Hepatica

Early Spring Beauties

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Most every year since 2002 I’ve photographed these personable beauties, the first wildflowers to bloom as early as late February through the snows.

Click photograph for a larger version
Click photograph for a larger version

Taughannock Gorge Trail late winter hike

sights during a 4 mile hike on icy trails around Taughannock Gorge

Wednesday afternoon this week my exercise was a 4 mile hike around the Taughannock Falls Gorge on the north and south rim trail. I parked at the Overlook and took in a view of Taughannock Falls in the gorge below.

The video and pics are from my Apple IPhone.

I then headed south on the North Rim Trail. It was slow going because the trail was solid ice in many places. Throughout the walk was evidence of the great work of the park maintence crew preparing for spring.

A bridge over the creek transitions from the North to South Rim trails. Here is an overview of the dramatic site below this bridge.

The trail ice forced me off onto the Gorge Road that parallels the trail. Even without the ice, a portion of the trail is closed for the winter due to dangerous conditions. There are interesting sites along this road.

Click any photograph for a larger image


Walking downhill only this medium-sized bark is visible, the road curves around to bring into view a tiny farmhouse, now abondoned, dwarfed by the barn.

I took a detour to explore a small cemetery just off Gorge Road on a shelf above the Taughannock Farms Inn.

Overview of this small cemetery overlooking Cayuga Lake

The lower falls is another worthy detour before I rejoined the Rim trail to climb up the north side of the gorge.

One of many Rim Trail overlooks. That is the Gorge Trail, below.

In this approximate 4 miles there is a 2088 foot change in altitude (1044 up and down). I took my time for an enjoyable 2 hours.

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Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

The Thaw at Taughannock Falls

A Friday Evening Stroll through a February Thaw

Pam and I were drawn outside the day after Valentine’s a bit of sun, an unreliable warm breeze, a promise of exercise. Our expectations were disappointed for all but the last at the foot of the Taughannock Falls gorge trail.

We had a reminder mid-February marks the start of avian mating behavior with this addition to the view from Taughannock Creek, the first large waterfall. For the cold, drizzly excursion I chose the IPhone, in a waterproof case, for the images. The fanicful birdhouse inscription reads “The Old Birds from Pa.”

Click the photograph for my “Finger Lakes Memories” Online gallery.

The winding gorge takes a general east, southeasterly direction. Where the sun cannot reach the snow was reduced to a treacherous slushy ice mix more nasty than dangerous.

View from the Overlook on the way to the trail. This is the endpoint of our hike, viewed from the gorge rim.

Of all the area hiking experiences, Taughannock Gorge Trail is the only one available year round. The gorge is wide with enough room for the footpath to avoid the cliff edge. Today, there were places were ice formations were throwing large ice chunks down the slope. The park ranges place tree trunks along the cliff base, with warning signs to stay away. Still, there are visitors who stray too close with fatal outcomes reported by local news.

Pam was fascinated by the appearance of snow and ice accumulated on the talus, here seen from the Taughannock Falls viewing bridge.

Click photograph for my “Finger Lakes Memories” online gallery. Photo by Pam.

You can just pick out the viewing bridge in the Falls Overlook video.

Click photograph for my “Finger Lakes Memories” Online Gallery.
Photo by Pam.

Taughannock Falls bound by ice is a most dramatic sight. I need to post photographs from a 2005 visit during an especially frigid February. Here, the falls have thrown off the ice, leaving this house-size chunk.

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The surrounding gorge walls are continually frost coated by the mist.

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210 foot Taughannock Falls from the viewing bridge.

In more clement seasons the Gorge Trail ends much closer to the falls. Today, it was closed as, during winter and especially thaws, blocks of the sandstone cap break away to fall with great force across that part of the trail. This viewing area is visible in the Falls Overlook video.

Click Me for another Finger Lakes winter post.

Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Red Berries

Jack-In-The-Pulpit one June Day

The many names for this plant are reflective of how wide spread it is. Called Arisaema triphyllum (scientific name), jack-in-the-pulpit, bog onion, brown dragon, Indian turnip, American wake robin, or wild turnip this secretive plant flourishes in moist soils across eastern North America, everywhere north to south. I say “secretive” because the varieties I am familiar with hide the flower under the leaves, three of them growing from a stalk.

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Lovers Lane Observation Platform– CLICK ME!!!!

Those of you who know Georgia O’Keefe may be familiar with the form and coloring of Jack-in-the-pulpit from the series of six oil canvasses from 1930, her time in the east living near a spring. There is a spathe, the pulpit, strongly colored in dramatic vertical, flowing stripes, wrapped around a spandix, the “jack”, being a stem covered with male and female flowers.

Around the time my photography habit started in 2002 I was surprised by the jacks growing from the walls of Fillmore Glen, spying the distinctive forms flowing a bit above eye level under the three large leaves. Seeing them was like recognizing a friend in Halloween disguise, the exotic O’Keefe shapes in a known place.

From this gift, an awareness of the possibility lead me to recognize “jacks” in many other places. I have yet to exhaust the possibilities.

2015 I acquired a Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 L IS USM lens for our cruise around South American. It proved very useful for an unending combination of situations. Here, it allowed me to frame this specimen, the former covering of three leaves now sere brown and collapsed, the berries revealed in startling clarity among evergreen ferns, Christmas red and green. The strangely named Dry Creek, the driving force of Fillmore Glen, flowing below this humus layered shelf moist with a constant flow from the gorge walls.

The park trails make for a pleasant choice at the start of each excursion. This day, Pam and I visited Cowshed Falls at the foot of the glen, climbed the north rim trail to walk among the hemlocks, listening the leisurely calls of Hermit Thrust like breaking crystal. The time of mushrooms was past in late September, instead we enjoyed the Indian Summer sun and breeze safe in knowing it will not last.

“Jacks” are part of the known lore of the Native American woodland tribes. These berries are poisonous, so beware of handing them. Wikipedia tells me a ploy was to mix the berry juice with meat to leave for enemies. Hidden by the meat flavor, the heartily enjoyed poison lead to death. The plant grows from a thick root, a corm. Correctly dried and prepared, the corm is food. I can imaging these plants an entities haunting the forest, choosing to reveal themselves, or not, to knowing souls. Maybe this is was drew O’Keefe to these woodland shapes growing around the springs of her summer homes. Leisure and an open, wandering glance are important, anyway, for noticing them. Most strangers wander by, engrossed in conversations, memories, evanescent distractions.

Here are other “shots” from the same day.

Here is another posting about the Finger Lakes of New York State.

Copyright 2018 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

At Home with Tom and Hen Turkey

Thanksgiving Freedom

The Catskill Mountains are not mountains. The Catskills started as a high plateau. Over eons, before the first humans, water, the sun, and wind carved high steep peaks: rounded, forested and teeming with life.
 
October 2008, on a return trip from my Mother’s house on Long Island, we traveled the winding road called “Route 17”, through the high autumn hillsides, one of our last trips to see her.  She broke her hip on New Year’s and lived with me and my sisters until her 2013 passing. 
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Route 17_FishsEddy_throughTheWindshield– CLICK ME!!!!

Fishs Eddy

We left Long Island early afternoon, as the sun passed over the western hills we stopped to explore a place called “Fishs Eddy”, a town on the banks of the Delaware River.

Delaware River at Fishes Eddy– CLICK ME!!!!

 
On the east side, facing sunset is a formation that would be a cliff if it was not for the hardwood trees growing from every available nook, crevice.  Everywhere a root could be sunk, roots fed trees that, one late October afternoon, made a hill bright with autumn.

Turkey Habitat

Turkeys live in this type of habitat. We took a trail, barely a road that climbed past failed farms and hunting shacks.

Catskill Hillside– CLICK ME!!!!

The Hens Flee

On a level place, in front of a ruined home, we came upon a Tom (male) turkey and his four hens. The hens fled at the sight of us.
 
With barely time to raise the camera I caught Tom and the last hen as she fled into the bushes.

Tom and Hen Turkey Flee the Scene– CLICK ME!!!!

Tom Turkey Defiant

I say she, because Tom stayed behind. He stood erect, all three feet of him, defiant and strutting in a direction opposite from the hens.

 

This is the bird Benjamin Franklin proposed as the national emblem of the new United State of America (the bald eagle won that competition).
Hunted into almost oblivion, across the United States the wild turkey is making a dramatic come back in many places, including the forests and farmland of rural New York State.

A Defiant Tom Turkey– CLICK ME!!!!

This fellow made no noise. His strutting posture and head bobbing said it all.
We left Tom Turkey in peace to his domain and hens.

Tom Turkey Stalks the Ruin– CLICK ME!!!!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, my friends.
Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

 

Autumn Mushroom

Moments from a September backpack

A budding mushroom

Autumn Mushroom

 

among autumn leaf litter

along mountain shores

Peaked Mountain

Peaked Mountain and Pond, Siamese Ponds Wilderness, The Adirondacks

Click this link for my Online Gallery, “Memories, Dreams, Reflections”

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Autumn Stroll in Sapsucker Woods

a meditaton

On Halloween morning 2004 I set out with a camera upgrade purchased spring of that year, a Sony “Cyber Shot, DSC-F828” with an inexpensive tripod. My photograph “Autumn Stroll in Sapsucker Woods”, the feature photograph and below, achieved prizes with the Photographic Society of American and a few sales of self-produced prints. It was an early success.

Click any photograph to visit my Online Gallery “Finger Lakes Memories.”

It is available on my Finger Lakes Memories online gallery where I provide recommendations for sizing, the best print medium with ideas for frame and matt.

The fall of 2005 I invested in a Kodak DCS Pro dslr-c and a Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens.  October 30, 2005, one day short of the 2004 Halloween shoot, found me driving down Fall Creek Road on a mission of revisiting Sapsucker Woods to possibly improve upon my offerings.

Over the years, travelling Fall Creek Road on my daily commute, I admired this well formed maple next to a farm field.  At 6:45 am the sun was about this rise, the frost limned grass not yet burned off.  This tree turned a bright yellow, here a green-yellow and dull.  The form of the tree is perfect.  I was never able to catch this at the right moment, it is still there and maybe I can time it this year during a pick-up of my grandson.  If I do, my intention is to climb the fence and use the 24 mm lens to capture the tree and shed with less sky (unless there are some dramatic clouds).  That day, I needed to make time for Sapsucker woods.

On site, thirty minutes later, as the leaves of the Fall Creek Road maple predicted, Sapsucker Woods foliage is behind last year’s by a week or so.  In “Autumn Stroll in Sapsucker Woods” the over story leaves have fallen and the understory is at peak.  Here, I believe the overstory is gone, the understory leaves are yellow-green.

I carefully choose the sites and this one is a risen walk of boards.  In the nine years since, the walk as deteriorated and this scene will be different, possibly.

This is a match for the 2004 photograph as far as the camera position.  What I enjoy from the 2004 version, aside from the foliage, are the details of the fallen leaves taking up the foreground, a carpet filling the field to lead the eye up through the trees, path fading from view to the right.

This effect is not possible on the boardwalk, above.  With the fixed focus 50 mm lens it might be possible with effort.  Today, the 24 mm is my first choice to capture this effect.

Here we can see the leaf carpet is possible, if the f-stop is higher to allow a crisp focus.  In this scene it is f2 because I happened upon a buck in a daze.  He was just standing there as I headed back to the car.  I did not risk changing out lenses to the telephoto, so I moved forward slowly.

The best I did was this rear view as he looked backward.  Lack of flexibility is a draw back of a fixed-focus lens.

In 2004 my day concluded with Robert Treman State Park.  In 2005 the 50 mm fixed focus with a ND filter and tripod was in its element.  The sun is higher and overcast, one background tree is a peak foliage.  The moderate water flow and stair complete the effect.  This was my best work of that day.  I need to get this up on the “Finger Lakes Memories” gallery.

Other postings of interest. Click the link to go there.

“Last Sunlight” — the Gorge Waterfall

“Autumn Evening Hike Part 1 of 3”

 

Copyright 2018 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved