Brrrr…..

After a slew of fairly warm days, I decided to take a walk at one of the local wildlife refuges in Northern Virginia.  Huntley Meadows is one of my favorite places to take walks (with a camera, of course).  There is a central wetland (fairly small) that hosts an abundant variety of birds (especially during the warm months of spring to fall).  In the midst of a relatively warm winter, there have been days that observers reported a wide variety of birds in the refuge.

Yesterday (Saturday) was not one of those days where birds were plentiful and easy to find.  I am sure that trained eyes would do better than I did, but it was barely above 20F when I left for the refuge (about ten miles away), after the sun had been up an hour.  Surprisingly, there were a fair number of people walking around the park.  And there were a fair number of disappointed photographers.

It was cold.  And for the day (at least in the morning), the birds were few in number.  Oh, there were ducks of several sorts and there was an osprey (or something like it) that flew over the boardwalk for a scant ten seconds.  Aside from that, nothing.  It was a cold day for this human.  I suppose the birds don’t really want to go out and about when the wind is brisk and the sun barely peeking out of the clouds.

Oh well.  There were still ducks.

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Meeting before Dawn

I totally forgot that the moon, Jupiter and Venus were going to be in conjunction in the waning days of January.  It was not until morning, near sunrise, as I was taking the trash out, that I looked up in the brightening sky and saw the moon and Venus.  It was seven degrees and I didn’t take many pictures in the crisp January air.  It was, as all astronomical events prove to be, interesting.  And beautiful to behold.

Foxes Big and Small

It’s almost spring!  With winter set to deal one more Nor’easter to the Northeast, it was a good time to visit Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge to see if there are foxes walking around.  Not quite.  The mother and kits were quite easy to spot though.  There were three cars stopped by a pond.  I figured, I’d park behind the other cars and see what was going on.  Soon, other cars parked behind my car.  It was time to listen to music and eat a granola bar.  I thought that there might be an owl nestle in the woods.  Not quite.  It was a fox and her kits.  Not the best view, and they were just basically walking around to check on the humans with the cameras and lenses.

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Awakening

Why is the familiar different now
The river by the bend
The trees, the rocks, the birds, the sky
A thousand steps walked alone
In solitude, nature was my friend

And yet today, even as the bird sang its welcoming song
As the winds of winter give way to the blossoms of spring
As the water lapped gently on the rock strewn shore
I heard my heart speak

In winter’s depth a flower bloomed
Joy came forth, the soul consumed
A life, thought dead, was vital still

And so it was this winter day
That the steps familiar had a different strain
There is beauty everywhere
And time enough for us to share

Capitol Columns at the National Arboretum

One of the many places in the Washington D.C. area that I have never visited in the decades that I have lived in the area is the National Arboretum in Northeast Washington D.C.  I don’t really have a reason why I have never set foot on this place.  I enjoy leisurely walks.  I enjoy taking pictures of flowers and gardens.  I enjoy taking pictures of birds.  Apparently, the Arboretum has no shortage of the things that make for a great day outdoors but somehow, I never stepped inside its grounds.  That oversight was corrected, somewhat, by a short trip to the National Arboretum in mid February.

Yes, it was winter.  There were few birds flying about.  The flowers are still weeks from coming out.  The gardens were in a state of hiatus.  Still, the landmark that many people come to see in the Arboretum are the Capitol Columns.  These columns used to be part of the Capitol Building.  When the Capitol was renovated, the columns were replaced by new, improved, more ornate cylindrical blocks.  What to do with the old columns?  Well, why not put them in a garden?  And so, eventually, the columns made their way to the National Arboretum.

It was a relatively mild winter afternoon.  The recent rains filled the reflecting pool with water and made for even more interesting photographs.  People were enjoying themselves in the warmth of the February sun.  A beautiful afternoon that surely will not be the last spent visiting this wonderful place.

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Delaware Sunrise

I was driving to northern New Jersey for a Christening.  I figured, what the heck, wake up early, try to get to Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge by sunrise, and watch the sun rise.  The sun and the clouds and the sky cooperated.

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I came for the birds, and ended up with the sun.