Through A Glass Darkly

Visual Spirit

The title is a fragment from the thirteenth chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians.

During brief moments of the upstate New York autumn season perfect images are mirrored in quiet pond waters.

It this case the effects lasted a few seconds.

The site of this photograph, McLean Bogs, is part of Cornell Plantations. McLean Bogs is known for its biodiversity and is reserved for research.

This work is a composite of four images, the mirror image of each of two photographs. I print it on a stretched canvas 5 feet wide by 4 feet high.

Click the photograph to visit my online gallery “Memories Dreams Reflections”
Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Libe Slope Autumn

A Magnificent Display

Libe Slope

Libe Slope is between the West Campus and Quadrangle / Libraries.

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Cornell University is on a west-facing hill above Cayuga lake.

Besides the exercise of walking the 18 degree incline several times each day, Cornell students and alumni remember The Slope for autumn color.

 

Wonderful Flow of Limbs among Gold

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Hickory

Seen from the north on a cloudy October day, this Pignut Hickory (Carya glabra) is the largest tree on the Cornell Campus, at 79 inches in diameter.

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Cornell University is on a west-facing hill above Cayuga lake.

Take another look at the previous image. Can you find the grey squirrel? This hickory grows south of the Johnson Museum and among the autumn glories, it is the largest and brightest yellow canopy on Libe Slope.

Contrast

An overcast day is the best to capture this spectacle. October 20, 2012 provided both bright sun and dark, rolling autumn clouds. I waited on the north side, sheltered from the glare of the sky, for these perfect moments.

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I remember this hickory for the contrast between the canopy and trunk, the way the clumps of yellow hang from dark boughs.

The pignut hickory is native to these Eastern United States. It is known to favor moist slopes and this specimen has thrived on The Slope. The ground beneath it is thick with nuts.

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One week later

Just one week later, late afternoon on a sunny Friday as hurricane Sandy approached the east coast the hickory has fewer, tawny golden leaves.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

A Perfect Afternoon On Beebee Lake

Anticipating Our Tenth Wedding Anniversary

After work on a 2008 Friday afternoon in October we sped over to Beebee Lake on the Cornell University Campus to catch the late afternoon glow.

Beebe Lake is formed by a dam on Fall Creek.  It seems to be the flooded meadow it is, surrounded by hills formed by glaciers 10,000 years ago.  Cornell maintains footpaths around the lake.

People say that if a couple walk the a mile around the lake and over a bridge at either end, they are destined to be married.  This day we passed only joggers and families.  Pam and I will celebrated our tenth anniversary March 2019, so the legend worked for us.

Here are four snapshots from that time, presented in chronological order. Each is a handheld shot taken on the fly using my Sony Alpha 700 I use for exploratory photography.

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A terraced stair descends to the east side meadow to south lake shore path

I walked down a path trod by Canadian geese to reach a clear view of the water.

View of Helen Newman Hall

Lily pads and iris fronds grow along the bank. 

Evening sunlight reflected from smooth water crests driven by a steady light wind

Being on the west side of the lake, the dam is bathed in golden autumn light.  

The Dam That Forms Beebee Lake

On top the hill, not visible behind the trees, above the opposite bank is Fuertes Observatory.  We visited it this night, opened to the public as it is on all clear Friday nights while classes are running.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Frogs!!

A summertime visit to Sapsucker Woods

Wednesday last, grandson Sam, three years old at the time, and I wandered the landscape, catching the sights of summer. Eventually, we visited Sapsucker Woods, a Cornell University nature preserve. There, a boardwalk over the swamp is a proven venue for frog spotting and, this day, we had some success.

We found this cooperative golden-eyed beauty calmly squatting and croaking.

In this 30 second clip, reflected light off the water surface captures proto-croaks that did not quite escape from the source. There is a successful and full croak finale.

Off the boardwalk, we took a short detour to view an elaborate cairn built of local rock by a famous artist. The dappled sunlight across the surface is especially enjoyable.

The Sapsucker Cairn, Andrew Goldsworthy

At the furthest extent of the preserve is this pond where the residents were notably raucous in this 30 second clip.

About this time the mosquitoes descended for a determined attack on Sam’s legs. “Itchy,” he said. Myself, protected by deet, they left alone. Sam’s Mom prepared him for the trip with natural mosquito repellent that was not up to the task. Next time we visit, Sam will wear long pants and sleeves fortified with deet.

Just before picking Sam up for a quick retreat, I caught this turtle encrusted in duckweed sunning on a narrow branch. The head is retracted for the moment, can you imagine someone wading through that muck to place a rock? It is possible, but I witnessed the head, so am absolutely sure.

Special thanks to blogger shoreacres for the identification of duckweed. In my original posting I called it algae.

Click me for another Sapsucker Woods posting.

Copyright 2019 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved.

Father’s Day Visit to Fall Creek Gorge

McGraw Tower Bell Concert

Walking up University Avenue toward Lib Slope, listening to the noon concert from the McGraw Tower carillion (a tuned set of bells), below the Johnson Museum turn left onto a footpath, follow to the steep trail down to the Gorge Overlook along Fall Creek. Look up at the suspension bridge and water powered electric plant. Climb back, turn right and down to Stewart Avenue for the view of Fall Creek Gorge, Cayuga Lake, the former studio of Carl Sagan, built into the gorge wall. In researching this topic I learned Google Maps shows the trail and you can “walk” the trail, Google brought the camera down into the gorge.

An IPhone 7 and video editing software were used for this post.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

The Three Laughers of Tiger Glen

The Sound of Laughter Among Friends

In the midst of a pine forest

The name for this Japanese (also called Korean) Red Pine, “Tanyosho”, refers to this trunk branching. Once a year this specimen is pruned to maintain form. The bark is polished, as well. This species (Pinus densiflora ‘Umbraculifera’) is native to Japan, Korea, northeastern China and the extreme southeast of Russia. 

through the roots of the trees

Base Trunk - Tanyosho Red Pine Cultivar

the waters gathered

Stone Torrent in Karesansui-style Garden
A stone torrent element of the Morgan Garden, Cornell University, a karesansui-style rock garden intended to imitate the intimate essence of nature, not its actual appearance. In this way the garden can serve as an aid to meditation about the true meaning of life. 

to form a raging torrent

Stone Torrent in Karesansui-style Garden

bound by fire-formed rock.

Stone Torrent in Karesansui-style Garden
Click Link for my OnLine Gallery “Memories, Dreams, Reflections”.

 

Through this forest

Stone Torrent in Karesansui-style Garden

at summer’s end

Stone Torrent in Karesansui-style Garden

strolled three friends, Daoist priest Lu Xiujing, Confucian poet Tao Yuanming and Buddhist monk Huiyuan.

The Three Laughers of Tiger Glen
Click Link for my OnLine Gallery “Memories, Dreams, Reflections”.

Huiyuan, a recluse, had vowed never to leave the temple grounds they wandered.

The Three Laughers of Tiger Glen

His vow included the crossing of the raging torrent of Tiger Glen.

The Three Laughers of Tiger Glen

Preoccupied by their conversation Lu and Tao Cross Tiger Glen

Huiyuan and Tiger Glen

Huiyuan followed his friends

Huiyuan and Tiger Glen
Click Link for my OnLine Gallery “Memories, Dreams, Reflections”.

over the raging torrent.

Stone Torrent in Karesansui-style Garden

Tiger Glen is the border Huiyuan vowed never to cross.

Stone Basin

In crossing Tiger Glen Huiyuan leaves the temple and breaks his vow.

Stone Torrent in Karesansui-style Garden

As soon as they realized what had happened, the men burst into laughter at the absurdity of this transgression.

The Three Laughers of Tiger Glen
Click Link for another posting about Cornell, “Lib Slope Autumn.” 

These are my photographs of Morgan Garden of the Johnson Museum of Art on the Cornell Campus.SONY DSC

References and Further Reading

museum.cornell.edu/morgan-garden

museum.cornell.edu/collections/asian-pacific/japan/three-laughers-tiger-glen

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinus_densiflora

Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Red Sun over Cornell University

On this spring equinox morning a huge sun, filtered by morning clouds, hangs over East Hill and Cornell University. Taken from our home on West Hill, looking across the valley and Ithaca, New York.

The temperature is a balmy 18 degrees F.

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Red Sunrise Over Cornell– CLICK ME!!!!


Red Sunrise Over Cornell– CLICK ME!!!!


Can you pick out these Cornell landmarks?
— Jenny McGraw Tower
— Lib Slope still covered in snow from last week’s storm.
— the looming fortress shape of Bradford Hall.

Red Sunrise Over Cornell– CLICK ME!!!!


Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Weekday Visit to Sapsucker Woods

A far-seeing, nature loving group of individuals set aside this prime swamp-land in 1954. January 8, 2021, it is surrounded by homes, a major road (the unluckily-named Route 13), an airport. Though the trails are narrow, I am happy to report everyone encountered (six individuals, though two were encountered twice on the circular trails) wore mask and demonstrated consideration.

Swamps are navigated on wooden walkways. Here are a few IPhone 7 snaps from the entrance.

Today I noticed for the first time this glistening sculpture with a plaque reading, in part, “Kent Ullberg, Swedish, b 1945, ‘Invitation of the Dance’, 2017. Stainless steel.” It was donated by the billionaire Imogene Johnson shortly before her death in 2018 at the age of 87. Mrs. Johnson was a Cornell University alumna. She and her husband were huge donors to the university, having met there as undergraduates.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Late Autumn Ithaca 5

Golden Hour and “Happy New Year”

Walking the Lower Cascadilla Gorge Trail from the end of Court Street, downtown Ithaca, named for the Tompkins County Court is a favorite way for students to walk from the Cornell Campus.

I avoided the route today, the trail is narrow, much less than the 6 foot minimum distance. The footpath from Eddy Gate to College Avenue passes where the trail climbs up from the gorge. I did opt to catch the Upper Cascadilla Gorge trail, much wider. The trail passes two footbridges accessing the Engineering Quadrangle and the main Cornell Campus. Photographed here is the approach to the second, smaller, footbridge.

Late fall/winter afternoons the “Golden Hour” is hours long for this view of the footbridge and waterfall.

Waterfall views from the bridge. I left the tripod at home, so these exposures “freeze” water motion.

Look up from the other side for this view. Baptized 1985 as “The Theory Center,” 2007 saw the name changed to the more evocative, “Center for Advanced Computing.” It always filled with supercomputers. Socially, the culture of the place was retrograde from the beginning with “faculty only” lounges that kept out the lowly staff members. As if on cue, I came upon a group of the privileged, unmasked, strutting down the hill toward me, like vacuous moles.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Late Autumn Ithaca 4

Past Eddy Gate

At this point most of the climb from downtown Ithaca is behind me and the Cornell Campus is underfoot. I pass the Eddy Gate, the former main entrance to Cornell University, where Eddy Street vaporizes to become a footpath along the rim of Cascadilla Gorge. This ramshackle hexagonal structure rest on the friable shale gorge rim. It does NOT look inviting and, over the years, I’ve not spotted a single person hanging out there.

Fluffy gone-to-seed goldenrod on the gorge rim.

As I duck into the Upper Cascadilla Gorge Trail above College Avenue a poster visualizes an effective defense against crowd control munitions, the umbrella. Below the call to “Stand with Hong Kong” is another newsflash/movie review from outside the mainstream media, “Donnie Darko Makes No Sense.”

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved