Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Sunshine and Winter Shadows

Sunny days may be rare at this time of year, but when they come we get some beautiful shadows on the fresh snow.  Went for a long walk around the golf course today, under beautiful blue skies, and stopped to capture a few of them.


A Single Tree

 A Big Sugar Maple

And its Shadow (avec moi!)

Five Trees in the Fencerow

And Their Shadows

And Again

Some Extras - I was Trying to Hide

Had no trouble getting my steps in today with an hour long walk.  Actually over 11,000 steps today and 6.1 km, best day yet this winter.  I'll be away a couple of days for the next medical consultation, back Friday.  Cheers.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Creekside Ice

When we get a lot of thawing and freezing, we get some interesting patterns of creekside ice.  We've had a lot of mild weather for a few days, and now it's cold again.  Even on any one day it will likely be above freezing during the day, and below freezing at night.  The smallest little creeks provide some amazing patterns if you look closely.

This is Rocklyn Creek, a small creek that passes a mile north of Rocklyn.  I stopped a week or so ago as I was driving by.  The creek has melted during the thaw, but overnight the edges start freezing again.  With cold weather now it will be all white again shortly.

Take a close look.  I find you need to edit these photos a fair bit to get the pattern to show up well; otherwise they're just shades of grey.

And on the other side of the road...

I think this water, flowing out of groundwater springs a couple of miles upstream, is very cold!

With some judicious cropping I tried to get several photos out of the one photo above - three photos extracted from one.

And along the Beaver River where it flows through Lake Eugenia. 

Either I have an eye for the tiny and usually not-noticed bits of beauty in nature, or I'm desperate for photos to share!

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Sunday, January 28, 2018

Winter Scout Camp

Does camping out in the winter, snow covering the ground and temperatures below freezing, excite you, or perhaps terrify you a little!?  Well I loved it, though I haven't done it for several decades now.  Yesterday in Owen Sound we came across the annual Owen Sound Winter Scout Camp, in Harrison Park where we went for a walk and lunch.

We had been walking a few minutes when we passed a small group of adults and boys pulling sleds through the soft snow.  Obviously something was going on.  Then we saw the tents, and talked to one of the passing adults.  It was the 54th Annual Winter Camp - yes, it's been going on since 1964.

Harrison Park has a nice small campground which provided the location, though it's not normally open in the winter.  As you can see, it was not a very good winter for it, somewhat patchy snow and mild temperatures.  But they all have to come prepared, no matter what the weather turns out to be.

A highlight is obviously the sled competition.  We didn't see it, so I can't give you the details, but each troop has to make their own sled, and participate in a race. 

Each troop has a separate campsite, and has to provide their own tents, cooking shelter, and food.  The sleds were quite varied in construction, but all about the same size.

Here a group of Scouts pulls their sled back through the campground to their campsite, four boys pulling and one steering and pushing.  We talked to several of the adults involved, and now that I'm trying to write this, I can think of all kinds of other questions we should have asked!

The Scouts all participated in several activities, including knot tying and lashing, fire lighting, rescuing, and orienteering, as well as the sled race.  They also got judged for their campsites.  Points were awarded to come up with an overall winner.  We enjoyed watching a few of these activities, and talking to several of the Scouters.  Here are photos of the fire lighting and knot tying, with the recognizable faces blacked out.
Once upon a time I was an expert at both fire-lighting and tying knots!

I was impressed with this troops campsite, and all their pennants.  The camp attracts troops from this part of Ontario, but sometimes from further away too.  Every other year, at least some Scouts from the U.S. attend and it becomes an international camp.  There must have been about a dozen different troops represented this year.

This troop is obviously well organized - all matching, modern tents.  Not what it was like when I was a Scout!  Our troop leader was really good at taking us camping though, and we had a permanent lean-to for winter camping.  I well remember learning that the way to get warm is not to sit around the fire, but to go for a walk - provided you are dressed properly and don't get wet.  I also remember our troop winning the overall championship at a big summer Jamboree.  Oh the memories!

The Orangeville Troop had obviously done well over the years.  Their pennants, blowing in the wind, included 2 Best Sled wins, 2 Best Rescuers, a Best Campers and a Best Campsite win.  I'm marking the date on our calendar and might return next year to ask more questions, and enjoy those memories.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Winter Barns

Driving down into the valley a few days ago, I stopped to get a few barn pictures.  These ones are pretty familiar to me, and I've taken photos of them from various angles, in various seasons.

This is one of my favourite barns.  It sits near the end of a dead-end road, and I know the owner.  I like the juxtaposition of the fence and outbuildings, as well as the big barn itself.

I doubt the small building has been used in decades, and I'm not sure how much use the barn gets other than for storage.

But someone certainly took their time building it originally.  Look at the extra trim on the eastern gable end.  It's being well maintained too.

A hazy day when I drove by and took this one.  The fence is probably more interesting than the barn, photographically speaking.

This is a sad one that's a long distance from the road.  Viewed from this angle you can see it's on its way out!

A seasonal comparison.

Close up (I had my telephoto lens with me that day), it appears that there's little left of it except one end wall plus a bit.

This is one of those farms where the farmhouse is gone, but the barn has been retained.  The land is just used for cash crops now.

Taken from a slightly different angle, but this was in October when the big machines rolled in to harvest the soybean crop this year.

Walking efforts continue here, another 10,000 step day.  Mrs. F.G. is so inspired she's been out walking with me.  Nice to have company sometimes.

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The Barn Collective

Friday, January 26, 2018

Squirrel Invasion

There's been quite a change in our squirrels since I last reported on them nearly a month ago.  Black Squirrels have invaded, and now share the feeding space with our Grey Squirrels.  The spiral chases up and down and around the tree trunks are fun to watch, though impossible to photograph.

Until January 12th, we only had Grey Squirrels visiting, usually only one, but sometimes two.

Then a single Black Squirrel showed up, appearing to be a little hesitant at first.  Maybe he heard on the squirrel grapevine that this was a good source of spilled birdseed.

Soon there were more, and I thought they were going to drive the Grey Squirrels away.  The most I've seen is four black ones, here.

But over a few days they seemed to accommodate to each other, and fed close together, the feeding interrupted by wild chases up and down the trees.

One day I was sure we had a Red Squirrel visit.  I first noticed it because it was so much smaller than the other squirrels, but it seems definitely red, not grey.  It hasn't been back though.

The squirrels seem to have become more active and more wary compared to during the heavy snows we had after Christmas. 

There's a great deal of chasing, tree climbing and tail flicking going on.  This is the tail flicking posture, even though you can't see it flicking.  Perhaps you can imagine it.

It's hard to believe the spiral chases up and down the tree trunks.  And they happen so fast and are over, that I doubt I'll ever capture a photograph.  Is this squirrel aggression, or the start of mating?

We've had as many as 6 in the yard at once, and here I captured five of them.  But today there was only one lonely Grey Squirrel for a few hours.  In spite of all these squirrels, they have not gone after the bird feeders, just gathered seed on the ground.  Our feeders are apparently actually squirrel- proof.


Walking - I've been working at building up my walking again, trying to get back to either 10,000 steps a day, or one hour of brisk walking (the cardio guideline I was given 3 years ago).  I'm almost there, and got in two walks that were an hour this week, and one day when I hit 10,000 steps.  I've discovered that my iphone has an automatic step counter that I can check anytime all day long, and I downloaded the 'MapMyWalk' app which provides me with a map, plus duration, distance and pace for my actual walks.  They both seem to push me at least a little, which helps.  Good progress for me, but of course it's all matched by an hour+ nap afterwards!

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