Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Winter Day in Microcosm

A Winter Day in Microcosm

Consider this a mini journal of a stymied photographer's quest for colorful visual interest on a bleak and foggy morning in December. I am starved for a bright flower or stray feather with touches of red, for pristine snow clinging to the north side of a gnarled tree.
My ear was feeling as foggy as the dark gray overcast horizon, so I decided to go outside in search of these distractions.

No bright flowers mistakenly blooming out of season, and no feathers strewn about under the trees. I did find these seed pods on a vine:

This lonely birdhouse is nestled behind that vine with the interesting seed pods. I hear geese in the distance some mornings, and flocks of starlings cover the treetops on other mornings. The bitty songbirds and their friends who might like this little condominium don't seem to be at home these days. Of course, I know winter is upon us, and I know enough to know that I don't really know which small birds winter here. As usual, my interest in a particular aspect of nature seems to be ill-timed. Ah, but if we only peered at Mother Nature when she's displaying spectacular foliage or twittering songbirds, we'd miss a great deal of the show, wouldn't we?

I have to say, though, that to my dismay, I've come to believe our backyard is something of a "green desert." I don't remember where I ran across that term. It refers to an environment which is natural looking at first glance, but upon closer inspection, it becomes obvious there aren't as many different species of plants and animals thriving in it as there might have been at one time. The landscape has been cleared of plants that are native to the area, weeds and "wild" plants have been removed. There may be abundance, but not variety. The animals which would have lived in these tiny communities no longer have a place to burrow or build nests or find seeds, so they leave for thicker thickets.

Lonely as they seem in world of sameness, these maple trees do indeed inspire me. How could they not? Even on a dreary day like this, I found a tiny waterfall created as what little bit of ice we had melts and drips down the moss covered bark of a maple.

And just to end this little montage on a greener note, the cabbage plant didn't get the memo about winter arriving! How's this for a hardy plant? The bugs ate the first leaves way back in September, so I gave up on the cabbage. Before I knew it, the cabbage had recovered on its own, with no extra water or Miracle Gro from me. When the frost bit hard a few weeks ago, I took the barely palm sized head of cabbage from the middle. . .but the rest of the leaves continue growing, even gathering water from melting bits of ice.

Hmmm, I guess you could say my journey outdoors this morning didn't follow a path I chose, but it did follow an interesting path after all!

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