Friday, March 31, 2017

March Photo A Day 31 - Outdoors

"Nature always wears the colors of the spirit."

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The final day of the March photo challenge offered the prompt "outdoors."  This was an easy one for me, so I gave myself an extra challenge, to see if I could find all of the colors of the rainbow in the limited palette of early spring in these northern hills.

Red twig dog wood appears sparingly in the cattail marsh at the heart of the cedar swamp, but wherever it appears, its deep red spikes are a welcome shot of color.

Cedars are evergreen, but some have turned to orange as they shed older needles.

Yellow needles often precede the orange in the needle-shedding process. 

Green has been easy to find all winter, deep in the woods.

The sky was cloudy today, but with brighter sunlight than we have had in many days.
 There were many patches of blue and indigo, behind the loosely woven clouds.

I was not sure that I could find violet at this time of year, but as we traipsed back through the barren field toward the house, I saw these shy violet-colored leaves growing close to the earth.  

What a surprise to find that all of these vibrant colors on the last day in March,

Wherever you are, whatever the weather, I wish you a happy and colorful weekend!

Photo A Day Challenge information is here.  This was the final day.  In April. expect to find many posts about gearing up for gardening. 
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Thursday, March 30, 2017

March Photo A Day - Shiny

When hope is not pinned wriggling
onto a shiny image or expectation,
it sometimes floats forth and opens. 

~ Anne Lamott

My day was like a scavenger hunt, searching for something to fit today's photo prompt, "shiny."  It seems that nothing is shiny on an cold, overcast day in early spring.  Not the thousand seagulls in a barren field of corn stubble.

Not the dull rocks on the shoreline, nor the slowly melting lace at the lake's rim.

All day, I sought a ray of sun in the sky, or something colorful and brilliant.  Knowing that the woodland offered only her familiar palette of browns and greens,  I headed out with Micah for our afternoon hike.

We headed to the place where dozens of birds sing, hiding in boughs of green cedar, to where the creek weaves like a ribbon, through the broad flat expanse of the cattail-cluttered swamp.

And there, 

where the roots of the trees sit on top of the earth,
drinking from water that reflects the sky,
I questioned my own assumptions.

Perhaps, on a cloudy day,
it is not true that nothing is shiny.

Perhaps, the truth is that beneath those silver skies,
everything shines,

luminous and incandescent,
as if lit from within.

With the soft sheen of an icy rain upon us,
perhaps even Micah and I shine a little bit.

Wherever you are, whatever the weather, I wish you hope.

Tomorrow is the last day of the Photo A Day Challenge which I participated in the whole month of March.  The last prompt is "outdoors." You may read about the challenge here.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

March Photo A Day - Hot

“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today's photo prompt is "Hot." Most of my photos are of weather and nature, and there has been nothing hot about our spring thus far.  Last night's sunset, however, was a blaze of tangerine fire lighting the western sky.  I could see just a bit through the line of cedars that edge the front yard.

This morning, it was a different world, and the sun rose silver and pale, gleaming softly over thick frost and dense fog.  The art in the garden looked like ghosts dancing in the morning air as I stood on the upper deck, wide-eyed and barefoot, with a mug of coffee in my hands.  The world on such a morning is a marvel.  When a friend called and invited me, spontaneously, on an excursion, how could I resist?  An hour later, chores quickly finished, we drove off into rising mist toward the small city to the south.

Wherever you are, whatever the weather, I wish you wonder and joy.

Information on the Photo A Day Challenge may be found here. It is nearly over, but it has been fun and oft times challenging!  Tomorrow's prompt is shiny.

quote (one of my favorites!) from:

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

March Photo A Day 27 - 9:00

Today's photo prompt is "9:00."  I have no idea if I will still be awake at 9:00 pm, so I carried my phone around with me on my morning chores and snapped a few photos.  At 9:00 am, I am usually done with or in the middle of feeding our farm animals.  

While Mabel lounged in the house, lingering over her breakfast of the usual kibble and water, I headed outside to feed rabbits and chickens their version of kibble and water.  The rabbits get excited every morning for that handful of wispy green hay, and the chickens dance and chatter as I scatter seeds.

Micah wanted to help, and he offered so sweetly, but his presence makes the rabbits (and me on their behalf) nervous, so I asked him to wait outside.  Sneaking just his toes in, he complied with my request.

Micah and I don't usually take our long hike until the afternoon, after I have accomplished whatever I have planned for that day: cleaning, writing, farm project, errands, etc.  But, today, his body language clearly indicated that he was ready to spring into action, so I tipped my head in the direction of the trail and said, "Let's go" and he was off and running!

We took a long time in the woods, trying to find new places to explore.   We tried to find the lake on the horizon from the high clearings in the cedar wood where the fern grow lush in mid-summer, but the lake was hidden behind veils of fog.  Undeterred by the weather, the birds were busy and cheerful as they went about their morning routine: eat a little, sing a little, wing a little, eat a little more.

The air is heavy with mist this morning, as it has been these past few days. There is no blue sky, no golden sun, only these quiet woods and the slow unfolding of green leaves all around the edges of the world.

Wherever you are, whatever the weather, I wish you a lovely morning, followed by a beautiful day.

Monday, March 27, 2017

March Photo A Day 27 - Eat

Today's March Photo A Day prompt is "Eat" so I thought I would show you what I've been eating lately. The Cashew Smoothie Bowl above was yesterday's "Second Breakfast" (yes, I am secretly a Hobbit.)  

In the summer, we eat almost exclusively "farm fare" fresh from the garden.  We go out and harvest, come in and preserve, and eat whatever is at hand.  We eat a lot of salads in the early summer, and a lot of tomatoes in the late summer, and a lot of squash from harvest in autumn until they run out or go bad in the root cellar.

At this time of year, there are still a few good spaghetti squash in the root cellar, and still some canned goods on the shelves in the canning room.  We even have a small "salad patch" growing in a tray under full-spectrum lights.  However, I get a little tired of the storage foods about now. The truth is that the first breath of spring air elicits in me a craving for food pulled straight from the garden.

I clipped fresh thyme today, as I have several times this winter, and I see that chives and sorrel will be available in small quantities soon.  In the meantime, I have been trying to add something new and fresh to my cooking repertoire to hold me over until the early harvests from this year's garden.

A few weeks ago, I had a "smoothie bowl" (a thick smoothie that you eat with a spoon, rather than drink) at a restaurant, and I have been wanting to recreate that at home.  I was home alone all day Sunday, so it was a perfect day to experiment and not worry about forcing anyone else to eat the results of my innovations.  I shouldn't have worried, because my Cashew Smoothie Bowl was delicious! 

The "Un-recipe" follows (because I am a "little bit of this, little bit of that, type of cook!)

Cashew Smoothie Bowl

Soak in water overnight
  •  1 1/2 cups of raw cashews


Blend (in food processor or high power blender)
  • Cashews
  • 1/4 cup fresh water
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • Pure Almond or Vanilla Extract (1/8 tsp or to taste)
  • 4 medjool dates
  • 2 bananas

Top with fun extras.  I used (from left to right in photo)
  • Roasted lightly salted sunflower seeds
  • Blueberries
  • Black Chia Seeds
  • Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
Eat with a spoon!

Today's Second Breakfast was a variation on a theme. My Avocado & Greens Smoothie Bowl was topped with unsweetened coconut, strawberries, mandarin orange wedges, and walnuts.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sunday Stroll - Three Days of Rain (Photo A Day 26 - Team)

There is a break in the rain.  
Quick!  Pull on your boots, and come with me,
with my one dog sled team, out beyond the still half-frozen swamp
deep into the quiet wood.

We will step over the lingering snow,

while far over head the crows wheel and circle,
keeping guard.

Past the little rivulets and streams that run only in the spring,

to the secret heart of the woods,
where even in the bleak days of early spring,
we can find some green.

We will walk a lazy circuit through these soggy acres,
down to the edge of swamp,
where the frogs are still sleeping with their toes buried in mud.

What do you think?  
Should we take off our boots and dip our toes in the icy water?

As we head back home,
we will look up into the mist and gloom 
of this rainy gray afternoon,
and we  will see that the robins have returned.

(Use your imagination!  But, there really are several robins in the tree in this grainy gray photo!)

Where ever you are, whatever the weather, I wish you good company.

March Photo A Day 25 - Flat

Nature teaches more than she preaches. 
There are no sermons in stones. 
It is easier to get a spark out of a stone than a moral. 

~ John Burroughs

Today's Photo a Day prompt was "Flat."  This, for me, was the most difficult prompt thus far.  First of all, it was difficult to think of something flat, that would be fun to photograph.  Now, when I was a girl, I had wildflowers pressed between the yellow pages of a very fat phone book.  These days, though, I leave the flowers growing in the field and take photos of them.  The region around me is not flat, but consists of gentle rolling hills.  Neither is the lake flat today, when the wind is cold and choppy. Instead, the lake is filled with churning blue waves, with white flags upon their crests.

Just the other day, when we walked the icy shoreline, I found a few small stones, one of which is very flat. So here is my subject, I thought.  However, I then encountered the other difficulty with this prompt. My inexpensive phone was not adequate for taking these photos, without the ability to focus carefully or to select a macro setting.

These are called Petoskey stones, and unless they are wet, they appear nearly monochromatic gray. They may be polished, but not tossed around in a rock tumbler, for they will disintegrate. I once believed that they were unique to our region, for they are named after a nearby town, as well as after a historic Ottawa chief who once lived in this region.  Alas, Wikipedia tells me that they are also found elsewhere in the United States, as well as in Canada, England, Germany and even somewhere in Asia.

Are you a rock hound?  I try to keep my sampling to a minimum on my nature walks, but sometimes a little talisman is hard to resist.  When I have admired them long enough, perhaps I will scatter some of them along the shoreline again for someone else to discover.  What rocks are unique or interesting in your area?  We have several others that I am learning to recognize.  I love to walk the beach in a light rain on a warm summer afternoon, because the colors and patterns of the rocks glisten brilliantly.

Wherever you are, whatever the weather, I wish you joy in your surroundings.

More about the photo a day challenge here.  Tomorrow's prompt is Team.
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Sunday Stroll Invitation

We are on the third day of all-day rain and drizzle. If I walk at all, it will be a soggy plod through deep puddles! I hope your weather is more inviting than mine!

The weather has also put a damper on my rural satellite internet, so yesterday's Photo A Day post is in limbo on my desktop computer and I am writing on my phone with it's tiny screen and limited data allowance!

However, if you stroll today, please leave me a note so I can come by for a visit as soon as possible.

In the meantime, I am cleaning house and watching through the windows for a break in the clouds.

Click here to join Steve out on the cold Prairie for an early Springtime Stroll.