The “Golden Hour” is a misnomer. It doesn’t last even close to an hour. Sometimes, if you are lucky, it lasts a full quarter of an hour before it’s gone.

Refraction from direct sunlight is unavoidable sometimes, so why not make it part of the picture?

Refraction from direct sunlight is unavoidable sometimes, so why not make it part of the picture?

It’s that time of day which we also call “twilight.” At the end of the afternoon, but before sunset. It is that time when the sun is low in the sky, yet still above the horizon. The rays of the sun slants through trees forming shadowy paths across roads and lawns.

The light is yellow in spring. Ocher in summer. It holds a hint of amber in Autumn, and is white with a touch of blue in winter. It’s the time of long shadows visible rays of sunlight.


I almost missed it. I had to run outside with the first camera I could grab, hoping it had an appropriate lens and a working battery in it  — and that I hadn’t left its SD card in the computer.

Don’t you just hate what that happens?


Sorry fellow bloggers. I couldn’t think of a single thing to say about banned  except to say that, to the best of my knowledge, I’m not. Yet. Given the current state of our disunion, anything could happen but I’d prefer to keep my mind off that as long as I can. Too depressing. 


Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: It’s All About Nature

This challenge strikes at the heart of the kind of photography I most enjoy doing. Landscapes, and when I have the chance, any animals or birds that come within range of my camera. And for which I have the wit to actually press the shutter and not stand there boggling at whatever creature has come my way.

Dramatic clouds over the Blackstone Canal

Dramatic clouds over the Blackstone Canal

These pictures of the black-crowned night heron (who was kind enough to pose for me while we were in Connecticut) are not only the first pictures I’ve ever gotten of this bird, it’s the first time I’ve ever actually seen this particular bird. Kind of a double whammy for me.

And last — definitely not least — autumn woods. Not a picture I would usually try in black and white, but it was a challenge so I gave it my best shot. Had to increase structure, contrast … and more. I sort of like it. It’s hard to do autumn in monochrome when its primary feature is color.


Cee's Black & White Photo Challenge Badge


The vanishing of the monarch butterfly is a continuing drama as those of us who want to save them fight the clock to grow enough milkweed to nourish them on their journeys. This post by Judy Dykstra-Brown is one of the best posts I’ve seen showing the life of the Monarch butterfly. Enjoy! I certainly did.

Larry and Betty’s Monarch Adventure

I just have to share this email I got from my friends Larry Kolczak and Betty Peterson in Ajijic, Mexico. I published photos of one of these caterpillars a few weeks ago.  Here is the end of the story, told by Larry:

Since we live only a few hour’s drive from the mountains in Central Mexico where the Monarch butterflies from Eastern Canada and the U.S. migrate to spend the winter, we figured we’d better give them a helping hand by planting some milkweed in our garden. It is actually a more attractive plant than I imagined. And, it is the only plant on which Monarch butterflies lay their eggs.


After just a week or two, Monarch’s found our plants and began laying their tiny white pearl-like eggs. Here is one right where the sunlit and shadowed parts of the leaf meet.

The eggs hatch about 4 days later. This little guy is busily munching on milkweed.

Milkweed contains some toxic chemicals that don’t affect the Monarch, but will sicken any predator that eats either the caterpillar or the butterfly. As a result, neither has to have camouflaged coloration. Their bright colors serve as a reminder to any predator who ever tried to eat one.

Please enjoy the rest of the story at: Larry and Betty’s Monarch Adventure on lifelessons.


We are at the annoying stage of the gypsy moth invasion. Sprayed and surviving, the air is full of moths. Thousands, maybe millions of them are swarming everywhere, no doubt laying clutches of eggs for next year’s even bigger event.

The oaks are trying to come back, some more successfully than others. I watch them every day, looking for signs of growth and health.


A second year would be a real tragedy. No longer just a nightmarish inconvenience but devastation. It would be the end of thousands … acres … of hardwood trees and could involve not only oak and ornamental trees, but also spruce, maple, fruit orchards and more. It would leave ghost woods filled with the skeletons of the trees we loved. So far, no state or town agency has been willing to do anything to prevent this disaster.

We’ve done what we can. We’ve sprayed. That’s it. No one homeowner, nor any group of private individuals, can do this alone. Without help … well … kaput.

From WCVB news, Boston:

Gypsy moth caterpillars return to dine on New England trees

Last year’s dry spring to blame

Published  7:03 PM EDT Jul 03, 2016

We really need rain. And a little more help from nature.


After a complete defoliation by voracious gypsy caterpillars, there are signs of recovery in the woods.


It’s hard to find an up-side to a gypsy moth infestation, but if any exists, it’s that you not only get more light without the trees blocking the sun, but you can actually see the birds. I hear them, but usually they are hidden high in the trees.


Right now, there’s no place to hide. You can see the beginnings of a new crop of leaves. A second spring is coming. In another few weeks, most of the trees will have leaves again.


Some places seem to be rebounding a lot faster than others. I don’t yet know what that means … if it means anything.


And so our forest, stripped of most of its leaves, deprived of the means to manufacture nourishment, endures. Hints of a second spring give us hope that our beautiful woods will make it through the siege. Most of the oaks and maples will survive. I hope losses will be few.



While here, at home, the trees are bare, a couple of miles away the world is normal. It’s odd the way the gypsy moth invasion has affected the area.


We are the worst hit. South Uxbridge, Douglas, North Smithfield — we all have bare oaks and maples. The gardens look ragged and nothing is blooming. Not a day lily to be seen, nor a rose on any bush.

In trying to find a positive side to this experience, the best anyone has come up with was my son who pointed out we won’t have a lot of leaves to rake up this fall.


Definitely will be an easy cleanup of autumn leaves but it isn’t likely to be an epic autumn, either. At least not at home. But down the road a couple of miles …


The trees are full and green around the pond. The swans are nesting peacefully.




It was good to find the world had not ended everywhere … just at our house!



Some of the pictures are Garry’s, the others are mine. Both of us wished we had brought either another camera or a long lens. The swans were there, but too far off to capture with the equipment we’d brought. Still, for all that, it was good to see green and growing trees.


Tiny buds are appearing on our trees. If the caterpillars don’t get them, we’ll have leaves again. I hope.




This is a small town with a long history, for an American town. First settled in 1662, incorporated in 1727, we are the middle of the Blackstone Valley. Birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution. We led the nation with some of the first mills and factories.


Ours was a bustling town, industrious and forward-thinking. We had some of the finest schools, research facilities, and  hospitals. Our library was among the first free libraries in the nation. We were leaders. We had the first hospital for the mentally ill where they were cared for — as opposed to locking them in cages.


In the early 1900s, the mills and factories moved south, following the cotton. When they moved away, they left crumbling buildings, a polluted river and a persistent unemployment problem. But it wasn’t all bad.

Crown and Eagle mill

It gave the valley’s natural beauty a chance to recover. By 1973, the Blackstone River was one of the most polluted rivers in the U.S. Today, it’s close to clean. Not completely, but substantially. There’s work still to be done, but it has come a long way. If you give nature a chance, she will come back. Sometimes, she needs a helping hand.

Farmhouse May

Farmland become forests. Parks were created and historical sites preserved. In 1986, the valley was designated as The John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor (a National Heritage Corridor — the newest U.S. National Park). It’s dedicated to the history of the early American Industrial Revolution. The corridor stretches across 400,000 acres and includes 24 cities and towns. It follows the course of the river through Worcester County, Massachusetts down to its end in Providence County, Rhode Island. Uxbridge is the middle.


As a 21st century town, we don’t have a lot going for us. Little in the way of industry or business. No shopping centers. No night life or entertainment — not even a movie theater or coffee-house (but there are golf courses). No public transportation. Decent schools, but nothing exceptional. Not much in the way of services and if you live where we do, almost none.



We’re too far from Boston to be a true commuter town and too built up for a resort, though we were, once. I remember driving up here from New York when I was a young woman because the leaves are especially beautiful in the autumn and you could buy a phenomenal pumpkin.


UU Church 47

What we have is some history, a bit of classic architecture, and nature. Glorious, rich, and bountiful nature. The area teems with life from turtles and trout, to beaver and deer. You are always near a river in Uxbridge, even if you can’t see it. It meanders through the valley, streams through parks, and under old stone bridges.


The river widens into ponds where herons, swans, geese, and ducks build nests. The trout are back. We even have a couple of designated swimming places and they are never crowded. October in the valley, in Uxbridge, can break your heart with its beauty.

West Dam

So why don’t we protect it? Why do we act like it has no value? Why does the town act as if nature is the least valuable of our assets, useful for exploitation and always ready to sell it for industrial use?


It is our only asset. If we don’t protect it, this will be an ugly little town in the middle of nowhere. There will be no reason for anyone to want to be here.


It does not have to be that way. There’s an attitude of  “oh well, it’s just trees.” This Gypsy Moth infestation has been devastating in this south part of the town. Other parts seem barely affected, but it’s patchy. When you drive up and down Route 122, you will go through sections of trees still in full leaf, then acres of bare oaks.

They can — and do — come back for another year of mass tree defoliation. Given the danger, taking measures to protect from a second year of infestation is cheap compared to the cost of losing the only thing we have going for us.

autumn sun Rays

Trees recover from defoliation once.

Twice in a row? You lose a lot of trees.

Thrice? You will have forests full of dead trees.

How many years would it take to recover from that? Would we recover?


It’s time to treasure the beauty of this town and protect it. The “it’s no big deal” attitude is, not to put too fine a point on it, wrong. Short-sighted in the extreme. It is a very big deal. Our only big deal.