Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunny Winter Day - Briefly!

The day dawned in bright sun and a deep blue sky, perfect for some photography.  So I planned to head out after walking the dog.  But by the time I was ready a huge cloud bank was rolling in from the west fast, closing off that beautiful blue sky in a quick five minutes.  It was just like a blind being pulled down on a window.  Says something for getting out there quick when the light conditions are right!

I headed out anyway, and drove around looking for good viewpoints with safe parking. And I did find a few nice places to get pictures.  The barns are disappearing fast around here - three were removed down the road in one week, so some of my pictures were of favourite views with barns in them.  Both of these have the clilffs of Old Baldy looming above Kimberly in them, though they're different barns.

And this scene was further north, down one of the dozens of sideroads.  Nice winter day for a drive, even without the blue sky.  And maybe I'll get out the snowshoes this afternoon.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


The winter storm arrived Thursday, with the warmer air of a low pressure system, the temperature rose, and we were supposed to get rain.  But we never did, just brief periods of freezing rain, as the temperature stayed lower than expected - fine with me!   Then a slow accumulation of an inch or two on Friday morning, til things looked really white.  And the temperature has plunged to well below freezing, and is forecast to stay there.  I hope it doesn't rise til March!

But then the wind picked up, while the snow continued.  Last night it was howling wildly, and by the time I ventured outside with the dog after dark a serious drift had accumulated across the front of the garage, while further out, the driveway was blown bare, right down to the gravel.  Our walk was pretty short in the blizzard!  Quite a bit later I spotted flashing lights out back, and went out to discover a pick-up in the ditch.  Tow truck was soon there, and off they went.

By this morning the snow had stopped, and the sun started to come out.  We have 6" of fresh powder snow everywhere - except where the howling wind blew things bare.  Snowblower came out for the first time, and I blew away the drift in front of the garage, and the ridge left by the snowplow at the top of the driveway.  Meanwhile, the branches of the pines are laden with white.  It's actually deep enough to get the snowshoes out - 3 cheers for real winter, though there's still a bitterly cold north wind.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Snow Dusting

Beautiful dusting of snow the other day left everything outlined in white for awhile - until the temperature rose a little.

Then it all melted and vanished in the sunshine of the afternoon.  Today it was back. But now it's serious freezing rain.  Hope the temperature goes up a little instead of down. 

 But what I'd really like is some serious cold winter temperatures and SNOW! Please!

Monday, December 10, 2012

December Walks

I love December walks when it's cold, with a wind blowing light snow across the landscape and through the fencerows.  It's invigorating, and now that the ground is getting frozen and snow-covered rather than muddy, we've started our walks through the farm next door.  There's not a lot that makes a great picture on dark December days, but beech leaves in the woods have always been one of our favourites.  They tend to stay on the young saplings all the way until the next spring, rustling when there's a breeze blowing.

We walk part of our usual walk around the loop, but then we cut off through the woods down an old tractor trail, now partly overgrown with raspberries and young saplings.  There's no clear trail out to the old fields of the farm, but you can pick your way through the trees and over the fallen branches to get there.  They've recently stopped haying the small fields on this farm, but the owners mow trails down the old lane and around the edge, which make for great walking at this time of year.  Soon it will be on snowshoes.

In the meantime, I can let the dog run here, and try training her to return when called!  So far it's working.  And I'm sure her walks are more interesting than usual, as she runs here and there following the freshest smells.  A fair distance from any houses, I'm sure these fields and fencerows see lots of deer and coyotes.

Friday, November 30, 2012

A Fungus Tree

Doing my annual stewardship inspection of the Harshman property on the Bruce Trail, and I came across this huge old sugar maple stump.  I'd seen it before numerous times, but not with a light snowfall - a bit of snow made the big bracket fungi on the tree really stand out.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hidden Trees

Big old trees are often hidden by a lot of young saplings today.  The big old ones may have grown in an open field, or at least at the edge of a field, and then when the farmland stops being used, a new generation of young trees grows up around them.  Miles and miles of the landscape near the valley, all poor former farmland, is now growing up in such young trees, but still dotted by giant old 'wolf' trees of an earlier generation.  The result is huge old trees surrounded by young saplings.  You can tell by the wide open branches and crown of the tree that it grew in the open.  And when the leaves fall, those big old trees really stand out in the woods.

Here are three interesting big old trees, the first a very gnarled beech, the others large sugar maples.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Hidden Things Appear in November

November is a fascinating month to look at the landscape around us.  In that time between the leaves falling and the snow arriving, things that are screened by leaves in the summer suddenly become visible.  You can see through the forest to things you hardly realized were there, and other things become clearer.

This huge paper wasps' nest is hanging 8 feet off the ground, just 5 feet into the trees, not far from our place.  But I didn't realize it was there all summer until the leaves fell and suddenly it was so obvious.  Paper wasps are generally beneficial in a garden, and not very aggressive except in defending their nests (unlike hornets and yellowjackets).  I think I've removed at least half a dozen very small nests around the house this summer, but this one will be able to flourish on its own without bothering anyone.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

After the Sunset, a Sunrise

Beautiful sunrise yesterday, into a clear blue sky. Took several shots over a couple of moments while leaning on the frosty railing, and was surprised to see the sun moved more horizontally than vertically at this time of year. And quickly was too bright to make a useful picture anyway! But a beautiful day to get a few late fall chores done.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Ephemeral Beauty of a Sunset

Outside working as the day ended and suddenly noticed a bright sunset.  Hurried for the camera, walked far enough to get beyond the overhead wires, but I was 30 seconds late.  Still, I got a quick series of shots as the colour faded, all in less than one minute.

Monday, November 5, 2012

First Snow

First snow arrived last Thurs. night, just a light covering, but plastered to some of the trees, which are still white on one side several days later.  Temperature is hovering just below zero, and it's time to do all the winter preparation chores.

Some interesting patterns left by the snow too.

Oak Leaves

Pine Needles

Spruce Twigs

Monday, October 29, 2012

24 Hours Later

The hurricane has taken the sudden left hook, just as predicted.  Normally, once past Cape Hatteras, it would head northeast into the Atlantic.  But this is where the combination of storms is making it the 'Frankenstorm', because the low pressure of the system still over southern Ontario is pulling the hurricane inland and northwest.

You can watch it on the satellite as it headed inland over Delaware and New Jersey, crossing over Baltimore and Washington, and now headed into Pennsylvania.

But we get mesmerized by the centre of the storm on the image.  One forecast explained how strong winds will actually happen on the outer edge of the storm, where the pressure and temperature differences between the warm tropical air and the cold arctic air are greatest - and that's right over southern Ontario.  And the winds will be out of the north because of the counter-clockwise circulation of the air mass around the eye of the storm.  That means that the south end of Lake Huron and the south shore of Georgian Bay are at risk.

On the satellite image the storm is moving much faster than I expected.  In the next few hours it is predicted to turn suddenly northward and slightly east.  We'll see in the morning whether that has happened.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Watch the Frankenstorm Unfold!

Well, we've all heard about the Frankenstorm by now, whatever it will amount to.  But it's absolutely fascinating to watch it unfold on the satellite images as the low pressure system and following arctuc cold front here in Canada meet up with the hurricane system arriving from the south.

Go to Environment Canada's weather page for Ontario, and choose Radar and Satellite, then Satellite. A number of satellite images are listed.  I find the best is the 'small' version of GOES-East, for Eastern Canada, the IR image.  Click on this and when the image comes up, go to the bottom of the photo and 'Display the last ...', select 'all images.  Then hit 'play'.

The sequence of images that will unfold in front of you is amazing.  The 100 or so images cover about the past 48 hours. As it starts you can see the curving lines of clouds over Ontario that represent Friday's low pressure system and rain, moving northeast.  You can also see Hurricane Sandy, just appearing on the picture, still centred out in the Atlantic.

Quite quickly as the hours click off, the two huge air masses meet over Virginia and Pennsylvania.  Just after Saturday at midnight the first long curved cloudline associated with the hurricane reaches southern Ontario, while our earlier storm has been pushed northeast.  By late Sunday afternoon the first  orange colour shows up, indicating cold upper layer temperatures, reflecting the cold front still sitting over southern Ontario.  The outer edge of the hurricane system's clouds have reached Lake Superior, though the eye of the storm still sits in the Atlantic off South Carolina.

This is going to be really interesting to watch unfold over the next few days, regardless of what happens on the ground.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

End of the Fall Colours

Most of the leaves are gone now, and the world outdoors is so different, but until a few days ago lots of trees still had their colours.  This maple was bright yellow, top to bottom, but the basswoods in the background are now bare.

And finally the oak leaves have turned, a deep brownish red, a rich colour in the sunlight.

Meanwhile, the silver maples with their deeply cut leaves are a pale yellow.

Tree leaves aren't the only ones that change colour; hostas turn yellow in the fall too, and then rapidly disintegrate in the frost.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Our Fall Colours are Better than Vermont's!

Went off on a short trip to Vermont, expecting to see hillsides of brightly coloured leaves - but there was nothing to compare with right here at home!  Lots of yellow and orange, and certainly lots of bigger hills than we have, but no bright red maple leaves anywhere - unlike the many right in our own neighbourhood.

Monday, October 8, 2012

First Frost

First frost last night knocked out a number of sensitive flowers around the garden, but the fall colour continues - more spectacular reds this year than I can ever remember..

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The fall colours continue to amaze, though the leaves were blowing off the ash trees and drifting down around me today while I worked outside.  Some maples are especially red this year, apparently because we've had a dry September with cool but not freezing nights.  That sort of weather promotes the formation of anthocyanins which make the red colours.

The virginia creeper has been looking bright red for 2-3 weeks, tangled over the trees and shrubs where it's grown.  Looks a lot like poison ivy, but with 5 leaves.

Other maples just look yellow or orange, but the combination of all these colours is making the valley a thanksgiving wonderland.  There'll be hundreds of people out walking to see the fall colours this weekend.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fall Colours

There are subtle ongoing changes in the world around us throughout the seasons, but the biggest flourish is undoubtedly the fall colours. The valley is almost fluorescent with brilliant reds and oranges at the moment. It won't last long, but it's amazing while it's here.

The maple leaves seem to be the ones that turn most brilliant red, and when lit up by the afternoon sun they are bright indeed.

All around us for a few days are young maples, ash, cherries and oaks, turning yellow and orange. I never tire of it, and just take picture after picture.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Fall Flowers still in the Garden

The colour in the trees is just spectacular just now, but there's still lots of colour in the garden too, a surprising number of different flowers in bloom. Some of them were eaten down by the deer in the spring, and have recovered enough to bloom late, or even a second time. For others it's the normal bloom time. Here are a few in the garden at the moment.

Rudbeckia 'herbstone'.

Fall Anenome

Tithonia or Mexican Sunflower