by Wade Robinson 1890

 

Loved with everlasting love,

drawn by grace that love to know,

Spirit sent from Christ above,

thou dost witness it is so.

O this full and precious peace

from his presence all divine;

in a love that cannot cease,

I am his and he is mine.

 Heav’n above is deeper blue,

earth around is sweeter green,

that which glows in ev’ry hue

Christless eyes have never seen.

Birds in song his glories show,

flow’rs with richer beauties shine

since I know, as now I know,

I am his and he is mine.

Taste the goodness of the Lord:

welcomed home to his embrace,

all his love, as blood outpoured,

seals the pardon of his grace.

Can I doubt his love for me,

when I trace that love’s design?

By the cross of Calvary

I am his and he is mine.

His forever, only his–

who the Lord and me shall part?

Ah, with what a rest of bliss

Christ can fill the loving heart.

Heav’n and earth may fade and flee,

firstborn light in gloom decline,

but while God and I shall be,

I am his and he is mine.

Phloral Arrangement – IAVOM – It’s not Impossible!

My first 2023, In A Vase on Monday bouquet is muted in color by Winter’s cold temperatures. Today, here in southern New Jersey, the weather is mild, though grey-tinged, but we had quite a preview of frigid temperatures in December. The greens, pods and berries I chose for the tall vase are the only choices to be had in my yard. My participation in this interesting challenge will probably be limited until Spring, but I will keep my eyes open when I’m outdoors, and perhaps inspiration will strike.

To be honest, I prefer the appearance of the stems tossed across the floor, pre-arrangement. They resemble the cascade of a Bride’s bouquet. I would have thought making a bouquet impossible at this time of year, but a walk-about in my yard yielded a few interesting pieces: dried hydrangea & sedum blooms, pods of Echinacea, velvety Wisteria, and Rose of Sharon. Barberry berries (ouch, very thorny), hoya & myrtle leaves, and ivy vines.

Pheathers & Perspective – One Liner Wednesday/Never Give Up!

Last week, here in Southern New Jersey, our temperatures were in the single digits. Thankfully, this plummeting into frigidity occurred after the heavy rains, and although we had a coating of ice for a few days, we did not have the mountains of snow that northern areas experienced.

Today, the sunlight warmed the air, and I grabbed my coat and camera hoping to find an area in the woods near me to photograph once a week in 2023. I found this sweet spot, a trail created by a thoughtful, though unknown person, bordered with fallen limbs. Ground pine and holly trees give the scene some winter color. I think this is the perfect place to photograph weekly to watch the changes occur in what is growing and changing.

My next thought was to capture several photos of local birds, perhaps I’d come upon some blue jays, juncos, cardinals, finches, sparrows, titmice, woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, all the lovely wintertime birds who visit my feeders. A few images of them in their more natural habitat would be perfect. I wasn’t having any luck until I turned a corner at the edge of the woods and spied a flock of what I thought were sparrows or juncos. A flash of blue feathers confused me for a moment. No, could it be? Yes! For the first time in my life, I gazed on a flock of bluebirds.

I didn’t have my ‘readers’ on, inexpensive glasses that help me see up close. I didn’t know if my viewfinder was locating the birds. I kept on trying, click after click after click. I had no idea until I was back home and downloaded them if even one image had a bluebird in it. Most of my photos were blurry or missed my subjects completely, but some captured the beautiful bluebirds. Oh, Happy Day! I had a few good photographs.

I’m so glad I followed the advice of, “Never Give Up!” My motto for One-Liner Wednesday.

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” – Thomas Edison