Tuesday, 13 November 2012

The Frost Hunt

tiny buds 
await spring
A recent string of cold nights with clear skies and calm winds made for some delightfully frosty mornings, bringing the landscape into a characteristic state of being right on cue for the first days of December. These frosty mornings occurred, of course, during weekdays, when there was no time for stopping and capturing photos that could be savored later. I eagerly watched the weather forecast for the weekend, and was happy to see that conditions would be ripe for a good frost on Saturday morning. Excellent! Finally, I could go on a Frost Hunt! The title alone conjured crisp images in my mind, and helped me to get myself out of bed early on a morning when I might otherwise prefer to sleep in.

It wasn't until I got outside and really started looking at how the frost clung to leaves and flowers that I realized that it had been far too long since my last truly connected encounter with the land. It ended up being one of those multi-sensory experiences that I truly cherish.

Bee Balm seed head, covered in frost
In addition to each flower or blade of grass that I stopped to admire, there was the singing and calling of the birds. There's that mischievous Blue Jay that wants everyone to believe he's a Red-shouldered Hawk just from the sound of his voice, but I know his true identity. A Pileated Woodpecker sounded off amid the treeline along the ridge top, with a slightly erratic flight that took it out of sight. Song Sparrows gave their raspy call note, and then one daring male took me by surprise with a short song, repeated several times - something I did not expect to hear in early December. His song, combined with the smell of ever-present ground ivy, momentarily tricked my brain into thinking it was spring, but the frost crystals jolted me back to the reality that winter is just around the corner.

My "hunt" took place just across the road from my house, in an area with which I have become very familiar over the years. Photographing the flora had me feeling like I was among old friends, and they welcomed me happily, not caring that I had been away for a while. Each plant has its own "personality," both in the growing season and in the quieter times of fall and winter. Sometimes I think it is easier to appreciate the lines and curves of the plants in the dormant season, because most of the color is drained and withered away, leaving only the bare essentials to draw your attention.

Even so, some color remains to enliven the landscape!

Mysterious features become more prominent with frost glistening on them. I found many of these galls on the stalks of goldenrod plants, most of which had a perfect hole drilled right in the center on one side. Downy Woodpeckers and Carolina Chickadees are known to excavate these galls in order to get to the goldenrod gall fly larvae that is contained within. This is a phenomenon I have yet to observe myself, but one I very much hope to see in the future.

Virgin's Bower is one of my absolute favorite flowers to observe in fall and winter. The feathery fronds, to which the plant's seeds are attached, catch the light of sunrise and sunset with perfection, and frost adds yet another dimension of beauty to them.

Teasel is another flower that presents strong architectural interest in fall and winter. Interestingly, the frost made the seed head look much softer than usual, tuning what normally looks like something akin to a porcupine into an object resembling a soft brush. The bracts at the base of the seed head, however, retained their harsh curls, reminding me of Medusa's head of snake hair.

Next, the sun comes out...

Source: http://heather-heatherofthehills.blogspot.com/2011/12/frost-hunt.html

3d photography

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