Ice Bells

Noticing small miracles, taking the time and effort to capture them…..

These icicles were formed along Fall Creek during the coldest months of February in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State.

The transient nature of these forms is suggested by the thinness of the pedicle joining each bell to the ice lobe of the ledge. Note the golden crystals in the ice lobe.

A visualization of the symbolic power of the numeral three, reflected on itself.  Question: what do “threes” mean to you?

Captured with the Sony DSLR-A700, DT 16-105mm F3.5-5.6 lens, hoya circular polarizing filter, mounted on the Manfrotto tripod with ball head.

Click the photograph for my online gallery Ice Bells listing.

Rincon Peak Summit

Experience the Sky Island view from Rincon Peak

The Rincons are one of 42 Sky Mountain islands isolated from each other by the gradual warming and drying climate changes since the last ice age, 10,000 years ago. While this marvelous environment of oak and pine forests only accessible with much effort on foot, it is literally visible from every point of the Tucson valley and million human inhabitants.

Rincon is Spanish for corner, the mountains are called that from their shape enclosing a space on the west, northwest until recently used for ranching and is now falling into use for tract housing. The mountains themselves are reserved as wilderness, parts in the Saguaro National Park and the Coronado National Forest.

In the past 44 years I was lucky enough to visit the Rincon Wilderness interior three times, shouldering different style backpacks onto the mountain, walking different boots. The first, during college the 1970’s, a party of six left from the end of Speedway, up the Douglas Springs trail. The climb was an exercise in desert survival that several friendships did not survive, replace by new friends met on Mica Mountain. I have no photographs from that experience, only memories and the backpack.

Reconnecting with Arizona in 2004, thirty one years after that first experience, I took no chances. My first attempt on Rincon Peak was a success. Risk and effort were reduced, not eliminated by hiring a guide for the four day trip. We made it to Rincon Peak via the Turkey Creek Trail out of Happy Valley, climbing a mountain buttress, views ever widening and lengthening.

These are some photographs from that experience and a landscape photograph of the peak at sunset, taken the following year.

Sego Lilies bloom among a stricken oak and drying grasses on the Turkey Creek trail. This is an overview of the environment, it is the winter rains that trigger the bloom.

Sego Lilies -- CLICK ME!!!!

We paused while I unpacked my gear to capture Sego Lilies growing along the Turkey Creek Trail.

Sego Lilies -- CLICK ME!!!!
Sego Lilies -- CLICK ME!!!!

Deer Head Spring, at the top of Turkey Creek Trail was a moist spot with no accessible water when we reached it April 27, 2004. With the remains of a gallon of water each we needed to press ahead to Heartbreak Ridge and climb into Happy Valley Saddle were, thankfully, the creek was low and full of algae but usable. Here are my first views of Rincon Peak, looking across the aptly named Heartbreak Ridge and Happy Valley Saddle.

Distant View of Rincon Peak-- CLICK ME!!!!
Telephoto view of Rincon Peak -- CLICK ME!!!!

The view to south from Rincon Peak. The white rocks at lower right forms a Valley of the Moon wall. San Pedro River valley at the root, Mae West Peaks at left margin, Dragoon Mountains with Cochise Stronghold center. Taken around 12:30 on April 28, 2004 as a thunderstorm approached.

View from Rincon Peak -- CLICK ME!!!!

The Rincon Peak view looking south, southwest over the Valley of the Moon to the eastern Tucson Valley and the Sky Islands the Whetstone Mountains (Apache Peak), behind are the Santa Ritas. The works of man are overpowered by sky, rock, distance.

We made a hasty departure in front of the thunderstorm. It was a touch and go decision to attempt the peak that day, we made it with moments to spare.

View from Rincon Peak -- CLICK ME!!!!

April 29, 2004 the morning after reaching Rincon Peak I set up the tripod near our Happy Valley Saddle camp to capture Rincon Peak in early morning sunlight.

Rincon Peak from Happy Valley Saddle, dawn -- CLICK ME!!!!

The day we descended to the X9 Ranch via the Rincon Creek trail. My guide’s grandfather had a homestead at the X9 and his access to the trailhead through private lands opened this route for us. This is a photograph of sunset on Rincon Peak from the X9 ranch. I am looking east from the Rincon (Spanish for corner) made by the massifs Rincon Peak, Mica Mountain and Tanque Verde ridge.

Rincon Peak from the X9 Ranch-- CLICK ME!!!!

The evening of November 2, 2006 I climbed the Saguaro National Park, East, Tanque Verde trail for about 30 minutes to reach this view of Rincon Peak and waited until just before the sun set behind the Tucson Mountains for this shot. Then hiked back to the car in twilight. In my hurry, I tripped on a stepped turn and dove headfirst into a large prickly pear. It was a very painful experience and I regretted damaging the cactus and the loss of and good hiking shirt. There were large spines in my face and tiny, pesky spines covered my chest and back. The large spines are not barbed and come right out. I needed to visit a physician to remove them.

Click me for a framed version of this photograph

Rincon Peak from the X9 Ranch-- CLICK ME!!!!

Copyright 2017 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Moon Fin

Gibbous Moon and Red Rock

Driving from the Petrified Forest National Park my son, Sean, and I arrived at Chinle, Arizona the evening of Monday, November 2, 2003.  No time to rest or eat after checking into the Best Western he and I reached the White House overlook and trail head with the sun low in the sky, the sun sets 6:45 pm these last few days of Daylight Savings.  The Navajo Reservation observes Daylight Savings, so the click jumps crossing the border from Arizona to Reservation.

I was 50 at the time and with Sean graduated from SUNY Maritime and fresh from a tour at sea we made good time to the canyon floor.  I wanted to catch the White House in the setting sun.

This morning, 14 years later, I published a fine art photograph from that trip.

Looking along the canyon, over thick stands of Russian Olives, I caught the risen moon, in gibbous phase, against a mid-canyon freestanding fin of red sandstone of the southern canyon wall.

Click for “Moon Fin” from my OnLine Gallery

Copyright 2017 Michael Stephen Wills Photography

Saguaro Sky

dramatic skies from Saguaro National Park

November is a special time for the ranges and basins of southern Arizona deserts.  Climb a bajada of foothills, face west and wait for the sunset.  That is what I did this day, November 3, 2005.  East of Tucson the Saguaro National Monument at the foot of the Rincon Mountain Wilderness is where I parked, unpacked the photo gear and climbed the side of the Tanque Verde Ridge for a favorable view.  Weather was pushing high level moisture from the west, clouds were developing.

You see here a shot from that session.  In the distance, looking across Tanque Verde, are the Santa Catalina mountains.  Months since the last rainfall, the giant Saguaros are using internal moisture reserves drawn up from a shallow root system, the flesh is less plump, the supporting structure of the ribs, always evident, are more pronounced.  The last light catches these ribs in relief against a dramatic sky.

Click this link or the photograph for my Online gallery of this offering

Saguaro Sunset -- CLICK ME!!!!

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Inisheer Welcomes the 2014 Gaeltacht Irish Football champions

Inisheer Welcomes Their Champions

After we passed the Killeany bouy on our ferry trip, on the Queen of Aran, (click the link to see this posting) from the harbor of Inis Mor to Doolin, the ship made four, yes four, dockings.

GaeltachtIrishFootbalChampionship-1

A few days prior the Gaeltacht held the annual Irish football championship the weekend of May 21 through June 1 in Moycullen, County Galway. It was the Three Aran Islands (Oileaín Árann) team who won the 2014 championship. Sunday, June 1, the weekend of their victory, the cup was presented to Inis Mór, the largest Aran island and the one furthest into Galway Bay.

Click the link for my Getty IStock photography of the Aran Islands
GaeltachtIrishFootbalChampionship-2

The team on Monday, June 2, the day of our trip, was on Inis Meáin, in celebration mode.  Some of them were waiting for the ferry when we pulled into the Inis Meáin, the second largest Aran island between the other two, dock.  

GaeltachtIrishFootbalChampionship-3

The first of the previous three photographs is of the waiting team members who boarded and we left for Inisheer Island, the smallest of the three and the closest to Galway City.  The Queen of Aran was well out of the harbor when I imagine the radio in the pilot house said, “Come back, there are more team members on the dock.”  So we turned around, docked and several more came on board.

In way once again, well away from the harbor, the ferry turned around for a second time for a third landing at the  Inis Meáin dock.  With the full compliment of champions on board the ferry turned out of the harbor a third and final time for the last leg of with Silver Cup’s tour of the islands.

The population of Inisheer is about 250 souls.  It seemed all were waiting to greet the team.

Click the link for my Getty IStock photography of the Aran Islands
Welcoming Family Group at End Of Dock

A large bon fire blazed as the Queen of Aran approached.

Islanders Welcome Champions

People lined the dock from beginning to end.

Islanders Welcome Champions

Calling out, waving their arms.

Click the link for my Getty IStock photography of the Aran Islands
Islanders Welcome Champions

Standing and smiling.  Here is a flock of fans, from Galway apparently, very pleased at the sight.

Boat Welcomes Champions

The team was on the upper ferry deck.  I turned around and was lucky enough to capture the team captain (Not sure, but who else would it be?) holding the silver cup for all to admire.  Theirs for a year.

Showing the Cup

The crowd welcomed their own back home.

Click the link for my Getty IStock photography of the Aran Islands
Islanders Welcome Champions

Surrounded the team and walked them grandly to town.

Islanders Welcome Champions

Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Late Autumn Ithaca 8

A Dangerous Game

Hard on the Ithaca City Cemetery is our version of the crookedest street. Cascadilla Park road ascends East Hill as a series of switchbacks, charming homes cut into the hillside. A foot path overlooks the gorge, seen here.

Today, two young teens used the hill bottom for skateboarding. Taking turns on watch, each sped onto intersecting University Avenue. A dangerous game.

A brass plaque commemorates Daniel D Tompkins on eponymous Tompkins County courthouse. When the county was formed, 1817, Daniel Tompkins was a former governor of New York and Vice President to James Monroe. Tompkins never visited “his” county, there is no other connection between him. His family and life was rooted in eastern part of New York, around “The City.”

“Maternidad”, Seneca Street Garage, a mural by Nick Gilbert was the 2014 winner of 2014 @culturaithaca Latinx Mural Design Contest.

Mosaic Mural “Feels Like Ithaca” by Annamarie Zwack, Seneca Street Garage Also known as “Spirit of Ithaca”

I am not finding the attribution for this undersea idyll, also on the Seneca Street garage adjoining “Feels Like Ithaca.”

This completes my Sunday afternoon walk around Ithaca.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Late Autumn Ithaca 7

Hillside Rest

We pick up this walk through Ithaca from the December 23rd post, next to a waterfall and the “Theory Center,” starting with the spiffed up rear façade of the Cornell Health Building, renamed from Gannett Health after a right wing newspaper publishing magnate. The building fronts “Ho Plaza” thus carries an address with unfortunate allusions, named for a distinguished Cornell alumna who’s family name is Ho. I included this building in appreciation to Cornell University and students for being good neighbors during this COVID-19 pandemic, controlling the virus.

Today, I avoided the views of the popular Lib Hill to minimize personal contact. Instead, descending the hill on footpaths, found myself on Stewart Avenue and the eastern side of City Cemetery.

Enjoying the solitude and long shadows of our northern afteroon.

Traversed a gate of hemlock branches….

Admired random monuments. By the way, George Washington Schuyler, whose family anecdote I shared in a previous post, rests here under an impressive stone. Not this one.

More afternoon light, fallen leaves, hemlocks.

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

Late Autumn Ithaca 3

Up East Hill

Today a large fox devoured a squirrel on our front lawn while I wrote this post. Further up Green Street is this mural, I do not find an attribution and assume it is from 2020.

Continuing past all the new development in downtown Ithaca, I head up the steep sidewalk up east hill on Seneca Street, named for the Iroquois Confederacy tribe of the westernmost lands. Here is a flowering tree with attractive red haws growing on the corner of Seneca Street and Schuyler Place.

From the doorway of the former Henry W. Sage mansion at 603 E. Seneca St designed by William Henry Miller in1876. Today, it is broken into six apartments. This is the Sage of Cornell University Sage Chapel. Henry Sage was a supporter of admitting women to Cornell to the extent of donating $250,000 around the year 1870.

206 North Quarry Street, the northwest corner of Seneca and Quarry. It, too, once a single family home now broken into apartments.

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved